Follow TV Tropes


Epileptic Flashing Lights

Go To
What did you expect when it's 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"

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.

Notable offenders are the (more contemporary) horror and science fiction genres. Somehow many film and video game-makers believe Everything Is Better with Flashing even though it's not always that awesome. Older video games often employed flashing screen effects because color-cycling demands so little processing power; since advances in graphics 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.


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 (acute stress, alcohol/drugs, sleep deprivation, etc).

It probably goes without saying, but anyone who actually has photosensitive epilepsy should avoid any external and especially any YouTube links on this page.



    open/close all folders 

  • This ad (second ad in the video) for Pot Noodle was banned after people got seizures from viewing it. Another version, with the effects significantly toned down, would later replace it.
  • A Schoolhouse Rock advertisement about Beans and Rice had flicking red and yellow lights on the word "Energy".
  • The commercial for the Tac Light had a scene where the user demonstrates the product to shine a burglar and the light flashes repeatedly. Surprisingly, it still airs on television!
    • Supposedly, said scene has now been taken out after reports of people having seizures after watching the commercial.

    Anime and 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 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, 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. The monster sticks Ami's face into the monitor (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. 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.
  • 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 
  • 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 film begins with a warning due to this. Regardless, Pixar eventually bowed to the controversy and removed the strobe effect from the movie's DVD release.
  • 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 stopped 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 



  • 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."

  • 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!


  • 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).


  • Doctor Who: The Weeping Angels seem to have the ability to cause this as a power. Since they can only move when unseen...
  • 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!).

  • 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.
    • Kanye West did two in a row lately, leading some to joke he has something against epileptics.
    • Hype Williams has incorporated this in some of his catalogue.
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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 
  • Video games are famous for constantly reminding you of this health risk. There's at least one warning about this in every single video game instruction manual (usually found on the inside front cover of them). Up until recently, this was the only time a warning appeared on the game (no one knows for sure where or why this began, as there were no widespread incidents occurring that prompted the warning to be included). However, it seems like now the warnings have gotten plentiful, with even game SYSTEMS imploring you to "read the health and safety precautions before using the system." There are also warning specific for the seizure risk on the back of every game box now, and many games make it a point to shove it in your face even more when you go to play the game, sometimes in its own font, making the false impression that that particular game has things within it that no other game has that would be especially risky for photosensitive people. There could be, at most, a total of four separate warnings you could see about this risk before you can even play the game. Funny thing is that with the advancement of technology, many games are rather tame when dealing with how to show certain effects, and it's mainly because of the HD advancement and how big some TVs are that might be making some of these game console manufacturers nervous (one of the precautionary measures is the smaller the TV, the lower of a risk a game is). In short, though many can understand the reasons for the warnings, so many can get rather annoying for a game that has no intense "light shows" in them (if they have light shows in them, they are more of the soft, aura type that would never fall into this trope).
  • 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.
  • 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 after Bahamut is defeated.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    There's a technicality that goes with this, however, in that some games that have a neon-chroma pattern flash (red, yellow, blue, green) that could show the way it was intended on a TV screen (thus not as bad) will get into seizure inducing when someone posts it on - YouTube or any other video host that forces videos to a specific framerate. Usually this is a good thing to tame such issues in these cases, but when it destroys THAT pattern, it actually makes it WORSE! The earlier Zelda games featured some of these that get translated badly when you see videos of, say, the ending of the first The Legend of Zelda, or the final boss in Zelda II, or the beginning of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. On a TV screen, the colors flash too rapidly and in such a pattern that it wouldn't be too much of a concern (might catch you off guard, but no serious concern), whereas if you viewed the very same thing on YouTube, it would give you a sodding headache because it can't display all the colors in the pattern, so it only displays certain colors in the pattern...and it always seems to make the flash much more seizure inducing.
  • The Game Boy Advance re-release of 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. This was changed in the Virtual Console version.
  • Child of Eden uses these a lot.
  • 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 in a room full of multicolored flashing lights as you hit him.
  • The Japanese Pokémon Red, Green, and Blue uses screen flashes as part of the animation for several move attacks, including Thunderbolt, Body Slam, and Hyper Beam. These were severly toned down for the international releases and Yellow because of the 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 defeated a Wily boss. The flashing is slow enough as to avoid triggering seizures, though.
  • 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.
  • 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, 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.
  • 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.

  • Homestuck used rapidly flashing lights in the Flash "[S] Jade: Wake up", to the point of it falling under this trope. Andrew Hussie made sure to construct it so as to avoid triggering seizures though, despite the rapid flashing. As a whole, the series 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 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.
  • 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 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • A Spotify advertisement for Royal Blood's debut Self-Titled Album employs this trope to an annoying effect.
  • 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.
  • 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. (And 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.
  • 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.
    • "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 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 flashing lights on construction vehicles for night work, some types of bicycle lights, and even police car flashers.
  • 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.
  • The fire alarms in a lot of public buildings now seem to have strobe lights that go off when the alarm goes off. Even non-epileptics can get dizzy and queasy from the thing. There are regulations regarding the brightness and flash patterns 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.
  • 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.

Alternative Title(s): Seizuriffic


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: