Follow TV Tropes


Holy Backlight

Go To
Pray Gandalf doesn't get any bright ideas.

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. And othertimes, the character in particular, may not even be heroic.

Sister Trope to Battle Aura and Holy Halo. See also Background Halo. Contrast Infernal Background. When this lighting happens even though it's impossible, see Brightness Shadows.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & 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".
  • Moriarty the Patriot back-lights William this way pretty much...any time anyone compares him to Jesus. Which is quite frequent, considering he considers himself the devil.
  • Played for laughs during the Dressrossa arc of One Piece when Usopp saves the day with dumb luck, freeing hundreds of warriors from the effects of Sugar's Devil Fruit. A giant among them lifts him up by the arms so everyone can see the face of their savior... at which point the ceiling above them crumbles for reasons related to an entirely separate plot line, leading light to spill down from on high and cause everyone to start praising Usopp as a god.

  • Alexandre Cabanel's The Fallen Angel: Zigzagged. Although the nascent sun's rays cast a circle of soft, white light over the angels, it doesn't illuminate all of the angels. The only angel who is completely encased by it is Lucifer, who has just fallen, but even then, the light doesn't truly reach him. Instead, it's used to pool shadows over him.

[[folder:Comic Books]]

    Fan Works 
  • 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.
  • Unlike the rest of her family, Ryuko actually inverts this in the Kill la Kill fanfic, Natural Selection. Her backlight is a demonic blood red, which signifies her bloodlust and sadism.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, there is a backlit soldier in the middle of "hellfire" who interrupts Frollo's mad rantings, stating that Esmeralda escaped the cathedral. This is presented as Frollo's last attempt at salvation if he chooses to accept that she's out of his life.
  • In Turning Red, when Mei's aunties first make their appearance they are backlit until they take off their Cool Shades.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Kirk's entrance in Star Trek II.
  • The ending of Batman Forever, the Bat-signal filling in for the light.
  • The Crow has this during the "I do care" scene in the movie, with Eric silhouetted by the sun in the big window.
  • This seems to have been a particular favourite of special effects director Koichi Kawakita, as the Heisei era films of the Godzilla series all employ this trope to great extents. Perhaps the most prominent example comes at the finale of Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, where the scene where Godzilla Junior is shown to have come back to life is fully backlit, confirming his return to the world of the living after his father's meltdown brought him back.
  • It happens in Ghost (1990), 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.
  • The titular hero does this after bursting through a door in the villain's lair in The Return of Captain Invincible.
  • Parodied in The Muppets (2011), in which obsessive Muppet fan Walter's first meeting with Kermit the Frog has Kermit bathed in light while an Ethereal Choir sings. Then the choir bus with its headlights on full drives past and things go back to normal.

  • 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.
  • 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 
  • 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.
  • Angel: This happened to Cordelia Chase whilst she was twiddling her thumbs in the afterlife.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Parodied in Black Books when Manny is briefly transformed into a human "Little Book of Calm".
  • 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.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Parting of the Ways": 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 Caecilius and his family.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Season 4's "Transference" ends with Lionel looking up at Clark from the floor of prison in the middle of a riot and starting to fill with tear gas. With the harsh overhead lights illuminating the gas from above, a sting of awed music, and the look on Lionel's face right before Clark zips away, he looks quite angelic.
    • 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 true nature.
  • 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.

  • "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.

  • Older Than Feudalism: Jesus and company. Heaven is a pretty bright place, doncha know.
    • In Exodus 34, when Moses returns from speaking with God, his face is so bright with rays of light that he has to wear a veil when talking to mortals. The word for "rays" is almost the same as the word for "horns", leading to portrayals of Moses with horns and the canard that Jews have horns.

  • 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 

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 

  • 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!"


Video Example(s):


Tower Commands You To Die

The Tower uses her divine will and commanding voice to force you to slash your own throat for daring to defy her.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / PsychicAssistedSuicide

Media sources: