Robert Nightingale was a federal agent in the FBI. He was once partnered with an Agent Finn. Nightingale and Finn were known as "The Righteous Brothers", as they never drank or went against the rules. When Finn started talking about "darkness" and avoiding shadows whenever he could; Nightingale told Finn to get his act together. Sometime later Finn was "taken" by something and Nightingale became obsessed with finding out what Finn had meant by the 'darkness'. He started to drink heavily to cope with his guilt over his friend's evident death. Eventually Nightingale began having terrifying nightmares similar to the ones Clay Steward and Alan Wake experienced. In his dreams, Nightingale sees a man who very closely resembles Alan Wake. Soon, Nightingale became completely obsessed and paranoid about finding the man in his dreams.
Nightingale went rogue in Bright Falls after being fired from the FBI for unknown reasons prior to the events of Alan Wake. Clay Steward - the writer of the Alan Wake Files - speculates Nightingale was drawn to Bright Falls thanks to a compulsion similar to Clay's drive to find Alan Wake. Although Nightingale's precise motivation for his pursuit is uncertain, it is clear he somehow discovered the impact of Alan's manuscript on future events. In stark contrast to his reputation as one of the 'Righteous Brothers' Nightingale in Bright Falls was a classic example of a loose-cannon cop: drunk and trigger happy. On two occasions he tries to shoot an unarmed Alan endangering innocent civilians in the process.
Searching for Alan Wake
Nightingale is first seen at the trailer park in Episode 3 after Paul Randolph, the trailer park owner, calls him. He has been in Bright Falls for an unknown amount of time and has been investigating Alan for a while.
Nightingale is seen outside a fence that across a fence from Alan, aiming a revolver at him. He tells Alan to put his hands in the air only to open fire when Alan makes a break for the fence. Nightingale almost hits Alan a couple of times. He almost hits Randolph while shooting at Alan and shows no remorse or awareness of his extremely reckless actions. Enraged he sends all the local police forces after Alan but still fails to apprehend his target. Nightingale is next seen outside Pat Maine's radio station after tracking Alan down again. Alan flees while Nightingales starts firing again, this time nearly hitting Pat Maine. Angry and humiliated by Alan's second escape he shouts he will catch Alan even if it kills him.
Finally he captures Alan after he and Barry Wheeler pass out after drinking the Anderson Brothers moonshine at the Anderson Farm. While tempted to murder Alan, Nightingale instead brings Wake and Barry into custody.
After capturing Wake, Nightingale taunts him repeatedly while he is locked in a cell. He shows Alan a large cache of manuscript pages he has collected and tells Wake that he will be going to jail for a long time. But when an arguments arises, Nightingale lets his guard down. He reads part of a scene in a manuscript page that reveals an attack on his 'character' and the scene immediately occurs; the Dark Presence pulls Nightingale out the door. This contact "touched" him but not enough to take him.
At the end of the game Nightingale is visible looking at Rose Marigold from behind a store window. Nightingale does not speak he simply looks on darkly and coldly, alluding to the possibility of Agent Nightingale becoming the new avatar of the darkness.
Agent Nightingale didn't want to be in Bright Falls. These little communities revolted him. And he didn't like the trees or the coffee. He now knew that impossible horrors lurked behind the storefronts and smiles.
He desperately wanted to turn the car around and just drive until he passed out or ran out of road and booze. But he had a job to do; he had a writer to catch – at any cost.
Nightingale In The Majestic
Even behind the closed doors and curtains of his grimy room at The Majestic – the local motel – Nightingale could feel the locals’ eyes on him, the unrelenting pressure of their judgement.
He forced it out of his mind. For all he knew they could all be under Wake’s spell already. You do what you have to do to get the job done.
He took comfort from the bottle in his hand: “Please,” he thought, “just let me get through this.”
Sarah Distrusts Nightingale
Sheriff Sarah Breaker trusted her gut and her gut said agent Nightingale was an asshole. He felt wrong and it wasn't just the smell of stale booze. It was in the way he flashed his badge, pulled rank, the look in his eyes when he wanted answers. Where was Alan Wake? What was this about an accident? Where was his wife? And most importantly, why did she let Wake go?
He wouldn't answer her questions; “Federal business” was all he’d say.
Nightingale Fires At Wake
The FBI agent’s command froze me in place. I considered surrender, it was all falling apart anyway; I could give in, let someone else deal with it.
But it felt all wrong. Call it instinct; his posture, the way he held the gun, he was no friend.
Shots ringing in my ears I leaped for the hole in the fence and stumbled into the darkness beyond.
Nightingale In The Radio Station
Nightingale stared through the broken studio window into the dark woods, he turned around, started to walk out, but Maine grabbed his arm.
“Young man, you almost shot me! You don’t shoot off rounds at people like that. What’s the matter with you?”
Nightingale shook his arm free, marched out. His cheeks burned with rage and humiliation.
Nightingale Arrests Wake
Agent Nightingale stared at the passed-out writer. The man was sleeping off one hell of a night. Nightingale felt a stab of envy at Wake’s oblivion. But he had a job to do. He put the gun to Wake’s head. And almost became a murderer. His hand shook and his throat felt tight and dry, biting his teeth, he tried again to pull the trigger, he lost the nerve.
Wake stirred. Nightingale would have to settle for an arrest.
Nightingale Finds The Manuscript
As the deputies hauled Wake and Wheeler away, Agent Nightingale eagerly examined the stack of papers Wake had been carrying.
It was incomplete, a collection of random pages.
But there was enough: he saw his own name in there, among others. His hands shook with emotion.
Finally, it was proof. He had been right all along.
Nightingale Reads The Manuscript
Nightingale tried to make sense of the manuscript. It was disjointed and strange. He didn't understand half of it, but it all rang true.
He took out his hip flask when he reached the page that described how he reached the page that made him take out his hip flask.
It wasn't the booze that made his mind reel.
Wake And Barry In The Cell
I stared through the bars of the jail cell, Barry stood behind me, swaying on his feet, looking as ill as I felt.
Agent Nightingale stood on the other side of the bars with Sheriff Breaker. Nightingale had a stack of manuscript pages in his hand. He seemed unhinged as he gloated:
“Well, I've got you now, Raymond Chandler. It’s all here, all the evidence, including conspiracy to murder a federal agent”.
Nightingale Attacked By The Dark Presence
Nightingale felt the situation veering out of his control, but the gun at least felt steady in his hands. He was ready to fire, resolved that he would let this happen over his dead body – and yet he hesitated.
He had seen this moment before, read it in the page. He was transfixed by the déjà vu and the horror that he was a character in a story someone had written.
Then the monstrous presence burst in behind him and dragged him into the night.
This House of Dreams
In the alternate reality blog, This House of Dreams, Robert Nightingale is mentioned, not by name, but by appearance. In the beginning of Samantha's first "Shoebox Dream", she hears the doorbell ring and goes toward the door and opens it up. The man that was standing in her doorway said that he was an FBI agent and showed her his badge. She then explains the scary part of the dream, saying that there was something wrong with his face. His face was covered in inky smoke so dark that she couldn't see what he looked like. He then asked her where the shoebox was and told her that he needed it because it contained top-secret information. Samantha started to panic, thinking that she would be thrown in jail if she didn't give him the shoebox. After she woke up, she thought back on the dream, realizing that his badge didn't say "FBI"; it said "AWE". (http://thishouseofdreams.blogspot.com/). The man with the "inky smoke" around his face resembles Nightingale after he was taken over by the Dark Presence.
- When speaking to Alan, Agent Nightingale likes to use the names of other famous writers. He calls him Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, James Joyce, Mickey Spillane, Raymond Chandler, Dan Brown, Bret Easton Ellis, Poe and Hemingway. Apparently he is well informed when it comes to literature.
- Originally, Nightingale was supposed to become a taken and be fought in a Sawmill. Eventually the concept of Nightingale as a taken was abandoned, leading to the boss fight and the area to be cut from the final game.
- During the development of Alan Wake, Nightingale was considered as another playable character, and the player would have seen his early life with his partner Finn. One early mission featured them investigating Bright Falls to find Alan Wake, leading to Finn turning into a taken and fighting Nightingale.
- Much like Rose Marigold, Nightingale seems to have been "touched" by the darkness and not fully taken. In one of the game's last scenes, he can be seen in the shadows behind Rose. This creates the question of whether Nightingale has been chosen to replace Barbara Jagger as the face of The Dark Presence while Rose replaces Cynthia Weaver as the lady of the light. This is possible since Alan didn't specify the exact fate of Nightingale - only that he was attacked. A manuscript seems to also support this, explaining how the darkness could take advantage of what the writer failed to write about. However, it is also possible that Alan himself wrote this into the manuscript after he entered the cabin again in Episode 6, playing into what he mentioned as everything having a price and that now balancing the scales, so to speak, was where Thomas Zane had gone wrong in the past. Thus, perhaps in order to prevent a revived Alice from turning into what Barbara Jagger was, he instead gave that role to Nightingale. Also, before Barbara's heart was filled with light, she did say "I will find a new face to wear".
- Nightingale may have been drawn to Bright Falls looking for Jake Fischer. He may have been attracted to Jake's disappearance, along with Sam Smith's.
- There is an Xbox avatar FBI jacket that closely resembles his.
- Nightingale is also the name of Florence Nightingale, a famous English nurse of the 19th century. She was dubbed "The Lady with the Lamp", like Cynthia Weaver.
- Nightingale's name was likely influenced by The Nightingale a song in the first episode of Twin Peaks.
- Nightingale's Arrival may be a reference to Twin Peaks' Agent Cooper, an FBI agent who is known for his love of the scenery and foodstuffs of the titular town.
- Nightingale bears a resemblance to late rapper Adam 'MCA' Yauch of the hip hop trio The Beastie Boys.
- Alan Wake