Night vision goggles on TV and in movies are seldom shown correctly.
Modern night vision goggles merely amplify light from wide spectrum with a CCD-based optical sensor. CCD sensors are however highly sensitive to near-visible infrared radiation. This means that normal night vision binoculars will display "infrared" as if it was visible light, and many of them also have an "infrared" lamp fitted, which produces visible light to the wearer of the glasses, but not to the unaugmented human eye.
The confusion comes from the fact that "infrared" is also the spectral range used by thermal imaging. All objects at temperatures found in the earth's biosphere do produce radiation in the infrared, but not necessarily in the frequency range that CCD sensors are sensitive to. The infrared range regular CCD cameras operate in is "near-visible" — an object at 400°C is glowing brightly to someone who uses a CCD camera, but is still pitch black to the human observer, who would only begin to see a red glow at around 450-500°C.
CCD are useless for obtaining a thermal image below a few hundred degrees Celsius, so for ordinary thermal imaging applications, other types of sensors are used, which then in addition are frequently (but not always) cooled below environmental temperature, depending on technology.
Confused? Most writers don't figure it out either. Most people don't even understand how incandescent color relates to temperature via Planck's law of black-body radiation.
Ever wondered why the pictures from your webcam has colors that are just slightly off? That's because your webcam uses a CCD sensor too, with a cheap IR-filter. The near-visible infrared light is distorting the colors. Some photographers go as far as filtering out all the visible light for taking beautiful IR photographs.
To give you an idea of the numbers: The visible range of light is 400-700nm, which works out as temperatures from roughly 500° to infinity, with peak visibility at around 6000°C. "Infrared" ranges from those 700nm to 300'000nm, where microwaves start. The range of "Near-infrared" that CCD are most sensitive in is 700-1000nm (~350-450°). Thermal imaging usually operates at 9000-14000nm because this is the peak radiation spectrum of the human body at 37°C.
What this eventually all works out to is that many games and movies don't quite seem to know how their night vision goggles are supposed to work. Thermal effects and night vision are wildly mixed, confused, or combined into a single device: The background is shown in the glowing green of a starlight scope, with living things shown in false-color orange and yellow. Video games also commonly feature "night vision" in which living beings glow as though they were thermal hotspots and leave a trail of Fluorescent Footprints.
See Predator for the titular alien's mode of vision. Can't see through stuff, either. Compare Vein-o-Vision.
The version most often seen on TV is actually an image intensifier.
- Pictured above, from a GEICO commercial — giving antelope night vision goggles makes for one hungry lion. Although, antelopes don't have binocular vision...
- One arc in GTO: The Early Years involves Eikichi and Ryuji trying to get night vision goggles to spy on their hot new neighbor. The salesman knows exactly what they want them for, and even offers to throw in a "50 Best Voyeur Spots in Shonan" pamphlet if they buy a pair. Katsuyuki sees them coming out of the store and they make up a story about needing them to fight some gang that attacks in darkness. Cue Katsuyuki stealing them two pairs and picking a fight with that gang, in which the goggles get broken.
- Batman and his sons, daughter, and extended Batfamily have these built into their masks, great for sneaking around in pitch darkness. Bruce uses this to great effect in the finale of the Knightfall saga when he blinds Jean-Paul Valley with early morning sunlight to get him to remove his cowl and finally cause him to snap out of his psychotic break.
- Robin (1993): Jaeger's goggles have night vision in addition to a Heads-Up Display. Tim also brings the Batfamily night vision lenses to Huntress and Spoiler, before the Batfamily really gets built beyond Bruce, Dick and Tim.
- In Cloverfield, the night vision setting of the In-Universe Camera is used to find out what the hell is making those weird noises in the dark subway tunnels they're travelling along. Turns out to be the parasites that fell off Clover. Hud, who's looking through the camera, yells for everyone to start running now.
- D-Day have Ivan using a pair in the final shootout, after dropping a flash grenade and blinding a room full of mooks. Ivan's goggles were meant to protect him from the flash.
- In Ghostbusters (1984), Ray Stantz uses a pair to find Slimer in the hotel ballroom.
- Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum: When Ah-Yeon, Sung-Hoon, and Je-Yoon find themselves in a dark room together, Je-Yoon asks for the camera. Once he has it, he turns on the night-vision function and uses it to see in the dark.
- Grandmother's House: David's telescope has night vision capabilities.
- Jurassic Park (1993) actually uses starlight-scope goggles correctly. In Jurassic World, another pair of the exact same model is found by Zach and Gray in the ruins of the old Visitor's Center, though they don't use it.
- The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill: The cameras that the crew use have a night-vision view. The first scene in the movie, in fact, is of one of them playing around with the feature.
- In Rogue (2020), the mercenaries have a pair of night-vision binoculars that prove vital in keeping watch for the rogue lioness at night. Unfortunately, the binoculars got soaked during the team's unplanned detour into the river and have the habit of fritzing out at the worst possible moment.
- The action film She Shoots Straight has the main villain leading his band of gunrunners against the police in a nightclub shootout, and inevitably the club's power source ends up being cut, resulting in the whole building plunging into darkness. But it turns out the villains are Genre Savvy enough to pack night-vision goggles — they quickly make short work of the police team after that.
- Buffalo Bill uses these to stalk his victims in The Film of the Book The Silence of the Lambs.
- In an early scene, as he's using them to watch a woman pull into a parking lot, her headlights briefly scan across his face. Not only should this have ruined the goggles, but also blinded him quite painfully, yet he just stands there. (Modern NVGs are designed to filter this sort of thing, but the goggles available in the era in which the movie is set would not be likely have that feature.)
- At the climax he uses them to hunt Clarice Starling in a pitch-black house, sneaking up behind her and preparing to kill her with a bullet to the back of the head. Luckily she has had training in dealing with exactly this kind of situation...
- A variant is seen in the Terminators' Robo Cam, which is tinted in either red or blue instead of full-color, but the robots see perfectly under any light condition.
- In Wrongfully Accused, Ryan Harrison is about to be ambushed by Sean Laughrea (who is wearing these to sneak up on him) when Ryan flips on the light switch, blinding Sean. Amusingly, the goggles have a pull-chain to switch them on!
- City of Thieves (1983) has a magic variation, where you can obtain an amulet shaped like an owl that allows you to see in the dark.
- In Daystar and Shadow, the sentries outside the New Christians' citadel wear helmets with infrared goggles at night, complicating Robin's break-in.
- In The Dreamside Road, Orson’s mask has this capability. It comes in handy all the times he sneaks around at night.
- The Hunger Games: At the Seventy-fourth Games, Katniss finds a pair of night-vision goggles in her pack, but thinks they're sunglasses and tries to use them as such, only to find that they don't block the sun and make it harder to see. Rue, who is familiar with the goggles from having worn them while working in District 11's orchards after dark, later tells her their real purpose.
- In Relativity, small-time thief Vera Barracuda gets most of her equipment from the internet. The first time she uses night vision goggles, she's attacked in the middle of a robbery. She has difficulty interpreting the image the goggles give her, so it takes her a few moments to realize her attacker is actually a Mummy.
- In the Colbert Report Christmas special "A Colbert Christmas", while looking for a bear that's keeping him trapped in his cabin, Stephen dons a pair, before realizing he can't see anything because it's daytime. His response? Put on a pair of shades over the night vision goggles.
- Doctor Who: In "The Hungry Earth", the Doctor uses a pair of night-vision sunglasses to identify the mysterious subterranean attackers.
- In one Farscape episode, John uses a sort of night-vision monocle over one eye, which you would have thought would be impractical due to lack of depth perception. In another episode the crew all uses similar devices in a firefight; Aeryn's breaks down and the fight is over by the time she gets it working.
- Highlander. In a Season 2 episode a rogue Watcher killed other immortals in a dark room while wearing image-intensifying goggles. Duncan thwarts this by using a lit match to blind the guy long enough to take him out.
- JAG: Used by the Colombian drug smugglers in 1st season episode "Sightings", and later used by Harm against them.
- Midsomer Murders: In "The Christmas Haunting", the killer lures the person they intend to be their final victim into a set of caves, and then turns off the lights and dons a set night-vision so they can pick them off in the darkness. Nelso arrives and, realising what is happening, switches the lights back on, blinding the killer.
- Happens in an episode of Monk. After the city is plagued by reoccurring blackouts Monk who is very much afraid of the dark gets himself some night vision goggles. During a break in Monk tries to fend of the intruder while wearing the goggles. The lights come on during the process and Monk is oblivious to the fact when he should have been blinded by the sudden illumination. This entire scene is also a Shout-Out to the finale to The Silence of the Lambs.
- The Six Million Dollar Man has a thermal imager in his bionic eye, which he used on occasion starting in the 2nd or 3rd season.
- The 1992 Family Channel version of Zorro used a primitive night-vision device in Season 1 Episode 4, a tube that removed all color from what he was viewing to make it easier to pick out contrast.
- Heist!: Kat wears a pair of three-lens night vision goggles when she breaks into Mr. Big's office.
- Dungeons & Dragons has the Goggles of Night, which functions as this trope for creatures who lack darkvision (e.g. humans, dragonborn, and halflings). Equipping this magic item on a creature with darkvision increases the darkvision range by 60 feet.
- GURPS: High-Tech differentiates night vision and thermograph. By the time of Ultra-Tech the night vision du jour is hyperspectral imaging (UV, visible, IR).
- Pathfinder has a fantasy equivalent called lenses of darkvision.
- Shadowrun has light enhancing and thermographic options available for goggles and sunglasses. And also cybereyes that can be given the same enhancements. Though most metahumans already have the natural ability to see into one of those spectra.
- Sorcery And Super Science Post Apocalyptic Role Playing! One item of pre-collapse equipment available to PCs is night vision goggles that generate infrared light and allow the user to see using it. The wearer has a 45 degree width of vision and can see a maximum of 150 yards in complete darkness.
- Tales of the Space Princess RPG. While wearing the Super Science device Night Goggles, a character can see in the dark anything within 20 yards. They function for 1 hour before needing to be recharged.
- Common in Warhammer 40,000, where most power armor has night vision built in, Guardsmen carry NV Gs, Tyranids have enhanced vision and Daemons see peoples souls rather than by any light. None of this helps much in night fighting though...
- At Universal Studios:
- The night-vision goggles from the movie are on display in the queue line for the Jurassic Park River Adventure, but are not used.
- According to the storyline, the 3D glasses are "supposed" to be this in The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man.
- 7 Days to Die features NVGs as loot, notably from fallen soldiers. They provide a little bit of protection and work indefinitely, but they're not as durable as some other items, so seeing through them makes the screen exceptionally blurry. They're decent for skulking around at night in PvP servers when you don't want a beam to give you away, but otherwise the mining helmet is a far better pick for hands-free lighting.
- Night vision is one of Aiba's abilities in AI: The Somnium Files, used to light up such places as a corner of the fishery warehouse where a pack of chocolate dropped there by Mamiya is found.
- Alice (2022): The Player Character's video camera has a night-vision function that can be turned on and off with the push of a button.
- The Alien vs. Predator games have useful but questionably realistic vision modes for the three types of Player Character. The xenomorph simply puts a halo around living creatures, perhaps to indicate scent and has an alternate mode which makes everything brighter, but also screws with colors and makes it impossible to see more than a few feet ahead; the predator has three modes, including a stereotypical-looking false color IR mode (which only responds to heat from entities, and not from machines or LAVA), an electrical mode which detects machines and xenomorphs, and a "predtech" mode, for detecting predators and their devices; the human marine gets possibly the most aggravating one, a nightvision system which realistically covers everything in green static and whites out when looking at bright light, but does not actually make anything brighter. That last one is pretty common in computer games, among other things. Want to add nightvision to your product? Simply cut the red and blue color channels and, voila. Instant nightvision! Well, unless you forget to also up the gamma levelnote while in this mode, in which case it's pretty useless.
- Ashes Afterglow has night-vision goggles as an inventory item. When activated, they turn the player's view fullbright and in a uniform shade of green, with slight distortion at the edges. They last 120 seconds and cannot be recharged — the only way to refill it is by finding or buying another set — but they're your only way to see in the dark from afar or while holding a two-handed weapon, as Scav's rechargeable solar lantern has limited range and can only be wielded alongside the crowbar, one of the handguns or the machine pistol.
