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Pray Gandalf doesn't get any bright ideas.
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A character is lit from behind by a blinding light, usually making the figure indistinct. It makes for a dramatic appearance, and seems like something Jesus would do. Remember, Power Glows. This is what a Holy Halo is supposed to represent.

Nearly all Messianic Archetypes will sport one of these at some point, but conversely, not all heroes who sport one of these are a Messianic Archetype; sometimes it's just there because it looks cool.

Sister Trope to Battle Aura and Holy Halo. See also Background Halo.


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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Parodied in Slayers when Amelia stands serenely atop a pillar looking out to the sea while in the unexplored (by the magical part) Muggle part of the world. While the Muggles below look horrified at a small girl standing at a high location thinking she'll fall, this turns to shock when the see her fly down with the sun's rays behind her, and assume she's an angel. Being the Love Freak that she is, she uses this to convert them to the way of justice.
  • Parodied in Shugo Chara!, where Amu makes a dramatic entrance in her Amulet Angel form. Turns out the backlighting is provided by Ran, Miki, and Suu operating floodlights behind her.
  • Parodied in School Rumble during Harima's hermit/god phase, when he also displays a Friend to All Living Things persona.
  • Hidamari Sketch: After mentioning how Yuno ("Juno") (Note for English speakers ) is the goddess of marriages, Miyako has Yuno stand in front of the glass door to show off her divine power. Behold the power of backlighting...
  • Kill la Kill
    • It shows up in whenever Satsuki shows up. Initially, it's played as Light Is Not Good but as we learned Satsuki's motivations throughout the series, her backlight is Light Is Good all along.
    • Her mother Ragyo takes this a step further, with a rainbow. Unfortunately, Light Is Not Good is very much in effect. Ragyo's employees all need to wear sunglasses just to look at her (not that they would ever be privileged enough to be allowed to do so.)
      • When Satsuki turns on her mother, the two take turns making speeches preaching their own respective philosophies, their backlights increasing and decreasing in intensity as the argument progresses. It eventually results in the background being completely filled with blinding light. Mako Mankanshoku even mentions how bright Ragyo's rainbow is at one point.
  • When Shiina lectures Kirin and Ryou about Helping Would Be Kill Stealing in episode 11b of Gourmet Girl Graffiti, the sun is shining behind her makes it look like she's imparting cosmic wisdom, and both Kirin and Ryou are "blinded".

    Comic Books 

    Fan Fiction 
  • Kyon is seen that way by Kanae in Kyon: Big Damn Hero after fighting a giant robot at the beach.
  • In the Total Drama story, Legacy, Heather comes out of the kitchen and sees Duncan standing in the doorway to the lodge, but she can't make out much detail at first because he is backlit. When he comes into the lodge and is no longer backlit, she recognizes him.
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    Film 
  • Kirk's entrance in Star Trek II.
  • The ending of Batman Forever, the Bat-signal filling in for the light.
    • In the fourth installment, again as a Call-Back.
  • The Crow has this during the "I do care" scene in the movie, with Eric silhouetted by the sun in the big window.
  • It happens in Ghost, just before Sam goes to Heaven. Notably this is the only time in the entire film his girlfriend sees him as a ghost.
  • It happens a couple of times in A Hard Day's Night. In the first "Can't Buy Me Love" when The Beatles first break out of the TV studio and into the field, they get backlit by the sun as they clamber downstairs. And Paul McCartney gets this for a second or two, via a stage light, near the end of the "And I Love Her" segment... What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?
  • Used in RoboCop (1987) when he busts the drug factory.
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past: When Past Xavier first meets Logan, the former stands in front of very large windows with his family's crests, which are made out of stained glass. This gives the scene a church-like feel, and the sunshine is quite bright compared to Charles' dark silhouette, so it gives the impression that he's bathed in holy light.
  • The Frighteners has this as Michael J. Fox' character gets booted back to life by his ghostly afterlife pals. Who've got the holy light behind them.
  • Jake Blues' release from prison at the start of The Blues Brothers.
  • Mal Reynolds is lit this way (from above and behind) during his Rousing Speech in Serenity. This is "justified" by being on Miranda, a Single-Biome Planet of Oh God The Sun Is Bright.
  • Mako's first memory of Pentecost in Pacific Rim. The memory may be subjective, as memories often are.
  • In Bruce Almighty, the title character is gifted with all of God's powers. He them uses them to make his girlfriend have a series of incredibly powerful orgasms, followed by "Heavenly" sex. While this is happening, Bruce uses his powers to make the lights in the bedroom and bathroom grow incredibly bright and flicker, causing them to be bathed in a white light.
  • In the film Angel In My Pocket, there is a scene where a recently-hired pastor (Andy Griffith) and his family look at his new church. A kid sees an old man backlit, and thinks it's God. He's the janitor.

