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Darkness Equals Death

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"My torch just went out!"note 

The entry is simply: "Lights out. God help me."
The Haunter of the Dark by H. P. Lovecraft

If someone enters a dark space in any horror media (though action films also use the trope), you know something's going to happen, and it's not likely to be good. Something's going to snatch someone, burst into the room, be lit dramatically by a sudden flash of lightning, and/or bull rush the heroes.

Happens especially in rooms where there are dangly things to hide the villain. Foreboding Architecture and evil being poorly lit tend to compound the problem. Bonus points if a storm causes the aforementioned lightning flashes. More bonus points if it's the attacker who set up the dark room in the first place.

In real life, associating darkness with impending doom is just one of the many evolutionary survival techniques that makes us fear the dark: many predators that could take down humans are nocturnal hunters, and humans have poor night vision in comparison.

In other words, because our species is primarily diurnal and associates daytime with more freedom in making more practical decisions, there's a reason why so many horror movies as well as horror media in general primarily takes place during the night. If humans evolved from nocturnal animals instead, it would be significantly harder to stimulate our Primal Fear response with nighttime horror setting.

Not a Subversion. Not to be confused with Dark Is Evil, although it can invoke this. Often overlaps with Nice Day, Deadly Night. In Video Games, can lead to a Timed Mission if combined with a Ten-Second Flashlight or Tentative Light. Often found hand-in-hand with Nocturnal Crime, with Frequently Full Moon tagging along close behind. Related to Lights Off, Somebody Dies, although the effects in that trope tend to be more immediate.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Chainsaw Man has the Darkness Devil, the devil embodying humanity's Primal Fear of the dark, and by far one of the most powerful and dangerous beings in the entire series, as well as one of the few characters in the series who's never played for comedy. Fittingly, its introduction is heralded by the entire scenery of Hell melting away into a pitch black void.

    Comic Books 
  • At the very beginning of the first issue of Death of the Family, Commissioner Gordon and the Gotham City Police Department is just going about their business...when Joker turns the lights off. By the time they get turned back on, Gordon is alive and surrounded by a lot of dead cops.
  • Usually subverted in Comic Book/Daredevil, given the titular hero's MO. Being blind - and relying on all his other senses, which are amplified - Daredevil is a far more effective fighter than pretty much anyone else in the dark. Meaning if the fight is at night, Matt's first move is usually to cut off whatever the light source is. If any of the good guys are being held hostage or about to be shot by the bad guys and the lights go out, that tends to be the cue for Big Damn Heroes. And everyone knows that.
  • Wonder Woman (1942): In the Huntress feature the petty thief who goes to tell his boss Herbie that he and the guys lost their loot in a confrontation dropping and breaking his flashlight and being left in the dark is a bit of foreshadowing about how his boss is going to react. He does get the light to work for one more brief second, just in time to see that he's about to be eaten to death as his boss' pets are inches from his face in mid leap.

    Fan Works 
  • Agreement and Disputation: Watson casually mentions that he can't identify the opium den he entered to find a patient, because they all look the same at night. Holmes feels utter shock at the revelation that his gentlemanly fellow lodger willingly took on such a dangerous task and emerged unscathed.
  • In RWBY Alternate, Grimm are monstrous creatures who are attracted to the shadows. As a result, most non-Hunters avoid caves, even to the point where people mine in open spaces rather than in mine shafts.