- The Special Forces expansion pack of Battlefield 2 adds these to the player's inventory. Using them around bright lights or when a flash-bang is chucked at you is highly inadvisable though. The Project Reality mod implements thermal imaging on the targeting systems of most armored vehicles and some aircraft.
- Blood II: The Chosen adds these as part of its 20 Minutes into the Future setting. They're piss-poor at actual navigation, putting everything into dull and dark green tones with little to no shade distinction, but they're perfect to light up hard-to-see enemies by painting them very bright green. Their battery also gives out after 50 seconds of uptime, even though the manual claims otherwise.
- Call of Duty:
- Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare averts this trope by getting both the starlight and infrared types of night vision right, the former as standard night vision goggles and the latter as the sole vision mode when you play as a gunner on a AC-130 gunship.
- The infra-red returns in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 in the form of the thermal scope, which is available for all the primary weapons. It's typically used for seeing through smoke screens and picking off snipers. Notably, the thermal scope is incorrectly portrayed as well. It often shows up on wintery maps, as human bodies appear to be the same temperature, a completely uniform white, until they are killed, at which point the body loses all heat and becomes black as the background - unless it glitches out and stays visible until it fades out, or unless it's a player in multiplayer using a perk to not show up on thermal scopes just because.
- Danger Girl have Sydney attempting to find one as she navigates her way through a pitch-black vault in the British Museum.
- Deus Ex: One item reduces the size of the viewport, tints it green without making it any brighter, and vanishes after about 90 seconds. The upgraded nightvision 'implants' make people and robots glow brightly, and can be used to view people through walls, though the latter was not based on thermal imaging.
- Die Hard: Vendetta has a subway stage in which John needs to obtain these before entering a pitch-black area. The whole screen turns green from his POV.
- The press release beta of Doom showed the Light Amplification Visor powerup as acting like NVGs, colormapping the screen greennote . The idea was ultimately scrapped because the limited shades made it counterproductively harder to see by, so the effect was scrapped in favor of making everything fullbright. A revised and improved version of the night vision effectnote is an option in the GZDoom source port.
- Duke Nukem 3D has night-vision goggles as an item that tinted everything green and wasn't useful for navigating in the dark, but it was great for detecting enemies, as it made them stick out like a sore thumb if it was painted phosphorescent green. There are also secret messages on the walls (usually hinting at a secret area) which become visible only when viewed through the goggles. Later games got the "starlight scope" functionality right.
- Expert have two stages where you cut the power, and have to battle terrorists in total darkness. You then put on your night-vision goggles, leading to a lengthy stage where everything onscreen is in a green or yellow filter.
- Eating Cateye pills in Fallout: New Vegas ups the gamma and turns everything a pleasing shade of aquanote . Oddly, even though you are walking around in what should be a blinding desert, you actually see better in the daytime if you take Cateye, since the game reduces all of the bloom, though at the cost of being unable to determine different colors. The Friend of the Night perk gives night vision without the blue tint. In the Dead Money DLC, you can make Ghost Sight from Cloud residue, which gives you the vision of Ghost People and has the same effect, except green. The hazmat darklight cowl from Old World Blues (from the same type of Hazmat Suit worn by Ghost People) has an effect similar to Ghost Sight, and the Riot Gear helmets from Lonesome Road have "Sneak Sight" vision when crouched, which is grayscale outdoors and sepia tone indoors. One of the Varmint Rifle's add-on parts is a starlight sniper scope.
- In Far Cry, the goggles show living things in hypnotic false-color, while the background plants and earth are in blue-green starlight-scope vision — a melding of two completely different technologies, which is nonetheless quite feasible given that Far Cry is clearly 20 Minutes into the Future and such systems are becoming available right now for military use. Though technically, they're CryTek goggles which show you CryVision — the devs were quite conscious of the fact that they were not portraying night-vision accurately, and did not actually make any pretense of doing so.
- Elite power armour in F.E.A.R. 2 feature a fairly realistic thermal imaging mode which, while not amazingly useful, is at least interesting to look at.
- Ghost in the Shell: The Fuchikoma has a night-vision sensor that activates itself when in dark areas, notably in the Absurdly-Spacious Sewer stage and during a night infiltration. It's very handy in revealing proximity mines and explosive traps.
