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Melancholy Moon

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"Cold hearted orb that rules the night
Removes the colours from our sight
Red is grey and yellow, white
But we decide which is right
And which is an illusion."
The Moody Blues, "Nights in White Satin"

The Moon. Cold and distant, alone and lifeless... yet, it's the Earth's celestial companion, reflecting light to pierce the pitch-black night. So when a character is shown moon gazing, it means he or she shares many of these lunar traits: they are isolated and introspective, melancholy... yet oddly hopeful and self-reflective. All this just by having them look in silence at the moon, or using it as a big old backdrop.

He or she may have a Tragic Dream, have suffered a Dark and Troubled Past, or have embarked on some new quest that promises to change their life. The trope is also frequently used in love songs, particularly in association with unrequited love (pining for or fixating on someone is sometimes even referred to as "mooning after/over" them).

Can overlap with Weird Moon, often to emphasize the moon. In this case, the moment is used both to establish the world and the character. May also overlap with The Sacred Darkness, particularly when a full moon is paired with a clear starry night, creating an atmosphere of mystery and wonder.

Contrast Watching the Sunset and Cue the Sun.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In many continuities of the Devilman franchise that involve Satan killing Akira, the final scene involving Satan realizing the tragic mistake he had made almost always takes place under the light of the moon. DEVILMAN crybaby takes this up to eleven by having the bisected moon still visible in the sky from where it was cut in half during the previous battle between the Demons and Devilmen.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion just before Shinji and Rei prepare to go snipe the angel, during which they muse about why they pilot the Evangelions, the binds they have with people, and Rei promises Shinji that he won't die because she'll protect him, ending the scene with "Sayonara" with a big full moon over her shoulder. The whole scene was very melancholy and introspective.
  • One of the recurring songs in Beck is "Moon on the Water". The song is in of itself a melancholic love song but in episode 5 when both Koyuki and Maho skinny dip in the school pool, they sing it song together under a summer full moon. You can't get more romantic than that.
  • In Darker than Black, the Emotionless Girl Yin gets a lot of symbolic focus on the moon in her flashbacks to her tragic childhood, though the moon is admittedly absent from the sky in the present. There are connections beyond her melancholy demeanor since the moon is traditionally associated with mediums, and for a bonus, "Yin" is Chinese for "silver". And late in the second season, the moon returns, bloodred, in circumstances related to an Eldritch Abomination possessing Yin.
  • Boma spends a lot of time on top of buildings standing in front of the moon in Heat Guy J. Well, he is (sort of) a werewolf, after all.
  • Similarly, Gaara of Naruto spends a lot of time navel-gazing in front of the moon. This turns to Fridge Horror later on when we learn that he rarely sleeps for fear that the demon inside him will take over.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Duo wonders how much longer he'll get to see the moon.
    • Scott McNeil and Mark Hildreth spoofed that scene, much to the delight of the Yaoi Fangirls:
      Duo: "I wonder how much longer I'll get to see the moon like this?"
      Heero: "Do you want me to pull up my pants?"
      Duo: "Nah, it's cool."
  • In Cardcaptor Sakura, Sakura has a recurring dream about being on the Tokyo tower or something similar, gazing at a full moon. Eventually, her dream comes true as she battles Yue.
  • Guts from Berserk is often seen staring at the moon, especially after forming his new group of True Companions, where he doesn't have to fight so much at night (since evil spirits are drawn to his brand at night) and he is allowed to be lost in his own thoughts, often of sad and bittersweet memories from his past.
  • Berserk (2016): Apart from its obvious connection with the supernatural and Guts' torment, the moon retains some of its symbolism from the Golden Age as a lonely and beautiful thing that Guts would stare at when he was being introspective, and it features prominently in the end credits sequence.
  • In a variation, Sailor Moon Crystal's Creative Closing Credits have Ending Theme "Gekkou", (Moonbow) where a princess muses on her romance with a prince, and her sudden sadness at the sight of a moonbow, making her regret that they must soon part, though she hopes to see him again. Since moonbows can only happen during a full or nearly full moon, an oversized, bright moon is reflected in the shallow waters where they walk, set to lyrics that speak of how dreams are delicate and fleeting.
  • In Jack and the Beanstalk (1974) (an Anime expansion of Jack and the Beanstalk), after Jack steals part of the giant's treasure trove and brings it back home, Jack's dog Crosby begins singing a melancholy song to the moon, which Jack takes as a sign that he should rescue Princess Margaret from the evil Hecuba.
  • In When Marnie Was There, there are several haunting images of the crescent moon shining over the bay at night.
  • The second Tenchi Muyo! OVA has the ending theme "The Lonely Moon", which talks about a person longing for their loved one in their time apart, comparing each other to the Earth and the Moon. The ending credits even has Ryo-Ohki looking longingly at the moon.
  • Makoto Shinkai has used shots of a full moon bisected by power lines as symbolism for the melancholy and disconnectedness of his characters, particularly in 5 Centimeters per Second and Your Name.
  • Chapter 56 of Kaguya-sama: Love Is War has a case where the moon itself is the cause of the melancholy. While the student council is moongazing during the Full Moon festival, Kaguya mentions that she hates the moon due to it reminding her of her namesake Princess Kaguya in The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter (who was forced to return to the moon and abandon the man she loved). The next time the moon becomes a plot point it's under far more romantic circumstances, as a half-moon is used to represent her and Shirogane finally meeting in the middle and having a Relationship Upgrade.

