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When the Clock Strikes Twelve

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And you thought it sucked having a curfew growing up.

"The kind of Death who poses against the skyline and gets lit up by lightning flashes doesn’t turn up at five-and-twenty past eleven if he can possibly turn up at Midnight."
Bill Door, Reaper Man

A lot of times, when there's a deadline to something, it's usually midnight. Why? Maybe because it's the time when the day officially ends, or just because the twelve chimes are really dramatic. Either way, things will happen When The Clock Strikes Twelve. How this interacts with timezones and Daylight Saving Time is generally left unmentioned.

If there's an actual clock involved, the actual deadline will almost always be when the last stroke ends, even though chiming clocks in Real Life are set to start striking when the top of the hour hits. (If the deadline is supernatural, the effect will usually begin happening with the first stroke and end with the last, sometimes step-by-step with each stroke.) This serves the Rule of Drama, especially if time can be magically stopped, slowed or reversed to give the characters more time before the twelfth stroke. (A clock that strikes more than twelve will usually be recognized as broken.)

Midnight is also probably the most significant hour of the day for the supernatural — in other words, Midnight Is Magic. Ghosts, magical creatures etc. all set their clock by it; typically the time between sundown and midnight is when they are free to roam the Earth. Or it can be from midnight to dawn. Another famous variant is known as "the Witching Hour", a general concept that magic and supernatural is at its strongest around midnight through 1 a.m. For an extremely limited period, the time might be between the first stroke and the twelfth, regarded as a Liminal Time between the days, not in them.

Note that if a myth about midnight events pre-dates the widespread use of clocks, then the "midnight" it refers to is most likely not instantaneous, but simply indicates the middle part of a night.

On the opposite end, many types of magic wear off at midnight. See also Celestial Deadline, When the Planets Align.

Doomsday Clock is a subtrope specifically dealing with global catastrophe of some sort. May overlap with Death's Hourglass. See also Right on the Tick and Exact Time to Failure.

Older Than Steam, but heading toward being a Dead Horse Trope as it appears more in subversions and aversions now.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Buso Renkin: During the first arc of the series, Tokiko is infected with an alchemical parasite that will turn her into an homunculus once it reaches her brain a few days later. When they eventually confront the creator of the parasite, he claims that the transformation will happen at midnight, although why it would happen exactly at that time is never stated.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura follows a "Groundhog Day" Loop when the Time Card is set loose. The card appears and resets at midnight.
  • In Code Geass: Nightmare of Nunnally, at the stroke of midnight, Rolo brings up Cinderella losing her magic when the clock struck twelve, just before announcing the dissolution of the aristocracy and the cardinals of Eden Vital taking over in place of the governors general.
  • Used in Haruhi Suzumiya, where it was set to loop at September 1, 12 midnight.
  • In Hell Girl, the Hell Correspondence can be accessed by those that harbor a grudge at midnight on the minute. At least one episode has had the character of the week access it and enter a name before their clock finished chiming. When Ai actually contacts them with her deal, is up to her and can be at any time.
  • Irresponsible Captain Tylor. "The Day the Soyokaze Vanished". The marines are telling a Ghost Story about the previous captain who killed himself out of guilt after his vessel was Reassigned to Antarctica (just like them) and several members of his crew jumped out the airlock. At midnight the Soyokaze passes through a Negative Space Wedgie and all the clocks and watches are locked on 00:00:00, the exact moment the dead captain killed himself. The ghost of the dead captain then tries to force Captain Tylor to do the same (fortunately he's too cowardly to kill himself and too irresponsible to feel guilt).
  • In the Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl manga, Hazumu is scheduled to die at midnight. But in a dramatic subversion, the alien gets his sums wrong and her time of death is really 6 hours earlier. She survives though, due to The Power of Love.
  • Lucky Star uses this in the OVA. The downside is that Konata is the fairy godmother.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, the Wolkenritter are summoned at the stroke of midnight on Hayate's birthday.
  • One Ranma ½ storyline has Shampoo slowly being turned into a cat; if Ranma can't overcome his fear of cats by the time the new year's bell stops ringing then she'll stay that way forever.
  • In Saint Seiya, Saori, the Goddess Athena, will die in twelve hours if...
  • The Severing Crime Edge: Iwai's hair grows several feet in a matter of seconds at the stroke of midnight.
  • Shakugan no Shana: the Reiji Meigo refills the bearer's power of existence every midnight. It apparently makes its own time zone adjustment, since it was created in Europe...

    Comic Books 
  • The Sandman (1989), when Dream summons the Hecatae. Which is a nod to the Sisters' original role as the Horror Hosts of The Witching Hour.
  • Lampshaded in Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    "The closest I can guess is around Midnight?"
    "Why Midnight?"
    "I'm a witch, we like midnight."
  • Watchmen: Used often to symbolize the Doomsday Clock, claiming the world is getting closer to a total nuclear war.
    • It serves more of a red herring in Watchmen with the clock shown ticking to midnight as Rorschach and Niteowl race to stop Adrian from destroying NYC until Adrian reveals that he "did it thirty-five minutes ago."
  • Supergirl: In an issue, Supergirl queries a twentysomething witch about her divine fate, and is told to come back that night. Supergirl assumes the meeting will be at midnight, but the witch says 1:00 am because she doesn't want to miss her favorite late-night show.
  • In the DC Universe, Jack O'Lantern's lantern fluctuates from being at full power at midnight and powerless at noon.
  • Monica's Gang: Bug-a-Boo: The Grim Reaper must reap the old year before the year's last day's midnight or the new year won't be born and last year's events will happen all over again.
  • The Strange Adventures story "The Mystery of the 12 O'Clock Man" features a rocket scientist who disappears to parts unknown every Friday at 12:00 noon, then re-appears at 1:00 PM with no memory of where he went or what he did. He's actually an artificial human, whose alien creators assigned him to gather information about Earth's progress in interplanetary travel. Friday at 12:00 noon marks the time he delivers new information to the aliens, who planned to use his studies to travel to and conquer other planets.
  • In a Mayda Munny story from the Richie Rich comic books, a Fairy Godmother gives Mayda a spell that makes her be pleasant and nice only up until midnight, when her normal bitchiness returns. At a party she attends at the Rich Mansion, the spell lasts for a good while, and Mayda is enjoying herself and her company is enjoying her presence, but strangely around 10 PM, Mayda reverts back to being a bitch and she ends up leaving the party on a sour note. The Fairy Godmother looks at Mayda through a crystal ball and realizes that her magic isn't powerful enough to overcome Mayda's level of natural bitchiness.
  • Played with in Disney Mouse and Duck Comics. Meringue the Magnificent must perform a ritual at midnight at the turn of the millennium. When Mickey, Donald and Magica stops him, he exploits timezones to try again at the last place in the world to enter the new year, the Howzit Atoll in Samoa.
  • Edge of Spider-Verse (2022): Spinstress, as a Cinderella parody, is required to fulfil a magical contract by midnight. Forfeiture means having to chose between keeping her powers or never finding love. She doesn't succeed at fulfilling the contract. The sequel story in Edge of Spider-Verse (2023) has Kraven the Huntsman abduct James the bard, telling Petra to tell Spinstress to show up to rescue him at midnight, causing Petra (who is Spinstress) to wonder why it's always midnight with people.

    Comic Strips 
  • Pardon My Planet for December 1st, 2014, titled "Prison Reform At Work". A death row inmate is being led to an upholstered electric chair, with the warden encouraging him to push the "activation remote" (which will electrocute him). The clock on the wall shows 5 minutes to midnight, which is when the authorities expect the self-execution to take place.
  • Garfield: In this strip, Garfield is using Jon's butter as fast as he can because it expires at midnight.

    Fairy Tales 

    Films — Animated 
  • The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad: After the party at the Van Tassel home ends, Ichabod Crane starts his long, dangerous way home at the Witching Hour - midnight. He will shortly meet his ultimate nemesis - the Headless Horseman.
  • Odd non-magical version in The Castle of Cagliostro: When the mechanism to open the floodgate is triggered, the hour and minute hands on the Clock Tower move in opposite directions from where they had been to the twelve o'clock position, crushing the Count between them, and the bell chimes incessantly as the water pours out of the dam and the tower sinks.
  • In Detective Conan Film 06: The Phantom of Baker Street, Big Ben in London represents this, with one minute representing every participant still active in the deadly Win to Exit scenario. In a variation, it's actually counting down, from 12:50.
  • Fantasia: The "Night On Bald Mountain" gave way to "Ave Maria" at midnight — with the creatures flinching until the last stroke, when they retreated.
  • In The Princess and the Frog, Charlotte is the Mardi Gras princess until Mardi Gras ends at midnight. Once midnight strikes causing Mardi Gras and Charlotte's resultant princess-dom to end, her kiss no longer qualifies to break spells. This is also a rare example of the first strike accurately signaling the top of the hour, and even then only because the scene wouldn't have worked the "traditional" way.
  • Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island: The cat creatures must drain the life forces of victims lured to their island within the midnight hour of a harvest moon so they can preserve their immortality.
  • Lampshaded in Shrek 2, when Puss reads the fine print on the Happily Ever After Potion: "To make the effects of this potion permanent, the drinker must obtain his true love's kiss by midnight."
  • In Pinocchio, the coach for Pleasure Island departs at midnight, according to Honest John.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 16 Wishes: The candles that Abby receives to grant her birthday wishes stop working at midnight and all wishes granted will become permanent.
  • Batman
    • Batman (1989). The Joker tells Gotham that during his festival, he will dump twenty million dollars in cash on the crowd at midnight. It turns out to be a festival of death, courtesy of his Smilex gas balloons.
    • In Batman & Robin the entire city was frozen solid. Coincidentally the time between the freezing and midnight is exactly the (extremely arbitrary) interval earlier established as the amount of time an ice-covered person can stay alive. This example also crosses over with Artistic License – Biology.
  • In Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Harry and Marv rob Duncan's Toy Chest at midnight on Christmas Eve.
  • Subverted in the live action Casper movie, when Casper gets to come back to life. Also Lampshaded:
    Casper: So I have until midnight?
    Amelia: ...Ten.
    Casper: Hey! Cinderella got until midnight!
    Amelia: Cinderella wasn't twelve years old.
  • Gremlins duology:
    • In Gremlins, feeding a mogwai after midnight would lead to disaster. The movie doesn't specify when it's safe to start feeding it again.
    • Gremlins 2: The New Batch includes a scene where several minor characters lampshade the hell out of the Fridge Logic involved in this (ie. what happens if he's eating on a plane and crosses a time zone?)
  • Averted in Groundhog Day, it's 6 AM that the reset happens, contrary to the expectations of at least one character.
  • In Van Helsing, the eponymous character has to be cured within the stroke of midnight of his first full moon. Fortunately for him, the stroke of midnight lasts ten minutes in Transylvania. This one gets special mention, because he had to wait until after the first stroke of midnight to kill Dracula.
  • The Matrix series
    • In The Matrix Reloaded, the bomb planted in the power plant is set to go off at midnight. It's justified in the movie by Morpheus saying that there's a shift change in the targeted buildings at midnight. Presumably, this means that there will be confusion with people coming and going and it will be easier to sneak in during that period.
    • In The Matrix Revolutions, Neo tells the Oracle that the Architect told him that if he didn't return to the Source, Zion would be destroyed by midnight. Oddly enough this isn't true: in The Matrix Reloaded the Architect just said that the Matrix would be destroyed, not when.
  • This is spoofed in the movie Idle Hands: the main character's girlfriend's soul will be dragged into Hell at midnight... Druid time. Which is in about six minutes.
  • Ella Enchanted: Prince Char chose to propose just before midnight in the Hall of Mirrors, just as his father proposed to his mother. Aware of this, Evil Uncle Edgar ordered Ella to stab Char to death at the stroke of midnight. Unable to disobey of her own volition, Ella had Slannen chain her to a tree outside of the city in an attempt to run out the clock. It might have worked if it hadn't been for Lucinda freeing her despite her objections.
  • Brewster's Millions (1985): Monty Brewster has until midnight of the 30th day to spend his $30 million. In the climactic scene, he races to complete the task while the clock strikes, squeaking in before the final stroke.
  • Midnight: True to the film's Cinderella basis; at the Flammarion estate, Helen has found out Eve's true identity—and is about to reveal it—- when Tibor shows up masquerading as Baron Tibor Czerny, right around the fabled time.
  • Labyrinth gave Sarah thirteen hours to get to the center of the titular maze and defeat the Goblin King, else her kidnapped baby stepbrother would forever become a goblin. The actual time she starts her journey is not stated, but Jareth conjures a 13-hour clock to track her time with the deadline when the hands hit 13:00. Partway through the movie, Jareth taunts Sarah by manually spinning the clock's hands forward, taking an hour off her remaining time.
  • Outland. In a homage to High Noon in this Space Western, the killers arrive on the weekly supply shuttle at exactly 12:00. (OK, it's not midnight, but has the same dramatic effect. Anyway there's no night in space).
  • Soultaker both used this trope straight, in that the life support machines that kept the two surviving main characters alive would be turned off at exactly midnight by the hospital (for no sensible reason), and then subverted it for no other reason than the need to stretch the movie out for a few more minutes, and so the midnight deadline is moved back indefinitely. A subversion constantly decried in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version because the film still constantly shows clocks well after the deadline has passed.
  • In Enchanted, after Giselle eats the poisoned apple, she must be revived by midnight or she will be dead for good.
  • Little Nicky has a midnight deadline for restoring his brothers to Hell and saving the world.
  • The Arnold Schwarzenegger movie End of Days has the Antichrist arriving at midnight on a certain date. Arnie's response is: "Eastern Standard Time?" (The character telling him this goes on to state that monks worked this out in the 1600s, also coming up with the Gregorian calendar in the process... a conceit Roger Ebert royally tore apart.)
  • The film Two of a Kind (1983) starring John Travolta has God saying he will destroy humanity in one week at midnight, at which point an angel asks (just like Arnold above) "Eastern Standard Time?".
  • A similar snarky retort is slung at a caller on a phone-in radio show in the movie Strange Days, when she insisted that the world would end at midnight on the last night of 1999. The DJ points out that at the time she's calling, it's already past midnight in the Middle East, where any Biblical prophets presumably were located.
  • Probably the first cinematic example of this trope was in the 1920 silent film The Phantom Carriage, in which the last person to die before midnight on New Year's Eve is condemned to drive the carriage of Death and collect souls for the next year.
  • The divorce decree in The Awful Truth will become final at midnight.
  • James Bond
    • You Only Live Twice. The Americans move their launch up to midnight, so Bond has to move quickly find the SPECTRE base and stop their plot. If he fails, the SPECTRE plan will work and the U.S. and U.S.S.R. will go to war.
    • Live and Let Die. The incendiary bombs that Bond uses to burn Kananga's poppy fields are set to go off at midnight.
  • Young Frankenstein has this twice.
    • At the beginning of the movie, just after the clock strikes twelve midnightnote  someone removes a box containing Baron von Frankenstein's will from the hands of his corpse inside his coffin.
    • Near the end the transference between Frederick and the monster is scheduled to conclude at midnight.
  • The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. According to local legend, Mr. Simmons murdered his wife and then played on an organ around midnight before committing suicide. Ever since that night, people have heard organ music coming from the Simmons house at midnight. When Luther Heggs spends a night in the "haunted house", the organ does indeed start playing at midnight.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit: If Marvin Acme's will isn't found by midnight, then Cloverleaf Industries, owned by Diabolical Mastermind Judge Doom (who had murdered Acme), will own Toontown. And Doom has major plans for its property...
  • Murder by Death: Lionel Twain says that the murder will take place at midnight.
  • The Cheap Detective: Paul and Marlene DuChard must be on the ferry to Oakland to escape the Germans. It leaves at midnight.
  • Blazing Saddles: Sheriff Bart tells his friend to bring his fellow railway workers and a load of equipment to a specific spot at midnight. Bart plans to have them meet with the people of Rock Ridge to make a deal.
  • The Fog (1980) (1980). At midnight before the anniversary of its founding, things start to go a little crazy in the town of Antonio Bay. TV's, machinery and car lights turn on, chairs move by themselves, church bells start ringing, a dog barks at the ocean, and a car alarm goes off for no reason. Later the audience learns that many years earlier six conspirators met from midnight to 1:00 a.m. to plot a mass murder.
  • In Dead in Tombstone, Satan returns Guerrero to Earth and gives him 24 hours to slay the six gang members who murdered him. He is returned at midnight, so has until the stroke of midnight the next night to complete his mission.
  • Back to the Future: The first film has a variation where the time isn't midnight. When Marty accidentally winds up traveling 30 years into the past, the only power source capable of charging the DeLorean to send him back to the future is a lightning bolt, which is normally impossible to predict. Luckily for him, he still had a flyer about a Stopped Clock in the present that was struck by lightning at exactly 10:04pm thirty years ago...or, in other words, a week after Marty arrived.
  • Top Secret!: The Resistance leader "The Torch" tells Nick Rivers that at exactly midnight a truck will arrive at the restaurant they're in and drive him to the East German border.
  • The Phantom Carriage: In accordance with a Swedish legend, the last sinner to die on the turn of the New Year becomes the soul collector, gathering souls in his coach.
  • Independence Day: the Aliens begin their attack at 12 AM July 3rd, 1996
  • In The Visitation, Nichols has to perform his ritual murder before midnight on the their anniversary of his pact with Hell. He missed it by that much...
  • King of the Zombies: When the clock strikes midnight, all of Jeff's candles go out one by one in time with the chimes. And then the zombies enter...
  • The House That Dripped Blood: In "The Cloak", the most dramatic changes to Paul happen when he dons the cloak just as the clock is striking midnight.
  • Men in Black II. If the Light of Zartha is not removed from the Earth by midnight, it will self destruct and destroy the planet.
  • In Headless Horseman, Headless has until midnight on All Hallows Eve to deliver the seven heads of his victims. If he fails, Hell will claim him and the entire town.
  • Dick Tracy. When Dick Tracy orders a fake police raid of the Club Ritz in order to plant an eavesdropping operation in Big Boy Caprice's organization, he arranges for it to begin at midnight (as seen by the time on his watch).
  • The events of Sheitan all lead up to the birth of the demonic child, which legend says will occur as the church bells toll midnight on Christmas Eve.roman Sionis
  • Birds of Prey (2020). When Harley Quinn offers to find the Bertinelli Diamond for Roman Sionis, Sionis gives her until midnight to succeed or he'll cut her face off.
  • Nutcracker Massacre: When the clock in Marie's house strikes midnight, the Sugar Plum Fairy Clara gave Marie's eyes glow, and so do the six-foot nutcracker, which brings it to life.

