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Hollywood Darkness
aka: Hollywood Night

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"There has to be enough light to see the darkness by."

When a character switches off the last light in the room, a vaguely bluish light slightly dimmer than normal illumination switches on. It's implied that the characters aren't supposed to see what the audience can, which makes sense; a black screen isn't much fun to watch (most of the time). Funny thing is, most of the time the characters will be unaffected by the supposed darkness, moving about without stumbling over furniture or stubbing toes. In a few cases, a red light will be used instead.

A "Fantastic Voyage" Plot or spelunking adventure often has a highly illuminated environment. Video games provide numerous examples of oddly well-lit caves. And space is always brightly illuminated.

In the past, nighttime scenes were filmed in full daylight, with a blue filternote  on the camera; this is known in the business as "shooting day for night" and is essentially a cost-cutting measure, since it's much easier to film a scene during the day.note  It often becomes a form of Special Effect Failure — shadows don't match the flashlights, headlights or torches involved. In fact, sometimes the shadows of the supposed light sources are clearly visible. In certain cinemaphile circles this was known as "broad daynight". It sometimes remains a necessity even today, though, as with some lenses film isn't sensitive enough to shoot without enough light, or the location won't allow any practical way of hiding the lights (this is common in areas where there is no motivated light). Thanks to the advent of the digital post-production it's also much easier to do convincingly (such as doing sky replacements).


Not the same as Unnaturally Blue Lighting, which turns up even when it's supposed to be just a cloudy day or literal bad blue lights.

There is a trend for dramatic series to prefer real darkness. Similarly, it's common in Sitcoms these days for a "good night" moment with husband and wife in bed to cut to black when the lights are turned out. Someone then says something in the dark — sometimes it's a comment that prompts someone to turn the lights back on, and sometimes it's an entire conversation. And of course, video games often give you a torch for a reason. (If you don't have a free hand, or hands-free light, don't forget the duct tape.)

In black and white films, particularly older ones, there may be no difference between day and night in terms of lighting. Watch Nosferatu, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, or M and try guessing what time something happens. This comes from technological limitations imposed by the film stock available in those days. By which we mean that filming in darkness would have produced absolutely nothing. (In the original prints of silent films, various chemical tints were used to suggest differences in lighting.)


Occasionally this can be justified in cases where the characters are something, such as owls, which have good night vision, because then the audience would be seeing as they see even when in darkness.

Of course, should you find yourself in total darkness (such as a deep cave), you'll be able to "see" the outline of your hand, but it's literally "all in your head" — what you're really seeing is a form of 'sensor ghost' generated by your brain as it receives signals from your body.

Inverse of Nuclear Candle, which dictates that anything lit by a single tiny light will somehow illuminate the whole room evenly.

For an aversion, when single point light sources cast shadows as they do in real life, see Chiaroscuro.

Compare Mood Lighting and By the Lights of Their Eyes, in which the scene is quite a bit darker except for the eyes of the characters or the teeth of the monsters. Contrast Who Forgot the Lights?, a generally bad inversion that happens in video games; and Blackout Basement, when everything being pitch black is the gimmick of a level or area. See also Rule of Perception for one reason why this trope exists. The common practice of using blue to represent "darkness" is directly related to Orange/Blue Contrast (specifically, the "turn up the shadows to the teal end" part).


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, the characters are fighting in a forest in the middle of the night when the nearby town, the only source of light, is plunged into a blackout. The characters can't see a thing but to the audience, the lighting has barely changed.
  • Toradora! switches to green-tinted night vision mode for this, which makes it clear that it's pitch black for the characters.
  • Cowboy Bebop where Jet and Spike descend 28 stories below ground into a defunct museum (in search of a Beta player), using just Spike's lighter, and can see perfectly well around them.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya: Haruhi couldn't distinguish the face of a time-traveling Kyon when she was 13 because they met late in the night, however, in the episode both are clearly recognizable even from afar. It's also been several years and Kyon hasn't aged a day. Furthermore, they met only once, but Haruhi still asks: "Have we met before?" when they first meet. Thus starting the Stable Time Loop.
  • The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan Alternate Universe spin-off manga's take on that moment shows Haruhi could see perfectly fine and recognizes Kyon right away even after several years, but doesn't let on about it. Haruhi and Yuki also have a similar first meeting where the darkness, Yuki's nearsightedness (she went out without her glasses), and a lack of an impression made on Haruhi really did make it hard for each to identify the other later.
  • An episode of Jojos Bizarre Adventure has Jonathan drop a torch to plunge the room in darkness and all it does is switch the tint from green to blue.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Somewhat averted in Diamonds Cut; it is genuinely dark when 007 switches off the lights to take the terrorists in the opening scene by surprise. The resultant combat is therefore mostly shown through the security cameras feed.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 

In General:

  • In the silent movie era, the scenes were often shot in daylight and the final print tinted blue for night scenes. Old, unrestored prints of Nosferatu show that the vampire is walking around in daylight, although he shouldn't be able to.
  • Too many historical films and TV series to list film their indoor scenes with so much light that the candles appear to be just decoration, even if they should be the only light source in the room. For example, the BBC adaptation of Tess of the d'Urbervilles — especially the scene of Angel and Tess having supper.
  • Done out of necessity in films shot in deserts, as the nights are freezing and the vastness of the desert makes it all but impossible to both light the area convincingly and evenly. Examples include:


  • Alfred Hitchcock:
    • In Rear Window he used a blue filter for exterior night scenes, but filmed in darkness for interiors.
    • Psycho has some day-for-night shots, particularly the sequence where Norman is getting rid of Marion's body and her car (the shadows are very sharp).


  • 28 Days Later has scenes of Jim walking through downtown London at night. The film makers shot these scenes using day-for-night effects so they didn't need to worry about trying to get all of the lights in the buildings and on the streets shut off.
  • 28 Weeks Later has the underground train station sequence. Tammy and Andy can't see a thing and are very vocal about this since they keep bumping into corpses and such. But when it cuts away from P.O.V. Cam the audience can see just fine.
  • The film version of the musical 1776 averts this in "Piddle, Twiddle, and Resolve", which is clearly shot during actual night in front of the Independence Hall facade. However, the blue filter is later used in "Yours, Yours, Yours", although that one is an imaginary sequence.
  • In Blind Fury, the blind swordsman shuts off all the lights in a room full of armed goons and says, "Welcome to my world!" before slicing them all up. It's supposed to be so dark that the goons can't see him, but the viewer can easily see everything.
  • Almost all the night scenes in The Burning are done by using a slightly dark filter on scenes actually shot in daylight. Only the campfire scenes are shot in actual darkness.
  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari goes one step further. Unable to afford the tools necessary to produce such low level lighting, the nightime shadows are actually painted on to the set, adding to the surreal dream-like atmosphere.
  • In Casper, when Carrigan and Dibs first enter the manor at night, the audience can see the room fine, but Carrigan snaps for Dibs to use his lighter. This adds virtually no illumination to the vast room, but it's suddenly treated as if they can see everything fine.
  • Used from time to time in Cast Away, identifiable by the sharp shadows at night. Also averted completely when Chuck is stranded at sea after the plane crash; several theaters posted signs informing the audience that nothing was wrong with their projectors and the film is supposed to go totally black during that sequence.
  • The characters in The Cave might be trapped underground, but lucky for them the titular cave is apparently entirely self-lit.
  • The Descent Part 2's caverns are conspicuously well-lit, which is especially bothersome when the first film's use of darkness was one of its greatest strengths.
  • In Diamonds Are Forever James Bond finds himself in a closed coffin in one scene, and in an underground pipeline in another — the light is good enough for reading in both places.
  • In Dune (1984), a hunter-seeker drone is sent into Paul's room to kill him. Paul claims it is too dark for the probe to see, even though the room is well-lit.
  • eXistenZ does it deliberately, as a reference to an earlier era of low-tech special effects.
  • In another silent film, Harold Lloyd two-reeler From Hand to Mouth, it's quite light outside at midnight when Harold gets his girl to the lawyer's office to claim her inheritance Just in Time.
  • Ghostbusters II, when Janosz goes to check on Dana and Oscar during the power blackout.
  • Inverted behind the scenes in The Godfather. Director commentary reveals that, due to time constraints, some of the broad-daylight wedding scenes (close shots of Michael at the table with Kay) had to be filmed at night. They blasted the area with sufficient light that it's not noticeable.
  • Gore Orphanage employs semi-realistic lighting in some scenes, but most night scenes are instead filmed in Hollywood Darkness.
  • The Green Hornet Serials just filmed almost everything in normal lighting and made sure someone called the Hornet "that night-riding bandit" on a regular basis. Justified in that the serials were filmed in black and white.
  • In the 1996 film of Hamlet, the burial-of-Ophelia scene was so light that you might not even realize that it's supposed to be night. It's shot on a set.
  • Harry Potter: the graveyard scene in Goblet of Fire, and the cornfield scene in Half-Blood Prince. The corn is vibrant yellow but the fire is burning hundreds of yards away.
  • During the first live-action film of The Hobbit, this happens in the Misty Mountains. When the dwarves are camping on the goblins' front porch, it's night, there are clouds outside, no fires are allowed, they're not in direct sight of the entrance, and there isn't an opening above them. However, it's as light as any normal cloudy day — brighter even than the mountainside was minutes before.
  • In Jaws, during the opening scene on the beach, Chrissie Watkins is taking off her clothes to go swimming at "night". This was done with filters to obscure the fully-nude actress, both entering the water and while you see her from the shark's perspective, presumably to keep the PG rating.
  • The Bollywood film Koyla has a rather poorly done version of this as the protagonists are hiding by a river in the forest: a filter is applied, but only for the top half of the shot.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • The night battles at Helm's Deep and Osgiliath are shown in a blue tint.
    • The lair of Shelob in is fairly well-lit. In the book it was pitch black, invoking Nothing Is Scarier and Dark Is Evil (we are told she "secretes" darkness), but here the audience has to see. He does run right into a web he should have been able to clearly see, so it's obvious that the lair is lit in our view, but not in his.
    • According to the commentary tracks, Sean Astin queried this in a subsequent scene where Frodo is being held prisoner at night in Cirith Ungol in what should be an unlit room.
      Sean Astin: Where is the light coming from?
      DP Andrew Leslie: The same place as the music.
  • Played straight, averted and played straight again in Man-Thing; most of the night scenes take place in visible darkness, but when Roberts ventures into deeper parts of the swamp, the darkness is initially displayed more realistically, before returning to more visible output.
  • The beginning of The Man with the Golden Gun has an assassin pitted against Scaramanga. He gets the drop on Scaramanga, but Nick-Nack turns the lights off, causing him to miss. We see the room flooded with red light.
  • The Mask plays with different kinds of blue light for effect. When Stanley is just being Stanley, the blue lighting is plain, ordinary, naturalistic blue lighting. Whenever Stanley's dreaming, or whenever the Mask is involved, though, it turns into this harsh, unnaturally oversaturated cobalt blue (or, as director Chuck Russell called it, "horror movie blue").
  • Metropolis: The catacombs under the city are supposed to be dark. They were lit dimly enough for Rotwang's flashlight beam to be visible, but they're still bright enough to make viewers wonder why it was needed in the first place.
  • A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy doesn't even hide the fact many of the night scenes are shot during the day — nor does it care as a No Budget Speech-Centric Work.
  • Extremely poor day for night shooting in The Naked Witch makes it almost impossible to tell which scenes are supposed to be taking place at night. When the witch extinguishes the torch inside the cave, there is no change in the level of light.
  • For his legendary Plan 9 from Outer Space director Ed Wood couldn't afford the filter, with the result that scenes switch from day to night and back again, adding to the film's surreal charm.
  • The night surfing scene in Point Break (1991) is clearly just daytime shot through a blue filter.
  • Used in the nighttime scenes of the biopic film PT-109. Gets especially obvious during shots of the Japanese destroyer, which practically looks like it is sailing in broad daylight save for a weak blue filter.
  • Pumpkinhead has fun with the blue filter.
  • Scary Movie 2 uses a blue filter to represent darkness in scene where Cindy is in the secret study. Given that this movie is a parody of other movies, it was probably intentional.
  • Used in the classic Western The Searchers. Not very convincing at all, since they're supposed to be way out in the middle of nowhere in the American West, and yet the sky is dark-to-medium blue.
  • In Silence of the Lambs, Agent Starling gets trapped in a pitch black basement by Buffalo Bill. The scene is shot from the perspective of Buffalo Bill's night vision goggles, but you can clearly see that Clarice is casting a shadow on the walls of the basement as she stumbles around, revealing that the scene was shot with on-set illumination and then tinted rather than being genuinely shot in night-vision.
  • Street Angel: In the last scene, Gino lights a match to see Angela's face, entirely visible to the viewers.
  • The future scenes in the Terminator films, being night battles or inside the warrens humanity has been forced into.
  • In Wait Until Dark, the blind Susy Hendrix tries to even the odds with the sighted Harry Roat by smashing every light bulb in her house; the house never goes entirely dark to the audience. note 
  • Done poorly in Werewolf, riffed on Mystery Science Theater 3000. In one scene the Sun with its luminous corona is clearly visible in the sky of a supposedly night-time scene cast in just enough blue that you almost forget that there are dramatic afternoon shadows cast from everything.
  • The German Winnetou movies frequently darkened daylight shots to simulate night. While it mostly works well, it's very easy to spot when the sky is in the frame, which usually is a very uniform light blue.
  • Averted in X-Men. In the scene outside the train station (where Magneto confronts the police) which, if you watch the making-of video, is revealed to have been shot in broad daylight. It looks like night and the clear lighting of the characters and location is from police floodlights.
  • Zathura. So they cut off every light and heat source in the house, which happened to be floating in space at the time, apparently far away from any star. Ignoring the thousands of other implausibilities in that situation, the characters shouldn't even be able to see the backs of their own eyelids.

  • The Darkest Dark: The book has lots of scenes set at night. Despite that, you can still things quite clearly.
  • Discworld series.
    • Lampshaded in Men at Arms, where the narration mentions an underground cave being faintly lit, but the people in it are a dwarf and a troll, both able to see in the dark. But all caves on the Discworld are illuminated by something in case a human hero falls in and needs to see.
    • In Moving Pictures the nascent movie industry is struggling with night scenes: the camera imps can't see to paint at night. Victor comes up with the idea of explaining the situation away in the dialogue card: "How bright the moon is tonight, bwana." This eventually turns out to be one of the Laws of Holy Wood: It is always bright enough to see the darkness. Later on they come even closer to the trope, when it's discovered that they can illuminate the scene with torches so that the imps can see but it's still recognisably night.
  • The first chapter of Seth Grahame-Smith's How to Survive a Horror Movie, which deals with signs that you may be living a horror film, asks the reader, "Is everything bathed in bright blue light even though it's supposed to be nighttime?"
  • In the Left Behind books, God with one of His Trumpet Judgments causes New Babylon to be enveloped in complete darkness so that no one among Nicolae Carpathia's loyalists can see any light save for Nicolae's faint aura. Believers in Christ, on the other hand, are able to see with the illumination level of a low-powered chandelier.

