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Also known as the "Char Custom Rule" among Gundam fans, whose series uses this in spades:
While certainly not the origin of the overall trope, it was neatly codified by Mobile Suit Gundam, which featured legendary Ace Pilot Char Aznable, whose customizedHumongous Mecha was said to be three times faster than normal versions of its type (this was later ret conned to the more reasonable 30% faster and being very good at kicking off ships to go faster and preserve fuel). The only observable difference between his Mecha and normal models was that his was painted red.
This has been used to comedic effect outside the series: a mall in Japan has a "Char Custom" forklift, painted to look like one of his mecha, which is held by the staff to be three times more forklift-y than an ordinary forklift and the GE Consumer Finance Char Custom credit card receives three times as many bonus points per 1000 yen spent compared to their other Gundam-related credit cards. There's even a Char's Custom PSP and Char's Custom 3DS (as bundled with SD Gundam G Generation 3D), though whether they load three times faster has yet to be tested.
The Char Custom Rule should also be given the Quattro Bajeena Corrollary: if red is not enough to emphasize its awesome, the mecha should be colored Gold (best example being the Hyaku-Shiki, Harry Ord's SUMO and the Akatsuki Gundam).
It is worth noting that the primarily-white Gundam is referred to by its enemies (the Principality of Zeon) as "the white mobile suit" and is usually recognized as such ("It's the white one! Fall back!"), the off-white GMs are superior to almost all of their Zeonic counterparts, and most other ace pilots have their mobile suits colored a certain color as well; Anavel Gato's blue-and-green Gelgoog, Johnny Ridden's red-and-black suits (similar enough to Char's colors that his being commonly mistaken for Char is a Running Gag, with "I'm not Char!" practically being his Catch Phrase, even moreso in fanon), the suits of the Black Tri-Stars, and the most skilled (and least-famous) ace pilot, Shin Matsunaga, who piloted the only other white mobile suits in the series other than the Gundam and actually outperformed Char in the battle that made him famous (and, by having the sense to retire after the One Year War rather than getting dragged into the next half-dozen conflicts, is the one who survives the longest).
Chromatic superiority is invoked - sort of - in one SD Gundam skit. The Gundams convince a bunch of Zakus to get drunk on sake so they'll turn red and go faster. Ends up being a subversion, as the drunken Zakus can barely move in a straight line, let alone at speed. It's deliberately invoked in the character creation quiz for Gundam Assault Survive, where one of the random questions the player can be asked is what color they'd choose for their custom machine. Red is described as "speedy" while blue is described as "strong" (the third choice is black, which is said to represent good teamwork, referring to the Black Tri-Stars).
The Gamecube game Gashapon Wars has a stage where the player fights Char in all his distinctive red mobile suits. When he runs out of official models, he grabs the Strike Rouge from Gundam SEED, saying that since it's red it still counts. After the Rouge is defeated, he appears in the gold-colored Akatsuki from SEED Destiny and remarks that gold is his color too.
In SD Gundam Force, the Zakos are little more than Mooks and Plucky Comic Relief, often defeated with a single hit. Zako Red, however, is cunning, sly, and effective. There is a good reason for this, however: Zako Red is a dummy body remotely controlled by Dark Axis leader Sazabi, as seen when Red goes inert after handing Captain Gundam's stolen Soul Drive to Sazabi.
In Gundam 00, which otherwise has surprisingly little references to older series (especially compared to SEED), the Gundams unlock a hidden Super Mode which causes them to become three times faster... and red.
In Layzner Ru Kain's Zakarl generates a red energy when using the fullest extent of its' V-Max. It also helps that his unit is painted gold compared to the rest of the empire.
In Tower of God, Yeon completely busts and chars the motor of their boat, and tries to pretend that it goes faster because it is black now.
In Naruto, red, yellow, or orange = powerful. Think about it. Who has those colors? Naruto, Kushina, Minato, Sakura, Gamabunta, Hashirama, Kurama, Jiraiya, everyone with the Sharingan, Gaara, A, Nagato, Deidara, Sasori, Choji, and Choza. The more of these colors is present, the more powerful the character. While many characters that do not have these colors are still quite dangerous, these are the ones that it is a truly bad idea to mess with.
Dilandau's guymelef in Vision of Escaflowne only differs from the mooks' in that his is red, while theirs are purple. Similarly, his armour is red, while his subordinates' are blue.
In Saint Seiya, the Gold Saints are the strongest warriors of all, because they wear the shiniest clothes of all (Gold).
Though this does get turned on its head a little as the series goes on, since the Five-Man Band of main characters technically remain low-level Bronze Saints, though their clothes develop a habit of subverting the hierarchy altogether.
Also, the Red Lion in Go Lion; Isamu Kurogane was the pilot of the ship that brought the Go Lion team to Altea and is generally considered the best pilot.
Akira, despite piloting the Black Lion, wears a red uniform (much to the confusion of American viewers watching the Voltron translation). This is because the team is essentially a Super SentaiFive-Man Band wearing the uniforms they would be wearing in a regular Sentai. The lions just happen to not match their pilot's colors.
Bleach, during a Filler episode, both paid homage to and parodied the trope by having several local kids form a Sentai squad; they then spent most of the episode arguing over who got to be the Red Ranger. They ended up both taking red, and then Don Kanonji took gold.
Speed Racer: the Mach 5 is mostly white, but has red trimmings.
Princess Tutu: Rue is the star dancer of the school and wears a red leotard in contrast to the blue ones of other students. Inversely, Ahiru is a complete clutz just barely keeping herself out of the probationary class and wears a white leotard.
According to the unofficial "Laws◊ of Super RobotAnime", regarding the application of this trope: If it's green and glows, it's raw evolution, incredible power, great destruction, or all three; if it's red and has a command antenna, it moves three times faster; if it's orange, it's about to be destroyed; if it's gold, you're fucked.
Inverted in Mai-Otome. The first years, who are meant to be the weakest in both power and skill, wear a red dress, the second years wear dark grey and the graduated Meisters run the gamut of colours. Lena Sayers, said by Word of God to be the most powerful ever, wears blue.
In Fullmetal Alchemist, Ed attempts to invoke this trope. When asked about his trademark red jacket, he explains that it's a "manly color that gets the blood flowing!"
In Yu-Gi-Oh! R, the top-ranked Card Professor uses a special black Duel Disk. It even gets compared to a black belt in martial arts in that while it isn't inherently any different from the other Disks aside from its color, it's a sign that the one wearing it is not someone you want to mess with.
The Pokémon anime features a group of five Genesect, four normal colored and one Shiny, with the Shiny one leading the troupe. The color of a Shiny Genesect? Red, of course.
The Pretty Cure series is an odd one. There are red-colored Cures, but the pink Cures are the leaders. The first series to feature a team, Yes! Pretty Cure 5, had an early episode where Natts wanted to know who the leader was for the team. Nozomi decided it should be Karen, since she was the smarter of the five. However, Karen decided it should be Nozomi, since she was the one who got them all together and the others agreed.
In Star Wars, Red Squadron (the survivors of which later became Rogue Squadron, keeping the red coloring—notably, their counterpart, Renegade Squadron, didn't have red and didn't last) was considered the best starfighter squadron.
Similarly, in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, their elite Empire counterparts, the 181st, painted their TIE Interceptors with red stripes. Given that (outside of video games) no other Imperial TIE squadron has any visible markings at all, this makes the 181st's simple but noticeable markings very intimidating to their enemies.
In Alan Dean Foster's novelization of Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope (Colon Cancer, anyone?), Luke is, in fact, Blue 5, not Red 5. It was changed to red because blue markings were affected by the Blue Screen technology at the time. If you look, there are no blue markings on any ship in the first movie.
Concerning the lightsabers, it's interesting (though probably entirely coincidental) to note that except for Revenge of the Sith, no one ever officially won a lightsaber battle using a blue lightsaber in any of the movies. In The Phantom Menace, for example, Darth Maul has Obi-Wan on the ropes until Obi-Wan takes up Qui-Gon's green saber. Or in Attack of the Clones, Anakin manages to hold his own against Dooku until his green blade is destroyed, leaving him with only a blue one. He then loses an arm. Likewise, notice how much better Luke does against Vader in Return of the Jedi with his green saber than he did in The Empire Strikes Back with his previous blue one.
And in Revenge of the Sith, Anakin beats Dooku by taking his red lightsaber away from him.
Mace Windu, the most skilled Jedi in combat (Yoda is the most powerful in general), uses a purple lightsaber, which is one of a kind.
Subverted with Booster Terrik's captured Star Destroyer, the Errant Venture. It ends up painted red like he'd always wanted, but it's still the same maintenance nightmare as always and does not lose the tendency to be The Alleged Starship. While he eventually makes modifications that give it firepower far beyond a normal Star Destroyer (which is powerful in its own right), there's still the problem of having less than a tenth the crew a Star Destroyer is designed for. And an ISD is one of the least automated warships to be found in the Star Wars verse.
Desirability of being associated with a favorable color is the reason why the boss in Reservoir Dogs chooses the pseudonyms of his employees.
Ironically, Mr Pink, the man stuck with the least desirable color, is the only one who survives the film.
In the opening of Lilo & Stitch, Stitch escapes from his confines and steals one of the police cruisers—specifically, as an observer notes with more than a hint of concern, "the red one." Secondary material, possibly that month's issue of Disney Adventures Magazine, explained that the red one was the fastest, hence while the officers chasing him in the other pods couldn't catch him.
This is the entire basis of Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde. The caste society in the novel is stratified by color; what color you can see and how much of it indicates your social standing and a host of other factors. Oh, and it's genetic.
In the Nick Pollotta novel Illegal Aliens, the speed at which you travel through hyperspace is a function of what color your ship is. When an alien engineer is asked to explain this, his Babel Fish translates the explanation that gold is fastest. The "Great Golden Ones" have the best ships precisely because they enforce a monopoly on that color.
The concept is played straight in Dragon Rider, but the norms are subverted—the golden dragon is the main villain and the good guys are silver. There was some sort of prophecy about "when silver will be worth more than gold".
The Chosen in The Seventh Tower have a complicated caste system based around the colors of the rainbow. The closer you get to violet, the higher your social status. The various levels of their Castle are color coded and dictate where you may live—members of a certain color generally live on their own color; travel between colors isn't forbidden, but people apparently don't do it a lot. Some people have no color and are even lower ranked than red, and are, for all intents and purposes, slaves. Magic-users can't do magic with light of a color higher than their own.
And, of course, there's always Lu Bu's Red Hare horse in Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which was reputedly supreme among horses in the day. (And possibly three times as fast.)
Part of a CMoA in Fred Saberhagen's Berserker story "Wings Out of Shadow". When the AI personality construct asks for its spaceship to be painted red, it's your first clue that the musician who "kept getting thrown from his horse" is actually Manfred von Richtofen, THE Red Baron.
The Wind Singer had a nation with a colour-based caste system. Members of each caste could only wear that colour and had to live in the ring of the city painted with that colour.
Elynne Mitchell's "The Silver Brumby" series is rife with this trope. The first and most obvious example is Thowra, the eponymous "silver brumby". As a result of his coat colour -ordinarily cream coloured, but turning a paler 'silver' sheen in winter- Thowra finds himself the envy of rival stallions and hunted by humans who desire such a handsome horse. Given that your average brumby can be varying shades of brown, grey and black, Thowra is a VERY rare horse indeed. Other protagonists (and other important characters) of the series also have special attention given to their coats- notably, Thowra's own daughter, Kunama, who is also 'silver'; Socks, a black brumby with four white feet, and the brumbies of the night, who are milk-white with red eyes.
In A Song of Ice and Fire, black dragons are always the strongest. Balerion the Black Dread is the largest dragon in Westerosi history. Daenerys owns three dragons, who are each a different color. Drogon, the strongest and biggest of the three, is black with red accents.
