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Fade to White

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"White. All important movies end on a white screen."
Batman in the last line of The LEGO Batman Movie

Instead of the usual Fade to Black, the screen fades to white.

Common usages include:

  • To signify death or ascension to higher planes of existence.
  • When a very powerful attack or explosion causes the whole screen to turn white. In a variant the camera focuses on a character's face, then the entire screen fades to white. Also occurs on a digital screen where another party is witnessing the attack or explosion.
  • A teleportation special effect.
  • The bookend of an Imagine Spot.
  • To transition into a snowy scenery.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Occurs quite often in Mecha anime where a witnesses viewing a digital screen witness a mecha perform a powerful attack or explode. The digital screen becomes a blinding white.
  • In episode 25 of Brigadoon: Marin and Melan, the episode ends with a fade to white as a result of a powerful attack. It also suggests that everyone may have just died. It makes a dramatic setup for the finale.
  • Code Geass with Nunnally during the Freya explosion in Tokyo. Assumed dead for a couple of episodes, she returns when it is discovered that although she was close enough to ground zero for a fade to white, she was well outside the actual blast radius by that time.
  • Happened at the conclusion of a number of episodes of Digimon Adventure, though it was just to say "the episode's over, cue the credits."
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (and the manga to some extent, just not as well shown), it's used to show Maria Ross getting blown up by Roy Mustang's flames. Until you learn that it wasn't actually her...
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. The death of Kuze in 2nd Gig, however there's an implication he managed to upload himself to the Net beforehand.
  • Used in the finale of GUN×SWORD. An injured Van sees his life flashing before his eyes. At the end of the flashback, as he remembers Wendy's offer to marry him, her face fades to white . . . and then he sees someone else.
  • This happens in the final scene of Lucky Star's anime adaptation, as the curtain lifts just before the main characters are about to perform the cheerleading routine they spent the whole episode practicing.
  • The omake to Naruto episode 166 fades to red at the end Hinata is bleeding out after being stabbed by Pain. The omake is a flashback to her time at the Academy, showing how she developed admiration for and ultimately fell in love with Naruto, regretting her missed opportunities. This is a rare case where fading to red is used though the character survives.
  • In the Act 1 Cold Open of Sailor Moon Crystal, Usagi's Dreaming of Times Gone By is interrupted by this as she wakes up, right as the music swells and the dream prince and princess Almost Kiss.
  • This is how many characters die in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann - most notably Kamina and Kittan. There's a white flash, then a lineart portrait of the character in crude stencil, superimposed with their last words or thoughts.