- Subverted in Ghost Squad: The Night-vision and "thermal vision" goggles are different. This fails to explain the fact that all parts of a being are red, including their clothes, while everything else is the same shade of blue.
- Ghost Recon:
- Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter features ENVG like the several examples above, which include a separate thermal imaging mode (can't see through walls). As its name suggests, it's set 20 Minutes into the Future.
- The original Ghost Recon series uses standard starlight vision. Ghost Recon: Future Soldier adds a ''Splinter Cell'-esque combo of night vision and thermal imaging, both goggle-based and as an optional scope attachment for some guns, as well as backscatter X-ray, also available as an optional scope for some guns or as goggles labeled as "magnetic" vision, which are some strange combination of a real backscatter X-ray and magic.
- Averted in Half-Life: Opposing Force. When using night vision, the environment has a green hue and poor resolution, but none of the enemies glow or are rendered in unusual colors. That's because the so called "night vision" actually causes Shepard's model to emit light (much like how another player's flashlight will appear from your viewpoint in multiplayer) while a green filter is applied to your viewpoint.
- Halo: Combat Evolved featured a fairly realistic starlight scope on the sniper rifle. Notably, it wasn't part of Master Chief's HUD, and didn't show up anyplace else.
- Fanmade custom campaign SPV3 features VISR as an armour upgrade alongside Sprint and Health Regen.
- Halo: Reach later introduced a helmet-equipped night vision, which interestingly was tinted purple instead of green for the Covenant. Halo 3: ODST also had the VISR, which could function as a sort of night vision, though its primary use is in highlighting enemies.
- Jet Force Gemini: Lupus finds a pair of Night Vision Goggles during his travel within Mizar's Palace. Upon getting them, he can stand on a green pad that opens the gate to a very dark underground maze, at which point the effect of the goggles activates (making the game's screen turn green). From there, Lupus can explore the maze and defeat the Drones along the way until reaching the bright exit, no longer needing the goggles.
- Marathon has a "hypervision" powerup that creates a visual image of the world based on a composite of light, heat, electromagnetic, and radar waves. The resulting image tints the world blue, humans yellow, the pfhor red, and items green.
- The MechWarrior games typically features image intensifier night vision mode, though some games offer more types or have some sort of spin to it. MechWarrior 2 had Imaging Enhancement, which rendered the world in color-coded wireframe, ostensibly part of the Clan pilot's Brain/Computer Interface. Online has thermal vision and regular night vision. In Living Legends, EMP damage from battlemech reactors Going Critical critical or Particle Projector Cannon blasts will temporarily fry the night vision, forcing pilots to rely on spotlights.
- Metal Gear Solid:
- The first two games feature both types of goggles, reasonably accurately. There's a red, static-washed view of the environment with bright red for hot objects when using the IR scope, and a brightened, greenish-grey view for the "night vision" starlight scope. Alas, they switch to a "Predator-vision" IR scope for the "Special Edition" of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, and didn't go back until Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, where they updated to the newer NVG models, with the greyish green scheme. Though it's called "NVG", it actually seems to work by detecting heat, rather than amplifying light, since it works just fine out in the sun and highlights bodies and other heat sources.
- In-Game Techno Babble states that the Solid Eye's NVG setting is a mixture of several different enhanced vision devices, including light-amplification and infrared.
- There are actual newer Night Vision devices which make use of thermal night vision similar to Snake's Solid Eye, so it could be that the Solid Eye's night vision mode is merely one of these. It produces the exact same effect that MGO's ENVG (Enhanced Night Vision Goggles) looks like, so this would make sense.
- Gekko are equipped with these in their main eye atop their heads that can easily see you even with the stealth camouflage item equipped. The only thing that fools them a great deal is Old Snake's OctoCamo suit, which not only perfectly mimics his nearest surroundings, but masks his temperature as well, fooling their otherwise nearly-flawless sight.
- Metal Head has a stage set at night, and one area has you battling enemy robots while the street lights are out. Luckily, your giant robot has its own night-vision mode, which activates automatically turning the screen green.
