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Man in White

"Wolfe has said that the outfit disarms the people he observes, making him, in their eyes, 'a man from Mars, the man who didn't know anything and was eager to know.'"
Wikipedia on Tom Wolfe's white suit

In Real Life, white is usually the color for summer clothing, given the quality of the color that reflects all spectrums of visible light away and - as such - offers some relief from the merciless heat of the summer sun. It is not considered an ideal color for most other occasions, given how easy white cloth is to stain and how clothes that absorb heat are desirable in most other climates.

Of course, in the world of fiction, concerns of practicality can be (and generally are) sacrificed for those of symbolism. The Man in White is a character who goes around dressed entirely (or predominantly) in white wherever he is. The reasons for this are not important, but what it signifies to the audience is; and it just so happens that in most cases, it signifies that the character is up to no good.

There's just something about a man in white that weirds people out. One possible explanation for this is that since conservative men's attire has been dark-colored for the longest time (black, charcoal, and navy), looking upon a man in white creates a sensation not unlike a color-inverted image. Another one is that since white is also the color of snow and bone, an all-white ensemble evokes sensations of coldness and death.

In the US, white suits have also come to be associated with Southern plantation owners, leading to the birth of the Fat, Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit. As such, white clothing in American media can also be used to suggest pride, avarice, ambition, and questionable morality, which is why you can see so many mafiosos, drug lords, and corrupt corporate executives in such garb. For a more in-depth treatise on the subject, see this article.

As such, it isn't surprising to find that most men in white in fiction are unnerving at best and eldritch abominations at worst.

Of course, perhaps the reason it signifies that the character is up to no good is precisely because white is supposed to signify that a character is good, since that is the colour most associated - at least in the West - with an upstanding, honest, kind, or moral person; their clothing is as immaculate and pure as their soul. Having the Man in White be a villain turns this on its head and may evoke ideas of Most Definitely Not a Villain or Suspiciously Specific Denial. They pretend to be good either because they truly believe it or precisely because they are evil.

On occasion, the Man in White might actually be genuinely good (if uncannily otherworldly), as Morgan Freeman in the pic demonstrates. Sometimes, its just Exactly What It Says on the Tin and you have a genuinely nice person who literally wears his goody-two-shoes-ness on his sleeve. Tropes Are Not Bad, and the Man in White need not be either.

Other times, the color white might simply come with the position: doctors and scientists have their pristine labcoats, priests and monks don long white robes, and some military officers get white dress uniforms—or indeed service uniforms, in tropical postings (the Imperial British or French soldier/sailor in pure white and a pith helmet lording it over the natives is an iconic image of the 19th century). Since white clothing is expected of these characters, their appearance tends to impress (rather than unnerve) the audience and their fellow characters.

Compared to its Distaff Counterpart, the Woman in White, the Man in White is a much younger trope and not nearly as well established; as such, you'll find a broad range of characters and characterizations under the examples. All it really takes to be a Man in White is to wear white: all the added symbolism described above is just bonus.

Note that in Japan, men wear white tuxedos at their weddings because they think it looks Western (and it matches their bride's white wedding dress). The fact that Western grooms typically wear black is of no concern.

The chromatic counterpart of The Men in Black. For other uses of the color white, see Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress, White Shirt of Death, White Hair, Black Heart, Mystical White Hair, and the more explicit about significance Gold and White Are Divine.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, the fact that Rufus Shinra still wears his white suit really highlights Cloud's new black outfit (and Tifa's).
  • Near in Death Note. Less extreme than the other examples, as his trousers aren't white (at least in the anime), but still noticeable. It has been suggested that he may be an albino.
  • "That Man", the Yakuza thug that threatens the ghost of Pedro and the true leader of ACROSS, and his clones in Excel♥Saga.
  • Professor Yumi from Mazinger Z. Since he was a Married to the Job scientist spent the most part of the time working in his lab, he wore constantly his labcoat. Prof. Kabuto from Great Mazinger also played the trope, but Dr. Umon from UFO Robo Grendizer subverted it: despite of he was a scientist and were perfectly natural for him to wear a white labcoat when he was working, he used to wear light-blue clothes.
  • Ladd Russo in Baccano!. More often than not, his white suit ends up getting covered in red, which is precisely how he likes it.
  • Bleach uses traditional Japanese color tropes, where white means death, so most characters dressed in the color are evil.
    • Aizen, Gin, and Tousen all wear white after their Face Heel Turns. Their underlings, the Arrancar, also wear white.
    • Ichigo's hollow personality, who is all in white (including skin and hair). He's also insane.
    • Quincies favour white uniforms.
      • In a rare inversion of the series' usual color imagery, the Ishida line of Quincies favor white but are on the "good" side of the setting's Black and Gray Morality. Uryuu and Souken dress in head-to-toe-white when going into battle. Ryuuken favours white business suits in the manga...and ties with patterns of tiny Quincy crosses. He's clearly not as retired as he claims to be.
      • The rest of the Quincies, the evil Vandenreich, play the color symbolism straight with their white military uniforms.
  • Japan from Axis Powers Hetalia, who often wears a white military uniform.
    • Also, his "brother", Thailand.
  • Several characters in Fullmetal Alchemist donned in white exemplify Light Is Not Good:
    • Solf J. Kimblee took to wearing a white suit after his release from prison. The author has stated this is because she thinks people who wear white suits are weird.
    • Fans have also taken to calling the unnamed alchemist working for Father simply "the man in white".
    • Father's humanoid forms are outfitted in white togas, while his true form is a Living Shadow.
  • Koji Kagami of Getbackers. It's useful for his mirror-based fighting style.
  • Luke Valentine of Hellsing. He does have to deal with a bit of blood staining it in the OVA (then quite a bit more later on). Later, we have The Major.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima! gives us both Fate Averruncus and Kurt Godel, the former of which is also white haired.
  • Handsome Lech Shuutaru Mendou from Urusei Yatsura wears a white school uniform, instead of the default blue one, just to show off how rich he is.
  • Battler Ushiromiya from Umineko no Naku Koro ni wears a white suit, although he does also have a red shirt underneath the jacket. If there is any symbolism there, it probably falls closer to the combination of Bring My Red Jacket and White Shirt of Death. Either that, or it's to contrast Beatrice and show which pieces he's playing in the Human Chess game they're having.
  • It's a Fanon made rule that at one point in the series, The Rival of any of the Yu-Gi-Oh! series must wear a white Badass Longcoat.
    • Kaiba's trademark white Trenchcoat, which he later trades out for a full white business suit and then trades back in.
    • Ryo/Zane's variation of the Blue Dorm boy's uniform is white with blue highlights.
    • Edo/Aster's white suit in later seasons, after Ryo's Freak Out when he switched to black.
    • Also considered with the Society of Light in that sort of way...
    • And then, later on, Jack Atlas with his white Trenchcoat with light purple lining, white Riding Suit, white D-wheel, and white Pimp suit.
    • Ditto the Three Emperors and the human form of Z-one.
  • Zipang, the story of a 21st century JMSDF destroyer being stranded in the middle of WW2, naturally gives us soldiers in fancy white Japanese naval dress uniforms by the truckload. The Man in White of the series, however, is Lt. Commander Takumi Kusaka, whose dress whites are his only uniform.
  • Muraki Kazutaka from Yami No Matsuei. Comes complete with Badass Longcoat.
  • On YuYu Hakusho, even though a lot of times he is depicted wearing a a pink school uniform, every time Kurama drops the human disguise and changes into his demonic form, his clothes always change into a white martial arts toga-like get up. No reason is ever given for this.
    • In the manga, a possible explanation is given for Kurama that his Youko Kurama form is a type of spiritual armor. Sensui's spiritual armor also changes his clothes.
    • When Kuwabara needs to kick really serious ass, he puts on his white Badass Longcoat.
  • The Angels in Tears to Tiara, who take it a step further with white hair and even glowingly pale china-white skin. In an interesting subversion, they are the villains who want to turn humans into dolls with no will of their own.
  • It is quite common to see Griffith of Berserk, in white, though he does dress in other colors on occasion. This trope has been played straight after his Face-Heel Turn and especially after his reincarnation into the physical world, where now Griffith wears stark white armor and a really unsettling appearence to match... Justifiably so, too, since he's a humanoid AND an Eldritch Abomination. AND he's evil, more or less.
  • Kilik of Air Gear
  • Douglas Rosenberg, the Big Bad of El Cazador de la Bruja, always wears white suits (even underneath an Mayincatec High Priest garb) in addition to being a white haired handsome man
  • Ditto his spritual predecessor, the Mad Artist Friday Monday from Madlax, though his costume is not a suit and is only mostly white/beige.
  • November 11 from Darker Than Black is almost always seen wearing a very nice white suit. In this case, the "snow" symbolism is a little more literal than usual.
  • Mao from Code Geass not only wears a white Badass Longcoat, but is a Pretty Boy to boot! Oh, and he's an Faux Affably Evil Albino. Talk about Light Is Not Good...
  • Verossa Acous from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, while one of the good guys, definitely is one of the more mysterious and inscrutible supporting characters.
  • In Slayers, Zelgadiss Graywords' clothes are really more off-white verging on beige (probably stained from traveling so much; they're pure white in the novels), but given that when he first appears, they cover everything but his eyes, they certainly count. Even once he's no longer an enemy, they still make him stand out, emphasizing his separation from the rest of the world.
  • Invoked in Durarara!! when somebody finally asks Shinra Kishitani why he insists on wearing a lab coat everywhere. Turns out that he wants to play the Man in White to his roommate Celty Strulsen's Woman in Black.
  • Sagara Sanosuke from Rurouni Kenshin is always dressed in simple, white garments. He plays completely against the type, being a straightforward, Hot-Blooded hooligan and one of the good guys.
  • In Gundam SEED and Gundam Seed Destiny, ZAFT's high command are white clad, going with the whole "white as symbol of power" theme. Perhaps the best example of a Man in White, however, is Rau Le Creuset. He wears a white mask in addition to the uniform, is enigmatic and antagonistic to say the least, and is eventually revealed to a rather unpleasant fellow.
  • Solomon Goldsmith from Blood+ dresses in a white suit. He's a Chriopteran. He apparently dresses this way because he was wearing white when he first met Diva. Thus, he switches to a black suit following his Heel-Face Turn.
  • InuYasha: Sesshoumaru wears a white furisode and matching hakama. There is a bit of purple (manga) or red (anime) on the left shoulder and the sleeve cuffs that are covered in white flowers. Possibly a deliberate choice as modern colour schemes (relevant for the readers) means white symbolises death and mediaeval colour schemes (the story's setting) means white symbolises the formality of very high social ranks. Sesshoumaru is both a born killer and a very highly ranked aristocrat.
  • Woolf Enneacle from Gundam AGE not only wears white, but insists that his mobile suits be white as well. There doesn't seem to be a particular reason; it's just his personal style. Asemu emulates this look as a tribute in the years between Woolf's death and becoming a pirate.
  • Sekirei seems to love this trope, with the three primary male antagonists dressing in head-to-toe white. Manipulative Bastard Higa wears a more low-key example, in a white suit with light-colored dress shirt and tie, while Bratty Half-Pint Mikogami wears an overly-fancy outfit accented with gold. However, Big Bad Minaka Hiroto takes the cake, having WhiteHairBlackHeart white hair and dressed in an all-white suit with a cape, just because he's that awesome.
  • Blue Exorcist's Arthur Auguste Angel. Exorcist. Paladin. Jerk.
  • Kaito Kid from Magic Kaito and Detective Conan. (Depending on whose viewpoint you take regarding the "no good" part, though.) He says that his suit is white because he's "bold and flamboyant" and he's "different to a thief who wears all black".
  • Hideo Kuze from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex shows up dressed entirely in white, longcoat and all, when he meets the rest of the Individual Eleven, a fact that immediately sets him apart from the rest of the more somberly clad terrorists. Later on it turns out that was a sign of his ability to resist being brainwashed by Gohda's Individual Eleven virus that causes the rest of the terrorists to behead each other.

    Comic Books 
  • Gideon Graves from Scott Pilgrim (both the movie and the comics) wears a pristine white suit. Considering that he is both the Big Bad and a jerkass, this trope fits him perfectly.
  • Elijah Snow from Planetary.
  • Wilson Fisk (aka The Kingpin) from Spiderman and other Marvel Universe comics usually appears in a white blazer or business suit. It's used to reinforce his Villain with Good Publicity status in-universe.
  • Daniel Hall from The Sandman.
    • Also, the first Corinthian seems to wear all white a lot. Later, he mixes it up with blue jeans and other colours a bit more. It's still striking— as he, like Daniel (when he's being Dream), seems to have pure white hair, or at least extremely light blond hair. His own personal spinoff, Death in Venice, has him as white-haired and explicitly described with the name "the Man in White". Bodies he possesses, even perfectly ordinary mortal ones, develop his characteristics over time— the colour fades from their hair and then they start bleeding freely from the eyesockets...Fun times.
  • Nemesis, who was conceived to be Bruce Wayne...except that he grew up to become The Joker. He wears an all-white costume.

    Films — Animated 
  • Lex Luthor in Superman: Doomsday spends most of the movie in an all-white suit.
  • The bird in white, Lord Shen, the Big Bad of Kung Fu Panda 2. Justified as white is the colour of death in Chinese culture and because Shen is also an Evil Albino.
  • Prince Hans, from Frozen, has an element of white in all his suits, most prominent in the suit he wears for the coronation. Meaningfully, as we build up to The Reveal, he switches to a dark blue suit, and when he exposes his treachery, he takes off his white gloves, the last white element of his clothing. He puts them back on when he leaves Anna, however, and keeps up his good-guy act until he has Elsa at his mercy.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The trope image comes from Bruce Almighty, where, in a slightly more straightforward Light is Good example, God dons a pristine white suit.
  • Lucifer from Constantine wears old-fashioned white suit in the style of a Fat, Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit.
  • The Architect from The Matrix
  • Azrael in Dogma
  • The Man In The White Suit: The title character invents a new indestructible fabric and makes the eponymous white suit out of it. Its colour also reflects his moral innocence in the face of corrupt corporate executives and politicians who see his fabric as a threat to the textile industry. Curiously - symbolism-wise - this might make him more of a "male Woman in White".
  • John Preston wears a white ceremonial uniform during the final showdown in Equilibrium.
  • Most of John Woo's villains (Shing from A Better Tomorrow, Ko Ying Pui from A Better Tomorrow II, and Mr. James Wong from the game Stranglehold among others) wear white, the better to show off the blood from the bullets they receive. The main heroic John Woo example, of course, is Ah Jong from the final showdown of The Killer (though then again, he is the one out of the two heroes of the movie to die.)
  • In Eat A Bowl Of Tea, the wife has an affair with a Smug Snake who wears a white suit — probably to show how flashy he is.
  • The Great Leslie, from The Great Race. Although he isn't always in only white, he's always got something.
  • The villain in the 1987 New Old West action movie Extreme Prejudice wears a white suit, presumably an inversion of the "villains wear black hats" trope. Nick Nolte even lampshades this after he kills the Big Bad and The Dragon is threatening to return the favour. "I already did you the favour! You get to wear the white suit!" As the hero and his girl walk away, we see The Dragon already trying on the white hat for size.
  • El Mariachi and Desperado both feature men in white as their Big Bad, in contrast to the black-clad hero.
  • Played for laughs in Big, where the main character shows up to a cocktail party in a sparkling white tuxedo and stands out like a sore thumb.
  • John Hammond from the first Jurassic Park film edges very close to being a Fat, Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit, but is redeemed by the fact that he's neither sweaty nor a Southerner. However, the white cane and sun hat are all there.
  • Juror #8 in 12 Angry Men wears a very light-colored suit that appears white in the black-and-white footage, which is easiest to see in the last scene, because he's sitting down most of the time.
  • Frank Nitti in The Untouchables.
  • In Lawrence of Arabia, when T.E. Lawrence starts Going Native, he begins wearing a white robe and keffiyeh in the Bedouin style.
  • The villain of The Grand Duel wears a white suit. There's a scene where someone he murders stains the suit with his bloody handprint as he dies.
  • Luke Skywalker's white robe in A New Hope.
  • The Nazi villain Maximilian Schnell and his supporters in the German TV-movie "Die Grenze" wear white suits.
  • Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in the film version of To Kill a Mockingbird is a good guy in a white suit. Of course, he's a Southerner, although neither fat nor sweaty.
  • Montag the Magnificent, the titular magician in The Wizard of Gore, is most certainly not up to anything good. Combines well with Bloody Handprint and Rain of Blood.
  • One important character in Tampopo is credited solely as "Man in White Suit."
  • Belloq in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
  • In the final scene of Tokyo Drifter, the main character, Tetsu, wears an off-white suit, a white shirt, and a white tie, symbolizing his purity and honor, while all the other men wear black suits, symbolizing their corruption. Of course, since the message of the film is that it's bad to put Honor Before Reason, this is not necessarily a good thing.
  • Raiden in Mortal Kombat wears white robes.
  • In Cotton Comes to Harlem, Deke Williams, the Malcolm Xerox preacher with a Scam Religion, is introduced wearing a black cape. When it's pulled off as he steps onstage to deliver a sermon, he is revealed to be wearing a white suit (with a pink shirt and tie).
  • Ford Prefect in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy wears a khaki/white suit. Probably it's intended as an only-slightly-weird outfit to show he's an alien with a hit-or-miss understanding of human society. It may also relate somewhat to the "up to no good" symbolism, too, since he's fairly amoral.
  • Big Papa, a plantation owner from Django Unchained is seen wearing a pretty nice white suit, and he manages to avoid that other, related trope while he's wearing it.
  • Storm Shadow from G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and G.I. Joe: Retaliation.
  • Rick in Casablanca dresses this way. While it's a big help in the climate, Rick's background involves the moral murkiness, too. Possibly used intentionally by Rick, who goes out of his way to try to convince himself of his own amorality.
  • Christopher Walken appears, sinisterly, throughout the film version of The Comfort Of Strangers in a white Armani suit.
  • X-Men:

