Purple Is the New Black

Interesting shadow you got there.
"Isn't it weird nearly all darkness spells are either pink or purple instead of, you know, black?"

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, You Gotta Have Blue Hair, Purple Is Powerful, Evil Wears Black (which can overlap with this trope).

Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • 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.
  • Osamu's hair in Bokura no Hentai looks blue but the dialogue implies it's supposed to be black.
  • In Kin-iro Mosaic, Aya has blue hair, but like the previous example, the dialogue implies it's supposed to be black.
  • 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.
  • Digimon Tamers
    • Inverted: Sakuyamon, who is based off a miko, has a purple light power. The darker Virus types are more associated with red.
    • Beelzemon (a Demon Lord Digimon) from the same series shoots large darkness purple blasts from his Blaster when in Burst Mode, his Blaster also is integrated to his arm.
    • In general, if something black needs to "glow", like magic circles, or as Beelzemon's "darkness blasts" above, it'll be purple.
  • Takasugi Shinsuke from Gintama, who is a Space Pirate and definitely not a Well-Intentioned Extremist, has a purple Kimono.
  • 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.
  • In the manga of Revolutionary Girl Utena, Anthy's hair is black, while it's purple in the TV series and movie.
  • 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 in general. 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.
  • 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.
  • Very common in anime, where dark purple/blue will be intended to be black. Official sources will also almost always list the hair color as being black. Popular examples includes Tomoya from CLANNAD.
  • In Ranma ˝, Shampoo's hair is shown on covers to be black, or at least very dark blue. In the anime, it is purple.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, the Shadow Realm is depicted with some swirls of midnight blue or black but mostly purple.

    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.
  • In Max Ride: First Flight, the Erasers appear to have blue fur most of the time, but in some panels their fur is either black or grey.
  • The Ultimate Marvel incarnation of Venom has purple highlights.

    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...
    • Also averted in this other painting, depicting the Light of Valinor. The purple light actually does a pretty damn good job at contrast with the darkness.
  • 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 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    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 
  • Bakugan of the Darkus element are colored black and purple.
  • 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.
    • Especially notable in the Theros block, where the Nyxborn Enchantment Creatures have a border that is a lighter shade of the normal color, flecked with stars. To make Black's, the entire card border is just outright 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.
  • 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?

    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 and the 2015 reboot, purple is a secondary color for the usually black Earth element characters.

    Video Games 
  • 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 Breath Of Fire 2, Nina's "cursed" black wings appear purple in her in-game sprite.
  • 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.
      • One story quest which involves fighting one of the aforementioned Spitewardens is literally called 'Purple is the new Black'.
    • 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.
  • 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, Raigh, Niime, Canas, Knoll, and Etzel - wear a shade of purple or have purple hair. And in a literal example of purple being the new black, tomes of dark magic (which, in all of the other games, had black covers) have purple covers in Fire Emblem Awakening.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The power of darkness in the Kingdom Hearts series is either represented as purple or red when it isn't just straight black.
  • Stern's Barrier Jacket in the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha As Portable is shown in official art to be black, but for her in-game model, it was given a dark purple hue.
  • 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.
  • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes includes 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, and is home to the dark purple Ing. Purple-colored doors require the Dark Beam to open them.
    • In earlier stages of the game, the unique damage received from exposure to Dark Aether's atmosphere takes the form of purple circles rising across the Diegetic Interface, evoking the look of the atmosphere "boiling" against Samus's armor.
  • The Shadow Sirens and Shadow Queen of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door appear a fairly dark purple.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • As the page quote points out, the Black Chronicle of Radiant Historia appears purple.
  • Shadow-based weaponry and attacks in Spiral Knights are typically purple.
  • In the GBA (and some DS) Super Robot Wars games, many units intended to be black (most notably Mazinger Z and its 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.
  • 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).
  • Bafflingly, Venom was colored purple in Ultimate Spider-Man.
  • Played straight in The Darkness II, with the Darkness itself. Its tentancles are dark purple while a few details glow violet. Interestingly, the trope is played straight in another way with the cover of the game as it shows the Darkness with a light and dark brown combination.
  • In 'Phantasy Star Online 2, Dark techniques always have at least a tinge of purple. Arguably justified since Dark techniques have a chance of poisoning the target and poison is also commonly associated with purple.

    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.
  • Shin Kuroi in Morenatsu is supposed to be a black cat, but his fur is always shown as purple.

    Webcomics 
  • In El Goonish Shive, Tedd's hair was depicted as purple initially for this reason. The author and the fans liked the color, however, and his hair became canonically purple. Other wacky colors followed.
  • Cucumber Quest's Nightmare Knight is black, but predominantly highlighted and shaded in violet tones. When he's referred to in conversation the Rainbow Speak is purple (normal text is black). His magic is also purple and starry, but in that case it is called its actual color rather than just dark or black.

    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).
  • RWBY: 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'.

    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."