  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, this is Voldemort's deadline for Harry to surrender in order to end the Battle of Hogwarts without further death and destruction.
  • In Tom's Midnight Garden, the garden appears when the clock strikes thirteen.
  • In Jack Chalker's 1977 novel Midnight at the Well of Souls, the six gateways to the Well open at local midnight. That was the time the shift changed and it was the only automatic access left in the system.
  • A few in Discworld:
    • Reaper Man, the new Death comes at midnight because of Drama, as lampshaded by Bill Door, who notes that a Death who first appears in the flash of a lightning bolt would never collect him at 11:45 when he could do it at Midnight.
    • Witches Abroad, spoofing the Cinderella story, has the witches fiddling with the clock to make midnight come earlier.
    • The plot of Mort is kicked off with the title character as the only boy not apprenticed on hiring day and stubbornly waiting until the clock finishes chiming midnight before giving up. Just before the last chime Death turns up and takes him as an apprentice.
  • In The Hour of the Dragon, executions are held at midnight.
  • The Dresden Files: Sunrise is a typical benchmark for spells to either weaken or outright end as it is a moment of rebirth for the world.
    • The entropy curse in Blood Rites needs to be done at a very specific time to work—thirteen minutes before midnight or noon.
    • Likewise, the Leanansidhe's vast gifts to Harry in Changes have their own deadline, as is befitting for a faerie godmother. Since Lea's a Winter fae, however, the deadline is noon the next day instead of midnight.
    • In Cold Days it is revealed that for the supernatural world, Halloween Night officially doesn't end until the first birdsong is sung.
  • A Hunger Games arena follows the hours like a clock. Lightning strikes at twelve. And that becomes important.
  • In A Night in the Lonesome October, the familiars can only speak with their human masters between 12 and 1 at night. At one point, Snuff addresses Jack specifically to check the time.
  • The Night of Wishes: The deadline. Also, the wishes granted by the potion would only come in reverse if made before the first strike. Saint Sylvester helped the heroes by giving them a strike to be tossed at the cauldron.
  • In Seanan McGuire's Velveteen vs. the Junior Super Patriots, the Midnight Coffee Society plans its strike for then.
  • In Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, Catherine intends to investigate the abbey after midnight — and falls asleep first.
  • In Dorothy Gilman's The Clairvoyant Countess, Gavin is roused from sleep, shrieking, and collapses. Once they lay him down again, Madame Karitska notes that it is two minutes after midnight. His father had killed the rest of his family, and himself, at that time; Madame Karitska had prevented Gavin's being sent home to die as well.
  • In Also sprach Zarathustra, Zarathustra meditates deeply at midnight on man, sleep, awakening, the world, woe, pleasure and eternity, all between the first and twelfth strokes.
  • "The Masque of the Red Death": An Anthropomorphic Personification of the Red Death disease appears at Prince Prospero's ball at the stroke of midnight.
  • "Usher II", one of Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles short stories that was based on Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher". The Red Death appears at midnight, just before Usher II is destroyed.
  • The clock quite distinctly rings twelve just before the climax of Prince Charming, causing Vasilisa to rush out of the room, and causing Princess Anastasia to wonder why the events of the evening are starting to resemble another familiar old story she knew...
  • Montague Rhodes James once discovered a manuscript in the British Museum with a set of pre-1300s ghost stories. In one of them, a man met a ghost while he was traveling on a road at midnight.
  • The Time Lord Fairy Tales version of "Cinderella" has her mysteriously instructed by a certain bowtie-wearing benefactor to not flee at midnight, but activate his sonic destroy the vampires that make up the royal court.
  • Gravity Falls: Journal 3: Ford once spent a few nights at 'Boyish' Dan's cabin. Back then, the latter told Ford to lock himself in his bedroom before the stroke of midnight or else risk losing his soul.
  • Alex Rider: In Snakehead, the planetary alignment Major Yu needs to make his fantastic scheme work happens to be occurring exactly at midnight. Therefore Alex has until midnight to stop him.
  • The Caves of Steel. Elijah Baley has just been told that the Spacers intend to shut down the murder investigation that day. Having just had a "Eureka!" Moment about the case, Elijah desperately tries to convince his robot partner R. Daneel Olivaw to continue the investigation, but fails. However he realises that as an android Daneel is literal-minded, so he points out that the 'day' has only ended When The Clock Strikes Twelve. This gives him two-and-a-quarter hours to wrap up the case, which he does right on the stroke of midnight.
  • In the Left Behind book Glorious Appearing, when Chaim Rosenzweig realizes that the Lord won't appear exactly seven years after the signing of the treaty between Israel and the Global Community to the exact hour, he predicts that the Lord's coming will happen around midnight Israel time. And sure enough, that's what happens, when the Global Community Unity Army try to storm Petra around that time and find themselves temporarily immobilized by a supernatural blackout that occurs for about a minute before the Lord's appearing in the sky with His heavenly army.
  • When Eight Bells Toll by Alistair Maclean refers to midnight (eight bells, according to the nautical method of keeping time) when the hero has arranged for the Men of Sherwood he's recruited to ram the gates of the dock used by Ruthless Modern Pirates.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The first season of 24 started at midnight.
    • The entire premise of the series is built around the deadline aspect of this trope.
  • Batman (1966)
    • "The Joker's Flying Saucer". When the Joker's henchman places a time bomb inside the Batmobile, he sets it to go off at midnight.
    • "The Bookworm Turns/While Gotham City Burns". The Bookworm ties Robin to the clapper in the bell of the Big Benjamin clock. When the clock strikes midnight, the clapper will slam Robin against the bell and kill him.
    • ''An Egg Grows in Gotham". According to the Gotham City Charter, nine raccoon pelts must be delivered to Chief Screaming Chicken on a certain day. If he does not receive the pelts by midnight on that day, the ownership of the city reverts to him.
    • "Batman Displays His Knowledge". Catwoman proposes to Batman that they have a meeting at midnight for her to turn herself in. Of course, it turns out to be a trick.
  • Black Mirror, "Demon 79": Nida has to kill one person before midnight for three days, lest the world will end. She cuts it close on day 2, and Gaap impatiently keeps telling her how many minutes to midnight she has left.
  • The Brittas Empire: In "Mr. Brittas Changes Trains", Brittas is temporarily hypnotised into a better person. However, the hypnotist warns Laura that the hypnosis will wear off at 12 midnight, which it does much to her dismay.
  • The classic slapstick British comedy Bottom gets a few laughs out of this trope during the Halloween episode, "Terror". When the protagonists attempt to summon The Devil Richy claims that he'll probably appear at midnight. Spud Gun wonders why he would only appear at midnight, to which Eddie replies that it's because that's when the pub closes.
  • The Carol Burnett Show plays with this in their Disco version of Cinderella, "Cinderella Gets It On"; after the Fairy Godmother reminds Cinderella to leave Prince Elfin John's dance by the stroke of 12, Cinderella the "square" asks if she means midnight. The Godmother clarifies that since the prince will pull an all-nighter, her magic will last until the stroke of 12 noon.
  • In Charmed, Midnight is referred to as the greatest in-between i.e. where it's possible to see fairies and goblins (without being near a usual in-between such as a door or window).
  • Dash & Lily: In the final episode, Lily's flight to Fiji leaves at midnight and Dash has until then to win her back.
  • Doctor Who:
  • House of Anubis:
    • The Cup Of Ankh could only be assembled during a certain time on a certain date, and the time was of course midnight.
    • Nina's initiation also took place at midnight, as it was the 'bewitching hour'.
  • In The Invaders (1967) episode "Condemned", David Vincent is told that he is to get out of town by midnight. There seems to be no real reason why midnight was chosen as the time, other than it sounded cool.
  • In the Criminal Mind Games episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, the killer leaves a note telling the detectives the victim will be dead if they don't "find him by tomorrow." Munch wonders if "tomorrow" means "same time tomorrow or midnight tonight?" Cragen responds, "Let's assume worst case scenario." Midnight — which turns out to be right, unfortunately for the victim.
  • In the Season Nine M*A*S*H episode "Death Takes a Holiday", the doctors desperately try to keep a moribund patient alive until after midnight on December 25, because they (B.J., especially) don't want his family to remember Christmas Day as the day he died. Failing in their task with only about 10 minutes to go, Hawkeye simply moves the hands of the wall clock past midnight, and they decide that 12:05 on the 26th will be his "official" time of death. Even the normally by-the-book Margaret sympathetically accedes to this falsification of records.
  • Played for Laughs in an episode of The Muppet Show which guest-starred Vincent Price. One sketch featured Price and his "beautiful assistant" Uncle Deadly as travelers meeting with Fozzie and Gonzo in their "summer cottage" (really a creepy castle). Uncle Deadly explains that they must act quickly—"Every night, at the stroke of midnight, the master turns into a screaming, maniacal, demonic, raging, bloodlusting ANIMAL!" (Price: "And then I get mean!"). Unfortunately, they are too late to prevent the clock from striking twelve. Price doubles over in pain, at which point Uncle Deadly reveals that something has gone wrong—it's New Year's Eve, and Price has transformed into something even more horrific, cruel, and inhuman...orchestra leader Jack Parnell! (Parnell was the conductor for The Muppet Show, making this a bit of Self-Deprecation).
  • Subverted in NewsRadio, when Jimmy has a midnight deadline to sell the station:
    Mr. James: It's almost 12:00. Is anybody gonna try to talk me out of this?
    Matthew: Nope. Cause we don't have to.
    Mr. James: Why is that Matthew?
    Matthew: Well, because I took the liberty of turning the clock back ten minutes, it is actually 12:05, which means you missed your midnight deadline... yes!
    Mr. James: Matthew, that 12:00 was just a loose guideline. I'm dealing with a corporation here, not magical fairies.
  • This Saturday Night Live Christmas-themed sketch stars Amy Adams, Kate McKinnon, and Cecily Strong as three seemingly crazy lounge singers. When the clock strikes midnight, their "Christmas wish" becomes undone, changing them back from humans to raccoons.
  • In Sesame Street, there was a Japanese tale called "The Mystery of the Four Dragons", where a boy is challenged to find four dragons in a room before the clock chimes midnight. The villain is convinced that he will never find them and seems to be proven right when the clock starts chiming, but the boy finds them just in time before the chimes conclude.
  • Squid Game: In "One Lucky Day", Il-nam's final game with Gi-hun has Il-nam betting that nobody will help a drunk man freezing to death outside by midnight. A police car drives up and a cop and an earlier passerby step out to attend to the man just as the minute hand hits 12, proving Il-nam wrong.
  • Happened multiple times in The Twilight Zone (1959).
    • In "One for the Angels", a sidewalk pitchman is scheduled to die at midnight. When he tricks Death into not taking him, a young girl is scheduled to die in his place at that time. He must make his best pitch ever to distract Death from taking her.
    • In "Shadow Play", Adam Grant is a convicted murderer sentenced to be executed at midnight, who claims that the whole situation is a dream he's having. Prosecutor Henry Ritchie talks with newspaper editor Paul Carson about it:
      Carson: That's another thing. Why does this always happen around midnight?
      Ritchie: Because that's when it happens!
      Carson: Yeah, but why?
      Ritchie: You tell me why!
      Carson: According to Grant, he doesn't know anything about these matters except what he sees in the movies. In the movies, it always happens at midnight.
      Ritchie: Because movies are technically accurate!
      Carson: Yeah, that's strange too, when you come to think of it.
    • In "The Obsolete Man", when the prosecutor asks Mr. Wordsworth when he wants to be executed, Wordsworth picks the traditional time: midnight.
    • In "The Masks", the dying Jason Foster forces his evil relatives to wear their masks until midnight, on pain of losing their inheritance. Foster dies at the stroke of midnight, but when the relatives remove their masks, they discover that something unusual has occurred.
    • In "Mr. Garrity and the Graves", Mr. Garrity tells the people of Happiness, Arizona that he will resurrect the people buried in Boot Hill at midnight.
    • In "The Grave", Johnny Rob makes a bet with Conny Miller that he won't go to Pinto Sykes's grave at midnight.
    • In "Jess-Belle", the title character turns into a leopard every night at twelve o'clock.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985):
    • Subverted in "Monsters!", in which the titular creatures transform promptly at the literal midpoint of the night ... which happens to be after midnight on the clock. Lampshaded and a bit of a plot point.
    • In "Crazy as a Soup Sandwich", the demon Volkerps arrives in Nino Lancaster's office at midnight to claim his first refusal option on 51% of Arky Lochner's soul.
  • In the UFO (1970) episode "ESP", John Croxley's wife was killed by a UFO crashing into his house and he blames SHADO for her death. He lures Ed Straker and Alec Freeman to the ruins of his house with the intent of killing them at midnight.

  • "Danse Macabre" by Camille Saint-Saëns begins with the harp striking twelve.
  • "Mitternacht" by E Nomine
  • Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley & His Comets note  which has the exact trope name in one of the lyrics:
    "When the clock strikes twelve, we'll cool off then/Start rockin' 'round the clock again..."
  • "Lay Your Love on Me" by BWO contains the lyrics "When the clock strikes twelve, it's time to go out."
  • Blue Öyster Cult's "Astronomy" features clocks and time as recurring motifs. The first and second last verses of the song begin with "the clock strikes twelve", signifying a passage of time during the course of the song.

  • In Theatre of Magic, advancing the clock to midnight starts Midnight Madness; the clock goes backwards from midnight, and each shot to the Magician's Trunk scores 2 million times the current hour.
  • In FunHouse (1990), Rudy the Living Dummy falls asleep promptly at midnight, allowing the player to shoot a ball in his mouth and begin multiball.

    Radio Drama 
  • In the Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama The Chimes of Midnight, a servant is murdered every time the hour is struck, until the clock strikes midnight and time winds back to ten o'clock and the whole thing starts all over again.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Mayfair's Role Aids supplements
    • Lizardmen
      • During the night of the Suitor's Festival, if a man can reach his beloved by the stroke of midnight and propose to her and she accepts, no one can prevent them from marrying.
      • In the adventure "The Sound of Feet in the Fog", the ship Rogue Wind will set sail on its portentous voyage at midnight.
    • Dark Folk. The gnolls of the Jovian Swamp have captured the magic user Yolanda. They plan to sacrifice her at midnight to the gnoll deity Zyrmgnollven to sanctify the marriage between the new gnoll chieftain and the daughter of the old chieftain.
    • Undead
      • At midnight on the fifth day of the magical ceremony used to create a Death Dragon, the dragon will rise from the ground and take to the air, the process complete.
      • The deity of Evil undead, Dierguth, is worshipped with three liturgies each day. The first liturgy begins at midnight at the top of the Tower of Spells. It is led by the lich Nightbay and the rest of the Lichlords and lasts 1 hour.
  • Judges Guild
    • Supplement Wilderlands of the Fantastic Reaches. Each year on the shortest night of the year, one of the black pillars on the island of Costel Kay will turn white for one hour starting at midnight. A weapon that touches the pillar during this time will not be affected by rust for the next ten years.
    • Supplement Heroic Expeditions, adventure "Cave of Despair". When the Player Character arrives at the title cave, there will be a force wall in front of the opening blocking passage. The force wall will cease to exist at the stroke of midnight (a bell will sound in the distance to let the Player Character know it's time to go in).
let the * TimeLords adventure Supertanker of Death. The SLA terrorists will attack the Omni Corporation's Sinaloa factory at midnight.
  • Dragon Warriors RPG. Each night at midnight a Sorcerer who has less than the maximum number of Magic Points has their Magic Points restored to their normal score.
  • Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters
    • In the adventure seed "Web of Deceit", a ship carrying an important artifact is scheduled to leave port at midnight. The final showdown between the PCs and and the other factions trying to obtain the artifact will occur just before the ship leaves.
    • "And Then There Were None...". Every 666 months a family meets to renew a pact with the Devil. On the night of the full moon, at midnight the Devil appears. One member of the family and a number of outsiders are sacrificed and the remaining family members regain their youth.
  • Mythus/Dangerous Journeys main rules
    • Witch/Warlock ceremonies (Esbats and Sabbats) always start at the stroke of midnight.
    • The Witch/Warlock power Beastform allows a witch or warlock to change into a savage beast starting at midnight and lasting til dawn on nights when the moon is full or dark.
  • Alternity supplement Beyond Science: A Guide to FX. If a cup of human blood is poured into the FX device known as the Infernal Toad at midnight, the Toad will summon a least demon.
  • Arduin
    • Arduin Grimoire Volume 2: Welcome to Skull Tower. The Red, Blue and White moons form a triangle in the sky at midnight on the 12th and 13th days of the month of Torvaen. Every other year, the 25 hour period between the two phenomena is the Night of the Long Death, the Black Equinox, when the dead rise from their graves and walk the land. According to Arduin Grimoire Volume 4: The Lost Grimoire, this holiday is also known as Triangularis or the Night of the Winds of Limbo, during which "the winds of Limbo blow" and bizarre events occur.
    • The Compleat Arduin Book 2: Resources. At midnight each day, the magikal Silver Chalice of Life will fill with a mead that will add one day to the drinker's life. In other words, the owner will have unending life as long as they possess the Chalice.
  • Ars Magica
    • 3rd Edition adventure "The Pact of Pasaquine". The night the PCs arrive at Pasaquine they hear wolf howls in the woods. At midnight there is a sudden silence in the village and the Faerie wolf Hrulgar and thirteen other faerie wolves pad into town to confront the villagers.
    • 4th Edition adventure "The Fallen Angel". The demon Crom Vruach falls to Earth in meteorite form at midnight on the winter solstice. Six months later, at midnight on the summer solstice he hatches out in his new Nigh-Invulnerable iron body and summons two more demons.
    • Mythic Perspectives fanzine #9 (Autumn 1999)
      • "Draugadrottin, The Norse Necromancer". A necromancer begins her ritual to raise a dead body as a draug (powerful zombie) at midnight.
      • "More on Exceptional Abilities". In an example, a woman has Second Sight (the ability to see the supernatural) because she was born at midnight on All Hallows Eve, and thus stands between the worlds of tha living and the dead.
  • Avalon Hill's Powers & Perils game, Heroes magazine
    • Volume 1 #2 adventure "Doom Manor". The wizard Valanas Victorian cast powerful spells on his mansion to protect it from barbarian attack. At midnight on the Vernal Equinox, his soul was trapped between life and death and his mansion became Doom Manor.
    • Volume 2 #2 article "The Sea of Tears". While sailing on the Sea of Tears, the PCs can encounter a ghost ship at midnight under a full moon. Anyone who boards the vessel must escape by dawn or be trapped aboard for eternity.
  • Call of Cthulhu
    • 3rd Edition Main rules, adventure "The Madman". The Mi-Go have been performing midnight ceremonies in an attempt to summon the Great Old One Ithaqua.
    • Fragments of Fear adventure "The Underground Menace". If the PC Investigators flee from the Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath, a week later it will summon a Hunting Horror of Nyarlathotep that will attack the PCs at midnight.
    • Shadows of Yog-Sothoth
      • Adventure "The Worm That Walks''. While the PC investigator is in the hospital, the title monster will attempt to establish a psychic link to him (by putting its hand over the PC's face) each night at midnight. When it succeeds it will immediately take its true form and attempt to rend the PC to bits with its huge claws.
      • Adventure "The Watchers of Easter Island". The Crawling One (a The Worm That Walks) performs a human sacrifice once every three days at midnight to power the moai (statues) so they can call the Messenger of the Old Ones.
    • The Fungi From Yuggoth. The Big Bad opponent of the PCs is Edward Chandler, head of the New World Incorporated Mega-Corp. He was born at midnight on Candlemas, thus fulfilling an ancient prophecy that he would bring about the Day of the Beast and allow the forces of the Cthulhu Mythos to take over the Earth.
    • The Asylum and Other Tales adventure "The Madman". Every four days at midnight, Adam the Bad will go out to the concrete slabs and perform a ceremony to consecrate one of them so they can be used to cast the Call Hastur spell.
    • Supplement Dreamlands, booklet "Dream Journeys"
      • Adventure "Season of the Witch". Ghouls are used to dig up three graves in the Aylesbury Hill Graveyard at midnight and steal the bodies for nefarious necromantic purposes.
      • Adventure "The Land of Lost Dreams". If the Investigators fail to stop the Spirit of Xura, at midnight on February 14th it will rip open Neil Bruford's body end enter our universe. This will bring despair and madness to the entire city.
    • Masks of Nyarlathotep chapter 2 "London".
      • "The Derbyshire Monster". The werewolf Eloise Vane changes to monster form at midnight on nights with a full moon.
      • "Slaughter in Soho". Yalesha, a dancer at the Blue Pyramid club, will tell any investigators she encounters to meet her at midnight down the street. She tells them that once a month a truck appears around midnight and takes some Cthulhu Mythos cultists to an unknown location (in fact, they participate in an evil cult ceremony at midnight).
    • Terror from the Stars adventure "The Temple of the Moon". If the Tablet of the Moon is fitted together and placed on top of the light shaft in the Chamber of Worship at midnight under a full moon, the quartz lenses in the Tablet will bend the light to form a pattern of dots on the map below. The water in the pool will then refract the light dots into a single dot on the map: the location of the Temple of Shub-Niggurath.
    • T.O.M.E. adventure Pursuit to Kadath
      • During the séance, at midnight Nils Lindstrom will groan and have a seizure as the spirit of Kingu takes Demonic Possession of him.
      • During the cruise to Turkey, Nils Lindstrom makes a Human Sacrifice of one of the kidnapped girls at midnight.
    • Different Worlds magazine #38 adventure "The Eye of Sitar". Azathoth cultists are planning to perform a Human Sacrifice ritual at midnight on the fall equinox. If they succeed it will result in the dead rising from the grave all over the world and consuming the flesh of the living.
    • The Unspeakable Oath magazine
      • Issue #5 article "A Tale of Terror". In one scenario, the Cthulhu Mythos deity Nyarlathotep proposes marriage to captive women. If they refuse, at midnight on each night of the full moon thereafter he proposes again. If any of them accepts his offer, she is taken to the daemonic court of Azathoth until Nyarlathotep becomes bored with her.
      • Issue #19 adventure "Suited and Booted". At midnight on August 14th, the artist Patrice LeFevre will surrender himself to the Cthulhu Mythos deity Nyarlathotep. The Create Wraith spell must be cast at midnight for it to work.
      • Issue #20 adventure "She Just Couldn't Stay Away (No No)". Dorothy Stotz performs a Human Sacrifice of herself at midnight in a ritual to bring her dead cat Penny back to life.
    • White Dwarf magazine #63 adventure "Draw the Blinds on Yesterday". The Cthulhu Mythos cultists who live on Southwell Farm perform Human Sacrifices each month. At midnight, they kill the victims by stabbing them to death.
  • DC Heroes boxed set, booklet "A Titan, Nevermore!". If the Teen Titans can't stop them, the villains will perform a ritual to summon an Eldritch Abomination into the world at midnight.
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Dungeon magazine
      • Issue #5 adventure "The Stolen Power". The cult of Shami-Amourae (the Queen of Succubi) sacrifices victims to her once a month, at midnight on the night of the full moon.
      • Issue #6 adventure "Bristnam's Caern". The hermit Shonrath is under a curse. Each day at midnight, he switches personalities and starts trying to free an evil death knight from a nearby caern.
      • Issue #9 adventure "The Crypt of Istaris". At midnight, the evil ceremonies that have been carried out by the evil priests will reach their climax and the town of Hornboro will be destroyed.
      • Issue #10 adventure "The Artisan's Tomb". The adventure starts with a ghost approaching and entering the Player Characters' camp at midnight. The ghost begs for the adventurers' help in recovering his remains so he can rest in peace.
