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Nice Day, Deadly Night

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"Texarkana looked normal during the daylight hours. But everyone dreaded sundown..."

In fiction, it's common for the nighttime to be portrayed as much more dangerous than during the day, and for most deadly creatures to be nocturnal, and usually also Weakened by the Light and the arrival of the sun. In more fantastical settings, it's common for The Undead to become active at night and to be destroyed or banished by sunlight. In more realistic settings, the dangers of nighttime are chiefly due to nocturnal predators becoming active after sundown and, in more urban areas, nighttime being when most criminals, lowlives, and other unsavory sorts go out to do their business.

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This is very common in Survival Sandbox games — usually you start off at sunrise and have until sundown to gather materials before night comes along with unwelcome visitors.

Most Cassette Futurism films (The '80s version of Cyberpunk) involve street gangs that have control of the cities and mostly come out at night. Mostly.

Most cases of The Night That Never Ends will have at least minor levels of this in play.

By and large, this trope is due to humans being chiefly diurnal animals whose primary sense — eyesight — is at its most useful in bright light, leaving us blinded and disoriented during the night, in addition to most predators of early humans — especially big cats — being nocturnal or crepuscular and quite active under the cover of darkness.

Compare Darkness Equals Death and contrast Daylight Horror. Expect to see a Frequently Full Moon. Often found in conjunction with Nocturnal Crime.

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Examples

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    Video Games 
  • Alan Wake: During the daytime, life in Bright Falls is fairly normal. Once night falls, things get dangerous in a hurry, with Alan having to fight large numbers of shadowy Taken.
  • Baldur's Gate II: It's not especially nice even during the day, but in Amn it's a bad idea to travel at night until you've got a decent selection of magical weapons and ideally a permit from the Cowled Wizards to use magic within city limits, because you will encounter steadily escalating vampire encounters — starting with harmless but intimidating displays and ending in packs of vampires tearing you to small piles of cooling meat — and vampires are resistant to non-magical attacks and inflict Level Drain.
  • In the first game of The Bard's Tale Trilogy, nights in the city meant more Random Encounters and deadlier opponents.
  • Bugs Bunny & Taz: Time Busters: The Zoovania level initially appears to be a normal zoo, with harmless animals in cages that you can't interact with. Turn it from day to night, and the animals turn into monsters and break out of their cages.
  • Castlevania II: Simon's Quest: The land outside cities are always crawling with monsters, but they're twice as strong at night. By day, the cities are safe, but at night are infested with hag-like enemies. There is nowhere obvious to hide at night, making it a challenge to survive until sunrise... or an easy way to Level Grind by killing lots of relatively weak enemies in the starter town.
  • Darkwood: Daytime is far from "nice" but, at the same time, you do not want to wander outside after sunset — expect to get overwhelmed and massacred no matter how well prepared you are, even on the Dry Meadow, the starting area with the weakest monsters and least hazards. At night, creatures become more aggressive, and a strange phenomenon called the Floor Gore pursues and kills any non-natives that aren't protected by the gas from a certain concoction boiled in the hideouts.
  • Dead Rising: Every day, when the sun goes down, the zombies become more aggressive and more durable. They also develop glowing red eyes. The first game also forces players to contend with darkness, as the lights in the mall automatically shut off after business hours.
  • Dying Light: The zombies are pretty manageable during the daytime. Just your average hordes of shambling zombies who can easily be kicked into spike pits and the like. As the game's Meaningful Name title alludes to, the game makes it a plot point to seek cover at night, because that's when seriously nasty creatures come out. Eventually, the game tasks you with quests where you need to venture out at night, knowing full well that you'll have to encounter them.
  • Dragon Age II has two separate sets of levels for the city of Kirkwall by day and by night: while the day levels are not completely free of violence, it is very uncommon to be mugged out in the open. Night levels, meanwhile, feature multiple gangs roaming the streets that attack passers-by without provocation.
  • Dwarf Fortress: Travelling alone at night in Adventure Mode risks getting attacked by bogeymen, which have extremely high dodging ability. This can be circumvented by having even one ally travel with you or sleeping in relatively "empty" biomes like mountains and by the beach, but being in the dark still greatly reduces visibility. Averted in certain regions, particularly savage and evil areas, which are full of enemies even in broad daylight.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Arena: Unlike its successors, cities at night feature enemies that can and will kill you, though during the day they're nowhere to be seen.
    • Daggerfall: Going out into the streets of the eponymous city at night (or being unlucky enough to arrive there after nightfall when fast traveling) will result in wraiths and ghosts from King Lysandus' spectral army showing up to attack you (with their arrival heralded by King Lysandus' spirit howling "VENGEANCE!"). Even outside of the city of Daggerfall, it's possible for a random enemy to appear and attack you if you're outdoors at night (especially in the wilderness), though it's nowhere near as common as it was in Arena.
    • Skyrim: With Dawnguard installed, vampires with death hound pets will randomly spawn in cities at night to attack the townsfolk and Player Character.
  • EverQuest: Kithicor Forest is a low-level zone by day, but becomes a mid-level zone with undead monsters by night.
  • Final Fantasy XV has the days very vibrant and beautiful, with the only real threats being larger wildlife and Imperial Airships dropping troops to attack you. Otherwise, one can wander almost freely with little worry, and cars and normal humans tend to be a common sight, all accompanied by fairly soothing music. Then the sun sets and Daemons start roaming the overworld, being FAR stronger and FAR more hostile than any wildlife during the day, with the music shifting into a survival-horror-esque soundtrack and a general urge from your party to get the hell back to civilization and call it a night.
  • Infernax, as part of its Castlevania II: Simon's Quest influences, has faster and stronger monsters roaming outside the villages and dungeons at night.
  • King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella. Places where the undead (zombies and ghosts) can be found are fairly safe to enter during the day. At night the undead come out and attack the living. In order to be safe, you need some kind of protection against them.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: Being caught outside of Hyrule Town at night as young Link will cause the drawbridge to be raised (preventing you from entering) and cause "Stalchildren" to rise from the ground and attack if you step off the path. They aren't particularly strong (and have Super Drowning Skills), but they constantly respawn until dawn (and every twelfth one will be progressively larger). Daytime does have the stronger Peahats, which are almost as persistent, but one has to stray much further off the path to provoke them. Averted in Adult Link's timeline: there's barely any difference between day and night danger-wise.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: During the day, Hyrule Field has enemies that can be seen from a long way off. Come night, they're replaced by skeletal hellhounds who endlessly respawn near the player and attack in packs.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: During the night, multiple types of enemies of varying level of strength will spawn randomly throughout the map. Thus, when journeying at night, Link will periodically be beset by skeletal Stal versions of regular enemies that emerge from the ground, swarms of batlike Keese, and Yiga Clan assassins. Downplayed in that Stal enemies and Keese are extremely weak and Yiga footsoldiers, while quick and annoying, aren't very strong either; their main threat comes from impending Link's progress, making fights against stronger foes more difficult, and gradually wearing down Link's health and weapons through their constant onslaughts. However, night also brings the stronger Yiga blademasters and rouses the large, powerful Stalnoxes that rest inertly in the ground during the day. Traveling by night is generally fairly dangerous in the early game and more trouble than it's worth later on, hence the game providing the ability to skip ahead to dawn at campfires.
  • Minecraft:
    • During the day, the world is filled with passive animals like sheep, cows, and pigs and neutral ones like wolves and polar bears, with almost nothing that will try to kill you unless you attack it first. However, hostile mobs like zombies and skeletons will come out during the night, and it will be quite necessary to have somewhere safe and well-lit to hole up. While the more common hostiles are undead and will catch fire and burn to death when dawn comes, Creepers aren't undead, so they'll linger after the sun rises. New games begin at the crack of dawn, and the first day in-game is generally spent scrambling to form a basic shelter in which to weather out the night — until the late game, staying out at night isn't generally survivable.
    • The Illager brigand patrols introduced in 1.14 were patched to only spawn at night, like other hostile mobs. Previously they averted the trope by being able to spawn en masse during daytime, in groups that almost always included Ravagers.
  • Need for Speed Heat depicts Palm City as a peaceful city with sanctioned events and lenient cops during the day. But at night, it becomes known to illegal street racing where very aggressive and sadistic cops use everything at their disposal to shut down every single racer at their sights.
  • Pikmin: The surface of PNF-404 can be dangerous during the day, but at night it's so dangerous that the Captains and Pikmin enter low orbit to avoid the predators that become active at that time. Any Pikmin left behind who aren't in the ground are devoured by the native wildlife.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean Online: Raven's Cove in the daytime has nothing more than a few ravens, a couple of Fire Bats, and Crazy Ned. At night, the Rage Ghosts appear.
  • Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? and its sequel use this for the standard story mode. The Prinnies start their quest at dawn, and as stages are cleared time passes until it's dark out. As time passes, the stages gain new elements and even change around, and the bosses for each stage get stronger. It's largely implied through dialogue at the base that the weaker demons come out during the daytime, and quickly retreat when it gets dark since the stronger ones come out to play.
  • 7 Days to Die: In the standard settings, zombies run during the night, making them more dangerous and harder to deal with compared to in daytime hours. Starting on Alpha 15, you can pick in the game menu the Zombie Gait for day and night, allowing the player to play the trope straight, subvert it or invert it completelynote .
  • Slime Rancher: Phosphor Slimes only spawn at night. They aren't dangerous on their own, but when three or more types of slime are present in one area there is a risk that a Tarr outbreak will occur.
  • Starcraft II: One mission has you surrounded by buildings that spawn infested Terrans, who burn in the daylight due to the star's high UV output. They attack in vast hordes as soon as it gets dark, and the player is meant to attack with impunity during the day, but there's an achievement for attacking at night (Reapers. Lots and lots of reapers). The official map Left 2 Die takes this concept and adds Left 4 Dead-inspired bosses.
  • Stardew Valley: If players pick the wilderness farm monsters will spawn at night. You can also toggle monster spawns at the farm if you offer a strange bun at one of the Witch's Shrines.
