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Red Filter of Doom
Can't blame him for leaving. That situation doesn't look healthy.

The red filter, where everything shifts to a basically white-red-black spectrum, is often used to facilitate a change in mood. That change in mood takes plenty of forms - fist-pumping action by the light of a smoldering car, perhaps, or passionate romance by the light of young blood.

Then, there's the Red Filter of Doom.

Oddly enough, the best-case scenario with this is that the source of the red light is immediately apparent - say, the moon has turned blood-red, or there's a glowing doomsday device in the center of the room, or something nearby is on fire. If the only indication that it's a Red Filter of Doom is that it's not particularly romantic, there's just a general air of ominousness, or the fist-pumping action scene that was in regular saturation a few seconds ago has suddenly slowed and turned the color of blood, we can only issue a general warning to brace yourself.

See also Photoshop Filter of Evil, Red Eyes, Take Warning, and Red Alert.


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  • Death Note has a big 'un. (Note to AMV makers in the fandom: using the scene basically uncut does not replicate the power of the original.) Actually, there are rather low-key Red Filters Of Doom throughout in the form of views through the Shinigami Eyes, which carry the implication of mortality and vulnerability.
  • More than once, when Sailor Moon's Tuxedo Mask sustains a horrible injury. Other characters sometimes get these as well, for example, in Sailor Stars the same effect is used when the four Guardian Senshi get their Star Seeds removed.
  • Done rather blatantly in the first episode of Claymore, when Raki literally walks into a room with it's own self-contained red filter to find a yoma eating his family. There's a few other red filters in the episode as well whenever yoma are involved.


  • Happens when Wash is killed by the Reavers in the Serenity movie. Definitely contributes to the inexplicable-is-worse axiom.
  • In the first Lord of the Rings film, the filter is red owing to a fiery demon, the Balrog.
  • Happened a lot in the old Shaw Brothers kung fu movies when a major character died a bloody and often painful death.
  • The red filter is used in Sha Po Lang when Wu Jing's character Jack kills the witness and kicks off the plot.
  • Used in the bizarre mausoleum scenes in The Wizard of Gore when Montag is carrying the dead bodies of the girls and putting them into that narrow passageway.
  • Rocketship XM. Scenes on the Red Planet were given a red tint — it turns out the Martian civilisation has been destroyed by nuclear war.

     Film - Animated  

  • This trope is pretty common in animated film, below are just a few noteworthy examples.
  • Twice in The Thief and the Cobbler.
    • First is the introduction of the One-eyes: After the camera pans up to view the three golden balls that protect the city, the screen suddenly turns red, menacing music starts playing and the camera travels past vast areas of land to reveal the One-eyes in the middle of thousands of human corpses.
    • The second time is when the enourmus war machine is collapsing, Justified by the fire.
  • The Pagemaster has a particularly gratuitous one during the Captain Ahab sequence.
  • Raplph Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings starts with this.
  • Happens at the end of The Brave Little Toaster.

     Live Action TV  

  • When Brother Justin kills Scudder in Carnivāle.
  • The hypothetical flashbacks (necessarily gruesome) in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
  • Played with in Band of Brothers, especially the episode Crossroads, wherein the color was washed out to the point that everything except red was nearly in black and white.
  • In Babylon 5, in Morden's more adversarial encounters with characters, the surrounding lights and ambience would darken and redden in his presence. This is seen when he encounters Londo when their relations are strained in "Interludes and Examinations", and when he encounters Kosh in "Signs and Portents". The Expanded Universe Passing of the Techno-Mages novels described Morden's encounters with Galen thusly as well.
  • In the Supernatural episode "What Is And What Should Never Be" (S02, Ep20), the bodies in the Wishverse warehouse are hanging in from of back-lit red screens, giving these scenes an ominous and unreal air.



  • Throughout the Doom series, when you pick up the Berserker Pack, your screen will turn red. So what? So now you are raised back to standard health and your fists become more powerful than a shotgun for the rest of the current level.
    • In Doom 3, the Berserker Pack not only has the red filter and maxes out your standard health, but also has your character screaming in rage for the short time that the Berserk effect is active, and your fists and your chainsaw do horrendous damage to anything within your reach.
  • This happens when you die in The Legend of Zelda.
  • And also in the first Diablo.
  • This is applied whenever you go berserk (which can happen for a number of reasons) in Dungeon Crawl.
  • Final Fantasy VI, to cap off the incredible turn for the worse in Thamasa. (The even-more-doom-laden scene after the next dungeon skips out, though.)
    • Final Fantasy IV also uses it during an attack on a small village—somewhat appropriately, since the place is set on fire.
  • This happens when you're near death in many first person shooters, eg Call of Duty.
  • In the Syphon Filter series, the interface flashes red when you're in imminent danger, eg an enemy targeting your head.
  • In Wet, in certain segments when Rubi enters Rage mode, the screen is cast entirely in shades of red, with enemies, items and background elements in black and white.
  • Happens in The King of Fighters '97 when facing Blood Riot Iori or Blood Riot Leona
  • Neku's flashback in The World Ends with You.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines the player character's vision is tinted red when he or she enters Frenzy.
  • In combat racer blur, the screen turns red when you're about to die. This of course does a smashing job at obscuring the colours of the power-ups, including the one that repairs you, forcing you to look for the tiny wrench icon on several different squares approaching at 300 kph.
  • In Dragon Quest, the screen is tinted red when thy HP is low.
  • Silent Hill 3 has a sequence in the amusement park where you have to run through a twisty hallway while a deadly buzzing red light is advancing up the corridor behind you.
  • Happens in some air-combat simulators when the player's pilot is "wounded." IE, the Il-2 Sturmovik series. In some games with this, the worse the player is hit the redder the screen is tinted.
    • F/A-18 Hornet has this if you pull excessive negative G-forces.
    • Many realistic flight sims, like Falcon 3.0 or Il 2 Sturmovik, would give you a red filter for negative G's (due to the blood in your body being forced up into your head), the filter becoming more intense the more negative G's you pulled. For positive G's, the screen would darken instead, to show that the pilot was beginning to black out for the opposite reason. Neither condition being terribly good for the pilot. Both instances are Truth in Television, "black-out" and "red-out" being serious problems for combat pilots.
  • In Iron Tank, the screen strobes red when your tank is destroyed.
  • Fallout 3 shows this when you become addicted to a drug.
  • Resident Evil 5 momentarily displays a negative color filter when a partner goes into "Dying" status.
  • EarthBound: The borders on dialogue boxes and the like turn red if one or more of your party members have been KOed.
  • In Katawa Shoujo, a red-and-black filter that throbs on and off is used to signify Hisao's arrythmia acting up.
  • Police Quest: Open Season turns the screen red whenever you blunder into a Game Over.

     Web Original  

     Western Animation  

  • In the first-season finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender, the nice pale blue light of the moon turns all red when the moon spirit is in mortal danger. Then things go wrong, and while the red looked unhealthy, the black and white just looks dead.
  • Parodied by Kim Possible in a scene where Professor Dementor tries to make himself look ominous by illuminating his face from below with a red flashlight.

     Real Life  

  • A soldier who fought for the Union at the Battle of Antietam during the American Civil War reported that "the whole landscape for an instant turned slightly red" as he charged the enemy lines.

Red Eyes, Take WarningPaint the Index RedRedheaded Bully
Reaction ShotCamera TricksRepeat Cut
Railroad Tracks of DoomDoomy Dooms of DoomRolling Pin of Doom
The Thief and the CobblerImageSource/Animated FilmsStrolling Through the Chaos

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