[[quoteright:250:[[LightNovel/HaruhiSuzumiya http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/cit_suzumiya_haruhi_-_image_song_cover_1.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:250:[-Heil Haruhi!-] ]]

In Japanese society, a method for identifying the leader of a group -- be it the leader of an ''Ouendan'' or a club or group president -- is to look for the red armband on the upper arm. The armband has the name of the group printed on it.

For westerners, associations might come out wrong. [[ThoseWackyNazis Very]] [[PuttingOnTheReich wrong]]. Except for Russians, who used similar armbands quite innocently during the Soviet period. Plain black armbands have a much different connotation - they indicate that the wearer is either mourning a lost comrade, or that they're [[BombThrowingAnarchists an anarchist]].


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Haruhi Suzumiya (pictured), leader of the "S.O.S" Brigade in the anime ''[[LightNovel/HaruhiSuzumiya The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya]]''. She wears several of these, declaring her as Chief, Ultra Detective, or whatever her current role is. She also makes an orange one for her deputy chief...Koizumi. [[CosmicPlaything You didn't seriously think she'd actually give Kyon a promotion, did you?]]
* Mikan wears a red armband to take the stage to run the student council meeting in the first episode of ''Manga/ManabiStraight''.
* Spoofed in ''Anime/JubeiChan 2'', when the former [[TheRival rival]] now comic relief Shiro Ryujoji has a red armband that states he's ''not'' the leader; he recently got into High School so isn't in charge anymore. He assures everyone including the audience that the armband will be real next year, really.
* Mendo in ''Manga/UruseiYatsura'' leads the "Shadow Scholastic Life Leaders", a group of teachers' pets that use red armbands when trying to apprehend students trying to sneak out to buy lunch during school.
* The creepy old teacher in ''Anime/PaniPoniDash'' always wears one. What it says changes every time it's seen.
* Seen on the leader of the Tokyo University ''Oendan'' Naru joins briefly in ''Manga/LoveHina''.
* Hibari and the rest of the Disciplinary Committee on ''Manga/KatekyoHitmanReborn'' wear them.
* ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann'''s Simon wears a red armband which used to be part of Kamina's cloak. [[spoiler:He didn't become a leader until rebooting from his Heroic BSOD, but after that point, it was incredibly appropriate.]]
** Simon just grabs a stray piece of cloth and ties it to his arm on a whim early in the series, long before he's the leader of anything. Only later does the band become a symbol of his office, as well as an item of great personal significance.
* During the [[FestivalEpisode summer festival]], ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'''s Evangeline wears an armband as "Honorary Advisor" to the [[TrueCompanions Ala Alba]].
* Tetsu Ushio in the ''Manga/YuGiOh'' manga and [[Anime/YuGiOhFirstAnimeSeries Toei anime]], as leader of the Morals Group, sports one of these.
* Medaka Kurokami, at the start of ''Manga/MedakaBox'', wears one as the Student Council president. She also wears ''all the other armbands'' (none of which are red) because at the beginning she's the only member of the Student Council. Later she starts giving out the rest as she recruits new members.
* They're actually white, not red, but the lieutenants of the Gotei Thirteen in ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'' all wear armbands emblazoned with the emblem of whichever squad they're part of.
* Kitagawa from ''Manga/{{Genshiken}}'' is seen with one of these during the anime fest.
* Haruka Suzushiro of ''Anime/MaiHime'' wears one as head of the Executive Committee. [[spoiler:As she is dying from Yukino's Child being destroyed, her last act is to throw it to Yukino]].
* Els Tasmin of ''Manga/MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaVivid'' wears one as part of her school uniform since she's the [[StudentCouncilPresident head student representative]] of her school.
* {{Downplayed|trope}} in ''Manga/SeitokaiYakuindomo''. While the StudentCouncilPresident wears it, so does the rest of the Student Council, and even members of the Disciplinary Committee wear it. In the Ousai Academy High School, it's just a mark of "law enforcement," rather than leadership.
* Genma in ''Anime/FutureCardBuddyfight'' is the leader of the Seifukai, a minor gang that [[NeighbourhoodFriendlyGangsters that don't really act like a gang.]] Because of that, his Core Gadget looks like one of these, even though it does mean he has to hold his arms above his head whenever he draws a card.

* In ''ComicBook/TheSmurfs'' story "The Order Of The Smurfs", Hefty and Brainy wear blue armbands as police officers.

[[folder: Fan Works ]]
* Not an armband, but in ''FanFic/JustALittleBitOfPixieDust'', a prequel fanfic to Disney's ''Disney/PeterPan'' movies, Cassidy wears a red feather on her hair, which symbolizes her position as the leader of the Lost Boys [[spoiler:until she dies in chapter 4]] and the feather is eventually passed on to Peter. Yes, the feather Peter wears on his cap is important.