  • Super Mario Bros..:
    • Mario Party 6 has an In-Universe Game Clock, where every three turns, the gameplay switches from day to night and vice-versa. By day, Donkey Kong is out, and by night, Bowser is out. By day, landing on a DK space will give you a special bonus or allow you to play a mini-game where you can earn extra coins, but by night, these become Bowser spaces. Landing on one will cause Bowser to take away your star or coins or make you play a mini-game where you have to win in order to keep your coins. In the final board, Clockwork Castle, Donkey Kong walks around the board by day, and Bowser walks around it by night. Donkey Kong will give you a star for 20 coins if you come across him, but Bowser will take away your star or coins if you come across him.
    • Super Mario Maker 2: The Night stage theme replaces all water with poison in Forest areas and 1-Up Mushrooms with Rotten Mushrooms in Ground levels that are not just harmful but actively chase Mario through the stage. Deserts have sandstorms, snow levels become slippery, Ghost House and underwater areas are shrouded in the dark, and some of the other themes gain a layer of either Interface Screw or Gravity Screw in one way or another. On the other hand, the Angry Sun becomes a moon that wipes out all enemies on screen if Mario touches it.
    • Super Mario Odyssey: There are three kingdoms that follow this cycle, albeit it's only temporary for one of them:
      • In the Tostarena region of the Sand Kingdom, the undead Chinchos pop out of the sand at night and go after Mario in groups. They're weak but aggressive and never stop spawning. Since they don't go onto hard surfaces, the locals built their town strictly on brick and stone and don't come out at night.
      • In New Donk City in the Metro Kingdom, there are no enemies out in the open whatsoever and the whole place feels more like a Hub World... in the day. At night, tank-like Sherms patrol the streets and swarms of Stingbies come out, and Mario needs to keep alert at all times to not get hit by a stray attack. Just like with the people of Tostarena, the New Donkers stay indoors at night too. This may be Bowser's work, however, as both Sherms and Stingbies are part of Bowser's army, and it's hinted that New Donk City is not normally like this at night.
      • A fierce blizzard passes through the Snow Kingdom's Shiveria at night, severely reducing visibility, a very dangerous combination with the narrow walkways suspended some distance in the air he has to get through. In the daytime, it's calm with full visibility. This may be why Shiverians took to living underground with the entrance sealed up so the blizzards can't reach.
  • Terraria: It's dangerous during both day and night, but the night, which has zombies and flying eyeballs, is significantly more dangerous than day, which feature slimes that tend to do just Scratch Damage. Night becomes even more dangerous in Hardmode, which adds a handful of new enemies that spawn on the surface at night, but none are added in the "standard" biome of the surface forest.
  • Touhou Project: While Gensokyo is fairly dangerous to outsiders at any time of day, youkai tend to be most active at night, and leaving the Human Village at that time is more or less taking your life into your own hands if you don't happen to be a protagonist, as it's automatically assumed that you know how to defend yourself.
  • Trials of Mana: This serves as a mechanic for Half-Beastman Kevin. During the day, he's in his humanoid form and a pragmatic fighter. When it becomes nighttime, any battle opens up with him transforming into his wolf form, which gives him a boost to his attack power.
  • Warcraft III:
    • Inverted in the case of most neutral monsters that sleep at night, making it easier to approach them. However, some turn invisible and remain awake, turning a Curb-Stomp Battle against a few monsters into a sudden ambush.
    • Inverted for the Night Elves, who fight much better at night than in the day, being able to turn invisible and see as far as they can in daylight (after researching it), and their Moon Wells slowly regenerate, letting them heal and restore mana.
  • Warframe has the Plains of Eidolon. During the day, the area's about as nice as anywhere the Tenno can visit; sure, there are squads of reasonably strong Grineer roaming about, but that's nothing special. However, once night falls, the Grineer will retreat to their outposts in fear of the real threat: Sentients. The diminutive Vomvalysts are relatively weak on their own, but they always come in packs, amplifying their danger. The colossal Teralysts, on the other hand, are a legitimate threat to even the most experienced Tenno, being raid bosses in all but name that can spawn waves of Vomvalysts for support. To make matters worse, you can't even kill either kind of Sentient until you've completed The War Within. Their presence even makes the landscape itself more hostile, as all bodies of water on the Plains become charged with energy that hits anything unlucky enough to fall in with a Magnetic proc.
  • The Witcher: The first game has a day-night cycle, and while some monsters roam out in the open during the day, the vast majority come out at night. This is especially noticeable in the first act, which takes place in and around a small village surrounded by woods, but happens even in Vyzima, a capital city, later on.


