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The moon does things to people. Makes women crazy, drives the lunatics, or maybe enhances your supernatural powers. The full moon might bring out the monster in someone, or a new moon may bring the human out of a monster. In general, the moon is often a catalyst in magical things.
More mundane things are stealth on the night of a new moon, or illumination on the night of a full moon. A full moon is associated with lycanthropy as the most common way to trigger the transformation (a trope that is somewhat Newer Than They Think). The duality of the sun and moon is also seen as mirroring the duality of men and women. From that, the moon is usually a feminine symbol (this may be because both have monthly cycles).
The words "lunacy", "lunatic", and "loony" are derived from "Luna" because of the folk belief in the moon as a cause of periodic insanity. When planning stealthy invasions some characters will wait for the night of a new moon when the sky is the darkest.
Anime and Manga
- Inverted In Inuyasha, the main character loses his demonic powers during the new moon.
- Saiyans with tails on turn into giant monkeys by seeing the moon on Dragon Ball. In one of the few times that the author tries to rationalize anything in this manga, Vegeta explains that Saiyans absorb the special frequency of light caused by the full moon and a certain gland in their tails prompts their transformation.
- In Tsukihime, power of vampires is dependent on the phase of the moon. On full moon, even regenerating from one's ankles up is possible.
- Similar to the Tsukihime example, vampires (or at least Evangeline, the only vampire we've actually met) in Mahou Sensei Negima grow stronger as the moon gets closer to full.
- Promptly subverted in that she gets more mileage out of people knowing this and thus being less prepared for what she can do when the moon's not full. We haven't actually seen her and a full moon together since learning about the connection. From her.
- Sailor Moon, whose powers are fueled by love, friendship, and the MOON!
- In what might be a Shout-Out to Sailor Moon, Cure Moonlight from Heartcatch Pretty Cure.
- Name a series with werewolves in it, any series.
- Discworld subverts the "full moon = magic" cliché: the effect of the full moon on werewolves is mentioned but rarely has much impact (though there is the humourous consequence of werewolves suffering from their 'time of the month' - PLT, Pre-Lunar Tension). Instead, on Discworld the most magical phase is a half moon, because it's on the edge between light and darkness.
- The Night Watch averts it completely. Werevolves do suffer from periods of uncontrollable transformation and feral rage but the timing is depends on their biology and has nothing to do with the state of the moon.
- Ursula K. Le Guin has a short story that involves a transformation on moonless nights. It's made obvious early on that something even weirder than usual is going on. The narrator's a wolf, and the "monster" transforms into a human.
- In the James Bond novel From Russia with Love, Red Grant, SMERSH's Chief Executioner, has homicidal urges coinciding with the full moon; his SMERSH file categorizes him as a manic-depressive psychopath. In the intro of the novel his wristwatch is described to show the phases of the moon.
- In the C.J. Henderson novel All Things Under the Moon, the villain explains that the moon doesn't trigger his transformations: "The moon does not make me into a monster. I did that to myself - a long time ago. The moon only makes the monster kill."
- Harry Turtledove's Werenight revolves around that world's Three moons going full at once, which triggers lycanthropic transformations in every single person who may remotely have the bloodline for it.
- This is a major theme in most of Simon R Green's works. Most notably his "Blue Moon Rising" series in which the world is plunged into chaos and darkness when the titular moon rises and a demon horde is unleashed, and his standalone novel Drinking Midnight Wine which features an Anthropomorphic Personification of the moon itself who is stark staring bonkers!
- In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Shadows in The Moonlight" Olivia deduces from her dream that the moonlight is restoring the Taken for Granite statues.
"There is witchcraft in the moon," she shuddered. "He pointed at the moon; while the moon shines on them, they live. So I believe."
- In The Name of the Wind, when Elodin and Kvothe visit the Rookery, it's commented that the moon makes the patients worse. This may actually be true, since the moon seems to be linked to both their world and the Fae realm, and the insane may be seeing through a weak spot between worlds.
- The Character Moon Knight in Marvel comics is a former special forces operative that met and became the Avatar of the Egyptian god of the Moon and Revenge. Or he is just bat shit crazy as he suffers from extreme multiple personality disorder at times. His ability to be a hero just makes up for how full blown bonkers he can become, as he actually cut the face off his arch enemy at one point.
Live Action Television
- An episode of Castle focuses on two murders committed on the evening of the full moon; the beginning features a scene of utter chaos in the station house, with a whole load of lunatics and maniacs causing havoc in the squad room, and all the phones ringing off the hook... with Detective Beckett calmly sitting at her desk doing paperwork and Richard Castle happily sitting beside her with a bowl of popcorn watching the chaos.
- Kamen Rider Double's Luna Memory grants him the power of the Moon; officially it grants "the power of illusions", which manifests as Rubber Man powers for his Good Old Fisticuffs (Joker) and Simple Staff (Metal), and Roboteching Beam Spam for his Handgun (Trigger)
- In Power Rangers Wild Force, Zen-Aku is like Inuyasha - on the night of the new moon, he loses his powers and becomes his human self again. However, he gets full moon power Inuyasha doesn't get. Basically, his power waxes and wanes with the moon's phases as a rule. (This also accounts for the traditional As Strong As They Need To Be factor the show has. Invincible in his first and last battles; whenever one Ranger is a match for him, it must not be near full moon time!)
- Not about werewolves or magic, but "Dancing In The Moonlight" counts.
- Actively used in Forgotten Realms with the goddess Selune-the oldest deity in existence (barring her evil twin), and extremely difficult to get a handle on in regards to her actual portfolio, which changes like the moon. Specifically the goddess of lycanthropes and women, but also encompasses divination, travelling, questing, tolerance, female spellcasters...
- In Magic: The Gathering, magic associated with the Moon is usualy either red (chaos) and blue (intellect). Depending on the setting, the local Moon might be of other colours, like white (order) and black (ambition), such as in Kamigawa (where it is blue and black) and the new Innistrad setting (where the Moon empowers both the local white flavoured church and the green and red werewolves).
- In the Dragonlance setting, arcane magic is governed by the three moons Solinari, Lunitari, and Nuitari (and the deities of the same names).
- Solinari is silver, Lunitari is red and Nuitari is black. The last governs evil magic, and is, for obvious reasons, really hard to see.
- Luna, the mother of all werewolves, gets similar treatment in Werewolf: The Forsaken. "Ever-Shifting Luna" is a more polite way of saying "Bitch crazy." For instance, she has spirits, known as the Lunes, who oversee each of the auspices and dispense wisdom to the Forsaken. The reason no werewolves ever try to make one a pack totem is because continued exposure to them can drive a werewolf insane.
- And then there's what the moon phase does for werewolves. Like in the predecessor game, a werewolf's phase of the moon (the one they were born under in the old game, the one they first change under in the new game) determines their basic role in werewolf society. Full moons are warriors, gibbous moons are bards and prophets, half moons are judges, crescent moons are shamans, and new moons are tricksters and rogues.
- Changeling: The Lost gets in on it too. There's a Contract that Changelings can forge with the moon that revolves around madness; from sensing it with a glance to inducing it in whole crowds of people at once. And if you're a Darkling of the Moonborn kith, you have a spiritual connection to the moon that lets you drive people insane with a touch. Of course, you get zapped with a lesser version of that madness youself when you use it.
- Exalted gives similar treatment to Luna, specifically how her chosen, the Lunar Exalted, regard her. Like all Exalted, Lunars accrue Limit if they go against their guiding Virtues; however, they also gain Limit whenever the full moon's in the sky. Instead of realizing there may be some external reason for their occasional crazy rampages, they just ascribe it to Luna being chaotic like that.
- And as in Werewolf, a Lunar's role is linked to a phase of the moon; here, however, it's chosen by the Lunar, as they lost the inherent assignation of Caste when the Lunars as a whole fled into the Wyld after the Usurpation. Those that aren't marked are the Casteless, whose Caste abilities shift with the moon and bear the risk of becoming Chimerae. The other three positions are Full Moon (warriors), Changing Moon (tricksters and diplomats), and No Moon (sorcerers and scholars); there used to be five Castes, but again, the Wyld screwed with that.
- Rune Quest has Lunes, which are basically "Moon Elementals". Their touch causes madness.
- Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 had a monster called Moon Rats. They are perfectly ordinary rats most of the time, but when exposed to the full moon they become intelligent, organized, and evil.
- Okami has Yumigami, a rabbit god who gives you the power of Crescent, allowing you to change day to night. It's rarely useful.
- Then there are Mr. and Mrs. Cutter, two crow tengus who disguise themselves as human. Mrs. Cutter specifically says that during the full moon their kind gets too excited for them to move outside without exposing themselves.
