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Supernatural Light

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The supernatural often casts an eerie light on reality. It glows in the darkness, and shines unlike the mundane experiences of anyone. As we tell stories with this glow, we emphasize the unnatural illumination and the dangers of the unknown. Ghosts have their glowing ectoplasm, fairies have their Ball of Light Transformation, and possession may be marked by the Glowing Eyes of Doom.

Super-Trope to:

  • Hitodama Light: Small flames that float around Japanese ghosts.
  • Spark Fairy: Fairies or magical insects are depicted as points of light.
  • Will-o'-the-Wisp: Spirits that manifest as spectral lights to lead travelers astray.
See also Phosphor-Essence, where the glow represents power or purity rather than post-mortem persons. Not to be confused with the Fantastic Light Source, a fictional alternative to mundane lighting.


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    Films — Animated 
  • The Princess and the Frog has the Friends on the Other Side who typically show up as shadows, but can also manifest as bright green spirits.
  • All the ghosts in ParaNorman glow pale green, to underscore their deadness. The witch's powers glow a bright green to underscore her connection to the undead.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Ghostbusters (1984) has a multitude of glowing ghosts, ranging from pale blues to sickly greens.
  • Haunted Mansion (2023): While visible, all of the ghosts in the film glow, except sometimes the ghost of Alistair Crump.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The army of the dead, who owes Aragorn's family a battle, are green glowing ghosts.
  • In the horror movie Nightwish (1989), the ghosts/aliens emanate a green light.
  • The ghosts in Poltergeist. While they manifest visibly as floating orbs, one of them appears as a white glowing feminine-like figure that turns out to be benevolent known as "The Waiting Woman" (in novelizations only). After she ascends upwards to the ceiling along with the ghost orbs, another set of sparks of orbs that represent the ghosts, as a close up is shown, it shows ghostly people wearing period clothes.
  • In The Sixth Sense, odd lights shine in the background of photos of Cole, who looks terrified in each one. It's subtle foreshadowing that ghosts have always been coming to Cole.

  • The Boundaries in The Sword of Truth series, being gateways into the underworld, are naturally bright green.
  • In the Warrior Cats series, the Dark Forest (which is basically a feline Hell) is described as being completely dark except for a sickly green light.

    Live-Action TV 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Legend of the Five Rings has the Shadowlands, where the dishonourable dead "live", but they can also enter the living world. Things from the Shadowlands have something called the Shadowlands Taint, which can be used to poison living creatures. Those affected by the Taint glow a sickly green. However, blessed green jade is a reliable way to protect both one's soul from spiritual corruption and one's body from physical harm when dealing with the Shadowlands, and it gives off an apparently similar glow.

    Video Games 
  • The Forest Quartet sees you playing as Nina, the ghost of a deceased singer, exploring a dark forest. Being a spirit, your body emits a bright orange glow throughout which serves as your sole source of illumination.

  • Gunnerkrigg Court: Earthbound ghosts have a colourless glow, though Mort loses his when he shapeshifts away from his default Bedsheet Ghost form. Jeanne's light can be seen from across the Annan River, which lets Antimony identify her as a ghost before she can make out her body.

    Western Animation 
  • Danny Phantom: Ghosts (and half-ghosts) usually have a white aura surrounding them in their ghost form. The stronger they are, the larger their aura.

     Real Life 
  • The Marfa Lights, in Marfa, Texas, are mysterious glowing lights that appear in the desert at night and have been the cause of much speculation ranging from aliens to ghosts to unknown atmospheric phenomena. The lights have drawn tourists and there is an observation area off US Route 67. Recent studies have indicated that the lights are probably atmospheric reflections of car headlights.
  • The Spooklight appears in a rural area between Missouri and Oklahoma near Joplin, Missouri and has been seen since the late 19th Century. It's described as a round, glowing light. Local legends attribute the light to ghosts but it is thought to be distorted headlights.

Examples of supernatural creatures with lights:

    Films — Live-Action 
  • London After Midnight: Taking a cue from the literary Dracula, the vampiric Man in the Beaver Hat is introduced carrying a lantern and rarely goes without.

  • Dracula: Dracula is introduced holding "an antique silver lamp, in which the flame burned without a chimney or globe of any kind." The lamp is incidental, but lends him an air of mystique.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Typically, Stingy Jack carries with him a lantern fueled by a coal from Hell.

    Theme Parks 
  • The Haunted Mansion: Almost all versions of the Bride carry as their signature objects a bouquet and a candle. Mélanie Ravenswood replaces the candle with a candelabra.

    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy: The series' iconic tonberries are fae-like fish-men that carry around a lantern in one hand and a knife in the other.
  • Ghost Master: Torchy is the wisp of a young boy whose nickname comes from his deep attachment to his lantern. Back when he was alive, he loved to go exploring with it, but perished one day while investigating the woods.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Poes are ghost-type enemies that always carry lanterns with them. Depending on the incarnation, they can attack with it, and sometimes it's the part of them that stays visible the longest.

    Western Animation 
  • Freakazoid!: Candlejack is a ghostly villain summoned by calling his name. His name comes from the fact he carries a chamberstick when he makes his entrance.

Alternative Title(s): Ghostly Glow