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Purple Is The New Black
Interesting shadow you got there.

Much like Hollywood Darkness, purple is often used as a stand-in for black in comics and animation. This is predominantly because purple is easier to shade quickly and thus give the appearance of three-dimensionality; solid black objects in animation (and theoretically, Real Life) would lack contours and look very flat.

In regard to character design, pseudo-purple hair is popular for similar reasons. It also makes a character more recognizable from a copyright standpoint. Characters who fall under the Dark Is Not Evil trope are occasionally depicted this way too, to perhaps subconsciously suggest they aren't stereotypically evil.

In older comics, blue was used because it was one of the basic pigment colors and thus inexpensive (and because Hollywood Darkness is generally blue-tinted). This has led to some mixed messages over whether (for example) Nightcrawler's fur or Spider-Man's pants are blue, or if they're black in the same way Superman's hair is black (despite having blue highlights).

As far as reality is concerned, this trope induces a lot of Fridge Logic, since violet is the most energetic part of the visible light spectrum.note  The explanation, however, is that this is actually why purple and blue are perceived as black: more energetic hues of light get to places and reflect on surfaces other hues cannot, giving deep shadows a disproportionate amount of blue-violet lighting. See Analysis page for the full Mind Screw that is the representation of black with colors that are not black, and the science of why this is Truth in Television.

Compare Hair Color Dissonance, Purple Is Powerful, Evil Wears Black (which can overlap with this trope).

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In the anime of Rurouni Kenshin, the uniforms of the Oniwabanshuu/the Oniwaban Group have been colored purple. The original manga was bichromatic, and Watsuki's coloring has been...startlingly inconsistent. The fans who wonder will probably never know whether the Oniwaban uniforms actually were purple, or if that was just a choice made by the animators to avoid the pitfalls of animating black.
  • Takasugi Shinsuke from Gintama, who is a Space Pirate and definitely not a Well-Intentioned Extremist, has a purple Kimono.
  • In Sailor Moon, Hino Rei is noticeably native Japanese (even though all but Aino Minako supposedly are), with long black hair — highlighted purple — and a distinct epicanthic fold. This is very notorious since she is supposed to represent classical Japanese beauty which consists in pale skin and black hair. On the other hand, Chiba Mamoru's hair is often straight black, but when highlighted, tends to be highlighted blue.
  • The Moon Empress in Yaiba has her hair and Playboy Bunny outfit shaded violet.
  • In the manga of Revolutionary Girl Utena, Anthy's hair is black, while it's purple in the TV series and movie.
  • Inverted in Digimon Tamers, in which Sakuyamon, who is based off a miko, has a purple light power. The darker Virus types are more associated with red.
  • In general, if something black needs to "glow", like magic circles, or as Beelzemon's "darkness blasts" above, it'll be purple.
  • A couple examples in Bleach.
    • Yumichika's hair in the anime looks like a mix between dark blue and purple with a red-streaked lock. Really, it's just the light making it look that way.
    • Uryu has navy blue hair in the anime, but, again, it's the lighting making it look that way.
  • In some parts of the series, Misaki in Maid-sama! looks like she either has purple or black hair. The lighting for the episode changes so much, you could argue for either being her hair color.
  • Infamously, Cyborg 008 in Cyborg009 was colored with pitch black skin in the manga, which was then rendered as a very visible purple in the 1979 anime adaptation. Made even stranger by the fact that other black characters in the adaptation appeared with varying shades of brown skin, and that the '60s anime works had also colored his skin brown.
  • Osamu's hair in Bokura no Hentai looks blue but the dialogue implies it's supposed to be black.

    Comic Books 
  • There is some debate over whether or not The Joker originally wore a purple or black suit.
    • Regardless, the purple suit is now iconic and has been used throughout comics and by actors as varied as Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger and Mark Hammill's versions of the Joker.
    • Famed artist Alex Ross subscribes to the theory that the Joker's suit was originally intended to be black with purple highlights, so that his chalk-white face would stand out as much as possible. Accordingly, pretty much all of Ross' (colored) drawings of the Joker feature him in black instead of the widely-accepted purple.