    Fan Works 
  • The Night Unfurls: In Chapter 1 of the original, Kyril is seen sharpening his Saw Cleaver under a moonlit night, preparing for his duty to Celestine, who gave him the task of delivering her rival Olga back to the South, alive. Within the sound of steel being sharpened, he broods over the reality that a hunter like him is better at ending lives than preserving them. Kyril then turns his attention to the Holy Moonlight Sword, which, as the name suggests, has a complimentary motif to the moon in the sky. The story then presents a Continuity Nod about the weapon's heritage: how the sword once belonged to the First Hunter of the Healing Church, Ludwig; how the owner of the sword inevitably fell to the Beast Scourge, twisted into an accursed beast, a mockery of his former ideals; how the man that was once Ludwig the Accursed finally found peace as Ludwig the Holy Blade; and lastly, how the blade, his mentor and guiding Moonlight, is bequeathed to the Hunter during his final moments. To cap it off, the last two paragraphs of this scene have Kyril hoping that nothing terrible would happen in the upcoming battle. Overall, it is a melancholy scene that compliments Kyril's isolated and introspective nature, especially to those who are familiar with Bloodborne lore.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas: "Jack's Lament" is built mostly around the backdrop of Spiral Hill against the moon.
  • The first Shrek movie has a scene in which Shrek and Donkey stare at the night sky, as Shrek talks about ogres of the past being among the constellations. Shrek ends up confiding in Donkey that the reason he pushes everyone away is that people tend to judge him as a monster before they even get to know him, so he feels he's "better off alone". Donkey assures Shrek that he never judged him. It ends with them looking at the moon, accompanied by this exchange:
    Donkey: So, uh, are there any donkeys up there?
    Shrek: Well, there's, um, Gabby, the Small and Annoying.
    Donkey: Okay, okay, I see it now. The big shiny one, right there. That one there?
    Shrek: That's the moon.
  • Both the big baby and the clown in Toy Story 3 do this. Which is pretty darn appropriate considering their shared backstory.
  • In Turning Red, when Mei cries herself to sleep she is bathed in moonlight and the scene dissolves to a shot of the moon.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, after he arrives at Hogwarts and everyone is in bed, Harry's up looking out his window at the moon. It fits into the "melancholy yet hopeful" category as it marks the beginning of a new life for him, yet it's a somewhat sad scene because of the backstory with his parents.
  • Sméagol fishing in the waterfall in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers has a curious use of the moon. Sméagol, who has found a measure of redemption helping Frodo and even banishing Gollum, is "betrayed" by Frodo under Faramir's threat of killing Sméagol.

  • Very popular in Ancient Chinese literature, especially poems and "lyrics" (which were originally set to songs that have long been lost). Many a poem is of the poet being unable to sleep, climbing to the top of a pavilion (optional), staring at the moon, and musing about their sad fate (mostly being demoted and Reassigned to Antarctica) and/or their longing for home. These were incidentally the two most commonly expressed sentiments in poems throughout the dynasties.
  • That Hideous Strength: Before Mark is told the true nature of N.I.C.E., the Moon seems larger in the sky than he's ever seen it before. Its oppressive presence is fitting since N.I.C.E. hopes to cleanse the Earth of flesh until it's as spotless as the planet's distant neighbor.
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns: After being forced to consummate her unwanted marriage to Rasheed, Mariam lays alone in her room, staring at the moon; when the clouds cover the moon it's compared to a woman drawing a veil over her face. Besides Rasheed, Mariam is utterly alone in the world: her mother recently died and her father forced her to move away from the people she grew up with to marry Rasheed. Despite this, she's resolved to try and find happiness in her marriage to Rasheed (it doesn't work out).

    Live Action TV 
  • SAS: Rogue Heroes. The Special Air Service have to wait until the Moon sets so it will be dark enough to attack their targets. While they are waiting, Lieutenant Jock Lewes goes to bathe in the ocean and we hear a Voiceover Letter he's written to the woman he's proposed marriage to, lamenting her failure to respond and pondering how (regarding the Moon) something distant and remote could also be beautiful.