Live Action TV
Toku shows are very strongly affected by this, because, in Japan, red is thought of as a heroic color. To wit:
J.A.K.Q. Dengekitai may be the sole exception with Big One, who is a white hero who manages to take over complete leadership from Spade Ace, which includes field leadership and pretty much all of the attention. Oddly enough, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers would mirror this situation when Ensemble Darkhorse Tommy gained the White Ranger powers and took over leadership from Jason (though part of that was because Jason was in the process of being written out anyway, and it didn't make sense for the replacement Red Ranger to automatically be placed in charge).
This causes interesting effects in Power Rangers seasons when there are two Reds. Power Rangers Time Force gave different Battlized forms to both the Red Ranger and the Quantum Ranger, and in Power Rangers Ninja Storm, the Red Ranger got the Battlizer but the Crimson Ranger got an equally impressive Cool Bike.
Always seen in the Dalek hierarchy in Doctor Who. In the classic series, the higher-ranking Daleks would be red or blue, with the Supreme Dalek being white or black. Started again in "Doomsday" when Dalek Sec of the Cult of Skaro was clad in black, continuing with the Supreme Dalek following him in "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End", which was decked out in red. The Supreme Dalek of the New Dalek Paradigm is colored white, with red now actually denoting the lowest rank, the Drones; but in "Asylum of the Daleks", the red Drones were seen acting as officers (or NCOs) to the bronze-coloured originals.
Happens a lot on Survivor. The tribes are always color coded. But everytime there's a red colored tribe, they tend to dominate the season and eventually have a member win the game (with others in the top four or five!). This happened in the All-Stars (Chapera), Vanuatu (Lopevi), Cook Islands (Aitutaki), China (Fei Long), Tocantins (Jalapao), and Heroes vs Villains (Villains) seasons. Played straighter in the Amazon, Guatemala, and Nicaragua seasons for having a red-colored merged tribe. Subverted by Bob Crowley from Gabon. Despite not being part of the red tribe Fang before the merge, he won the game by defeating former Fang members Susie Smith and Sugar Kiper. Sophie Clarke in South Pacific and Ethan Zohn in Africa also subverted it by winning even though they weren't part of the Savaii and Samburu tribes, respectively.
The American DVDs of House all have shiny, colorful covers—except the fifth season, which has a gray cover. Now take a guess which season is considered to be the worst by most people.
The highest ranked officers wear red. This is a departure from the original Star Trek series which created the infamous Red Shirt since the lowest ranked officers wore red, were often nameless, and usually did not survive any episodes they appeared in.
Command-track officers wore red (junior officers sitting at the helm wore red shirts), operations and security wearing gold, and science and medical wearing blue. In DS9, at least one admiral wore a gold shirt. Another example, even after promotion to full Commander, Deanna Troi still wore a medical blue uniform.
Uniform colors in TOS theoretically were divided the same way (with red and gold/green switched), but this does strain credulity a bit: Gold is supposedly command, but on the Enterprise the 2IC wears blue and the 3IC wears red.
In The Perishers, Cloudcuckoolander Marlon is firmly convinced his soapbox cart goes faster with a red stripe on it. At one point, he tells his "mechanic", Wellington, that it needs a thicker stripe.
WWE Superstar Kane is known as "The Big Red Machine" or "The Big Red Monster".
WWE RAW, the flagship of the promotion, is known as the "red brand", while ''WWE SmackDown!' is blue. In theory they're of equal status, but everybody still knows Raw is the A-show and Smackdown is the B-show.
In Lakota religion, the directions are represented by colors; note that, unlike Westerners, Lakota also consider above, below, and center to be directions.
West is represented by black. Though younger than North, he is invoked first.
East is represented by yellow. East is generally lazy.
South is represented by red. South is notable for marrying Wohpe, the goddess of peace, thus invoking this trope. South is also the model of masculinity. Did we mention that the color red is associated with fertility?
Above is represented by blue. Is not one of the brothers.
Many Christian churches and religious orders assign different colors to ranks in the clerical hierarchy:
In the Roman Catholic church, bishops wear purple vestments, cardinals wear red, and the Pope, of course, wears white.
In Anglican churches, black cassocks (or sarums) are the norm—but to denote rank, Bishops can wear purple piping and Canons can wear red piping.
In Judaism, a dark blue dye (called tekhelet, whose exact source is uncertain and may have been a kind of snail) was traditionally used for the prayer shawls worn by observant Jews throughout the day. Today, most Jews don't wear the tallit at all times, but blue stripes still appear on them and the flag of Israel was inspired by its design.
In Islam, green is the preferred color and often shows up in the heraldry of Islamic countries or organizations. Other significant colors include black, red, and white, which derive from the flags of various Islamic dynasties (the Abbasids, Umayyids, etc).
Many printings of The Bible use this: Jesus' word's in red. Plus, he's always portrayed in purple robes.
Warhammer 40,000, being a game about collecting and painting armies of miniatures, naturally uses this:
As noted previously, the Orks have such a firm belief in the idea that red-painted vehicles go faster, their unconscious, gestalt psychic field makes it happen. This is not just fluff, but an actual rule—a Red Paint Job can be purchased for Ork vehicles (if they're actually painted red, that is) and will let them move an extra inch. Orks also associate blue with good luck, yellow with flashiness and/or dakka, black with hardiness, and hold that "green iz best", though currently, there aren't any rules regarding these colors. Fanon adds purple or orange as a "sneaky" color (Have you ever seen a seven-foot-tall greenskinned killing machine covered in bright purple and orange paint? Of course not! That's how sneaky it makes them).
Other armies' high-speed variants—the Eldar jetbikers of Saim-Hann, the jetpack-equipped and overcharged-engined Space Marines of the Blood Angels, and the battlesuit-focused Farsight Enclaves of the Tau—happen to have red color schemes. Purely coincidental, of course...
The series has done this for ages with their dragons. Strongest of the "metallic" (good) dragons? Gold, with silver just after it. Strongest of the "chromatic" (evil) dragons? Red, with blue just behind it. Black is the second weakest, only stronger than white. And, of course, the god of metallic dragons is platinum.
So strongly do gamers adhere to this tradition that many decried the Dungeons & Dragons movie, sight unseen, merely upon hearing rumors that its red dragons would be more powerful than its gold ones. (After it came out, of course, they had plenty of other offenses to bitch about.) Presumably, the red ones were older than the gold, as age trumps color where a D&D dragon's power is concerned.
It's traditional for artists to depict Tiamat, the game's five-headed goddess of evil dragonkind, with her red head in the middle and larger than the other four. Artwork that dares to do otherwise has been lambasted for "getting it wrong", even though her descriptions don't specify which head goes where, and Tiamat logically ought to be as capable of changing her appearance as any other goddess.
This is averted with the various "Chromatic" and "Prismatic" spells, though. Prismatic spells in whatever form (spray, projectile, weaponry, walls, etc.) have different effects based on affecting color, and are typically rated in power (measured in amounts of damage, defensive capability 1 Red effects can stop nonmagical ranged attacks and indigo can stop spells, for instance or special effects like insanity or petrification) based in a strict rainbow order...meaning red is almost invariably the weakest color.
In the tabletop RPG Paranoia, the ranking system is based on color, with infrared (or black) being the lowest and going up through red and the rest of the rainbow all the way to ultraviolet (white). All things painted a certain color—files, walls, floor tiles—can be assumed to be restricted to those ranks and should be absolutely avoided by lower ranks. Therefore, one of the most restricted commodities of all is paint, and the infrared market trade is fast and furious...
In the early Magic: The Gatheringmetagames, people built up their mana base in the first few turns or drew plenty of cards to get out a combo. Red does not win that way. Red wins by killing you while you're doing that. Fans of red often name their decks things like "Red Deck Wins". Of course, if a red deck fails in these turns, it's practically defenseless from then on. Blue, however, is the color most known for Game Breakers.
In BIONICLE, the colors red and gold tended to be affiliated with characters and items of bigger importance. Tahu, Vakama, Jaller, Lhikan, Dume, Antroz, Raanu and Ackar were all leaders wearing red, Lhikan even having gold as his secondary color. Large and expensive sets also came in red more often than not. Golden Masks were more powerful in-story than regular ones, and the Golden Armor (worn by the red Tahu) played a big role in defeating the Big Bad, and was also the last big collectible item of the toyline. Two other ultra-powerful masks, the Mask of Life and Mask of Time were golden as well. Light-themed characters likewise used gold as their standard color. Mata Nui, a godlike being in the story, was released as a gold colored exclusive set too. Although some years subverted the rule (the promos of 2006 and 2007 notably focused more on white and blue), these two colors remained fairly important throughout the line's run, and rarely were characters wearing them pushed to the back.
An interesting case in Street Fighter happens with the Shotoclones (Ryu, Ken, and Akuma). Ryu wears white and is the most average out of them, having a well-rounded playstyle. Ken wears red, and his playstyle is much more fast-paced and aggressive than Ryu's. Akuma wears black (or dark blue, depending on the artist) and is the most technical of them all. His playstyle is even MORE aggressive than Ken's or Ryu's, but he can play much better mind games than both of them combined. To balance this, his health is extremely low.
In the Crusader games, the cream-of-the-crop, "Silencers", such as the main character, wear red armor. The next-best level of soldiers, "Elites," wear black.
In the computer game Diablo 2, the weakest of the creatures known as "Fallen ones" are red, the stronger version known as "carver" are blue, the strongest (called "Dark ones") are black (not counting a very special purple version).
The Balrog-type demon also fits. From the weakest to strongest: Balrog (pale red), Pit Lord (Bluish Black), Venom Lord (Olive Green).
Diablo himself: Normal (red), Nightmare (yellow), Hell (black).
The Diablo series also introduced the colouring of items that has since become standard in many RPGs. In the first game, white was normal, blue magic and yellow unique. Diablo 2 added yellow for rare and green for set items, changing unique to gold. Diablo 3 uses red for legendary (replacing unique and set items in the previous game). While the details vary, the core white-blue-yellow progression can be seen in many games. Ironically, it's actually somewhat subverted in Diablo 2 since although rare items had more modifiers, regular magic items could have larger ones, so the weapon with the highest possible damage was actually blue.
Black clothes (furniture, houses...) are the sign of a truly superior pirate in Puzzle Pirates. Why? Because black ink costs a fortune on the in-game market, so only an extremely talented pirate would be able to pillage up enough gold to waste that much on decorating. Of course, some consider black to be pretentious and showy. These people cannot afford it.
The same goes in Guild Wars, where black dye is ridiculously more expensive than any other color, due to supply and demand; black dye "drops" from slain enemies more rarely than any other color. It's quite helpful in forming parties, actually; all-black armor tells the world you'll go to the ends of the Earth to shop at Hot Topic and probably aren't too fun to party with.
In fact, many players prefer to save the more valuable dyes (black and white especially, but also blue, red, and silver) as sources of ready cash in the in-game economy. White dye generally goes for about half the price of black dye, and blue, red, and silver dye are, while still much more expensive than the other colors (orange, green, brown, yellow, purple, and gray), cheap by comparison.
Additionally, items themselves are color-coded to identify relative quality. A white item has only basic stats, while blue items have additional, weaker modifiers added. Purple items have better modifiers and gold have the best natural modifiers. None of these items are guaranteed to have the best modifiers, but green items do.
Played straight in the Guilty Gear series, with resident badass Sol Badguy dressed in red, black, and gold.
The Black Spathi Squadron in Star Control supposedly dedicated themselves to wandering space and "performing brave and hostile deeds" and painted their ships black with bright red stripes in order to distinguish themselves from the normal Spathi (their species' normal hat is being extremely cowardly).