    Literature 
  • In Greg Howell's Light On Shattered Water, the parallel dimension's sentient inhabitants have evolved from great cats, rather than from apes. This has many implications. One of them is that they perceive colour differently from humans - to them, most dark colours are simply black.
  • Inverted in this depiction of Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings. Considering his sthick as the White is light...
  • In The Quest of the Unaligned, the Darkness-based powers of the hosheks are generally described as purple, though mostly when dealing with luminous objects (fires, lightning bolts, etc.). On the other hand, Darkness-touched moss is also purple.

    Fan Fic 

    Live Action TV 
  • In Super Sentai and Power Rangers, Black Rangers tend to have purple motifs in their costumes, energy weapons (particularly noticeable when they glow), and the like.
  • In Kamen Rider Double, this goes for both the Joker and the Skull Memories, as well as their respective Riders: while the costumes are predominantly black (Joker has purple elements, while Skull adds white), their attacks glow with purple.
  • Babylon 5: Ulkesh's (Kosh II's) encounter suit is purple... and he is definitely a less pleasant, darker Vorlon than the (orange-clad) Kosh we knew.

    Religion 
  • In Wicca and other neopagan circles, the fifth element, Spirit, is basically described as darkness, being defined by emptiness. It is portrayed most often as either black or purple.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Shows up in some Magic: The Gathering art related to Black cards. For instance, some varieties of Swamps have purple colors. This is largely to give them some color, as purple isn't claimed by any of the others. Inverted, however, with some old card catalogs; Red, Blue, Black, and Green card names are all printed in their respective colors, but White is printed as purple (since, obviously, printing it as white would be problematic).
    • Frequently inverted in regard to White cards; several White spells are seen emiting a purple light.
  • In the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game, "Dark" has a purple symbol. Earth, on the other hand, has a black symbol with white lettering—so maybe black is the new brown?
  • Bakugan of the Darkus element are colored black and purple.
  • A strange variant with Ticket To Ride: In the physical tabletop version, the five player colors are red, blue, green, yellow, and black. But in any computer version of the game, black trains don't show up well on screen, so the fifth color there is purple.

    Toys 
  • Ravage, the stealthy jaguar whose colors traditionally are black with either red or yellow highlights, has recently been getting purple highlights on his figures. His abilities have always been explicitly shadow-based, and it seems like designers are taking it to the next level.
  • Toy versions of Spider-Man's black costume sometimes get this, as a pure black costume would be visually uninteresting and, apparently, toy designers get sick of blue highlights.
  • Although the usage of shadow-based powers has been depicted more or less consistently as red in media, BIONICLE's Shadow Kraata were still purple colored. Also, in the line's early run, purple was a rare secondary color for the usually black Earth element characters.

    Web Original 
  • In The Irate Gamer, the Evil Gamer creates an army of Mecha-Mooks based on the HAL-9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey (whose A.I. resides in a Magnavox Odyssey). All of the robots have purple eyes, with the exception of the red-eyed head robot known as R.E.D. (Robotic Electromat Device).
  • Blake mostly dresses in black, but her cat ears are indigo-furred.
  • Lamp Shaded by Yami Yugi in episode 61 of the Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series where he constantly points out the "Shadow Realm" is more purple than Black.
    Melvin: Swiggity-Swaggo Realm, say hello to the Shadow Realm!
    Yami: You know, it's really more of a Purple Realm than a Shadow Realm.
    Melvin: Since I'm about to end you, Pharaoh—
    Yami: Shadows aren't really known for being purple.
    Melvin: SILENCE!
    Yami: I'm just sayin'.

