Good Colors, Evil Colors

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Guess who's the bad guy.
You can tell Serena's heel now, because... she wears black.

In an age where every other hero is an Anti-Hero, how do you tell who to root for? Why, you look at what color the character wears, of course! In visual entertainment, who's good and who's evil is usually distinguished by the colors, and woe be to those who are colorblind.

White for good and black for evil (why do you think it's called The Dark Side?) is probably the oldest and most obvious classification. This can lead to Unfortunate Implications. It can be more complex than this, of course, especially when you get into different cultural values and perceptions. (For example, in Asia many countries associate white with death and mourning [since bones are white], as it has been associated in Europe at various times. It can also denote purity, merely because it shows dirt well.) Black can also be used as a form of Shadow Archetype which is not necessarily evil, and nowadays, dark equaling evil is subverted as often as it's used straight; see Dark Is Not Evil.

Another common pairing is red versus blue (though they are commonly used in gray vs. gray engagements) where the hero is blue and the villain is red (as this probably results from the "good" French and "evil" British colors during the US War of Independence,[1] usually The Hero and The Lancer, or The Hero and The Rival.

In superhero comic books, superhero costume themes tend to rely on the primary colors (red, blue, yellow or gold) whereas supervillain costume themes tend to rely on the secondary colors (green, purple[2] orange). Most commonly, heroes wear red and blue, and villains wear green and purple.

A frequent arrangement for weapons, Eye Beams, Laser Blade swords and energy blasts is bright green or blue for good and red for evil, thanks to the colors of the Jedi and Sith lightsabers in Star Wars. (However, laser weapons on the heroes' ships in Star Wars IV-VI generally fire red blasts while the villainous Imperial craft fire green ones. This was done because U.S. weapons use red tracer rounds. Guess what color the Soviet Union used.)

It should be noted, though, that many times it's not the actual color that's used to distinguish good and evil, but the tone or shade of that color. For example, more natural or muted colors are often used for the good guys, while darker or more garish versions adorn the villains. The best example of this is probably green, which can be used for good if reminiscent of nature, or bad if it looks artificial, either by being too bright or too dark. Confusing things further is the general rule than in sci-fi, if there are two armies, the 'good' army will be the one that wears brighter colors (Federation vs. Klingons, Rebels vs. Empire etc).

It should also be noted that colors can be used to determine that kind of person's personality and powers as well.

That said, the general breakdown is this:

Good Guys:

Bad Guys:

Neutral Guys/Transition colours:

In pre-medieval, medieval and renaissance times this was Truth in Television. These days it's more of an Undead Horse Trope, or perhaps even an Omnipresent Tropes, at least for fiction.

Related tropes: Chromatic Arrangement, Color Character, Paint It Black, Pink Girl, Blue Boy, Color-Coded Patrician, Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains, Good Eyes, Evil Eyes, Dress-Coded for Your Convenience, Color-Coded Multiplayer, Color-Coded Armies, Color-Coded Wizardry, Rainbow Motif, Law of Chromatic Superiority, Red and Black and Evil All Over, Gold and White Are Divine.

Examples of Good Colors, Evil Colors include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The killer and detective in Death Note are lit by vivid red and blue lights respectively during internal monologue, regardless of the natural lighting of the scene. Later on, Matsuda gets yellow, and both Mogi and Aizawa get green. Even outside their monologues, Light tends to wear darker colours, while L is in an off-white T-shirt and jeans.
    • Also, the ruthless and slightly unhinged Mello wears all black, while his calmer, less aggressive rival Near wears all white and has white hair.
    • Then there's Misa Amane, Mello's fellow goth of the series. This trope is played even straighter with Misa, since she tones down the Lolita image considerably when she loses her memories of being a serial killer.
    • However, an aversion is Naomi Misora, undoubtedly one of the good guys, who always wears black and had a fondness for leather.
  • D Gray Man: Allen is white (hair included), Kanda is blue and black, Lavi is Red Oni, Blue Oni, Lenalee is green/pink, and Cross is red and gold. As for the baddies, gray and black are the colors for the Noah Family.
  • The demons in Ah! My Goddess have red Facial Markings, while the goddesses have blue. When Belldandy was temporarily given demon magic, her aura turned red from its normal gold. Additionally, Urd's angel is half-white/half-black, reflecting her half-demon heritage.
  • In Afro Samurai, the hero wears a white shirt; his robotic doppleganger wears black. Afro's gold colored jewelery is matched by Afro-Droid's silver.
  • The main protagonist's Humongous Mecha in the Gundam metaseries is always white, with red, blue, and/or yellow highlights.
    • Allied and antagonist Mobile Suits, though, vary in color schemes between series (though you can bet there will be at least one enemy Ace in a red one), and sometimes there are enemy "Gundams" that share the hero's paint job.
    • One thing is fairly certain: That the antagonist faction (one of them at least) will have their standard "Grunt" mecha in green.
    • And recently there has been cases of pink mobile suits that have been "coincidentally" piloted by girls.(Strike Rouge and Tieren Taozi anyone?)
    • Gundam 00 plays this straight with GN particle emissions. Celestial Being uses drives that give off blue-green particles, whereas the antagonists give off red and gold particles. Justified in that Celestial Being uses "true" GN drives, whereas the antagonists use incomplete, reverse-engineered GN drives.
      • The TRANS-AM System, however, gives the good guys' mobile suits a red-ish hue. It is most likely a reference to Char.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, the Homunculi all have default outfits that are very dark shades of a certain colour. So dark in fact, that they appear black in all but the best lighting conditions. Also, they all have dark hair.
  • In the first Yu-Gi-Oh series (also known as Season Zero), the good Bakura had natural green eyes, while his darker counterpart had purple eyes.
    • Also, the Shadow Realm has a purple color scheme to it.
    • Yugi's hair, though much of it is black, has pink/red and gold/yellow in it, as if to offset the "evilness" of the black.
  • Katekyo Hitman Reborn portrays this trope by ring colors. Although not Cheery, Gokudera is red. Yamamoto is Blue and is very cheery. Hibari is neutral purple, since all he wants is to battle Reborn, and is also considered gold, as Yamamoto once called him the ace of the team.
    • Xanxus fits in the black category of neutral. Byakuran, obviously insane, wears lots of white, and sometimes black.
    • As a matter of fact, the entire Milliefiore Family wears white and black. Apparently, the members wearing white are a little bit insane for some reason, excluding Irie, of course. The members wearing black tend to have more rationality and are usually the ones who fight.
  • Slayers lampshaded this; Amelia thinks that all bad guys really do wear black all the time.
  • In Gundam Seed and Gundam Seed Destiny The factions are: Orb uses mostly white MS (with the nation's leader having a gold Ace Custom), while the Alliance uses black and purple ones. ZAFT, which spends time as both a heroic and antagonistic faction, goes through most of the spectrum.
  • In The Big O Roger Smith, his servants, and his eponymous Humongous Mecha are all in black, whereas Alex Rosewater and Big Fau are all in white.
  • In Full Metal Panic!, the first season had identical colors for Lambda Driver energy fields. The Second Raid, however, introduced color coding: Codarls always had red energy fields while the Arbalest had blue. Though if the painting of Arm Slaves count, then this is the coding:
    • ARX-7 Arbalest: white color and green eyes (The Hero)
    • Plan1056 Codarl: silver color, blonde ponytail and three red eyes (Big Bad)
    • Plan1058 Venom: red color and single red eye (Big Bad)
    • Plan1055 Belial: black color (Big Bad)
    • ARX-8 Laevatein: white/red color, white ponytail and green eyes (The Hero)
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has Simon and Kamina's titular mecha as primarily Red (The Hero), while the Spiral King, Lordgenome, has his mecha almost entirely black (Card-Carrying Villain). Additionally, Viral's Enkidu is mostly white. Given his unflinching loyalty to Lordgenome and the Four Generals, this seems appropriate.
    • Also: Spiral Energy is generally (although not invariably) depicted as green, such as the flames from the back of the Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and the Lagann's power gauge and Core Drill. Lordgenome's Lazengann has a red gauge, much like the Tron Lines of the Anti-Spirals.
  • Soul Eater is a very colorful series, literally and otherwise. The given colors for evil tend to be red and black (predominantly Asura, but also madness and bad things in general), with the series grim reapers adopting the classic black-and-white combination (even down to their hair color) in contrast to the protagonists' usually bright surroundings.
  • Specialist Knightmare Frames from Code Geass tend to follow this quite well:
    • Suzaku's white/gold Lancelot and its ace of a pilot who serves the people.
    • Kallen's red Guren could be interpreted as either The Ace or her particularly grisly modus operandi.
    • Cornelia's royal purple Gloucester, as her status as a cold aristocrat.
    • Lelouch's black/gold Knightmares Gawain and Shinkiro fit his Anti-Hero personality and his powerful Knightmares.
    • C.C. gets a pink Akatsuki, and later a pink Lancelot Frontier.
  • A Pokémon example would be the final fight scene from Pokémon the First Movie, where Mew was surrounded by a pink force field, while its clone Mewtwo was surrounded by a blue one (though the original Mew is actually revealed to be as bad as its clone). Also, if you look very closely during said fight scene, you can actually tell which Pokemon are the clones by the fact that they are all slightly darker in color than the real Pokémon, and that they all sport black markings all over their bodies, something real Pokémon all do not have.
  • The five Links of the Legend of Zelda: Four Swords manga have nicknames based on the colors they were; Green is the original, Blue is hot-tempered, Red is cheerful, and Vio (Violet, but that's a girl's name) is smart.
  • The uniforms in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha show this. Nanoha has a white outfit based on her schoolgirl clothes, including a bright red bow. Fate Testarossa goes with a black uniform with dark red accents, though it remains like that even after her Heel Face Turn.
  • Eyeshield 21 isn't subtle about this in the least. In the manga, Jerk Jock Agon Kongo has normal black dread locks and wears a black, gold, and red football uniform. The anime decided to re-color him with purple dreadlocks, (which give the illusion that tentacles are coming out of his head) and a purple and blood-red uniform. Because there's obviously no way the audience would know he's bad without coloring him in purple from head to toe.
  • Kimba the White Lion has the hero being a white lion while Claw, the resident Evil Overlord, is a brown lion with a black mane.
  • Saint Beast has almost every character in a different shade of uniform, many of which are telling about their personalities:
    • Judas is purple, connoting nobility, command, and possibly a reference to his potential for evil.
    • Luca is teal, reflecting both The Lancer aspect of his character and a certain mystery.
    • Goh is blue, indicating his heroic nature as well as cool-headedness.
    • Rey is bright red, indicating he is passionate and both The Heart and The Chick of the group.
    • Gai is white, which, along with his yellow hair, connotes innocence/naivete and energy.
    • Zeus is all white, and one Jerkass God.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica uses and subverts these for pretty much every character.
  • The characters from Popotan glow whenever they use their powers; the protagonists are green, Keith is dark red. Subverted in that Keith is not so much evil as an asshat, and not really an antagonistic one at that.


Comics[edit | hide]

  • A classic example of the association of heroes with primary colors and villains with secondary ones would be the 1980s Lex Luthor in his super-armor (purple, green, black) battling Superman (red, blue, yellow).
    • Or take Spider-Man (dark blue, red and black) and his villains Doctor Octopus (green, sometimes combined with orange/ochre), Electro (green, yellow), Green Goblin (green, purple), Kraven (various shades of brown), the Lizard (green), Mysterio (purple, two shades of green), the Sandman (green and black shirt, brown trousers), the Scorpion (green, purple, white), the Shocker (brown, yellow), and the Vulture (two shades of green).
  • One of the more Egregious examples was when black kryptonite created an evil version of Supergirl—who popped into existence wearing a black version of the Supergirl costume.
  • Batman dresses in black. Robin dresses like an explosion in a paint factory. Lampshaded when Batman explains that one of the reasons Robin wears bright colors is because he plays good cop to Batman's bad.
    • With the recent Deus Angst Machina Tim's life has become, he changed his costume, which is now less colorful than before—and even his first costume was less bright than that of his predecessors, fitting his more subdued personality.
    • Parodied in the final panels of this Something*Positive strip.
    • Also in Kingdom Come at the end, when Batman turned Wayne Manor into a hospital, he wore all white.
  • The long-time pink chestplate and pink striped pants of Gambit from the X-Men are surely only there to fuck with our heads.
  • In the trilogy of Hulk: Grey, Daredevil: Yellow, and Spider-Man: Blue, these elements (the colors in the titles being one of the dominant colors of their costume at the time) are explored through the lens of each hero's earliest years. When the Hulk, the original comic book Anti-Hero, was a mass of confusion and rage that didn't know whether it was good or evil. When Daredevil, the Man Without Fear, was so afraid of someone losing their father like he did that he put on a costume and beat up criminals. When the jovial, wise-cracking Spider-Man was feeling lower than he ever had in his life.
  • Lampshaded in the Spider-Girl comic The Buzz. When Spider-Girl first encounters Buzz (red, blue, and yellow) fighting Doctor Jade (green and black) she immediately and correctly identifies Jade as the villain and Buzz as the hero based on their costume colours.

Spider-Girl: I'm not the type who usually leaps to rash conclusions, but you are dressed in green, and bad guys have traditionally favoured secondary colours since the advent of colour comics.

  • There's a Star Wars Expanded Universe comic series called Infinities, which is basically What If/For Want of a Nail, speculating about just what would happen to the saga if, respectively, Luke's proton torpedo used on the Death Star was defective, if Han's tauntaun died a little earlier, if Threepio was incapacitated and couldn't translate between Jabba and Leia-as-Boush. The last case leads, eventually, to Luke and Leia confronting Vader and the Emperor together, Vader turning on his master to save his children and surviving, and then being taken by them off the Death Star before it blew. It wraps up very quickly with the characters saying that the Emperor also survived, but the Rebellion will be ready—and incidentally, Vader switched sides and wore a white version of his former costume.
  • In Scion, sky blue is associated with the Heron Kingdom (the good guys) and blood red with the Raven Kingdom (the bad guys). Of course, the Ravens also like to wear lots of black leather too...
  • Nth Man the Ultimate Ninja has white-haired John Doe using his Ninja skills to stop the black-haired Psychopathic Manchild Reality Warper Alfie O'Meagan.


Fan Works[edit | hide]

  • In the Pokémon fandom, certain protagonists tend to have their eyes a specific color. For example, Red tends to have red eyes in fanworks. Leaf either gets green (if you think of her as being named "Green" or "Leaf") or blue (if you think of her as "Blue"). Same thing with Blue (who either has blue or green eyes depending on whether you call him "Green" or "Blue"). All three have brown eyes in canon. A less common variation is Ethan, who was usually known as "Gold" within the fandom prior to HGSS, has gold eyes when his canon eyes are dark blue.
    • Rarer, but Brendan sometimes gets drawn with red eyes. As in "Ruby", being that that's one of the two games he's in and May has blue (as in "Sapphire") eyes. Wally also coincidentally has green ("Emerald") eyes.
    • Silver is also sometimes drawn with silver eyes, like his Pokémon Special counterpart, when his eye color is red in the games.
  • Futari wa Pretty Cure Blue Moon goes against this with the Etherium, a group of villains who wear white and those who turn good get black uniforms (Anti-Hero). However, other than this, Good Colours and Evil Colours are generally kept. Smug Snake Kainatrol has a dark red colour scheme setting off her white uniform, while more sympathetic villain Mekuramast (her opponent in the Enemy Civil War) has light blue. Dark Magical Girl Millusion has dark blue-green, and the other villains wear bright green, purple, and gold (though the last one, wearing a Good Colour, gets considerably less pagetime). Asa and Yoko themselves are symbolized by pink/orange and blue/black, though these choices came from the design sheet the story was based upon and the inversion of black and white has already been stated. Dawn and Mia are both symbolized by pink and bright red.


Films -- Animation[edit | hide]

  • In Pixar's WALL-E, the bureaucratic robots (AUTO, Gopher, the "cyclops" doorkeeper) have red glowing eyes and use red forcefields. EVE, a friendly robot, has blue glowing eyes and uses a blue forcefield. The stylist/beautician robots (with female voices) are pink. WALL-E himself is school-bus yellow, indicating his naive, somewhat clumsy character.
  • In the last story of The Animatrix, "Matriculated", when captured robot is converted, his eye color changes from red to green.
  • Kung Fu Panda 2 uses red to symbolise Lord Shen, the movie's Big Bad. He is also associated with white, symbolic in eastern Asia of death and metal.
  • The characters in Disney's Aladdin were specifically designed around this trope, on the notion that water is a life-giving force in the desert. Genie and Jasmine sport blue. The Sultan wears much white and gold, with a splash of blue. Jafar and Iago sport red (though Iago had blue wingtips; perhaps a foreshadowing of his side-switching in the sequel) because red is the death color in... Egypt? Aladdin and Abu sport purple, because they're in transition from being thieves (red) to heroes (blue). After Jafar gains control of the Genie, Genie often goes purple. And when Jafar puts Jasmine in Go-Go Enslavement, she wears a reddish-orange.
  • Leroy & Stitch: Stitch is colored blue, while Leroy is colored red.
  • The Lion King: The hero, Simba is a heroic gold lion with a brown mane and brown eyes, while the villain, Scar, is an evil brown lion with a black mane and green eyes.
  • Dinosaur: The hero is a blue Iguanodon, while the villain is a red Carnotaurus.
  • Beauty and the Beast: Both Belle and the Beast occasionally wear blue, Big Bad Gaston always wears red, and all of the villagers wear brown or green.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Complete Monster Frollo and his henchmen always wear black, Quasimodo, Esmeralda, Phoebus, Clopin, and the Gypsies all wear bright colors, and at the end of the film both Phoebus and especially Esmeralda wear white.
  • |Toy Story 3: Both Andy's bedroom and the Butterfly Room are colored blue (representing safety) and both the Caterpillar Room and the Incinerator are colored red (representing danger).
  • Megamind first has the titular Megamind, clad in black and blue (blue skin, too), pitted against the yellow and white Metro Man, and later on, we have Megamind, still in black and blue pitted against the red and white Tighten.


