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Men have preferred darkness to light because their deeds were evil.

Any scene location where the villains do their plotting is invariably dark. This includes, but is not limited to, starship command centers, unethical laboratories and throne rooms. A more personal effect is when the villain seems to absorb the light around him, presenting dramatic shadows that you could have sworn weren't there moments before the heroes arrived.

In some circumstances, it's obvious. The villains don't want to meet on the street, either to conspire or with a victim of Blackmail, or travel with their ill-gotten and conspicious goods, or go into their stronghold, when it's broad daylight; people will see them. Night is necessary to hide. Also, they may not want the characters they are talking to to be able to recognize them, and gloom helps there.

But they don't turn on the lights once they're inside the stronghold and everyone knows them.

Some evil monsters require Always Night; sunlight can harm them, but it does produce this effect.

Interestingly enough, it has been produced in a lab: people are more likely to be dishonest/commit moral transgressions in a dark environment. Perhaps it is revealing What You Are in the Dark.

Often the setting for the Omniscient Council of Vagueness. Glowy orange or purple colors are optional. Compare Empathic Environment, Sliding Scale of Shiny Versus Gritty and Face Framed in Shadow. See also Dark Is Evil and Darkness Equals Death for why this trope is employed, and Chiaroscuro (and the page image) for another reason why. Compare AND contrast Daylight Horror and Light Is Not Good.


Anime & Manga

  • All evil plotting in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle takes place in almost complete darkness.
  • Alucard's room in Hellsing is particularly dark, although it could be said that not much of Hellsing could be considered bright.
    • Possibly justified because Alucard is a vampire, and vampires are typically nocturnal.
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni is interesting in that as the plot gets darker, so does the environment. Go on, see for yourself.
  • Father from Fullmetal Alchemist plays it straight with his dark subterranean throne room.
    • The Brotherhood anime, however, made the room much more bright.
  • The Seven Stars from Shikabane Hime.
  • The senators in Eureka 7. (Points for a dramatic green light in the center of the room.)
  • Akatsuki in Naruto were initially shown to meet in a really dark cave with only their outlines being (barely) visible.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha has Precia and most of the areas in her Garden of Time.
  • In Death Note, Light Yagami's room, where he does most of his evil planning in the earlier part of the anime, is usually dark. He mentions early on that his "window" to write down criminals' names is in between coming home from school and going to bed.

Comic Books

  • Played with in The Flash, where the Rogues typically do their plotting in a diner or bar, and once met in a movie theater.
  • Sin City is dark almost everywhere you go but then again, it's a bad place.



 L (to Light): Did you forget where the light switch was or are you endeavouring to save on our carbon footprint?



  • Nero from the 2009 Star Trek movie has a particularly poorly lit ship.
    • The bridges of Klingon ships in earlier movies were also poorly lit, with a red tinge to the lighting. In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, enough screen time is spent with the crew of the Enterprise aboard a Klingon Bird of Prey (they call it the HMS Bounty) to indicate that it's not just a show thing; they really are poorly-lit.
  • Any number of Sith.
    • Before becoming the Emperor, Palpatine always appeared as Darth Sidious hidden in shadow to conceal his identity.
      • Averted with the Empire. The Death Star and Star Destroyers are all pristine clean and extremely well lit.
        • Except for Palpatine's throne room. Clearly he got a taste for it.
  • The evil owner of the baseball team from The Natural kept his office unlit. That led to a humorous scene when the hero turned on the light on his way out, and the team owner completely overreacted. (Roger Ebert complained about the opposite device in his review, saying that Robert Redford and Glenn Close were frequently lit like angelic beings, just in case you didn't know who to root for.)
  • Common in the Disney Animated Canon; villains almost always get a scene or two with low lighting.


  • In The Truth, the evil conspiracy has their dimly lit room described so that it matches the trope well and points out a potential advantage of using it: If the room is badly lit but for one bright light, it's hard to make out anyone's face and learn his identity.
  • Lord Voldemort, aka the Dark Lord, is very fond of this trope. His favorite scenes for evil showdowns include an old graveyard (at midnight) and a vast chamber filled with snake statues built far underground. Also Slytherin house, which has a far greater ratio of mean students to nice ones, has a commons room that is noticeably dark and poorly lit compared to the commons rooms of the other houses.
    • Lampshaded by Dumbledore, who believes Voldemort is using the darkness and the death motifs to scare his enemies. From what we heard of Slytherin, he wasn't a very pleasant person, and the students who are enrolled in his house are usually very much like him, so it's somewhat justified.
  • Specifically averted in the third Honorverse book, The Short Victorious War, in which the future Committee of Public Safety, who have not yet carried out their coup, meet in a tennis court in an abandoned high-rise--but, while the windows are thoroughly blacked out, the inside is well lit. (Debatably Evil, at least at that point, but the same people become undebatably Evil later on.)
  • In Robert E. Howard's The Hour of the Dragon, Conan the Barbarian is taken to such a place.

