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What did you expect from a show named Battling Seizure Robots?
"Ling-Ling isn't here to make friends. Ling-Ling here to destroy all! Give all children seizures!"
Drawn Together, "Hot Tub"
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It seems that whenever something or someone goes haywire, fails or is about to explode, light is going to flash rapidly, randomly and brightly, whether it originates from buttons, lamps, screens or even eyes and orifices. Justified in failing lightbulbs and warning lamps, but may otherwise lead to moments of failed awesomeness.

Intense flashing effects are generally more common in older works, due to society becoming more concerned about this trope over time. Works which are intended to be disorienting and/or were made for the art are especially prone to this, as are (more contemporary) horror and science fiction genres. Many film and video game creators believe that everything is better with flashing, even though it's not always that awesome. Also contributing to this is that flashing tends to be one of the easiest visual effects to achieve. Older video games in particular often employed flashing screen effects because color-cycling demands so little processing power; since advances in graphic technology have discredited this excuse, toning down flashing lights or patterns that could trigger seizures has become one of the few alterations routinely made to classic games in official emulated rereleases such as on the Virtual Console.

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Not in any way related to Epileptic Trees. Compare to Power Glows, where light produces a positive effect, and Glowing Eyes of Doom, which implies imminent evil rather than imminent (self)destruction. See also Brown Note, Red Alert, Technicolor Death, Stop Motion Lighting, Blinding Camera Flash, and Throat Light. May fall under Sensory Abuse. Subtrope of Sensory Overload.

Truth in Television, but only for people with very severe ("photosensitive") epilepsy. Most people with epilepsy can look at flashing lights with impunity and only have to watch out for things that physically affect their brain chemistry (such as acute stress, alcohol/drugs, sleep deprivation, etc).

It probably goes without saying, but anyone who actually has photosensitive epilepsy or is otherwise harmed by flashing lights should avoid any external links on this page and especially avoid any links to YouTube found here. Don't add video examples to this page, either!

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Examples:

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    Advertising 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Astro Boy uses this a lot, especially in the 1960s series: about every few minutes there will be a black-and-white strobe explosion.
  • Dragon Ball Z has a serious case of this when Gohan and Super Perfect Cell are using their Kamehamehas against each other in a final battle. This was actually edited to be subdued quite a bit in Dragon Ball Z Kai.
  • Fushigi Yuugi: In episode 11, when Tamahome forces his way through the barrier that's supposed to keep out the Suzaku warriors, there is a very intense strobe light effect that could make it difficult for some people to watch.
  • GaoGaiGar is an interesting example in that it was airing contemporaneously with the classic Pokémon example. Its first half features a number of flashing lights of this sort, especially when the villains are engaging in Omniscient Council of Vagueness shenanigans. Right around the end of the first arc and into the beginning of the second, though, you notice a massive reduction in such effects... as these episodes entered production after the Pokémon scandal hit, resulting in Sunrise hastily re-storyboarding new episodes to avoid such effects.
  • Pokémon will forever be haunted by the "Electric Soldier Porygon" episode incident. It aired only once on December 16, 1997, and only in Japan. During the episode, a scene contained red-and-blue flashing lights onscreen. The flashing lights caused seven hundred kids to have seizures, most of whom had to be hospitalized. The episode was never aired anywhere else in the world, was outright banned by Japanese law, and holds the world record of most seizures induced by a television show. As a result of this, Porygon (and later, its evolutions) have never had a huge role in any episode since. This serves as little more than insult to injury, since it wasn't Porygon who set off the flashing lights, but Pikachu, with his yellow-and-white flashing electricity hitting missiles that produced the seizure-inducing red-and-blue flashes. Soon after the airing of the episode, several news outlets in Japan aired the offending segment again as part of stories covering the incident, causing even more seizures.
    The reaction flooded to other anime, as studios sought to make sure such an incident never happened again industry-wide, employing new restrictions on what patterns and effects can be displayed on TV. All sequences that employed flashing effects or complex patterns (such as stripes, whirls, and concentric circles) were slowed, downsized, and shortened to more acceptable levels and lengths. Some series even dim the colors right when the scene is about to get particularly flashy, and children's shows usually come with a warning to watch in a well-lit area at a safe distance from the TV.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • In-universe, when Ami is introduced, the Monster of the Day, Garoben, in a disguise, mentioned that that day's assignment is to be done via a disc. Ami remarks that she always gets headaches whenever she uses the disc. The disc ends up being just a very faint blue strobe that fills up an entire computer screen. After having the students surround Sailor Moon when she shows up, Garoben sticks Ami's face into the monitor, only for there to be no effect (the sequence itself is actually tame on people watching the scene). It's also the scene in which it is revealed that Ami is Sailor Mercury.
    • Many will cite the MOTD death scenes in Super S as actually being seizure inducing, as the Lemure would be shown in front of a flashing background before being destroyed. Sailor Moon wasn't one to fall victim to the trope as it rarely did have any very intense sequences, but the red/white effect got to near Porygon-level danger.
    • Some parts of Sailor Jupiter and Mars' deaths in the first season finale contained this. The former had flashes of lightning going off constantly, while the latter had rapid red and white flashing.
  • In the 25th episode of YAT Anshin! Space Travel, there was a scene involving red and white flashing that gave four children seizures in Japan. Later airings slowed down the sequence.
  • Smile PreCure! does these a lot especially during the Transformation Sequence. The American dub Glitter Force tones this down by having the scene darken slightly during really bright scenes, to avoid seizures for young viewers.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho: In episode 30, when Hiei uses his Ensatsu Kokuryu-ha, the screen flashes black and white repeatedly. Not that kind of black and white, but literally the colors black and white.

