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Red Is Heroic
A crossover made with this trope.

"Besides, everyone knows that red robots are always the good guys."'

Red shows up a lot when it comes to the heroes of a story, usually the color of their clothing. This could be limited to the main protagonist, or be as wide as an entire Badass Army. Some Chromatic Arrangement trios have the leader wear red.

The reason is that red is the color of fire and blood, hence the color of action. Thus it conveys that the heroes are people of action as well (regardless of exactly how the heroism is presented in the show). Red is, along with blue and white, one of the three colours of the star-spangled banner, so any US superhero that feels like Wearing A Flag On His Head will likely use a combination of these colors.

In Japan this was traditional in old Kabuki plays and the like. It's made to represent the hero bathed in the blood of his enemies. It is much less common in America due to the association with red as the color of the country's enemies (redcoat British in the Revolutionary War, Red Scares and the Cold War in the 20th century), but gets a pass if it's paired with white and/or blue.

Keep in mind that since not all heroes wear red (for example, Blue is also very common), and other characters don't avoid that color, there isn't much point in listing aversions to this.

A Sub-Trope of Good Colors, Evil Colors.

A Super Trope to Red-Headed Hero, Primary-Color Champion.

A Sister Trope to Fire Is Red and Blue Is Heroic.

Compare Heroes Want Redheads, Bring My Red Jacket, Heroes Prefer Swords, Color-Coded Characters, Purple Is Powerful, Law of Chromatic Superiority, Satan Is Good.

Contrast Red and Black and Evil All Over, Red Eyes, Take Warning, Big Red Devil, Red Shirt, Char Clone, Evil Wears Black.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Asuna from Sword Art Online starts out with a red vest and some of her later outfits have some red but as an Undine she ditches the red for blue.
    • Heathcliff is mostly dressed in Red Armor while his Knights of Blood has only minor amount of red in their clothing. However its subverted with Heathcliff who turns out to be Akihiko Kayaba the Big Bad and Kuradeel who turns out to be a member of Laughing Coffin.
  • Kaneda from AKIRA is an example with his iconic all red biker outfit and souped up red power bike.
  • Bleach protagonist Ichigo Kurosaki both plays this trope straight and subverts it, his coat in bankai form is red on the inside and gives his spirit energy a red tint to it and his hollow mask has red markings on it and his hollow uses a red cero.
  • Red of Pokémon Special
  • In Detective Conan it is discussed when they act the "Peach boy" legend. Conan is told he can't be the hero because he wants to wear blue, his color code, but the kids say the hero wears red.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Edward Elric is often seen wearing a red coat. It's even commented that Edward must be a hero because he wears red. He responds that he's no hero - he just thinks that the color looks badass.
  • It is discussed in Love Hina about Journey to the West.
  • In the Mazinger series, all heroes of the trilogy -Kouji Kabuto, Tetsuya Tsurugi and Duke Fleed- wear red outfits. Also, Mazinger and Great Mazinger's iconic chesplates are red.
  • Keith/Akira of Voltron/Go Lion wears red.
  • Panzer World Galient: The titular mecha is nearly completely red. The Hero Jordy also wears black and red armor and bodysuit.
  • In the Robot Romance Trilogy, Hyoma Aoi and Ippei Mine from Combattler V and Voltes V also wear red. Likewise, Daimos titular robot is red and white.
  • Saint Seiya: The Hero Seiya wears a red shirt. Also, when he wears his armor, the clothes under it are red.
  • In Red Photon Zillion, J.J.'s uniform includes a red shirt that he always wears. Reinforced trope, because the word is in the freaking title.
  • Most Digimon protagonist Mons are red (or orange, which is close enough to establish a pattern): Agumon (both Adventure and Savers versions), Guilmon, Agnimon, Shoutmon, and the bulk of their evolutions. The exceptions are Veemon (blue) and Gumdramon (purple), both justified since they each share a continuity and screentime with one of the above red/orange characters and have to set themselves apart.
    • When Takato is designing Guilmon in the dub of Digimon Tamers, he comments that red is "definitely a power color."
  • Gurren Lagann, it's even in the title ("Gurren" comes from guren, an intense shade of red, which The Other Wiki - in Japanese - likens to "infernal flames").
  • In the parody anime Shinesman, where the heroes are all businessmen by day, the protagonist is asked what color he'd be as a hero and, remembering his brother's words that heroes wear red, he answers "red" and gets hired and promoted to team leader. Based on that.
  • In both the Yu-Gi-Oh! GX anime and manga, Judai likes the color red, even though Osiris Red is the lowest ranking dormitory. In the manga, it's also the color his idol Koyo Hibiki favors. He ultimately shows up for his duel with Koyo in the Distant Finale wearing his school uniform.
  • Getter Robo series spots Getter 1/Dragon/Shin Getter-1 (leader's unit) with red as the main color.
    • Oddly, the Getter Robo Go/Neo Getter-1 is blue with red markings. Its Getter Robo Shou/Neo Getter-2 that's red. Still heroic, though.
  • Vash the Stampede (or Stampeed, depending on your source) from Trigun wears a large red coat and is the most heroic of all the characters.
  • The title hero of Anpanman wears a red superhero uniform. One of his allies, Shokupanman, has red as his accent color for his uniform. This is taken to the extreme in the movie Ruby's Wish, where Ruby, the red Aurora Girl automatically believes Anpanman is the best superhero ever just because he wears red, even before seeing his heroic deeds.
  • It's still in the red spectrum, but the Pretty Cure leaders all wear pink (or in the case of Cure Black and Cure Bloom, have pink highlights). Yes! Pretty Cure 5 (Cure Rouge), Fresh Pretty Cure! (Cure Passion), Smile Pretty Cure! (Cure Sunny) and Doki Doki Pretty Cure (Cure Ace) do have a member who sports red (though, in the case of Smile, it's arguable as Cure Sunny is orange and red.)
  • Maka, the heroine of Soul Eater, wears a red skirt as a part of her primary outfit and also wields a red scythe.
  • Kagerou Project: Invoked and discussed by Ayano, to convince her adoptive siblings Kido, Seto and Kano that their red eyes aren't monstrous, but marks of heroism. It's also the reason why she wears her iconic red scarf. It's no coincidence that Shintaro also wears red at least, in the timelines where he manages to move on with his life.
  • Kiki's Delivery Service: Kiki wears a huge red bow on her head.