- Metro 2033 features a tunnel-vision inducing set of these, that darkens the edges of the screen when put on and only amplifies ambient light - to see further, Artyom has to turn on his headlamp. Metro: Last Light gets rid of the edge darkening and gives it its own IR light source, making it better suited for stealth; this model is retrofitted into the Redux version of 2033. In both cases, it's a real battery guzzler.
- Metroid Prime has the Thermal Visor, which apparently works like an infrared camera using a false-color version of the black-white spectrum (purple is the default ambient color, frozen objects and Ice Beam shots appear black, hot objects show up red through white). It can also see through thin walls and platforms, and it actually responds to lava and hot rooms by overloading. The display will stay white until you turn it off for a while. The game also has the X-Ray Visor, a relatively realistic take on a backscatter X-ray camera, though the Power Suit apparently isn't being radiopaque. The X-Ray Visor returns in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption.
- Metroid Prime 2: Echoes: The ironically named Dark Visor functions like an X-Ray Visor: On top of revealing items and creatures trapped in a transdimensional warp, it also makes darkly lit rooms easier to navigate.
- Minecraft has a potion version of night vision goggles. When the potion is consumed, it makes everything you see fully lit as if the sun was shining on it and you don't go blind from bright light sources like torches or lava. However, just because you can see better doesn't mean the dark doesn't exist, and monsters can still spawn. Minecraft also has persistent fog, so the night vision makes it more pronounced.
- The Obscura Experiment: Priya's tablet has a night-vision function, which she can use to see in the dark when the lights are out.
- Handled believably in Operation Flashpoint, since it tries to be a realistic military simulation. The characters can use real military night vision devices, a.k.a. "noctovizors", which render one's vision in grainy green hue and via a somewhat claustrophobic lens-like shape. The goggles are of course useful for missions set at night time, but even this gets subverted in an interesting fashion: If the visual field gets flooded with light or the night background is illuminated by stars, the goggles become actually less effective than the viewer's own eyes.
- A major gameplay mechanic in Outlast is the camcorder's night vision setting, so you can see in the games' many pitch-black areas. It uses common household batteries, but eats through them really quickly; if the battery is depleted, the NV's reach is severely diminished.
- Pathways into Darkness made use of these for a number of unusual puzzles, including nasty rodents that are attracted to your flashlight and an invisible creature which could only be seen in infrared.
- Perfect Dark has night-vision goggles in some levels which are somewhat realistic, eg. if the lights come on or you walk out into sunlight you'll be blinded until they're taken off. Human targets still appear a bright, glowing green though, making them much easier to spot. There is also one place in the game where you fight enemies who wear night vision goggles. They turn off the lights to try and get the drop on you, but if you turn them back on, their goggles overload like yours would, stunning them for a few seconds.
- In Prominence, ANNIE unlocks this function in your HUD when you enter a pitch black room after activating her. It shows a simple green filter, and goes white with reduced resolution and an error message if you step into a lit area. Justified since you're actually a robot left behind before the game started.
- Resident Evil 4 features an infrared scope for a rifle which makes most of the world dark purple and renders enemies in yellows and reds. The accuracy of the perceived colors are rather inconsistent; the enormous, boiling furnaces encountered not long after you get it are also dark purple, while breakable (inanimate) item containers are the same reds and yellows as living organisms. On the other hand, torches and lightbulbs are very bright red, and lightning flashes do turn the sky red for brief periods.
- A pitch-dark room in Mysterio's stage of Spider-Man: Return of the Sinister Six requires some of these, found at the far left of an area right before it. Everything will be reddish, however, even the enemies.
- Splinter Cell
- The series gets the starlight-scope 'night vision' mode bang on, but rolls out the false colour images for the 'infra-red' mode. The latter is also strangely inconsistent: it can see through thin walls but windows, objects and sufficient quantities of air are (realistically) opaque. Also, it combines both systems in a single set of goggles, but this can be excused as an acceptable break for the sake of Rule of Fun: developer commentary indicates that they knew the starlight and infrared scope being put in the same device was not possible by then-current technological standards (a scope that combined both was only invented about two years after the game's release), but decided to do it, even having to convince Tom Clancy to let them do it, to avoid having Fisher switching goggles all the time.
- In addition, later games in the series introduce electromagnetic and movement detection scopes, also in the same set of goggles as the combined night vision/infrared.