    Literature 
  • The novel of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre has an opening chapter involving Dobbs panhandling from a man in a white suit, which symbolizes relative wealth in that very scruffy Mexican town. In fact, Dobbs inadvertently buttonholes the same man three times — he only looked at the suit, not its wearer.
  • The Illuminati in Duumvirate all wear white, and their servants wear black. The bioengineered title characters are white for the same reason.
  • In Ray Bradbury's "he Wonderful Ice Cream Suit", six men pool their resources to buy a white three-piece suit; each man finds himself able to achieve his dreams (respect among the intellectuals, business success, falling in love) while wearing the apparently mystical suit.
  • In Tolkien's Middle-earth stories (The Lord of the Rings, etc), there is no shortage of men (and women) clad mostly or exclusively in white, although their creepiness-factor is mostly a matter of the respective observer, and most of the time, they are not. Examples are Saruman, Gandalf, Celeborn, and lots of other Elven men.
  • The Grand Admirals of the Star Wars Expanded Universe wear white uniforms. The most notable one is, of course, Grand Admiral Thrawn, whose uniform is iconic enough that he tends to be drawn in white in every illustration, even when he really shouldn't be. Interestingly, the Grand Admiral uniforms are otherwise a bit garish, with gold epaulets and rank patches, but Thrawn usually leaves those off.
    • Star Wars admirals in general seem to go for these. Ackbar has a white uniform. In Legacy of the Force, while serving as the head of the Corellian separatist military, Admiral Wedge Antilles wore white. Warlord Zsinj also wore a Grand Admiral uniform, though he hadn't earned the rank. Admiral Ar'alani also wore white - she's a woman, but as an Ascended Fangirl who had been cosplaying as Grand Admiral Thrawn, she deserves a mention.
  • Darken Rahl in The Sword of Truth always wears white robes. A case of Light Is Not Good, as he is an Evil Overlord.
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay featured a chapter depicting the origin of Josef Kavalier and Sam Clay's comic book hero, The Escapist. When playboy Max Mayflower is kidnapped, a man in a white linen suit rescues him, sacrificing his life. Mayflower travels the world to learn this stranger's secret, ultimately discovering that he was a member of the League of the Golden Key, a secret organization that specializes in liberating people who were enslaved or wrongly imprisoned. Having become an accomplished escape artist, Max (and later, his nephew Tom, who would take over after his uncle's death and become The Escapist) worked for the Golden Key, whose agents all wore white linen suits.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the Kingsguard wear all white, with blank white shields. This displays their office and also shows that they have renounced all ties to their former house.
  • In Heralds of Valdemar, the Heralds wear all white. This is a case of Exactly What It Says on the Tin because all the Heralds are paragons of fantastic goodness. Some of them — Herald-Mages especially — can be rather creepy when they're getting their magic on. Vanyel, especially, experiences some backlash of this.
  • In A Brother's Price Jerin decides to bring his grandfather's white silk bath robe so that if the Princess Ren sees him coming out, he won't just be in a towel. He is basically any given romance novel heroine, so in this case white is for innocence and purity, the silk and the origins are indications of his noble blood.
  • Artemis Fowl has the villainous version with Jon Spiro. Spiro takes it Up to Eleven by having literally everything he owns in the colour.
  • Paarfi of Roundwood, Lemony Narrator from the Dragaera series, once came to a public event dressed entirely in white as a political statement: that artists and authors embrace all Houses (which normally dress in Color-Coded for Your Convenience fashion) equally.
  • JC Chance of the Ghost Finders novels dresses in well-tailored, ice-cream-white suits. This is doubly symbolic, as he not only sees himself as something of a Knight in Shining Armor, but he's been a Badass Abnormal since book one and thus rates as a bit unearthly.
  • Emperor Elend Venture of Mistborn: The Original Trilogy wears white almost all the time. Since it is extraordinarily difficult to keep anything white when the world is being smothered by black ash, this actually works pretty well as a symbol of authority and purity.
  • Eros/Cupid in The Heroes of Olympus wears a simple white shirt and white jeans. His attire compliments his harsh beauty and personality.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Various Bad Future episodes of Smallville show President Evil future!Lex in a pure white suit. Combine this with the black-gloved right hand and the effect is really unsettling. On Clark's trip inside Lex's head, bad!Lex is shown dressed in the exact same way.
  • Doctor Who has, during the Key to Time Arc in Season 16 and Enlightenment in Season 20, the White Guardian who, naturally, appears as a man in a white suit and curiously bears a striking resemblance to Colonel Sanders, too.
  • Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased): In both versions, the late lamented Marty Hopkirk manifests as a ghost in a white suit, which is apparently de rigeur for all the dear departed.
  • Mr. Roarke in the original Fantasy Island.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Angel was initially dressed in white.
    • Only his shirt; otherwise, he always wore black.
    • The Angel who appears in Buffy's dreams in Season 3 plays this trope completely straight.
  • Possessed by Lucifer!Sam in the Bad Future Supernatural episode. It really emphasizes his Uncanny Valleyness.
    • Chuck in the final episode of S5. Of course, he is God, and what better way to show this than have a dirty, messy prophet end up in a pristine white suit?
  • Boss Hogg in The Dukes of Hazzard.
  • Michael Coldsmith-Briggs III, aka Archangel, from Airwolf.
  • Jacob in LOST.
  • Number Two in the 2009 remake of The Prisoner.
    • And in the original, Number Six's Evil Knockoff wears a white blazer.
  • In an episode of the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the prime minister of a colony who later kidnaps Riker and Dr. Pulaski wears white.
  • Though not a full white suit, Jamie Hyneman of MythBusters fame has his iconic white shirt. Probably because it stays conspicuously clean regardless of what project he works on.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Tommy Oliver during his tenure as the White Ranger, as well as his ancestor, the White Stranger.
  • On Merlin, Prince Arthur wears a white linen shirt when he is relaxing or in some other informal situation.
  • Shijou the Amateur Sleuth Serial Murderer in The Conditions of Great Detectives.
  • Toledo, the Big Bad of Shoebox Zoo.
  • Andamo of Mr. Lucky likes to sport white suits while working on board the Fortuna II.
  • Parodied in the It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode The Gang Exploits a Miracle. In an attempt to fleece the new patrons of Paddy's Pub, Mac and Charlie dress in nice clothes and pose as priests. Mac sticks to a simple black shirt and tie while Charlie shows up in a full white suit, much to Mac's annoyance ("We look like salt and pepper shakers!"). Later, an old lady asks to be blessed by Charlie rather than Mac because he "looks more religious".
  • On Life, Roman Nevikov, the boss of The Mafiya in Los Angeles, likes to wear all white, right down to his shoes.

    Music 
  • In Sting's Brand New Day video, Sting wears a white suit and proceeds to "bless" the hopeless with white suits and general preferable hygiene including perfect teeth.
  • Simon Le-Bon from Duran Duran wears a white suit (and a spiffy black shirt) in the Save a Prayer video.
  • Cobra Starship's video for "The City Is At War" features the entire band dressed in white and Gabe in a white suit. And then they kill everybody with pies.
  • Andrew W.K. is rarely seen wearing anything but white - although in his case, it's usually a white t-shirt and jeans combo.
  • In this early TV presentation, the deceased Brian Jones plays the famous sitar from "Paint in Black" while dressed in white.
  • Jaga Jazzist's "Day" music video depicts all the band members dressed in white. According to the director, they're supposed to be cosmic agents, manipulating the controls of a vast machine to preserve universal equilibrium.

     Pinball 
  • Played straight by the Crockett-wannabe in Premier's Hollywood Heat, who wears a white suit, white shirt, white slacks, and white shoes on the backbox translite.

     Professional Wrestling 
  • Shawn Michaels in his feud against The Undertaker used his born-again Christian status as the basis of the conflict, seeing himself as the light against his foe's darkness. He would even don a white version of Taker's hat and coat and showed up at WrestleMania dressed all in white.
    • Mordecai had a similar-looking cult leader gimmick, also feuding with Taker.

    Sport 
  • Cricketers traditionally wear white, although limited-overs cricket has switched to colored outfits.
  • Australian Rules Football umpires used to wear white, although they no longer do so. In fact, they were often called the "men in white" (when they weren't being called "white maggots").

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Mage: The Ascension, the Operatives of the New World Order (a branch of the Technocracy) come in three ranks: Men in Black (shock troops), Men in Gray (spies, assassins, and otherwise people with more interesting jobs), and Men in White (the people in charge).
  • In Paranoia, white represents Ultraviolet security clearance, reserved for the High Programmers entrusted with maintaining The Computer. Plays on both aspects of the trope; High Programmers are considered by The Computer and many citizensnote  to be beyond reproach, but players know that most of them are unspeakably corrupt and that their manipulations are partly responsible for The Computer's insanity.

    Theatre 
  • Cirque du Soleil gets a lot of mileage out of this trope with the following white-clad characters.
    • Saltimbanco: The Child, representing purity/innocence.
    • Alegria: The Angels and the backing band are white-clad, with gold accents in the case of the former.
    • Quidam: The Chiennes Blanches represent the faceless masses and wear little cowls concealing their faces.
    • "O": At the end of the show, the crusty caretaker Le Vieux appears dressed in white, accentuating the better part of his nature.
    • La Nouba: The four innocent fools known as The Nuts dress in white.
    • Varekai: Icarus (really a Boy in White) sticks out like a sore thumb by wearing all white amidst the colourful forest creatures. Here, as well as establishing him as an outsider, the colour represents his innocence and makes him seem mysterious and angelic. He even comes with snow-white wings!
    • Corteo: The aptly-named White Clown, whose distinctive clothing seems to represent a desire to see and be seen, if the All There in the Manual material on his personality is anything to go by.
    • Michael Jackson THEIMMORTAL World Tour: The Mime, representing innocence.
    • Michael Jackson ONE: The MJ Warriors wear white because Light is Good; they fight the Red and Black and Evil All Over Tabloid Junkies.
  • Edward Rutledge in 1776, the unofficial leader of the Southern delegates (who are themselves dressed in light colors). He's a Southern Gentleman and one of the primary antagonists to the independence movement—and as for unsettling, he acts out a slave auction during his song "Molasses to Rum" in a giant What the Hell, Hero? to the North that almost breaks their spirit entirely.

    Video Games 
  • Mr. Garcian Smith from killer7.
  • Fortinbras, the Big Bad of Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams.
  • Rufus Shinra and his faaaaaaaabulous white suit. Also Hojo in his lab coat.
  • Lieutenant Miller from Mirror's Edge.
  • The World Ends with You has the Composer portrayed this way (heck, he's more a Man Made of White than a Man Wearing White), but it seems the only people he really contacts outside of his disguise as Joshua aren't weirded out by him. Admittedly, this could be due to those people's apparent natures anyway. The Conductor seems to maintain such utter composure just out of his respect for the Big C, and Hanekoma's probably used to people like this. He's apparently one himself.
  • Zeus in God of War wears white robes. Even though actual mythology never refers to his clothes' colour, he is typically portrayed as wearing white, and in the game, it makes him more than creepy enough when combined with his actions.
  • Inspector Cabanela in Ghost Trick wears a clean white coat to represent his spotless record. The only part of his garb that isn't white is his red scarf, which may actually come with bonus symbolism. He does have a bloody spot on his record, letting Yomiel escape.
  • Vladimir Lem from Max Payne 2, in direct homage to John Woo's use of this trope for his villains.
  • Nick in Left 4 Dead 2.
  • Michael Tillotson from Deadly Premonition.
  • Altair, Ezio, Connor, and Desmond all wear white in Assassin's Creed; a predominately white, hooded outfit with a bright scarlet sash seems to be the traditional Assassin's ensemble. Interestingly, this trope sees villainous usage as well; the first game's villain, Robert de Sable, wears a white cloak and tabard (because he's a Templar Knight in the Crusades) and the second game's villain, Rodrigo Borgia, dons a white robe once he (as in real-life history) becomes pope.
  • Fire Emblem has at least one per game, usually (but not always) healers or wielders of light magic:
    • Claude, Levin, and Corple (who can be fathered by either of them, depending on who you paired them up with) in Geneaology of the Holy War
    • Leaf and Sleuf in Thracia 776
    • Saul and Yodel in The Sealed Sword
    • Lucius in The Blazing Blade
    • Artur in The Sacred Stones
    • Rhys in Path of Radiance
  • Graham Jones in Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow. And he's got the hair to match.
    • Soma's pure-white Badass Longcoat also fits the bill, and while he's the hero, he does have something of a darker side. And he's also got the hair to match.
  • In the reboot of Syndicate, enemy officers have white armour, unlike the black and dark grey of Sergeants or normal grunts. Some boss Agents wear white too. Merit also wears a white armour in the final battle.
  • In Hitman: Blood Money, the final mission features 47 trading in his trademark black suit for a solid white version. This is the only mission in any of the games in which you are explicitly instructed to kill everyone else on the level, including two innocent bystanders (one of whom is a priest).
  • Asbel Lhant of Tales of Graces. One after-battle scene has Sophie ask him why he wears so much white. We never get to hear his answer but he apparently needed to think about it for a while.