    Film — Animated 
  • Incredibles 2: The Big Bad sends Mr. Incredible into a dark, empty room. Since this occurs immediately after The Reveal, the audience knows full well what's about to happen. Sure enough, he's attacked by a brainwashed Elastigirl and ends up becoming brainwashed himself.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Banshee Chapter, several video recordings show various research subjects injected with a chemical designed for mind control purposes and restrained in a darkened room, with only a single light showing where they are. Then something unseen yanks them into the dark, where they vanish without a trace.
  • Batman:
    • There's a good guy example in Batman Begins in the sequence on the docks, where Batman pulls a mob goon into said dark space.
    • And again in The Dark Knight, when he's interrogating the Joker.
  • Weaponized by the protagonist in The Book of Eli, Eli leads a gang of post-apocalyptic thugs into a dark overpass and slaughters them. It turns out that the darkness was only half of it, since Eli was blind he wasn't handicapped by the shadows like they were, and the overpass served to heighten his already blindness-compensated sense of hearing, allowing him to react superhumanly fast.
  • There's a very eerie scene in Cloverfield where the main characters are walking through some pitch black subway tunnels and hear... noises. The night vision setting on the camera provides a very nice HOLY SHIT moment.
  • The 2002 Anna Paquin film Darkness, fits this trope to a T, as the unseen killers can only attack when there is no light.
  • It is the outright basic gimmick of Darkness Falls. The "tooth fairy", a ghost of a woman who was heavily burned in life, experiences extreme pain and can be eventually destroyed when exposed to light, but can essentially teleport anywhere else. The main character manages to survive his first encounter with the tooth fairy as a child, and then never goes into the darkness again until he's an adult.
  • Happens in Deep Blue Sea — female scientist goes into her dark, half-submerged room for files. A Threatening Shark sneaks in and tries to kill her.
  • The Descent takes place in an underground cave. So all over the characters, as well as the audience, could only see as much as their helmet lights and glow sticks could show. When they burn out... bad things happen.
  • Equilibrium: During the raid on the sense-offender's camp/base in the Nether, Grammaton Cleric Preston arranges for the power and light to the last pocket of resistance to be cut, bursting into the room just as it goes dark. After several seconds of gunfire intended for him, the room is completely dark, with the sense-offenders whisper to each other as to whether they got him. Then Preston opens up using his Gun Fu, illuminating himself and small other parts of the room with muzzle flash, wiping out the mooks. It's all very beautifully done.
  • In the British TV Movie The Eyes Have It, assassins take over a school for the blind during a break, to turn it into a shooting post. They kill the only sighted person and pretty much ignore the helpless students. The students cannot wait for nightfall and have to use their teamwork and superior knowledge of the school to fight back.
  • I Am Legend, when Sam (the dog) follows a deer into a building.
  • Iron Man:
    • The beginning, when the terrorists are searching for Iron Man right before the killing starts.
    • The sequence when Pepper goes into Section 16, where the Iron Monger awaits in the dark.
  • Jurassic Park (1993) has it with the raptors in the power station.
  • A variation occurs in The Mist. Surely, at daytime the mist is not dark, but you still can't see that far in front of you. Averted with the first person to walk into the mist, who is seen very alive at the end.
  • Masquerade (2021): After the burglars cut the power to Casey's house, Sofia wandering downstairs to investigate in the dark was never going to end well.
  • In The Mummy (1999), Benni is trapped in the treasure room as the room is sealed off underground. Flesh-eating scarabs come out as the light is cut-off, leaving only his one torch. As it dies, so does he.
  • At the end of Never Hike in the Snow, Deputy Alan Mabry has the drop on a corned and thought to be distracted Jason Voorhees who has his back turned. But then the candles in the room go out and the room is bathed in darkness, and Jason nowhere to be seen when Mabry turns his flashlight on. He's killed soon after.
  • Pitch Black was designed from the ground up to utilize this trope, and every single death in the movie did in one way or another.
  • The Resurrected, a 1991 film adaptation of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, recreates the scene in the novel where the hero has to navigate his way out of a subterranean laboratory/oubliette of failed Body Horror experiments after dropping his lamp, using only a torch with fading battery and a pocketbook of matches.
  • Subverted in Scream 2 when Randy is killed in broad daylight, and in the middle of a very active college campus. For everyone else in the series, though, this trope very much applies.
  • Screamers: The soldiers enter the abandoned NEB command bunker and try to get the communication system working. Then they're interrupted by a Screamer that gets shot by a trigger-happy soldier, alerting the others to their presence. Suddenly, all the power is cut, and they hear the Creepy Child Killer Robots calling out to them...
  • Subverted in The Shining when Jack kills Halloran under the only lit lamp in the hall.
  • During the failed operation to remove Octavius' tentacles in Spider-Man 2, a nurse is dragged screaming toward a dark area of the room.
  • The monsters in They only exist in the dark.
  • In Vanishing on 7th Street, a power outage in Detroit has allowed shadow creatures to invade and grab nearly everyone who doesn't have a light source on them. Here, the dark itself is out to get you.
  • Beautifully inverted in the movie Wait Until Dark. Audrey Hepburn plays a blind woman who knocks out all the lights to give herself the advantage over her attacker, since, as a totally blind woman, she can function just fine in the dark. Too bad she forgot one. You probably would, too. In the refrigerator. She thankfully does manage to unplug it at the last second, and darkness equals her attacker's death instead of her own.
  • The Zombie Diaries has a group of survivors looking through an abandoned house where they enter a dark room and... well, you get the idea.

  • Several Fighting Fantasy books will award you non-standard game overs for going into tunnels and caves without a light (many of which chastise the player for their foolishness).
  • The fourth Sorcery! book have a room shrouded in permanent darkness, which players must cross, where no spells - not even the Illumination Spell, cast from the Sun Jewel - can work. You can select between using a normal candle, which gives you a slim chance of crossing unharmed, or use a magic candle made of firefox blood, in which case you will die from one of the room's spiked traps.
  • The Zork gamebook has you (unsurprisingly) eaten by a Grue.

    Interactive Fiction 
  • In the Scott Adams text adventures, wandering around in the dark without any lighting for too many turns will cause you to trip and break your neck.
  • In Colossal Cave (ADVENT), walking around in the dark without a light source caused you to fall in a pit and break every bone in your body. Which is apparently fatal.
  • Dunnet mashes these up: you trip over a grue, fall, and break every bone in your body. (It is implied that the grue proceeds to eat your corpse, given the prior warnings about being eaten.)
  • Parodied in the Interactive Fiction game Enlightenment, where the goal is to dispose of all your light sources so a grue will eat the troll that's guarding the dungeon exit.
  • In One Eye Open, this is the general rule. Entering dark hallways almost always results in your death. Lit up areas are usually safe.
  • Zork had a species of monsters called Grues, whose entire purpose was to pop out of nowhere and eat people who wandered around without a light. Some early drafts had Bottomless Pits, following Colossal Cave, but it was pointed out that a lot of the bottomless pit locations made no sense; one was in the attic of a house that was otherwise perfectly intact.
  • The bottomless pits were brought back for the prequel, Zork Zero. The game's ending reveals that filling in all the bottomless pits is what caused the grue infestation in the first place.

  • Every death in Dead Friend (a.k.a. The Ghost) happens on a dark night in a dark room. For an extra kicker, there's usually a storm outside too.
  • In the book Firefight, written by Chris Ryan, the freedom fighter Faisal Ahmed disables the power in a country house, then once the SAS team leader goes to investigate, the other two men react too slow in the darkness and are slaughtered mercilessly.
  • H. P. Lovecraft's "The Haunter of the Dark" features a monster that can be hurt or banished by light, and which goes after the protagonist during a thunderstorm that knocks out the lights.
  • Kane Series: For Tepper in Dark Crusade it's quite literal—he ventures out only during the day and at night he stays in a locked room full of candles and oil lamps. And then Jarvo takes all of his light sources and Tepper is killed by his own shadow.
  • Subverted by Lamplight, where total darkness is the only place safe from the book's antagonists, who depend on artificial light in order to exist.
  • Lord of Mysteries: Literally in the 'The Land Forgotten by the Gods'. Plunged into eternal darkness, only lit up by an eternal thunderstorm, the residents of this plot of land live in a constant fear of darkness: if the candle goes out for longer than a few seconds, one will either be swallowed by corrupted monsters or just mysteriously disappear.
  • In Phantoms, you might as well sign your own death warrant before you go into the shadows. Not that being in the light makes you much safer, but at least you'll see what's about to eat your face.
  • Hearteater and his minions in Tailchaser's Song revolve around this. They live underground and are only able to come out at night, because the sun burns them. Their plan is to destroy the sun. For most of the book they're built up as terrifying, unknown monsters, but they're seen clearly for the first time when they attack and kidnap Tailchaser and his friends in the middle of the night. They nearly kill them and then force Tailchaser into slavery, building tunnels in the darkness for Hearteater (though cats having good night vision means that they're not in complete darkness).
  • Halfway through Tyrannosaur Canyon a character hides from a stalker in a dark vault, reasoning that a) it'll afford an opportunity to see the stalker through the window without being seen, b) the vault's security will prevent the stalker from following, and c) even if the stalker enters, the prey will be able to use superior knowledge of the surroundings to his advantage. He's only right on the first count.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Subverting this trope was the very reason why Joss Whedon created Buffy the Vampire Slayer: instead of having a blonde entering a dark corner and never coming back, you have a blonde entering a dark corner and coming back with a spinal cord in her hand.
    • He sets out his stall in the very first episode: a blonde girl goes into the school late at night with a boy — but as this blonde girl is really badass vampire Darla, the boy's the one who meets a sticky end.
    • In "Choices", the Mayor and his henchmen cut the power at Sunnydale High before doing a Hostage for MacGuffin trade — the lights make it difficult to kill the Giant Spiders that start scrabbling around when the trade goes wrong.
  • Invoked in the Criminal Minds episode "Our Darkest Hour", in which the killer's MO is that he strikes only in darkness by taking advantage of power cuts.
  • Doctor Who:
  • Firefly: Prominent in "Bushwhacked". The crew of Serenity come across a ship which has been attacked by Reavers, and they explore its innards for potential salvage and survivors. They come across one insane survivor, some cargo and a lot of dead bodies.
  • This is heavily enforced during GARO. All monster attacks happen in the night. So going out to some abandoned alley after sunset is tempting fate for a truly horrible death.
  • Zigzagged in Shadow and Bone with the Shadow Fold, a colossal wall of unnatural darkness filled with flying monsters, but the only way to cross alive is to avoid showing a light which draws the monsters.
  • Stranger Things: The monster's arrival is usually signalled by all nearby lights flickering rapidly and then turning off.
  • Supernatural: In "Hollywood Babylon", this is lampshaded when a network executive says he wants to see more color in the dailies and the director points out they are filming a horror movie, the executive says "And who says horror has to be dark? It's sort of depressing. Don't you think?"
  • The X-Files: In the episode "Darkness Falls", the Monster of the Week is a swarm of flesh-eating bugs that only attack in the dark, making it crucial to keep the generator going.

