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Hands-Free Handlamp

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But how is she holding the light up there?

Commonly, in video games, especially first-person ones, the lighting item doesn't have to be held in the Player Character's hand, even if it's a big Maglite-style flashlight, a candle (especially if it's the nuclear type), or a photographer's floodlight set. And despite not being worn head-mounted, if the work features a first-person perspective, expect the beam to be perfectly centered on the screen.

In a variation, the light source might not even appear on the character model, though the light beam certainly does.

Depending on the developer's view on how the lighting is supposed to affect gameplay, can be an example of Acceptable Breaks from Reality. Compare Hollywood Darkness, where the lighting juggle is simplified for similar reasons.

Please note that true hands-free lights like headlamps, tactical gunlights or equippable items like clothing and armor enchanted with a light-giving spell don't fit this trope, even as aversions (an aversion is when the light source indeed has to be held and equipped); after all, hands-free lighting items providing hands-free light like they're supposed to is just something that happens, not a trope. This is exclusively for light sources that are meant to be handheld but for some very unusual or just plain unexplained reason simply aren't, like in the page image.



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    Action Games 


    First-Person Shooters 
  • Nightmare House. The flashlight itself plays it straight, but the flares avert it. They're props as far as the Source engine goes, not equipment, so you have to pick them up to carry them, and you can't use a weapon while you're doing it; to compensate at least a little, they themselves can be used as weapons by setting enemies on fire.
  • Prey (2006): how exactly Tommy holds his Zippo without burning himself if he can keep it lit while holding a gun is unknown. It doesn't show up even when he's using one-handed hardware like the wrench.
  • In both Left 4 Dead games, the only flashlights that the survivors possess are on the guns. That doesn't stop you from still having a light, perfectly centered on the screen at that, when wielding non-gun items like medkits and grenades. There are flashlights and floodlights in certain maps for Mood Lighting or indicating something important, usually around corpses, but they're impossible to pick up even if they do work.
  • Downplayed almost to full aversion in Contagion. The light sources available are tactical lights on certain firearms, the cell phone (which you can't wield at the same time as a gun or item), and the rare angle-head pocket light. That last one does allow a survivor to have a light while wielding other items, but it takes up one precious inventory slot out of four total, and even then, it's subpar: when you're using it alongside a light-less gun it points awkwardly in a fixed direction that is rarely where you're looking or aiming at and it bobs everywhere when you're movingnote ; to have it point where you want it, you have to hold it in your hand, and you already have the phone for thatnote . The only aspects played straight are that the Player Characters don't have to move their hands to operate the light in their pocketnote , and the pocket light isn't modeled on the character's pocket when it's being used as such.
  • In Far Cry, the beam of the angle-head light you can find is always on the center of the screen like it's being worn as a headlamp. It's never shown in Jack's character model when it can be seen in cutscenes either.
  • Played straight with Barney in Half-Life: Blue Shift. He's shown from Gordon's perspective at the start of the core game clearly holding a flashlight, but when you play as him his light is exactly the same as Gordon's suit-mounted lamp, including the hands-free operation.
  • In Serious Sam 3: BFE, Sam has a flashlight, installed in his belt buckle, that he turns on (regardless of player input) in basements and crypts where the sunlight doesn't reach. In an odd twist, the assault rifle has a mounted flashlight that Sam never uses.
    "Let there be light!"

    Hack and Slash 
  • In Bloodborne, the Hand Lantern is hung onto the user's belt, leaving both hands free to hold weapons while illuminating the surrounding area. However, it provides a weaker source of light than the always-handheld torches.

    Role Playing Games 
  • In Pokémon, using Flash in a dark location only requires the move to be used once, and the Pokemon using it doesn't have to stay out of its ball, or even be the first in the party in the case of Walking Pokemon. The lighting effect will only be undone if you move to another room.
  • Fallout: The player can turn up the screen brightness of their wrist-mounted Pip-Boy to max, whereupon it'll act as a lantern. It doesn't matter where the screen is pointing towards, though, there'll always be a circle of light around the player. Fallout 4 allows the Sole Survivor to replace that with either the Powered Armor's helmet light or a hard hat with a lamp attached as longer-ranged lighting alternatives. The "Tactical Flashlights" Game Mod expands on that, and (besides a few more high-tech options) features lore-friendly kludges such as a torch crudely slipped beside the user's temple, between a cap's holding straps.

    Survival Horror 
  • Silent Hill:
    • Heather plays it straight in Silent Hill 3 when she's using an alternate costume. Normally her light is an angle-head that goes into her breast pocket, as usual in the series, but when she's wearing anything else, her chest projects a beam with no material source.
    • Averted in Silent Hill: Downpour. Murphy can clip the floodlight to the side of his belt by its handle, but it'll only shine straight ahead. He has to hold it in his hand to point it in another direction.
  • Cry of Fear zig-zags it. When Simon holds the phone in his hand, it works with a typical flashlight beam; on the other hand, he can store it in his bag and light will shine around him like a dim lantern, though it's considerably brighter than one might expect from a phone's LED shining through the canvas of a dark-colored backpack. Dual Wielding is a major mechanic that allows Simon to use the phone light (and later on, a proper flashlight) alongside the Glock pistol, but it's unwieldy - you can only fire from the hip for whatever reason and accuracy is greatly reduced. The only truly hands-free lighting item is a tactical light that fits the Glock.
  • Resident Evil 7 plays it straight with Ethan's and Mia's lights. We see Ethan produce one the first time he enters a dark area, and that's the only time he's ever shown physically holding it; both he and Mia can hold their weapons totally unencumbered by them and are frequently shown barehanded in cutscenes even when the light is on. Like in the Serious Sam example above, it switching on and off is entirely automatic.
  • Zig-zagged in The Last of Us. Allies keep their flashlights in their hands, while Joel keeps his taped to his backpack's straps. Later when you get to play Ellie, she also tapes her flashlight to her backpack, despite holding it in her hands as an NPC.
  • Played straight in The Evil Within 2: the flashlight clipped to Sebastian's body always points to wherever the camera's looking. Then again, the game does take place within the mental realm created by the STEM system.
  • Averted in No More Room In Hell. The only light sources are a Zippo lighter and a big Maglite torch (that also takes up inventory space), and both have to be held to be used. To have a light shining while you're using another weapon, you must have the Maglite, and even then the weapon has to be one-handed, like a smaller melee weapon or a handgun, because the left hand is shown holding the Maglite.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • Stranded Deep used to play it straight, but later alphas came to avert it. Now both the floodlight and the lantern have to be handheld, though the lantern can be dropped on the ground as a static light source.
  • Deadly Premonition: York has a regular tactical light, as can be seen in the morgue when he's examining Anna Graham's corpse. During gameplay, however, the beam just projects out of his front with no source.
  • Played perfectly straight in Mist Survival. The flashlight isn't shown in your model, it works exactly like a headlamp, and you always have it with you.

Non-Video Game Examples

    Comic Books 
  • Robin Series: At one point Tim holds a small flashlight in his mouth in order to keep his hands free while dangling upside down from a skylight and trying to see what records were stolen from an old phone company database. When his line gets cut, he he opens his mouth to yell and loses the light.

    Fan Works 
  • The metafictional My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fic Daring Do and the Secret of the Fourth Wall mixes this trope with deliberate Plot Holes. In a few scenes, Rainbow Dash finds herself carrying a torch—even though there's no logical way she could have been carrying it for the last few minutes, and she can't remember picking it up. As the scene goes, Dash relights the torch after it was extinguished, then tries to pick it up in her mouth and tastes how disgusting it is. This gets her wondering how she held the torch before: it definitely wasn't in her mouth, or she would have tasted it, and both of her forelegs were occupied with a floor tile that she was examining... with the torch's light. So there's no way she could have been holding the torch, but it was just there somehow. It's one of several clues that she's somehow gotten stuck inside a fictional story.

    Tabletop Games 

  • Florence Ambrose of Freefall attached a rubber flange to a standard cylindrical flashlight in the Friday, 10 March 2000 strip. This allows her to hold the device in her teeth while keeping the light shining forward, which, as the page image shows, makes it seem like the torch is just hovering by the side of her muzzle.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • A smaller flashlight can be attached to the brim of a hat like a baseball cap or hard hat if its pocket clip is bezel-upnote . How well it works varies depending on the length and toughness of the pocket clip, the size and weight of the torch, and how tough or flexible the hat's brim is.
  • Much like Florence's example above, holding a light in your mouth if it's a small one is common practice among repairmen, plumbers and so on. The fact that aluminium, especially if it has a knurled texture, is murder on tooth enamel and dentures alike leads the people that do it often to wrap the part they bite down on with a softer material, going from rubber flanges and gaskets to duct tape.


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