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The Hidden Hour

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"Would you believe me if I said that a day consists of more than 24 hours?"
Shuji Ikutsuki, Persona 3

The Hidden Hour (a.k.a. the Witching Hour) is a period of time within the average day that is Invisible to Normals; most people don't experience it, nor are they aware it even exists at all. Only a few people, often those with some kind of special power, know about this extra hour; and only they are able to act during it. To these people, when this hour occurs, normal clocks stop ticking, Muggles freeze in place or vanish entirely, and strange things start to happen.

The Hidden Hour frequently occurs When the Clock Strikes Twelve, due to the association between midnight and magic. However, this is not about magic simply being at its strongest around midnight, nor is it about planets whose day-night cycles are naturally longer than 24 Earth hours.

It's interesting to note that an extra hour added to a twelve-hour clock would be the thirteenth hour. You've got to ignore the fact that there are really 24 hours in a day for this to work, but numerology has never been shy about fudging things for the sake of Rule of Drama...

In spite of the name, The Hidden Hour is not necessarily 60 minutes long; it frequently lasts as long as the plot requires, which to those involved may feel like several hours, or possibly even days, before the Hidden Hour ends and normal time resumes.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • There's a short manga called Crossing 25, in which the 25th hour is inhabited only by a handful of people who fight over whether tomorrow will arrive or not.

  • Dark City has something along these lines, with everybody just falling asleep on the spot at the appropriate time. Fortunately, all cars and trains in the movie seem to have "Sleeping Man Switches" to keep them from plowing into things or each other.
  • In Labyrinth, Sarah is taken to Jareth's world late in the night and spends 13 hours there before returning at midnight. Notably, Jareth uses a 13-hour clock throughout the film.

  • Clive Barker's Abarat Trilogy deals with a magical archipelago where each hour of the day is represented by an island. There is a 25th island, that remains highly mysterious even after it's visited.
  • The first chapter of The BFG is called "The Witching Hour", during which young Sophie cannot sleep, and looks outside and sees the title character.
  • In R. A. Lafferty's Days of Grass, Days of Straw heroes take it upon themselves to wrestle with the gods; if they win, the human race is allowed a "day of grass", when all of life is more intense and fulfilling than the "days of straw" that constitute everyday life.
  • Philip José Farmer's Dayworld books have a slightly more science-fictional version of this. To combat overpopulation, just about everyone is in stasis six days out of seven, and there's a half-hour gap between the time one day's population goes into stasis and the time the next day's population comes out.
  • The Eleven-Day Empire, from the Doctor Who Expanded Universe, was created from the 'missing' days between 3 and 13 September 1752.
  • The entire plot of Stephen King's short story The Langoliers from Four Past Midnight. Several people wake up on an airplane mid-flight to find themselves all alone in the world and trapped in a sort of garbage space between days, where the entire world is erased and created anew.
  • The Midnighters Trilogy has the Blue Time, between midnight and 12:01, though in the last book it starts appearing during the day as well. Also involves monsters which attack the defenseless ordinary people (or would were it not for the efforts of a bunch of teenagers who fight them with superpowers and the number 13).
  • This is the hail-mary move of the Behaim family of Chronomancers in Pact. Using their well of accrued power they wedge in a whole extra day for the magical residents of Jacob's Vell to settle their differences while the Muggles sleep in their beds. Deconstructed in that the normal people still exist during this time; they're just stuck in bed and probably getting bed sores from staying there.
  • A rare non-magical examples occurs in Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars Trilogy: on Mars, the day is 40 minutes longer than on Earth, and they deal with it by freezing the clock each night at midnight. The 40 minutes becomes a sort of free time, a time that is considered to not really count.
  • The book Tom's Midnight Garden has Tom able to access the titular garden via Time Travel when the clock in his aunt's house strikes 13 at midnight.
  • There Is No Epic Loot Here, Only Puns: Referenced in the chapter title of "Witching Hour", where Devina explores her evolution into a Witch Doctor.
  • The science fiction story "Zeepsday" by Gordon R. Dickson is about an alien race that shows humanity that there is an eighth day in the week.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Twilight Zone (1985):
    • In the episode "A Matter of Minutes", based on Theodore Sturgeon's short story "Yesterday Was Monday", a couple are caught in a space with no time where the future is being constructed for each minute.
    • The same series also has "Paladin of the Lost Hour", where there's a secret hour contained in a pocketwatch and only revealed to one person at a time, but it's a borderline example since the hour never actually occurs (if it did, the world would end).
  • Stargate SG-1 had the main characters effectively experience one of these. They were on a planet where people were linked into a computer system. Every so often, the computer would "pause" everyone. During this time, the team walked around while the population was frozen.
  • In an episode of Eerie, Indiana, after being told that Indiana doesn't observe Daylight Savings Time, Marshall sets his watch back an hour anyway, wanting to get the extra time. He wakes up in an extra hour inhabited by lost children and milkmen.
  • On Friday the 13th: The Series, when the owner of a watch murders someone and arrives at a subway station at midnight, an extra hour appears on the watch as time freezes for everyone else. The owner can do anything they want in that time. Ryan grabs the owner just as it occurs and is thrown to see everyone freezing. The downside is learned too late by the watch's owner and her lover when they're unable to get to the station by midnight with the watch and are frozen in time forever.


    Tabletop RPGs 
  • Don't Rest Your Head has a hidden hour that occurs twice a day in the Mad City; no-one in the real world, supernatural or not, experiences it. As a result all the doors between the real world and the Mad City are locked during that hour, and the only time anyone ever actually managed to pry one open they let in the literal Grim Reaper.
  • During this time, all players play with hole cards in Hoyle's Rules of Dragon Poker.

    Video Games 
  • Billy vs. SNAKEMAN has The Dark Hour as part of the Monochrome Academy questline; the hour cannot be detected by normal people, and it's when the dark forces occupying the school including Mister Tea, who was presumed dead come out to do battle. Once you've passed the Dark Hour quest, certain hours of the day (thankfully conventional ones that fit into normal space-time) are listed as "Dark Hours", and you can compete in the Arena against other Dark Hour players. The Pizzawitch questline also has "The Witching Hour", where you can race in certain extremely difficult Fields that only become available at this time.
  • Aeon from Castlevania: Judgment is a time guardian whose powers revolve around time and clocks. Notably, his clock has thirteen hours on it.
  • Persona 3 has the Dark Hour, between midnight and 12:01 a.m., wherein monstrous Shadows based off the ideas of Carl Jung, roam free and ordinary people turn into coffins.
  • Silent Hills: The clock is always at 23:59, or eventually 0:00, no matter how long the player wanders the halls.
  • Terranigma's opening sequence makes reference to the clock having 13 hours, which leads to an important plot point later.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation has Liberary, an entire period of 47 days that doesn't exist in normal time. No one remembers the events of Liberary once it ends, but every Liberary people regain their memories of all the previous Liberarys. It causes people to relax their inhibitions and basically engage in a month-long hedonistic celebration. It also nullifies The Masquerade for its duration.

    Real Life 
  • Played with by the existence of time zones and Daylight Saving Time/Summer Time, which can cause a person to experience more (or less) than 24 hours within the course of a single day, or to skip or repeat a day entirely.
  • Some businesses that run 24 hours or who only close for brief periods in the early morning, such as city bus companies, will number midnight as 24:00, 1 AM as 25:00 and so on in order to make it clear that it's 1 AM on a Wednesday instead of 1 AM on Tuesday, for example. See Otaku O'Clock for a specific example involving broadcast times.

Alternative Title(s): The Witching Hour