  • Averted in WHO dunnit (1995). When Nick goes into the basement of Tony's Palace, he gets ambushed by an axe-welding attacker. Nick narrowly dodges the blow and gives chase, starting Basement Multiball.

  • In The Magnus Archives, The Dark (called "Mr. Pitch" by cultists that worship it) is one of several manifestations of primal fears that exist in an extradimensional void and influence the podcast's world. Its effects often manifest as the paranoia you have about what could be waiting for you in the dark, and then having that paranoia be right.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Princess: The Hopeful: The city of Alhambra, capital of the Queen of Tears, exists within the Dark World, protected by the magical light of the wisp-lamps. Anywhere where that light does not shine, the All-Consuming Darkness can manifest, corroding matter (both living and otherwise) like acid and in time allowing the entry of Darkspawn that can enter the illuminated areas and attempt to snuff out the lamps. Unsurprisingly, everything about Alhambra, from its architecture to its society to its foreign policy, is built on the necessity of keeping every square inch of the city lit.
  • Ten Candles is a horror role-playing game with this as a mechanic. The game is played in a dark room lit by only ten tea candles. Players roll from a pool of dice to determine success or failure, but on a "botched" roll a die is removed from the players' dice pool and one of the candles is extinguished. When all the candles go out, any surviving player characters get one last action before their inevitable death.

    Theme Parks 
  • At Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights event, several haunted houses have attempted (not always successfully) at making completely dark environments.
  • The Futuroscope features an attraction that put you in the shoes of blind people, Journey into the Dark. It's a walk-through in complete darkness, ending in the Himalaya, where you have a close call with the Yeti.