- In Touhou Imperishable Night, if you reach the "true" moon, the Big Bad reveals that "pure" moonbeams can drive humans insane. In one of Remilia and Sakuya's endings, it drives all the non-human characters insane.
- Reisen Udongein Inaba, one of the said Big Bad's servants, has the literal power to drive people crazy with nothing more than a glance.
- In the Extra Mode of that game, a convenient full moon turns Keine Kamishirasawa into her hakutaku form, making her enough of a challenge to serve as an extra stage Mid Boss.
- Remilia Scarlet's powers are at their strongest during the Scarlet Moon, setting the stage for the final showdown of Embodiment of Scarlet Devil.
- Patchouli Knowledge has access to moon as one of the 7 elements she uses.
- Luna Child has the power to dampen sounds and create silence, and her power waxes when the moon is in the sky and wanes when it isn't.
- The waxing and waning of the moon is a key gameplay feature in every Shin Megami Tensei game. The fuller the moon is, the more damage your attacks do, the more likely an accident is to occur during fusion, and the crazier the monsters act. During a full moon they're practically drunk off those moonbeams, which makes for entertaining conversation. There are also some abilities that are more or less effective depending on the phase of the moon. Certain games have their own quirks:
- Persona 3 has important storyline events occur during a full moon.
- There's a period of time in the game Shin Megami Tensei where the main character would take damage during a full moon. This is because of his psychic link to the Heroine, whose reincarnated self is currently undergoing torture from a demon that has invaded her mind. The full moon makes him feel her pain. This is solved by rescuing her.
- In Digital Devil Saga, there's a 50% chance during
every new moonMIN Solar Noise that your characters will be cured of any ailments that they are suffering from. Also, the selling price of Cells is at its highest during MAX Solar Noise. In the sequel, Digital Devil Saga 2, there is a chance during 7/8 or MAX Solar NoiseSolar Data that you will enter battle in Berserk Form.
- You can guarantee that you get the best items from Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne's Mystical Chests by opening them during a full moon. The drop rate of Gems is also highest at this point.
- Technically, that's not a moon. In Nocturne, the moon, along with the rest of the world, has been destroyed. What the game tracks, instead, is the brightening and darkening of Kagutsuchi. Hence, Nocturne is one of the few games with a good reason for why the "moon"'s phase changes every few steps you take, as opposed to taking days to change phase.
- In Kingdom Hearts II, Saix of Organisation XIII uses the ominous Kingdom Hearts floating over The World That Never Was as the focus of his berserkering tendencies (in contrast to his stoicness in all other occasions). The aforementioned MacGuffin is, for all intents and purposes, the moon of The World That Never Was; the theme of the world is entitled Sacred Moon, the city is draped in eternal night with the only light source being Kingdom Hearts... plus, Saix has fairly obvious connections to being a werewolf, what with his title being the Luna Diviner.
- Skies of Arcadia. There are six moons, all powering different types of magic, all dropping meteorites onto the land below which everyone then uses to power just about everything. And that's not even counting their plot-critical role...
- In Final Fantasy IV the After Years, the phase of the moon affects the strength of various commands. For instance, when the moon is full, Physical attacks are weakened, while Black Magic is stronger and White Magic is unchanged.
- Secret of Mana has Luna, whose Moon magic has many uses, from casting MP-stealing spells, berzerker like buffs, to shape-changing your foes.
- Luna returns in Seiken Densetsu 3. Very few classes have access to any of Luna's spells, but Hawk's Wanderer class can cast all but one of them.
- In Suikoden II, one of the 27 True Runes is the Moon Rune, which grants its wielder Immortality, at the cost of vampirism, of course. The original possessor of the Rune, Sierra Mikain, is said to be the oldest Vampire in existence.
- Pokémon has a move called "Moonlight" that restores HP based on the weather, and in the games they debuted in, the time of day. In later games, it works identically to its counterpart, "Morning Sun," which results of a Dub Induced Plot Hole due to the clear skies field effect being translated as strong sunlight - Moonlight restores the most health when the sun is shining.
- According to the Pokédex, Eevee evolves into its Dark-type evolution Umbreon by exposure to the light of the moon, Lunatone becomes active during the full moon, and Cresselia extends its aurora during the quarter moon.
- There's also the Moon Stone, which allows a miscellaneous grouping of Pokémon to evolve. Only one of them, Clefairy, has any connections to the moon, being said to have originated on it.
- Subverted with the summon Luna, in Tales of Symphonia, who, despite her name, shares Light-element powers alongside two other spirits, Aska and Rem.
- One could argue that, since the Moon mirror the light of the Sun, Luna (Moon) is simply the flip-side of Aska (Sun).
- In Chrono Cross, Harle, the harlequin minion of villain Lynx, is revealed late in the game to be the Dark Moon Dragon, created by the other six Dragons to be a servant of the Dragon God. She was created secretly so that she could release the seal on the other six Dragons and they would be able to merge once more into the Dragon God and unleash havoc on humans once again. She is eventually abandoned by them, as she did not merge with the other dragons. She's even named Tsukuyomi in the Japanese version, after the Japanese moon god. Her special attacks are all moon-based.
- Ax Crazy Mitsunari of Sengoku Basara has a moon theme going on in order to contrast with his nemesis Ieyasu. As an Iaijutsu Practitioner, his slashes make crescent shapes and a moon appears in both his Limit Break and his stage. The game often uses sun and moon imagery in order to symbolize the both and the final battle between them is represented as a solar eclipse.
- Wizard 101 has the moon school in Celestia. It's powers involve shape-shifting.
- One of the many running gags in Sinfest is "Aah! Full moon! I'm turning into [whatever the character is most afraid of becoming]." As with most of Sinfest's running gags, the precise results can vary wildly--for instance, a demoness turns into a housewife.
- Futurama with the were-car. Even though the transformation had nothing to do with the moon, the were-cars howled/honked at it anyway.
- Waterbenders of Avatar: The Last Airbender are powered by the moon's cycles (the Moon being the first water-bender (think about tides) and the one who taught humans how to do it), with their abilities at their peak during a full moon. Most notably, it allows them the power of People Puppetry.
- However, by The Legend of Korra, it's shown that a full moon is not required to pull off Bloodbending if the bender is powerful enough, as shown by Tarrlok.
- Superjail has an interesting variation: In the pilot episode, The Warden decides to order bunny suits for all of the inmates. The Twins screw up his order, of course, and half of the suits are now wolf suits. The Warden decides to 'congradulate' The Twins while they're working out in the prison yard with the inmates (who are now clad in either bunny suits or wolf suits.) The Warden then proceeds to 'start the big show' and raises the full moon in the sky. The prisoners in the wolf suits suddenly start foaming at the mouth and transform into actual werewolves.
- An episode of Dexter's Laboratory had Dexter experiencing a bad day. Dee Dee convinces him that it's because of the zodiac - the Moon is blocking him from his constellation. He solves it by pushing the Moon... and accidentally causing it to fall into his city.
- In the Phineas and Ferb episode "The Doof Side of the Moon", Card-Carrying Villain Dr. Doofenshmirtz claims that although his own evil remains constant, the level of "background evil" waxes and wanes with the phases of the moon.
- Cue a Crowning Moment of Funny when it hits him why rotating the moon half way around has no effect on the lunar phases. And then reasons that he should have rotated the Sun instead.
- Shikata, the Samurai Blood Knight mercenary ki-adept hired to kill Spider-Man in the 2003 Spider-Man animated series, gained indefinitely-prolonged youth, Ki Attacks and a Healing Factor by reflecting moonlight off her magic sword and onto her skin.
- Princess Luna from My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic is responsible for bringing out the night at dusk. A lot of her powers and those of her Super-Powered Evil Side Nightmare Moon are based around lunacy: illusions, murderous madness, metamorphosis...
- It's an urban legend that that the rate of violent crime and hospital admissions is generally higher on nights of the full moon. One explanation of this is that the Moon affects the fluids in one's body just like it affects the ocean. It's not true, and pretty much all evidence of this can be chalked up to confirmation bias.
- On a subconscious, biological level, humans, being descended from potential prey animals, would logically tend to be more anxious under conditions in which predators would find it easier to see us, such as during the full moon. Which would explain any peripheral freakiness - such as anecdotal increases in agitation among sufferers of panic-anxiety and bipolar disorders - a lot better than, say, positive ions or tidal gravity.
- On June 15, 2011, there was a Blood moon combined with a total lunar eclipse - timed perfectly with riots in Vancouver when the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup to the Bruins in a 0-4 upset. Coincidence?