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The Night Owl

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Humans are a generally diurnal species, which means we are most active during daytime. Most people wake up in the morning, do their business in the afternoon, and go to sleep at night.

Not this character. They're the opposite of everyone else—they sleep in and are most active at night. They're up and about at odd times, while almost everyone else is sleeping. Generally they are not insomniacs, they just naturally prefer evenings. They may also be a nocturnal creature who's biologically suited for night time, though note vampires and similar creatures don't typically belong in this trope just because they're physically harmed by the sun.

This is very much Truth in Television. Some find that once the phone stops ringing, things get quiet and they don't have to account for things like eating or shopping, Night Owls can focus on being productive and get a lot done, especially if their work requires creativity, such as artists, writers and musicians. Introverts also have to deal with and account for less people, and a younger person who lives with family can focus on things like homework without having to worry about their family making them do chores, take a shower or come down for dinner. On the recreational side of things, some people like taking walks in the moonlight, roads tend to be less busy, and stores that are still open have little to no queues, as well as an empty parking lot with easy pickings for spaces.

Others are just naturally wired a little later than the rest, and physically can not get to sleep until a certain, late hour has passed.

However, it's not all moonlight and rainbows for Night Owls. Their sleep schedule is often seen as illegitimate by early risers, and it is either assumed that they are lazy, have a sleeping disorder, or lack bedtime discipline, as they are perceived to merely browse the internet/play video games all night until they physically cannot stay awake, and then go to bed and stay there until they can't stand the smell of their own breath the next day, whereas Morning Larks are assumed to have the discipline to drop whatever they are doing and go to bed/get up when the time comes regardless of their desire to stay up/in bed, even though both sleeping times tend to get the same amount of sleep, just at different hours.

In terms of housing, night-based tenants have been forced from their homes because fellow tenants complained about their activity at night. Even if they try and be considerate of sleeping neighbors, utilizing headphones and not practicing the drums at four in the morning, they're much more likely to tick off one too many people with a creaky floorboard, a squeaky door, or too many coughs or sneezes. However, sounds such as loud music, house renovations, revving engines and lawnmowers are brushed off as "sounds of the day", even if they'd be waking up those who only got off from a night shift three hours ago.

There is also the matter of employment in education. Most of it is offered during the 9 to 5 business day, and Night Owls are often forced to work at these times due to a lack of other options, resulting in them oversleeping, and exhibiting tiredness on the job, sometimes even falling asleep during it. Night people are also overlooked for promotions due to their schedules affecting their daytime performances. Not only that, but employers are often understanding of cranky employees who got put on a night shift for a few days since they are not used to staying up this late. Night owls on an early shift have no such luck, and any cases of anger they exhibit at these hours are often used against them. School is a similar case, since it is strictly on a fixed schedule with no classes at a later time for night people (which is understandable, since it would mean more teachers would likely have to be hired and it would interfere with the schedules of the parents).

This characterization is often the reason a character is Not a Morning Person. People of this sort also tend to be portrayed as Heavy Sleepers because they have to sleep through bright light from outside and loud noises while their peers are awake.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Moriarty the Patriot: William is a Heavy Sleeper, but also noted on more than one occasion to be up at all hours of the night working on something, be it a math thesis or criminal plots. He also seems to generally wake up later than other characters like Louis.
  • Shuutarou Sarashina from Nana & Kaoru is an erotic author who prefers to begin writing immediately after bondage sessions in the late evening, working through the night and sleeping until early midday.
  • One Piece: About half of the Beast Men populace in the "island" of Zou is active at night and sleep at day; they're led by one of the leader of the islands, Boss Nekomamushi (Cat Viper). It's so that the island remain guarded even at night from intruders, but the real reason behind that is that Cat Viper can't stand the other leader, Inuarashi (Dogstorm) who's active at day.

    Asian Animation 
  • Paddi of Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf sometimes exhibits behaviors typical of a night owl. One manhua strip has him get out of bed at night to eat food and another manhua strip has him turn off his computer and go to sleep only for him to stay up late using his phone.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman, in most incarnations, patrols Gotham at night and only dons his cowl in the day for emergencies. This means that many depictions of Bruce Wayne have the public perceiving his daytime exhaustion as laziness, though some iterations posit that he has mastered the use of "micro naps" to be alert at all times.
  • Rorschach in Watchmen is hardly ever seen out in daylight, preferring to go out investigating or patrolling at night. He does go out in the day, but never in costume. He prefers the anonymity nighttime affords him, knows there's a psychological advantage of confronting people in the darkness, and also knows that more illegal activities occur at night.

