Emerging From the Shadows

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Thus we beheld the face of Morwyn Nerdbane!

Someone's face, or whole body, is kept in shadows until just the right moment to come out and show his/her face to the other characters and/or the audience.

This person might be someone the audience knows, or looks like that person, or it might just be someone we don't know, but it's time to see who this character looks like.

The duration of the shadow hiding can also vary. It could be just a few seconds, to spending several episodes not seeing this person.

And how much shadow there is can also vary. This can range from going into the only source of light in a dark area, to leaving the only shadow in a bright area.

This is especially popular in some High Fantasy (usually involving a shadow in a lighted scene), and Film Noir (usually involving a light in a dark scene).

A Sub-Trope of The Reveal, Chiaroscuro, Rule of Drama.

A Sister Trope to Lightning Reveal, The Unmasking.

Compare Face Framed in Shadow, Dramatic Spotlight, Natural Spotlight.

Contrast The Un-Reveal.

Examples of Emerging From the Shadows include:

Comic Books

  • Many, many stories about Batman, regardless of the medium, love to do this with that very character.

Films - Animation

  • When Belle pleads for her father in Beauty and the Beast, she asks Beast to step into the light, and we see his full form for the first time.
  • Esmeralda beckoning Quasimodo to come out of the cathedral at the end of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Films - Live Action

  • David Lynch has done this in many of his movies, particularly when revealing a love interest or Femme Fatale.
  • In Dead Again, Roman's face is in the shadows for a couple minutes.
  • Done very creepily in one of the Hellboy movies. The door at the end of a shadowed hallway opens, a security guard shines his flashlight around to make sure no one's lurking there... and as soon as he leaves and the hallway is dark again, out steps Rasputin.
  • Dr. Claw is sort of revealed this way in the Inspector Gadget adaptation.
  • In The Third Man, Harry Lime is revealed when light from a window shines on him from across the street.


  • In Lord of the Rings, a revived Gandalf the White keeps his face and new garments hidden until it is time to reveal himself. The films actually invert this, by having him reveal himself as a blinding light fades.

Live Action TV

  • The final villain in Chuck is revealed this way.
  • In the Doctor Who serial City of Death, Captain Tancredi's identity is revealed in this way.
  • In the 5th Season Finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Sela showing her face is the last shot.
  • The Twilight Zone does this in "Eye of the Beholder" (when revealing that these "humans" have quite a different standard of beauty than ours) and "He's Alive" (when revealing that the person guiding the neo-Nazi is Hitler himself).
  • A very common occurrence in The X-Files, particularly if it's someone involved in some way with the myth arc conspiracy.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • In the American Dad episode "Dungeons And Wagons", Haley's game avatar is revealed this way.
  • Tirek in the My Little Pony special "Rescue at Midnight Castle", when he is about to use his Rainbow of Darkness for the first time.