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"What do stars do? They shine."
Yvaine, Stardust

A character occupies a special place in the story: This character is either exceptionally powerful, exceptionally pure or both. A quick visual shorthand to note this specialness is to have the character glow. Unlike a Holy Backlight, this glow is not from an external source but originates from within the person himself. The character does not necessarily glow all the time; often, the glow is visible only in certain circumstances or to certain people.

Glowing can be used to signify when someone is about to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence (or already has done so). Often, the glow is white, drawing on that color's associations with purity.

While villainous examples are possible (sometimes with a "bad-coloured" glow, such as red or sickly radium-watch green), most frequently the glowing person is on the hero's side.


A subtrope of Power Glows. See Energy Beings for non-corporeal versions. Compare to Battle Aura. Related to Holy Backlight.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Digimon Adventure: Kari ends up glowing at least twice. One time she's used by a mysterious force to provide exposition. Another time she comes across some enslaved Digimon and helps them become free. This seems appropriate for someone who wields the Crest of Light.
  • In Monster Rancher, monsters and Genki glow when they are charged with power.
  • There's a subtle example in Death Note that crosses with Red Oni, Blue Oni: when Light and L confront each other, or meet each other on the street, Light unexpectedly starts to shine a deep, blood-like red, and L an almost navy blue. Sometimes it appears as a tiny aura around their bodies, other times their hair and eyes glow that color. In later episodes, other characters also glow colours like green (Aizawa) and orange.
  • In Dragon Ball, every character who goes Super Saiyan glows. While other characters can summon a Battle Aura, Super Saiyans are constantly glowing, as indicated by their clothes and skin tone being lighter even when the Battle Aura is off, and the hyper saturation of their hair in the most recent special.

    Films — Animated 
  • Kida from Atlantis: The Lost Empire glows blue when she takes on an energy form.
  • The gods in Hercules glow, except for Hades, the villain and god of the Underworld. At the end, Hercules starts glowing when he regains godhood.
  • Joy from Inside Out is the only emotion to glow, probably because she is the only one that's normally considered a "positive" emotion. She emits a blueish light, though she is yellow.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Galadriel glows with a greenish-blue light when she explains how powerful and terrible she would become were she to accept the Ring.
  • Olivia Newton-John's character in Xanadu does this, due to being The Muse.
  • Subverted with Zach from Sky High (2005): he can glow in the dark... and that's about it.
  • Cocoon: In their true forms (after taking off their human disguises) the Antareans glow brightly.
  • Stardust, as mentioned below, Yvaine, being a star glows; but only when she's happy or in love.
  • One of the good guy ships in Battle Beyond the Stars has this effect. It's either made of energy itself, or just contains it in a crystalline material.

  • In The Lord of the Rings, as Frodo succumbs to the Nazgûl blade, he perceives Glorfindel (a powerful elf lord) as "a shining figure of white light".
    • Sam also notes that at times, it seems as if a light is shining out of Frodo.
  • The Belgariad and Malloreon: The eight gods glow with a faint nimbus when they appear in human form. After Eriond becomes a god, he has to concentrate on not glowing.
  • In the Neil Gaiman short story "Murder Mysteries", angels glow from within. When an angel is killed, s/he stops glowing.
  • In Elantris, before being reduced to twisted wrinkled pseudo-zombies, Elantrians glowed faintly. After the problem that removed their powers is fixed, they start glowing again.
  • Deryni auras: Deryni don't have to show their auras, but sometimes they do, often as a means of revealing themselves (since They Look Just Like Everyone Else!). Glowing is no guarantee of goodness among Deryni.
  • In Stardust, Yvaine is a fallen star who glows more brightly the happier she is. Yvaine herself is not particularly powerful except in the movie, and only at the very end; however, her heart is, and the brighter she is, the more powerful her heart is.
  • The Great Priest of Ishtar from Dragon Lance is the greatest cleric on Ansalom and is perpetually clad in unbearable light. It's later revealed that it is much less impressive than it seems.
  • The Delphae in The Tamuli trilogy are known literally as "Shining Ones". Their glow came indirectly from their god, Edaemus, who made the lake in their isolated village glow. They had to drink from it, and they eventually started to glow, too. It was originally nothing more than harmless divine foolery, but when people started persecuting the Delphae, Edaemus gave the glow a purpose: a warning that their very touch could melt the flesh from your bones. From then on, the sight of a Delphae made most people flee in terror.
  • The Four Gospels: The three synoptic gospels describe that Jesus shines with light during the Transfiguration when Peter, James and John are on the mountain with him ("His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light." - Matthew 17). At the same time, Moses and Elijah appear talking to Jesus, and a voice from the sky declares "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!" (Mark 9), revealing Jesus' divine nature.
  • In The Quest of the Unaligned, this marks the transformation into an orah, or mage of light. Also will occur when an orah is crowned as Prince of Caederan.
  • In The Stormlight Archive, Kaladin glows slightly when he's using his Surgebindings, but this is taken Up to Eleven in one scene where, upon swearing the Third Ideal, he has to pull in a tremendous amount of the titular Light to instantly heal from mortal wounds. The flash thus emitted almost blinds his opponents.
  • In the Towers Trilogy, Radiants' powerful magic causes them to emit a noticeable glow. This applies even to the ghosts of Radiants, making them the only ghosts visible to ordinary people.
  • Inverted in The Kingkiller Chronicle: Haliax, a legendary and terribly powerful Fallen Hero from The Time of Myths, is Cursed to be hidden by shadows, even when he's standing in full daylight.

    Live Action TV 

    Video Games 
  • In Fable I and II, a player character who's very high on the Karma Meter gains a faint blue aura, a Holy Halo, and a friendly cloud of spectral butterflies.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash Up, all playable characters glow. The color of the glow indicates the player number, and the intensity of the glow indicates the amount of health remaining (the stronger, the healthier).
  • Warcraft III: Hero units glow regardless of alignment to make them more identifiable.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, powerful Force-users tend to glow when using their abilities, people glow when Force entities possess them, random Swirly Force Thingies glow, and in general glowingness accompanies any Force effect greater than throwing a rock at somebody's head. Naturally, Light Side effects are usually blue or yellow, whereas Dark Side effects are usually red or purple.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II: A player character who passes the Path of Blood's test of purity gains an aura of divine golden light, which some NPCs will remark on with religious awe. Lucian the Divine has an identical aura in the Final Battle, with Glowing Eyes to match.

    Web Animation 
  • The Cherubs in Helluva Boss are, logically, the only ones in the series to have this effect.
    Web Comics 
  • Homestuck:
  • Nodwick: We never actually see it (possibly because the Powers What Is hide just how good she is), but as a child Piffany apparently kept her parents awake with her halo of purity.
  • The gods in The Order of the Stick have an aura distinct for each pantheon; yellow for Northern, blue for Southern, and red for Western. And Green for Eastern. This appears to be very important later, as their color denotes their essence. A creation made with multiple essences is stronger than one made of a single essence. Since the local Eldritch Abomination, the Snarl is made of four and then killed the Eastern Pantheon, the gods can only create 3-essence creations ever since which can only hold The Snarl temporarily.
  • Wilde Life: The White-Faced Bear, a powerful entity that watches over supernatural beings in the setting, is surrounded by bright yellowish light. Rather than emitting from him, it looks as though the sun shines brighter in his presence. As a Witch of Summer, Eliza also has this glow when she stops hiding her full power.

    Western Animation 

Alternative Title(s): Glowing Person, Full Body Halo