    Live-Action TV 

In General:

  • It's always fun in older period shows like Bonanza or Little House on the Prairie to watch for scenes where a character extinguishes a lantern: the bright white studio lighting fades down and the blue "night time" lighting fades up.


  • There are many scenes in 24 that are meant to be set shortly before dawn, but are obviously the middle of the day with a grey filter.
  • A sketch from Bang Bang It's Reeves and Mortimer involving them being stuck in a car overnight at a gas station features an obviously fake blue filter to signify that it's night. Considering that it's Reeves and Mortimer that we're talking about here, it's hard to tell if this is an actual case of this trope or a conscious subversion/parody of it.
  • Appears in Blood Ties when Vicki and Henry enter a barn at night and Vicki starts going on about how she can't see in the (well illuminated) set. There are two possible justifications: 1) Henry the vampire was facing off against a were-panther, both of whom had no problem seeing in the dark, so the audience was seeing it from their point of view, and 2) Vicki has retinitis pigmentosa, so it appeared darker to her than it actually was.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Utopia": Although the outside scenes on Malcassairo were clearly filmed at night, the planet is still surprisingly well-lit for being at almost the end of the universe with all the stars having burned out.
    • "The Vampires of Venice": The scene where the Doctor and Rory sneak into the House of Calvierri through the trapdoor is relatively decently lit, with blue light. Dialogue and actions make it abundantly clear, however, that the blue light is visible only to the audience.
  • In Emerald City, the outdoor nighttime scenes are shot day-for-night with a blue filter.
  • In Fawlty Towers: in "The Wedding Party", the studio lights take time to fade down when Sybil switches off the lights. In "The Psychiatrist", a scene when Basil sneaks into a dark room clearly has a light shining on the character in a bed.
  • The caves of Fraggle Rock are awfully brightly lit for an underground world. But this is explained in a season 2 episode in which the Fraggles discover the existence of the Ditsies, tiny bioluminescent creatures who feed on music — yet another of the show's many inter-dependencies between species.
  • In the 1960's TV show The Green Hornet the night scenes with the Black Beauty driving through town never looked right. Can't remember ever seeing actual shadows, but it didn't look like night.
  • In the Haven episode "A Tale of Two Audreys", when the town experiences the biblical Ten Plagues, the plague of darkness is depicted with what seems to be the "full daylight, with a dark lens on the camera" trick or something similar.
  • In Keeping Up Appearances, there are several moments when there is enough ambient blue light to see the time on an alarm clock in the middle of the night, before Hyacinth switches on the light and loudly proclaims her latest mad scheme.
  • Downright jarring in Kindred: The Embraced, where vampires, walking around outside at what appeared to be 3 o'clock on a sunny afternoon, would urge each other to get to cover quickly, before the sun comes up.
  • Hogan's Heroes has this over most of the series mainly because most of the team's work has to be done during night. It gets to comical levels when there's overwhelming light reflecting off character's faces in supposedly the middle of the night. Also times with sharp shadows and light sources that are supposed to be blinding while barely showing up on camera.
  • One episode of Kings featured a blackout and street scenes were shot through a very strong blue filter. This only served to highlight the fact that they were shot during the day because characters' flashlights were clearly on but not illuminating anything. The bad quality of these scenes is only highlighted by the fact that the episode ends with a scene actually shot at night and it looks all the better in comparison to the rest of the episode.
  • In the opening multi-part episode of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers season three, the team is searching through a cave. Billy advises the group to look for any sources of light filtering through. Naturally, the fact that the cave is not even slightly dark and has plenty of light sources unintentionally makes this line freakin' hilarious.
  • Many films shown on Mystery Science Theater 3000 feature this trope.
    • Los Nuevos Extraterrestres shown as Pod People was atrocious in this regard. In several scenes, dialog indicates that it's supposed to be night, but it's obviously midday, and it isn't even blue filtered. Joel and the 'bots lampshade the mistake: "Night looks like day any time of day around here." To be charitable, this might just be an atrocious translation or editing error (presumably the scenes in question were shot day-for-night and the effect was never applied).
    • Ironically, Manos: The Hands of Fate averts it - the cast later complained that the lights necessary to film at night seemed as though they drew every moth in El Paso, Texas.
    • MST3K The Movie, featuring This Island Earth note  features bad Hollywood Darkness that prompts Crow to remark that the characters are sneaking away "under cover of afternoon."
    • Crow riffed on this in the first ever episode:
      Crow: That's very well lit for the bottom of a crater of an abandoned volcano at the bottom of the sea.
    • Then there was the Werewolf episode which is neatly punctuated by Mike's comment:
      Mike: Later, in the middle of blue-filter night...
    • The Sidehackers did the same thing as Pod People, with the addition of crickets. As the characters are conversing in blatant midday, Crow and Tom end the characters' sentences with "at night," to hang a nice little lampshade on the whole thing.
    • Boggy Creek 2: The Legend Continues showed a flashback of Otis Tucker's deadly encounter with the creature that was intended to be a nighttime scene, but the sharply contrasted shadows and Otis's dim flashlight mark it as underexposed daylight.
    • Attack of The The Eye Creatures (yes, two "The"s) takes this to another level and makes it a Plot Hole: The aliens can only attack at night because they're photosensitive, to the point of exploding if you shine a flashlight at them. Most of their scenes are shot during the day.
      Servo: The night the light-intolerant Eye Creatures' carried out their ill-fated invasion of the earth was actually quite a lovely day! In fact, you couldn't have picked a nicer day to film a NIGHT sequence!! Just after midnight, or high noon? You decide. You see, they just didn't care.
    • A few scenes in Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell are supposed to be at night, but you can't tell except by the in-movie dialogue.
    • In Girl in Gold Boots, the filter was occasionally only on the top half of the camera.
      Crow: Very sunny night.
    • In Gunslinger, this filter was used, but at one point, the sun was so bright, it gave Rose an unearthly glow, leading Tom to making the humming tune from Cocoon.
  • Night scenes were shot uncommonly well in Our Miss Brooks. "The Burglar" and "Public Property on Parade" have nighttime scenes that are about as dark as you'd expect. Played straight, however, in "Wake-Up Plan" where the Conklins' hallway is suspiciously light.
  • Night scenes in Robin of Sherwood were the worst of both worlds: it didn't look like night-time, but the filter made it too dark to see anything!
  • In the Sherlock Holmes story "The Empty House", the titular building is extremely dark, but in the Granada Sherlock Holmes series episode of the same name, it is fairly well-lit.
  • Star Trek universe.
    • Interstellar space is generally pretty well-lit. Whenever the hero ship faces a power disruption, all the systems will go offline except for a few lights here and there and all you see is the ship vaguely silhouetted by its own running lights. In real life, such a ship would be lit as such all the time, at best.
    • Averted in some of the Trek movies, where the Enterprise has exterior floodlights aimed at the ship's hull, specifically to make it visible.
    • The Voyager episode "Night" seems to establish that starlight also provides some illumination for ships. The ship travels through a pitch-black area of space and is barely visible except for its exterior lights.
    • Caves. Always so well-lit, even when there are no light sources anywhere. This was finally partially fixed in Star Trek: Enterprise, which used the blue filter.
    • Also fixed in the more modern series when the ship suffers a total power failure—the corridors are shown pitch-black, illuminated only by flashlights.
  • In the Supernatural episode "All Hells Breaks Loose, Part Two" (S02, E22), the scenes in the cemetery are well illuminated despite the fact that it is nighttime with no light source, except for possibly the moon.
  • The first episode of the second season of The Walking Dead put a filter on the camera that made everything dim and oddly orange to indicate night was falling. Also, people said "It'll be dark soon." Judging by the shadows the sun was casting, it was about 2 PM.
  • On WKRP in Cincinnati Venus likes to have the booth dark when he's on the air, which is usually represented by a red light. On more than one occasion Mr. Carlson comes in and switches the lights on full, which temporarily blinds Venus.

    Music Videos 
  • "Holding Out for a Hero" by Bonnie Tyler: While the night is totally black when Bonnie's house burns up in the video, the Mounted Combat between the two cowboy types has the night being lit in blue by the full moon, and shadows are still strongly apparent.
  • "Moonlight Shadow" by Mike Oldfield: While it's not apparent throughout the entire video and only appears when the actual story is being shown, the story is about a woman's husband getting shot six times on a Saturday night, and takes place at 4AM in the morning.

  • A standard way to portray a night scene in theatre is to use a dark blue filter on the stage lights. This is lampshaded in The Drowsy Chaperone when the Man in the Chair mentions that "[Janet] is bathed in the pale blue light of a sympathetic moon ... which is ridiculous, because it's the middle of the day".

    Video Games 
  • Lampshaded in Mother 3, when power is cut to a concert hall, causing everything to become blue. An NPC in the area comments that it's a "pitiful excuse for a blackout" and asks if you can still see his nose hair in the 'darkness'.
  • In the original Mario Golf, Overtime holes during match play took place at night with no visible light sources.
  • Completely lit cave areas in Avernum are generally handwaved with fluorescent mushrooms. Nobody ever mentions why some indoor areas are completely lit, though (maybe they really don't have ceilings?) Unlit cave areas have full lighting a few squares away from the main characters and no lighting at all farther away from them, with no transition. Outdoor nighttime isn't present until the third game, which provides the same level of partial lighting every night with no regard for full and new moons.
  • In Silent Scope's nighttime level, the sniper scope's night vision is activated (which ironically makes it harder to see through the scope), but you can still see enemies clearly with the naked eye, if the brightness isn't too low.
  • The visual effect provided by darkvision in Neverwinter Nights 2.
  • In the Splinter Cell series, Sam is effectively invisible if he's far enough into the dark. Even if he's standing between a guard and a lit area, as long as he's in the dark, they won't see him. Due to system limitations, especially on the PS2, there were occasionally areas where Sam is perfectly visible to the player (beyond the oft-mocked green lights from his goggles or the radio on his back, which are explicitly part of his character model so the player can orient themselves in proper darkness) but which the game still considered as perfectly concealed in darkness and made him totally invisible to any NPCs unless they stubbed their toe on him.
  • One particularly bad example in the Medal of Honor series is "Behind Enemy Lines" in Allied Assault, which looks more like foggy dawn or dusk, unless you turn the brightness down to near bottom. In the HD remake of Frontline, The Golden Lion is set at dusk rather than night, but it's still too bright.
  • Common in Bethesda's flagship series, The Elder Scrolls and Fallout (starting with Fallout 3). As the later games in each series share the same or similar game engines, this trope being present in both makes sense. To note some specific examples:
    • The Elder Scrolls series makes use of this trope all the way back to its inception with Arena. Even the deepest caves still have faint lighting. This is still present in more recent games, such as Blackreach in Skyrim, though there are more justifications such as the presence of Glowing Flora.
    • This is likewise still present in the more recent Fallout titles, even without gamma correction. Nights are always dusk-levels of brightness, and the tinted fog also has a degree of luminosity. Certain Game Mods make lighting more realistic, emphasizing the chiaroscuro of light spots at night and indoors. Fallout: New Vegas, which was published by Bethesda and uses their Gamebryo engine, was developed by Obsidian and offers more frequent aversions, as ambient regional light coloring was used to turn a few cave interiors truly pitch black. Played straight when you take Friend of the Night, a perk that gives you Innate Night Vision.
  • Characters still cast shadows in Higurashi Daybreak, even on the night level.
  • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team: the scene just after the credits is supposed to be taking place at night, so the entire screen is dimmed. Including the protagonist returning to life, which should be glowing brightly. The shadows of clouds, light glinting off water, and symbols of astonishment (exclamation marks overhead) are all similarly visible but dimmed.
  • The shadow difference between day and night in [PROTOTYPE] are minimal, as well as the lighting effects. Just a sky swap and a slight tweak in hue of the air.
  • Dark areas in WinBack are like this, and using your flashlight only gives away your position to the enemy.
  • Most visual novels will have this. Compare a background during the day to that same background at night; the shadows will be in exactly the same places.
  • Caves, crypts and dungeons in World of Warcraft always have enough light to see by, even when no torches, lamps, or luminescent fungus is present.
    • Also, although the game has night and day corresponding to the local server time, in most zones the night is hardly any darker than the day. Averted in a very few places: nighttime in The Hinterlands is pretty dark, and the Tyrande/Emerald Dragonshrine encounter in End Time is too dark to see your hand in front of your face. Players must sprint for the brief splashes of moonlight to be able to fight off the shadowy attackers.
  • Nighttime in Fallen Earth is as dark as a very clear night with a full moon and stars, assuming your character has very good night vision. (In other words it works much like Prototype, mentioned above.) It used to be more realistically dark but that was done away with as the game already runs pretty heavy and the lighting effects weren't doing anyone any favors. Mines and tunnels are sometimes much darker, though, actually meriting the use of your flashlight.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, when you're outdoors, even midnight looks like just before dawn or just after dusk, due to the sky being quite blue near the horizon. One wonders if that's what night actually looks like in certain parts of Japan (when you're not looking at the millions of blazing lights of a metropolis, that is).
  • Zig Zagged in Lone Survivor. There's light, gloom and complete darkness, and "You" can read the map and any documents just fine in pitch black areas - the map even appears under the effects of a straight example.
  • Also Zig Zagged in the Left 4 Dead games. Chiaroscuro is the word, and generally it's pitch black inside buildings (especially underground during the day), but when you're outside at night, the lighting is clear enough that you can spot things easily with your light off, even at a distance. The "horror film fog" effect helps.
  • In Star Fox Adventures, there's nighttime darkness, and there's "inside a dark area" darkness. Nighttime darkness is not particularly hindering; even when you're tasked with lighting the beacons because "it gets too dark at night" and "we be scared of the dark", nighttime without the beacons doesn't even make the Thorntails too scared to sleep. For the other, see Blackout Basement.
  • In Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix, all outside areas are well-lit at night even if it's in the high seas in a stormy night - which is good, since the only flashlight available is attached to the pistol and prevents you from using a silencer, and both the Thermal and Night-Vision Goggles heavily restrict your field of view. The three areas that avert the trope (the Armory where Sam lives and you have to rescue him from after a bombing attempt, the Prometheus chemical weapon plant at Kamchatka after you shut down the generator and the Shop after Prometheus invades it) are all indoors and either underground, window-less or with malfunctioning closed shutters.
  • In the Borderlands series, the difference between night and day is nothing but a slight tint shift (orange in daytime, bluish during the night), and it's always well-lit indoors. It helps keep the gameplay active and fast-paced.
  • In Sonic Lost World, Silent Forest Zone 4 is set in an ancient temple. At certain points, the torches go out, and the stage is depicted in dark blue hues with foreground elements, including Sonic, in silhouette. Though you can control Sonic as normal, he cannot perform his Homing Attack on enemies as, in-universe, he can't see them.
  • It's never dark in XCOM 2, neither in the wilderness nor in the Lost-infested cities. That said, XCOM operatives have torches on their guns that stay lit when you're playing in those maps, and a visual mod gives ADVENT riflemen the same lighting effect.
  • Played very straight in Dragon Age, as even the subterranean Deep Roads miles below the surface are perfectly lit. Finally averted in a couple sections of Dragon Age: Inquisition, but only so you can use the Anchor as a light source.
  • Red Dead Redemption 2: Night is always brightly lit by the full moon, so it's never more than a little dim, and shadows are still strongly apparent.
  • In Subnautica, the deeper biomes have enough ambient light to make your flashlight unnecessary.

