The Light seems like a good, kindly thing, especially compared with that bad old Darkness. Whereas Darkness is usually concerned with kicking puppies, eating children, and laughing its head off, the forces of Light generally worry about nicer things, like singing with the birds, helping little old ladies cross the street, and... well, you know, being a Hero. Whereas the Dark is sexy and alluring and tends to dress that way, the Light (while often quite attractive in its own way) tends to be a bit more conservative when it comes to clothing. Women serving the Light tend to really appreciate this, considering what the Darkness usually makes its women wear. Whereas the Darkness seems to revel in lawlessness and chaos, the Light tends to prefer law and order, providing for properly maintained roads, a court system, and safe cities.
But in one of those instances where you should Beware the Nice Ones, the Light isn't always what it appears to be. Sometimes, a battle with an obviously Light-wielding character will not result in Defeat Meaning Friendship or an Epiphany Therapy, but will just end with a laser-scorched corpse and the shiny happy killer skipping off to continue using their sunshine-fueled powers to wreak decidedly unholy havoc. There is a reason why the word "Light Bringer," in Latin, literally means Lucifer.
It turns out that, just like how, sometimes Dark Is Not Evil, sometimes Light Is Not Good. Some will view the Light itself as natural, and darkness as nothing more than an absence of it. Others will see Light as a destructive force, a perversion of the infinite all-encompassing Darkness.
This Trope is an inversion of the standard that "Light = Good". Like with Dark Is Not Evil, Light Is Not Good can subvert or avert a number of other Tropes depending on how it comes into play — usually Beauty Equals Goodness and Good Colors, Evil Colors, among others.
Light and Dark are both oversimplified metaphors for Good and Evil, not truly synonymous terms. Looking at the matter rationally, too much sunlight causes burns, sunstroke, skin cancer, and drought, which is bad; whereas nightfall and sufficient shade provide relief and rest, which is good. So, neither physical brightness nor physical shade can be all good or all bad. Elements are properly value-neutral. note
The mildest form of this Trope involves beautiful, charismatic villains dressed in white and surrounded by religious symbols. A step further features a villain who wields Light as an elemental power. Whether by technology or magic, they can bend physical light to their whims, displaying such powers as beauty-enhancing sparkles or an angelic glow, optical illusions and holograms, Mind Control through Laser-Guided Amnesia, blinding flashes, and laser beams. For artistic contrast and further deconstruction, they might be opposed by a hero who uses shadows and darkness as Elemental Powers.
Crapsaccharine Worlds are often depicted as highly polished, brightly (sometimes too brightly, e.g. Mirror's Edge) lit, and cheerful almost to the point of cloying. Of course the true nature of the society is gradually revealed over the course of the narrative, making it an instance of this trope.
Anti Heroes generally fall under Dark Is Not Evil rather than this Trope unless they're a Knight Templar, for instance a ruthless Church Militant who works with the good guys. Light Is Not Good is when a character is directly bad, directly villainous — and still has Light powers. Depending on characterization, they might be sympathetic, perhaps well-intentioned but horribly misguided. Or the person could be the most gleefully twisted bastard imaginable.
Commonly used with Fallen Heroes and Knight Templar. Often used together with the Path of Inspiration or Corrupt Church. Perhaps might even go so far as to cast aspersions on a Council of Angels. At the most extreme, it declares God Is Evil. May well occur in a villain's Yin-Yang Bomb, in which case the heroes probably need to produce one of their own to combat it.
See also Pure Is Not Good, Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon, Man in White/Woman in White, Lawful Stupid, Good Is Boring, God Is Evil. May result in Good Powers, Bad People. Often overlaps with Holy Hand Grenade. Oh, while we're at it, Frickin' Laser Beams are made of light too. Fire can be applied to this as well, as well as electricity and ice, as well as the blinding flash provided by Nuclear Weapons or an gamma ray burst or asteroid/comet impact. In this case, see also Bright Is Not Good, which only applies to colors. Not related to Good Is Not Nice, though the borders can be fluid.
Keep in mind that stories where Light Is Not Good does not automatically enforce Dark Is Not Evil. In Fact, stories where Dark Is Evil and Light Is Not Good are commonplace to show that the light can be just as foul as darkness. In addition, some stories may use BOTH Light Is Not Good and Light Is Good at the same time, with good light based characters calling the evil ones Hypocrites.
This trope is not an Obviously Evil character such as a Bedsheet Ghost wearing white, although they may fall under Bright Is Not Good. To qualify a character must fit with what is culturally thought of light. A angel wearing bright clothes with White Magic or simply a classical unicorn as the villains are good examples; a simple Corrupt Church cleric or a white-haired handsome youth simply using their attractiveness to get away with misdeeds is pushing it depending on who you ask; a clown wearing white makeup but otherwise not bright coloured, not attractive or not possessing holy powers is most definitely not. Someone is is beautiful but otherwise not light related in any way is definitely out. Add a sun (powers, jewelry, name, whatever), however, and we're listening. And an Eldritch Abomination with light powers is definitely in.
Related to Daylight Horror. Occasionally the Sun expresses this trope in fiction, either as sun powered villains or as evil or creepy disembodied heads representing the Sun. See also Hiding Behind Religion, which can be considered a more realistic version of this trope.
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