Created By: Pichukun on July 14, 2011 Last Edited By: Pichu-kun on July 8, 2016

Inconsistent Coloring

The colors used for characters change often, either due to Art Evolution or not.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Possible Alternate Titles: None so Far Indexes: Comic Book Tropes, Consistency


Action Alice is a popular comic book superhero with a loyal fanbase. They just can't get enough of her action-packed adventures, running around town in a red leotard with brown tights, blue boots and gloves, and a yellow cape. Apparently there's going to be a very special crossover with popular superhero Badass Bob, which has fans very excited! They eagerly flock out to stores to pick up this crossover issue.

But wait, something's amiss. Action Alice is there, but... is her cape red? Wasn't it supposed to be yellow?

Action Alice's more observant fans have just stumbled upon an instance of inconsistent coloring.

It may be due to various artists. Maybe publishing issues. Maybe they're retconning or deliberately redesigning an outfit from here on out. Maybe They Just Didn't Care. Regardless, sometimes characters' colors aren't consistent from one moment to the next, whether it's a very notable miscoloration in one panel, or consistently recolored across an entire issue. It's typically small details, such as eye color, but more major details, like hair color or costume colors, can be changed too.

This is particularly prevalent in comics, including western comic books, newspaper comics, manga and webcomics, but can happen with other media as well. Frequently due to different artists but can also be due to retcons or just the artist being Off Model.

Compare to Depending on the Artist, Adaptation Dye-Job, and Early Installment Character-Design Difference.

Examples:

    Anime And Manga 
  • Early on the Wandering Son characters rarely had a stationary color in colored artwork; even within the same volume would the colors change. Eventually the manga decided on certain colors for certain things, such as Takatsuki having black hair, however other colors such as the exact shade of Nitori's brown hair still changed between colored artwork.
  • There are quite a few Clamp-related examples of this.
    • XxxHolic have Yuuko's and Watanuki's eyes, which have been just about every color of the spectrum.
    • Kamui from X1999, whose eyes have been blue, green, and purple in various pieces of artwork.
  • Miracle Girls's mangaka justifies this, saying that the different colors were problems made from the publishing process. The main twins hair would change between varying tones of near white, blonde, and brown depending on the cover. Their official tone was a dark brown.
  • The colored art for Sangatsu no Lion portray the Kawamoto sisters with either black hair or brunette hair. Typically, the more detailed pieces, like the ones used for volume covers, will use brunette.
  • While the covers of Ranma usually consistently show Male Ranma with black hair (though the highlight color may vary), Female Ranma's hair bounces off between black, brown, red, pink, purple, and blue.
  • Ino from Naruto has been depicted with both blue eyes and green eyes in the manga.
  • In Sherlock Hound, Moriarty's minion Smiley is green in the six episodes directed by Hayao Miyazaki, and brown in the other twenty episodes.
  • Aiko from Oyasumi Punpun has been depicted with brown hair, red hair, and even blue hair. Her official color is a dark brown.
  • Shouko from Koe No Katachi is frequently depicted in colored artwork with a near pink tone of hair. Canonically she has a dark brown hair but few artworks use the tone. The animated movie gives her reddish hair.
  • Triela from Gunslinger Girl is a Dark-Skinned Blonde however her skin tone is shaded in different ways. Early chapters often made her as light as the white characters however later ones tend to shade her darker.
  • The pilot of Transformers Cybertron had a few shots where Optimus Prime's head had noticeably different coloring than what was used for the remainder of the series.
  • In Hunter Hunter, this is the case with Kurapika's shoes. In the manga version, he's shown wearing blue shoes with white socks, in the 1999 anime he at first wears turquoise shoes and later switches to blue shoes (still keeping the white socks), and in the 2011 anime he wears blue shoes with no socks.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Incredible Hulk's first appearance he's gray; then from the 2nd issue on he's green (and is shown to be green in Flash Backs to the first issue). Much later it's re-retconned back to him being gray at first.
  • Triumph, in DC's Trinity miniseries, was drawn with at least four different hair colors... and they weren't similar. He started out blue, popped up with red and brown, and finally ended back where belonged at blonde.
  • Sonic the Comic had problems with eye colors in the Sonic Adventure arc. Porker Lewis' eyes changed from brown to blue and back and early issues had everyone with Black Bead Eyes before switching to colored eyes. The fan-comic Sonic the Comic Online! isn't much better, as th artists often switch between the Fleetway colors and game colors.
  • At times Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog colored the characters eyes, especially right before the Sonic Adventure arc, however the eye colors changed at times. Amy also had violet eyes at the beginning of the Adventures arc, instead of her game counterparts green eyes.

