''You were too easy to spot with that hood on your head, why don't you just wear a target instead? It was almost too easy, should not be allowed, if only you hadn't stood out from the crowd!'
— The Wolf
mocking Red Riding Hood before attempting to devour her in Red (The The Red Riding Hood Musical)
For God's sake, do not dress your tiny daughters in red.
Particularly not red coats. Particularly if the daughters are blondes. Awful, awful things will happen.
Often, this is clearly an intentional invocation of Little Red Riding Hood
, signalling an innocent
heading into danger. It is a very popular element of Grimmified
works. To increase the association with the fairy tale, the red garment is often a coat, a cape, or something with a hood.
Red is, of course, the colour of blood, and as such it carries ancient associations with sexuality (as in Lady in Red
) and danger (as in Red Shirt
). It is also simply a very strong, eye-catching colour. Anyone wearing head-to-toe red is marked out, highly visible and memorable - not only to the audience but also to anyone who may wish to harm her. When that person is a little girl, she is bound to seem especially exposed and vulnerable.
This is Older Than Steam
, considering that some of the older endings for Little Red Riding Hood
end with the wolf killing and eating her, notably the 1697 Charles Perrault telling that predates the more popular (and less grim) Grimm Brothers version. (Ironically, another early version of the story where the protagonist survives was one written in 1890 by Andrew Lang called "The True History of Little Goldenhood". As the name suggests, she does not wear red at all, and what makes it ironic is, she is saved by the golden hood itself, which is enchanted. Lang's narration explicitly states that the earlier story had been mistold.)
It can be considered an Always Female
version of Bring My Red Jacket
. Dressing all in white
is often a dangerous choice for girls and women, too. Contrast Little Red Fighting Hood
, where the blood and danger associations are meant for her enemies.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Averted/Subverted in Detective Conan. During the bus hijacker case, Haibara wears a red coat. Then she feels the presence of a member of the Black Organization, pulls her hood up, and spends the rest of the case scared out of her wits. At the end, she's convinced that she only attracts evil and tries to commit suicide on the exploding bus. Conan comes and saves her and gives her one of his "Suicide is bad, don't give up" speeches.
- Christina Sierra, Anew Returner, Nena Trinity and Wang Liu Mei from Gundam 00. Yes, 00 loves this trope.
- Lampshaded constantly in Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, which quotes from the original Little Red Riding Hood tale. The protagonist Fuse hesitates at shooting a young girl in a red hood who's carrying a terrorist bomb. After she blows herself up, he finds himself drawn to her sister, also wearing red who is actually a terrorist-turned-police-informant. And as in the original fairy tale, the girl in the red hoodie is killed by the 'wolf' at the end.
- Don't Look Now. A little blond girl in a hooded red coat. She drowns. And the ghost of her is seen as such... turns out to be a dwarf murderer in a coat.
- Schindler's List. A little blond girl in a red coat. Murdered in the Holocaust. Steven Spielberg wanted to use red because of the association with blood, and because Oskar Schindler really did see a toddler dressed in red. The girl's red coat is also one of the only color imagery used in the film.
- The paedophile murderer in The Pledge preys only on little blond girls in red dresses.
- Hard Candy ends up inverting this. The red hoodie that she wears when she goes hunting was initially chosen without this trope in mind. Same as the Oasis example from Sluggy below.
- According to filmmakers while this trope does fit it wasn't intentional until post-production when they changed the orange shirt to red in editing.
- Carrie by Stephen King. Well, it was a red prom dress, but that's fairly close... Definitely at least qualifies for the blood-shade color-coding in the related trope Bring My Red Jacket.
- Cthulhu (2007). Julia (a blonde girl in a red top) the liquor store clerk who tries to warn the protagonist and ends up tied to a bitthead with barbed wire as a sacrifice to the Deep Ones. There's also a scene where she panics when the protagonist stops his car on a backwoods road at night — clearly she has a justifiable phobia about The Lost Woods.
- Freeway, a parody of Little Red Riding Hood - starring Reese Witherspoon in a red leather jacket and Kiefer Sutherland as creepy pedophile Bob Wolverton.
- Trick 'r Treat has the innocent, virginal girl among her group of more experienced friends who've forced her to dress as Red Riding Hood. She's on her way to their party deep in the woods when she's attacked by, apparently, a vampire. The friends at the party hear her scream and see a red-cloaked body crash to the ground, but it turns out to be a subversion: the cloaked figure is the "vampire", who was a normal human, albeit a serial killer, and Red and her friends are lycanthropes (her "virgin" status comes from not having killed anyone yet). She then proceeds to eat him alive as he lies helpless and screaming, while she and her friends turn into werewolves.
- In Inglourious Basterds Shosanna is wearing a red dress when she and Zoller shot each other.
- Miette in The City of Lost Children, although averted in that she lives.
- Robin (also note the name) wears a red coat in The Woodsman.
- Lampshaded in the Darkest Powers series, when Chloe is wearing a red windbreaker while out scouting the woods. She is found by an Ax-Crazy ghost whom she (and her werewolf friend) pissed off earlier. He taunts her, "That's a pretty red coat you're wearing. Little Red Riding Hood, all alone in the woods at night. Where's your big bad wolf?" Then he tries to stone her to death.
