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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"

Innate Night Vision is a type of Super-Senses that allows a character or species to see significantly better in the dark than normal humans.note  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.)

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 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 good night vision. Heat vision is restricted to animals that live in air, because water absorbs mid- and far-infrared light.


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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 
  • Concrete: Concrete's species have eyes that can go completely black, allowing them to see in near total darkness.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes:
    • Night Girl comes from a planet that is in perpetual darkness, so she has no problem seeing in the dark. A good thing because her Super-Strength only works in the dark.
    • Shadow Lass can generate fields of darkness and has no problem seeing in her own darkness or a natural one.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Hyde has heat vision, which also lets him see The Invisible Man. The first indication that Hyde is smarter than he looks is that he doesn't reveal this minor information, which he puts to good use later.
  • Spiderman 2099: Miguel, thanks to his spider mutations, has enhanced vision that allows him to see perfectly in the dark. However, that's because he's now oversensitive to light, so he has to wear Sunglasses at Night as well as during the day, and bright flashes of light like fireworks can temporarily blind him.
  • Superman, Supergirl and Power Girl have it as part of the Kryptonian power set. Half-Kryptonian Kon-el eventually develops it.
  • Aquaman and all other Atlanteans have this ability due to needing to navigate low-light environments at the bottom of the sea.

    Fan Works 
  • Some fanfictions of Inuyasha show the hanyou Shiori, who also has this ability because she is half a bat youkai.
  • Past Sins: Glimpses: "Royals' Grace": Luna can see better in the dark than Celestia:
    Luna’s brow furrowed. “Why do I have to look? You should look.”
    “You have better vision in the dark than I do, Luna, and I do believe we can say that it is dark under my bed.”
  • Pokémon Master has Ash Ketchum who has perfect night vision due to being a Shadow Master.
  • Vow of Nudity: Fiora, as a swiftstride shifter (essentially a werecat), has darkvision among her many feline traits, which lets her see shades of gray even in pure darkness.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Aquaman (2018): All Atlanteans have this ability, a necessary adaptation for the dark depths of the ocean.
  • In The Cave, one of the cavers is attacked by a winged creature and gradually mutates into one. Part of the mutation is that his senses become significantly sharper, and at first he can see well in the cave's low light. Another caver is even surprised at how well he can see in the cave.
  • 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.
  • The Indominus Rex from Jurassic World has snake DNA in her body. Because of this, she has infrared vision, making her an effective hunter even at night.
    • According to official information, this should not be the case with the Indoraptor. However, there is a scene in the film where the lights suddenly go out, and when it comes back on, the Indoraptor is looking straight at her prey.

  • 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 Hobbit, Gollum sees his way around the goblin caves with his glowing green eyes.
  • 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. Gollum has developed rather excellent night vision as a result of the Ring's influence, to the point that he appears to have tapeta lucida; he claims that his vision is at its worst in moonlight or sunlight. 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.
  • Saintess Summons Skeletons: The [Venerable Physique of the Primeval Void] skill is all about gaining resistance or immunity to things that you're exposed to. Exploring a pitch-black dungeon, for example, grants an increasing ability to see in the dark — if you can survive the True Shades who live there and like to behead intruders.
  • 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 Series: 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.
  • Princesses of the Pizza Parlor: From Princesses Don't Do Summer School, which comes up due to needing to do some night-fighting, certain half-humans: Half-orcs and half-elves, can see in the dark, but since regular humans can't, it's probably inherited from their non-human halves.
  • 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).
  • Dark Angel: Thanks to their feline DNA, X5s can see perfectly in the dark. They can also zoom in on objects a good distance away.
  • Doctor Who: The Weeping Angels can see in total darkness, which helps them circumvent their greatest weakness. By killing the lights, their victims cannot see them, allowing them to attack.
  • 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.
  • Subverted on Red Dwarf. Despite the Cat being descended from, well, cats, he explicitly doesn't have any low-light vision beyond human levels. When Lister asks him about this, the Cat angrily responds by inquiring why Lister isn't unusually good at swinging through trees.
  • 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 races in the Player's Handbook, 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 magical darkness as well as natural, unlike most forms darkvision. It also extends significantly further than normal dark vision.
    • Prior to 3rd Edition, Darkvision and Low-light vision didn't exist and instead races like elves, dwarves, and orks had Infravision, which let them see in the infrared spectrum but was more limited- creatures who's body temperatures were the same as the surrounding area, like reptilian creatures, undead, oozes, and plants, didn't show up in it and it was impossible to read anything but specially prepared inks. And it could be disrupted by areas of bright light or high heat sources like campfires.
  • 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.
  • Shadowrun: Elves and orks get low-light vision, while dwarves and trolls can see into the infrared spectrum. Some Awakened animals can also see into one of the two, and Dragons have night vision that works even better than any of those. This being a cyberpunk world, anyone with the disposable income can get Electronic Eyes that do both and more.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, the Night Lords Chaos Space Marines can see perfectly in pitch darkness, and can even see into the infrared.
  • World of Darkness
  • 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 
  • In DON'T LOOK AWAY, the darkness that covers the maps proves no hinderance to the Entity, who can see fine, though in black and white.
  • In The Elder Scrolls:
    • The Cat Folk Khajiit have this as a racial ability throughout the series.
    • Most Vampire bloodlines are known to have inherent enhanced night vision abilities. If the Player Character in Oblivion and Skyrim becomes a vampire, he/she will also gain this ability. Both games combine this with different versions of Aura Vision that also detect living creatures nearby.
  • The "Friend of the Night" perk in several Fallout games gives the Player Character this, not that it's really necessary in games without light correction mods.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, the Keepers of the Moon clan Miq'ote are nocturnal, giving them this.
  • In Gems of War, Wolf Knights have it, according to their card. However, the absence of a day/night mechanic in the game means that it's only interesting as background information.
  • Gene Troopers have your first special ability, simply called "Night Vision". Guess what it does, go on.
  • In Ultima Online, nightsight is a valuable ability temporarily granted by either a spell or potion, allowing you to see clearly at night or in dungeons, without the limited range of visibility that comes from carrying a lantern or torch (and without taking up an equipment slot that might be better filled with a shield). Nightsight is also intrinsically granted to elves and vampires.
  • Warcraft III: The Night Elves can research the Ultravision ability, which gives them the same sight range at night as during the day (no, don't ask why a nocturnal species needs to retroactively give itself night vision).

    Visual Novels 

    Web Comics 
  • DICE: The Cube That Changes Everything: Improving one's sight allows a Dicer to see in the dark with glowing green eyes.
  • 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: (casting the spell) 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 

Alternative Title(s): Natural Night Vision