  • The premise of the Rodgers and Hart song "Blue Moon," at least the first half.
  • Conway Twitty's "I Don't Know A Thing About Love" features a "Man in the Moon" who's just as melancholy as the observer, insisting he doesn't really have any answers to anyone's questions.
  • Indochine's "J'ai demandé à la lune" ("I Asked the Moon"), which details a conversation between the singer and the moon very similar to the one in "I Don't Know A Thing About Love" above.
  • Bruno Mars's "Talking to The Moon".
    At night, when the stars light up my room
    I sit by myself
    Talking to the moon
    Trying to get to you
    In hopes you're on the other side talking to me too
    Or am I a fool who sits alone talking to the moon?
  • In the same vein, Collin Raye's "Somebody Else's Moon" is a tearjerker about a man watching the moon and thinking of it as belonging to somebody else now just as his former sweetheart does.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" is in minor and is a soulful and introspective song he wrote for a lover. (However, that title was not applied to Piano Sonata No. 14 until after Beethoven’s death. Some music critics strongly object to the use of “Moonlight Sonata” as a title for this piece.)
  • The Moody Blues, "Late Lament" on their Days of Future Passed album, quoted above.
  • "That Moon Song" by Gregory Alan Isakov.
    "And that full-bellied moon,
    she's a-shinin' on me.
    Yeah, she pulls on this heart
    like she pulls on the sea."
  • Tom Waits' "Grapefruit Moon" from Closing Time and "Drunk On The Moon" from The Heart of Saturday Night, where a man walks around drunk in the street and watches the moon.
  • In Sakanaction's "Bach no Senritsu o Yoru ni Kiita Sei Desu" the singer is gazing at the moon melancholically while listening to Bach sonatas.
  • Clair De Lune by Claude Debussy is often used for scenes like this in Popular Culture. He wrote the song when he was institutionalized, to boot.
  • "Something Better to Do" by Olivia Newton-John incorporates this in the chorus, in which the protagonist solemnly waits for her lover to return home and tries to fall asleep, all while the light of the moon pierces through her window.
    The moon is wasting its shine
    shinin' on me,
    until I see you again.
    I won't be out in the moonlight
    and I’ll be sleeping by ten.
  • "Sad Lookin’ Moon" by Alabama, in which the protagonist observes the night sky after a relationship that’s ended.
  • "You Are the Moon" by The Hush Sound. The song centers around the lone moon, with the singer admiring the beauty that the moon apparently cannot see in itself.
    All the light that you possess
    Is skewed by lakes and sea
    Shattered surface, so imperfect
    is all that you believe

  • Giacomo Puccini, the composer of famous operas La Bohème, Tosca and Turandot, loved this trope. Almost all of his operas have the moment of Melancholy Moon, usually in connection with the main soprano heroine. In Turandot, the trope is played with in a most gruesome way: the moonrise is the signal for starting an execution. It is also averted when Prince Calaf has his moment of moon-gazing: he is not melancholic but self-assured and hopeful.
  • Rusalka, an opera composed by Antonín Dvořák, libretto by Jaroslav Kvapil, contains an aria called Song to the Moon, in which Rusalka sings her woes to the Moon.

    Video Games 
  • In Tsukihime, Shiki stares at the moon a lot when he is feeling down. As you could expect from a game whose title translates as "Moon Princess" from Japanese. And its subtitle "Blue Blue Glass Moon, Under The Crimson Air".
  • The Lunar series has a funny variation on this. Throughout the series, there's a celestial body that unquestionably fills the same role as the moon. It's distant, cold, and lifeless, but nevertheless always shining through the night and a source of hope and wonder. It's present in every night scene, most memorably shining behind Luna during Wind's Nocturne, as well as playing a massive role in the plot of Lunar: Eternal Blue and being the focus of the Eternal Blue Theme. So, what's the twist? It's not a moon at all. The characters are living on its moon, called Lunar or the Silver Star, while gazing up towards the frozen planet it orbits, the Blue Star. One more thing - depending on the shot, you can see certain land formations on the Blue Star. Those include Africa.
  • In Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon, the Moon is used as a prominent symbol of isolation and loneliness. To really hammer the latter aspect, Ren and the male protagonist of the game may be the only two people left in the world.
  • One chapter in Disgaea deals with the Red Moon, under the light of which the Prinnies can earn atonement for their sins and be reborn. Considering that the Prinnies are explosive demon-penguins who usually serve as comic relief, the chapter is surprisingly poignant.
  • The Outer Wall in Cave Story. The moon dominates the night sky, and the pensive "Moonsong" is the BGM.
  • Asama Sakuya from Girls' Love Visual Novel Akai Ito gazes at the moon sometimes. She's the last of her kind, a tribe that had strong connection to the moon. She has been alone for the past 1700-years. In one ending, she dies, and Kei prosaically laments how Sakuya's soul is going to the moon.
  • Kamo, one of the various NPCs on Windfall Island in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, spends his nights gazing up at the moon. He also whines about how nobody understands him. One of the sidequests involves taking a picture of a "perfectly round, pale object" as a test to see if Link truly understands him.

    Web Comics 
  • In Charby the Vampirate Charby has a near ritual of sitting on a lonely stone in the forest under the moonlight to try to talk to a disembodied spirit of some kind which helped him once when he wanted to end his existence whenever he's feeling depressed or conflicted and in need of advice.

    Western Animation 
  • In Star Wars Rebels's "Legacy", Ezra has a vision of himself gazing at the twin moons of Lothal, which he interprets as the Force telling him to return home. At the end of the episode, he gazes at the moons as per his vision, after learning that his parents died the night he had the vision. He ends up having another vision, this time of his parents bidding him farewell as they show him another path Lothal could've gone down.


Video Example(s):


Chi's Sweet Home

The moon reminds Chi of Blackie (who had just moved away)...

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / MelancholyMoon

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