- Consequently, like in Schindler's List, Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel's autobiography Night depicts his youngest sister Tzipora wearing a red coat the last time Elie ever saw her (and their mother) again.
- In the Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms story Beauty and the Werewolf, Belle is wearing a red cloak while visiting the old woman who lives in the woods with a basket of goodies. On her way back, she is bitten by a werewolf. Given that in this series The Tradition (which forces the repeating of fairy tales) is a major part of how the world works, it was pretty obvious that this was going to happen.
- In an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer when Buffy herself (blonde) shows up in a red coat, and particularly vulnerable because she has lost all her slayer powers. A vampire taunts her by saying, "Why did you come to the dark of the woods? (opens Buffy's bag of weapons) To bring all these sweets to grandmother's house?"
- Invoked in another episode, "Fear Itself", where Buffy goes to a Halloween party dressed as Little Red Riding Hood. She's feeling emotionally vulnerable at the time, and ends up facing a demon that makes you face your worst fears, leaving her trapped in a basement, being dragged down into the ground by zombies. Of course, she gets over her fear and saves the day, because she's the Goddamn Slayer!
- Although she isn't wearing red, Joss Whedon refers to the scene in "Hush" where Tara, a new and innocent character, goes out into the night to see Willow and gets attacked by the Gentlemen as the "little girl lost in the woods".
- The Red Riding trilogy - well, it's there in the title. A little blond girl in a hooded red coat. Abducted, murdered.
- Blonde Rose Tyler wears a red hoodie in at least one episode prior to her switch to Action Girl. Perhaps intentional - she is the Bad Wolf...
- Red-haired Amy Pond also owns a red hoodie, including in "The Pandorica Opens", when she is fatally shot by Rory. She also wears it earlier in the episode "Flesh and Stone", which completes the symbolism by having her walk alone through a forest avoiding monsters.
- The classic Star Trek Red Shirt. That is all.
- Ironically, though, only one actual female Red Shirt was ever killed in the Original Series. All other female crew members who died over the course of the show were either Gold or Blue shirts.
- Though not blonde, Piper of Charmed ended up in a hood and eaten by a wolf-shape shifter in a Fairy Tale themed episode. She eventually blasts her way out, blowing the wolf up.
- In the Supernatural episode "Bedtime Stories", a little girl in a red jacket literally takes the place of Little Red Riding Hood, as a ghost is making the inhabitants of the town reenact fairy tales. Her grandmother is killed, and she is abducted by a man with a Wile-E Coyote tattoo, but Dean saves her.
- Life On Mars: Annie Cartwright wears a bright red dress, while walking in a forest, before being attacked by Vic Tyler.
- In an episode of Merlin Morgana runs away to the forest in a bright red hooded cloak and is attacked by giant scorpions.
- The "Big Bad Wolf" villain in the pilot episode of Grimm went after young women walking or jogging in red clothing as his modus operandi. The color does something to Blutbaden instincts. Juliette, in addition to having red hair, wears the color red a lot, and Nick is shown to be uncomfortable about it in early episodes, though he doesn't say anything to her about it since she didn't know about The Masquerade yet.
- A Gender Flip from Teen Wolf: Scott is wearing a faded red hoodie the night he's bitten by a werewolf.
- He also wears a red hooded shirt the night he's almost killed by Mrs. Argent. Also, an inversion, because this time he's the wolf in danger.
- In the Community episode "Epidemiology", Annie shows up at the Halloween party dressed as Little Red Riding Hood. After the guests start turning into zombies, Annie gets bitten and becomes one. She gets better.
- Inversion: Baby Bonnie Hood from Darkstalkers. Little blond girl in red dress and hoodie. Bounty hunter and possible mass murderer.
- The Path is all about this trope, in both straight and inverted ways.
- Princess Ovelia from Final Fantasy Tactics.
- Its closer to pink than red, but the unnamed little girl in the trailer for Dead Island.
- Princess Ran runs afoul of this trope in Twinkle Star Sprites, where the otherwise peaceful Nonja Monja creatures attack only one thing — little girls in red dresses. Fortunately she can defend herself.
- King's Quest II subverts this as Little Red Riding Hood makes it through the game completely unscathed. Possum, her counterpart in the Fan Remake, becomes a vampire. Surprisingly, this is portrayed as a positive outcome.
- Invoked by Paz in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, a cute young girl who wears a red raincoat during her first meeting with Snake in order to inspire his pity and sympathy, with the aim being to make his mercenary army easier for her community to hire. Her mentor Galvez even explains to Snake that she had been tortured, allowing the player some Costume Porn interactions where they can zoom in on her clothes and look through them to see the scars from this abuse. Even though she is deliberately putting on the Red Riding Hood act and Snake sees straight through the cheap emotional manipulation (while also allowing it to work), when we meet the villain of the game later, he has a head tattoo of a wolf. Also played with as the game uses a form of Good Colors, Evil Colors to code the protagonists with bright yellow and the antagonists with red - Paz's association with red suggests she may not be all she seems.