    Comic Books 
  • This happened to Cassandra Cain (Batgirl) when she fought with Shiva - she was very close to death, but Shiva brought her back to life.
  • In the Superman story arc The Dominus Effect, at the end of the final Silver Age reality story, where Superman and Lois Lane are seen holding each other while this happens.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • Arlo the Alligator Boy: The final scene with Arlo and Bertie on the beach at the reconstructed Seaside fades to white before cutting to the end credits.
  • The final shot of The LEGO Batman Movie, as described in the page quote.
  • Happens on Planes when Dusty nearly crashes into a train coming out of a tunnel. The scene fades in to Dusty flying into what appears to be Fluffy Cloud Heaven, but is really landing in a misty field in Nepal, having apparently blocked what happened after that.
  • In Pokémon: The First Movie - Mewtwo Strikes Back, when the floor of Mewtwo's stadium (with all the Pokémon trainers on it) is filled with a bright light, the entire screen fades to white for about 40 seconds before it fades back to the harbor scene.
  • In Turning Red, the scene with Mei and Sun Yee near the end of the movie ends with this as they touch noses.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Aftermath (2021): The shot fades to white after Kevin and Natalie reconcile in bed after Otto's killed.
  • Beneath the Planet of the Apes ends with a slow fade to white because the producers apparently couldn't afford a cool visual effect for the Alpha-Omega Bomb.
  • The movie Blindness uses this, as people are going blind and only seeing white.
  • At the end of Cube, when Kazan exits the Cube and enters the white void beyond.
  • A director trademark of Darren Aronofsky, who has made good use of it in π, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, Black Swan and The Whale.
  • Delicacy: The Law of Conservation of Detail should have been enough to signify that nothing good was going to happen when François went out jogging, but the scene ends with a foreboding fade to white. Sure enough, the next scene shows Nathalie getting the call about her husband's accident. (He was hit by a car and killed.)
  • Used in the climax of Desperado after Mariachi kills Bucho and the final shootout begins.
  • At the end of Eraserhead, The Lady In The Radiator embraces Henry in a blinding white light.
  • When George of the Jungle is shot in his movie, Ursula's scream of "George!" fades to white, which then pulls out past the airplane window to reveal them flying home.
  • This is shown in The Hunger Games in Rue's perspective as she dies.
  • The Jacket ends with this along with a female voice asking "How much time do we have?"
  • The last scene in Layer Cake of the protagonist lying bleeding on the stairs fades out to white.
  • The ending of Let the Right One In's remake has a fade to white followed by the credits on a white screen.
  • Used at the end of Looper, leaving the future of Cid up in the air.
  • The Lord of the Rings
    • Used in The Fellowship of the Ring when Frodo first sees Arwen and later Elrond, when he's dying from the Morgul blade.
    • One of the ending fake-outs in The Return of the King faded to white instead of black, just for variety's sake. As did the actual ending.
  • Mission: Impossible – Fallout. A Smash Cut to white is used as a fake-out so it looks like the nuclear bombs the protagonists are defusing have gone off, when it's actually a Cue the Sun moment.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrested Development faded to white whereas regular shows faded to black.
  • Used in the Babylon 5 Grand Finale, as Sheridan was taken Beyond the Rim by Lorien.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • The Day After: Briefly, as the explosion in the attack scene takes place. This immediately cuts to a young boy who is blinded after seeing the explosion for a split second.
  • Game of Thrones: When Jon passes beyond the Wall at the end of "The Watchers on the Wall."
  • Inspector Rex: Earlier, it was used to close the ending of Moser's death. Later, the Italian seasons used the effect for flashbacks and some scene changes.
  • Anything on Lost involving "flashes," such as Desmond turning the key in season 2, or the time skips in season 5. Also the H-bomb explosion in the season 5 finale.
  • The PBS TV show Paper Angels, based on the play, had white-outs between every scene, except one fade to red after a character's suicide.
  • Played with in Rome. Julius Caesar is lying in state while his funeral rites are performed, then the doors of the temple are opened, letting in a blinding light that conveniently obscures the vast chanting crowd of Roman citizens we hear outside.
  • Six Feet Under only ever used fade to whites. This tied into its themes of death being everywhere and unavoidable.
  • Star Trek: Picard:
    • In "Remembrance", Picard's first Dream Sequence ends in a brief flash of white light caused by an explosion that overwhelms the whole screen.
    • In "Maps and Legends", The Teaser comes to a close with the entire screen filling up with a bright white light, so we don't see the aftermath of F8 shooting himself in the head.
  • Supernatural ended season 4 this way, the white light from Lucifer rising from his prison growing more and more intense until it took over the whole screen.
  • Used in Torchwood to portray the the nuclear meltdown that killed Owen (again, for good - probably...)
  • Used to disconcerting effect at the end of The West Wing episode "Commencement" — every episode of the show had always ended with a Fade to Black with a "created by" credit in white text, and this episode simply inverted the colors, which somehow seemed like a message that the current cliffhanger (Zoey's kidnapping) was a bigger or at least very different crisis from anything the show had covered so far. The next episode, the season finale, also opened with the title in black-on-white instead of the usual white-on-black; by the end of that episode, the characters' situation had stabilized somewhat and it was back to fading to black at the end.