    Web Comics 
  • The Zombie Hunters: The half-zombie is dressed in bright white - and manages to stay that way - despite his constant wading through blood and gore. He explains how this is possible during a "fan mail" strip: he uses Tide detergent between every panel.
  • Death in the Johnny Wander fiction shorts usually doesn't wear completely white outfits — the exception being a white suit at the end of Girl with the Skeleton Hand — but he does wear light colors that contrast with his dark skin, and all the shirts he's worn thus far have been white. It's quite striking.
  • Homestuck: Doc Scratch not only wears white, he is pure white himself (with a blank white face to match) and types with white text. Being that he's also an Eldritch Abomination Physical God, he falls neatly into the tendency for antagonists to wear white.
  • John Henry Hunter, the villain of Next Town Over. It's Awesome, but Impractical as well, since the outfit, uncharacteristically pristine and fancy for the West, makes it easier for Vane Black to locate his whereabouts.
  • In Erstwhile, the little boy's ghost appears in white, surrounded by a glow.

    Western Animation 
  • Samurai Jack wears a white robe (with grey trim) almost constantly throughout the series' run. This seems to be symbolic of his quest to destroy the Evil Aku has brought to the world. This is all but confirmed in the episodes "Mad Jack", where Jack's evil side is manifested and wears a black and red robe, and "Jack and the Ninja", where Jack...well, you're probably better off watching that one yourself, as it is one of the best episodes of the series.
  • The Guys in White from Danny Phantom, a government organization dedicated to dealing with ghosts. Confusingly enough, however, they're otherwise very blatant The Men in Black style agents.
  • An episode of Family Guy was about Stewie fearing the fact that the "man in white" (he was clearly referring to a doctor) is coming to put him back in the womb of his mother, Lois, and as a result, he want to kill said "man in white" as revenge. At the end of the episode, he kills a cult leader, which he mistook for the "man in white."
  • Lex Luthor dresses like this in Superman: Doomsday.

    Real Life 
  • Josef Mengele.
  • Steve Martin wore a white suit during his standup career.
  • White suits are traditional outfits for a Southern gentleman in the American South, presumably due to the blazing hot temperatures. Famous examples include:
    • Mark Twain, who commented that it had a cheering-up-ish effect.
    • Colonel Sanders
    • Tom Wolfe. He says people find it disarming, leading them to regard him as "a man from Mars, the man who didn't know anything and was eager to know."
  • The Pope.
  • Clerics of the "Sevener" Ismaili sect of Shia Muslims traditionally wear white, in contrast to the Sunni and mainstream "Twelver" Shia, whose traditional garb is black.
  • Many navies around the world still retain white summer uniforms. Useful, since the deck of a ship usually doesn't have much to offer in the way of shade.
  • Cab Calloway wore a LOT of white on stage and film.
  • Doctors and several health professionals as well as several medical/paramedical male students wear white, except in operating rooms.
  • Similarly, professional dealers in gemstones and jewelery always wear white or pale gray. This is a matter of practicality, because color from the dealer's clothes can reflect off the inside of a stone and make it appear more colorful than it is. Even painted fingernails are enough to throw off a reading, so white fingernail polish or french tips are used by female graders. Gemology labs go so far as to paint the walls and install carpeting in white or pale gray, and typically allow no colored objects inside the room besides the gems themselves. Sellers inside jewelery stores are less inhibited, and will wear what looks good to customers since they aren't actually grading or examining the stones.
  • Iosif Stalin would occasionally wear a white outfit bearing Bling of War, a look later copied by other dictators.
  • Chilean stand-up comedian Luis Fica, aka Bombo Fica.
  • The male members of the Order of Merced, following the example of the founder Saint Peter Nolasco. He apparently chose white as the color of the Order's robes to signify innocence.


Heroic AlbinoTropes in WhiteMystical White Hair
Little Dead Riding HoodCharacteristic Clothing ColorsThe Men In Black
Man in a KiltCostume TropesMan of Wealth and Taste
Woman in WhiteClothing Reflects PersonalityPajama Clad Hero
Magical Seventh SonAlways MaleMan in a Kilt
Law of Chromatic SuperiorityColour-Coded for Your ConvenienceMorphic Resonance
God TestImageSource/Live-Action FilmsBubble Boy

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