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Evil Wears Black
Careful, Your Highness. Her robe is a clue that eating that apple is not a good idea.

A dozen soldiers of Zarkendorf's private army stood at attention in their black velvet unitards, black jackboots, black helmets with black visors, and black gauntlets gripping sinister black machine-rifles. The fashion designer who tried to tell Zarkendorf that pink was the new black had been immediately executed.
Plan 7 of 9 from Outer Space

Black is perhaps the most typical color for evil, or at least the antagonists, to wear. Thus in many stories, the villains will wear largely black clothing most of the time, in contrast to the colors worn by neutral and good characters (which will be at least moderately lighter).

This is because in many cultures, black is the color of darkness, decay, and death. Thus even though wearing black doesn't make someone evil, being evil makes it more than likely one is going to wear black.

It doesn't matter if it's all the villains, the Big Bad and a few others, or just a group of Mooks that appear for a few episodes, if they wear a large amount of black (even just one noticeable part of their clothing), you know it's this trope. This is also why black is a common color for an Evil Costume Switch.

Heck, some Eviler than Thou villains might wear black when the "lesser" evils don't.

There's some science behind this. There are studies that show that people that wear black are more aggressive than people who don't. They've also found that black isn't only associated with evil, but also contamination and sickness. These associations give people an instinctive cue that the person wearing black is dominant, and somebody you don't want to mess with. note 

Now since some think Evil Is Cool, then black can also become a cool color, but those don't cover this trope, nor does this trope come into play if the heroes also wear black. This can come into play with a Villain Protagonist though.

Trope Relations

A Sub-Trope of Good Colors, Evil Colors, Dark Is Evil (since dark is usually shown as black), Dress-Coded for Your Convenience (since this is about clothing color).

A Super Trope to Black Knight (as wearing black armor is part of the trope), Black Cloak, Woman in Black.

A Sister Trope to Red and Black and Evil All Over (which often involves clothing), Paint It Black (which isn't limited to this color), Black Eyes of Evil.

Compare Purple Is The New Black, Evil Costume Switch.

Contrast Little Black Dress (wearing black is stylish instead of evil), Movie Superheroes Wear Black (because they are still heroes), Dark Is Not Evil, Gold and White Are Divine.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Zig-zagged in Lyrical Nanoha: in the original incarnation of the series, Chrono Harlaown was the bad guy and wore black clothes with Spikes Of Doom. As the concept of the series evolved, Chrono became an interdimensional law officer but kept his black attire, which was instead retrofitted as the uniform of the Enforcers, top-ranked dimensional police. Fate Testarossa took Chrono's place as the main character's rival and resident Dark Magical Girl and also wore black from the onset, but the series went the Dark Is Not Evil route, and Fate turned out to be the most Lawful Good character in the show, while still wearing mostly black because it suited her—and because she eventually rose up to join the ranks of the Enforcers, just like Chrono.
  • Princess Tutu:
  • In Yaiba the Moon Princess Kaguya wears black clothes (although shaded purple in the anime), which still counts despite including a Playboy Bunny outfit trimmed with white fur.
  • The Fallen Angels from High School D×D have black wings and are dressed in black, although they still use light based powers.
  • Death Note:
    • Misa, despite her childlike behavior and appearance, is secretly evil and wears Gothic clothing, especially a Gothic lolita-like maid outfit.
    • Mello, the Anti-Hero of the second half of the series, wears black pants and a black shirt.
    • The only outfit we see Ryuk wearing is compiled of black, cjains, and all sorts of other things. Oh, he's a Shinigami, which tips you off that he's evil.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion: Homura becomes the devil, making her already dark color scheme even darker as she turns evil.
  • In Naruto, one of the Akatsuki's distinguishing traits is that each member wears a black cloak.

    Comic Books 
  • Winnowill from ElfQuest wears a black dress (trimmed with white fur) most of the time in her initial appearances and tops that off by having long, black hair. Even the warning nickname later given to her, "The Black Snake", contains the color and her harmful magic is referred to as "Black Sending".
  • Black Adam, Shazam's archenemy, predominantly wears a black and yellow uniform.