    Music Videos 
  • Tears for Fears: This occurs at the end of the 1986 "Mothers Talk" music video to denote that the family has perished in a nuclear blast.

  • In Frozen (2018), in the last verse of the song "Monster," Elsa uses the phrase "fade to white" as a euphemism for her own death. Fitting, since she's An Ice Person.

    Video Games 
  • In Arcaea, fulfililng certain conditions in the song "Ether Strike" (needed to unlock a particular "boss" song) triggers a special event where the screen starts fading to white as your lifebar gets lower, with the edges of the screen being the most faded out. To ensure that you see this effect, the game also applies a Damage Over Time effect, although this effect cannot actually bring you to 0 life, although a missed note that would deplete the meter will still end the song, at which point the screen turns completely white.
  • At the end of BIT.TRIP FLUX, in the epilogue level, the screen slowly fades to white.
  • The Darkness does this at the end, when Jenny tells Jackie to wake up after he's been completely taken over by the Darkness.
  • Doom³: Resurrection of Evil shows a Fade to White at the end, when McNeil's voice can be heard telling the main character "Marine, welcome home", implying that the two are in a better place after their sacrifice.
  • Happens frequently in Eternal Darkness. After any "insanity effect cutscene" where the character hallucinates something bizarre and twisted, the screen goes white and fades back to normal. Characters usually then state "this...can' happening!"
  • In Fallout 3, at the end of the game (at least without the Broken Steel DLC), if you choose the "good ending" by activating the purifier.
  • In Final Fantasy XII, this is the end of the teleportation animation.
  • Final Fantasy XIII uses one in the endgame as Cocoon and the l'cie are encased in crystal.
  • Used in Gamer 2 when Hailey wakes up from the virtual reality machine she was trapped in.
  • The Half-Life mod Afraid of Monsters, at least in the Director's Cut version, has three sequential endings that are lead up to by the protagonist seeing what appears to be light at the end of an otherwise completely black tunnel and running towards it. While the first two fade to black a few seconds after he starts running towards it, the third lets him actually make the full trip, entering into the light - and then that ending shows him having committed suicide, out of guilt for the rampage he was apparently responsible for in the first ending.
  • Half-Life 2: Episode One ends this way when the citadel finally explodes just moments after you have boarded the last train out of City 17.
  • Halo: Reach ends on one after Dr. Halsey eulogizes Noble 6's Last Stand.
  • Journey makes common use of this trope, except at least the very end of the fourth chapter.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII:
    • There is a minor sidequest in which Lightning speaks to three ghosts, and the screen turns white at the end of each conversation. This represents her saving their souls. She thought that only gods could save the souls of the dead. Something of a plot point there.
    • The endgame is full of these. In the first instance: Lightning saves her last soul, Hope, and after a brief conversation encouraging him to move on to the new world the screen fades to white supposedly indicating that Hope moved on.
    • Shortly after that, Lightning begs not to be left alone in the chaos and cries a single tear. The camera follows the tear flowing up and fades to white revealing Lumina, indicating the rebirth of Claire Farron and the death of "Lightning".
    • With Lumina's remergence with Lightning, the "fake" Serah gives a monologue about her existence and how she's no longer needed. The screen fades to white while she's monologging, symbolizing her "death".
    • A powerful attack version occurs while Lightning is preparing her final assault on the Big Bad. She blocks one of his assaults and continues to struggle against it while the screen fades to white. The rest of the FFXIII crew and their eidolons show up and help her block it powering up the attack before reflecting it back in a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
    • Another one serves as an end to a Good-Times Montage.
    • One last fade to white as the main crew's souls, along with the other souls, all begin their journey to the new world to be reborn.
  • Using too much electricity at once in LIT (2009) will result in the screen fading to white as the generator breaks, leaving Jake to be consumed by the darkness.
  • The Matrix: Path of Neo uses this as a segue into the next level, or the level-up screen.
  • Modern Warfare does this when Sgt. Jackson dies at the end of "Shock and Awe", and again at the final level when Soap passes out. Until the announcement of the characters for Modern Warfare 2, this ended up with some fan theories proposing that Soap died as well.
  • Don't touch the poisonous powder in Papers, Please.
  • Phantasy Star III and Phantasy Star IV use this effect for a Fight Woosh.
  • In Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, you white out as opposed to black out. They changed it back to "black out" in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. Nobody seems to know why either change was made, and nobody really cares.
  • Used rather heavily in the Disgaea series due to the sheer number of gigantic, screen filling explosions present in attacks.
  • Emulating the above, Portal ends with a fade to white upon defeating GLaDOS and accelerating up to the outside world before credits roll.
  • Most of the Resident Evil games has the screen fade to white when the player character is killed before fading back to reveal how they died. The screen then does a Fade to Black. For sequences where an area is going to explode, failing to escape has the screen fade to white with an accompanying explosion sound.
  • In Sim City 4, if you choose to completely delete a city, the screen fades to white, and red loading text comes up.
  • Spec Ops: The Line uses this during hallucination sequences, and throughout the entirety of the game's ending, the only place where Walker can confront his demons and earn some measure of redemption. The implications are obvious and troubling.
  • Not death, per se, nor the entire screen, but defeating any of the Star Wolf members in Star Fox 64/Lylat Wars shows their communications screen to be this, presumably from their fighters burning up after you shoot them down.
  • After defeating Master Hand or Crazy Hand, the screen fades to white, and then it fades to black.
  • One of the endings in A Tale of Two Kingdoms has the screen slowly fade to white, and when it finishes you stay in the fairy realm forever.
  • Happens in the Touhou Project fangame Concealed the Conclusion as Gensokyo is collapsing if the timer runs out during the final battle.
  • Occurs in Trauma Center: Under the Knife during the bomb level. Any mistakes cause a zoom-out followed by a fade to white and the usual Operation Failed message.
  • The World Ends with You: Before big boss battles, the fade effect takes longer.