    Web Original 
  • Discussed In Best of the Worst's episode on Lycan Colony.
    Rich: If you watch RedLetterMedia for, like, filmmaking tips and advice? That's the one lesson you come away from with this episode: Don't shoot day for night. Ever. Ever.
    Jack: It won't look good, and you can't do it.


    Western Animation 
  • Played with in one of the Secret Squirrel cartoons on 2 Stupid Dogs: When Secret and Morocco infiltrate the pitch black lair of Dr. O (who, being a bat, can see in the dark) and have their last light source destroyed, the screen goes completely black and we hear the narrator say "For the benefit of the audience, a special filter has been installed so you can accompany the action... in complete darkness." The following sequences then appear normally lit, giving the surreal (and funny) sight of Secret acting like he can't see while Morocco tries to tell him what is going on (since, being a mole, he can see in the dark as well) in what otherwise appears to be a completely normal situation.
  • Featured in The Magic School Bus episode where the gang explores Arnold's digestive system. However, this is lampshaded in the closing And Knowing Is Half the Battle segment where someone calls to ask where did all the light come from. The person answering merely snidely remarks they should have gone with "The Magic School Bus Radio Show."
  • Very noticeable in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) episode "Darkness on the Edge of Town," in which a total power blackout allegedly renders Manhattan pitch black. Despite this relevant plot detail, the color palette used is exactly the same as the one used for normal nights.
  • In the Teen Titans episode "The Quest", Robin fights a snake-creature in a cave that is, to him, pitch black. However, the viewers can still see him and the snake from his POV during the fight.
  • Occurs hilariously in one episode of the Spider-Man: The Animated Series. One character enters a warehouse, and standing in the shadows is the Hobgoblin, colored all in blue to fit this trope. So far, so normal, except that Hobgoblin then steps out of the shadows and gains his normal coloring, and the scene is directed and scored in an attempt to make this a dramatic reveal. Such a pity that the Hobgoblin is clearly visible, Mark Hamill's voice is very distinctive, and the man he's talking to knew it was him to begin with, making the entire scene excellent Narm.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, even when the sun is eclipsed, the outdoors have late-day levels of light.
  • Gargoyles tends to depict night-time scenes with more color and light than is realistic, even far from city lights. The main characters are nocturnal, brightly-colored creatures who presumably see better in the dark than humans can, and much of the series takes place at night, so this makes sense.

    Multiple Media 
  • In almost every "Fantastic Voyage" Plot, the interior of the body being explored is brightly lit. In reality, bright light does penetrate the skin, as seen if you close your eyes during the day you can still see that it is day, but doesn't get much further than that. Places in the body like the heart, the brain, and the entire digestive system would be in complete darkness.


    Comic Books 
  • A highly popular issue of The Spirit features a fight scene lit entirely by a flashlight rolling around the floor.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Relic is probably one of the strongest aversions to this trope in film. As explained in this video, director Peter Hyams was sick and tired of the constant use of Hollywood Darkness that saturated the medium, and made the film with the express purpose of using darkness as it would really work to ignite fear. By being as blind as the characters, the audience would be just as terrified of what could be lurking around every corner.
  • Equilibrium: most night scenes are well-lit by spotlights or headlights. The opening nighttime gunfight is lit only by brief muzzle flashes.
  • Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown contains a confrontation between Pam Grier and Samuel L. Jackson in total darkness (but not just a blank screen; the occasional flash of light proves the camera is actually filming them in a dark room).
  • Excellently subverted in Kill Bill when the audience watches the Bride get put in a nailed-shut coffin and Buried Alive. We are treated to a terrifyingly long shot of this as the lights slowly go black, followed by minutes of panting, shifting, and the sound of dirt loudly covering the coffin and filling the grave. And then more panting and shifting. We only finally see light as she turns on a flashlight. Apparently, the fear was real.
  • Pitch Black is well-named, since during the triple eclipse the whole planet becomes astonishingly dark.
  • Except for two scenes where they cheated, the only lighting in the cave in The Descent came from the caving equipment the characters had on them or in one case, a makeshift torch. This could get very confusing when the only thing you could see was the light on someone's helmet.
  • In the Spanish zombie flick [REC], we see the action through a two-man TV crew's camera, when the light goes out, the camera light comes on, but when the camera light bites the dust, it gets dark, and I mean dark.
  • In Ultraviolet, vampires try shooting out the lights of a corridor they are in, because they are being chased by humans. Unfortunately for them, the humans have night vision goggles, meaning everyone present is still able to see each other. The screen goes black until back up lights go on, presumably because the audience can't see them. Or the muzzle flashes.
  • An interesting take on it appears in Blade II, where it's daylight that has a soft bluish hue. Night scenes are filmed in actual darkness, and light sources tend to be harsh, halogen yellow.
  • Watching Eraserhead without a well-tuned screen can be frustrating. Thankfully, the DVD release comes with a screen test before the menu.
  • Similarly with The Fountain, one of the most Chiaroscuro films ever. At least one DVD is quite sketchy, since about half the film contains faces framed in pitch black shadows, making anything less than a perfect transfer hard to watch.
  • Averted in Harold Lloyd's first talkie, Welcome Danger, which stages parts of a fight scene in complete blackness to showcase the novelty of having sound effects.
  • Averted for humorous effect in Blazing Saddles, when Lili von Schtupp attempts to seduce Bart.
  • Collateral was notable for being shot with HD cameras, so they could film during the night.
  • Averted, although not necessarily in a good way, in AVPR: Aliens vs Predator - Requiem. Most of the movie takes place outdoors, at night, and the film is so dark you can barely see what's going on.
  • Averted in Pee-wee's Big Adventure where Pee-wee is stranded in the middle of nowhere at night. The screen is completely black except for a pair of (animated) eyes.
  • Mostly averted in Disney's The Black Hole. The exteriors of the two main ships are completely dark unless lit up by one another (the Palomino uses a spotlight to look at parts of the Cygnus as it flies over it) or itself (the Cygnus suddenly lighting up "like a tree on Christmas morning"). During the Duel between V.I.N.C.E.N.T and S.T.A.R., the realistic darkness of the scene can actually make it hard to see S.T.A.R. The biggest offender seems to be the titular black hole itself which glows blue for visual necessity.
  • Averted in Paranormal Activity as everything shot in darkness was filmed using the night setting on the camera.
  • The duel by lantern-light between Michael York and Christopher Lee in Richard Lester's The Three Musketeers (1973).
  • Actually averted in original black and white films, when blue-tinted film was used for night scenes. Because most replications of silents do NOT use tinted film, this aversion is lost. A restored version of 1921's Nosferatu is available with blue-for-night tinting.
  • Notably averted in The 13th Warrior, which used nothing but source lighting. This made the cave scenes extremely claustrophobic.
  • The first Saw I. Photographer's darkroom in an already dark apartment, camera flash, horrific.
  • The Fritz Lang movie Ministry of Fear has the final confrontation take place in a hotel stairwell lit only by muzzle flashes.
  • Metropolis, has a scene in a cave where one character chases another with a flashlight. The flashlight is the only illumination at all, and the rest of the frame is pitch black.
  • MST3K-subject The Giant Spider Invasion "averts" this to the extent that in night sequences, or just poorly lit interior sequences, it can be almost impossible to make out anything.
  • Seventh Moon averts the trope and combines it with Jitter Cam.
  • Apocalypse Now, especially in Kurtz's lair, features memorable night scenes bathed in darkness and shadow.
  • A large majority of the 2009 French zombie flick La Horde was shot during an overcast night and relied heavily on natural lighting.