    Video Games 
  • In God of War, this is usually not used (green, red, or even yellow are more used), but Hades' Claws have a distinct violet glow.
  • Zig-zagged in the Pokémon games: some Dark-type moves are purple, even though the icon for the Dark type is black, with purple being used for the Ghost type. Likewise, a standard Shadow Pokémon has a black-purplish aura when detected. A Shadow Pokémon caught in Hyper or Reverse Mode has a blood-red aura instead.
    • Gen 1 has an, ahem, interesting example of this. The original designers for Jynx gave her black skin, big lips, and blonde hair, but because people thought it was racist towards black people, they gave her purple skin instead.
  • Shadow-based weaponry and attacks in Spiral Knights are typically purple.
  • The Fire Emblem series as a whole depicts Dark magic as a mix of black and purple, at least from the GBA era onward. Most playable Dark users - Sophia, Lleu, Niime, Canas, Knoll, and Etzel - wear a shade of purple or have purple hair.
  • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes brings the purple blob-shooting Dark Beam that can freeze enemies with charged shots. Dark Aether is visually a copy of Light Aether, but darker and purplier. Not to mention the dark purple Ing and the purple-colored doors that require said Dark Beam to open them.
    • In earlier stages of the game, the unique damage received from exposure to Dark Aether's takes the form of purple circles.
  • In Age of Mythology, the "Evil Clouds" are purple and black, and Big Bad Kronos has the same color smoke rising off of him. His minion also shapeshifts in a puff of purple-black smoke.
  • In the GBA (and some DS) Super Robot Wars games, many units intended to be black (most notably Mazinger Z and it's relatives) were either purple or nonexistent (in the case of the Astranagant), allegedly due to the GBA not displaying black properly. However, these were alongside the M9 Gernsback and Gespenst S, which were light grey but still usable enough to be black. Especially considering the Mazingers had perfectly fine black in their cut-ins.
  • Tales of Symphonia does have a black Shadow, but the logo of his power is purple, though still represented with pitch black half the time.
  • In the Mega Man Battle Network series, a lot of characters and objects associated with darkness wear purple or are colored purple; DarkMan, ShadeMan, Dr. Regal (BN5) and his henchmen, most DS Navis, DarkMega (in BN5, he's the regular MegaMan with a purple tint while his anime counterpart has MegaMan's outfit colored purple), Dark Chips, Nebula Grey, and EraseMan, to name a few.
  • In the Final Fantasy series, dark-attuned attacks and sometimes weapons are dark purple. Prominent examples include the "Dark" series of spells and the Dark Knight's signature Soul Eater ability. Gravity spells are usually black, but occasionally are purple too.
    • All over the place in the Final Fantasy XI expansion Wings of the Goddess. Most prominent in the Spitewardens, who wear purple versions of Red Mage artifact armour, though we also see it in Lady Lilith and Atomos.
    • Dissidia: Final Fantasy, Golbez and Cecil's darkness attacks, Sephiroth's Shadow Flare, and Terra's Graviga, are all purple and black. Golbez and Cecil cross into Technicolor Fire with Dark Flame and Rising Wave, which create pillars of purple flame. Played with with the Cloud of Darkness, her void and darkness-based beam attacks are most prominently red. Some of them are purple, but it's more a bright violet rather than the dark purple the other examples mentioned show up as.
  • In Breath Of Fire 2, Nina's "cursed" black wings appear purple in her in-game sprite.
  • As the page quote points out, the Black Chronicle of Radiant Historia appears purple.
  • The Shadow Sirens and Shadow Queen of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door appear a fairly dark purple.
  • Dark Eco in Jak and Daxter has a noticable purple tint, and Dark Jak has purple lightning sparks shooting out of him. Interestingly, Dark Jak himself is bluish-gray, as are Gol and Maia. The Dark Makers are completely purple-black, though.
  • Baffingly enough, Venom was colored purple in Ultimate Spider-Man.
  • Stern's Barrier Jacket in the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable is shown in official art to be black, but for her in-game model, it was given a dark purple hue.
  • The power of darkness in the Kingdom Hearts series is either represented as purple or red when it isn't just straight black.
  • In the Puyo Puyo series, Feli, the dousing- and tarot-obsessed Gothic lolita-clad girl, and Klug, the incredibly smug know-it-all spectacle-fancying bookworm both wear purple, possibly to signify their confidence in their magic powers. Somehow, the two fight *very* often.
  • Terraria uses purple to denote the shadow like theme of The Corruption, even the craftable Shadow Armor is purple (of course, armor dye can make it black if you wish).

    Visual Novels 
  • Miku's hair in A Profile is called black, but it clearly has some shade of purple. On the cover and in the introduction, it's a fairly bright purple, but apart from that, it tends to be grayish purple instead.

    Other - Real Life 
  • Very common in dyed hair, while black hair has always been very fashionable, is also extremely common, so many people dye their hair with special dyes that add colored highlights under certain lighting conditions, with purple and other bluish colors being the most common.
  • Minzy from Music/{{2NE1}} had purple streaks in her hair in the music video for "Clap Your Hands."


Paint It BlackTropes in BlackQuip to Black
Purple Is PowerfulPurple Is the New TropePurple Prose
Good Colors, Evil ColorsObviously EvilRed and Black and Evil All Over

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