     Film — Animated 

     Film — Live Action 
  • Conan the Barbarian (1982) and Conan the Destroyer, all villains are fond of black leather armour.
  • In the Dracula adaptation starring Bela Lugosi, his black Ominous Opera Cape with a High Collar of Doom became iconic of villains and the Classical Movie Vampire.
  • In The Great Race, Professor Fate and Max wear black (and their car is also black). Although this is a comedy, they are still the villains.
  • The Cobra Kai members who bully The Karate Kid wear black martial arts uniforms.
  • Kung Fu Hustle: The Axe Gang wears stylish black suits.
  • Xur in The Last Starfighter wears black, in contrast to his father and the other Rylians, whom he betrayed, wearing white.
  • Red Sonja: The villain's army wears black armour, complete with Spikesof Villainy.
  • In a typical Spaghetti Western, the villains wear black hats. To the extreme in the Italian cartoon "West and Soda", which parodies this genre: When Johnny, the good guy, finally goes on his revenge spree, he changes his clothing from white (the standard good guy outfit) to black.
  • Star Wars:
    • The Sith wear black cloaks, and Darth Vader wears all black. The "good" Jedi prefer brown robes and white tunics.
    • Averted by Luke in Return of the Jedi, though he was embracing his inner darkness and defeating it. Played with later in that when he rejects the Dark Side, his shirt is torn and the white underneath is exposed.
  • In Superman II, the Terrible Trio of Ursa, Non, and General Zod all wore black, contrasting with the white of other Kryptonians, and Superman's Primary-Color Champion outfit.
  • Willow: All of Bavmorda's men wear black armour. General Kael complements his with a scary bone mask.
  • In all Winnetou film-of-the-book movies. Winnetou wears beige clothes with blue ornaments and Old Shatterhand wears light brown clothes. All the bandits wear very dark clothes, and one item is usually black, be it a hat, trousers or a shirt. The main antagonist tends to have a completely black outfit in each part of the movie series, though perhaps not for all his scenes. In Winnetou I, Old Shatterhand and Winnetou are not friends yet and Old Shatterhand has to fight with the Apaches. He wears a sky blue shirt, and his friends sport bright colours as well. It was crystal clear he's a good guy, and not only because it's a prequal to Treasure of Silver Lake and everybody in Germany and Eastern Europe knows that those two pals are Heterosexual Life-Partners.
  • In The Wizard of Oz the Wicked Witch of the West wears black. This is in contrast to Glinda the "good" witch we meet who wears pink.
  • In the comedy The Villain, the eponymous villain wears black.
  • The eponymous villain in Warlock is the only character to wear completely black attire, which only makes his blond hair more noticeable. In the second movie the next Warlock kills a side character and steals his clothing, noting with approval that it's black.
  • In Scanner Cop II, Carl Volkin is notably the only villain in this entire series to go around entirely in black.
  • In 300, the Persian warrior elite known as the Immortals wear all-black uniforms with creepy silver masks. They're the most dangerous of all of Xerxes's warriors and are soon revealed to literally be monsters. In 300: Rise of an Empire, the whole Persian navy is wearing black.
  • In the Black Comedy Heathers, the trenchcoat-wearing J.D. is given the signature color black to show him as the villain. Played with in that it's used more for the badass associations at first as he seems like a cool outsider from the female protagonist's perspective. It only gradually becomes clear that he's actually a homocidal lunatic.
  • End of Days. After Satan takes a Tall, Dark and Handsome host, he walks around in a black longcoat and later appears in a Black Cloak during the Satanic bedding ceremony.
  • HYDRA of course in Captain America: The First Avenger, but inverted when Steve Rogers wakes up in the future; when he starts getting aggressive the door opens and black-clad SHIELD mooks enter. Steve naturally assumes the worst and throws them through the wall.
  • Azazel in X-Men: First Class. A suit, no less.
  • The title character of Maleficent starts the movie wearing a tan dress, then switches to the iconic black robe after her Start of Darkness. She later pulls a Heel-Face Turn, but continues to wear the black robe.