    Films — Animation 
  • Done in An Extremely Goofy Movie at one point as Goofy and Sylvia dominate the dance floor.
  • Incredibles 2: Social media health watchdogs expressed concerns, and Disney subsequently issued warnings, that Screenslaver's mind-control hypnosis makes use of patterned strobe effects that could trigger seizures in epileptic viewers. The theatrical release and 4K Ultra HD movie case include a warning due to this. Regardless, the strobe effect is not present for the movie's DVD and Blu-ray releases.
  • In The Gate to The Mind's Eye segment "Quantum Mechanic" submission "Walking Figure in Sight", there is a 3D Zoetrope that makes use of a 15hz strobe light to make figures on a spinning disc seem to move.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: Similar to Incredibles 2, people have expressed concerns over several sequences of flashing lights seen throughout the film (the first of which is during the opening logos, which start to flash pretty intensely not even a minute into the film - the variants used suffer from Reality Bleed and rapidly change in and out of their alternate-universe forms, giving them a very glitchy appearance). Unfortunately, the one thing this doesn't have in common with Incredibles 2 is that Sony never issued any official warnings for it; didn't stop people from starting several petitions online to get them to add a warning, though, and certain theaters took to placing warnings in their buildings themselves.
  • Yellow Submarine, most notably in the Sea of Science ("Only a Northern Song" number) and Sea of Holes sequences.

    Films — Live-Action 

Creators:

Movies:

  • The vampire birth scene in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 employed this and caused numerous viewers to have seizures.
  • In Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, these are used to simulate whenever the UniSols are being freed from their mind control and when they're having flashback echoes of their lives.
  • There's an in-universe reference of the villain corporation in Ready Player One JUST subverting this happening to someone with what they wanted to do with the OASIS game if they got control of the game via the contest, with the CEO saying that they could "sell 80% of a player's visual field before inducing seizures."

    Literature 
  • In The Andromeda Strain, the flashing alarm lights of the secret underground Wildfire laboratory literally become epileptic flashing lights when Dr. Peter Leavitt suffers an epileptic fit because of them.

    Live-Action TV 

In General:

  • You'd think that with HD becoming the norm (and thus a much better quality picture to view television in), that networks would take photo sensitivity into account. Far from it, however, as this trope has begun creeping up on several promos for shows in recent years.
    • NBC had their "more colorful" campaign for a few years. Though there were other criticisms concerning the campaign, one familiar aspect of the promos was a transition NBC seemly fell in love with: a second long flash of a "color test" style flash where the colors of the NBC peacock swept across the screen (left to right then back) before the name and time of show was told. Each bar was small enough so each color of the peacock was present during the flash, but it was the sweep that made it interesting. It was toned down slightly in its sophomore season for some shows.
    • Spike TV had its way of displaying its logo during promos and such, with its logo in the center of a black screen, then a sound with a solid color (usually the same color as the Spike logo taking over the entire screen for a second before it returning to black, with the logo itself changing color during the flash. What's ironic about it is that the usual color of the logo is yellow, the same color that Pikachu fires his Thunderbolt in (yellow is said to be a MAJOR problem color for photo sensitive people, along with red, and was also the color added to that mix in the Porygon episode that made what could've been a tamer issue in that episode to become a widespread epidemic). The logo bug does a VERY rapid yellow flicker at times, too, that lasts for a few seconds, usually when a program returns from commercial.
    • TBS has done this, but it's hard to know when they are going to actually employ it. Whenever the name of a show comes up in their promos, it's in a black on white (or vice versa) panel while the panels itself are on another background color. The panel rapidly flashes, with the text and background trading colors during the flashes.
    • CMT had done this with their 2011 Country Music Awards promo. That circle suddenly flashing several different colors for a few seconds caught a few people off guard.
  • A few vanity cards actually did this:
    • Russian production company BND had to edit its ball-to-mask vanity card to black and white from its original color because of the sudden circle effect that happened when the ball hit its target. The color in question? Yep: the dreaded yellow!
    • Go on YouTube and search for "Ear Booker Productions." This was "Weird Al" Yankovic's production company when he starred in his short lived CBS kids show. Not only is it a firm example of the trope in fine fashion (epileptics beware), but the background music was called "Bite Me", which was on his album "Off The Deep End" which after 11 minutes of silence after "You Don't Love Me Anymore", the track begins, which is just him screaming like a maniac while disconjorted music plays in the background (it was intended to scare anyone that forgot to eject the disc). Imagine a rapid white and black flash taking up the entire screen, with large text that trades colors with the background on every color switch in said flash zooming up at you, for four seconds while THAT music track plays. Yeah, an epileptic's worst nightmare!

Networks:

  • The BBC's news bulletins always issue warnings before showing footage containing flash photography (British TV seems to be more conscious about this than any other country).

Series:

  • Doctor Who: The Weeping Angels seem to have the ability to cause this as a power. Since they can only move when unseen...
  • Used for the iCarly episode "iGo Nuclear", where Carly and Sam dance in the dark with flashing green strobe lights.
    RANDOM STROBING!
  • Hi-5: The opening version of the video for the song "Action Hero" from Series 7, features some of the most flashy, intense visual effects to ever be appear on the show. It's unusual for Hi-5 to begin with, as most special effects are usually held for the version of a song video used at the end of a given episode. The flashing disco ball at the very beginning of the song doesn't help matters. There's a similar problem with the remake from Series 16; the flashing is in the background, but it's still problematic. It's clear an effort was made to avoid this when the song was adapted for the American version of the show, and the other foreign counterpart groups didn't use it at all.
  • Kamen Rider BLACK's finishers later in the series. You will go blind.
  • Saturday Night Live: The March 17th, 2018 episode had Arcade Fire as the musical guest. During the performance of their first song, "Creature Comfort", they employed a ton of strobe lighting effects that would melt an epileptic. In fact, the Live From New York subreddit had quite a few people saying that the lighting caused some headaches. Wasn't the first time an SNL musical guest used strobe lighting (The Weeknd had a similar stage setup that had a milder form of it for "False Alarm"), but this was much more intense. Strangely, NBC did apologize for cutting off the beginning of Arcade Fire's second song, but not for the seizure inducing lights that accompanied the first song (that was much more threatening to those viewing it).
  • On Supernatural, flickering lights are a sign of a ghost haunting or sometimes a nearby demon. Angels tend to make light-bulbs explode.
  • Plenty of entries at the Eurovision Song Contest love to lay on the flashing lights and LEDs, particularly rock songs (Iceland's 2019 entry "Hatrid mun sigra" had so many that the official video of their performance on the Eurovision YouTube channel couldn't completely render them). The biggest example would probably be Georgia's 2016 entry, "Midnight Gold" by Nika Kocharov & Young Georgian Lolitaz, which cranks up the flashing lights and really fast cuts Up to Eleven starting around the song's bridge. The BBC's commentator, Graham Norton, even said (in effect), "We know we always warn you about strobe lights when they come up, but this is on another level!" (Of course, ironically enough, the British jury would later award Georgia their twelve points!).

    Music 
  • This may be the goal of every lighting technician at rock/metal concerts.
  • Too many videos to count. Especially with dubstep, which seems to depend on weird effects which may make you feel like you're already having a seizure...or at least tripping on acid.
  • Slayer and their concerts. 30 straight minutes of strobes and people probably seizing, almost seizing, or leaving before seizing.
  • Meshuggah. Polyrhythmic epileptic strobes.
  • The music videos for Christian Metal band Impending Doom's "Silence the Oppressors" and "My Nemesis."
  • Death Grips' video for Full Moon (Death Classic) deserves a special mention here, flashing around seven times per second in an unpredictable fashion through most of its four-minute duration.
  • Used from time to time in the music video for drum and bass/dubstep duo Delta Heavy's "Hold Me".
  • COMMUNICATIONS: All of the PVs, save ROTARY DIAL, have flashing lights and the appropriate warnings at the beginning of the videos.
  • The Nine Inch Nails music video for the song "Come Back Haunted".
  • Meg Myers' cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill" has a rotoscoped Animated Music Video in which each frame is a "coloring book page" psychedelically colored in with crayons by elementary school students, resulting in an epileptic's nightmare. Luckily, a warning is shown beforehand.
  • The video for Ghost's "Year Zero" creates an intense strobe-like effect during the final instrumental passage by very rapidly cutting between scenes of the band playing, a boy reading a book, and passing through a tunnel.

    Pinball 
  • During Stroboscope Multiball in Attack from Mars, a strobolight under the playfield flying saucer rapidly flashes during gameplay, making it harder to track the pinballs flying about. The game ended up being the first pinball to have an epilepsy warning sticker applied to it.
  • Getting a Starman in Super Mario Bros. triggers these.
  • Secret Service has the "Retina Scanner", a large red/yellow/blue light bar on top of the backbox. It flashes at times during the game, and accompanies the post-game sing-along for "Nobody Does It Better".
  • This was the main selling point of Flash, in the form of its (then-new) flash lamps providing quick bursts of bright light.
  • Dungeons & Dragons included a "Dragon Box" topper with two strobe lights. Operators could put it on top of the backbox to raise the game's profile and attract bystanders.
  • Strange Science has a backbox topper that resembles a Jacob's Ladder, with a flashing elecrical arc between the poles.
  • Flash Gordon originally came with a bright flashing strobe light in the backbox. It was removed due to complaints from operators, though many collectors use aftermarket kits to restore the feature.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Sometimes when WCW Monday Nitro went to break, or did a panoramic move for a wrestler's entrance, the camera zoomed in (for some odd reason) to one of the lights that surrounded the entrance way, which flashed different colors.
  • The WWF Signature during the Attitude Era is nicknamed the "seizure inducing WWF logo" for a reason. What was it with the WWF wanting everyone to get epilepsy during that era? Maybe because the era was so awesome that people just didn't care.
  • Matt Hardy, when he was with the WWF, had an entrance with had red and blue lights flickering VERY rapidly, aimed to the ENTIRE CROWD.
  • White lights flash very rapidly on the entrance stage whenever John Cena comes out to his theme. Cena usually says something to the camera before coming off the stage and running to the ring, which usually means having to see a few more seconds of the effect. This was made somewhat worse after Raw 1000. The WWE debuted a new set that featured circular pillars with lights every 10 feet or so that can also strobe when they want them to, which they "want them to" during Cena's entrance. And when Cena says his spiel to the camera, the camera is usually somehow pointing straight towards one of the strobe lights.
  • Randy Orton is known in part due to his entrance and Rev Theory's "Voices". When the bridges are played (between each verse and the ensuing chorus), the minitrons suddenly flashes bright white flicker light whenever a high chord is played (the trons are initially deep orange). Though you'd think this would cause people fits, this actually is one of the more popular aspects of his entrance. So much so that people actually complained when it wasn't included in one of the WWE games.
  • The Miz's "mini-tron" when he comes out. The kaleidoscopic effect was used on the bigger mini during 2010 and was dumped in favor of the paparazzi one, but has always been used in some form or fashion during his entrance.
  • Speaking of Raw milestones, the recent 20th Anniversary of RAW and the recap of the intros to Raw made us all remember (or just now realize, depending on how you saw it) how seizure inducing some of the WWE's show intros were back in the Attitude era. Raw's "Move It To The Music" especially, when the WWE just LOVED covering every frame with flashing strobe lights and forever changing angles and scenes.
  • CM Punk's first entrance's mini-tron also had random colors rapidly going about.
  • Even more inducing was the commercials (there were two) for the currently Vaporware WWE Network. The commercials had several words going all over the screen with various color effects that could make you go blind.
  • Chris Jericho and his "light bright jacket".