    Film 
  • In The Lion King, Nala's eyes can be seen as changing from blue to green. In TLKSNA, her eyes are gold, and finally, in The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, her eyes are an electric blue.
  • In Mulan, Mulan's armor is mostly seen as green but also as blue and brown later in the movie.
  • Aurora has three eye colors in Sleeping Beauty: Brown eyes, purple eyes, and Black Bead Eyes. In at least one scene she changed between the three. Disney Princess merchandise portrays her consistently with purple eyes, making her the only princess with an unnatural eye color.

    Franchises 
  • Sonic the Hedgehog's eyelids have varied wildly depending on the adaptation. In the original games, they were flesh-colored, although the number of times Sonic blinked to illustrate that could be counted on both hands. Archie went with blue; Fleetway originally had flesh-colored, but went to blue as well. Then Adventure introduced the redesign, and made the flesh-colored eyelids even more noticeable, prompting the relevant change in both comics. Finally, when Sonic X rolled around, the eyelids were made blue again, but this time the change carried over into the games as well, which has stuck ever since. This can be somewhat surreal in Sonic Generations, where Classic Sonic retains the flesh-colored eyelids but Modern Sonic has the current blue ones.

    Literature 
  • Despite being the protagonist of the first Story Arc in Warrior Cats and having the most official images out of any character in the series, the artist of the series can't seem to decide whether Firestar should have tabby stripes, what shade of orange his fur is, and whether or not he has Green Eyes (the canon color) or yellow. In a particularly egregious example, on the book jackets of the Super Edition books, it shows him as having yellow eyes on the cover of Firestar's Quest, even though the actual cover has him with green eyes!
  • Ozma from the Land of Oz books is described as having "ruddy blonde locks" however most official art portrays her as a brunette, though some also portray Ozma with black hair or red hair as well. Subsequently, popular fanon depicts Ozma as a brunette and most adaptations portray her as any color but blonde. Return to Oz is one of the few adaptations where she is a blonde (and even then she doesn't have a reddish tone to her hair).

    Live Action TV 
  • Bran's direwolf Summer from Game of Thrones has gone from having gray fur to having brown to having what is a sort of beige-like color.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Since most Newspaper Comics are printed in black and white, this trope can happen if a colored version is available. This can be seen in Garfield, where the house interior and appliances are not defined color-wise. Even Jon's outfit changes colors sometimes.
  • In some Peanuts color Sunday strips Charlie Brown's trademark yellow shirt is a dark red, or green, or something else.
  • In Dilbert's black and white daily strips, the point is lost that Asok the intern is meant to be Asian. He looks "white" as his face and hands are rendered in the same pale tones as Dilbert, Wally or Alice. However, in the colour weekend strips, it is clear that his ethnicity is different. Owing to the limitations of monochrome publishing, this has effectively become an unintended version of this trope - Asok is white on weekdays and Asian at the weekend.