      • Issue #11 adventure "The Dark Conventicle". Unless the PCs can prevent it, the Servants of Anthraxus will perform a Human Sacrifice of the woman Zenobia at midnight two days after her capture.
      • Issue #12 adventure "At the Spottle Parlor". The Player Characters are lured into playing a game of spottle so that their host can turn them over to a hobgoblin king to be his slaves. The hobgoblin king arrives to pick up his new slaves at midnight.
      • Issue #14 adventure "Stranded on the Baron's Island". The theft of the Southbourne Jewels will take place at midnight, 24 hours after the Player Characters arrive on the island.
      • Issue #14 adventure "Master of Puppets". A magical book has been stolen by the evil monk Qhyjanoth. He plans to turn over the book to a Lawful Evil pit fiend devil in three days time, at midnight. The Player Characters have that long to stop him.
      • Issue #14 adventure "The Wererats of Relfren". On the day the PlayerCharacters arrive in the town of Relfren, at midnight the Silver Crescent Inn is sabotaged by the wererats and collapse, killing the elven family that runs the place. At midnight on day three, the wererats that have infested the town reveal themselves and begin attacking and infecting the townsfolk.
      • Issue #18 adventure "Crocodile Tears". A female wana (50 foot long crocodile) has buried its eggs in the village of Tajiki. Two nights after the PCs arrive in town, the eggs will start to hatch at midnight.
      • Issue #25 adventure "A Rose for Talakara". The skeleton warrior Agrovale visits the innkeeper Jack the Hoe at midnight and delivers a mysterious message. While the Player Characters are on the road to Pandar, they are attacked at midnight by a group of fire giants and their hell hound pets.
      • Issue #26 adventure "The Curse and the Quest". At midnight on the five nights of the full moon, the Focus of Eryhil'n (a conjunction of multiplanar energy) occurs at Mount Yvvivor. It is possible to use the Focus to create magic items of artifact level power.
      • Issue #27 adventure "Tarfil's Tomb". While the Player Character party is traveling across the Unnamed Moor, they are attacked at midnight by a mixed pack of wolves, dire wolves and werewolves.
      • Issue #29 adventure "Through The Night". If the Player Character party camps overnight outside the Smiling Spirit Inn, the slithering tracker that lives in the inn will attack them at midnight while it's out hunting.
      • Issue #33 adventure "Mad Gyoji". Shiyo, the previous myoshu of the village of Ise-ko, died at midnight a week before the PCs arrive in town. If the PCs can't stop it, the ikiryo that killed Shiyo will kill the new myoshu, Kiyoyasu, at midnight in two days.
      • Issue #34 adventure "On Wings of Darkness". While camping at a spring, the Player Characters are attacked at midnight by a group of 12 darkenbeast monsters sent by the villian to kill them.
      • Issue #44 adventure "The Hand of Al-Djamal". The hand druj will mount its final attack on the PCs at midnight.
      • Issue #49 adventure "Castle of the Blind Sun". To renew the enchantment that hides the forest of the Rubato wood elves, a magical recorder (musical instrument) must be played at midnight on the first and last days of the elven Seldanquith festival.
      • Issue #50 adventure "Felkovic's Cat". The nosferatu vampire cleric Brother Homer starts draining the Constitution (ability score) of that night's victim at midnight.
      • Issue #54 adventure "Unhallowed Ground". A monk named Abel is beaten until he dies from a heart attack. Several days later, he rises as an undead revenant at midnight in order to take revenge on those who killed him.
      • Issue #59 adventure "The Mother's Curse". A greenhag monster has switched babies (still in the womb) with a human woman. Both the greenhag and the woman will give birth at midnight on the 8th day after the Player Characters arrive in the area, with horrible results.
      • Issue #61 adventure "Jigsaw". The woman Victoria von Lendstein meets the flesh golem Udo at midnight in a park. The next day, Udo may meet with a Player Character at midnight in the PC's room to tell the PC his story. On the night before Victoria's wedding, one of the PCs will wake up at midnight and see Udo outside his window, looking at the PC.
      • Issue #64 adventure "Last Dance". The time bomb that Madame Tuvache leaves in the cellar to kill the Player Characters is set to go off at midnight.
      • Issue #67 adventure "Falls Run". The train the Player Characters are on jumps the track due to a ghost's interference and they are all knocked unconscious. When they wake up, it's 12:00 midnight exactly. On Wednesday December 24th, at 12:00 midnight the ghost will wreck the telegraph office in the village of Falls Run to try to force the Player Characters into action.
      • Issue #71 adventure "Dark Magic in New Orleans". At midnight on June 23, Doctor John will sacrifice Marie Laveau's spirit to increase his own magical power.
      • Issue #74 adventure "Night of the Bloodbirds". The dangerous stirges (bloodsucking flying monsters) are released from their cages to attack the cattle farm (and any humans they find) at midnight.
      • Issue #76 adventure "The House on the Edge of Midnight." One minute before midnight, the Dark Powers of Tabletop Game/Ravenloft granted Doctor Ramsey's wish and brought his daughter Liza back to life. Unfortunately, they did so by changing her into a flesh golem. When this occurs, the grandfather clock stops. When the curse on the Ramseys is finally lifted, the clock starts working again and strikes midnight.
    • White Dwarf magazine
      • Issue #35 article "The Necromancer". In order for a necromancer to use his Unholy Strength of the Eternally Damned ability, he must sacrifice a gnome, dwarf, elf or human at midnight on the night of a full moon.
      • Issue #51, adventure "A Ballad of Times Past". After the Player Characters help the dragon Talionis protect her egg from Caedmon, the egg will hatch at midnight.
    • Polyhedron magazine #41 adventure "Wedding Party". After the yuan-ti kidnap the Imperial Princess, they plan to make her a Human Sacrifice to the snake gods at the stroke of midnight on the night of the full moon.
    • Pegasus magazine #8 article "All That Glitters". The magical Finger-Severing Ring can only be removed from a victim's finger if it is boiled in black dragon blood under a full moon at midnight.
    • Dragonlance module DL14 Dragons of Triumph. At midnight on the first day of the adventure, the dead who lie below the city of Neraka rise as undead and walk through the city until 2:00 a.m. They do so again each midnight thereafter, until the Big Bad Takhisis either succeeds in her plan or is defeated.
    • Ravenloft campaign setting
      • Module I6 Ravenloft. Each night at midnight, in the Barovia town cemetery one hundred spirits rise and form a ghostly procession to Castle Ravenloft. They are the spirits of people who died trying to destroy Strahd - their journey is an attempt to finish the job, which always fails.
      • Campaign expansion Masque of the Red Death, adventure "Red Death". When the Ebony Clock strikes midnight the Red Death disease will strike every living creature in the mansion and kill them.
      • Campaign expansion Masque of the Red Death, adventure "Red Tide". Dracula drains the Life Energy of six humans and places their bodies into coffins at midnight on January 28th. The next night, at midnight on January 29th, the dead humans become vampires.
    • Module DA1 Adventures in Blackmoor. Each day at midnight the Comeback Inn magically re-creates all food eaten, cleans up all messes made and clothing in wardrobes, and repairs all items broken the prior day.
    • Oriental Adventures/Kara-tur (1st/2nd Edition)
      • Module FROA1 Ninja Wars. Takako Shimizu was infected by an unusual tigbanua biso and becomes a tagamaling buso at midnight each night.
      • Module OA2 Night of the Seven Swords. Outside the castle of Ito-Jo the PCs will meet a ragged group of twelve peasants. At midnight the peasants will change into the deadly monsters known as tagamaling buso and attack the party.
      • Module OA7 Test of the Samurai. A huge Chaotic Evil krakentua monster has destroyed a village and enslaved the villagers. It appears before the villagers twice a month at midnight.
      • Kara-Tur boxed set (1988) Volume II. In order to keep the power of the magic item Sitting Monkey (one of the Wo-ha Ui-jung set) the owner must follow a regimen of nightly ceremonies, including burning incense in its cup at midnight.
    • Module WG7 Castle Greyhawk.
      • In level 2 "It's My Party and I'll Die If I Want To", the big party will start at the stroke of midnight. It's sure to be a smash, because the organizers have invited all of the arch devils and demon lords of the evil outer planes.
      • Level 10 "Fluffy Goes Down The Drain". The demon lord Juiblex promises that if he's allowed to attend the masquerade ball he'll leave promptly at midnight. Astonishingly enough for a Chaotic Evil creature, he's as good as his word.
    • Module X4 Master of the Desert Nomads. While the PCs are passing through the Salt Swamp they will encounter an evil force known as the Malakaz. As long as they stay in the area, the Malakaz will try to put them all to sleep each night at midnight. If it succeeds it will drain the mind of one of them, leaving the victim a mental vegetable.
    • Basic D&D
      • Supplement The Book of Marvelous Magic. Each night at midnight, if any ale remains in the Tun of Ale it will refill to the half-full point.
      • Companion Set. If a Hurricane Lamp has been opened, at midnight it closes and resets itself. It must be opened (and its hurricane released) before it can be used again.
  • In Exalted, demon summoning always requires a set timeline for the ritual — the sorcerer must begin the ritual at sundown and conclude it at midnight. The higher the class of demon, the more restricted the times one can summon — a First Circle Demon can be summoned any night, a Second Circle Demon can be summoned on nights of the new moon, and a Third Circle Demon can only be summoned at Calibration (the five-day period at the end of the year when fate checks its books).
  • Golden Heroes, magazine White Dwarf #69, article "Fiend Factory". The character Balthazael was born at midnight in a nunnery to a human woman. His father turned out to be Dis, a demon of the highest rank. Balthazael uses his half-demon powers to fight against evil.
  • GURPS newsletter Roleplayer #10 (May 1988), adventure "The Isle of Night". When the PCs' ship approaches the island time will suddenly start passing at an accelerated rate. After the PCs land on the island time will stop moving forward at exactly midnight, and stay there until the summoning is completed.
  • In Nomine. Creatures regain Essence and regenerate lost hits of Body damage at specific times of day. Ethereal spirits get theirs back at midnight.
  • Rolemaster Shadow World setting
    • Kingdom of the Desert Jewel. If the PCs release the Class V Wraith in the Pyramid of Mortu, it will appear each night at midnight and attack them until either they kill it or it kills them.
    • Jaiman: Land of Twilight
      • Adventure "Cult of the Third Moon". The Priestess of the title cult performs a human sacrifice ceremony at midnight. She does so in order to drain the Life Energy of the victim and maintain her immortality.
      • Adventure "Pride of the Gryphon". In the Back Story, the burial ceremonies of the King Zor took place in the Catacombs of Ur at midnight.
  • Shadowrun supplement Paranormal Animals of Europe. In one case, each night for a month a bean sidhe approached a person at midnight, wailed her mournful cry and vanished. Each person died within a month.
  • Demon Magic: The Second Stormbringer Companion adventure "The Velvet Circle".
    • The PCs are summoned by the gods themselves to a fateful meeting with the Melnibonean sorcerer Kolan Tal. The meeting takes place at the Dark Pearl in the city of Ilmor at midnight.
    • In the town of Fakash, the Human Sacrifices to the Chaos Lord Hionhurn the Executioner begin at midnight.