[[folder: Film ]]
* For ''[[Film/TheKarateKid The Next Karate Kid]]'' they needed to make the opposing karate student character that each film got fit into a high school JerkJock mold. Since there is possibly no high school in the Western hemisphere where the top karate student ends up at the top of the pecking order they made up some weird paramilitary hall monitor disciplinary team who gained automatic power over all other students by running around wearing scary black armbands.

[[folder: Music ]]
* Music/MichaelJackson (yeah, really) went through that period of having pseudo-militaristic costumes with double breasted jackets and the ilk. Some elements he would carry through everything he wore including an armband of leadership. You can see this especially in ''Film/{{Moonwalker}}'' where he'll be in '30s gangster pimp clothes and preppy jumpers but still have that armband. Cause he's the King of Pop?

[[folder: Video Games ]]
* The lead character in the game ''VideoGame/OsuTatakaeOuendan'' (depending on the difficulty level) will wear an armband, with the name of the group on it.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Persona 3}}'' (at least the US version), ''everyone'' in SEES wears one when participating in [[WakeUpGoToSchoolSaveTheWorld "club activities."]] Meanwhile, Disciplinary Committee head Hideotoshi wears a yellow armband, most likely to differentiate it from the red SEES armbands.
* The teacher penguin in ''VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy'' wears one.
* In ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorney 3'', Larry wears one of these while working as a security guard. In the localized versions, it's removed.
* One of the best accessories in ''VideoGame/{{Persona 4}}'' is a "Paper Armband".
* ''VideoGame/{{Persona 5}}'' has Masayoshi Shido sporting this in his [[https://i.ytimg.com/vi/pVR8JrRwZJ4/hq720.jpg shadow form]].
* Kiyotaka Ishimaru from ''VisualNovel/DanganRonpa'' wears a red armband with the words "public morals" on it to signify his status as a hall monitor[[note]]Or more specifically, a Public Morals Committee member.[[/note]].
* Although not a separate piece of clothing, Commander Shepard in the ''Franchise/MassEffect'' series is always shown in official art with a distinctive red stripe on his/her armor (and it will show up in-game if you wear any of the default N7 armors). This is a direct reference to a similar adornment given to RealLife NASA mission commanders (see below).
* ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'': In the beta, several of the classes wore their class symbols on such armbands. Presumably Valve realized this would result in UnfortunateImplications, especially for the Medic, who is German and probably old enough to have served in UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, so eventually, they went with shirts/jackets that have the class symbol on the sleeve instead.
* Guild members in ''VideoGame/RakenzarnTales'' wear armbands to identify themselves to the Knights.
* In ''VideoGame/YandereSimulator'', all of the club leaders wear these.
* In ''VideoGame/DMCDevilMayCry'', Vergil wears a blue Brassard/armband/armlet. with ornate scrollwork.

[[folder: Western Animation ]]
* The team leaders in the ''[[WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic MLP:FIM]]'' Winter Wrap-up episode each wear a color-coded armband.
* When they thought Superman had been killed, the members of the WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague took to wearing black armbands with their uniforms.

[[folder: Real Life ]]
* UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler and the Nazis, which is why this got the GodwinsLaw treatment. The armband was usually made in the same style as the Nazi flag, with the white circle and black swastika adorning it.
* {{Life Imitates Art}}: At [[http://www.animepunch.org Anime Punch]], an Ohio anime convention, all members of convention staff wear red armbands. (Mostly to make them easily spotted by attendees.)
* From Apollo 13 onwards, UsefulNotes/{{NASA}} gave the mission commander's spacesuit red bands on the arms to make it easier to distinguish the two moonwalkers in photographs.
* In association football, the captains for each team wear armbands to distinguish themselves to the referees. Red is not an uncommon color.
** Same goes for the captains of field hockey teams, although they tend to be worn on their ankle rather than their arm.
* In ice hockey, linesmen and referees wear the same jerseys, with the only difference being the armbands worn by referees. While the NHL prefers orange, some hockey leagues use red.
* At [[SemperFi MCRD]] San Diego, Platoon Guides from 1st Battalion wear a red armband with their platoon number in gold.
** This is prevalent in the Marine Corps. It helps that Red is one of the official colors.
* In the United States Army and Air Force, military policemen sometimes (depending on where they are stationed) wear black armbands identifying them as law enforcement (in both English and the local language). Certain other personnel fulfilling special roles ([[TheInquisitorGeneral Inspectors]] during training exercises, for example) will have similar methods of identification.
* In USSR, red armbands were most often used to identify ''druzhinniks'' (lit. men-at-arms), volunteers who assisted the police.