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Non Video-Game Examples

    Anime and Manga 
  • Berserk: After being branded, Guts finds himself assailed by demons hungry for his flesh every night. While daytime has its own tribulations, it is usually the only time he can sleep, since the only demons he has to contend with while the sun is up is his own personal demons.
  • Blood-C: Daytime in Saya's hometown is relatively peaceful and Saya is usually doing her daily routine as an Ordinary High-School Student. At nighttime, she goes out to hunt and kill Elder Bairns. This pattern is broken around Episode 5 where the Elder Bairns come out during the day too and attack several civilians. This also led Saya to bring her katana in school.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Gotham City is shown as a deadly city mostly by night, which is the moment when the Caped Crusader defends the city from threats ranging from thugs to supervillains. Then again, Gotham is rarely shown during the day at all.

    Film — Animated 
  • Rock-A-Doodle: The Funny Animal characters can go about their business every day because the rooster Chanticleer's crowing summons the sun every morning, until the Grand Duke of Owls' scheming creates a constant night during which the small farm animals become easy prey for the Duke and his mooks.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Aliens: After the drop ship is destroyed and the protagonists are trapped on the surface of the planet LV-426, Newt warns Ripley about the deadly threat the xenomorphs will pose to the Colonial Marine force once night falls.
    Newt: We'd better get back cos it'll be dark soon, and they mostly come at night. Mostly.
  • I Am Legend: The last human resident of New York, Robert Neville, is free to roam about during the day with his dog and do whatever he wants in the abandoned city. But at night, he has to board in his house, cover up his scent, and securely seal every window and door, lest the Darkseekers, who can only survive in the dark, come to kill him.
  • Pitch Black: Survivors of a starship's crash landing discover that the deserted planet they're on has three suns, resulting in almost constant sunlight. When a prolonged total eclipse occurs, they are swarmed by deadly alien monsters in the dark.
  • RoboCop: While Old Detroit is pretty horrible at any time of day, night is when the roving street gangs are at their most active.

    Literature 
  • Beowulf: the titular hero's first enemy is Grendel, a monster that attacks each night before slinking away come morning.
  • I Am Legend: The days are safe, but at night the vampires will emerge and try to drink your blood.
  • The Lesser Sun: Inverted. In this story, the heroes run across an island which is plagued by super-strong gargoyle-like flying monsters created by a Mad Scientist villain. However, these monsters are incredibly dependent on sunlight for energy, to the point where going for even an hour without sunlight will kill them. As such, they can roam the island freely during the day, but every night must retreat to the abandoned castle where they were created, and where their creator left what is essentially a giant magical full-spectrum lamp which provides a close enough approximation of sunlight to sustain them through the night.
  • Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell: When the sun is up, the shades can still be enraged by kindling flame or shedding blood but will ignore fast movement. As such, it's much safer to move around by day.
  • The Time Machine has the Time Traveler journey several thousand years into the future, where he meets the Eloi, small dwarfish people that amble about the remains of civilization by day. At night, however, the Morlocks ascend from the depths of the Earth to harvest some of the Eloi. Though the Traveler is significantly larger than any Morlock, he's aware that he'd fare poorly against a Zerg Rush.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Crusade: In "The Memory of War", the ship visits a planet that seems pleasant by day, but terrifying things begin happening when night falls. In keeping with the series' use of Magic from Technology, it turns out to be due to a swarm of nanobots that shut down during the day because sunlight interferes with their control signals.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Ravenloft is based on Gothic Horror, so as you'd expect the night is always more dangerous than daytime.
    • At night, the citizens of Barovia bar their doors and tremble in terror. Strahd attacks the PCs at night with wolves and bats. Not only could the attacks easily kill them, but party spellcasters can forget relearning their spells. Random encounters at night are much more dangerous: not just wolves, but a deadly variety of undead monsters.
    • In the domain of Kartakas, wolves strong enough to break down barred gates roam the streets of the cities at night.
  • Summerland: Daytime isn't especially safe in itself, but the forest's psychic Call, which compels humans to lose themselves in the woods and revert to a bestial state, becomes relatively muted during daylight hours and it's possible for people to leave their settlements to hunt, forage and explore. During the night, however, the Call becomes much stronger and impossible for non-Drifters to ignore, forcing survivors to retreat into their settlements to endure it; consequently, the maximum distance people can travel from their homes is a half day's worth of travel — just far enough to be able to make it home before sundown. Nighttime is also when the denizens of the Sea of Leaves, such as the Wild and altered animals, become especially active and more likely to attack Drifters and settlements.

