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Innate Night Vision

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Buffy: One way out means one way in. I want to see them coming.
[The lights go out]
Xander: I guess they're shy.
Angel: I can see alright.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Choices"
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Innate Night Vision is a type of Super Senses that allows a character or species to see significantly better in the dark than normal humansnote . It normally comes in one of two flavors: Either the character's ability to see low levels of the normal visible light spectrum is enhanced (low-light vision), or the character is able to see into the infra-red spectrum as well, sometimes described as seeing heat. (It should be noted that "near-infrared" light behaves similar to ordinary, human-visible light, while it's "far-infrared" light that is heat vision.)

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This ability is common among many fictional creatures, especially those that live underground or are based in part on Real Life animals that also have excellent night vision. It is also something that many humans might acquire through Magic and Powers. For example, an Animal-Themed Superbeing with an Animal Motif of a species known for its low light vision, such as cats or wolves, is likely to have this ability. In such cases, it may overlap with Animal Eyes.

This is a common power for vampires in urban fantasy, and very often also for werewolves and other werebeasts.

In some cases, creatures that can see well at night find their way around much less well during the day. But that doesn't happen often.

See also Night-Vision Goggles for when this is accomplished through artificial means.

This is Truth in Television for many Real Life animals, however given the large number of species this could apply to, it is better not to list them; in lieu of that, a good rule of the thumb is that if the animal is nocturnal or a deep-sea dweller, and is neither blind nor relies on non-optical methods of navigation (e.g. echolocation), it's quite likely to have night vision.

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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Z: Yakon comes from the planet Dark Star, a planet stated to be at the far end of the universe where no light can reach it; thus, he can see in complete darkness.
  • The vampires in Shiki can also see in complete darkness. This also applies to the Jinrou.
  • Digimon has Scorpiomon. It is explicitly said that he can, even if it is not shown in the anime.
  • The Goblin Slayer goblins can see in their dark caves as well as in broad daylight. They also prefer to attack at night when they can see better than humans.
    • Later it turns out that the High Elf archer can do the same. At least she can see as well at night as she does during the day, but she is not sure whether she can see well in complete darkness. She says this is very common in nonhuman races.
  • The goddess Aqua from Konosuba can see as well in total darkness as it is during the day. She has this power because she is a goddess. But Kazuma gets this power later through a skill as well.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Some fanfictions of Inuyasha show the hanyou Shiori, who also has this ability because she is half a bat youkai.
  • Pokémon Master has Ash Ketchum who has perfect night vision due to being a Shadow Master.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Aquaman (2018): All Atlanteans have this ability, a necessary adaptation for the dark depths of the ocean.
  • The Chronicles of Riddick: The main character, Richard B. Riddick, is able to see in the dark at the cost of oversensitivity in daylight conditions, necessitating his near-permanent use of welding goggles. In Pitch Black this allowed him to assist a stranded starship crew in escaping from a predator-filled world during an extended solar eclipse. In that movie he claims that he paid a surgeon in prison for the enhancement, but this is later retconned as a supernatural ability.

    Literature 
  • The Wheel of Time has Perrin, a wolfbrother with wolf-themed powers, who gains the ability to see as well as a wolf in low-light sitatutions. There are also trollocs, Half-Human Hybrids designed for the most bestial traits, among them a preference for darkness, and Myrddraal, who have no eyes and magically see equally well in any light conditions.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, elves see quite well under starlight (which is the likely origin of D&D low-light vision), and orcs from Moria see in the darkness. Uglúk acknowledges that that's the only thing Moria orcs are better at than his Uruks. Also the Nazgûl can see from the Wraith-world only at night; during the day, they sniff and rely on their horses' eyesight.
  • In the novel In Search of the Castaways by Jules Verne, this is Paganel's special ability, justified by a rare medical condition.
  • Heleth and the rest of the Bunker dwellers in the ColSec Trilogy.
  • This is the entire point of the vampires in the web-novel Domina. The angels are an inversion: They sacrificed their night vision for ridiculously good day vision. Like "stare at the sun when you're bored" good. And then there are the godeyes, which combine both types. There are only two people in the city who have them, since the procedure involves physically removing the eyes from the skull and doing precision surgery on them while they are mutated by the toy maker. Adelle's brother tried to do this to himself, by himself.
  • Members of the new Human Subspecies homo post hominem, in Emergence, by David Palmer, can see into the infrared range. When narrator Candy finds out about this, she comments that it explains several incidents she had previously been puzzled by.
  • In the Newsflesh world, people with retinal Kellis-Amberlee have extremely good low-light vision, which is one reason Georgia (who has this condition) prefers to be the driver at night. There was also that incident with the Babysitter from Hell taking away her (medically necessary) sunglasses and tossing them outside. While Georgia and Shaun were hunting for the sunglasses, she spotted an incoming zombie in time for Shaun to deal with the threat.
  • In Veniss Underground, Quin's genetically engineered meerkats have the ability to see in the dark, or at least in very low-level light.
    John: It's not dark — your eyes are just pathetically bad at retaining light.
  • In the Towers Trilogy, Xhea has unusual vision. Normally, she can only see in shades of gray, but can see perfectly well in absolute darkness. When she gets high on magic, she is able to see in color, but loses her ability to see in darkness. Ieren eventually explains that her inherent dark magic actually makes her blind while granting her supernatural perception; dosing herself with light magic cancels it out and gives her normal vision for a time.
  • Dominic of the Web Serial Novel "Shadows of the Limelight" can see clearly in the dark because he has superpowers based on shadow.
  • In The Shattered Kingdoms, Norlanders can see with very little light, and since they're also Weakened by the Light, they prefer things dark. This is an inconvenience for their Shadari slaves, who don't have night vision.
  • Galadan in The Fionavar Tapestry is a shapeshifting demigod and a Combat Pragmatist who makes full use of his ability to see in complete darkness.
  • Nikita in The Girl from the Miracles District can already see in the dark better than a human, but when she goes full-on berserk, she has night vision so good, it makes no difference whether it's pitch black or a sunny day.
  • Averted in Animorphs, where Tobias (who is Mode Locked as a diurnal bird of prey, and thus can spot bugs from miles away) says his night vision is only slightly better than a human's. However, it is later inverted, because the Animorphs morphing into different animals that can see well at night (including Tobias, eventually). As examples are owls, wolves, tigers, jaguars and giant squids.
  • After spending more than ten years in a dimly-lit cell, The Count of Monte Cristo sees as well in the dark as in the light. It doesn't help several people thinking he's a vampire.
  • Discworld:
    • His symbiosis with the Summoning Dark grants Sam Vimes the ability to see perfectly in total darkness, to the extent that he needs to be told that he's walking in a pitch-black cave. He's a bit perturbed to be borrowing the senses of a quasi-demonic spirit of darkness and vengeance, but takes advantage of it anyway.
    • Dwarfs, who live in caves, and trolls, who are nocturnal, have much better night vision than humans have.
  • The Mortal Instruments has the werewolves and vampires. Werewolves can see well even at night, but vampires can see in complete darkness.
    • The shadowhunters also have runes that can give them night vision.
  • The German SF series Maddrax has the taratzes, which can see well at night, even next to their other, sharp senses.
  • Many species can this in Star Wars Expanded Universe. Noteworthy are the felacatian, a species which resembles cats, and they has night vision.
    • The trandoshans can do the same, but with them it is more likely that they can see infrared.
  • Elves in The Sleeping Dragon by Johnny Nexus have low-light vision similar to a cat, which is entirely unrelated to their ability to see infrared, which just means they can distinguish colours humans can't. This is specifically because Nexus was irritated by certain role-playing games treating "infravision" like built-in Night-Vision Goggles.
  • In "Cold Snap", Jamie is the son of the nocturnal superhero Dr. Shade, and seeing in darkness is part of his inherited power-set.
  • The vampires in Necroscope can not only see well at night, but also in complete darkness. However, when they approach a human, he notices them because their eyes are red.
  • Vampires in The Saga of the Noble Dead can see in the night as well as they can during the day. And half-vampires like Magiere can do it as soon as their full vampire powers are awake.
  • Half-vampires and vampires in The Saga of Darren Shan can see as well at night as they can during the day. But in complete darkness, they see nothing more, so they must use in their secret mountain bright moss or torches.
  • Kane: The title character's blue eyes, apart from burning with inhuman hatred and bloodlust and being his literal Mark of Cain, enable him to see well in the dark (several characters remark that he has no trouble at all, moving over difficult terrain in the darkness). His daughter Klesst has inherited this ability, at least partially.
  • Temeraire: French Fleur-de-nuit dragons were bred specifically for night vision, which makes them and their Dragon Riders exceptionally deadly stealth raiders. However, they're almost helpless in daylight and are easily dazzled by explosions.
  • In the course of their mutation, the witchers in The Witcher get the power to see well at night, along with many other powers.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer also has vampires who can see well in the dark. However, this ability seems to vary from vampire to vampire (or from episode to episode).
  • Season 3 of Jessica Jones (2015) eventually has Trish Walker develop this as part of her new powerset. It's efficient enough that she no longer bothers with turning the light on in her apartment while reading.
  • The vampires in Supernatural have in addition to an excellent sense of hearing and sense of smell also a good night vision. It's even officially said that their senses improve over time.
    • Werewolves can also see in complete darkness.
    • Wendigos also have this power. They are said to be good hunters by day, and perfect hunters by night.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Darkvision and Low-light vision are special qualities that a wide variety of species have. Low-light vision is the ability to see better than normal in low levels of light, while darkvision allows creatures to see in total darkness, but only in black and white and for limited distances. These traits are so common that a joke among players goes "Is the race human? No? — Then they have Low-Light vision or Darkvision." This spawned because, of all of the standard playable races, humans, halflings, and Dragonborn are the only ones with neither.
    • 5th-Edition Warlocks can gain a unique form of this trope that lets them see in darkness as if it were bright light — but only complete darkness: dim light limits their vision normally.
  • Pathfinder keeps Dungeons and Dragons' Darkvision and Low-Light vision and gives some devils the more powerful See in Darkness, which works at any distance and even penetrates magical darkness produced by Casting a Shadow.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, the Night Lords Chaos Space Marines can see perfectly in pitch darkness, and can even see into the infrared.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem, the Auspex power grants vampires perfect night vision alongside supernatural senses like Aura Vision, Telepathy, and Astral Projection. By the Second Edition of Requiem, the night vision becomes a power all vampires have as part of their "Kindred Senses", with Auspex merely amplifying it.
  • Werewolf: The Forsaken: seeing how wolves do possess this ability to some degree in real life, Werewolves obviously benefits from reduced penalties for vision in darkness as part of their Wolf Senses.
  • In Princess: The Hopeful, some people corrupted by the Darkness can see perfectly in darkness, but are blind in bright light. Princesses from the Embassies to Night and Fortune also both get the ability to see in the dark.
  • Beast: The Primordial: the Shadowed Soul and Heart of the Ocean Atavisms both grant the ability to perfectly see in the dark as Required Secondary Powers note .
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Creatures with Night Vision can see clearly up to 30 yards in dark conditions, but not total darkness. Only humans lack it among the playable races: dwarves, elves, and halflings all have Night Vision, as do goblins and many other monsters.

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 
  • Slightly Damned
    • Demons have good night vision and can see in total darkness when their eyes glow which is useful as their home in Hell is completely dark at night.
    • The Jakkai have a more mundane variation which they can pick up more light. This is actually shown rather realistically as when Rhea ties to find Kieri during a waning moon so there isn't enough light for her to see anything, forcing her to rely on her hearing to locate Kieri.
  • As The Order of the Stick is based in an RPG-Mechanics Verse based on Dungeons & Dragons (3.5 edition), the fact that humans and halflings lack the racial trait of nightvision sometimes crops up, usually as a gag at the expense of how limited the humans' senses are.
    Vaarsuvius: Light.
    Minrah: What's that for?
    Blackwing: Halflings and humans can't see in the dark.
    Minrah: Wow, not even shapes? Not even up close?
    Blackwing: They are such limited creatures. I choose to pity them.
  • In Yokoka's Quest, Lady Pachi's glowing moth antennae allow her to see in the dark, meaning she doesn't require the earrings which the other underground village inhabitants use to see.

    Web Animation 
  • The Faunus in RWBY are said to have this as a racial trait. It's suggested that they all have good night vision, regardless of whether whatever animal species they have characteristics of has it.

    Western Animation 
  • BIONICLE: Onu-Matoran naturally have this ability, which is important given they mostly live underground.
  • Cat Noir from Miraculous Ladybug, being a cat-themed superhero, can see in the dark. P.O.V. Cam shots show this vision to be green-tinted, like his green eyes.
  • Wildmutt from Ben 10 is able to see the infrared, which allows it to see in darkness.

Alternative Title(s): Natural Night Vision

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