Films -- Live Action[edit | hide]

  • Tron is probably one of the best-known "blue heroes, red villains" works. This carries over into the newest film Tron: Legacy. In both, it's a case of Exaggerated and Justified Trope, as a Program's Tron Lines give away its alignment, function, and origin. The best example of this is when Rinzler (aka the "believed deceased" Tron) snaps out of Brainwashed and Crazy. His lines change from orange-red to bluish-silver.
    • The video game sequel, Tron 2.0, takes this farther with an extended color-coding scheme. Good guys are blue, neutrals are yellow, and villains are red (for security programs), or purple (for the rival company's programs), depending on their affiliation.
    • The Space Paranoids portion of Kingdom Hearts II has a similar setup, since it's directly based on Tron.
  • The simplest way to tell apart good and bad robots in the not-actually-Isaac Asimov-based I Robot.
  • In the Star Wars movies, the Jedi typically use blue or green lightsabers, while the Sith always use red. Star Wars spacecraft, however, reverse the trope, with the heroes' ships usually firing red laser blasts and the bad guys' craft firing green. The only character to go against the scheme is Mace Windu with his unique purple lightsaber, showing how important he is. The actor playing him specifically asked for it so he would stand out more easily onscreen.
    • The Expanded Universe also expands the colors Jedi can use. Jedi lightsabers can also come in purple, yellow, orange, one color with flickery little bits of another color (yes, seriously, it's canon), bronze, silver, gold, and so on. Sith continue to have red lightsabers, though. In Expanded Universe material, it's shown that constructing one's own lightsaber is an important ritual for a Jedi, while Sith sometimes actually get theirs off of a mechanical assembly line. Sith lightsaber crystals are synthetic, which is why they are red: to contrast with the natural crystals of the Jedi.
      • It is also worth noting that Exar Kun, perhaps the most powerful of the ancient Sith lords, wielded a double-bladed blue lightsaber.
      • In the computer RPG Knights of the Old Republic, you can scour caves for light-saber crystals, amongst the nesting grounds of nasty arachnid critters. Non-red crystals can be found in the crystalline formations around the eggs, but they're scarce and require a lot of searching. If you search the eggs themselves, you'll find a red crystal every time, as they're a by-product of the arachnids' reproductive cycle, but harvesting them destroys the eggs, so each one you recover comes at the cost of destroying an innocent life. A bit of a Broken Aesop, considering how many of the adult arachnids you have to slaughter your way through in order to reach the nests in the first place. Especially as you don't gain any dark side points for it.
        • Justified Trope, you're killing baby spiders.
        • Furthermore, the Jedi classes are distinguished by colors: Guardians (specialise in lightsaber combat) with blue, Consulars (specialise in the Force) with green, and Sentinels (specialise in a bit of both and some other things) with yellow. It's traditional for Jedi to use a lightsaber that matches their own class, but there are numerous exceptions. Granted, you can subvert this in your playing style with a black-robed, red-saber, heroic Player Character. The most powerful robes in game, though, are pitch black for an evil character and ivory colored for Light Side.
      • In the books, there is at least one instance of a good guy's lightsaber crystal generating a red blade by pure coincidence. Luke got a Darth Vader flashback, but squashed it quickly.
        • This probably has roots in Lucas' original intention, in that the colour of a lightsaber's blade depends on the wielder. Originally Luke's lightsaber was supposed to be red when Vader activated it. They scrapped that idea though, obviously.
    • In episodes IV through VI, hand-held blasters always fired red bolts regardless of affiliation. However, in The Phantom Menace, the Trade Federation blasters fired red while the Republic blasters fired green. In Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, Republic blasters fire blue bolts, while Separatist blasters continue with red.
    • The color-coded droids of the Trade Federation tell you what they are programmed for (general, pilot et cetera).
      • The same goes for the clones, with their color-accented armor matching their job or combat role. It's especially evident in the Battlefront series and Republic Commando.
    • Averted by the Republic Diplomatic Corps, a.k.a. the people whose ship Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan were using in the beginning of The Phantom Menace. Their ships are all deliberately painted that nice, dark, Ax Crazy kind of red...to show that they're full of peaceful Republic diplomats.
    • On the remastered collector's edition of Return of the Jedi, George Lucas comments about the costume choices for the Empire and Rebels. Empire uniforms typically were colorless (black or white) or otherwise subdued to make them less friendly. Rebel uniforms however used natural colors to emphasize warmth and friendliness. This was particularly noted during the Endor scenes where the Rebels wore camouflage and the Empire did not.
    • Even within the "good" side, there is an aspect of potential Fridge Brilliance to the blue vs. green colouring. Qui-Gon uses green, Obi-Wan uses blue, and Luke Skywalker uses blue in The Empire Strikes Back and green in Return of the Jedi; the Fridge Brilliance is in how much like Qui-Gon was more trusting of Anakin than Obi-Wan was, Luke was more trusting of Vader in Return of the Jedi than he was in The Empire Strikes Back.
    • An expansion of this is that while there are plenty of exceptions, blue lightsabers often seem to used more often by younger, inexperienced Jedi while green seems to be favoured by Older and Wiser Jedi like Yoda. Luke's decision to change his saber colour could be said to reflect his maturity in the third film.
    • And of course, as mentioned above, the Rebels' spacecraft fire red lasers, and the Empire's spacecraft fire green lasers. In the prequel trilogy, this is inverted and subverted somewhat, with the Republic's fighters firing green lasers, and the Separatists' firing red lasers.
  • Every version of The Three Musketeers ever filmed features (good) Musketeers in blue and (bad) Cardinal's Guards in red. Historically, both groups wore blue, and in both real life and the original Dumas novels, the two groups simply had a fierce rivalry rather than being a good/bad dichotomy.
  • In Logan's Run the Sandmen all wear black and silver uniforms.
  • Most sports movies have the main character/team's final opponent(s) wearing black uniforms, and it's almost certain they will cheat at some point in the match.
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the protagonists have white smoke when they Apparate, and the antagonists have black smoke.
  • Although all of the main characters in Equilibrium, both evil and good, wear black for the majority of the film, the climactic final battle sees the protagonist in a stunningly-white ceremonial uniform, while every one of the antagonists he fights—from the motorcycle-helmeted goons to the Big Bad himself—is dressed entirely in black.
  • Used in The Great Race. The hero, The Great Leslie, wears white. And all his gear is white. His car, his rope, his grappling hook, his pipe, his clothes. He even gets hit with a white pie in a pie fight. The villain, Professor Fate, wears black and his car is black.
  • The only time that John Woo avoids his usual "white villain, black hero" color scheme is in the final church shootout of The Killer, which has Hitman with a Heart Ah Jong in a white suit and the villain Johnny Weng and many of his men in black suits. But then again, Ah Jong is the one who ultimately dies, and Weng has to be finished off by Jong's friend, Cowboy Cop Inspector Li.
  • American Ninja: Ninja Joe is decked out in a black ninja outfit for the final battle. The enemy ninja army are also decked out in exactly the same black ninja outfit. The only way to identify Joe is by his red belt, which from many angles can't even be seen. I guess it's a cunning plan on Joe's part.
  • Used and lampshaded in Destination Moon. Each of the astronauts has a differently colored spacesuit so the audience can tell them apart when their faces are not visible. One of the character specifically says that the suits are brightly colored to stand out on the moon's surface, and different colored so that they can tell each other apart.
  • Extreme Prejudice (1987). This modern-day Western has both the sheriff (Nick Nolte) and the villain (a former friend turned Mexican drug lord played by Powers Boothe) wearing white hats; in fact the latter wears a pristine white suit while Nolte mostly wears a black shirt.
  • An in-universe example in the finale of Gladiator when the Genre Savvy Commodus with his aimed heroic victory in the arena, where the villain wears White to cast himself as the hero, while the hero Maximus is in Black armour, and earlier a full helmet.
  • In Hellboy II: The Golden Army, the titular army glows red once they are activated by Prince Nuada. When Johan takes control of one soldier, it glows blue.
  • Weirdly applied in The Road Warrior, where some fighters who defend the gasoline-rich community wear white, in defiance of the ragged and dusty garments of everyone else. Probably more symbolic of their civilized qualities than "good" per se, as it's not exactly "good" to sucker a passing stranger into a diversionary suicide mission, while you head for the hills with the petrol.
  • In G.I. Joe the Rise of Cobra Storm Shadow, the evil ninja, always wears white, while Snake Eyes, the good ninja, always wears black.
  • El Mariachi and Desperado both invert the traditional white/black symbols. The Mariachi wears a black mariachi outfit, while the villain always wears white.
  • Inverted in Ladyhawke, where Captain Navarre dresses like a stereotypical villain, wearing all black with a flowing cape lined in red (he's even Blond Guys Are Evil), and yet is a noble hero. Meanwhile, The Dragon wears primarily white and gold, and the Big Bad is a Sinister Minister wearing all white.
  • In Curse of the Golden Flower, the soldiers in the chrysanthemum rebellion wear golden armor, while the king's soldiers wear silver.
  • Sergey Bondarchuk's Waterloo goes some way to portray Blücher's Army of the Lower Rhine as menacing and somewhat sinister by associating it with the colour black, even to the extent of deviating from historical facts.
  • Inverted in the film City of Angels: The angels, who are good, all wear black trench-coats.
  • David Lynch often uses red and blue in his films—though given the sort of things that typically happen in David Lynch movies, they tend to subvert the usual coding. Blue is obviously evil in Blue Velvet, while red is evil in Twin Peaks.
  • Movie-verse Transformers continues the tradition: The Autobot good-guys have glowing blue eyes, whereas the "evil" Decepticons have glowing red eyes.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • In David Eddings' novels, the good guys and their MacGuffin are blue, the bad guys and their MacGuffin are red. Every. Single. Time.
    • Lampshaded by Silk, who was disappointed that the Cthrag Sardius (the Mallorean's MacGuffin) couldn't have been green for a change.
    • Deities tend to be color-coded as well, appearing in a particular shade of light whenever they show up.
    • The Elenium does avert black armor = evil with the Pandion Knights, however, who are on the side of good, even if the main protagonist tends toward Anti Heroism at times. The Corrupt Church still wears red, of course.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, the Istari are all associated with a specific color: Gandalf the Grey, Radagast the Brown, and Saruman the White (there were also two more Istari known as the Blue Wizards, though they're only mentioned briefly in some of Tolkien's other works and never actually appear). When Saruman becomes corrupted, he styles himself Saruman of Many Colours, though still uses a white hand or S sign as his symbol. When Gandalf returns to Middle Earth, he replaces Saruman as Gandalf the White. Sauron is associated with black and red. His banner is a red eye on a black field.
    • In the fight on the bridge of Khazâd-dûm, Gandalf's sword Glamdring glows blue (as Elvish swords always do in the proximity of evil creatures), while the Balrog's sword glows red, similar to the page image.
    • Gondor/The Reunited Kingdom, being an entire nation of badass heroes, has black as its main heraldic color.
  • In the original novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, it's specifically pointed out that Dorothy is seen as a Good Witch by the Munchkins because she wears blue (the color of Munchkinland) and white (symbolizing witchiness). As one of many parallels, Wicked has Nessarose (a.k.a. The Wicked Witch of the East) specifically wear blue and white as her Boarding School uniform colours, before she turns evil.
    • Wicked - particularly the musical - is built around a subversion of this trope; everyone assumes Elphaba is evil because of her lurid green skin. She is, in fact, the misunderstood heroine.
  • In Harry Potter, red (for Gryffindor) is "good," while green (for Slytherin) is "evil."
  • Bruce Campbell relates an interesting anecdote in his autobiography, "If Chins Could Kill", about how costume designers use this trope to subtly enhance the story, as on the set of "The Hudsucker Proxy" his character started dressing in lighter colors and gradually got darker as he became more sinister.
  • In Heathers, the three main Heathers only wear their own colors and the protagonist, Veronica, wears all black to show her outsider status inside their clique. Heather Chandler wears red, showing her leadership status. Her red hair bow shifting to Heather Duke shows the latter's replacement of the former. And Veronica snatching it back from her is used to symbolize the end of the Heathers.
  • In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Ultramarines novel The Killing Ground, when the Grey Knights have determined that Uriel and Pasanius are not Chaos-tainted, the ceremony afterwards includes not only arming them again, but giving them white cloaks, explicitly a symbol of their purity.
  • Sometimes in fairy tales, more often in illustrations, the heroines are fair (blonde) and the villainesses are dark (brunette or black-haired). Who knew moral standards were dictated by hair color? Averted by Snow White (whose mother wished for her to have hair as black as ebony).
  • In the Dragonriders of Pern books, the eyes of dragons (and fire-lizards) change color according to their state of friendliness (or mood). Calm, happy dragons have green/blue eyes; angry, violent or fearful dragons have red/orange eyes.
    • Of course, that's not counting the way the entire species is Color Coded for Your Convenience, with color determining size, rank, and mating behavior (and as a consequence, the riders are also color-coded, since everyone's place in the hierarchy is based on what kind of dragon they ride).
  • Reversed in the Sword of Truth Series, where the villain of the first book wear pure white, and the protagonist wears black since the fourth book. Oh, and one woman only wore black because of a subconscious desire to escape evil.
  • For the most part, it seems that red is good and green is bad in the Harry Potter series. Gryffindor House is represented by scarlet red and gold, the non-fatal combat spells normally used by the heroes (Stupefy and Expelliarmus) create red light, and the Weasleys all have flaming red hair. Conversely, Slytherin House is represented by emerald green and silver, the Killing Curse used pretty much only by the bad guys (Avada Kedavra) create green light, and two snakes employed by Voldemort (the basilisk and Nagini) are both described as being green.[3] However, there is one huge dent in this pattern—it is constantly mentioned that Harry has green eyes while Voldemort has red eyes.
    • Also, Beauxbatons school uniforms are pale blue, Durmstrang are blood red. Hogwarts basic black.
  • Inverted in Mikhail Akhmanov's novel The Faraway Saikat with the Kni'lina, a race of bald Human Aliens whose color-coding system (among many other things) is different from that of the humans. In the past, their homeworld of Yezdan only had one moon. A large passing asteroid was snatched up by Yezdan and turned into the second moon, with the tides and earthquakes causing widespread devastation for the Kni'lina. Since then, the Kni'lina consider green to be a warning/danger color, thanks to their second moon having a greenish hue. In contrast, red is the morning color (i.e. good). Hence, on all their consoles, if all indicators are red, then all is well. Once they start turning green, that's when you have to worry.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Willow has light-red hair and green eyes. When she goes dark in Season 6, her eyes and hair turn black. We can literally watch her transformation back as her hair and eyes gradually take their natural color again later. Later, in Season 7, when she does a strong spell but DOES NOT go bad from it, her eyes and hair are pure white.
  • In American Gothic, Spirit Advisor/angel Merlyn is always depicted dressed in white, while Sheriff Lucas Buck (the Devil Incarnate) is quite often dressed in black. Faux Symbolism?
  • The Sci-Fi Channel's Dune miniseries is heavily color-coded. Not just the costumes, but the background lighting and set coloring followed this convention. The Harkonnens are all red all over. The Imperial Corrinos are purple and gold. The Atreides primarily wore tan and white. Fremen wear brown and dark orange. Spacing Guild members wear black robes to fit in with their "neutrality" and almost priestly function.
    • Note that the novels clearly state that the Atreides colors are green and black, the Harkonnens blue, and the Corrino scarlet and gold (with black and gray for the Sardaukar).
  • Doctor Who frequently contrasts the generally more casual and natural tones (with some incarnations as the exception) against clinically sterile white high tech (especially during the black and white era of the Second Doctor) or gray gunmetal environments. (Significantly, the Doctor switched from darker clothes when the series switched from black and white to color.) The Doctor's Evil Counterpart, the Master, wears black, except when in disguise.
    • In "The Trial of a Time Lord", the Sixth Doctor's multi-colored suit is in stark contrast with his antagonist Knacker's Yard Farmyard Valeyard's black with-white-trim robes. Made all the more jarring when it is revealed that the Valeyard is actually his evil self.
      • It should be noted that the Sixth Doctor plays with this trope; while all the other Doctors tend towards black, brown, beige, or otherwise muted colors, the Sixth, the most anti-heroic Doctor, wears almost ludicrously garish colors, and even has blonde, curly hair.
      • Subsequent novels and audio dramas reclad him in blue.
      • The End of Time plays it straight with the Doctor in a brown suit and blue shirt, and the Master in a black hoodie and jeans and a red shirt. And the Big Bads? The Time Lords wear red robes with black and gold accents. Clearly they're evil.
    • Played with by the colour scheme of Davros' new Daleks with their friendly gold and off-white cream-colored scheme. (But then he originally designed them while passing himself off as a good guy in "Revelation of the Daleks".)
      • And played with in "Victory of the Daleks", where the "New Paradigm" Daleks are color-coded by function—all in fairly bright and cheerful hues.
  • Firefly has browncoats and purplebellies. Though it usually comes up in conversation only. The two creepy bad guys are known as the "hands of blue."
    • The general costume and set design uses this trope as well. The Serenity uses a lot of warm and friendly reds and browns, and Mal, Zoe, Inara and Kaylee are usually wearing a variety of red (if you count pink for Kaylee). Alliance uniforms, ships and buildings are sterile blues and greys. Neutral ground tends to be dusty brown.
  • Many, many game shows use a red-yellow-blue theme to separate players. One of the most well-known uses of this is Wheel of Fortune.
    • Perhaps the best example, though, is Tattletales, where the Studio Audience was separated into red, "banana" and blue segments to root on the celebrities playing the game. At the end, every audience member received a share of the celebrity couple's winnings.
  • Although the superpowered characters of Heroes are Not Wearing Tights and tend to realistically cycle through varied daily attire, there are a few noticeable costuming patterns. Beat cop Parkman tends to wear jackets in various shades of blue. Single mom Niki wears normal clothes while her evil split personality Jessica likes all-black femme fatale suits. Boy Scout Hero Peter Petrelli ends up in white quite a bit. And Ubervillain Sylar really, really likes black.
  • Lost: Jacob wears white, Jacob's nemesis wears black (this plot point was apparently foreshadowed since the pilot, when Locke tells Walt about how backgammon has two players, two sides, one light and one dark). Subverted, however, by the fact that this color more reflects their philosophy (humans are good but flawed vs a more cynical view) and neither appears to have an upper hand morally (Jacob seems to have caused the death of Nadia and basically manipulates everyone in their past to come to the Island while Jacob's nemesis manipulates Locke in order to take his body.
  • In any given Power Rangers show, you can tell what character is what ranger when they're in civilian clothes, since they'll usually be wearing that color.
    • The good guys' colorcoding also fits the trope quite well. The Hero is almost always red. Blue will almost always be, if not The Lancer, the smart, technique-instead-of-Heart-based character that makes a good Lancer (less like TV Genius Billy and more like Kai, Sky, and Theo - experts who get stuck playing second fiddle to the Rookie Red Ranger.) The last two loners, Dillon and Will, are both Black Rangers, though far from all Black Rangers are like this. Also, the three Rangers to wear purple started their careers beating up on the good Rangers (well, we had one Ranger-like Dragon who didn't defect, one who did, and one good guy who went through a few episodes Not Himself before becoming a Ranger.) It doesn't reach the point of every character to wear a given color being an Expy of the last, but colorcoding does sometimes happen.
      • There does seem to be something of a Memetic Mutation that all Black Rangers are either rebellious loners or extremely serious and that Green Rangers are air-heads and/or the comic relief of the team, but there are plenty of exceptions with both colours.
  • Major political powers in Star Trek have colors that they use for hull paints, transporters, warp nacelle glows and weapons. The Federation is fond of blue and red, although it currently uses orange weapons. The Romulans and Borg prefer green, while the Klingons favor both red and green. The Cardassians use yellow for everything, and the Dominion uses purple and blue.
    • On the few occasions when their true forms are glimpsed, Deep Space Nine's Prophets and Pa-Wraiths follow the blue for good, red for evil version of this trope.
    • In addition, every incarnation of Star Trek has different-colored uniforms to denote what division personnel work in. In every pre-TNG timeframe series, Red = Operations/Death, Blue = Science/Medical, and Gold = Command. In TNG and later series, the meanings of Red and Gold are swapped. This is lampshaded in "Trials and Tribble-ations" when characters from Deep Space Nine go back to the original series era.
  • Mira, Henrik, and Glenn from the original Vintergatan 5A all wear jumpsuits with primary colors, though for a reason—they're the ones that came pre-supplied with the spaceship, they didn't have those colors original. Irina wears an orange space suit from Russia. Peo doesn't have any heroic colors, instead wearing a black cab driver's uniform, but the one who supplied the spaceship didn't know he was coming along.
  • In the 1969 adaptation of Alan Garner's The Owl Service, each of the 3 main characters is always attired in a particular colour: Gwyn in black, Alison in red, and Roger in green. These were the 3 colours of electrical plug wiring at the time, and the person to 'earth' the power the 3 of them have created is Roger, who of course is wearing the colour which matches with this wire.
  • Blakes Seven: Blake favored light colored clothing and earth tones. Avon favored dark clothing and leather, which only got darker and nastier-looking the further he plunged off the slippery slope. Cally seemed to have a thing for blues while Dayna liked jewel tones. Vila's clothing was as drab as possible, probably because he did not like drawing attention to himself. Mercenaries Tarrant and Soolin favored gray. Their nemesis, Servalan, had it both ways - wearing mostly whites for most of Seasons 1 and 2, switching to black for Seasons 3 and 4. Travis, however, was always in black.
  • In Stargate SG 1, the Tau'ri usually wear blue on-base and green offworld (Justified: those are standard US Air Force and Marine Corps uniforms). Asgard ships come in dark grey and shiny white. The Goa'uld use gold and purple (for decadence) and armor their Jaffa in silvery gray, and Anubis' Kull warriors are armored in jet black. That gets Subverted after the Jaffa pull a Heel Race Turn, then played straight when the Lucian Alliance appropriates Goa'uld technology for their own use.


Music[edit | hide]

  • So you know all those Gospel songs about a train to Heaven, and you want to flip it around, talk about a train to Hell (only, of course, without being that explicit). What's the fastest, easiest way to ensure that people get what you're talking about from the first few words of your song? Call it a Long Black Train.
  • Bonnie Tyler's music video for "Holding out for a Hero" shows her singing while being menaced by three bad guys dressed in black and rescued by a hero dressed in white. This is the full extent of the characterisation of these figures.


Puppet Shows[edit | hide]

  • Captain Scarlet is an obvious example. Not only are all Spectrum agents specifically colour coded, the leader of the good guys is one Colonel White and the main agent of the baddies is Captain Black.
  • While there are no good or bad guys per se in Fraggle Rock, the Fraggles are typically colour-coded according to their personality; particularly the Five-Man Band. Gobo, The Hero and most balanced of the group, has fuchsia hair and wears a multi-coloured and multi-hued outfit. Red, the Cute Bruiser Action Girl, has bright red hair and clothing. Wembley, the high-strung and indecisive Tagalong Kid, has yellow hair and a banana-tree pattern shirt. Mokey, the spacey Granola Girl, has pale green hair and wears earth-tones. Boober, the perpetually angsty Grumpy Bear and Smart Guy, doesn't really wear much besides his hat and scarf, but his hair and clothing are all dark-coloured.
    • This seems to work for other Fraggles as well. Cantus, The Obi-Wan and Trickster Mentor, dresses in a gauzy purple robe, befitting of his mystical personality and wisdom. Manipulative Bastard Convincing John dresses in a confusion of colours, like a stereotypical used-car salesman.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • In Dungeons & Dragons, metallic dragons (gold, silver, copper, brass and bronze) are good and chromatic dragons (red, green, black, white and blue) are evil. Some settings also include gem dragons (amethyst, crystal, emerald, sapphire and topaz), who are neutral. The idea of color-coded dragons was probably lifted from the Dragonriders of Pern novels, particularly given that metal-colored dragons are physically larger than their non-metallic counterparts in both Pern and D&D.
    • The Eberron campaign setting plays with this. Whereas dragons all have "Always [[[Character Alignment]]]" in the core books, in Eberron this is changed to "usually" or "often". Surprise your party with a principled revolutionary red dragon fighting against a charming but tyrannical gold dragon!
  • Talislanta: Everyone in Aaman wears pure white, because it's a repressive theocracy. Green is the favored color of Cymril, although it hasn't been mandatory since the game's first edition.
  • In Paranoia, colour coding indicates rank and security clearance. There are nine grades, featuring the seven shades of the rainbow, plus infra-red (the lowest, visually represented by black) and ultra-violet (the highest, visually represented by white). Colour does not indicate moral alignment, as in Paranoia, the most common alignments are servile, arrogant, incompetent, back-stabbing and bureaucratic. It does, however, indicate who you can order around (i.e. anyone with a lower-ranked colour than you) - or be ordered around by (the opposite). The GM is considered to ultraviolet.


Theater[edit | hide]

  • There were paired productions of Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra where each of the major political factions had costumes of a single color palette to make the action easier to follow. Antony's (the hot-headed military man) faction was red while Octavian's (the calculating politician) was blue and Crassus' (the weak truce-keeper) was white.
  • In many productions of Jesus Christ Superstar, including the filmed 2001 revival production, Jesus is always in white and tan, and Judas is always in red and black.
  • A Streetcar Named Desire: The first time you see Blanche she's all in white. Hell, even her name means "white."
    • Also of note is the men's poker game, which Williams emphasizes should be lit in raw, primary colors. And there are big ripe watermelon slices on the table.
    • Another example is Williams' direction for Stella's kimono in the Act 4, Scene 1 - it should be bright blue, a departure from her usual color scheme. This is just after the "STELLA!!" scene, which implies that Stanley and Stella have just had sex.
  • Productions of Romeo and Juliet frequently have the Montagues in blue, the Capulets in red, and the prince and his kinsmen in purple or black/brown. It might be because the Capulets are "fiery" and the Montagues (or Romeo at least) are "watery," or it might be so Juliet can wear pink and Romeo can wear blue.
    • Likewise, A Midsummer Nights Dream often color codes the couples with Hermia and Lysander wearing pink/red and Helena and Demetrius wearing light/dark blue. Many productions go further, dressing the Puck in green, Titania in Silver/White, Oberon in Black/Gold, the Mechanicals in earthy tones etc.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The game company Bungie color codes enemies in most of its games. Marathon, Oni, and Halo all had enemies who used the same model but different colors indicated they had more health and did more damage, and were higher-ranked. Contrasted with the muted greens and browns of the human military, this actually Inverted Trope the typical Sci-Fi convention that the heroic army wears brighter colors.
  • Many Turn-Based Strategy games have allies in blue and enemies in red, especially if there's a "radar" where individual characters are represented as dots. Fire Emblem and Super Robot Wars are both examples of this.

Blue Soldier: Good sir, will you join our cause?
Red Soldier: Sure, I'm tired of wearing red anyway.

    • Advance Wars, however, colors the player's units red in its campaigns, and enemy units (assuming there is only one enemy faction in the scenario) are usually blue or black.
      • Battle for Wesnoth does something similar in it's solo campaigns. Player characters have a red circle, while enemies and allies will have a wide array of colored circles, with each army getting a color.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert. The Soviets are red, the Allies blue.
    • Justified Trope in that Soviets were, of course, communist, hence "Reds."
    • And in the Yuri's Revenge expansion pack for Red Alert 2, the renegade faction led by Yuri is purple.
    • The earlier Dune games (made by the same people as Command & Conquer) took this trope to a ridiculous degree by having blue Atreides (good guys) and red Harkonnens (bad guys), with the Ordos being a sickly green. Note that the books don't have the Ordos, and that the Atreides are a (natural) green (and black), with the Harkonnens blue and the Corrino being scarlet and gold. But apparently, you're not allowed to have green good guys and blue bad guys in an RTS.
      • They also get the emblems wrong: while the Atreides are correctly given a hawk, the Harkonnen symbol from the novels is a griffin, not a ram (as depicted in the games).
    • Oddly, however, it seems you are allowed to have green good guys and red villains: the original Command and Conquer had a green-and-gold scheme for the GDI, and a red-black-silver scheme for Nod.
  • City of Heroes/City of Villains: While the characters themselves are not subject to this trope, the intro and character design screens and all the main screen interface elements are, to the point that some players refer to City of Heroes as "Blue Side" and City of Villains as "Red Side". Additionally, Pocket D -- the extradimensional night club accessible from both games—is red from the middle of the dance floor all the way to the villains' entrance, and blue from the middle to the heroes' entrance.
    • It occasionally goes beyond that into powers. The Energy Blast powerset is blue-white for heroes and red for villains, and the same goes for lightning.
      • Now averted as Power Customisation has finally been implemented, but the default powers are still the same.
    • The developers have noted this, and mention that the armour and banners of the alien-fighting Vanguard group, who will work with both heroes and villains, are grey and purple to indicate their (supposed) neutral morality.
    • And now, Going Rogue has a yellow interface, symbolizing the different moral choices presented in the game.
      • The Loyalists' emblem is golden, and the Resistance's emblem is blue.
  • In Deadlock, each of the seven races are represented by a different colour - and that's the only thing visually separating many of their things, such as tanks and flags. The colours are often somewhat representative of the races (the Cyth get black and are the most devious and "evil" of the races, whereas the mighty Tarth warriors get a dark, blood red).
  • In Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, a character, Gurdy even draws attention to this after your character catches him swindling a naive professor out of a lot of money. He indicates his bright red clothing and compares himself to a poisonous flower, saying that his bright red colors warn the wise not to deal with him.
  • In Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney, the hero, Phoenix, wears blue, while the primary antagonist for the first game, Edgeworth, wears red. Or, well, maroon. Edgeworth doesn't stay a villain, but it continues to fit his role as The Rival.
    • As of the Apollo Arc, the hero Apollo wears all red, and Big Bad Kristoph Gavin wears blue.
  • Played straight in Final Fantasy VI with white healing spells, black damage spells, and gray status altering spells.
  • Phantom Brave - You can pallet-swap your characters based on title, but the life bars follow the "blue ally, red enemy, yellow neutral" scheme.
  • In Star Wars Battlefront 2 the player's team is always designated as blue and the team they play against is red. However the colour corresponds to which ever team the player chooses, not the teams themselves.
  • World of Warcraft colors the nametag of each player according to this, blue being allies (or PvP-disabled enemies in some zones and servers) and red being hostiles. Inbetween we have green for allied NPCs and yellow for neutrals, as well as orange for unfriendly (which is mostly the same as neutral, except that you can't talk to them).
    • There are also special colors for classes, item rarity, and spell types.
      • Outside of gameplay mechanics, there are also elements of this trope in the storyline. Blood Elves took to wearing red in mourning of their fallen brethren. As a result, the High Elves (who the Blood Elves have had a bit of a falling out with) never wear red. There are also elements of color coding in the dragon flights. Red, Green, and Bronze Dragons are (for the most part) good. Black dragons are evil, and Blue Dragons are only evil in Northrend. The creation of the Twilight Dragonflight also adds purple, dark blue, and magenta to the list of evil dragon colors.
  • Sanger Zonvolt and Elzam Branstein from Super Robot Wars are both enormously Badass and both temporarily work for the Necessarily Evil antagonists in Original Generation. Accordingly, they favor black Humongous Mecha with yellow trim and black Humongous Mecha with red trim, respectively. Especially noticeable in Elzam's case since he goes through nearly half a dozen mechs in a given continuity, and paints every one of them black and red. And names them Trombe.
  • Isn't it interesting that all the protagonists in Mega Man ZX and ZX Advent have green eyes, and all the non-pseudoroid antagonists (including Master Thomas) ALL have red eyes?
  • Ever since Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, blue has been the colour of the humans (later the Alliance) and red of the orcs (later the Horde). Warcraft III subverted this by making the orcs commit a Heel Face Turn but keep their traditional red colour, as well as bringing in the undead Scourge (purple = evil), night elven Sentinels (blue or teal = good, natural) and demonic Burning Legion (green, purple, red = evil).
    • The third game also gives the option to turn your units blue, allies teal, and enemies red, literally colour-coding them for your convenience.
  • Gears of War includes lights on the guns which change color whether a COG (Blue) or Locust (Red) is wielding them.
    • The sequel has the colour of players in multiplayer appear more red if they are Locust or blue if they are COG the farther away they are.
  • In the Resident Evil series heroic Chris favors green, Leon and Jill wear blue, while Claire and Ada wear red. And of course, Big Bad Albert Wesker is always decked out in black.
  • Count Bleck, the Big Bad of Super Paper Mario, wears all white - though all of his powers are black or violet.
  • Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds puts soldiers in different coloured suits to represent what side they're on (with instant repaints and costume changes upon being converted by a Jedi).
  • In EVE Online, friendly targets are highlighted with a blue background while hostiles are highlighted with red. Thus, the two most common rules of engagement are called Not Blue Shoot It (defaults to hostile) and Not Red Don't Shoot (defaults to friendly).
    • Any legal target, regardless of relationship, is also displayed as red by default.
    • With pink being the default colour for other people in your fleet, there is also the slightly less common Not Pink Shoot It rule of engagement which is the default MO on Ganknights[4] usually leading to hot blue-on-blue action and diplomatic fallout in the aftermath.

Gank nights are large coordinated overview bugs. Shoot blues and ask for forgiveness later.

  • Knights of the Old Republic: Every character-page picture has a colored background reflecting their force alignment. Neutrals will have grey, dark siders have red background, and light siders have blue (and at the very top, they will stand in a pillar of radiant light, against a dark-blue starry sky backdrop). They will also take on an increasingly hostile stance the darker they get.
    • There was also an aversion of this in the second game. At one point on Onderon, you come across two aliens arguing about who the people should support, the good Queen Talia or the two-faced General Vaklu. The alien in support of the "evil" General is blue-skinned, while the one supporting the Queen is not only red-skinned, but has horns!
      • There was also a subversion in the form of Atris, who is a Jedi dressed in the whitest of pristine white with a blue lightsaber and is even depicted in the game's promotional material as the 'face' of the Light Side for the game. She goes Sith towards the end, without the obligatory Evil Costume Switch for black, and even before then never appears as anything more than a judgemental, self-righteous bitch.
    • Blue and red were also used throughout the interface as shorthand for "light side"/"dark side", which was carried over to Jade Empire for Open Palm/Closed Fist ratings as well. In Mass Effect, however, this changes to blue and orange (no relation) to emphasize that Renegade is less about card-carrying villainy and more about pragmatism.
  • The Shin Megami Tensei games have traditionally used blue/white for the forces of the Law (religious nutjobs) and red/black for the forces of Chaos (plain evil or Ani Hero depending on the game).
    • In Strange Journey, the player's side's demonicas have gold helms and gray bodies. Jack's Crew uses all-black Demonicas.
  • In Famous: Evil Cole shoots red lightning, while Good Cole shoots blue lightning.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog has this trope smeared all over it. Sonic (the hero) is blue, Knuckles (the tough guy) is a cherry red, Amy Rose and Rouge the Bat (the chicks) have extensive pink colouring, Shadow the Hedgehog (Anti-Hero) is red and black, and Eggman Robotnik is covered in red, yellow, and black - good old evil commie colours.
  • In all of Koei's Warriors series, allies have blue life bars, enemies have red ones, and neutrals yellow. This color scheme extends to the game map.
  • Kessen 2, another Koei game set in the Three Kingdoms period, switches the colours of Wu and Wei, to give Wu, the allies of the player's faction Shu, a suitably "good" blue and Wei, the enemy, a more appropriately "evil" red.
  • The fairy targeting systems of The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask has the fairy turn blue if it's targeting a NPC, yellow if it's targeting an enemy, and green if it's targeting an inanimate object.
    • Not to mention that Link wears green (with brown/blonde hair), Zelda usually is wearing white (with blonde hair), and Ganon is usually wearing black (with red hair).
      • AND Zelda has blue (Nayru), Link has green (Farore), and Ganondorf has red (Din). Also, Ganondorf's magic is almost always purple, contrasting with Zelda's blue magic.
    • Also, the Master Sword's hilt is always blue or indigo, and the blade glows blue or white, which always contrasts to the villains main colors (usually red and/or dark purple)
  • The Homeworld series in terms of ship, ion beam and hyperspace colors. Homeworld 2 is this trope:
      • Hiigaran: blue/green/gray ships, blue ion beam & hyperspace
      • Vaygr: red/gray ships, green ion beam & hyperspace
      • Bentusi & Progenitor: yellow ion beam & hyperspace (Bentusi ships are golden, Progenitors are brown/gray with a single red stripe)
  • In Red Faction Guerilla multiplayer, you are always on the blue team, regardless of which side you're dressed as. Everyone whose business it is to kill you always shows up on your screen as red.
    • The first Red Faction is even worse for this; all the miners except Eos wear identical red suits, and all the Ultor Guards wear similar blue suits. The Mercs are a bit more technicolour, but their headquarters are all an ominous black.
    • Done differently in Red Faction II, where your commando team are colour-coded rather than everyone. The player character Alias is protagonist red, Tangier is stealth gunmetal grey, heavy weapons guy Repta is green, sniper Quill is electronic yellow, vehicles guy Shrike is crazy blue, and leader Molov is in stately muted tones.
    • The Red Faction Origins telemovie adds to this, with the demented, violent, zealous White Faction wearing, um, white.
  • The Eagle Vision in Assassin's Creed lets Altair and Ezio use their instincts to color-code people, allies are blue, potential enemies are red, and quest targets are yellow. Also, while Assassins traditionally wear white hooded robes, both the Templar-aligned Rodrigo Borgia and Hunter wear black instead.
  • In the RPG Albion, you enter a dungeon with red and green pressure plates. The green plates have positive effects (they open doors that block your way, or treasure rooms), while red ones more or less negative ones (they release monsters or open rooms with cursed items). There's also a room with a blue pressure plate, which serves as a bait for anybody curious to find out what it does. (It opens a trap door, sending the party crashing down below.)
  • In the newer Persona games, player characters always summon their Personae with a blue aura. Shadows and Non Playable Persona users have a Red Aura.
  • In Mother 3, the Magypsies are wizard-like entities that live millenia long lives. They each represent a color of the rainbow(Aeolia=Red, Phrygia=Orange, etc.), except for Locria/Fassad/Yokuba, who has betrayed the Magypsies, and now sports white(absence of color in pigments).
  • The Big Daddies and security devices in BioShock (series) all use their lights' colors to indicate their allegiance—green if they're on your side, red if they're hostile to you. This can be explained by Ryan wanting to avoid another Suchong incident for the Big Daddies (letting the public know when not to approach one). The security bots can be explained as intimidation value, as can the siren; thieves get scared if a screeching, red glowing machine gun armed bot comes flying at them, and they stop thinking properly long enough to get shot.
  • The rollermines in Half-Life 2 Episode 1 are similar; they're normally blue, but when they've been reprogrammed by Alyx they turn yellow. Then when they are about to explode they turn red.
  • Nethack: Unicorns are color-coded by alignment: black/chaotic, grey/neutral, white/lawful.
  • In Mitsumete Knight, the country you're fighting for as a mercenary, Dolphan Kingdom, has a blue and white crest and its soldiers' armor is light blue, while the enemy country, the Dukedom of Procchia, has a red and black crest and its soldiers' armor is jet-red. Subversion in that the enemy side has sympathetic characters and reasons to fight, while Dolphan is ruled by a Deadly Decadent Court who will discard you like an old rag by voting a law explusing all foreigners from the country, after you win the war for them.
  • Color-coding is employed in Final Fantasy VIII to highlight the parallels and contrasts between Squall and Seifer: Squall, a Good Is Not Nice Anti-Hero, wears mostly black and has dark hair, while his Rival Turned Evil Seifer, who has aspirations toward knighthood, is Blond Guys Are Evil and wears a white Badass Longcoat.
  • In Legend of Dragoon Emperor Doel, the evil purple trope straight, being the Emperor as well as the Dragoon of Thunder. Lloyd, Meru, Lenus, and the rest of the Winglies have white hair, referred to as platinum in-game. The good guys are bound to their elements though, which means they play about half the colours straight and subvert the rest.
  • If there is something consistent in Touhou, it's that characters in red are violent and Purple characters have certain aura of nobility.
  • Mega Man X is mostly blue, and plays The Hero in his series. Zero remains the same shade of red in both his Ax Crazy and Lancer periods, but has black armor as a powerup. Axl's normal form subverts the trope, as he's black and grey without being an Anti-Hero. Lumine combines white and Purple Is the New Black, and plays the trope very straight. As for the original series, Mega Man is blue and cyan, while Bass is black and purple.
  • In Warhammer 40000 Space Marine, soldiers from The Empire use lasguns with a red beam, while those faithful to the true gods wield green ones.
  • In the X-Universe series, the Good Republic, Evil Empire trope is subverted with Grey and Gray Morality. That said, the factions that are generally treated as good and evil tend to follow this trope. The Argon Federation uses gunmetal gray, and the Kingdom of Boron use bright green. The Split Dynasty uses rusty red, and the Paranid Empire uses bluish purple. The neutral Teladi Space Company leaves their ships unpainted, which translates to dark gray.
    • Meanwhile, the unaligned Terrans paint their ships white with black trim, pirates add Nose Art of red flames and paint the ship red, Xenon ships are black, and Kha'ak ships are purple.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • El Goonish Shives Big Bad wore black.
  • The Order of the Stick on at least three occasions character's clothes have changed to indicate alignment shift: Belkar's clothes turn white when a wisdom boost gives him empathy and turns him good for a short time, Miko's clothes turn grey when the gods punish her for murdering Shojo, and Vaarsuvius' robes go from purple to black when s/he accepts a Deal with the Devil.
    • Lampshaded when Haley notices V's color change and starts panicking over the implication. Belkar calls her on being prejudiced and overreacting which calms Haley down (Belkar being Belkar, he then whispers a congratulations to V for coming over to the "deep end" of the alignment pool)
  • Greenroom, a new webcomic, actually linked to this page when talking about one of the characters.
  • Done with various colors of latex in Collar 6.
  • Lampshaded in Our Little Adventure by Umbria when talking to two Angelo's Kids missionaries here.
  • According to Axe Cop, green is the colour of good guys.
  • Off White Subverts this. The black and white spirits seem neither good, nor evil, and are not always completely white or black (Iki, the suspected white spirit wolf, is grey, and a white spirit Raven is black).


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Red vs. Blue. It's in the name, it's lampshaded, averted, subverted, and generally thrown out the window starting with the first episode. However, when they wrote the first episode, it was merely making fun of that aspect of Halo's multiplayer, so it was entirely justified.
    • Generally ignored or lampshaded with the BG crew - they're more or less team colored. Even Donut. Doc wears purple because he's on loan to both Red and Blue teams, but becomes the villain when O'malley possesses him. He returns to being a pacifist when O'Malley leaves.
    • The Freelancers take this trope and throw it through a meatgrinder. To whit:
      • Agents North and South Dakota both wear green/purple. One is the nicest, friendliest, team-centric, most heroic mercenary you've ever met, and the other is a jealous, competitive, backstabbing, second-stringer.
      • Agents Wyoming and Maine wear white armor. For Maine it could be argued that he fits the crazy mold. Wyoming, however, is merely a coward.
      • York wears tan.
      • While Carolina starts as a hero...
      • Tex actually fits this, being the distilled anti-heroine badass that she is.
      • Wash wears black armor; though he was introduced as a relatively-light anti-hero, he was adorkable in the backstory and an actual effective villain later, though never even remotely as effective an Agent as Tex, Maine, York, or Carolina.
      • There's the anonymous blue guy.
      • CT wears brown. She's the least down-to-earth person there is.
      • The Director and Councilor actually play this one straight, wearing all black and often remaining in shadows.
  • Doctor Horribles Sing Along Blog has this in spades. Both inverted and played straight in that Dr. Horrible (the villain/protagonist) wears white while Captain Hammer (the hero/antagonist) wears black. Dr. Horrible's white outfit also represents his innocence and kindness, which is sharply contrasted when he switches to a blood red lab coat to represent the blood on his hands, and as a standard villain color to demonstrate that he's taking his villainy more seriously.
  • The Dark Overlords from the web fiction serial Dimension Heroes, as probably expected, dress in dark clothing.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The guns on G.I. Joe shoot red or blue lasers, depending on the affiliation of the shooter.
    • Sometimes, the laser guns would even change their color to accommodate the wielder. A Joe could pick up a discarded Cobra rifle and still be assured of it firing his own team color (this was probably an animation error rather than intentional, but it's fun to imagine that there's a "good/evil" switch on the side of each weapon).
    • This is parodied in the Homestar Runner "Cheat Commandos" toons, where the bad guy organization is literally named Blue Laser.
  • The original Transformers is incredibly heavy with this. In its early years, the Autobot ranks were crowded with bright primary colors (come on, Optimus is covered in red, white and blue), while the Decepticons ranks are crammed with the more murky shades - especially popular was grey, black, purple, and dark blue (with the white, red, and blue Starscream standing out as the big exception). In its later years, colors diversified a bit more, although 1987's range of toys adhered quite closely to a pattern of grey, black and red for Autobots, and teal, blue and purple for Decepticons. One aspect that maintained a long enduring standard (until the movieverse) involved the symbols - the Autobot symbol was always red, while the Decepticon symbol was likewise purple.
    • It's notable that Hasbro recognised that the Decepticons are predominantly purple, and actually recoloured toys that were largely purple to other tones. The most prominent example was Armada combiner Tidal Wave, who started as a purple and black tribute to Shockwave (who was actually called Shockwave in Japan), but wound up covered in earth tones when brought to North America.
    • The Transformers cartoon series took the color-coding pattern to the next step, introducing a basic convention of blue eyes for Autobots, and red eyes for Decepticons. This was an unswerving constant in the first year of the cartoon, but was played with come the second year by the yellow-eyed Decepticon thrust, and while the basic pattern was employed through to the end of the show, more and more exceptions continued to appear. Something that was maintained a lot more consistently, however, was the color-coding applied to the team's paraphernalia: Autobot laser blasts, spaceships, headquarters and machines and devices of all shapes and size were a golden orange in color, while the Decepticons favored their iconic purple.
    • Strangely averted with Beast Wars. Optimus Primal, Rattrap, Rhinox and Dinobots had red eyes.
    • In Transformers Animated, the red and blue eye concept was revisited with much stricter use (the lone exception being the purple-peepered Decepticon Swindle, who is only given those eyes because he had them back in the 80s, and was a favorite character of the show's art director). Autobots come in a variety of colors, but all of the Decepticons are primarily purple (except for the Starscream clones, which are given the color schemes based on the Starscream-recolor characters in Generation 1.
    • The movieverse has colorful 'bots and gray 'cons. The Devastator components make up the few exceptions.
  • In Code Lyoko, the villain XANA is most often identified by the color red. Most notably, the towers activated by XANA are surrounded by a red halo (blue is neutral, green when activated by Jérémie, white by Franz Hopper). There are many other examples, like the Digital Sea turning red when XANA's creatures are about to attack.
    • William originally wore a white, grey, green and blue costume on Lyoko, but it changes to a black and red one once he becomes The Dragon under XANA's control.
    • Ulrich's swords normally glow blue whenever he strikes or parries, but they glow red in the hand of any warrior controlled by XANA, making such swordfights look like direct shout outs to Jedi vs. Sith duels.
  • Even before she turned evil, Lydia from Barbie and the Diamond Castle dressed in muted red and purple, as opposed to the other muses, who wore blue and royal purple.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Water Tribes are blue, the Earth Kingdom is green, the Fire Nation is red, and the Air Nomads were either yellow or a lighter shade of blue.
    • Comparing the greens worn by Long Feng and the Dai Li to most other members of the Earth Kingdom, you'll notice theirs are much darker (to the point of being mistakable for black), symbolizing their corruption.
    • The Grand Finale completely mess with this trope, having two determining fights happening in parallel: Aang/Ozai and Azula/Zuko. Both were red, or a kind of orange, versus blue. But in one fight, Blue was good, in the other, blue was evil.
  • On the classic 1960s Spider-Man, want to know who the villain is if they aren't already established in the comics? Their skin is green. Even if they are entirely normal humans. And no one really notices.
  • Re Boot color codes the character's Icons.
    • White and black: Nothing special
    • Gold and black: Guardian
    • Green and Black: Viral minion
  • On Gargoyles the clan's eyes would glow white when they were angry, while Demona's would glow red. Played With later when Angela showed up; hers were red too, and Word of God says that the color is actually determined by sex.


Real Life / History[edit | hide]

  • Originally, the term "Black Knight" referred to men who, for some reason or another, removed their tabards and placed thick dark furs over their shields to hide their heraldry, so as to disguise themselves. Needless to say, a lot of these weren't nice men, and the term started to carry negative connotations.
  • It doesn't hurt the Nazis' frequent presentation as cartoonish villains that their flag was red, white and black.
  1. inverted in Soviet Russia, where Red Army defeats blue and gray Axis forces, even more Unfortunate Implications may result). A variation on this is a character that's calm being represented by blue and a more fiery character being represented by red.
  2. Thanks doc.
  3. Neither were green in the film versions.
  4. Fleets of (by default otherwise unrelated) people from a third-party community site just going on a rampage in a random direction while often including at least a few people which are blue to the residents of the area which is getting visited