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A character occupies a special place in the story: This character is either exceptionally powerful, exceptionally pure or both. A quick visual shorthand to note this specialness is to have the character glow. Unlike a Holy Backlight, this glow is not from an external source but originates from within the person himself. The character does not necessarily glow all the time; often, the glow is visible only in certain circumstances or to certain people.

Glowing can be used to signify when someone is about to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence (or already has done so). Often, the glow is white, drawing on that color's associations with purity.

While villainous examples are possible, most frequently the glowing person is on the hero's side.

A Sub-Trope of Power Glows. See Energy Beings for non-corporeal versions. Compare to Battle Aura. Related to Holy Backlight.

Examples of Phosphor Essence include:

Anime and Manga

  • Digimon Adventure: Kari ends up glowing at least twice. One time she's used by a mysterious force to provide exposition. Another time she comes across some enslaved Digimon and helps them become free. This seems appropriate for someone who wields the Crest of Light.
  • In Monster Rancher, monsters and Genki glow when they are charged with power.
  • There's a subtle example in Death Note that crosses with Red Oni, Blue Oni: when Light and L confront each other, or meet each other on the street, Light unexpectedly starts to shine a deep, blood-like red, and L an almost navy blue. Sometimes it appears as a tiny aura around their bodies, other times their hair and eyes glow that color.
  • In Dragon Ball, every character who goes Super Saiyan glows. While other characters can summon a Battle Aura, Super Saiyans are constantly glowing, as indicated by their clothes and skin tone being lighter even when the Battle Aura is off, and the hyper saturation of their hair in the most recent special.


  • In the film version of The Lord of the Rings, Galadriel glows with a greenish-blue light when she explains how powerful and terrible she would become were she to accept the Ring.
  • Olivia Newton-John's character in Xanadu does this, due to being The Muse.
  • Subverted with Zach from Sky High: he can glow in the dark... and that's about it.
  • Kida from Atlantis: The Lost Empire glows blue when she takes on an energy form.
  • The gods in Hercules glow. At the end, Hercules starts glowing when he regains godhood.
  • Cocoon: In their true forms (after taking off their human disguises) the Antareans glow brightly.


  • In The Lord of the Rings, as Frodo succumbs to the Nazgûl blade, he perceives Glorfindel (a powerful elf lord) as "a shining figure of white light".
    • Sam also notes that at times, it seems as if a light is shining out of Frodo.
  • After Eriond becomes a god at the end of the Malloreon, he has to concentrate on not glowing.
  • In Elantris, before being reduced to twisted wrinkled pseudo-zombies, Elantrians glowed faintly. After the problem that removed their powers is fixed, they start glowing again.
  • Deryni auras: Deryni don't have to show their auras, but sometimes they do, often as a means of revealing themselves (since They Look Just Like Everyone Else). Glowing is no guarantee of goodness among Deryni.
  • In Stardust, Yvaine is a fallen star who glows more brightly the happier she is. Yvaine herself is not particularly powerful except in the movie, and only at the very end; however, her heart is, and the brighter she is, the more powerful her heart is.
  • The Great Priest of Ishtar from Dragonlance is the greatest cleric on Ansalom and is perpetually clad in unbearable light. It's later revealed that it is much less impressive than it seems.
  • The Delphae in the Tamuli trilogy are known literally as "Shining Ones". Their glow came indirectly from their god, Edaemus, who made the lake in their isolated village glow. They had to drink from it, and they eventually started to glow, too. It was originally nothing more than harmless divine foolery, but when people started persecuting the Delphae, Edaemus gave the glow a purpose: a warning that their very touch could melt the flesh from your bones. From then on, the sight of a Delphae made most people flee in terror.

Live Action TV

  • Touched By an Angel: When the angels reveal themselves to a human, they glow to make their true nature clear.

Video Games

  • In Fable I and II, very good/pure characters develop a faint aura.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash Up, all playable characters glow. The color of the glow indicates the player number, and the intensity of the glow indicates the amount of health remaining (the stronger, the healthier).

Web Comics

  • Homestuck:
    • The troll's inverse version of vampires, "rainbow drinkers", glow a bright white.
    • When Rose goes Grimdark, she gains a black glow to show her immense power. (Spoilers for Act 5.)
  • Nodwick: We never actually see it (possibly because the Powers What Is hide just how good she is), but as a child Piffany apparently kept her parents awake with her halo of purity.

Western Animation

  • In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, "The Daughter" is so thoroughly in tune with the Light Side of The Force that she innately glows. In fact, when she dies, one sign is she stops glowing.
  • Subverted in The Simpsons, wherein the green-glowing space alien (Season 8 Episode 10) who claims to come in peace turns out to be Mr. Burns glowing due to the effects of his medical treatment.
  • White Diamond in Steven Universe emits a bright white light from her gem in Season 5. She has to consciously want to do it however and she's also able to control how bright it is, or even turn it off outright.