  • Into the Woods, strung out to the twelfth chime, too. And why is a chime chiming in the middle of the woods?
    "Bring me these by the time of midnight in three days' time, and you shall have, I guarantee, a child as perfect as child can be! Go to the woods!"
  • The mice arrive at midnight in The Nutcracker.
  • The Rake's Progress is another case of the twelfth-stroke deadline, with the time between strokes supernaturally dilated to accommodate a deadline extension.
  • Older Than Steam: In A Midsummer Night's Dream (rather anachronistic for something purportedly set in Ancient Greece):
    Theseus: The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve: Lovers, to bed; 'tis almost fairy time.
  • In The Cat and the Canary, Cyrus West dictated that his will be read at midnight twenty years after his death.
  • In The Merry Wives of Windsor, Falstaff disguised as Herne the Hunter meets Mistress Ford in Windsor Forest at midnight. The operatic adaptation Falstaff even has Falstaff count the chimes.
  • In Der Rosenkavalier, in the Marschallin's meditation on time, a midnight chime accompanies her saying that sometimes she rises in the middle of the night and stops all the clocks. The celesta and harps actually make thirteen strokes, due to the idiosyncrasies of 18th-century clocks.
  • In El Amor Brujo, the famous "Ritual Fire Dance" to chase away evil spirits follows the midnight chimes. Preposterously, a standard cut reduces the number of strokes from twelve to six.
  • Hamlet. The ghost of Hamlet's father appears to him shortly after midnight. It had previously appeared to other people at about that time as well.
  • Königskinder features a prophecy that the rightful king of Hellabrunn will walk through the front gate when the midday bells strike twelve. This is played for maximum drama, with an angry Powder Keg Crowd about to start a fight suddenly falling silent at the first stroke, and the stage is set with mounting anticipation for the Big Entrance, at the twelfth stroke, of... not at all what the crowd expected to see.