    Video Games 
  • Inverted in The Aether, where the most dangerous common mobs spawn in broad daylight, but none spawn underground except in the Dungeons, and even those spawns are Dungeon features rather than random monsters.
  • The Darkness is an entity unto itself in Alan Wake. It possesses people and objects that can only be fought off by shining a light at it.
  • Subverted in Alone in the Dark (2008), where the main characters randomly end up in a dark room lit only by the fire of their automatic guns; they wipe out the evil attempting to kill them. Those not in the darkness, in well lit areas, will end up dead by the end of the scene.
  • The Ambridge Mansion series plays this trope to the hilt - something as simple as looking out a window or opening a cupboard can get you ambushed.
  • Downplayed inversion in Amnesia: The Dark Descent. While staying out of the light too long will reduce your sanity, it is also the only place you are safe when hiding, as the Gatherers can't see in the dark.
  • In Ancient Domains of Mystery, if a player is "doomed", they have a small chance of being eaten by a grue when in the dark in homage to Zork.
  • Black Snow (Half-Life 2) has some sort of pitch black cloud thing that consumes anything that stays too long in the dark, and apparently murdered or consumed everyone on the research station being investigated by the protagonist. Much of the game's suspense revolves around having to enter a dark area according to light patterns and timing, with a limited number of flares, or blind luck and a prayer that the darkness doesn't kill you. It turns out that the ambulatory darkness is a very lethal swarm of photophobic fungal spores that cannot survive direct light.
  • In Brain Dead 13, the final confrontation takes place entirely in blackness. And since Fritz appears to settle the score once and for all, it can mean death for you if you don't act quickly.
  • A section of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons takes place in the darkened woods leading to a graveyard. The titular duo is being stalked by a pack of wolves, which Naia staves off using a torch. The task is to keep the separately controlled Naiee far enough away from the edge of the torch's light that the wolves don't grab him.
  • Castlevania II: Simon's Quest: "What a horrible night to have a curse".
  • The light going out in Darkest Dungeon causes enemies to be more likely to surprise you, deal more damage and inflict more stress. Both sides get a bonus to critical chance, and you make more money, but in general it's best to bring extra torches unless you are reckless, desperate, or feeling sadistic for whatever reason. The developers even put in a monster to discourage torchless runs: the Shambler, a horrifying shoggoth-esque Damage Over Time factory that will beat the living hell out of even a well-equipped, high-level party, but which drops some of the best items in the game if you do manage to kill it.
  • Darkest Fear by Rovio Entertainment is based on this trope; the puzzles all revolve around navigating your way around the shadows (which contain photophobic, flesh-eating mutants) by manipulating various light sources.
  • In The Darkness and its sequel, the dark is a the protagonist's messiah and his enemy's looming fate. God forbid if they managed to piss him off as much as they did when they killed his Aunt Sarah. Indeed, whenever it is dark in the room, Jackie can fully put those reptiles on his shoulders to good use. However, this can be rather bad considering that any strong light sources will strip Jackie of his power (and eyesight), not helped by the fact that all light sources go from being accidental in the beginning of the games to being strategically placed and very hard to mitigate.
  • This happens to Brad, one of your allies in Dead Rising. A struggle between him and the main villain ends with him thrown into a pitch black maintenance tunnel. Crawling with thousands of the undead.
  • Averted most of the time in Dead Space, many of the zombie monsters attack you in very brightly lit areas, allowing you to see them in their full horrifying glory (and making you jump all the more when they actually do attack you in the darkness). Just because the lights go out, doesn't mean you're about to be attacked. In fact, it's a 50-50 chance.
  • Played straight in Dead Space 2, where the Necromorphs are much less inclined to attack in bright areas.
  • Déjà Vu (1985) II: Wandering around the empty bar without a light could randomly kill your character.
  • Dark areas in the Descent series often contain Demonic Spiders, especially the invisible type.
  • In Destiny 2: Forsaken, this applies in some of the Ascendant Realm challenges. The Ascendant Realm is often dark and dimly lit, and full of enemies, from Hive to Shadow Thrall to Taken to nigh-invulnerable Abyssal Champions.
  • In Distorted Travesty 3 dark areas are where the terrifying insta-death monsters prowl.
  • Doom
  • In Don't Starve, any time a player character is in total darknessnote  they are vulnerable to being attacked by a shadow monster that can take off half your health in one strike. First they'll remark on how dark it is, then you hear a sinister hissing noise, and then you get hit. Most non-natural light sources in the game have a limited duration after which they need to be replaced or refueled, except for Willow's lighter. Torches are the most readily available option for low-level characters, but you can't hold a weapon and a torch at the same time; you can beat monsters with the torch if absolutely necessary but it does very little damage. There's also the fact that, unless you have a full Sanity Meter, shadowy hands will reach out of the darkness to snuff out ground-based light sources.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, quests involving Nocturnal and Hermaeus Mora sometimes include sections where straying from the light causes constant damage.
