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Fantastic Light Source

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But mysterious caves and tunnels always have luminous fungi, strangely bright crystals or at a pinch merely an eldritch glow in the air, just in case a human hero comes in and needs to see in the dark. Strange but true.

You can't expect all sorts of media to have flashlights, or other sources of light that runs on batteries, for characters to use in dark areas, so there's either Hollywood Torches or the Fantastic Light Source to use. Perhaps its due to glowing gems. Sometimes you can expect luminescent flora and fungus in particular. Also the Mundane Utility of Power Glows or those with Light Elemental Powers. Either way, it's almost always guaranteed to last indefinitely.

See Hollywood Darkness, for when no explanation is given for all the light and visibility on the scene.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Attack on Titan: Glowing Ore harvested from the Reiss family's underground cavern. Thought to be produced by some sort of Titan power. It emits more light than a torch, and with appropriate manufacturing, can greatly extend nighttime operations.
  • Early in Crimson Spell, Halvir gives Prince Vald a fairy in a jar to use as a light source, instructing him to smack it and make the fairy angry to make it glow. Vald, who is a nicer person than Havi is, sets the fairy loose as soon as Havi has left.
  • In Kamichama Karin, Karin once uses her glowy magic ring as a flashlight.
  • Chapter 8 of Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force shows that mages in the setting have a spell that creates floating orbs of light that serves as this when they need to work at night in places away from civilization, such as when paramedics were carting away Signum after her battle against Cypha left her in critical condition.
  • Naruto: Naruto's Super Mode, which calls on the uncorrupted Ninetails chakra, is used as a flashlight, which is then properly lampshaded.
  • Shinsoo in Tower of God, due to the trope Power Glows.
  • In The Slayers, the Light spell is so simple even someone with zero magic potential can learn it. This is used to show how little people outside of the Barrier know about magic, as their version of a wizard can do the light spell, and nothing else.

    Fan Works 
  • In With Strings Attached, after Paul becomes able to cast the light spell he learned, he serves as the walking, talking Fantastic Light Source for the four.

    Films — Animation 
  • The ant colony in A Bug's Life uses luminescent mushrooms as lighting.
  • On Despicable Me, one of the Minions is used as a glow stick.
  • In Tangled, Rapunzel uses her magic hair to find the way out of a flooded cave.
  • Due to the fact he glows in the dark, Buzz is used as a source of light for the other toys in a scene in Toy Story 3.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Avatar: the biolumiscent flora of Pandora.
  • Occurs at the climax of Pitch Black with the glowing worms found in a cave. The worms help keep the light-sensitive monsters at bay long enough to allow the survivors to make it to the shuttle at the end.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy:
    • Groot, a Plant Person, is able to produce bio-luminescent spores from his body.
    • Peter Quill uses a glass-like orb of light when exploring a ruin. In a pinch, it's also quite effective at disintegrating people when shattered.
  • Avengers: Infinity War: The Tesseract is the only light source in The Teaser apart from fires in the background.

  • Shadows of Self has a bioluminescent fungus that grew in the cave system Harmony created from various places underground, personally cultivated so that no one who lived there would ever have to live in darkness again.
  • The Coldfire Trilogy has the Fire briefly wielded by Damian in the first book before Calesta tricked Senzei intro drinking it, resulting in Senzei's death and the loss of the Fire and the coldfire wielded by the Hunter. The Fire was the last remaining sample of tamed solar fae bound to water with the prayers of thousands. Solar fae, unlike others, can only be tamed through massive collective effort and belief, and faith in the present is no longer strong enough to do so. It's a handy light source that is also anathema to any creature of the darkness. Coldfire is a "flame" that is as cold as true fire is hot (and just as dangerous) that gives off an eerie blue light. The Hunter wields a sword imbued with tamed fae that radiates coldfire as his weapon of choice.
  • Discworld:
    • Men at Arms lampshades this, when two characters that can see in the dark fall in a tunnel, but the narration points out, that for the benefit of viewers and to fit conventions there are fluorescent fungi on the walls giving it a slight blue tint.
    • The Last Continent also lampshades this in a similar situation, with the lighting being provided by glowing rocks.
    • And in Thud!, the dwarf mine is lit by vurms, bioluminescent carrion-eating creepy-crawlies.
  • Dragon Bones has glowing rocks, which are implied to have been made by dwarves.
  • In The Dresden Files, Harry often uses magic to light up his pentacle amulet. Though it's a modern setting, Harry's amulet is more reliable because technological lighting often fails when magic's afoot. He also occasionally uses faith magic to light up his pentacle which has the secondary ability to repel those weak to faith.
  • Dune has glowglobes, free-floating lamps equipped with antigravity generators. Like many other aspects of the Duniverse, they have also been borrowed by Warhammer 40,000.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Wands can generate light with the Lumos spell.
    • The Deluminator (or Put-Outer) device, one of Dumbledore's inventions, has the opposite effect: when activated, it steals the light away from nearby sourcesnote . The trapped light can be carried around and released as suspended balls of light.
  • Labyrinths of Echo has fungi in fishbowls that emit pleasant orange light when irritated (the switch is connected to little brushes). And magical luminescent lamps for blue light.
  • The book The Last Dragonlord had dragonfire, orbs of harmless and seemingly cold fire that gave off light.
  • Both the Phial of Galadriel and Gandalf's staff serve this purpose in The Lord of the Rings. In addition to their Mundane Utility, their holy light repels creatures of darkness like the Balrog and Shelob.
  • Princess Eilonwy's "bauble" (AKA the Golden Pelydryn) in The Chronicles of Prydain.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye, when Luke and Leia enter a series of caves, they discover it isn't totally dark due to a light-emitting fungus growing on the walls.
  • The Stormlight Archive has glass spheres with gemstones in the center infused with the titular Stormlight used as lamps, they provide a steadier light than oil lamps or candles, and can be easily recharged by leaving the spheres out in a highstorm. They are also used as money, and so using them as light sources is seen as a sign of wealth. In Arcanum Unbounded, a scholar theorizes that this is at least partly due to the fact that the planet has a higher oxygen concentration than most worlds. While in modern times the people understand fire enough for it to be safe, in pre-history it was likely too dangerous to be used as a casual light source, leading to the ubiquity of the safer gemstones.
  • Channelers in The Wheel of Time can conjure lights over their hands. Thanks to the Mars-and-Venus Gender Contrast hard-coded into the Functional Magic system, women tend to produce spheres of light, while men tend towards handfuls of Cold Flame.
  • Trolls from Malediction Trilogy do not use any external light sources in their city (which is very convenient, since it is buried under the mountain, so fuel is scarce and smoke would be a problem). Each pure-blooded or mixed-blood troll is capable of creating a small light that follows them at all times. They can also infuse glass objects with their light and even provide them with a switch-on/switch-off capability.
  • In the Young Wizards series, caves where wizards are likely to have adventures tend to be lit with "fire fungus". The arbitrariness is lessened a bit by implying that the glowing fungus is part of a whole ecology of magical underground life; for one thing, it's what the little creatures that skitter through the shadows and watch with glowing eyes live on.
  • Below has several magic sources of light. There's the daybreak spell, which creates a full artificial day. But spell lamps are this world's equivalent to the light bulb, made of enchanted scrap glass and fueled by liquid magic esen drawn through wire wicks, which cast white light like the sun. The party carries a few of these. The ruins contain a few self-replenishing lamps that have remained active for many centuries.
  • Books of the Raksura: Raksura Mentors and other magical people can enchant common substances, usually wood or stone, to give off a reasonably long-lasting light. Within the setting, it's seen as a common Mundane Fantastic element.
  • In the English Fairy Tale "The Buried Moon", the Moon herself has magical blonde hair that brightens the night.

    Live-Action TV 

  • Lindsey Stirling's "Song of the Caged Bird" video includes this. After unpacking many lightbulbs and candles, all dark, she finds a violin in a crate and begins to play. The candles light up slowly until the room is very bright, though they are dependent on her continuing to make music. At the end, her violin starts to glow too.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The reason the caverns in Fraggle Rock are so brightly lit is because of Ditsies; creatures that feed off music and turn it into visible light.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Older editions had objects with Continual Light cast on them. Some were shaped in useful ways, such as balls (could be rolled into the darkness) or "frisbees" (could be thrown). Someone even came up with a Continual Light flashlight/lantern (could be opened to let the light out).
    • 3rd Edition added Sunrods as a standard item.
    • 3rd Edition lets Alchemists distill sunlight into a liquid that glows indefinitely — and sets undead on fire.
    • Dwarves of Forgotten Realms use jars with glowing borer-worms, glowmoss and phosphorescent powders. Glowmoss is also a stock light source in Spelljammer (fire is out of question in the Flow).
  • D&D's spiritual successor Pathfinder formally added a common player-made item, the Ioun Torch: a small crystal that floats around its owner's head with a Continual Light spell, granting safe, perpetual, hands-free illumination.
  • FASA's Earthdawn had magical "light crystals".
  • Exalted:
    • One of the most common elements retained from the former Ages is the use of Essence-based lighting.
    • Many types of Exalted also have the ability to light up their Battle Aura to illuminate their surroundings. Some, like Solars and Lunars, have it easier than the others.
    • There's even a five-dot hearthstone that illuminates quite a large area with natural sunlight, even if it's pitch dark. This is of course really, really bad for any hungry ghosts in the area.
  • Anima: Beyond Fantasy has the "Lampyridae"note  stones. Once submerged in water, they shine so much that usually are used as street lights.

    • Lightstones are used by inhabitants of the Matoran Universe as a light source. Additionally, beings and other things relating to the Light element suffice, such as the Kanohi Avhokii, the Mask of Light.
    • The Great Ruru (mask of night vision) was demonstrated to be this in Legends of Metru Nui.
    • Additionally, there are Lightvines that grow in various locations.

    Video Games 
  • Distorted Travesty 3 has a fairy as the cursor, among other things it acts as a nifty light source.
  • Besides torches and lanterns, Angband has the Phial of Galadriel, the Star of Elendil, and the Arkenstone of Thráin. These unique artifacts are all permanent light sources.
  • The caverns of Avernum are lit by luminescent mold on the ceiling. Depending on who you believe, either Erika made it and propagated it, or the Vahnatai did. Either way, it's a good thing it's down there—it's also what turns the caves' carbon dioxide into breathable air.
  • Demon's Souls: The player always has a magical gem called the "Augite of souls" which glows in the presence of souls.
  • Luminite, in Devil May Cry, is an Underworld mineral that suffers changes in the human world and starts emitting white light indefinitely. Dante collects a chunk and uses it as a lantern in the first game.
  • In EverQuest, will'o'wisps drop light stones and greater light stones, which help adventurers see in the dark.
  • God of War III: Kratos rips off Helios' head to use it as a lantern. It can also reveal hidden chests.
  • In Grim Fandango, you meet a character who's fashioned a lantern out of luminescent coral and attached it to his scuba-suit. You use him to traverse the dark ocean floor by getting Glottis to pick him up and carry him with you.
  • Half-Life:
  • In inFamous, Cole gets around the sewers by generating small amounts of electricity on his arms.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Snake can eat luminescent mushrooms to power his Night-vision Goggles and other battery powered items. How though ... don't ask.
  • Pokémon: the move Flash is used outside of battle to light up dark areas.
  • Plants vs. Zombies: The Plantern is a nocturnal plant which glows and dispel the bank of fog around it.
  • In Betrayal at Krondor, there are spells and magic artifacts to generate light at nighttime or in dungeons. This is very useful in the Naptha Mines in chapter 4, where lighting a torch will cause the whole place to explode.
  • Sword of Vermilion has the Luminos spell, which lasts until you leave the dungeon you cast it in.
  • In Touhou, Wriggle Nightbug's butt emits light. She is a firefly, after all.
  • Unreal I has Tarydium crystals, that glow a soft, watery blue that varies from very clear cyan to duke blue. The former occur naturally in the crystals, making caves and mine shafts some of the game's most well-lit areas, while the Nali like using the latter as wall lamps in the sleeping and bathing chambers of their more elaborate buildings, such as the Sunspire.
  • In Xenoblade, the Nopon use the pollen orbs they manufacture in their village as both light sources and food (and in the case of red ones, a group sells them as a highly addictive drug).
  • The Elder Scrolls series has several spells which generate temporary sources of light, typically classed in the Illusion school of magic. Depending on the specific spell and the specific game you are playing, these balls of light may stick to you, float around and follow you, or stick to a surface that you cast them at. The drawback of these spells is that using them will make it easier for enemies to detect you. Related are the Night Eye spells, which provide temporary Innate Night Vision and do not have this drawback.
  • Some Diablo-inspired games have items with "light radius", which causes the circle of visibility around your character in dark places to be larger.
  • Trapping fireflies or similar luminous insects and bottling them to create a light source is practically a trope of its own in light-hearted inventory-based adventure games.
  • In Moss, there's an unusual one that represents the player's cursor. It does in fact count as an in-game object, as it illuminates anything close to it.
  • The Sunlight Maggot from Dark Souls can be worn as a headpiece, and if you do, it'll provide a lantern-like lighting effect.
  • Minecraft features a variety of unconventional light sources, the most notable of which is Glowstone.

    Web Comics 
  • When Tanna enters the temple in Ears for Elves, it's dark once she reaches the main room. However, she touches an orb over a glowing basin, and it and similar orbs light up the whole chamber with mystical effects.
  • Played with in Girl Genius: a character questions why the Deepdown doesn't have phosphorescent crystals or fungi, and is told they were all sold. Later phosphorescent fungi are seen in the caverns beneath Castle Heterodyne and Paris.
  • Denizens of the Basement in The Mansion of E breed and use Glowing Balls Of Light.
  • In RoomLand, an MS Paint Adventures Forum Adventure, the cave Mary-Beth lives in is lit up by some kind of glowing plant.
  • In Three Panel Soul, a man wins Lucifer's soul in a game. He mainly uses it as a lantern.
  • Eric from TwoKinds has a spell that converts mana into light.
  • Unsounded gives these a Mundane Solution. Since the Functional Magic system of Pymary can only manipulate existing Aspects of reality, luminous starflies are juiced and sold to spellcasters so they have a handy source of Light Aspect to draw on.

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The ability to make their horn tips glow is a basic spell that almost all unicorns seem capable of, alongside telekinesis. It's easy enough that even a somewhat dim-witted foal like Snails can cast it (although it takes him some effort). Besides using this as a built-in flashlight of sorts, the light can be directed into a narrow beam that may or not project an image, as shown by Rarity, Twilight and a number of unicorn Royal Guards on various occasions. Regular flashlights also exist, but it's not said whether they're magic-based or electric.
    • In "To Where and Back Again", the inside of the changelings' hive is lit by seemingly organic, bio-luminescent green pods hanging like fruit from vine-like structures growing on its ceilings. Of course, some of those pods are actually cocoons that Chrysalis' prisoners are contained in.
  • The Gem race of Steven Universe are sentient gemstones that construct their humanoid bodies out of Hard Light. Following that they can use their gemstones as flashlights.
  • In Mixels, the Electroids, being electric-based in their abilities, are able to use the purplish-blue electricity-holding parts of their bodies as flashlights.


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