 Whether it was day or night the king could not tell. The palace of King Tarascus seemed a shadowy, nighted place, that shunned natural illumination. The spirit of darkness and shadow hovered over it, and that spirit, Conan felt, was embodied in the stranger Xaltotun.


 The Druids of his own isle of Erin had strange dark rites of worship, but nothing like this. Dark trees shut in this grim scene, lit by a single torch. Through the branches moaned an eerie night-wind. Cormac was alone among men of a strange race and he had just seen the heart of a man ripped from his still pulsing body

  • Averted, sort of, in The Man Who Was Thursday, when the Supreme Council of Anarchy meets over breakfast in broad daylight in a very public location. Of course, as with just about any other event in the novel, there's more going on than meets the eye. For starters, none of the Council members are actually evil.
  • In keeping with how the Star Wars films go back and forth on this, over in the Expanded Universe, the official novelization of Revenge of the Sith has Chancellor Palpatine portraying himself as on overtly human, genial, disarmingly warm man when it suits him, but the text leaves behind his name and simply refers to him as "the shadow" when the lights are down. But, then again...

Palpatine sits in his familiar tall oval chair behind his familiar desks; the lampdisks are full on, the office eerily bright.
As though this is merely another one of your friendly conversations, the casual evening chats you've enjoyed together for so many years.
As though nothing has happened.
as though nothing has changed.


Live Action TV

  • Star Trek: Federation starships are definitely better lit than Romulan, Borg or Klingon ships (even after Klingons became good guys).
  • Stargate Verse: averted with the Goa'uld, the Ori and the Asurans, as all of them had pretty well lit ships. Played straight with Replicators and the Wraith. Seemingly inverted in Stargate Universe, as the Destiny (and presumably the other very old Ancient ships) is darker than the hostile alien ships were so far.
  • Nevel Papperman of iCarly enjoys blackmailing the trio from his darkened lair or the dark dingy alley behind Carly and Freddie's apartment building.
  • This happens in Asfour, when Itzik is taken to meet Saragousti. Justified, as Saragousti has suffered very severe brain damage several years prior, barely moves if at all, and does not speak. Kobi uses him as a dummy boss quite literally; in that scene, he keeps Saragousti seated on a revolving chair with his back to the unwitting Itzik, who is very nervous about the scene.
  • In AKA Jessica Jones, Ruben has the great misfortune to knock on his next-door-neighbor's door while Kilgrave is prowling the place. (The hell of it is, Kilgrave could have simply just not answered the door like a regular burglar-stalker, but he's... very used to talking his way out of interruptions.)

Ruben: Who are you? And what are you doing in Jessica's apartment with all the lights off?

Kilgrave: (very dryly) The lights are off to suggest no one is here. (no less dryly) But you couldn't take a hint.

  • In the post-2005 Doctor Who, Cybermen facilities are usually quite dark, having only the barest lighting that the cyborgs need.

Video Games


 Duke: Jeez, you'd think Morphix could afford a few light bulbs.

  • In the Sims 3 sims will get a negative moodlet without proper lighting. Sims with the evil trait won't.
  • In the Command and Conquer Tiberian series, Brotherhood of Nod bases tend to have very minimal, very stark red lighting, such that 80% of any given shot is black and the rest red (see the page pic for Dark Messiah for a typical example). The fanfic Tiberium Wars suggests this is entirely because Kane loves hearing his subordinates bang their shins on consoles.
  • In The Dark Meadow, monsters won't attack you in any room that has light coming in. (Although a little bit getting in through a crack is OK for them, apparently.)
  • The BlackCastle in An Untitled Story. Not only is it black, it also has a room with a faulty lighting.
  • In Wario Land Shake It, the throne room the Shake King stays in through about 90% of the game is literally completely dark. As in, the bit Wario enters from is pretty much just a black screen and the rest of it seems like only half the lights are on, to the point you can see the villain's eyes glowing in the dark.


Web Original

Western Animation

  • The Fright Zone in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power doesn't have great lighting.
  • Zig-zagged in Transformers Prime, the Nemesis, the Decepticon warship, is made of black/purple metal with very little interior lighting that gives it a dark, foreboding atmosphere when compared to the Autobot bases but Ultra Magnus and Wheeljack's ships, despite being made of silver/dark blue metal, have a similar amount of lighting, so it may simply be normal illumination levels for the Cybertronians.
  • Most Galra facilities in Voltron: Legendary Defender are illuminated by a dim red/purple light.
    • Zarkon's throne room is a very dark place, having only a few side lights and exposure to the utter blackness of space itself.