    Literature 
  • Older Than Feudalism: Jesus and company. Heaven is a pretty bright place, doncha know.
  • Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia books.
  • God is so bright in Dante's writings you can't see him at all, while God in Paradise Lost is like this for the first few minutes... then becomes a grumpy, rather repellent old man.
    • Also shamelessly ripped off by Jerry Springer: The Opera.
  • Gandalf the White in The Lord of the Rings.
  • In the X-Wing Series novel "Iron Fist", Big Bad Zsinj makes some preparations for a meeting with potential allies, then stands in front of a hologram of the galaxy and asks The Dragon, Melvar, what he thinks. General Melvar dryly notes that he might also want to be softly backlit to give him a holy glow.
  • In Dragonlance, the Kingpriest of Istar, Beldinas Pilofiro, a very talented healer and spellcasting cleric, is constantly surrounded by an aura of holy light... which hides the fact that he's frightened of everything.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel: This happened to Cordelia Chase whilst she was twiddling her thumbs in the afterlife.
  • NCIS, one of the first episodes of Season 7, pulled off by - who else? - Gibbs, after shooting the bastard who tortured his team, beating the crap out of said bastard's lackeys, AND arriving in a few minutes from a mile away. Not impossible, but nothing is with Gibbs.
  • Doctor Who:
    • When Rose becomes the Bad Wolf, she exits the TARDIS glowing and backlit by golden light. Bonus points for her hair having that weird I-look-like-I'm-underwater-but-I'm-not thing going on.
    • The Doctor in "The Fires of Pompeii" when he goes back to rescue Caecillius and his family.
  • Parodied in Black Books when Manny is briefly transformed into a human "Little Book of Calm".
  • A rather Narmy moment early in Smallville had Clark rescuing a boy from a trash truck by tearing a hole through the side. The boy sees Clark's head pop in to view surrounded by loads and loads of holy backlight.
    • Kara gets her turn in season 7, pulling Lex out of the river. Lex is inspired to run a "reformed because an angel saved me" con for a while. It helps that Kara looks exactly like the pop-culture image of an angel.
  • The cast of Touched by an Angel always get the glowing treatment whenever they reveal their identities.
  • Used comedically in Seinfeld—a priest sees Elaine, in a modest white dress, backlit by the window with the sun behind it, and think's she's the Virgin Mary.
  • Played with in an episode of Battlestar Galactica. When Kara goes to see Anders, who has become a Hybrid, the hallway lighting makes her look angelic as she stands in the doorway. When she steps inside the room and the door closes, the Matrix Raining Code projected onto her makes her look demonic.
  • In Season 5 of The Amazing Race, the editors used a version of the Holy Backlight on, of all things, an airport departures board when a team that was outspokenly Christian were talking about their faith. To underline the effect, the editors also added a sound effect of a heavenly choir. On the next leg, the same sound effect was used, along with a shot of a line of white-robed nuns descending an escalator, when the same team was able to secure seats on an earlier flight that hadn't been available the day before.
  • An episode of Cold Case reverses this by having a Holy Backlight incident be the trigger for a serial killer's mania, leading to his first murder: the poor backlighted sap.
  • In Part IV of Angels in America, as Prior is in the graveyard telling Belize about his visitation by the Angel, he is aptly lit from behind, so much so that Belize shields his eyes.
  • A M*A*S*H episode with a "Rashomon"-Style story line had Major Burns' version of the story showing him as a cool, capable surgeon, backlit in a very holy fashion.
  • Parodied in Scrubs with Kevin Casey, who simply blinks and asks the nurse in the next room to turn the incredibly bright light away from him.
  • A Running Gag in an episode of Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide has a backlight shining on Moze accompanied by a heavenly choir, making Ned assume it's his imagination, but it turns out to be Gordy trying to fix a spotlight while the chorus is singing in the hallway (their room had been wrecked earlier in the episode). The third time it happens, Ned tells Gordy to knock it off, but he tells him that he fixed the light and the chorus is back in their room, meaning it is his imagination this time.
  • In the True Blood episode "I'm Alive and on Fire", while Hoyt and Jessica are driving, they spot a badly wounded Jason by the side of the road. As they tend to him, the car's headlights create a beautiful glow around Jessica. This plus being fed Jessica's vampire blood to heal him triggers Jason's attraction to her.
  • On Guiding Light after a character was shot and in the hospital, he complained to one of the nurses that he kept seeing strange flashes of light. When it happened again, he suddenly realized that they only happened when he saw this particular nurse and then realized that she was actually an angel come to escort him to heaven.

    Music 
  • "Her you have draped with a light whose grace exceeds all other." (Ftakar li lilha bil-oħla dawl libbist) from Malta's national anthem, L-Innu Malti.

    Theatre 
  • In Angels in America, the Angel is described as "four divine emanations - phosphor, fluor, lumen, candle." In stage versions and the TV miniseries, this usually means she is back-lit to an almost blinding degree.

    Video Games 
  • For some inexplicable reason, Eliwood rescuing Ninian in Fire Emblem. It even comes with a Pietà Plagiarism bonus!
  • Rosalina's first appearance in Super Mario Galaxy. Appropriate, since she might be God.
  • Seen with Tyrael in the final cinematic of Diablo III, as he once again takes his place on the Angiris Council, this time in the place of Wisdom.

    Web Animation 

    Webcomics 
  • Eldwin from The Bug Pond receives this when he saves Flash from drowning.
  • In The Last Days Of FOXHOUND, Solid Snake appears exclusively in this manner.
  • Godly Kitten
  • Dechs, the Antihero for Hire, loves doing this, with the help of a portable floodlight. At one point, Crossroad complains about it, calling it his "Ghost of Christmas Past schtick".

    Western Animation 
  • Sab Shimono's character in Where The Toys Come From.
  • Parodied (what else?) in The Simpsons episode "Bart's Girlfriend": Bart first sees Jessica when she steps to the church podium to do a Bible reading and she is immediately surrounded by a Holy Backlight. Bart exclaims "There IS a God!"... then we cut to outside to see that a lighthouse is shining its light directly at the church window.
    Random Guy: I'm telling you the light would work better if it pointed it out to sea!
    Sea Captain: Arr, shut up! I know what I'm doing!
    [a boat crashes against some rocks the distance]
    Sea Captain: Arr, I hate the sea and everything in it.
  • Done by Prowl who, to quote Transformers Wiki, "uses his Ninja skills to maximize the available lighting effects" in one episode of Transformers Animated.
  • In the Futurama episode "A Tale of Two Santas", as Bender is about to be executed for being Santa Claus, each of the main cast enters dressed as Santa declaring "I am also Santa Claus!", despite the fact that Santa is a robot. Zoidberg enters last, backlit and dressed as Jesus. "And I'm his friend Jesus!"

    Real Life 
  • Any statues.

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