  • Fallout 3: Feral Ghouls, especially Reavers if Broken Steel is installed, tend to lurk in dark subway and utility tunnels. In the DLC The Pitt, the darker areas of town are swarming with Trogs, and in one of the solutions to the quest, you disable the floodlights keeping them out of Uptown, so that they massacre the Slavers.
  • Final Fantasy XV has daemons, monsters that can only spawn and survive at nighttime. They tend to stay away from towns and cities that bathe their streets in artificial lights, but they are much more active and dangerous in the wilds. Late in the game, the sun goes out, leading to daemons becoming active at all hours. Cities and towns remain safe thanks to their lights, but at this point, humanity is living on borrowed time before they run out of power.
  • In the First Encounter Assault Recon expansion pack Perseus Mandate, from what we hear in a recorded message, the top dogs of the Nightcrawler army believe this. However, light does not help or hamper any of Alma's apparitions.
    Nightcrawler Commander: We've lost six men to to the creatures in the shadows. Avoid the dark, if you can.
  • In Five Nights at Freddy's, the player has limited power and is trying to survive a wave of amoral animatronics trying to stuff them into a suit lined with gizmos and electronics, killing them in the attempt. If the power runs out, the lights go off, Freddy Fazbear himself appears and plays an Ominous Music Box Tune, leaving the player helpless to do anything but wait for 6AM or their death by Jump Scare, whichever comes first.
  • Used very literally in the first Gears of War game. Whenever you entered a dark patch of the (outside) environment, the Kryll (a swarm of flesh-eating bats) would consume you in around three seconds. Thankfully this also worked on enemies, so you could shoot out lights above enemy positions and watch the carnage ensue.
  • In Guild Wars 2 there is an underwater dungeon where piranhas attack you for massive damage when you leave the light emitted by volcanic vents or portable bioluminescent plants.
  • "Lowlife", the third chapter of Half-Life 2: Episode One, takes place entirely in the dark, with throngs of headcrab zombies everywhere and a Ten-Second Flashlight and very occasional flares as your only light. As Alyx will only shoot at foes that you light up, you have to learn to conserve your auxiliary power so you aren't caught flat-footed in the dark, surrounded by monsters while waiting for the power to recharge.
  • If a level is dark in Halo, it is likely that you will be fighting Flood very soon.
  • In Hydlide, if you enter a cave without the lantern, you will randomly die. And then, after getting the lantern, you see that there was nothing killing you.
  • In In Between, lethal darkness is a recurring threat within the Mental World of the protagonist, as they are overpowering manifestations of the character's denial, fear and depression.
  • In ...Iru!, the cast starts getting picked off after a power outage.
  • About half of the gameplay in Ju-on: The Grudge - Haunted House Simulator is collecting flashlight batteries, because they drain incredibly quickly. And once you're out of light, Kayako instantly kills you in the darkness.
  • The SNES Jurassic Park SNES tie-in game had a primitive first-person mode which activated inside buildings. Wandering into a darkened space before obtaining the night-vision goggles meant a swift death, even if there were no dinosaurs inside once the player obtained the goggles.
  • In King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow, when you fall into the lower level of the Catacombs, it is pitch black. You are likely to be split in half by the Minotaur if you don't produce a light quickly.
  • One of the worlds in Kirby Mass Attack has levels that revolve around obtaining torches and use them to light candles and other appliances, and feature enemies that will kidnap your Kirbies easily, and can only be made vulnerable by exposing them to a light source.
  • The main mechanic of the short indie game The Last Light is that the thing in the subway kills people who venture into the darkness. You have to manage power distribution in certain areas, keep your Ten-Second Flashlight charged and have a good number of flares to get to the end.
  • Tumbling down a dark staircase by going in without a light source was one of the ways you could die in the Laura Bow series of adventure games.
  • While not present in the game itself per se since zombies can attack you whether or not you're in the dark, the level design of Left 4 Dead uses this association to guide players where to go. Since darkness is instinctively avoided, players tend towards the well lit areas that eventually lead to the safe house.
  • The Legend of Kyrandia features a segment in Serpent's Grotto, a place that consists mostly of a series of caverns with Fireberry bushes growing at strategic points. The Fireberries themselves emit light, and warmth from Brandon's hand causes the berries to decay and lose their glow over the maximum of three screen transitions; if he drops them on the cold floor, the decay stops and the glow remains constant. So Brandon must explore the Grotto by dropping Fireberries on the floor to light up otherwise pitch-black rooms, then come back for more. Get caught in a room with no bush and no berries, and the results are predictably unpleasant.
  • In Leisure Suit Larry 1: In the Land of the Lounge Lizards, wandering into dark alleyways results in Larry getting beaten to death by a mugger.
  • Explicitly used in the WiiWare game LIT (2009). The objective is to cross the nearly pitch-black rooms of the school by creating paths of light with lamps, computer monitors, flares, etc. Stepping into an unlit area is instant death. You also have a Ten-Second Flashlight, but that's only used to scope out the surroundings and figure out how to proceed — it won't protect you as you move.