    Fan Works 
  • Past Sins: The legendary Nyx that the main character is named after, worked as a night guard:
    Nyx, as the stories went, was a black coated mare that slept during the day and basked in Luna’s night, back before the princess became Nightmare Moon. Her job was to guard her town during the night from the many creatures that hunted in the dark.

  • Blanche—and the rest of the witches in The Blue-Nosed Witch—prepare for bed at noon to get up for their midnight flights. When the other children have to go home, Blanche wonders why so many people go to bed early just as the night gets interesting.
  • The Doorway and the Deep: Lottie and her friends Eliot, Adelaide, Fife, and Oliver have all taken to sleeping in the day and being awake at night during their time with Fife's mother.
  • "More Night" is a children's book by Muriel Rukeyser, with beautiful illustrations by Symeon Shimin, about people who work at night as well as a boy's dream.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In series 4 of Cluedo, the crime writer Candice Costello is a night owl, saying that if you're going to write about dark stuff, you don't do it at brunch time.
  • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Jadzia Dax is a night owl, liking to gamble at night.
  • Automan is a 1983 science fiction detective series by Glen A Larson that centers on an artificial person created by computer and able to function in the real world. However, Automan's electric demands are high, and he cannot manifest during daylight hours, when most of the city's citizens are running appliances and doing their jobs. Therefore, Automan fights crime with high tech during the night hours, when electric demand is low.
  • Justified in the Modern Love episode "The Night Girl Finds A Day Boy", which is Based on a True Story. The woman, Zoe, has delayed sleep phase disorder, a circadian disorder which affects the body clock. In her case, she physically cannot keep diurnal hours and is active at night. This throws a wrench into her love life when her new boyfriend becomes too exhausted, and they have to find a way to make it work.

  • The Little River Band had a song about this, appropriately called "The Night Owls".
  • "Moonshine" by Lights is about this.
  • The 1909 song "I'm a Member of the Midnight Crew" by Eddie Morton, nowadays mostly remembered by readers of Homestuck.
  • "Too Sweet" by Hozier is about this, with the singer contrasting his late night habits with his lover's more standard sleep schedule.

    Video Games 
  • Because sunlight causes her physical pain, the drow priestess Viconia from Baldur's Gate much prefers to be active during the night. The druid Jaheira on the other hand is not this, and will let you know this every once in a while if you tromp about at night.
  • KanColle: Sendai loves night battles and will be excited when the night comes. If you set her as you "secretary", her once-an-hour lines show that she's also Not a Morning Person.
  • In Rimworld, characters with the Night Owl trait get a mood bonus during the night and a mood penalty during the day.
  • The Sims 3 Supernatural expansion has the Night Owl trait where a Sim will gain more fun and positive moodlets in the wee hours and will get cranky when they wake up before 10:00 AM.
  • Animal Crossing:
    • Grumpy villagers typically stay out later than the other villagers. They also sleep in later in the morning.
    • Blathers and his sister, Celeste, are this way as a Furry Reminder (being literal owls). Both are found sleeping during the daytime in every game while being wide awake at night. While Celeste will deny sleeping, Blathers will admit to being a night owl.
  • In Ensemble Stars!, both Ritsu and Rei tend to be very lethargic during the day (and Ritsu is constantly napping), while being much more active at night. Both insist that this is because they are actually vampires who are harmed by daylight. They're not, but they DO suffer from a genetic condition that causes this effect.

    Visual Novels 
  • Rosé from Spirit Hunter: NG dislikes the daytime and how harsh the sunlight can be on her skin, and finds the night much more convenient for her work as a magician and a supernatural investigator. It's also part of her general bucking of societal norms. 'Daylight' is listed as one of her dislikes in her profile.

  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Lalli's normal work schedule as a night scout has him work at night and sleep during the day. This gradually fades away during the story, as the first expedition Cutting Corners results in him also sometimes doing a day shift at his job and the Only Friend he makes over the course of the story has a more standard schedule.

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Princess Luna seems to be at her most active at night and is Not a Morning Person. This is justified as she spends her evenings creating the night sky and sleep-walking through dreams helping others. This part of her character caused her issues a millennia ago, as Luna felt other ponies didn't appreciate her like her daytime-preferring sister Celestia. This self-doubt led Luna to become Nightmare Moon.
    • Twilight Sparkle has a habit of staying up late studying, especially when something is bothering her. Her nocturnal activities even gained her a literal owl for a pet, who is of course naturally this.
  • Moonglow from Rainbow Brite is in charge of designing the night sky. As a result, she's rarely awake during the morning and afternoon. This also gives an excuse for why she wasn't in early episodes.
  • Gargoyles: The titular Gargoyles are only active during the night. During the day, they are stone statues.