    Toys 
  • Transformers: Rumble and Frenzy, the two Cassetteicons who turn into robots were red and blue, respectively, in the original toys. However, the animated versions were blue and red. Since then, they've been alternating back and forth for the past thirty years or so.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Tick, one episode has the defective superheroes gathered in a room. A continuity error or just sloppy coloring keeps depicting American Maid as alternating from black-stockinged legs to bare legs and back again, even though she is just sitting there and has neither time nor a plot reason to keep whipping her stockings on and off.
  • In The X's, Tuesday's hair changes color from episode to episode. Not sure whether this is an actual mistake or whether it's just a tendency of Tuesday's to dye her hair a lot.
  • There's an intentional example in Yakkity Yak with Professor Crazyhair, whose hair constantly changes color. It's a rather fitting name.
  • When Speed Buggy and friends crossed over with Scooby-Doo, Speedy's pal Mark had a much darker skin tone than how he was normally shown.
  • In the Classic Disney Shorts, Butch the Bulldog is grey with a darker grey muzzle and white belly, but in Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, he's brown with a tan colored muzzle and belly.
  • In on episode of The Charlie Brown And Snoopy Show, Linus' blanket is colored green instead of light blue. Hand Waved by a voice-over of Lucy saying that "My brother's got a stupid new blanket."
  • This happened to Sunshine in Salty's Lighthouse, the cut and paste translation of TUGS. In addition to Sunshine being a girl in Salty's Lighthouse (in TUGS, he was a boy), stock footage from TUGS episodes were used for his/her scenes, namely switching between his/her original white livery from the episode, "Sunshine", and his/her yellow paintwork in later episodes.
  • Rugrats merchandise often has Angelica with purple eyes while Angelica and Suzie's Preschool Daze has her as blue eyes. A piece of All Grown Up! promotional art also has her as blue eyed.
Community Feedback Replies: 48
  • July 14, 2011
    smashingmelons
    I've been meaning to do this for a really long time. The only example I can think of right now is Kamui from X1999, whose eyes have been blue, green, and purple in various pieces of artwork. I'll get back to you with more examples, though.
  • July 14, 2011
    Monessi
    Triumph, in DC's Trinity miniseries, was drawn with at least four different hair colors... and they weren't similar. He started out blue, popped up with red and brown, and finally ended back where belonged at blonde.
  • July 15, 2011
    Goldenpelt
    Despite being the protagonist of the first Story Arc in Warrior Cats and having the most official images out of any character in the series, the artist of the series can't seem to decide whether Firestar should have tabby stripes, what shade of orange his fur is, and whether or not he has Green Eyes (the canon color) or yellow. In a particularly egregious example, on the book jackets of the Super Edition books, it shows him as having yellow eyes on the cover of Firestar's Quest, even though the actual cover has him with green eyes!

    While the covers of Ranma 1/2 usually consistently show Male Ranma with black hair (though the highlight color may vary), Female Ranma's hair bounces off between black, brown, red, pink, purple, and blue.
  • July 15, 2011
    NESBoy
    Early on, Nintendo was indecisive whether make Waluigi's outfit blue or purple.
  • July 15, 2011
    goodtimesfreegrog
  • July 15, 2011
    TheChainMan
    ^That's about art style, not color. For one, this could be a single artist that is inconsistent about his choice of palettes...
  • July 15, 2011
    TonyG
    There are some examples on Depending On The Artist about coloring. Maybe they could be moved here.
  • July 17, 2011
    SwanFeathers
    I think this could apply to animation as well. Case in point: Seto Kaiba, whose hair changes from green to brown WITHIN the anime. In Sailor Moon, Chibiusa's friend Momoko Momohara had color that changed from brown in SMR to magenta in SM Super S, but this example actually meant a shift to what Naoko Takeuchi had in mind.
  • July 17, 2011
    hotrods4ben
    Is this related more to Lazy Artist/Off Model or Depending On The Artist?
  • July 18, 2011
    smashingmelons
    ^ It's related a little to all of them, but mostly Off Model, since it isn't necessarily the artist being lazy and it often occurs within the same artist's work.