In the Touhou series, the Yakumo "family" of youkai display this. Yukari Yakumo, whose first name translates to "Violet", is one of the most powerful characters in the entire series. Her shikigami, Ran Yakumo ("Indigo"), is a short step below, and both are Extra Stage bosses, with Yukari being a Phantasm Stage boss. Down the spectrum is Chen ("Orange")—Ran's own shikigami—who is both a Second Stage boss and Extra Stage midboss.
Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War has Solo Wing Pixy who, before he defects to A World With No Boundaries and becomes the final boss, flies an F-15C with a portion of the right wing painted red, representing the time that he had lost a wing during combat, but fought on, finished the mission, and landed safely; you can also unlock this custom paint job for your own F-15. Otherwise averted for Cipher, however - his "official" plane is also an F-15C, this time with blue wings.
Ace Combat 2 has the Z.O.E. squadron: five unmanned aircraft painted entirely red, the last of which appears as the most dangerous enemy in the final mission, flying one of the series' very first superfighters. Like with Zero, Scarface One inverts this - his official plane in this game is the Su-35, which has a paint scheme primarily consisting of the color blue; his teammates likewise tend towards green planes.
Ace Combat Infinity included "Moby Dick Pursuit" Boss Battle missions in which the players cooperate to take down Ace Combat 6's Aigaion. The improved version seen in the second such mission is painted red, and the rarest and most dangerous is gold. After an update, these were replaced with similarly-colored versions of the Stonehenge turret network from 04.
World of Warcraft color-codes items by rarity: grey items being trash, white being "Ordinary" (trade skill items that are white have some use in game; white quality gear is never used by players beyond the first few levels), green "Uncommon" (quest reward items and harder-to-get tradeskill items), blue "Rare" (dungeon rewards and at the end of a quest line), purple "Epic" (end game content; unlike other lower colors, there are multiple tiers of purple at a given character level), and orange "Legendary" (only a handful of items in the entire game; no armor is legendary. It takes quite a while for a group of players to get a single player one of these; tradeskill items that are legendary are used to get legendary weapons). Urban Legend of Zelda tells of the red "Artifact" class far more powerful than even Legendary, currently restricted to GM items. Finally, gold-text heirlooms are gear that automatically get more powerful as your character levels and can only be obtained by having a higher level character on your account send it to a lower level one (other players can't help you out here).
Too Human also has color-coding of items by quality; the order is grey (trash), green, blue, purple, orange, red (epic). These colors are only used for the item's inventory icon, and its actual color can be customized.
Katina Trask of Super Robot Wars, specifically in Original Generations, has special battle comments when fighting red mecha; one is essentially "the red ones do triple damage!". She, herself, pilots a red Gespenst. Also, any and everything that Ratsel canonically pilots is painted black with red and gold trim. And named Trombe. And Sleigh Presty with her 'always number 1' rants. Having her and Char Aznable (originator of Sleigh's nickname) face off against each other in Alpha 2 is a memorable moment.
In Super Mario Bros., this goes for nearly every game with the enemies (though it varies all over the place). Red Koopas won't walk off cliffs, red Piranha Plants shoot fireballs, red Goombas fly and drop tiny Goombas. Inverted in Super Mario Bros. 2, in which the red Shy Guys and Snifits walk off cliffs and the red Beezos fly in a straight line. The red pansers, though, don't walk off cliffs because they, unlike the other plants, don't move.
Red Devil (aka Crimson Devil, Red Meteor, Red Demon, and Raven Blood) in the Tokyo Xtreme Racer games is basically a parody of Char: his car is red and sometimes has a horn protruding from the hood. No joke. And even in Japan-only spin-off Racing Battle C1 Grand Prix where pretty much all the old rivals from Shutokou Battle have circuit tuned cars (several of the bosses even use real cars like the Sun Auto CyberEVO Lancer Evolution), his car is still the same.
In the second game, green dragons upgraded to red dragons, which upgraded to black dragons.
In the third game, green dragons upgrade to gold dragons and red dragons upgrade to black ones. The black dragons are more powerful overall due to tradition, but the gold ones are faster. Many other units establish a color hierarchy as well: four out of seven basic units from the Inferno faction are coloured yellow or pink, but wind up red when upgraded.
In the Meet the Team videos for Team Fortress 2, the RED team version of the character class the video is named for is always used and is shown beating the hell out of the other team. Truth in Television in a way, as the game's developers track various game-related statistics, and RED tends to have a higher chance of winning.
Knights of the Old Republic plays this one straight. The normal Sith Troopers at the beginning of the game wear dark Shiny armor, but by the end of the game, in their place, you fight the higher level elite ones that look exactly the same, except with shiny red armor instead.
In the Bungie-made Halo games, Covenant ranks are primarily differentiated by color, though later games added more visual variety that wasn't color-based. While the specifics vary depending on the game, the basic rules of thumb are: Grunts go from orange to red to black to white, and Elites go from blue to red to black/violet to white to gold (with Halo: Reach adding in maroon as the highest rank). Jackal Minors always have blue shields, but the shield color of Majors changes depending on the game. Also, Skirmishers go from grey to red to green to gold. And none of this is going into specialist units.
In Halo 3 and Halo 3: ODST, most of the color differences between Brute ranks consisted of slightly different shades of blue, with some gold, red, and black thrown in. Fortunately, the more important rank differences could be discerned by helmet shape alone.
ODST split the basic Drone into progressively stronger green, blue, and silver ranks, and added red and gold leaders with energy shields. In Reach, Drones go from yellow-green to red to blue.
Played less straight in Halo 4, since a single color is no longer necessarily restricted to a specific rank. However, gold and maroon are still reserved for the highest-ranking Elites.
In Halo 2, standard Forerunner Aggressor Sentinels were silver and fired orange beams, while the stronger versions were gold and fired blue beams.
In Kingdom Hearts II, Sora becomes three times faster when transforming to his red clothes.
Demons Souls has a similar effect, Occasionally with black world tendency, you can encounter "Black Phantom" NPC enemies. Despite the name, they appear a glowing red with black cracks running through them and tend to be much stronger and harder to kill.
In BlazBlue, the Distortion Drives that take only 50% Heat and don't guarantee a kill have a blue background, while the sure-kill, 100% Heat Astral Heats use a black background with the character's crest overlaying in red briefly.
In more recent generations of the main Pokémon games, the color of your trainer card changes as you meet certain achievements and gain stars. While the number and colors have varied a bit, it always begins as red and ends with black. Of course, the main things that come with this change are a few bits of dialogue change and bragging rights. Gotta love those bragging rights.
Planescape: Torment toys with the idea of chromatic superiority in the description for the spell Chromatic Orb.
In The Legend of Zelda I, almost all of Link's color-coded powerups were better when red (the esception was the boomerang, whose strongest variant is blue). In a twist, the monsters would always be weaker when red. All in all, though, red is better for Link. This varies more in later games.
In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Link's Loftwing is "special" because it's red, the implication being that it's faster than the others. Pipit, during the prologue, won the Wing Ceremony last year, but thanks his lucky stars Link's "red terror" wasn't involved.
Played with in the post-end bonus chapter of The World Ends with You. The characters form a Sentai Five-Man Band. The leader is Red, Neku is first Black-n-Blue but later "demoted" to just Blue so someone else can be Black (Black is The Mole, by the way), and Joshua first wants to be Pink, but then says he should actually be Gold and later gets "upgraded" to Rainbow. (No, really.)
Red Slimes in Dragon Quest series are the stronger version of normal slimes, and they are females in some of the adaptions.
Armored Core has Nineball. Amazigh and Hari from 4 and for Answer are red but they are a subversion since you can make the same NEXT they use and play the same way they can, if not better. In the Armored Core for Answer the NEXT, White Glint is this due to it moving so fast all you see is a "white glint" and has completely custom NEXT parts...until you get your own.
In Ōkami, Orochi has eight heads, each with a different colored hat. The head with the red hat is the dominant one, getting to say all of Orochi's lines and gets the character portrait. In addition, the villain Crimson Helm has a face and hat that is identical to Orochi's dominant head, though this is because Crimson Helm was born from Orochi's remains.
In Elite II: Frontier, the tonnage of the ship that is attacking you is shown by different colours on the scanner. The ships you don't want to meet in combat? Imperial Courier (White), Asp (Yellow), Cobra III (Orange), and Viper (Red).
In The Tower of Druaga, the best and most important items are blue (exception: the Ruby Mace is superior to the Sapphire Mace).
Space Panic and Mr. Do!'s Castle invert the conventional priority by having the red enemies be the weakest. Green enemies are stronger, and blue enemies are the strongest.
Sword of the Stars plays with this. Drives increase in power from fission (orange) to fusion (yellow) to antimatter (purple). Lasers go red, green, purple, blue, gold. Plasma is green, yellow, purple.
Subverted by the gold robot in Dogyuun. It's golden in colour, it's set up to be the Big Bad or The Dragon, it gets screentime in the intro... and it's only the second of 10 bosses.
Sonic the Hedgehog: Knuckles the Echidna is a bright red whereas the rest of his tribe is tan.
The Final Fantasy Legend appears to have a subversion where Silver armor is more expensive and powerful than Gold armor. However, Silver is really a mistranslation of Mythril. The sequel gets around this by changing Bronze, Gold, and Mythril to Bronze, Silver, and Gold in the English translation.
In LEGO Island's racing minigames, vehicles whose colors don't clash are faster than ones with clashing colors. Also discussed at length by mechanic Nubby Stevens outside the gas station, with a red and blue race car acting out his theories in a Funny Background Event:
Nubby: I wonder if a red car is faster than a blue car? (race cars drive by) I wonder if the colors run, does it make it faster? (cars drive by again) Or if the colors clash, will the car crash? (cars collide head-on and bounce out of the frame) Or...
The game has many red-coloured units that appear only in the third and final episode called Outer Regions. They have a huge amount of armour and firepower, making them Demonic Spiders in and of themselves. Therefore, it is highly recommended to use the most powerful weaponry that your money can buy, namely the Twin Laser.
Tango Sector (the second episode) has red-coloured helicopters that first appear in the fourth level and make recurring appearances up to the seventh level. They fire big salvos of missiles, but their pattern is predictable enough that you can easily dodge their fire and blast them apart with your weapon of choice (namely the Laser Turret or the Twin Laser).
The Disgaea series of games features a number of differently colored versions of each class and monster (except unique characters), each with progressively better stats as you move up the chain. Subverted in that each class has its own color arrangement rather than all following the one pattern.
The first game has this with monsters and vaguely handwaves it by noting that they were mutated by chemicals in the secret lab. Normal cannon fodder aliens are greenish, yellow = slightly faster, stronger and tougher, red = Lightning Bruiser, rare blue = Damage-Sponge Boss.
Also applies to your body armor, which absorbs a percentage of damage received. Green flak vests absorb 50% and have 100 HP, yellow combat suits are twice as durable and absorb about 75%, and red Powered Armor absorbs 90% while boasting 300 HP.
The trolls of Homestuck, whose "hemospectrum" goes from purple and blue at the top to yellow and rusty-brownish red at the bottom and Karkat's mutated bright red blood being off the scale. Being of a lower blood color might give you psychic powers (see Aradia or Sollux), but it also means you are subject to Fantastic Racism and ensures that you'll be the first one to feel the Vast Glub.
Trolls with higher blood also live longer: Trolls with red or yellow blood are unlikely to meet the next generation, while Trolls with purple blood often live for centuries.
Tarquin: This is my fastest flying carpet, Elan. You'll note both its red color as well as its racing stripes.
In Red vs. Blue Reconstruction, Red defeats Blue by default, by erasing all the Blue' records.
Black computers obviously run faster. That's why the old boring beige ones died out.
