A means of denoting the end of a scene by steadily and quickly reducing the image brightness until the entire screen is flat black. Its inverse, Fade In, reverses the process to bring a scene into view from a black screen. A fade from one scene to another is called a dissolve. Sometimes the screen will Fade to White instead.
Extremely common in movie trailers, and sometimes used at an Act Break.
- Averted in the Beyond the Black Rainbow, where they fade to red instead.
- Recess: School's Out:
- Right after the Sad-Times Montage for T.J. after his friends leave for camp, then fades back into the next morning.
- After Mikey faints from seeing the satellite come out of the school for the first time.
- Wayne's World fades to black in the credits then fades back in so Wayne and Garth can talk some more. After a few of these fade back ins one of them comments that when they want them to stop talking they'll just fade out and it will stay that way. Then the credits fade to black again for a prolonged period and Garth declares, "I can't believe they did that!"
- The X-Files: Fight the Future: At the end of the Antarctica sequence. The screen stays black for so long that some people seeing it for the first time thought this was the end of the movie.
- A trademark of Michael Haneke: In The Seventh Continent and Code Unknown, all scenes cut black before new scenes start.
- The Burning: Except when they decide to do red on scenes of bloody murder.
- At times, the "fade to black" will be used to end Very Special Episodes of sitcoms, particularly if they have a particularly dramatic or somber ending. Frequently (but not always), there will be no applause at the ends of these shows to underscore the seriousness of the situation just played out.
- Cheers: Just about every episode ended with a Smash to Black, except for fifth-season finale "I Do, Adieu". That episode was the end of Shelley Long's five years on the show and the end of the Sam-Diane romance as Diane leaves Boston to write her book. The show ends with an Imagine Spot of an elderly, Happily Married Sam and Diane dancing, with the fade to black emphasizing the Downer Ending melancholy of a happy marriage that will never be.
- Hee Haw: In a goofy, corny comedy series where silly bumper gags always sent the show into a commercial, there were a few instances where they did a "fade to black" with no applause or audience reaction. The most famous of these was in the early 1978 episode where the cast paid tribute to Elvis Presley, who had died just months earlier; the cast was gathered as Elvis' father, Vernon, talked about how much of a fan his son was of Hee Haw and how he wanted to be a guest on the show (a show that, had it come to pass, likely would have been the highest-rated in its history). Several of the Hee Haw Honeys were shown crying, and the others saddened or struggling to keep check of their emotions, as Vernon spoke about his son's musical legacy and how much of a fan he was of Roy Clark and Buck Owens. A light piano fare played just as the camera pulled away from the cast and faded to commercial.
- In some countries whenever a news program reports on the recent death of a very famous person, the report ends with a fade to black before proceeding to the next story. Some Russian weekly news programs also use this in their end-of-the-year broadcasts, where they include a slide show of photos of the celebrities that died during the year.
- In the Titans episode "Together", Dick is coming out of the shower in a Modesty Towel to find Starfire in his room. They soon start making out, Dick's towel hits the floor and they fall onto the bed as the screen fades to black. The next shot, they're getting dressed and Kory asks Dick to zip up her dress.
- Firefly: FOX has software that automatically runs commercials over any black screen to eliminate the Fade to Black in favor of more advertising time. Joss Whedon felt that a moment of black at the end of one act of the pilot episode was important enough for the dramatic tension to salvage, so he had it fade to the darkest brown possible that wouldn't be picked up by FOX's computers.
- Subverted in the "A Scandal in Belgravia" epsiode of Sherlock. John Watson is told by Mycroft Holmes that Irene Adler has been captured and executed by a terrorist cell in Pakistan. John elects to tell Sherlock that she's in witness protection instead. Sherlock appears to buy that but, after John leaves, has a flashback to the executions scene. The terrorists let Irene send a goodbye text to Sherlock as the executioner (all covered in black) walks up with a sword. She closes her eyes, and the screen fades to black. Then we hear the erotic moan she put on Sherlock's phone as her ringtone. The screen "unfades". The "executioner" tells her "When I say 'run', run!" and swings his sword at a terrorist.
- Stargate SG-1: In "200", Martin mentions that Act 3 "just ends" due to budget cuts, during act three of the actual episode. Although the show normally fades to black, this time it did a hard cut to black, as a nice bit of metahumor.
- The opening credits of the NCIS episode "Power Down" end with the usual shot of the Capitol going dark because of a power outage, mimicking what actually happens in the episode
- Cop workplace comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine uses a brief fade to/fade from black as a transition into/out of every Cutaway Gag, combined with a "psshhh" walkie-talkie sound effect.
- A Walk In The Woods: If your character dies, the shot fades to black, then fades back in once you respawn.
- Afraid of Monsters used it as a transition when crossing the lake on the boat.
- Badland has no death animation. Instead, every time your character hits the spikes or the Advancing Wall of Doom, the screen simply fades to black and unfades at the previous checkpoint.
- The first Nationalist mission in COD 2 Spanish Civil War Mod ends with Shabah and his unit capturing the enemy commander loyal to the Madrid government. Then the screen fades to black and you hear the narrator saying that the captive has just been executed by a firing squad.
- In any Mario Kart game, this momentarily happens whenever you fall an edge. This is averted from Mario Kart 8 on.
- Resident Evil uses fade to black after the game shows how the player died. Some of the games uses Fade to White in the exact moment the player is killed, followed by the fade to black.
- In Spec Ops: The Line, fading to black indicate normal transitions while Fade to White indicates that Walker, the player character, is hallucinating or in some way deceiving himself.
- Similarly, in Gamer 2, fading to black indicates normal level transitions while Fade to White indicates Hailey waking up from the virtual reality machine she was trapped in.
- One of James Rolfe's top 10 movie cliches.
- Yuriofwind often comes across these in his Bullshit Creepypasta Storytime segment. He lampshades it in "Haunted Ocarina of Time".
Then the screen went to black. For once it would be great if the screen could go to a different color, but... that would ruin this amazing atmosphere, so never mind.
- Doug: The three twenty-four-minute Nickelodeon episodes and all of Disney's episodes used this right before a commercial.
- Mike, Lu & Og use these for scene transitions.
- Any twenty-four-minute episodes of 101 Dalmatians: The Series used this before a commercial, and sometimes used in various episodes for a scene transition.
- The Pink Panther cartoon "Pink Outs" is made up of blackout gags, except the screen fades to pink instead.
- Recess does a fade to black right after the theme song ends. This also ends certain episodes when they don't use an Iris Out.
- Wile E Coyote And The Roadrunner sometimes treats the black screen as a stage curtain that can be lifted or peered around. An entire cartoon was made up of "blackout gags"; brief, self-sustained skits that fade out after the punchline and fade into the next. The term originated in Vaudeville, where the lights were turned off after each joke to punctuate the humor and give the audience a pause for laughing.
- Winx Club has these at least every two minutes or so.