    Live-Action TV 

In General:

  • There is an old joke to the effect that you need an HDTV to make out what's going on in the average episode of The X-Files, Lost, or Supernatural. In the latter they occasionally they throw the audience a bone and light it up a bit. And good luck watching any of them on a sunny afternoon.


  • In one episode of the 1960s Batman (1966) the villain of the week had invisible henchmen so Batman turns off the lights to even the odds and the only thing the audience gets to see are the series' trademark ultra-visible sound effects.
  • Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey has the ship of the imagination turn its lights on when visiting the orphan planet and the surface of Titan, which are both otherwise very dark places.
  • In the 1990s revival of Dark Shadows, many of the night scenes were filmed during the day, and appeared as night in broadcast and on VHS. Unfortunately, transfer to DVD messed up the filter used and turned many of the night scenes into this trope.
  • Doctor Who: In stories involving the Weeping Angels as the main villains, the Angels are able to move only if they are unobserved.... or completely unlit. When the Angels start disabling nearby light sources in the creepiest possible fashion, the screen goes completely black when they do so, during which time the Angels move. Since the camera usually counts as an "observer" in-universe (i.e. Angels can't move when they are on camera, either) except when it doesn't, averting this trope is pretty much required.
  • Game of Thrones averts it, with illumination often provided by sunlight, moonlight, candlelight, and fire light. And nowhere it was more obvious than in the appropriately named "The Long Night", where a nocturnal, foggy battle whose visibility relied on sparse fire was deemed too dark in its original broadcast, bordering on incomprehensible, which was considered owing to both Demand Overload and uncalibrated televisions downgrading the footage quality. When discussing the episode's lighting, Vanity Fair even noted the usage of this trope in the comparable Helm's Deep skirmish on the above mentioned Lord of the Rings: "a blue-ish tinge is all [LOTR's cinematographer] needed to connote 'night,' but [GOT's one] had to deal with something much trickier." This problem has been solved on Blu-ray, where the image quality of the episode is clearer.
  • The entire Halloween episode of Freaks and Geeks takes place in broad daylight, with the teenage troublemakers home well before sunset, because the directors were unwilling to use Hollywood Darkness and couldn't afford a night shoot.
  • Hogan's Heroes. The area around them might be black, but the characters themselves are always well-lit.
  • Huge has this problem, which makes the many night scenes a bit distracting.
  • Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Dark scenes in the show actually are dark, so much so that all one can see are highlights, reflections, and the occasional flashlight blotting out the entire screen.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 riffed on this.
    • A scene in Parts: The Clonus Horror had an almost completely dark room with nothing visible but a lamp. These pitch black scenes frequently cause Mike and the Bots to make comments such as "Filmed inside a deacon's hat!" or "This scene must have been lit by an Indiglo watch," and at one point caused the trio to call and whistle for the movie as though it were an inattentive pet.
    • In Giant Spider Invasion, one brief scene is shot in near complete darkness.
      Mike: But Mr. Rebane, you really can't see anything!
      Tom: Shut up, Mr. NYU Film Pants!
  • A common criticism of The Pacific was that the night combat scenes were often dark and confusing (very much Truth in Television, as the Japanese were quite fond of attacking at night). The night attack during the Battle of Gloucester in particular stands out, as the action occurred at night in the driving rain. It was lit almost entirely by grenades and mortar fire, muzzle-flash, and the occasional flash of lightning.
  • The exterior of the Red Dwarf spaceship in Red Dwarf is covered in shadows, and is only very dimly lit, presumably from distant stars. Space in general is very dark in the show as well.
  • A few episodes in the fifth season of The Walking Dead have very dark night/indoor scenes. Some viewers have apparently needed gamma correction just to make them watchable.

  • The play Black Comedy by Peter Shaffer is constructed around an electrical blackout in an apartment. The first few minutes of the play are done with no lights but the characters act as if the apartment were fully illuminated; then the blackout occurs — and the lights go up full while the actors pretend they can't see. Whenever someone lights a match or turns on a torch, the stage lights are dimmed slightly. At the very end of the play, the lights are fixed by a maintenance guy who turns them "on," at which point the closing blackout occurs. Typically, this is explained in the playbill or program, or in a curtain speech, so that the audience understands what's going on — although it’s easy enough to pick up on the idea anyway.
  • During the blackout in The Drowsy Chaperone, the lights are fully, 100% off. The only source of illumination is the Super's flashlight.
  • The seventeenth-century plays The Duchess of Malfi and 'Tis Pity She's a Whore both have scenes written to take place in total darkness — they were written for the new upscale indoor theaters, which were small enough to light using candles. The larger public theaters had open-air stages with performances taking place in broad daylight, so lighting effects were impossible; plays written for those venues had to indicate darkness by having a character say it was dark (and/or carry a candle or lantern onstage). The presence of scenes in total darkness in the indoor theaters must have been extremely unsettling to the original audiences.

    Video Games 
  • Several of The Legend of Zelda games feature caves and dark dungeons which only become clearly visible using a lamp in-game. Only a zig-zag, though, since there are other unlit areas that are perfectly clear to the eye without the aid of a lamp.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In Morrowind, caves which don't have sapient beings living in them (and thus no torches) are very hard to see in. It also includes Night-Eye and Light spells/enchantments which assist with seeing in dark places.
    • Some caves in Oblivion have lit areas without any sunlight, lamp or torch, but most of the time a hole is dented through the ceiling to bleed in sunlight. In general lighting is more realistic than usual. One of the challenges of the game is that you can't use a shield a torch and a weapon at the same time — rendering the cave monster almost completely invisible due to sheer darkness. Blocking and attacking become difficult. There are magical aids, but the Night Eye effect is squint worthy ugly monochrome.
    • Skyrim also has torches, but also includes the Candlelight and Magelight spells to help alleviate darkened caves. Candlelight creates an orb of light that hovers over your shoulder for one minute, while Magelight has you shooting the orb of light to stick against whatever it hits, again for one minute.
  • Half-Life 2: Episode One has a chapter that is almost completely dark. The player has to use the Ten-Second Flashlight to spot targets for the NPC sidekick to shoot. In the finale of the section the player and Alyx have to survive an endless stream of zombies until an elevator arrives. The room is completely dark, but can be lit by the tiny flashlight beam, or explosions or the burning corpses left by explosions. If you survive said explosion.
  • Averted in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, where you get stuck in a cave complex, and it is way too dark to see anything. By luck you can stumble around and eventually find a torch. If it takes you long enough, it actually becomes easier to see, probably to reflect Snake's eyes adjusting to the light. You can also use his cigar to help.
  • In the Pokémon games, the HM "Flash" allows one to see in dark caves. Many people are unable to find the HM in Pokémon Red and Blue, and end up stumbling through the Rock Tunnel in complete darkness. The amount of darkness varies by version. In the first generation you get a faded view of the walls (good enough), in the second you see absolutely nothing but the glowing entrance/exits and yourself, and in the third there's a small lit circle where you can see normally that expands to most (if not exactly all) of the screen with Flash.
  • An interesting take can be found in the Adventure Game Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. Upon entering an abandoned dig, it is impossible to see anything, and the "look" command is replaced by the "touch" command, until you find a way to turn on the lights. However, while the lighting is at first pitch black, as Indy's eyes adjust to the darkness it becomes easier to make out the surroundings, adding a touch of realism.
  • Most of Doom 3 is pitch black. The player is forced to use either his gun or his flashlight, but not both at the same time. It was dubbed "The best flashlight simulator ever." and widely ridiculed for being so aggravating. One of the first modifications created for the game was the "duct tape" mod which removed the misfeature.
    • The original Doom is one of the first games to make use of varying light levels to scare and disorient the player. I.E.: pick up a critical key, the lights go out, monsters appear. The only light sources in these situations were the very rare light amplification visors and the Muzzle Flashlight.
  • The whole Silent Hill series plays with this like a child does a toy.
    • In the first three installments, with the lights off, you can see your way around, but much less so than in a perfectly straight example, and the characters can't collect items or see the map, though. When your torch is on, however, the only lit area is as far as the beam goes; everything else is pitch black.
    • The fourth game generally averts it, with the environments being considerably well-lit. The lone exception is in a certain area that must be lit for a keypad to be seen - in that moment, it's just like the earlier games.
    • In Silent Hill: 0rigins it's subverted - Travis has a good enough night vision not to be hindered by the gloom. However, that doesn't necessarily apply to the player, moreso in the darker Playstation 2 port.
  • Averted in The Witcher where you need a special potion in order to see in dungeons and other underground spaces.
  • There are two temples in Tales of Symphonia which avert this. In one area of the Lightning Temple, the player must wait for lightning to strike to see the pathways, lest they fall in the gaping abyss. Another is the Shadow temple, where the player is stopped at the entrance when it is realized it is too dark to see. The player then must fetch the blue candle as the only way to get through the temple. Although with the Lightning Temple you can still clearly see the pathway without waiting for the lightning. They corrected this in the PS2 version.
  • Resident Evil 4 and 5 avert this in different ways. In 4 Leon has a light clipped to his belt. It covers most of the screen and activates in dark areas. In 5 there's That One Level where you must navigate a pitch-black cave using a bulky electric lantern.
  • The Penumbra and Thief series, both for atmospheric and game play purposes (unless you cheat by turning the gamma way up). Penumbra also plays with this trope, since the protagonist can see in the dark if he crouches and waits a little (his vision apparently adjusting to the dark after a few seconds) . In Thief, you can sometimes use portable light sources (like flares or small lanterns).
  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent uses the same method as Penumbra - which makes sense, since that's precisely how it works in Real Life, given enough of a residual light-source. However, there are some locations in the game described as "unnaturally dark" where the darkness is thick and impenetrable, and the player can see nothing beyond the small circle of light from luminescent sources. To make it worse, Daniel suffers from nyctophobia, an extreme fear of the dark, so staying in darkness drops his Sanity Meter like crazy.
  • Mostly averted in Minecraft. The player can technically make out shapes in even the darkest of underground caverns without torches, but only just. However, the light during the nighttime never drops below full moon brightness, even after the update that gave the moon phases. The darkness level can be adjusted to make caves and nighttime somewhat more unnaturally bright. Mods exist to both eliminate darkness entirely (often considered cheating, since this can be used client-side on many servers) and to go the other direction by making unlit caves pitch-black.
  • The Catacombs and the Forgotten Tomb in Drakan: The Ancients' Gates were dark to the point all you could see were the glowing eyes of your enemies, leaving you quite helpless to aim your killing blows. You can carry a torch, but you must put it out in order to use your weapon. Most other caves or interiors had ample lighting with or without torches, glowing mushrooms, etc.
  • Averted in the Myst series; lighting up pitch-black areas is typically a prerequisite for using any passage or equipment therein. Also averted with dim areas; some are so dark that it can be hard to make out detail on some screens.
  • Metroid Prime has glowing mushrooms to explain the illumination. Justified, since Samus's Combat Visor adjusts for light levels.
    • In the Metroid series in general, it's very rare to find an unlit area, there are always skylights, equipment, or luminescent flora. The only time it's really, really dark is when the game wants to make you tense and scared (most notably in Metroid Fusion when you're hiding from the SA-X and its visor illuminates dark areas.)
  • Played straight with Area 7 in Pilot Wings, which is at dusk, but visibility is still clear. Averted with Area 8, and the final helicopter mission, which are in near pitch darkness, with only a few lights.
  • Fallout: New Vegas averts this for many caves and poorly lit buildings, which require your light or night-vision to properly navigate. Other caves (luminescent fungus) and outdoor areas (depending on how believable the moon's lighting effects are) play this straight.
  • Eternal Darkness and F.E.A.R. encourage averting this: though you can adjust the brightness levels so you can see everything just fine, they recommend playing with fairly dark settings... the reason being that the games are much scarier that way.
  • The flashlights in the Left 4 Dead series, due to a limitation of the Source engine's technology, have the odd property of having essentially no light scattering. Every survivor's flashlight will illuminate what they're looking at and absolutely nothing else, not even their held items' viewmodels if they're right up against a wall. There's the bright center of the light, a slightly lighter ring around it, and that's it for light. Due to a limitation of the game, you also can't view any beams but your own; your teammates' lights are reduced to glowing tips at the end of their guns. This is especially conspicuous if seen in a dark room. Every other light functions normally.
  • Mass Effect 3 and Mass Effect: Andromeda have certain sections which take place in darkness, and the light is handled very well; you can see fine (though with realistically affected colors) within the area of your torch beam, and can see vague shapes at close range outside the beam, but absolutely nothing further away.
  • In the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series, you can't see anything at night other than the sky, even if it's a clear one, and the headlamp isn't much help. With all the anomalies and mutants in the Zone, some of which are nocturnal and really, really dangerous, it's best not to travel at night. In most situations (even if you have the best Night-Vision Goggles), it's best to just find a campfire, pull out your sleeping bag, and snore until the sun comes up.
  • Averted in the original Dragon Quest I where upon entering a cave you are unable to see beyond your character sprite without a torch or a light spell.
  • The PC version of the original Ghost Recon had a number of night missions or pitch-dark rooms that required the night vision goggles, but the console versions played this trope straight due to hardware limitations, thus out in the country in the dead of night you can see almost as well as in a lit city.
  • Midnight Landing is set at midnight, with only the city lights and runway lights visible. Justified, as the game was released in 1987 when 3D technology was very limited, so the developers chose to use lights in a late night setting to provide a sense of altitude without having to invest in expensive graphical hardware. However, since buildings aren't rendered, each stage looks as if you're landing on a bare runway in the middle of nowhere.
  • In Slender, the whole game is really dark that you can barely see anything in arms reach away without the flashlight.
  • In Betrayal at Krondor, nighttime and dungeons are dark enough that you really want a torch or light spell to get anything done. (Or, for preference when outside at night, get some sleep and travel during the day.)
  • The Syphon Filter series has many completely black rooms, requiring either the use of a flashlight or Night-Vision Goggles, the latter of which are automatically equipped in the first three games.
  • La-Mulana has two areas that remain pitch dark until certain conditions are met: half of the Chamber of Extinction (or all in the remake), and one room in the Hell Temple. In the 8-bit version, the only things you can see are enemies and Lemeza, unless you fire the Flare Gun. In the remake, all you can see is a spotlight on Lemeza.
  • A significant portion of Sin and Punishment: Star Successor's Stage 4 is in pitch blackness, illuminated only by the ninja-like Keepers and a light that points at where you're aiming. Later the stage starts to get brighter, presumably due to the moon.
  • In Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 2, Hakone is very dark at night, with the only things visible other than your opponents' car lights being whatever is in your headlights. However, Maximum Tune 3 plays this trope straight instead, with Hakone being well-lit despite a clear lack of light sources that make sense. Maximum Tune 4's Hakone is still lit up, but at least there's street lamps to justify it.
  • Terraria pays a lot of attention to lighting effects. The surface openings have light diffusing in, which can be obscured by hanging vines. If you venture much deeper than that, you'd better carry an ample supply of torch-building materials or some other light source. Even the surface gets pretty dark at night. Certain parts of the underground do have some ambient light, mostly supplied by glowing mushrooms or lava pools.
  • Initial D Arcade Stage lets you turn off your headlights in night races for a reason: It is nearly pitch black at night. This can be used to your advantage: Turning off your headlights disables the opponent's Advantage counter in human-vs-human races, preventing your opponent from seeing just how far ahead or behind you are.
  • Averted with a vengeance in Arma 3: while the predecessors suffered from the trope to varying intensity, in part 3, darkness means just that: utter pitch-black darkness. If your character is not equipped with night vision goggles or a flashlight attachment, or a rangefinder/laser designator, or a NV scope, or... well, in short, if he has no means of light production or amplification, and you're in an area of the map without any artificial light sources close by (and good luck finding those on about 85% of Stratis) at night...well, you won't be able to see anything at all, period, and will probably fall prey to someone who can. That occurs regardless of the brightness setting and can only be circumvented by cranking up the gamma correction to maximum.
  • Averted in Planet Explorers. At night, the planet Maria becomes completely dark, making it impossible to do anything without a light source.
  • In Conan Hyborian Age, the dungeon in which happens most of the action is almost completely filed with complete darkness, the only exceptions being either rare rooms with lit candles or braziers, or rare instances of rooms with holes in the ceiling. The mod's description even explicitely advices to bring torches.
  • In Dark Souls, the Catacombs and related areas are pitch-black and can only be illuminated by a limited number of methods. Even those light sources cut off completely after a few meters, for presumably supernatural reasons.
  • An Action Man game for the Game Boy Color averted this for objectives involving a cave in the Jungle stage. If you don't have the flashlight to traverse the cave, the screen will gradually get darker as you try to head towards its entrance, eventually reaching near-pitch-black and preventing you from entering. The Mine stage similarly has no qualms about dumping you into complete darkness if you shoot out the lights, unless you bring the otherwise-unneeded flashlight with you.
  • The 2003 game of The Hobbit usually plays this trope straight, but averts it at the beginning of the fifth level, when Bilbo is lost in the caves and it's pitch black. He has to equip his glowing sword, Sting, in order to see his surroundings. However, the player sees Bilbo himself as usual, whether or not they have Sting equipped.
  • Outlast and its 2017 sequel strongly avert this. The games are almost entirely in pitch black darkness, with whatever lighting there is being from the environment itself. The only way for the player to properly see their surroundings and avoid enemies is to activate the night vision on their camcorders.
  • While Rust used to play this trope straight, the current version of Rust averts this trope (though the change did anger quite a few players at first, but the developers were adamant that the new nighttime would stay as it is). At night, the only natural light available is the moonlight, beyond that, only the sky and the outlines of the terrain against said sky if there are no other lights around.


    Web Original 
  • Inverted in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog: In one scene it the lighting on everyone makes it seem like daytime but looking at the sky and streetlights the viewer will notice that it is nighttime.
    • If that's the Brand New Day song ("It's a brand new day / and the sun is high"), where you can see the sky as the trio leave the laundromat, then that may be because of polarizing filters on the camera.
  • Marble Hornets doesn't use any other illumination aside from what was available in the various areas where the series was filmed. One particularly scary entry has Alex running through a wooded area at night with the only light coming from his flashlight...which ultimately comes to rest upon a tall, faceless man in a business suit standing completely silent among the trees....

    Western Animation 
  • Averted on Batman: The Animated Series - and intentionally, too, as a conscious decision was made to animate everything on black paper precisely to achieve this effect.
    • Especially effective in "The Forgotten", an episode in which Batman has to bust some slavers who have kidnapped homeless people and are forcing them to mine for gold in the mountains. Once Batman is spotted, the Big Bad gathers all his Mooks (who are wearing miners' head-lamps) and they chase Batman into the mine. He then instructs one of the men to kill the lights by throwing a switch ("We'll see if this bat can see in the dark!"), and for a moment everything is completely black. Then the head-lamps are switched on, and for a while all we can see are the illuminated Mooks themselves or whatever happens to be within a short radius of them.
  • The British cartoon Danger Mouse was notoriously low-budget, and so the scriptwriters gleefully seized any opportunity to save on animation costs by having the heroes enter somewhere dark and bumble around in pitch blackness for a few minutes with only their eyes visible.
  • Screwy Squirrel had a classic scene where a dumb-guy dog chases him into a pitch-black cave. We see only blackness and hear some undecipherable loud sound effects...a moment later Screwy steps out in the light and tells us "Sure was a great gag, folks - too bad you couldn't see it!"
  • In Titanic: The Legend Goes On, Kirk and Dirk break into a woman's room to steal her jewelry and close the door without turning on the lights. It then makes things very confusing when someone and a pet enter and a scuffle breaks out (the movie was trying to trick the audience into thinking that the woman and her dog returned, when it was the thieves' boss and her rat dog).


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Hollywood Night


Shadows of the Damned

In the City of the Damned, darkness can be so intense that it could melt mortal flesh.

How well does it match the trope?

4.75 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / HollywoodDarkness

Media sources:

Main / HollywoodDarkness