  • In the Lost video game, in the cave level something would invariably stalk and kill you if you walked around long enough without a light source.
  • Played all over the place in Metro 2033 and its sequels.
    • With human survivors enduring in the ruins of Moscow's deteriorating subway tunnels, the player will often find nasty post-nuclear wildlife in that darkness that seeks to dispute your dominant position at the top of the food chain. However, the dark tunnels are just as often empty, and the player can sneak around in the shadows to get the drop on human enemies or sneak past them without violence.
    • Played dead straight when you encounter spiderbugs, Big Creepy-Crawlies that in swarms but are deathly vulnerable to light. Then, you’ll switch on every lamp, light every lantern, and set fire to anything and everything you can to keep the nasty bastards at bay. The Nazis exploit this against you in Metro: Last Light when you escape from Reich Station with Pavel. Rather than chase you into a spiderbug-infested tunnel, they simply turn the lights off.
      Pavel: Oh shit...
  • In Mega Man X8, Lumine's last attack, Paradise Lost, is a Timed Mission revolving around this. You have 30 seconds to avert this, and the intensifying music outlines just how screwed you are if you don't hurry.
  • In Miasmata, while the monster that inhabits the island will hunt you regardless of what time of day it is, the game's aversion of Hollywood Darkness makes it very dangerous to travel at night where you will be at much greater risk of getting lost, walking off a cliff, dying of illness before finding shelter, or being ambushed by said monster who will now be much harder to see.
  • In Minecraft the game mechanics make hostile mobs spawn where it's dark, while sunlight burns the undead ones like Zombies and Skeletons, and makes Spiders non-hostile unless provoked.
  • The developers of Mirror's Edge deliberately made lower areas darker than the sunlit rooftops. Which just goes to show how well the game mirrors the real-life effects of sunlight and solid objects that block sunlight!
  • Averted (to an extent) in Mother 3, as after the end of the game, the world is basically reborn into a much better place. All you can see of it is darkness and the word "END?"
  • In Ori and the Will of the Wisps, the darkness in Mouldwood Depths, a byproduct of the Decay, literally consumes those who remain in it too long.
  • In Otter Island, the creepy stuff actually starts happening during the day, although it's more subtle at first and not overtly threatening. It's not until night falls that the horror kicks into high gear and the characters really start to grasp they're in danger; it's also only at this point the player character runs into situations where they can be killed.
  • Happens quite literally with the Azurite Mine in Path of Exile. If you stray too far from any light source (the Crawler, the lamps placed along completed paths, or dropped flares), the darkness itself inflicts a stacking debuff that drains your life, getting faster with each stack until you die or get back to a source of light. While there are upgrades to carry more flares, extend their duration, resist the darkness damage and such, delving deeper into the Mine will require you to keep upgrading your darkness resistance and light radius, in order to counteract the penalties to them incurred at greater depths.
  • Inversion: If you don't turn your flashlight off in the "We Can See in the Dark, Can You?" level of Pathways into Darkness, you will be constantly attacked by Goddamned Rats.
  • In Penumbra, there is a perfect example in which you have to run down a hall in which the lights are turning on and off. You have to ALWAYS be in the light, as if you step into darkness, something launches out of the wall and eats you.
  • Phasmophobia plays with this. On one hand, ghost attacks are usually heralded by a complete blackout, or uncontrollable flickering of all available lights (and blown-out candles), and sanity drops while in darkness (if it bottoms out, ghosts tend to go for the kill). On the other, darkness will let you see paranormal activity more easily, letting you get done faster with the mission, and standing in the light too long will court the ghost's ire. And completely inverted with Jinn-type ghosts, as those get especially aggressive and dangerous when the lights are on and will endeavor to keep them on; darkness will keep you safer in these cases.
  • In Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One, in Rossa Fields, you have to get through a very dark path where the only light source is a glowing crystal that you carry with your Vac-U, which can be replenished with crystal chunks on the ground or a charging station (although there's a trophy for not using any of the stations except the first one). Enemies will fly by and try to take chunks off of the crystal, so your group needs to make sure the enemies are killed and the lights stay on. What happens if the lights don't stay on? You and your teammates get eaten by Venixx, that's what.
  • In Rayman Origins, the level "Swimming with Stars" takes place at the bottom of the sea, where there are Darktoons that will reach out and attack you if you're in darkness. They're repelled by the bioluminescent sealife in the level.
  • Las Plagas in Resident Evil 4 are vulnerable to sunlight, so Ganados are much weaker and can't release them from their bodies in the first chapter, that takes place in daytime. Starting on chapter 2, the sky is darkened by a rainstorm, and then night falls.