    Comic Books 

    Film 
  • Star Wars' Rebel Alliance, with their famous "red bird" emblem. On that note, their elite team of Ace Pilots is code-named "Red Squadron" (although later renamed "Rogue Squadron").
  • In Kagemusha Shingen Takeda's fiery lieutenant Yamagata Masakage aka "Fire" and the contingent under his command are dressed in bright vermillion red.
  • In The Hobbit, Bilbo wears a red jacket throughout the film. Also Balin, one of the most outwardly virtuous and heroic of the dwarves, wears red robes.
  • The eponymous Sophie Scholl.
  • In Warm Bodies, R wears a distinctive red hoodie that makes him visually stand out from the greyish zombies around him.

    Literature 
  • In Harry Potter, red is one of the colors of Gryffindor house.
    • The red-feathered Phoenix is also commonly used in the books as a symbol of nobility and heroism (hence Fawkes the Phoenix with his healing tears, and the Order of the Phoenix).
  • In the Deryni works, the kings of the House of Haldane wear red (as do their liveried servants, pages, and squires), and the coat of arms features a golden lion on a red field.
  • Laeshana in The Quest of the Unaligned wears a red robe through most of the book, and she is one of the three primary heroes.
  • Shallan Davar of The Stormlight Archive has bright red hair and is a Lightweaver, the Radiant order associated with garnets. In addition, when she summons Pattern in his Blade form in Words Of Radiance, it glows with red Tron Lines.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Super Sentai series, and thus Power Rangers, have long put The Hero in the Red Ranger suits, to the point of being a potential Trope Codifier. At the end of Super Sentai's 25th anniversary movie, the previous Reds showed up out of nowhere to donate their power to the current team's mecha. The 10th Power Rangers anniversary was celebrated with all nine Red Rangers to datenote  teaming up, plus a red-colored Sixth Ranger to round things out (pictured above).
  • Kamen Rider has swung this way in recent years. Not every leading Rider is red in their default form, but the higher-ups believe this trope so strongly that when (for example) the production staff didn't want Kamen Rider Double to be red, they had to fight for it. Riders that are primarily red include Kuuga, Ryuki, Kabuto, Den-O, Kiva, Decadenote , Wizard, and Drive.
  • Most Ultra Warriors, starting with the original, tends to use a red and silver color scheme.
  • In Merlin, the knights of Camelot look quite dashing their red capes. Ironically, in the earlier seasons before the Round Table was established, this also marked them out as Red Shirts.
    • King Arthur is always seen wearing the colour red, whether it's a shirt or his Pendragon cape.
    • Merlin often wears red combined with blue.
  • The eponymous hero in BIMA Satria Garuda has a color scheme dominated by red.
  • Roy Harper in Arrow, both before and after becoming Arsenal.