    Tabletop Games 
  • There's one cyberarm option in one of the Chrome manuals of Cyberpunk 2020, that installs below the wrist what is basically a stroboscopic light. Anyone who sees it flaring and fails the saving throw gets dazed and the effects of a seizure.
  • Weaponized by Task Force Valkyrie in Hunter: The Vigil. Their Equalizer Grenades are basically flashbangs which, after researches on shapeshifters are designed to cause seizure on parts of the brain in control of shapeshifting. Any shapeshifter caught in its effect will be forced back into their human form for a short period, which is more than enough time to take them down.
  • In [1], various wizard spells produce this effect; such as Color Spray and Hypnotic Pattern. Generally these have a good chance of disabling anyone in the area.

    Theatre 
  • Disney's Aladdin: The Stage Musical uses this during the Cave of Wonders sequence and at a few other points. Warning sign included.
  • Used in Amaluna during the first aerial straps number to depict lightning flashes.
  • The UK touring production of Starlight Express features flashing light effects through practically all of "AC/DC", and "Freight" includes a moment of flashing sudden enough to make anyone jump out of their skin if they don't have a seizure outright.
  • The most recent Broadway revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch employed this at the climax. Full warnings were posted in the lobby of the theater.
  • The stage musical of Beauty and the Beast has this during the Beast's transformation back into the Prince.
  • The stage version of The Lion King has this right at the point when Mufasa falls to his death.
  • Ursula's death in the stage version of The Little Mermaid, at least in the post-Broadway production.
  • Used in Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 to complement the electro-pop soundtrack, particularly during "The Duel".