  • Episode 2 of Resident Evil Containment takes place in The Spencer Mansion, where the lights are out and the only illumnation comes from glowsticks and fallen flashlights. To make matters worse, zombies only make noise when alerted to your presence, forcing you to be extra cautious as you navigate the mansion's hallways.
  • RuneScape has something similar, if you enter a dark area with no light source, you "hear the skittering of tiny insects on the floor" a few seconds later, and you will be hit with a constant stream of 1 damage every half second or so.(new players start with 10 hp, the best of the best have 99, to put that in context)
  • Shadowgate has two torches you needed to keep lit. If they go out, you'll stumble around in darkness until you fall and die, even in areas outside or areas that have some other source of light. The remake is a bit more sensible about this; if your torches go out, you can stay in any area that already has a light source and not die, but moving into any dark area beyond that without relighting the torches will kill you.
  • Inverted in Silence of the Sleep. At one point in the final stretch where you're trudging through a rainstorm, when lightning strikes and lights up the screen, you have to stand perfectly still or the roaming monstrosities can catch you. You can only move safely when it's totally dark.
  • Silent Hill zig-zags this trope like a circlestrafing first-person shooter player. The Dark World of the town contains much harder fights, including most of the bosses, but turning off your light and treading lightly is a valid and effective way to play.
    Don't be afraid of the dark. Be afraid of what it hides.
  • In Sonic 3 & Knuckles Sandopolis Zone Act 2, you must keep the lights on by pulling on certain handles to kindle the torches. If you spend too long in the dark, the ghosts will swoop down to attack.
  • In Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge, if you go into dark caves without a light source, you will be eaten by a Cave Beaver or Cave Squid.
  • Spelunky's dark levels are one of the worst threats in the game, concealing enemies and traps in the shadows just beyond the Spelunker's tiny circle of light. Oh, and you have a limited supply of flares, which go out instantly if you touch water. Fortunately, the developer has mitigated this somewhat by making certain level features function as light sources.
  • Splinter Cell (and similar stealth games) is effectively an inversion of this trope, for all your enemies. In one level, Sam's helpers aid him in eliminating a squad of enemies by cutting the power. As the lights go out, they're easy pickings. Conversely, an early level in the second game, Pandora Tomorrow plays the trope straight against Sam, where he must stay inside the beam of a searchlight or he dies instantly, courtesy of an enemy sentinel with Night-Vision Goggles and a Sniper Rifle.
  • Starcraft, Warcraft, and many other Real-Time Strategy games have the Fog of War. Finagle's Law guarantees that if you run a unit into the Fog without looking ahead, it will get attacked.
  • Tattletail: Stay in the dark too long, and Mama Tattletail will catch you, especially since being in darkness makes Tattletail freak out. Being in the light (not counting your flashlight) also means you're safe, as the power goes out when she's attacking.
  • Terraria: The Don't Starve crossover introduced a special world seed that makes a world with the latter game's mechanics. One of which being that standing in pitch-blackness for a long amount of time will have the player character be damaged by something. It's easy to keep the darkness away by holding up a torch, but torches extinguish in the rain in worlds made with that seed.
  • Touhou Project
  • In Wick, you need to stay in candle light, preferably by carrying a candle. You don't die outright when you're in the dark, but the ghosts become much more aggressive.
  • Played with in Wick (2020) (not to be confused with the above game). Mara and the demonic flies known as Legions are attracted to Wick's flame and you can use a douter to dim the light and sneak by. Both enemies will try to snuff out the flame if they spot Wick; if they succeed he dies. Ditto if Wick melts completely.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney's third case, the blind Lamiroir employs the same tactic by running into a pitch black stage to take cover from an assailant.

  • Trevor (2020): While the medical facility at first appears to be well-lit, parts of it become ominously dark.

    Web Original 
  • The Crawlspace: The creature from the crawlspace only seems to come out at night and apparently prefers the dark (the last time that the narrator spots it is in the very early morning when the sun hasn't even risen) although it's not confirmed if it never comes out during the day.
  • According to the logs of the SCP Foundation, SCP-280, the "Eyes in the Dark", retreats from sources of light, but in the darkness, it's an absolute nightmare, where it will hunt down humans and tear them apart with its claws strong enough to tear through steel. Try to turn on the lights to defend yourself? It'll teleport away if it's exposed to sudden lights and retreat for another ambush. Because of this, its containment chamber has to be completely dark. Oh, and it was first found in a location where it massacred a family of five in their home.

    Western Animation 
  • In Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles: The Dying of Light, a blind gargoyle from a recent surgery and a blind human employ this tactic against attacking Quarrymen. The villains decide to create their own light by creating a small fire.
  • Star Wars Rebels: In a heroic version and Shout-Out to Zatoichi, who did this at least once per film, Kanan Jarrus uses the Force to kill the lights right before engaging a transport full of stormtroopers in "Heroes of Mandalore".

Alternative Title(s): Eaten By A Grue