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7 Reasons Your TV Screen Is Dark + How To Fix It (2023)

Why Is My TV Screen Dark

Dark TV screens can be really frustrating. 

Imagine you’re not even watching a horror movie. Or some dark, gritty action movie. 

Yet you could barely make out what you see on screen. 

There are several causes for a dark screen. 

Luckily, there are fast and easy ways to resolve them.

Read on to learn:

  • How updating your TV’s firmware can help.
  • How to easily configure your TV’s brightness.
  • How crucial backlights are to your screen’s brightness.
  • Why watching in HDR isn’t always better compared to SDR.
  • 3 easy steps to switch off Samsung’s Light Detection feature.
  • And many more…

Why is my TV screen dark?

Your TV screen is dark because the brightness level isn’t properly set, you’re in Theater mode, the power saving mode is set to high, or a backlight issue. In addition, there are other settings specific to TV brands such as the light detection feature that may cause a dark screen. 

7 reasons your TV screen is dark + how to fix it

#1: Your Brightness levels aren’t properly set

The very first thing to check for a dark screen is the brightness setting. 

Regardless whether it’s an old unit or the latest Smart TV. You can very easily adjust the brightness to your liking.  

This should resolve most, if not all, dark screen issues in an instant.

How to fix it:

Using your remote, click on the Settings and find the option for Picture. Click that and you’ll find the setting for brightness.

It’s normally scaled from 0 – 100. You may adjust it until you find that sweet spot that’s most comfortable for your eye.

Warning: Turning up the brightness to 100 may be detrimental to your vision so try to avoid that. 

Further reading: 11 Ways to Fix Your TV Brightness Problems

#2: The Picture Mode is set to Theater or Cinema

Modern TVs offer a wide range of preset Picture modes. The most common include Theater or Cinema, Sports, Vivid, Dynamic, and Standard.

Theater mode is typically dimmer than others. This is so you notice more details in the images. You actually see a movie as the director or cinematographer intended it to look like.

In addition, Cinema mode is calibrated for low-light environments. Giving you a movie theater-like experience. 

However, some are put-off by how dark this mode looks. And if you’re one of them, you can easily fix this with a few clicks on your remote. 

Check out: Best Picture Settings for Samsung 4K TV in 13 Steps

How to fix it:

To change to another mode, simply click the Settings on your TV remote. When the menu pops up, navigate to Picture. 

You should be able to toggle through the different options. If you really want a bright and vibrant picture, go for the Vivid or Dynamic mode. 

Just note that it may cause eye strain from prolonged watching.

The Standard, or the default mode, should be enough for most viewing experiences.

If you’d like to customize the Picture settings, though, you may refer to this video:

#3: Power Saving Mode is on and set to high

Smart TVs now have a Power or Energy Saving mode option. 

This is great if you want to reduce electric consumption.  This option also helps reduce overheating. 

And while there are benefits to using this option, it comes at the expense of your brightness.

When Power Saving Mode is on and turned to high, expect your screen to naturally become darker. 

So it really is a matter of weighing your options. Would you prefer to save energy? Or would you rather enjoy watching with a brighter screen? Either way is fine, of course. 

How to fix it:

This would vary depending on the brand of your TV. You may either find it in the Picture menu or the System menu for Samsung. 

Navigate to the Energy or Power Saving option. You’ll have four choices. High, Medium, Low, and Off.

Simply select Low or Off if you want a brighter screen. 

#4: Light Detection Feature is turned on

As years go by, Smart TVs also become, well, smarter. 

More features are added. And one that can affect your TV’s brightness is the Light Detection feature.

What this does is that it automatically adjusts the brightness of the screen. This would depend on your environment.  

If you’re in a dark room, the light automatically dims. And it brightens in a well-lit setting.

It’s actually quite an impressive feature. However, some may understandably not enjoy the dynamic changes in brightness.

How to fix it:

There should be an option to turn it off but the steps will differ depending on your TV. 

For Samsung TVs that are 2017 or later, you may follow these:

  1. Using your remote, pull up the Menu and go to Settings.
  2. Select General and look for Ambient Light Detection.
  3. Toggle the slider to turn it off.

For other brands, it’s best to refer to your TV’s manual.

#5: You’re watching on HDR instead of SDR

“Wait, what?! Isn’t HDR supposed to be better than SDR?”

It is. HDR or Higher Dynamic range is designed to boost the image quality of your screen. 

HDR offers a wider range of contrast. Bright is even brighter. Dark is even darker. 

However, not all TVs are capable of producing the brightness level that HDR requires. To compensate, some TVs resort to actually dimming images to try to maintain the contrast.

If you’re experiencing this while watching in HDR, you might want to consider reverting back to SDR.

How to fix it:

To switch from HDR to SDR, go to the menu of your streaming device. 

Look for the Display settings. 

You should be able to find an option there to turn off HDR.

#6: Smart TV’s firmware isn’t up to date

Smart TV's Firmware Isn't Up To Date

As with smartphones and laptops, if you’re using a Smart TV, you must update its software regularly.

For most Smart TVs, updates usually occur automatically. Just the same, it’s important to check if you have the latest software.

An outdated firmware may cause various issues. These include resolution problems for your TV screen.

How to fix it:

To check if your Smart TV’s software is up to date, go to your TV’s Settings menu. You should be able to find the Support option.

When you click that, you should see Software Update. When you see an Update Now option, click that. Your Smart TV should begin downloading the latest update.

Don’t turn off your TV while the process is ongoing. 

Note: Smart TV manufacturers typically limit their software support. It’s only up to a certain number of years. If your TV is old, you may no longer be able to update its software. 

#7: The HDMI you’re using may be broken

The condition of your HDMI may also affect both the audio and the video quality of your screen.

If your TV is connected to another device through an HDMI, you’d want to make sure that it’s properly connected.

If your HDMI is loose, it’s likely to affect the picture color. This may also be the case if your HDMI is faulty. Or if the HDMI port of your TV has issues.

How to fix it:

See to it that the HDMI is firmly in place. You may want to unplug it first before plugging it back again. Make sure it’s secure. 

You may also want to double-check if it’s working by using it with devices other than your TV.  

If your HDMI port may be the problem, try connecting it to other ports. Most TVs have multiple ports for HDMIs. 

BONUS: LED backlight is faulty

The LED backlight is crucial to providing brightness for your TV. 

Smart TVs have the option that allows users to adjust the intensity of the backlight. This is to achieve optimal brightness.

Due to wear and tear, though, backlights may eventually malfunction. You’ll notice that when your screen becomes darker regardless of the setting. 

Or if the screen color changes to purple or blue.

When this happens, it’s time to replace your TV’s backlight.

How to fix it:

There are DIY methods on how to replace LED backlights. But it’s best to contact your nearest technician. 

This should save you the trouble of having to disassemble your TV. And the potential for more issues to arise. 

Your technician should be able to perform a full backlight array replacement procedure. And your TV’s brightness should be fixed in no time.