In the Tex Avery cartoon Bad Luck Blackie, a black cat is hired by a white kitten to stop a bulldog by crossing his path and causing him bad luck (i.e., something heavy falls on him). The bulldog eventually stops the black cat by painting him white, thus negating the bad luck. The kitten comes to the rescue by painting himself black and crossing the dog's path, causing the dog to get hit by the obligatory kitchen sink.
In the Futurama episode, "The Route of All Evil", Cubert slaps a flame decal on the side of his home-built spacecraft, claiming it'll "make the ship go faster".
Leela: What's your scientific basis for thinking that?
Cubert: I'm twelve.
A similar gag happens in a Futurama/The Simpsons crossover comic where the Simpsons and the Planet Express crew are running away from enemy saucers in their ship. In order to outrun them, Homer and Fry have the idea to paint racing stripes to make it go faster.
Bender: Lightning bolts? I thought we were doin' flames!
Homer: Why not both?
Fry: Yeah, then the ship'll go twice as fast!
The gang do get away from the saucers, but actually, the enemy fleet was destroyed by a beer bottle lousily thrown by Bender, going uncatched by Homer's crappy hand-eye coordination, then triggering a chain reaction.
Though never confirmed in canon, there seems to be a Chromatic Superiority scheme amongst the ecto-energy of Danny Phantom. Four colors appear in the series - green, blue, purple, red. By some loose estimates, it seems that that's also the order from weakest to strongest. Red reigns supreme amongst ecto-energy.
Lilo & Stitch even had redder things being better, in this case, not a mecha, but a police cruiser. On the website, it was stated that the red one was much faster than the standard.
"Yeah...he took the red one."
Lilo & Stitch: The Series also featured Experiment 627 ("Evil!") who was designed to be better than Stitch in pretty much every way. He looked very much like Stitch save for a cone-shaped head and, of course, a red color scheme rather than a blue one.
In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Iron Man becomes the first superhero to lead the Avengers. As people who read Iron Man's comics and/or saw his movies would expect, he mostly uses red and gold armor in this show. This incarnation even wears red as Tony Stark.
In Exo Squad, enemy Neosapien ace Neo-Frame pilot Thrax pilots a red Neo-Frame, wheras other Neosapiens pilot purple and gold craft. Sure enough, Thrax turns out to be one of the best fighters that Able Squad goes up against.
Manfred von Richthofen, a.k.a the Red Baron, considered by many to be the greatest air combat pilot in the world, piloted (of course) a red triplane. He, in all likelihood, was the one to popularize this trope. Following his example, his squadron-mates started painting their aeroplanes up in funky colours as well so he wouldn't stand out quite so much. Richthofen's squadron ended up being so colorful that its actual name, "Jagdgeschwader 1", gave way to the nickname "Flying Circus". Before long, practically the entire Imperial German Air Service was trying out the Law Of Chromatic Superiority. German pilots found that, while red paint didn't make their fighters fly any faster, it did make them easy to distinguish from the universally khaki-colored British aircraft in the middle of a dogfight.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first black World War II fighter pilots and were credited with never losing a plane under their protection to enemy action. The infamous color of their plane tails? Red. The Tuskegees' signature was inverted twice over with the 352nd Fighter Group. Became so famous that the Germans started calling them the Blue Nosed Bastards of Bodney (Bodney being the city they operated out of). The inversion comes with the obvious blue nose.
Some experimental high performance Luftwaffe aircraft that were being put through initial combat trials received distinctive paint-jobs, such as the all-red ME-163 Komet prototype V41 belonging to Wolfgang Spate.
In WW2 the Luftwaffe often painted parts of their fighter aircraft in bright colours, especially yellow, for easy recognition, e. g. during the Battle of Britain so that they would not be fired on by trigger-happy tail-gunners of the bombers they were escorting. These colours, e. g. on the propellor spinner, engine cowl or tailfin were also used to set apart sub-units of a Jagdgeschwader (fighter wing) or as a common mark of fighters serving in a particular theatre of war (e. g. white for North Africa). This ended up leading to the belief among Allied pilots that the Luftwaffe distingushed their pilots in WW2 by the color of their propeller spinner. Yellow-nosed aircraft, it was thought, had pilots with 30 kills or more (in actual fact, e. g. the Luftwaffe's top-scoring pilot Erich Hartmann (352 kills) had a black one, and Hans-Joachim Marseille, the top-scoring pilot against Western Allies (158) had a white one). This proved to be a danger to some German pilots after the arrival of long-ranged Allied fighters on the Western Front: American pilots, confident in their superior numbers and ability to dive out of a bad situation to escape, frequently picked fights with yellow-nosed enemy aircraft in preference to lesser ones. There is an apocryphal story that some American pilots in the Pacific theater would paint their propellers a different color before every battle so Japanese pilots would think they were facing different fighter squadrons each time, creating the illusion that the Americans had massively superior numbers.
Studies show that "gamers have more of a chance of being on the winning side if they choose to play as a red team member as opposed to blue." The same applies to athletes all the way up to the professional and olympic level, according to Discover Magazine.
The "black tax" levied on computers. A previous generation of Apple MacBooks come in two colors: white and black. There is a $200 difference in price between the two (black being more expensive). The functional difference? The BlackBook has a 90 gigabyte larger hard drive (perhaps a $50 value, if you're feeling very, very generous). With the other $150, you're paying for the privilege of owning a chromatically superior computer. A similar price difference exists with chrome or stainless steel kitchen appliances over plain white enamel. Black enamel usually costs more than white, but less than silver. Invoked for the "white is coming" ad campaign for the white Sony PSP in the Netherlands, featuring a black model and a white model fighting, which spawned a predictableresponse.
The Chevy Volt's veryEverything Is an iPod in the Future dashboard center stack comes in "Ceramic White" or "Dark". The former is the only one available with the standard cloth interior, "Dark" requires one of the $1000 leather interiors.
The X-Box 360 "Elite" is, of course, black. And the 'Special Resident Evil Edition' of the Elite is red.