    • Yuuko and Watanuki's eyes have been just about every color of the spectrum.
    • Actually, there are quite a few Clamp- related examples of this.
  • July 18, 2011
    thegrenekni3t
  • July 18, 2011
    CrazedOtaku
    In [The Lion King], Nala's eyes can be seen as changing from blue to green. In TLKSNA, her eyes are gold, and finally, in Simba's Pride, her eyes are an electric blue.
  • July 18, 2011
    randomsurfer
    In The Incredible Hulk's first appearance he's gray; then from the 2nd issue on he's green (and is shown to be green in Flash Backs to the first issue). Much later it's re-retconned back to him being gray at first. Does That Count?
  • July 19, 2011
    AgProv
    Western Animation: In The Tick, one episode has the defective superheroes gathered in a room. A continuity error or just sloppy coloring keeps depicting American Maid as alternating from black-stockinged legs to bare legs and back again, even though she is just sitting there and has neither time nor a plot reason to keep whipping her stockings on and off.
  • July 19, 2011
    Angewomon
  • July 19, 2011
    jbrecken
    When Speed Buggy and friends crossed over with Scooby Doo, Speedy's pal Mark had a much darker skin tone than how he was normally shown.
  • October 23, 2011
    EdnaWalker
    Bump? In the Classic Disney Shorts, Butch the Bulldog is grey with a darker grey muzzle and white belly, but in Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, he's brown with a tan colored muzzle and belly.
  • October 23, 2012
    FantasyLiver
    In Mulan her armor is mostly seen as green but also as blue and brown later in the movie.
  • October 23, 2012
    ShadowHog
    Sonic's eyelids have varied wildly depending on the adaptation. In the original games, they were flesh-colored, although the number of times Sonic blinked to illustrate that could be counted on both hands. Archie went with blue; Fleetway originally had flesh-colored (I think?), but went to blue as well. Then Adventure introduced the redesign, and made the flesh-colored eyelids even more noticeable, prompting the relevant change in both comics. Finally, when Sonic X rolled around, the eyelids were made blue again, but this time the change carried over into the games as well, which has stuck ever since. This can be somewhat surreal in Sonic Generations, where Classic Sonic retains the flesh-colored eyelids but Modern Sonic has the current blue ones.
  • October 23, 2012
    NESBoy
    Since most Newspaper Comics are printed in black and white, this trope can happen if a colored version is available. This can be seen in Garfield, where the house interior and appliances are not defined color-wise. Even Jon's outfit changes colors sometimes.
  • November 19, 2012
    Bakazuki
    I'm thinking about improving the description a bit, but I have little ideas where to start off. Suggestions?
  • November 20, 2012
    ShadowHog
    Here's a stab.


    Action Alice is a popular comic book superhero with a loyal fanbase. They just can't get enough of her action-packed adventures, running around town in a red leotard with brown tights, blue boots and gloves, and a yellow cape. Apparently there's going to be a very special crossover with popular superhero Badass Bob, which has fans very excited! They eagerly flock out to stores to pick up this crossover issue.

    But wait, something's amiss. Action Alice is there, but... is her cape red? Wasn't it supposed to be yellow?

    Action Alice's more observant fans have just stumbled upon an instance of inconsistent coloring.

    It may be due to various artists. Maybe publishing issues. Maybe they're retconning or deliberately redesigning an outfit from here on out. Maybe They Just Didnt Care. Regardless, sometimes characters' colors aren't consistent from one moment to the next, whether it's a very notable miscoloration in one panel, or consistently recolored across an entire issue. It's typically small details, such as eye color, but more major details, like hair color or costume colors, can be changed too.

    This is particularly prevalent in comics, including western comic books, newspaper comics, manga and webcomics, but can happen with other media as well.
  • November 21, 2012
    Bakazuki
    Yeah, this looks really good, thank you. At the very least, it'll take away the "stub" looking the previous description gave it. We can add more to it if we feel the need to.
  • November 22, 2012
    HaggisMcCrablice
    Princess Peach's hair was auburn in her animated debut, but video game artwork from that point on shows he as a blonde.

    Coach Barkin was blonde for his first three appearances in Kim Possible.

    Gambit's eyes were normal-looking in his first appearance in X Men Evolution; later they changed to the familiar red-on-black from the comics.

    A couple of minor He Man characters changed hair colors between appearances (not counting models recycled and recolored for an altogether different character).
  • November 22, 2012
    Stratadrake
    Have to question tropability here -- to say that "something happens" without giving meaning to an occurence is textbook People Sit On Chairs.
  • November 22, 2012
    EdnaWalker
    If it is a trope, then it would be a subtrope of Depending On The Artist.
  • November 22, 2012
    Bakazuki
    Well, okay. Let's figure this out.

    It's a trope on Consistency or, more specifically, a lack of Internal Consistency, and it's not like all of the tropes in that index necessarily have any relevance/meaning within the context of the story itself, but as a body of work (if I'm using that phrase correctly). I'm not sure what kind of meaning you're looking for, in this case.
  • November 22, 2012
    Stratadrake
    I'm ... not entirely sure either. But consider: Bloopers are not a trope.
  • August 29, 2013
    FlyingDuckManGenesis
    • This happened to Sunshine in Salty's Lighthouse, the cut and paste translation of TUGS. In addition to Sunshine being a girl in Salty's Lighthouse (in TUGS, he was a boy), stock footage from TUGS episodes were used for his/her scenes, namely switching between his/her original white livery from the episode, "Sunshine", and his/her yellow paintwork in later episodes.