    Video Games 
  • Bioshock Infinite. At one point, if you can decrypt a coded message you are given a clue that mentions "midnight". If you turn a nearby clock's hands to 12:00, it opens a hidden compartment filled with goodies.
  • Castlevania 64
    • If a vampire succeeds in biting you, you will become a vampire. If you don't receive a cure by midnight, you will succumb to the urge and lose the game.
    • Outside the Villa, there's a hexagonal stone in a fountain. If your character stands on the stone at midnight, you will be raised up into a hidden area where you can obtain a variety of useful items.
  • Played with in Contradiction. Inspector Jenks says in the intro that he has until first thing next morning to investigate Kate Vine's death and decide whether it was a suicide or not, but 2/3 of the way in he implies he needs to finish before midnight. The clock strikes twelve, and the investigation keeps on going... for less than an hour. For what it's worth, a satanic ritual was being held in the woods at midnight.
  • Killed Until Dead gives you until midnight, game time, to stop the planned murder.
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, Class VII is given until midnight to complete their Old Schoolhouse investigation. Unless most other instances, however, this is just a given deadline because if they were in there much longer, they wouldn't get enough sleep to be able to reasonably perform for the school festival. In fact, they end up emerging from the final trial at 12:20, but this is allowed to slide.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, when the clock strikes twelve on the eve of the Carnival of Time, the Clock Tower opens, allowing festival-goers to ascend it. Since this year there's also a Omnicidal Maniac calling the place his home, it's also when the rather creepy "we're all going to die" BGM starts playing, no matter where the player is in the game world.
  • Used verbatim in Mystery Case Files: Madame Fate, where the titular fortune teller foresees her impending death, which is set to occur exactly at the stroke of midnight.
  • The central plot of Persona 3: When The Clock Strikes Twelve (literally), a Dark World appears and spews monstrosity. One can only wonder the implications this has to the main characters' life.
  • In Persona 4, rumour has it that, if you stare into a TV screen on a rainy night at midnight, you will see your soul mate. It turns out that this is all too true, though it's not exactly your soul mate who's displayed, but instead the next target of a serial murderer. Then this turns out to also be untrue; it just shows who people are currently thinking the most about subconsciously. Or even what during a certain moment...
  • In the hidden object/puzzle game Nightmare Realm, the Extractor kidnaps Emily at exactly 11:59 pm, one minute before her 7th birthday.
  • In Quest For Glory 1, the mandrake root must be plucked from the ground at precisely midnight, otherwise it vanishes in your hands.
  • In Terranigma, the opening cutscene shows a watch ticking down to 12:00. When it reaches that hour, all the hands fall off and the number 13 appears on its face, which Match Cuts to the Earth.

    Visual Novels 
  • Umineko: When They Cry, Beatrice's letter informs the family that they have until midnight on October 5th to solve the epitaph and stop her from "collecting the interests". If they don't, "the witch will revive and the door to the Golden Land will be opened." At the stroke of midnight of the second day, anyone who hasn't been murdered yet is killed by something (later revealed to be a bomb).
    Beatrice: Please abandon the idea that you will be able to escape when the sun rises. When time runs out, vitory shall be mine. There will be no draw.