    Pinball 
  • In Stern Pinball's Transformers, the Autobots are represented by "Autobot crimson" on the indicator lights and the playfield, even extending to the cabinet in some of the Limited Edition tables.

    Theatre 
  • The Red Shadow from The Desert Song.
  • The song "Red and Black" from Les Misérables. Red symbolizes the blood of martyrs, the dawning of a new age, and passionate love, while black is the darkness and night of the status quo, and the despair of loneliness. Similarly, the red vest of student leader Enjolras symbolizes his heroic character.

    Toys 
  • In almost every heroic BIONICLE team, the red character, always associated with fire, is the hero and leader. Villain teams, on the other hand, mix it up a bit.
    • The same goes for William Furno of Bionicle's successor, Hero Factory.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Warhammer 40,000, the Blood Angels are one of the noblest (for this setting) of the Space Marine Chapters, a group of optimists who genuinely fight for the people of the Imperium. Unfortunately, thanks to a flaw in their gene-seed, they might devolve into berserkers during combat and end up killing the people they're trying to protect.

    Video Games 
  • In many games with a multiplayer feature, especially arcade games, player 1 will be colored red. In games featuring this where the player, in a single-player game, cannot switch to the other player slots, the player character becomes this trope.
  • Apollo Justice of Ace Attorney, with "a passionate heart burning RED!" Oh, and it's also his favourite colour.
  • Dante from Devil May Cry wears a long, red trench coat.
    • During development Dante was becoming too much antiheroic for Japan's taste. To make him more heroic they gave him a red coat.
  • Any Nippon Ichi main character will have some sort of red on them whether it's the color of their hair or an article of clothing.
    • The main protagonists of the Disgaea games wears some form of red Scarf of Asskicking.
    • Amongst the main characters, Plume easily takes the cake. Her entire character design is made up of various tints of red whether it be her hair, her dress, or even her sword.
  • Mario of the Super Mario Bros. series has worn red in some form since Donkey Kong, usually a red shirt and cap.
  • The main character's army in most Nintendo Wars games.
  • Lloyd Irving of Tales of Symphonia wears a red jacket.
  • Luke in Tales of the Abyss is a Red-Headed Hero, but he gets into this when the party wears their Super Sentai parodying Abyssman costumes and he gets the red ranger costume.
    — Luke:"Agent of Justice-Abyss Red!"
  • Commander Shepard's iconic N7 armor has a red stripe running down the right arm.
    • Wrex, the most heroic Krogan we meet, wears red armor.
  • The canon protagonistnote  of Pokémon Red and Blue is called "Red" and dresses accordingly (the player had the option of other names or entering their own). Similarly his rival is (again, canonically, since the player could choose their name as well) called "Blue" or "Green".
  • Red Okonogi, the superhero Player Character from the first SaGa Frontier RPG.
    • The same game also has a PC sorcerer named Blue whose twin brother is named Rouge (French for Red)- and he's actually nicer than Blue!
  • Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance has Juste Belmont, who wears a red coat.
  • The fighter class, which was probably intended for a main character role. Also fits Red-Headed Hero in the NES incarnation, but is more this trope as later incarnations give him brown hair.
  • Luso Clemens from Final Fantasy Tactics A2 was specifically designed with this in mind, according to Word of God.
  • Mega Man X's Zero might have been designed with this in mind, as he was intended to be the protagonist. They decided to go with an expy of the original Mega Man however, and Zero ended up being an intentional Ensemble Darkhorse Heel-Face Revolving Door. He fits this trope in Mega Man Zero, however, and as Model Z/Giro in Mega Man ZX. X himself has a red forehead light, unlike the original.
    • Proto Man, in both his incarnations, subverts this as he's only colored red as a foil to Mega Man's blue.
  • Viewtiful Joe, as a reference to the trope's prevalence in Tokusatsu.
  • In Donkey Kong games, Diddy Kong wears a red shirt and a red Nintendo hat. Donkey Kong himself might qualify as he has a red tie.
  • Final Fight: Guy wears bright red.
  • Dart in The Legend of Dragoon. This overlaps with his element.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: While Sonic is primarily blue, his red shoes are one of his most iconic items. Knuckles subverts this though, as like Protoman, he's a foil to Sonic.
  • Mortal Kombat: Starting with the second game, Liu Kang has always worn a red headband, and his pants have red trim.
    • Best example in line with the trope is in Mortal Kombat 4, where Liu Kang also wears a red tanktop.
  • Similar to the previous example, Ryu from Street Fighter wears a red headband as one of his iconic items. Also when he was younger, he wore red gloves and had reddish hair (not to mention the red kung fu shoes he wore in the first game). Even though Ken wears a red gi, it's Ryu who is The Hero, while Ken is The Lancer.
  • Stocke of Radiant Historia.
  • Eddie of Nostalgia wears a long red coat.
  • In Assassin's Creed, the protagonist generally wears white with red trim. In Assassin's Creed III however, the red is swapped out with blue, probably due to the British Redcoats being one of the primary enemies in the game.
  • On the covers of Cthulhu Saves the World, Cthulhu wears a red kilt.
  • Although "heroic" isn't that accurate a description, this trope is likely why for Team Fortress 2 the "Meet the Team" video, cover art (both standalone and as part of the Orange Box), and numerous promotional art all feature the RED team much more heavily than the BLU team.
  • RefleX has the player ship, the Phoenix, which is red. Subverted when it becomes the ZODIAC Ophiuchus and its collateral destruction of the planet turns it into a Nominal Hero.
  • Touhou has Reimu Hakurei, the central protagonist of the series, who wears a red uniform and head accessories. This is downplayed in the PC-98 games, where only her skirt and bow are prominently red; her top is white instead.
  • Ironically, TRON in the Intellivision version of TRON Deadly Discs, since it was in development before the movie was released.