    The description for the example above might need some work.
  • August 29, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    @Stratadrake -- Bloopers is not a trope but it IS a Trivia. also, this is pretty notable in itself.
  • August 29, 2013
    DAN004
  • August 30, 2013
    Arivne
    The first three paragraphs of the description are Example As A Thesis and need to be changed before launch.
  • August 30, 2013
    Synchronicity
    • Bran's direwolf Summer from Game Of Thrones has gone from having gray fur to having brown to having what is a sort of beige-like color.
  • August 30, 2013
    TonyG
    In on episode of The Charlie Brown And Snoopy Show, Linus' blanket is colored green instead of light blue. Hand Waved by a voice-over of Lucy saying that "My brother's got a stupid new blanket."
  • November 11, 2013
    Larkmarn
    I don't see how this is distinct from Depending On The Artist. In case it's not, for whatever reason (this would go under Toys):

    • Transformers: Rumble and Frenzy, the two Cassetteicons who turn into robots were red and blue, respectively, in the original toys. However, the animated versions were blue and red. Since then, they've been alternating back and forth for the past thirty years or so.
  • November 11, 2013
    DAN004
    This is pretty much... a subtrope.

    Compare Adaptation Dye Job.
  • November 12, 2013
    Larkmarn
    It just doesn't seem distinct enough to warrant a subtrope.
  • November 12, 2013
    SquirrelGuy
    On Sesame Street, Oscar the Grouch was orange in the first season. I think a retcon was eventually made for why he turned green, something about going to a toxic waste dump on vacation that summer, and Oscar liked the new look so he kept it.

    Grover, who is blue, was originally a brownish-green. He was an unnamed, anonymous monster at the time, though one sketch referred to him as "Fuzzyface".

    Herry Monster had a blue nose in the first season; from the second season on it's purple.
  • November 13, 2013
    PhantomDusclops92
    • In Hunter X Hunter, this is the case with Kurapika's shoes. In the manga version, he's shown wearing blue shoes with white socks, in the first anime he at first wears turquoise shoes and later switches to blue shoes (still keeping the white socks), and in the newer anime he wears blue shoes with no socks.
    • Up until Mario Party 3, Daisy had a purple crown. Starting from Mario Party 4, her crown is golden like Peach's one.
      • Still talking about Mario: Toad's vest was originally red, then it became blue, and starting from Super Mario Sunshine it got yellow trims.
  • November 13, 2013
    SquirrelGuy
    Iron Man's armor was gray in the first issue.

    This seems to happen quite a bit with superheroes. Batman, for example, was blue in the 1960's series with Adam West. His costume turned black in the Michael Keaton movie.
  • November 13, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Those were both instances of the costumes changing, not inconsistent art. Iron Man painted his armor gold. Batman was wearing a different Batsuit.
  • November 13, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In some Peanuts color Sunday strips Charlie Brown's trademark yellow shirt is a dark red, or green, or something else.
  • October 14, 2014
    DAN004
    So pichu-kun took this over again?
  • October 15, 2014
    StarSword
    Anime and Manga:
    • The pilot of Transformers Cybertron had a few shots where Optimus Prime's head had noticeably different coloring than what was used for the remainder of the series.
  • October 15, 2014
    Pichu-kun
    ^^ I'd fix up the trope but I do not have computer access currently and it's difficult to edit it right now.
  • October 16, 2014
    AgProv
    Newspaper Comics; In Dilbert's black and white daily strips, the point is lost that Asok the intern is meant to be Asian. He looks "white" as his face and hands are rendered in the same pale tones as Dilbert, Wally or Alice. However, in the colour weekend strips, it is clear that his ethnicity is different. Owing to the limitations of monochrome publishing, this has effectively become an unintended version of this trope - Asok is white on weekdays and Asian at the weekend.
  • March 28, 2016
    Pichu-kun
    I'm picking this up again.
  • May 11, 2016
    DAN004
    Contrast Palette Swap
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