    Visual Novels 
  • Nasuverse: A recurring theme:
    • In general, most of the action happens at night, for different reasons: in The Garden of Sinners because the antagonists are dangerous spirits or magicians seeking to uphold the Masquerade, in Tsukihime because it's vampires, and in Fate/stay night along with its adaptations because of the nature of the Holy Grail War, which waged in secret from the populace or public.
  • In Spirit Hunter: NG, Kaoru explicitly states that spirits only appear at night-time, as proven throughout the game by the few morning scenes being mundane and free of danger.

    Webcomics 
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Since all Rash creatures are Weakened by the Light to an extent, the right combination of weather and lack of proximity to potential hideouts can be safe enough that even Tuuri and Reynir, the two non-immune non-combatants, can walk around outside. Come night, only those able to fight said creatures should be outside.

    Western Animation 
  • Gargoyles: Since the title characters turn to stone in daylight, most of the series actions take place at night. The four-part episode "City of Stone" played this up even more by having Demona curse the human population of New York to turn to stone during the night in the same manner as the gargoyles do during the day. At one point, she even takes the time out to smash two of the statues.
  • Kubo and the Two Strings: Feudal Japan is friendly and normal enough in the daytime, but come night, Kubo's grandfather the Moon King and his daughters (Kubo's aunts) are out to get him, in ways that are often deadly.
  • The Simpsons: Parodied in "Lost Verizon". Bart is left home alone and becomes afraid of nature at night, resulting in an Overly Long Gag of Bart afraid in the dark and happy in the day ("Night is scary." "Day is awesome!").
  • Total Drama: Any challenge at any time can be deadly, but if the contestants are woken up at night it's a guarantee they're going to be hunted.
    • In "Hook, Line, and Screamer", Chris lets the players watch horror movies until night time in preparation for a prank challenge designed to make the campers think they're stuck on an island with a hook-handed murderer (played by Chef) on the loose. Everyone but Heather falls for it and then the stakes get raised when an actual hook-handed murderer makes it to the island.
    • In "Finders Creepers", the campers are sent out on a riddle hunt at night with the warning that dangerous creatures are lurking about. Genuine ones are encountered, but the one that causes most trouble is Izzy in a spider disguise.
    • In "Moon Madness", the rare Blue Harvest Moon makes every animal in the forest act opposite of their normal selves. So while the lone alligator is no longer a problem, a gang of bunnies is. The Heroic Hamsters, who lost the previous challenge, are put at greater risk as they're made to wear sausage belts and bacon hats.
    • In "Hurl and Go Seek", the contestants first have to consume food that's been expired since 1976 and the one who first gets through the gross concoction becomes the hunter. They're tasked with finding other contestants in the forest at night and anyone found before sunrise could potentially be eliminated next. While not inherently dangerous, the food predictably makes everyone nauseous and disoriented while out alone in the dark. The thunder storm that rolls in does nothing to improve the challenge's safety.

    Real Life 
  • Many large predators such as big cats tend to be at their most active at night, which is also when our human day-adapted vision renders us at our most blind, helpless, and disoriented. By comparison, for a leopard even the darkest nights are often no darker than a slightly overcast day for them. It was only in recent centuries that humans gained access to lights that extended past the short radius of a campfire or torch.
  • Many a military offensive has used the cover of darkness to mask its approach thanks to the reduced visibility and awareness of their target:
    • The Night Attack of Târgoviște had the forces of Vlad the Impaler attack the Ottomans with the night as cover, led to around a 1:3 death ratio in favor of the Wallachians.
    • During World War II, since the Japanese were at a disadvantage in terms of numbers when facing China on land and the Allies at sea, they would do their attacks at night to mask their approach.
  • Fewer people are around on the streets at night than during daylight hours, so it's less risky for criminals, ranging from robbers to murderers, to prey on unsuspecting folk going back home after a long day of work or school, or going out for a leisurely night walk; even if there are a few witnesses, the cover of darkness makes perps way harder to identify accurately. These guys are far less likely to go for "hard targets": suspicious and well-aware people such as those using a flashlight to walk in dark areas are harder to sneak up on. Criminals typically look for victims, not challenges.

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