    Literature 
  • In Shadows of Freedom, one (solarian) character is somewhat amused by the tendency of repressive dictatorships to outfit their jackbooted thugs in all black uniforms. This is also a bit of Hypocritical Humor, since the Solarian League's own jackbooted enforcers, the Gendarmerie, wear black uniforms too.
  • The Quest of the Unaligned:
    • Crown Prince Alaric wears a black security uniform and has black hair, despite being The Hero. This Word of God post confirms that this was an explicit and deliberate Inverted Trope.
    • Gaithim wears a black robe and is a hoshek, or mage of Darkness.
  • Deryni: Deryni Alaric Morgan (a good guy with 0% Approval Rating) deliberately wears all black. The fact it is his heraldic color doesn't excuse him.

     Live Action Television 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Vampire Faith wears black outfits.
    • When Xander and Willow become vampires in Wish!verse, they wear black leather. When the real Willow pretends to be vampire!Willow she steals the latter's black clothes. Also, in the last three episodes of Season Six, Willow dons black clothes and "dyes" her hair black as she embraces black magic.
  • Doctor Who Classic:
    • The Master as portrayed by Roger Delgado and Anthony Ainley wears all-black unless he's in disguise. Even the Master's TARDIS console room is identical to the Doctor's, but with black surfaces.
    • The villain in "The Five Doctors" deliberately changes into black clothes when putting his evil plot into action.
  • The Peacekeepers from Farscape wear black armour or uniform. The villain Scorpius is dressed all in black, as well.
  • Ares from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys favors a black leather get-up. Similarly, any and all servants of Hera are most likely wearing black leather and skull-motif armor.
  • Big Bad Rufus in House of Anubis wears the same black coat, black turtle neck and black pants in virtually all his appearances.
  • From Once Upon a Time: Black features prominently in the Evil Queen's wardrobe. After her Storybrooke counterpart Regina tries to redeem herself to its citizens, this is reflected in her wardrobe changes: she wears more gray shades and more color.
  • Blackadder, Prince Edmund Plantagenet, Duke of Edinburgh, adapts an all-black outfit once he becomes The Black Adder. Most of his ancestors likewise attire themselves in black.
  • Community:
    • In "A Fistful of Paintballs", a mysterious shooter called only the Black Rider appears, "network television handsome" guy played by Josh Holloway dressed in all black with badass stuff like a black cowboy hat or bandolier with paintball bullets who takes one student after another. He was hired by the City College, Greendale's nemesis.
    • There is a Running Gag that Abed keeps referring to six time lines that were created when Jeff used rolling a dice to decide who will go to get pizza. In the darkest time line, they all wear black, which was at first a sign of mourning. Later the study group turns evil and they transform into supervillains who wear black, mostly leather. Abed is still a good guy underneath, but he looks like the others and wears a long black robe. His look is completed with a black evil goatie.

    Music 
  • While he didn't always wear black, Doctor Steel did on occasion wear a black PVC outfit with top hat and cape.
  • Cowboys From Hell by Pantera: "Bad guys wear black, we're tagged and can't turn back."

    Sports 
  • In the Mixed Martial Arts competition show The Ultimate Fighter, Chael Sonnen very obviously chose to play the role of heel in his season against champion Jon Jones. His team wore black jerseys, and he repeatedly described them as "the bad guys."

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000 has the Black Legion, arguably the most powerful and evil Chaos Space Marine Legion whose color of choice is written on their name.