    Web Original 
  • Homestar Runner:
    • During the opening of the Halloween-themed game "Halloween Potion-ma-Jig", Marzipan demands Homestar gather all the ingredients before midnight. However, since the player has no time limit for making choices, they never explain what would happen if Homestar doesn't make it in time.
    • In the 2019 Halloween toon "The Homestar Runner Enters the Spooky Woods", The Homestar Runner gets literally scared to death and "gives up the ghost". The Homestar Runner is forced to journey through the Spooky Woods and face his three greatest fears before "the witching hour" in order to get back his corporeal form.
  • The Midnight Game creeypasta. You play by following a specific procedure to summon the Midnight Man into your home at midnight and then avoid them until 3:33 a.m. You can read it here..
  • Oxventure: The Blades campaign has a Christmas special in which a miser is visited by three ghosts. The clock strikes twelve just as the first ghost arrives — and again when the second ghost arrives, and again when the third ghost arrives. Lampshaded by Luke, the GM, who notes that it was already well past midnight the first time.
  • SCP Foundation
    • SCP-616 "The Vessel and the Gate". Interview A says that the horrifying flight of SCP-616 that brought it to the Foundation's attention occurred at midnight.
    • SCP-1547 ("A Mother's Love"). SCP-1547-A will manifest itself in a random person's bedroom each night at midnight. It will then try to get the person to carry out a self-destructive ritual.
    • SCP-2701 ("True Solitary"). On the date that a prisoner is scheduled to be released, the door of cell 667 closes and locks at midnight and the prisoner reappears within the cell.
    • SCP-1760 ("Casket Garden"). At noon on November 15th, fifteen coffins filled with human remains mysteriously rise out of the ground in Site 84. At midnight the same day they sink into the ground again and disappear.
    • SCP-2762 ("Moon Snakes"). Every full moon, when the target of SCP-2762 is at solar midnight, SCP-2762 draws in 10 cubic meters of matter and delivers it through a portal next to the target in the form of a giant snake. The snake then attacks the target and tries to kill it.
    • SCP-2970 ("Holy Misplacement"). SCP-2970 is a human being who was given magical artificial implants to improve his capabilities. He broke out of containment at Site 30 at midnight and escaped, using an innate ability of being Immune to Bullets to avoid being stopped by the guards.
  • The Adventure Zone: Balance features something of an inversion in its arc "The Eleventh Hour" in that the 12 o'Clock in question is not Midnight, but Midday. Specifically, when the clocktower in the center of the town of Refuge chimes Noon, a Purple Worm destroys the entire town, after which time in Refuge is reset to 11 AM earlier that day.
  • The Thomas & Friends Storytime podcast episode "Thomas and the Fairy God Engine" (being a retelling of Cinderella) has the Fairy God Engine warn Thomas to leave the costume ball before midnight.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series episode Holiday Knights has bombs set to go off when the new year ball drops at midnight.
  • Big City Greens: In "Chipocalypse Now", the Greens' house is scheduled for demolition at midnight, prompting an all-out war between the Greens and Wholesome Foods to protect their legacy from being ended for good.
  • The Halloween Episode of CatDog used a minor variation; the deadline's not midnight itself, but rather the twelfth chime of midnight. How the curse knows how many chimes have passed is not mentioned.
  • Inverted in the Dungeons & Dragons (1983) cartoon episode City at the Edge of Midnight, in which enslaved children "hold back the wheels of time, for the clock must never strike midnight".
  • In The Real Ghostbusters Halloween Special, when a crazy fanatic erases Halloween, he ends up breaching an ancient deal that banished a hoard of demons, resulting in them returning, with Egon explaining that unless Halloween was restored and the creatures sent back where they came from before midnight, they would be free to terrorize earth forever.
  • Inspector Gadget, Cuckoo Clock Caper. Penny is Bound and Gagged under a giant mallet that will crush her when the clock strikes five. "Guess who won't be alive?"
  • In Kim Possible Movie: So the Drama, Drakken states that he would launch his giant robot army around the world at midnight. That would mean that after Kim and Ron foiled Drakken's scheme and saved the world, it was after midnight when they went to the prom and shared their First Kiss.
  • The Simpsons: The fourth Halloween special has the trial for Homer's soul start at the stroke of midnight.
  • My Little Pony:
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle:
    • In the "Earl of Crankcase" arc, Bullwinkle must stay in an old mansion for one week to claim an inheritance. On the last day of the week, Boris tries to get Bullwinkle to leave the mansion before midnight. Lampshaded in the final episode, when as the clock chimes twelve, Boris announces, "Lawyer will be here any episode now!"
    • In the "Kurwerd Derby" arc, it's explained that in a flashback, the king of the moon assigned the moon wizard, Kerwerd to create a magical crown to boost the intelligenc of his dimwitted son. After preparing all the components, Kerwerd's spell activated, but resulted in the creation of a derby hat instead of a crown (and reduced Kerwerd to six inches tall).
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Parodied in "A Day Without Tears", when Squidward challenges SpongeBob to not cry before midnight, which he accepts. The episode then continues with Squidward ironically trying to get SpongeBob to lose (because SpongeBob's end of the bet is Squidward will come to his house for a sleepover if he makes it to midnight without crying), but he resists every effort and holds in his tears all the way until the first bong, and thus, SpongeBob wins the bet.
  • Parodied in The Pink Panther episode "Cinderpink", aired in 1995, which had much Lampshade Hanging and Discussed Tropes of this. The 1968 cartoon "Pinkerella" also follows this.
  • Wunschpunsch:
    • In the episode that was adapted from the book, the spell was cast at five o'clock afternoon, meaning it had to be broken before midnight.
    • In "Slowly but Surely", the spell was cast at five o'clock in the morning, meaning it had to be broken before noon.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • Candace signed an agreement not to try to bust her brothers more than once per day. Her mother considered adding a new clause when Candace took advantage of the fact Midnight marks the beginning of a new day, but fails once more, and has to wait another whole day (yes, 24 whole hours) before she tries again.
    • Candace tries to make a resolution to control her busting obsession, but relapses repeatedly; the moment she learns from someone they don't have to fulfil their resolution just then because it's not midnight yet, she promptly relapses completely to bust her brothers until then.
  • Muppet Babies (1984): "Pigerella" had Piggy imagining herself as Cinderella. Gonzo, the Fairy Godweirdo, changed it to seven for a similar reason it was done to Casper in the film.
  • In Rudolph's Shiny New Year, the kidnapped baby new year had to be back at Father Time's castle by the 12th bong of midnight on Dec. 31st, or time would stop. Justified because of the whole New Year thing. Midnight in the special is also when Aeon the Buzzard will turn to dust, as his eon will end.
  • Magic Adventures of Mumfie did this in the Scarecrowella episode.
  • Woody Woodpecker: Woody decides to check his driver's license and finds out it'll expire at noon.
  • The Motormouse and Autocat cartoon "King Size Caddy" opens with Autocat creating a device with a timer that will cause a mallet to smash down on Motormouse, whom Autocat knows will show up at 8 AM sharp, as he sets the device's timer for 8 AM. But Motormouse shows up ten minutes early for a round of golf, and (wouldn't you know it), Autocat is standing under the mallet protesting Motormouse's early arrival, just as the timer hits 8 AM.
  • The Funky Phantom has a variation where the clock doesn't strike twelve by itself. As explained in the show's Expository Theme Tune:
    "We were cold and soaking wet and lost out in a storm/We went inside a spooky house just hoping to get warm/A dusty clock said half past six, we knew that it was wrong/When we set the hands to twelve, the clock began to bong!
  • An episode of Rocko's Modern Life where Rocko's fridge is empty and he only has a few dollars until payday which isn't for another week when he reads in the newspaper about a big sale at the local grocery store where everything is 99% off until noon, and it's already 11:45, meaning he has 15 minutes to get to the store, and get his groceries, and check out, or else he and Spunky will have no food for a week. After going through a lot of crap at the store, Rocko actually manages to make it through the checkout line just in time, only for it to reach noon just as Filburt is reading him his total (it probably wouldn't have happened if Filburt had moved just a little faster). It's one of the rare moments where Rocko actually reaches a Rage Breaking Point.
  • In the T.U.F.F. Puppy Christmas Episode "A Doomed Christmas", Santa's reindeer lose their flying magic if he doesn't start his deliveries before midnight.

    Real Life 
  • New Year's Day. Happens every year.
    • Walt Disney World's Pleasure does this every night with party to boot.
    • In London, people in the right spot can actually hear Big Ben chime 13 times, by means of the delay in soundwaves from the tower combined with a live broadcast. If you look at it that way, it is actually a daily event.
  • Ever taken an online class, or had to submit an assignment through online means? You will know what it's like to be working right up until 11:59 PM and have to shoot off an e-mail or upload the word file like you're trying to Outrun the Fireball. This is also a favorite of researchers and PhD students worldwide when it comes to registrations for a conference, abstract submissions, filing of reimbursement applications and so on - most of these, regardless of institution or even country, usually have similar online registration procedures and similar deadlines.
  • The Doomsday Clock is a meter for the world's impending destruction made by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists magazine. It was first invented to show the closeness of the nuclear holocaust during the Cold War. It is measured in minutes to midnight on a clockface. Guess what event 0:00 represents. As of February 2023 it is currently 90 seconds To Midnight.
  • Serial Killer Ion Rimaru a.k.a. "The Vampire of Bucharest", only attacked after midnight. And only in nights with spooky weather, too.
  • This figured into the death of King George V of the United Kingdom. To give him a more dignified death, his doctor lethally injected him with a mix of cocaine and morphine (though George V didn't agree and cursed out the doctor for his trouble). This death would be the one which appeared in the Times, which had a midnight deadline. Unfortunately, the doctor nearly screwed up here—George V was killed in Sandringham at 11:20, where the clocks were set back half an hour, meaning he actually died at 11:50—ten minutes before the Times deadline. George's successor, Edward VIII, was furious when he found out and promptly switched all the clocks in Sandringham back to regular time.
  • Often times, a big movie or video game will open or release to stores at midnight on the night before the movie or game is supposed to release.


Video Example(s):


The Final Ride

Alpharad and friends race towards their final ride of the Disneyland challenge (where you ride all the rides in Disneyland plus California Adventures in a single day), the clock struck midnight, signalling the closing of the park. At first, Alpharad believed this was it, playing it up like a very bittersweet ending... when his tour guide reveals that the staff are obligated to give the people still in line when the park closes one last ride.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (20 votes)

Example of:

Main / SurprisinglyHappyEnding

Media sources: