Bright Is Not Good
Can't touch this.note 

A Space Marine’s armour is bright with heraldry that proclaims his devotion to his Chapter and the beloved Emperor of Mankind. Our principle is that what the enemy can see, he will soon learn to fear..."

Generally, bright colors are used to create a jolly atmosphere or to show a character's extrovert personality. However, sometimes they can hide an unexpected threat. And you may notice it only when it's too late. Why? Probably because you were distracted by all those vivid colors.

Compare Light Is Not Good, contrast Dark Is Evil and Evil Is Not Well Lit. Expect it to show up in a Stepford Suburbia, or even more probably in a Crapsaccharine World. Monster Clown is a typical character that fits this trope. Not related to smart and evil characters (you should look at Evil Genius or Wicked Cultured for this). For another kind of Bright Is Not Good, see Idiot Hero. Supertrope to Sickly Green Glow, the specific color family of yellowish green that indicates radioactivity, toxicity, acidity, or biohazard; and Hollywood Acid, again, typically a bright green or yellow.

No Real Life examples unless they're scientific ones, please. This is not a trope for petty grievances about a color being associated with a political party or a sport team you don't like.

Oh, and this trope is definitely not about Bright Noah being evil.


Anime and Manga

Comic Books
  • Batman: The Joker's most famous outfit is purple, along with an orange shirt and a green tie. He also has green hair and white skin. Many incarnations add bright red lips to the mix.
  • In Green Lantern, the Corps with the brightest lights, the Sinestro Corps and Agent Orange, are the most evil. The usual "primary = good; secondary = evil" trope doesn't play out here either, with the Sinestro Corps and the Green Lantern Corps being the opposite of what you'd expect from their colors. There's also the Reds, who aren't exactly "good" (though they're more vengeance-oriented berserkers than being "evil" in the traditional sense).
  • In Injustice: Gods Among Us, Regime!Superman retains his trademark blue, red, and yellow costume for the first four volumes after he becomes a murderous, world-conquering Knight Templar. He pulls an Evil Costume Switch at the start of the fifth volume.
  • In the Transformers franchise, Decepticons often favor dark colors. However, in the Dreamwave Comics G1 series there's a bright orange-and-yellow repaint of Starscream called Sunstorm. He is a totally unhinged radioactive berserker. It was apparently going to be revealed that his madness was due to The Fallen within his mind, but Dreamwave went under before his story could be completed.

Eastern European Animation

Fan Fic

Films — Animated
  • Alameda Slim from Home on the Range, especially in his Villain Song.
  • In Toy Story 3, Woody, Buzz, and the rest are running on a Conveyor Belt of Doom, hoping to escape the garbage shredders. Rex spots a light at the end of the tunnel, thinking it's the sun (and thus, outside to freedom). Nope, it's the incinerator.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie Boogie whenever he is in the spotlight is very bright and it absolutely fits with his sinister carnival, cheap fun-house, clownish style. The contrast to the gothic colored good monsters reminds of Batman and the The Joker.
Films — Live-Action
  • In TRON: Legacy, where everyone is Color-Coded for Your Convenience, CLU and his mooks wear black robes with luminescent lines.
    • CLU and his army actually use harsher colors (reds and oranges) while everyone else uses light, brilliant shades (blue and white) for their lights. Castor, on the other hand, wears all white.
  • In X-Men: First Class, Azazel's skin is vivid red.

  • The association of witches with the color black is fairly modern; before that they were most commonly depicted wearing garishly patterned multihued clothing. Almost proto-psychodelic, which may in fact be related to the association of witches with toxic and hallucinogenic plants such as belladonna. See Paul Devereux's The Long Trip: The Prehistory of Psychedelia.
    • Garish clothes were a result of association with Gypsies, commonly depicted as wearing outlandish (in the eyes of an average medieval European), multicolored clothes. Also true for Gypsies themselves who were (and sometimes still are) stigmatized as petty thieves and connivers.

  • Hastur from The King in Yellow and the Cthulhu Mythos.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, evil wizard Saruman declares himself no longer the White Wizard, but Saruman of the Many Colors.
  • From Harry Potter
    • Avada Kedavra, the Killing Curse, is cast as a vivid green light.
    • Rita Skeeter always dresses in bright colors, and used to be the biggest bitch in the Potterverse...
    • ... until Dolores Umbridge and her obsession with pink came around.
  • In an example that's not evil but definitely dangerous, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and its many adaptations present Wonka's Factory as a bright, colorful place, often to the point of Amazing Technicolor World, and its owner/creator's outfit follows suit. But there's a lot of stuff in his factory that really should not be tampered with or tasted, and not heeding Mr. Wonka's warnings about them seriously results in all manner of crazy disasters. Also, in the 2005 film and 2013 stage musical adaptations, Charlie's environment and costumes therein are outfitted in grays and earth-tones while the four well-off brats come from much more colorful places
  • The Knight Templar Faith Militant of A Song of Ice and Fire wear rainbow colored cloaks to symbolize the Seven Gods of the Faith.

Live-Action TV


Tabletop Games
  • The tabletop game Polaris is practically built around this trope, as it deals with a perfect civilization under the stars whose destruction is heralded by the appearance of the sun. The dawn's first appearance is described in the gamebook: "Light coming up from the edge of the sky, colors redder than stars, new shades that had never been seen, yellow and green and golden through the icicle walls, burning out the stars from the sky, brilliant and impossible and beautiful and alien."
  • Followers of Slaanesh (Chaos god of hedonism and excess) in Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 are Sense Freaks who wear hideously garish clothing and choking perfumes at all times, being so blasé it's the only way they can feel anything. One Chaos Space Marine Legion devoted to Slaanesh wears pink and black armor for the same reason.
    • This is pretty much the principle for all Space Marines, barring a handful that actually care about stealth.
    • The Eldar are usually clad in brightly colored armor, but their loyalty is to their own race, and they're willing to let everyone else burn.
    • The Mordian Iron Guard Imperial Guard Regiment dress in bright colored dress uniforms and look more ready to go on parade than to battle.
  • In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, several Zmei (Wyrm dragons) are vividly colored. Rustarin's scales are a shimmering sapphire blue; Trevero's scales are blood red; and Illyana's scales sparkle with all the colors of the rainbow. Despite their colorful appearance, they're also among the most powerful Wyrm minions this side of Malfeas.

Video Games
  • Kefka Palazzo from Final Fantasy VI wears an outfit with many vivid colors and different patterns on it. He destroyed the world half way through the game.
  • Ozma from Final Fantasy IX is essentially a big colourful swirly energy ball thingy. It is what happens when God has an abortion. It's the toughest boss in the game, and, thankfully, optional.
  • The entire world of Spira in Final Fantasy X is, as a rule, vividly colorful and sunny. It's also described by a few characters later in the game as being a "Spiral of Death," and the bright colors are there to distract everyone from their misery.
  • The real world in Devil May Cry's reboot is gloom and somber while the demon world has extremely vivid colors.
  • The eponymous mask from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask is exceptionally colorful for being so exceptionally cruel.
  • PlanetSide has the Vanu Sovereignty and the New Conglomerate rebels, which have bright purple/teal and bright blue/yellow armor, respectively. The Sovereignty are fanatically devoted to (forcibly) "uplifting" humanity. The Conglomerate are devoted to personal freedom, corporate profits, libertarianism, and laissez-faire capitalism.
  • World of Warcraft has the Scarlet Crusade who are all armored and red all over. They are an order dedicated in eradicating the Undead Scourge, a noble intent, but their methods involve killing or torturing anyone suspected to be part of the undead or infected by the plague. Which is anyone not part of the order. It doesn't help that one of their leaders is actually a Dreadlord.
  • The resident villainous group of Pokémon X and Y, Team Flare, dress in eye-searingly bright orange suits that they consider high fashion, but several NPCs note to be horribly tacky.

Web Comics

Western Animation

Real Life
  • A sudden, bright flash/lighting up of the horizon or even worse, the entire sky accompanied with sudden heat can only mean one of three things: a nuclear bomb has just exploded somewhere nearby, an asteroid or comet has made entry into the Earth's atmosphere, or a gamma ray burst has hit the earth.. The flash from any of these is powerful enough to blind you and its heat can do anything from cremate you alive to give you a slight sunburn, depending on what happened and how far you were from it. A distant flash on the horizon not accompanied by sudden heat can be distant lightning or fireworks (or in some locales an aurora), but a flash with heat always means "something very, very bad is happening and whatever the hell you do don't look at it!"
  • Aposematism includes the use of vivid colors by animals as a warning sign against predators.
    • The most famous example is the poison dart frog.
    • The Monarch Butterfly, which is toxic to birds.
    • Some animals have bright colors despite not actually being poisonous to fool potential predators. Unfortunately for them, not all predators are that easily fooled. It's pretty risky to draw attention to yourself via bright colors when you don't actually have anything protecting you.
  • The mantis shrimp. It's brightly colored, probably much more colorful than our eyes and brains can handle - especially since it has 16 varieties of cone receptors in its eyes (compared to the 3 varietes we have), allowing it to see an almost impossibly wide light spectrum. It also looks really cute, in an alien sort of way. It also brutally, happily murders everything around it with its claws, delivering dismembering supersonic punches which deal massive damage even when they miss, because the water around the claw starts boiling due to friction caused by the speed of these punches. It's strong enough to punch through aquarium glass (which, coupled with the aforementioned bloodlust, makes it a poor choice for most aquariums) and injure human beings, and has earned an affectionate nickname thumb splitter, since that's what will happen if you try to touch it. Oh, and those claws? They're so tough that scientists would love to replicate their structure, in case it can be reproduced in human scale and used in the military.
  • Chemical hazard labels have bright backgrounds to be easily spotted.
  • Many chemical substances present themselves in colorful crystals, or burn with pretty colors. Needless to say, many are explosive/toxic/otherwise dangerous.
  • An astronomy example: the brighter or more vivid the star's color, the worse it is for evolving life. Bright blue stars are the worst for evolving life. Red stars are bad, too. Red dwarfs are too small and cold, red giants too bright and unstable. Mediocre whitish or yellowish stars (yellow-white F class, the Sun's G class or the yellower-than-Sun K class) are the best for Earthlike planets. And, finally, Zig-Zagged with brown dwarfs, which aren't candidates for life-bearing planets at all. While the name doesn't sound very bright and therefore the trope seems to be averted, they are actually deep glowing red and worse (colder) than red dwarfs, playing it straight.
  • Fire. As the temperature grows higher (and thus more dangerous), the color of the flame shifts from red, to pink, to bright blue. This is common knowledge among fire-fighters.
  • Many animals react violently or panic at the sight of the color red, because they take it as a sign that one of their companions has been wounded and is bleeding heavily.
  • Recently, the colors of certain dinosaurs have finally been figured out thanks to microscopic pigment cells in the fossils of their plumage. Most of them had fairly dark colors. The brightest of them? Sinornithosaurus, a hawk-like predator that was decked out in red, grey, yellow and black. Ironically, its colors are thought to have been used for forest camouflage.