    Video Games 
  • One of the earliest examples was the infamous Game Over screen of Missile Command, representing a nuclear holocaust.
  • Early versions of Tempest reportedly had seizure-inducing visual effects, which may have inspired the Polybius urban legend.
  • The Famicom Disk System startup flashes colorful strobes at you.
  • Beat Hazard and its Ultra companion (that's also now out for the PS3 now, as well) is basically epilepsy, now available in video game format. The game, at the beginning, has a specific warning that that particular game uses intense strobe lighting effects. This game uses it to a fault, to the point where TotalBiscuit, who once praised the game, changed his opinion on it due to it just being too much, and when the game was featured on a video on his channel, he made sure people were aware of the risks before moving on with the video.
  • Star Fox 64 has several bosses that get light-emitting cracks before exploding.
  • In the NES game Iron Tank, bosses display a seizure-inducing light show when exploding. This effect is also used when V2 rockets explode, one notable example about 2/3 through the first level, and even more pronounced when the player is killed. Photosensitive people should stay clear.
  • The arcade version of Salamander features an enemy that does this.
  • The disco/strip club in Duke Nukem 3D.
  • All text (and graphics) in Burn the Trash!.
  • La-Mulana does this in the original version after Bahamut is defeated. (The remake substitutes a Fade to White.)
  • Spheres of Chaos is based on bright colors and flashes. One of the options include screen flashing when one particular enemy is defeated. The game warns about seizure possibilities.
  • Streets Of Rage III: a strobe flash pattern with lines is part of the looping lighting sequence in the hall area of the second level's nightclub.
  • Techno Kitten Adventure. You control a flying kitten with a rainbow-spewing jetpack as it flies through colorful backgrounds and avoids flashing, color-changing obstacles. See it in action if you dare.
  • The overkill on Senator's stage in Eternal Champions: Challenge From The Dark Side.
  • In Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, the screen flashes as bosses die. When Link dies, the screen flashes multiple colours save for Link's black silhouette. These effects have been considerably toned down in rereleases, however.note 
  • The Game Boy Advance re-release of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past changed the intro to where the sword piercing the Z in Zelda only makes the screen turn solid white than what it was previously. Maybe Nintendo saw what the slower frame rate of YouTube did to that chroma effect when people posted the SNES version (only when someone actually films the TV screen that the game is playing on can you see what the effect is actually supposed to look like). Another possibility is they were concerned that the LCD screen of the Advance would display flickers differently than on the CRT TVs of the day,note  possibly resulting in undesired flashing.
  • In Transformers: Convoy no Nazo, this happens after boss deaths and when starting a game. This was removed in the Virtual Console rerelease.
  • In Kirby's Dream Land 3, the screen rapidly flashes white during the cutscene where the True Final Boss appears. Additionally, the Hyper Zone's alternate color palette, used in Boss Butch mode, gives the area a bright yellow background with vivid red and blue clouds, which can scroll rapidly enough to resemble this trope. Rereleases tone down the flashes in the aforementioned cutscene and change the Hyper Zone's red and blue colors to a far more subdued yellow and green scheme (with the additional benefit of making Zero's red projectiles more visible when used there).
  • When you beat the final boss in Ghoul School and finally save the girl.
  • Brutal Mario, a hack of Super Mario World, has the first Koopaling boss, Larry, in a room full of multicolored flashing lights as you hit him.
  • Pokémon Red, Green, and Blue uses screen flashes as part of the animation for several moves, including Thunderbolt, Body Slam, and Hyper Beam. Due to how frames tend to blur together somewhat on the original Game Boy's screen, this was not quite as bad on original hardware as it is on later devices. Some of the flashy move animations, which can get rather extreme on the original Japanese games, were severely toned down for the international releases and Yellow because of the anime adaptation's infamous Porygon incident and the introduction of the Game Boy Color.
  • Williams Electronics' Arcade Games had a knack for having text and certain objects flash colors rapidly. Games like Blaster (an epileptic's nightmare), Defender (both), Robotron: 2084, NARC, and even some of the text in the first Mortal Kombat games were known to do this. However, most of these were in the standard neon "red, yellow, blue, green" pattern that seems to never really cause an issue. MK is not as lucky, though the text is small enough to not cause too much of an issue.
  • Early Mega Man (Classic) games were known to have its background flash black and white whenever you selected a Robot Master stage or defeated a fortress boss, as well as on fortress maps to simulate lightning. Modern rereleases, such as on the Virtual Console or the Legacy Collections remove them.
  • However, Circus Caper isn't so lucky. Whenever Tim gains a key, the screen turns turquoise, and when the key finally hits his head, the screen rapidly flashes silver and blue, surely making people go into epileptic fits.
  • Half-Life is known in part for the black-and-green flashing effect that one sees when travelling through dimensions from Earth to Xen. In the base game, there are a few moments when you'll see green lightning bolts strike the screen, causing it to flicker green and black for half a second to a full one. That in of itself isn't too bad, and Opposing Force didn't have any of this, but Blue Shift and the console exclusive Decay cranked this up a notch. Whenever someone goes into a portal, the screen suddenly begins flashing green and black (about the same speed as the Mega Man flashes explained above), which could last a few seconds (during the endings of both games, the effect occurs several times, too, since the characters are stuck in a vortex effect). This was toned down a bit when Valve re-released the original Half-Life to Source, and even further in The Crowbar Collective's Fan Remake of it, Black Mesa.
  • There was a bug in the beta of World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria that made one of the new mounts travel at a breakneck pace, making everything around it go crazy. Many players dubbed the mount (a ride-able phoenix mount) the "seizure bird" because what they saw was rather similar to the Porygon incident. Others, though, thought it was just a mount taking acid. Obviously, this was a bug, as there was no mount speed increase announced for Mists of Pandaria.
  • Averted somewhat in Wipeout HD. When Sony went to test the game, it came back delayed because it didn't pass the "epilepsy test" that it give to every game. Although many don't pass the first time, Wipeout HD got notoriety for it due to a few reasons. For one, it was a much hyped game that had people waiting to buy it. Secondly, the game was to come out for the PlayStation 3, which struggled to gain friends in the gaming media at the time, making some jump on the opportunity to rant on Sony more. Third, the reason for the failure got severely nerfed as a result. The reason? In the game's "Zone Mode", the race tracks had an equalizer effect that moved to whatever music that was being played at the time while each zone changed the type of color scheme, as well. The effect got removed in favor of a "pulse" effect that made the entire road area of the track flash faintly.
  • The bizarre adventure game Total Distortion is replete with flashing effects throughout the Distortion Dimension, including the footage you record for music videos, but special mention goes to a part where the player must activate a Television Portal to enter a maze. When it turns on, the screen fills with a rapidly strobing vortex of colors for about thirty seconds, and the maze itself is full of trippy, pulsing backgrounds. Worse, due to a speed bug from Macromedia Director, the flashing increases when run on faster systems.
  • Saints Row: The Third has an ad that warns of rapidly flashing lights that can cause epileptic fits. The ad itself does everything in its power to cause epileptic fits with all the rapidly changing flashing lights. It makes Pokémon look positively tame in comparison.
  • The Dead Space series has flickering lights in quite a few areas (mostly in the first game). Most notable is in Chapter 6 of the first game: a screen is flickering very rapidly (right after killing the second huge tentacle Necromorph that grabs you). The reason this is most notable is because on it is code for how to read the texts on the walls that are in a weird language. Perhaps having a seizure is the only way to know the truth about The Marker.
  • The dance club where Max Payne 3's second chapter takes place has a seizure-tastic strobe hallway.
  • Kickle Cubicle and the reveal of the third palace.
  • Ninja Gaiden 1(NES) has this when the player loses their last life.
  • Level 4 in Cheetahmen has a strobing background.
  • The "seizure cave" (third part of Mission 3) in the NES port of Double Dragon I.
  • Kyokugen, a doujin Vertical Scrolling Shooter for the MSX2, has a Limit Break that causes severely eye-straining screen flashes.
  • Occurs when using Showstopper in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door.
  • In Suikoden II, several team attacks have one or several flashes, with the one of the hero and his sister being arguably the worst offender (about 20 in growing frequency).
  • In Guacamelee!, whenever you complete a mask, a heart, or get a new special move, you're greeted with a screen with headache-inducing flashing lights for a second or two.
  • Ninja Spirit has an unusually prolonged case of screen flashing in the ending (at least in the arcade and TurboGrafx-16 versions), where The Hero transforms back into a wolf.
  • EarthBound was known for its flashy PSI effects. Amusingly enough, it could be reasoned that PSI Flash destroys some enemies in-game by inflicting this on them. Like all Virtual Console games, the lights were toned down for the re-release.
  • In Shovel Knight, after defeating a boss in Shovel of Hope, the background cycles bright rainbow colors for a few seconds. The cycling is just slow enough that photo-sensitive people shouldn't be at risk, though the lightning flashes in The Lich Yard could potentially be dangerous. Both can be disabled in the option menu.
  • In the first Metroid, Mother Brain goes down in a comparatively huge light show for an otherwise low-key NES game.
  • In the Sega Genesis version of Crack Downnote , the entire screen flashes violently for a few seconds to indicate an exploding base, which would be less visually irritating if it didn't happen at the end of every level. (The arcade version did this a bit less obtrusively.)
  • Blaster Master has violent palette flickering as the Boss Warning Siren plays.
  • Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap has this when Wonder Boy changes to a new form. The remake toned it down.
  • Magical Drop III has Magician's "Magical Flash" chain animation, which causes his field to flash white and black with enough intensity to give instant headaches the first time that you see it. Given that this is a game where you're expected to be chaining continuously, it makes Magician nearly unplayable. Oddly, Magical Drop II's rendition has no flash whatsoever.
  • In Spelunker, the screen flashes violently whenever one of the player's bombs detonates.
  • In the last levels of the Surreal Horror Adobe Flash game Covetous, the background rapidly flashes between red and white.
  • Sonic 3 & Knuckles uses a variety of flashing effects for assorted things in the game, such as the electric hazards in Death Egg Zone (which flash white when electrified), part of the backdrop of the slot machine bonus stage (which flashes white when the slot machine's reels spin, and fills most of the screen during that time), nearly everything in the pachinko bonus stage, and Hyper Sonic (who flashes pastel colors constantly and has an attack which causes the screen to flash). Losing a Lightning Shield by touching water also causes a quick full-screen flash of white.
  • Cyberpunk 2077 has been reported to have the Braindance device flash in a way disturbingly similar to the actual medical devices used to trigger seizures for diagnostic purposes. This was corrected in patch 1.04.
  • In beatmania, the highest rank of note hit accuracy is a Just Great / P-Great / Perfect Great, which is indicated by the text "GREAT" flashing in pink and cyan rather than being colored a static yellow for a regular Great. Fortunately the flashing effect covers a small enough portion of the screen that it shouldn't be a problem for many players.
  • Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest has Glimmer's Galleon, the level where Glimmer the anglerfish provides a cone-shaped beam of light in an otherwise dark level. The issue arises in whenever Diddy/Dixie changes direction, in which case Glimmer will also turn around and flash the screen with blinding white for one frame. Seeing as you'll have to turn around a lot to beat this level, it's very unpleasant to play for this reason alone. Modern rereleases (such as for the Virtual Console or Nintendo Switch Online) remove the flash.
  • The rising fire on Ristar's fire planet flashes black and red rapidly and can fill the entire screen.
  • Stinger for the NES has screen flashes accompanying the Boss Warning Siren.
  • In the unpatched version of Balan Wonderworld, the final boss has an attack that causes white flashes to cover the entire screen for about five seconds at a time. The flashing was removed in the game's day-one patch.

    Webcomics 
  • Homestuck uses rapidly alternating and often brightly colored animation fairly often, though the only known time cases of photosensitives having problems with it have arisen is the second intermission's Flash (which focuses heavily on the villainous Lord English, who is heavily associated with certain kinds of flashing which are at their most extreme and often encompass the entire screen in that animation), which caused multiple reports of headaches; it's safe to view it on YouTube, though, as the site's compression pretty much destroys the framerate to the point where it's not a problem. Rapidly flashing lights are also notably used in the Flash "[S] Jade: Wake up", to the point of it falling under this trope, but Andrew Hussie made sure to construct it so as to avoid triggering seizures despite the rapid flashing. The character of Sollox also has telekinesis and Eye Beams which flash red and blue when used.
  • Hookie Dookie Panic (A finished comic by the maker of Geist Panik) mentions it here: "Oh great. Are you epileptic?" "No, why?" "Heh. You will be." (Lens Flare! Flash! Lens Flare! Flash! Lens Flare! Flash!) "Damn you all! Stop convulsing! Why do they always convulse!?"
  • An 8-Bit Theater comic called "Seizure Warning, No Seriously" has a large panel with several characters floating around a screaming goat; after a few seconds, that panel starts flashing rapidly.

    Web Original 
  • It's a popular trend anymore among YouTube comments, as well. Go look at the comment section to any video that might contain a variety of this trope, and you will more than likely, at some point, find a comment that brings up the flashes or claims that it's a seizure-inducing sequence, even if it might be tame in comparison to other patterns that might cause anyone to have issues, or have yet to have any cases reported.
  • Many YouTube "stars" such as The Angry Video Game Nerd have criticized games and other media for being "seizure inducing", or that watching a certain sequence would cause them to have a seizure. Their actual comment might be in snark, but the actual criticism would be a serious issue they had with the media.
  • Invoked in Dragon Ball Z Abridged with Jeice and Burter's "Seizure Procedure" attack, which creates a stroboscopic light show designed to induce an epileptic fit In-Universe. Krillin finds himself catatonic due to this attack, which adds to his "Owned" count.
  • The Nostalgia Critic:
    • The review of the Neverending Story 3 has a point where the Critic criticized the cheap transport effect, saying that "you could get a seizure traveling that way." The effect itself uses rapid zooming in and out and bright white flashes. Tame compared to some sequences, but still rather annoying.
    • Doug had to put a seizure warning in at the start of the Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer review; the rapid flashing red and green lights in the "I Fucking Love Christmas" song can be a trigger for epileptics.
  • This skit in Sonic Shorts Volume 4 jokingly answers why the Hyper Sonic form, which rapidly flashes pastel colors, was never seen again after its debut, by showing Knuckles, Rouge, and Shadow foaming in their mouths and fainting (symptoms of epileptic seizures) upon seeing Hyper Sonic.
  • A Spotify advertisement for Royal Blood's debut Self-Titled Album employs this trope to an annoying effect.
  • Technology Connections: Flashing lights occasionally happen in these videos, but Alec will always give an epilepsy warning before it happens. And the flashing usually involves filming a CRT with a mismatched shutter speed.
  • Invoked in Things Mr. Welch Is No Longer Allowed to Do in an RPG:
    2231. The spell is called Dancing Lights, not Detect Epilepsy.

    Western Animation 
  • In Code Lyoko, whenever one of XANA's monster is struck by the heroes' weapons, bright light pour from the wound — just before it explodes if the Eye of XANA logo is hit.
  • Although most of Samurai Jack does not use extreme flashing, the sequence where Jack is sent to the future shows him on a black and white flashing spiral background. And since it's a basic part of the premise of the series, it's also included in the series' intro.
  • The Schoolhouse Rock! episode on electricity where the word strobes in yellow against a black background most times the word is sung, including a couple of instances of the word appearing in several rows of yellow lettering, all of them flashing.
  • On the season 10 The Simpsons episode "30 Minutes Over Tokyo," Bart watches a robot anime, recognizing it as "that cartoon that causes seizures".note  Sure enough, the show has flashing lights that give Bart, Lisa, and Marge seizures (Homer initially fakes it because he sees everyone else on the floor doing it). When it cuts to commercial, everyone is fully recovered from it. When it comes back from commercial, everyone starts seizing again. To drive the point further home, the cartoon is called "Battling Seizure Robots".
  • South Park also parodied the Pokémon incident with "Chinpokomon" - though in this case Kenny got the seizure from the video game instead of the cartoon. (He died from it, of course.)
  • SpongeBob SquarePants parodies this in "Jellyfish Jam" by splicing flashing freeze-frames in-between shots of SpongeBob and the jellyfish dancing in-between some shots of their dance sequence.
  • Static Shock uses flashing effects somewhat frequently, usually for the protagonist's electrical powers. Most of the flashes are fairly benign, but sometimes the screen will flash white rapidly for several seconds, and the intro used for the first two seasons goes so far as to include a shot where the background flashes blue, white, and orange very rapidly while the camera slowly zooms in on Static, and continues to flash until the camera has zoomed in far enough that his face fills the screen completely. The intro for the third and fourth seasons, which the series switched to in order to reflect major status quo changes, includes a similar zooming shot to that of the first intro which noticeably lacks the original's strobe effect.
  • The Problem Solverz is rather infamous for its bright and flashy animation style, to the point where The Mysterious Mr. Enter put an epilepsy warning before his review of the show and mentioned that he could only watch a few minutes at a time due to headaches caused by the visuals. He later revealed that he was diagnosed with myopia (nearsightedness) shortly after his review.
  • Oh God, Taz-Mania, and that intro to the show. Three times, when the song goes into its chorus "Come to Tazmania", the show title in its brown stick font flies in every which way as the screen flashes many different colors. It's possible the "Electric Soldier Porygon" incident is why was in Keep Circulating the Tapes territory for a few years.
    • To rectify this, CBBC created their own version of the intro when they aired the show in the early 2000's, that removes all the flashing. The reason for this? As it's a British broadcaster, it runs in the faster PAL format (speeding the episodes up to fit 30fps into 25fps), so the flashing would have been even worse. The intro is missing a few lines because of this though.
  • The Archie Show has the background rapidly change colors during several songs, including the theme song.
  • The Powerpuff Girls
    • Used twice on Mojo Jojo in "Bubblevicious" as Bubbles is being zapped by the laser. Happens earlier when she gets kidnapped, using various cuts to lightening flashing overhead.
    • "See Me, Feel Me, Gnomey" uses this in one shot when the gnome is singing. It's the reason the episode wasn't shown on Cartoon Network and is only available on DVD.
  • The opening sequence of Metalocalypse.
  • Before Hanna-Barbera whored out the Justice League during the '70s and '80s in just about every variety imaginable (as in, before the DC Animated Universe made everything okay again), Filmation tried their luck at the Justice League and Teen Titans. Their intros to those shows? Announcing all of the heroes as the 70s shows did later on, only while each hero demonstrated their power and strength against an ever-strobing background of whatever color pattern they chose for that show. Yep, there's a reason those can only be found by landing a rare hit on YouTube.

    Real Life 
  • During overtime in a 2012 National Football League game pitting the Dallas Cowboys against the Cleveland Browns, CBS's broadcast of the game showed a zoomed-out shot of the "light banner" that circles the stands of Cowboys Stadium. What showed was the ribbon-like banner doing a hard strobe effect that could've been very seizure-inducing. Strangely enough, the commentators who were calling the game that day, Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf, had a different way of describing it, with Dan coming awfully close to actually bringing up seizures:
    Greg: Makes you feel as though you're at a disco.
    Dan: I'm pretty sure they had that approved by the NFL, but it's pretty disorienting.
  • Light bulbs have a tendency to act like this if they don't outright pop, which perhaps makes this the Ur-Example.
  • Flickering light from fires, such as candlelight, can produce a similar effect. Not as effective though, since the luminosity contrast between on/off for fires that flicker (like a candle flame that's about to die) tends to be smaller than the contrast between on/off for light bulbs.
  • Fluorescent lights can be this for people with sensitive enough vision. Same for those failing to start and those that due to problems with the reactance flicker visibly.
  • Seizures can also be set off by the warning lights on construction vehicles for night work, some types of bicycle lights, and even emergency vehicle lights.
  • Invoked by strobe mode in modern LED flashlights, which is meant to daze and disorient an attacker. Any gear reviewer worth their salt will add a warning in the video before showcasing this function. Also invoked by failing LED lamps, that often flicker quite fast.
    • A troll intentionally submitted a GIF of a strobe light to Kurt Eichenwald, a journalist known to have epilepsy, to "see if he dies". While he had received prior attacks like this for being a Trump critic, Eichenwald went into a severe seizure this time. The troll was later arrested and charged with cyberstalking.
  • Modern fire alarm systems usually have strobe lights to warn the hearing-impaired of an emergency. Even people who don't have epilepsy can get dizzy and queasy from them. There are regulations regarding the brightness (minimum ADA requirement is 15 candela, but most alarms can go all the way up to 110 candela) and flash patterns (usually 1 flash per second) of fire alarm strobes, as well as the number of them installed in a building, in order to limit the possibility of seizures. It's a tricky balance to provide sufficient notification for the hearing-impaired without causing problems for those with epilepsy.
    • One solution is to sync the visual signals so that they flash together in unison. This is already offered by several fire alarm companies such as Simplex (via their proprietary sync protocol "SmartSync") and even as an option on some control panels.
  • Many sufferers of migraines have their attacks preceded by an aura of sensory disturbances, the most prominent one being visual. Known as a scintillating scotoma, it begins as a tiny blind spot in the center of the field of vision, which then expands towards the left or right, surrounded by a growing crescent-shaped zigzag pattern of flashing colors. It continues to expand until the zigzag pattern disappears beyond the field of vision, after which the vision gradually returns to normal and the headache kicks in. The show lasts for around an hour and can effectively be taken as a warning sign that a migraine is imminent.
  • Takeshi Murata's Melter 3-D uses strobe lights to create an illusion that a spherical sculpture is moving and churning like a giant ball of T-1000 metal.
  • Subverted with a biological principal called the Flicker Fusion Threshold. It is how fast a light has to flicker for it to be watchable for long periods of time.
    • On humans, this is 46hz, though humans can detect flicker up to 80hz. 80hz is to dogs what 46hz is to humans. Pigeons have it between 75hz and 100hz.
    • Thomas Edison first figured out the human flicker fusion threshold when working with film projectors. Eventually, the film industry settled on projectors with three-blade shutters, which at 16fps is 48hz. When sound came to film, two-bladed shutters were used so 24fps film used the same rate, though three-blade projectors could be cranked higher to flicker at 72hz, making the flicker less obvious.
    • Analog television also takes advantage of the threshold, but has to use interlacing. Only 14,400 visible lines that could be shown in one secondnote . You could show 240 lines 60 times per secondnote , but that was considered potato resolution, even by 1930s standards. You could show 480 lines 30 times per second, but that would turn the TV into an epileptic flashing light.

      Here's where Interlacing comes in: out of 480 lines, it shows odd numbered lines over 1/60th of a second, and even number lines over the next 1/60th of a second. This simultaneously made the flicker fast enough to be watchable and the resolution acceptable.

      Modern digital systems have been phasing out interlacing, as they support higher resolutions with flat panel displays that do not flickernote .
    • Some display devices use sequential color fields and a rotating color wheel. The basic principle is using a high refresh rate monochrome source with a rotating color wheel to enable color. The goal is to get through all colors in less than 1/46th of a second. The most common devices that do this are office projectorsnote . CBS tried making a color TV standard that did thisnote , but was ultimately rejected as it was incompatible with existing black and white TVs. The Liquid Crystal Color Shutter display uses an LCD color shutter in front of a CRT.


Alternative Title(s): Seizuriffic

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