    Web Original 
  • The end of the lonelygirl15 episode "The Unthinkable Happened" does this, right after the heroes escape following Bree's dad getting killed by the Order of Denderah.

  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, when the Doctor opens the door of Dracula's castle, there's a blast of light and the panel goes completely white. The Doctor thinks he died, turns out it's just a teleporter.
  • Chimneyspeak, soon after Elgie gets shot. There's a small "...Ouch..." in the middle of the white space.
  • Used in El Goonish Shive here (with a fade from white in the next strip), right after Raven shoots the giant boar to save Grace. Might indicate that Grace fainted, or just suffered an emotional overload.
  • This strip of Irregular Webcomic!. IWC universe is more or less torn asunder.
  • The final page of the final chapter of Sins Venials has the Lust and Rhett sit on a beach as the world ends, and fades to a final white panel.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Many episode ended with a fade out to white, after which they then Fade to Black for the end credits.
    • During the episode "Jet" when the tidal wave destroys the village the picture fades out to white. It then fades back in to a subverted Empathy Doll Shot.
  • Dear Basketball: The screen fades to white at the end as Kobe Bryant walks away, at the end of his 20-year NBA career.
  • Every episode of Elinor Wonders Why ends this way, which is rare for a PBS Kids show.
  • The first season finale of Frisky Dingo ends with a fade to white, after Simon pushes the button to launch the Annihilatrix.
  • The final episode of Futurama ends like this, after The Professor pushes the time button to undo the events of the episode.
  • The last episode of Teen Titans (2003) fades to white with Beast Boy running out into what must have been a very bright day, then snaps to black.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: The episode "Hero" ends with a fade to white after Madame Razz sets down a pie she baked for Mara in her memory while Adora, Bow and Swift Wind pay their respects.


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