The infamous PlayboyBunnies outfits are ranked this way, with the black-colored bunny outfit signifying the highest ranking of bunny. This system has largely fallen out of use lately for the various locations of the Playboy Club (mostly for aesthetic reasons), but still occasionally plays the trope straight.
Practitioners of martial arts such as judo or karate wear belts of various colours to denote their skill level. And, of course, the white belt is the one novices carry, a black belt symbolizes a high expertise, and the red belt is reserved for the instructors no less. It works really well in Judo, with the belts going from white to black and the red belt being reserved for people of fifth dan and above. That is, people that can do stuff you wouldn't expect in a movie. The apocryphal basis for the color-belt system lends the Law a touch of faux - Truth in Television-originally, a practitioner merely received A belt, period, when he began. A pristine white belt which, unlike the rest of the uniform, was never washed, so that the sweat, dirt, and what have you else would slowly make the belt progressively darker. So if you saw a guy with a black belt, it meant he'd been studying his particular style for a long time and was probably capable of kicking your ass before you even knew you were about to fight him. Sadly, this explanation isn't actually true—it was invented by a California dojo in the mid-20th century specifically to invoke the trope.
In the Cheezic Federation of Tang Soo Doo, you start off as white, go to orange (instead of yellow in other schools), then blue, then green (which are three degrees), then red (three degrees again), then Apprentice Black (either have red and black belt, or you wear the Black Belt Gi with a red belt, then First Degree Black. You either get white or RED tape when you increase in degrees.
American Express cards in order of exclusivity: green, gold, platinum, black, etc.
Ii Naomasa, one of Tokugawa Ieyasu's Four Guardiansnote inspired by the awesome red color of Yamagata Masakage's unit when he was a kid, formed a unit dressed entirely in red armor nicknamed the Red Devils. Dressing in red, of course, made them so fast that they drew first blood in the Battle of Sekigahara.
Scientific studies show that people view members of the opposite sex more favorably depending on the color of their clothes. Women view men with the appropriate color as more powerful and successful, while men see women with said color as more sexy and interesting. And what color may that be? Red.
There have also been studies of packaging where identical detergent is put into different colored boxes and then sent out to be used by consumers. Red and yellow boxed detergents were almost always identified as more effective.
Purple, in some societies, came to be associated with royalty because it was expensive to produce. Sometimes, it was even illegal for commoners to possess it. It's made out of a mucus secretion of sea snails. In the west, purple is the color of royalty. In Asia, it's usually yellow (saffron based dyes also being rather expensive). At certain points in Chinese history, anyone caught wearing yellow clothes (or using the emperor's surname) was not only executed, but so was their extended family up to three degrees of relatedness. So your clan is dead if you accidentally offend the emperor.
The blue ones are brighter. They also "go faster", as in, have a shorter lifespan.
Red Dwarf stars win the endurance race, lasting longer than any other star type. A Red Dwarf can burn for longer than the current age of the universe (13 billion years).
Red supergiants are the largest stars known, however they're outshone by their smaller blue counterparts. The largest known star (VY C Ma) is as wide as the ORBIT of Jupiter, and as bright as 270 thousand Suns, but the brightest known star (R136a1) is as bright as eight million suns.
Even nature gets in on the act. Drab colors are used to blend in with the environment, whereas bright colors (red especially) are used to warn predators of poison (or are used by nonpoisonous creatures to bluff). Unless it's a fruit, in which case red indicates ripeness.
Everyone in the universe knows that gold, silver, and bronze mean first, second, and third best, respectively. Unless you introduce platinum. Platinum beats gold. This, of course, is based on the chemical purity (ie. lack of reactivity) and economic value of the metals for which the colours were named.
Inverted in US military officer ranks. Silver is always higher rank than gold. For example, a major wears gold oak leaves, while a lieutenant colonel has silver oak leaves, supposedly because the "gold" is usually brass, and the ranks are sorted based on the value of the metal used rather than color. This is done in Venturing (part of the Boy Scouts of America) recognition. Silver is higher than Gold and only second to Ranger.
Yellow cars are better. They're more visible, especially at night, and have fewer accidents. Similarly, some fire trucks are painted yellow or lime green in the interest of safety; these colors are much more visible to the human eye than red. Red cars, on the other hand, get pulled over for speeding more often. Because they look faster, cops are more likely to check their speed and catch them breaking the law even by a few meters per hour over the limit.
This idea is actually implicit in the very nature of colour: colour is determined by which wavelengths of light bounce of an object. Light with longer wavelengths is closer to red, while the blue end of the spectrum has shorter wavelengths. Shorter wavelengths mean more energy is packed into a smaller space, so blue and purple light has the most energy while red has the least. Referenced in this Physics Of Science Fiction video, where it's pointed out that although purple lasers would be the strongest, there are other, higher energy, types of electromagnetic radiation, but lasers made from them would be invisible since they're outside the visible spectrum.
Windows editions go from white to green to blue to black in increasing order of superiority.
Windows XP: Home (green), Professional (blue)
Windows Vista/7: Starter (white/pale green), Home Basic (green), Home Premium (dark green), Business/Professional (blue), Enterprise (navy blue), Ultimate (black)
Windows 8: vanilla (white), Pro (black)
In many military organizations, the color of one's hat or beret is synonymous with where they sit on the hierarchy. Traditionally, this is either a black or red beret, signifying airborne or special forces groups (in many instances, wearing a beret at all is a mark of a special unit, so these are super special) in many nations. The U.S Army has an interesting inversion of this. The standard beret color for most of its troops is black, with red being used for airborne troopers. The most "badass" colors though are the comparatively droll tan and green. Tan berets are for members of the 75th Ranger Regiment, where the green ones are for U.S Army Special Forces.
The computer company ASUS' highest performance products are of their Republic of Gamers (ROG) brand. The signature colors of ROG products are red, black, and silver.
A man cannot wear red trousers or shortsnote when yachting unless he has sailed across the Atlantic.