    Video Games 
  • Some of the playable characters in Death Smiles are, or used to be, evil, such as Casper and Sakura, who both wear black outfits.
  • Fallout 3, the evil mercenary armies of Talon Company wear a custom variant of Combat Armor painted black.
  • Final Fantasy IV Golbez wears variable dark blue or black armor Depending on the Artist. He continues to wear his dark armour even after his Heel-Face Turn.
  • In Final Fantasy VII, Sephiroth wears a black outfit with steel touches. He wears this prior to his Face-Heel Turn and seems to be a fairly common colour choice for SOLDIER, who are, on a whole, a Punch Clock Villain group.
  • Final Fantasy IX, Evil Overlord Garland wears a futuristic suit of black armor with matching cape. This is in sharp contrast to Kuja being a Man in White.
  • Kingdom Hearts, Master Xehanort's clothing is primarily black and grey, while the members of the Organization wear black cloaks.
  • Pokémon:
    • Team Rocket's members wear black with red "R" emblems, while Giovanni is depicted in the games wearing black suits. In the anime he wore orange at first, but switched to black in Best Wishes when he and Team Rocket became major antagonists again.
    • James and Jessie, two of the main antagonists of the anime adaptation, wore white uniforms and were mostly used as comical relief in the seasons before Best Wishes season. In that season, they get noticeably more competent and evil, and of course, they switch to black clothing. When they switched back to their regular white-and-red uniforms, they get noticeably less competent.
    • Team Plasma in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2. In the original gen 5 games they weren't this, but they changed to be like so in the sequels as a way to show that they were now just blatantly evil and not even pretending to be Well Intentioned Extremists. It's especially blatant with Ghetsis's costume change in the same games too.
    • The Dark-type, called the Evil-type in japan, is made up of primarily black-colored Pokémon or Pokémon with at least a little black. You can count the Pokémon with Dark as their primary type (Darkrai, Sneasel, Umbreon) on one hand. Most with Dark as their secondary type (Crawdaunt and Shiftry) are differently colored, however.
  • Albert Wesker from Resident Evil, while not this trope normally, starts embracing it in the fifth installment - with a longcoat made of pure black leather, as well as black inner getups, gloves and boots. The only thing that isn't black would be his hair and his eyes.
  • In Street Fighter, Akuma by default wears either a black or dark purple gi. When Ryu becomes Evil Ryu, he's also depicted with a black gi (which becomes tattered in the fourth installment). M. Bison also wears a black cloak over his red outfit, although he tosses it off when the matches begin.

    Web Comics 
  • Cucumber Quest: The Nightmare Knight is the Big Bad of the comic, and he's a Black Knight clad in all black armor.
  • Richard of Looking for Group is one of the protagonists, but he's also an undead sorcerer who actually needs to do evil acts to maintain his powers. He wears a black robe and hood.

     Western Animation 
  • Snidely Whiplash wore a black top hat and cape in Dudley Do-Right.
  • In Gandahar, the robotic army is all black, aside their glowing red eyes.
  • In The Smurfs, Gargamel wears a black robe, in contrast the the (usually) white clothes(?) of the Smurfs, and the more colorful clothes of the good humans.
  • In Ben 10, Kevin Levin usually wears black clothing and is evil. At least in the original series. However, in the sequels, he's become less evil, but still wears black clothing.
  • In Winx Club the Wizards of the Black Circle all wear black.
  • In Gawayn, the Duke's outfit is dominantly black.


Color-Coded PatricianCharacteristic Clothing ColorsGood Colors, Evil Colors
Evil Is BiggerGood and Evil for Your ConvenienceGood Animals, Evil Animals
Dark Is Not EvilTropes in BlackFade to Black
Evil Costume SwitchVillainous Fashion SenseExcessive Evil Eyeshadow
Evil WeaponEvil TropesExcessive Evil Eyeshadow
Dude, She's Like in a ComaImageSource/Animated FilmsHigh Collar of Doom
Evil Sounds RaspyObviously EvilExcessive Evil Eyeshadow
Evil RedheadsColour-Coded for Your ConvenienceGold and White Are Divine
Evil Versus EvilAdministrivia/No Real Life Examples, Please!Evil Will Fail

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