- Double Agent gave players who complete all side objectives an enhanced night vision that can see in color, the technology for which didn't exist until almost half a year after the game released. It's worth noting that almost every game in the series takes place around two years into the future from the date in which they're released.
- All games in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. feature these, in two versions: the blurry, green-tinted "image intensifier" ones, found in cheaper suits and helmets, and a more expensive version that turns everything blue without losses in resolution (they're all green in Call of Pripyat, the only difference is the resolution). Graphical enhancement mods more often than not change the better kind of goggles to show an infrared-style black-and-white image.
- Star Wars Droidworks does a similar form when your droid is built with a night vision sensor. It also varies depending on how much light is in the area, going completely white when in a fully lit space.
- The night vision in the Syphon Filter games is starlight green with brightly glowing people, although the glowing is reduced in later games. Also in the second trilogy, a first-person view through the goggles is shown when aiming a weapon.
- The first System Shock game includes a pair of Infrared goggles, which show everything in a monochrome filter with zero shadows. The Beserk Combat Booster patch also does a variant on this, making your vision change colors while in effect.
- In a possibly accidental example, in Thief: Deadly Shadows, the protagonist's mechanical eye sees in black and white (despite being in colour in the previous game), which incidentally makes seeing in the dark easier without making anything brighter.
- James Bond gets a pair of these in The World Is Not Enough for a few levels, notably the Kazakhstan power plant infiltration where he isn't allowed to kill anyone - so he simply switches off the lights and sneaks past some confused guards in the dark.
- Adler's Watch features night vision goggles in the form of Cool Shades. Anthony Adler is quite impressed with them.
- Subverted in Terminal Lance, in "Tom Clancy is Full of Shit". A Marine who spent his childhood playing video games such as Splinter Cell is disappointed to learn how actual night vision goggles work.
- Nepta from tinyraygun sports a pair, though it's hard to tell what the antennae are for.
- In Yokoka's Quest, Grace, Clyde, Blinky, and Inky wear earrings which allow them to see in the darkness of the underground village, and Pinky also wears these when not wearing his monocle (implying that his monocle also serves this function). Yokoka, Mao, and Yin know a spell which lets them see in the dark.
- SCP Foundation, SCP-2099 ("Brain in a Jar"). One of SCP-2099's inventions is night vision goggles that work even when there's no light at all. Normal NVGs require at least a tiny amount of light to magnify.
- Archer sometimes uses night-vision goggles on missions and almost always ends up wishing he hadn't bothered because someone inevitably turns on the lights, which really hurts his eyes.
Lana Kane: Can you please focus?
Archer: Not really. I don't think these goggles were properly calibrated.
- In The Boondocks, in the episode "Thank You For Not Snitching", Mrs. Van Heusen can be seen wearing some while firing an AK-47.
- A related bit of a Johnny Bravo episode began with Little Suzie asking, "do you really need those night-vision goggles?" Johnny claims "they work exceptionally well in the day time," them turns on the lights and immediately screams that he's gone blind.
- The season 3 premier of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic shows Pinkie wearing a pair of "night vision goggles"note ... during the day. She quickly crashes into a light post due to being unable to see.
- My Gym Partner's a Monkey: In the episode "Don't Noc It 'Til You Try It", Adam gets a pair to help him navigate Charles Darwin Middle School at night to rescue Slips.
- Even scientists aren't exempt from this. A biology professor had David Suzuki following him while he studied grizzly bears. At one point, the professor assisted with the filming of the bears at night with an IR camera. Suzuki, not liking how that looked on TV, replaced it with daytime footage, filtered so that it looked like nighttime. Needless to say, that was one very peeved biologist.
- This trope isn't entirely a form of not doing the research, as modern armies often use infrared vision to spot enemies emitting large amounts of heat (for example, the exhaust of an engine). However, such a heat-seeking sensor is typically linked up to a heavy weapons system designed to take out targets capable of giving off that much heat, so unless your goggles happened to be linked up to a missile launcher or a cannon, this trope still does not reflect reality. Such a heat sensor often also requires being constantly cooled to prevent it interfering with itself, which would make it a tad heavy to put on goggles with today's technology.