    Visual Novels 

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • Blossom of The Powerpuff Girls wears pink, but is this trope more than Pink Means Feminine. More in line with the trope is the large red bow she wears on her head.
  • In early promo images for Avengers Assemble, the only character without any red on their person was the Hulk. Possibly in order to mix up the color palette a little, the artists changed Hawkeye's chest emblem to purple in post-production.
  • Zahara of Spider Stories was designed with this trope in mind, foregoing being a full Primary-Color Champion
  • In Transformers, Optimus Prime is red and blue. Rodimus Prime is red and yellow. And Autobots in general tend to have more red than the Decepticons do.
    • In an episode of Transformers Armada, a boy comments that the red robots are always heroes.
    • The Autobot logo in all continuities is almost always red and the Decepticon logo is almost always purple. Notably, in Transformers: Shattered Glass where the Autobots are evil and the Decepticons are good, they keep the logos but switch colors so the good guys are still red and the bad guys are still purple.
  • In The Fairly OddParents, Timmy Turner's favorite superhero is "The Crimson Chin".
  • The protagonists of Xiaolin Showdown sport red robes.
  • T.J., the leader of the main six on Recess, is almost never seen without his red baseball hat. Also, Spinelli always wears a red oversized shirt/dress, red bands to keep her pigtails up, and part of her tights have red stripes.

    Real Life 
  • The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
  • The French Resistance, with their red Cross of Lorraine emblem.
  • The Knights Templar also used a flared red cross as their official symbol. Though their portrayal in fiction varies depending on interpretations, the group's stated purpose was at any rate heroic from their own perspective.
  • A common visual cue in military traditions (not limited to the obvious Worker and Peasant's Red Army, the original name of the Soviet military) where solid colors aren't always used. The German and Japanese Imperial armies, the post-revolution Chinese, Vietnamese and North Korean armed forces, and a number of armies in Latin America, if they used a color-coding system in military dress, used the color red both politically and/or as a 'heroic' color. At a certain point, it's probably the norm rather than the exception in color-coded military forces.
    • The British Army also wore redcoats for a time (and in the case of the Royal Guards, still do).
    • It's been said that using red helped to make the Communists more popular during the Russian Civil War, since red was traditionally considered a "good" color in Russian culture (a common saying even went with "The redder, the better"). Plain Red was also the traditional color of the Grand Duchy of Moscow, as opposed to the blue-white-red and yellow-black-white flags used by the imperial family.
  • Samurai warriors in the army of warlord Ii Naotaka were required to wear a uniform of all-red armour and under-kimonos. This introduced the concept of uniform to Japanese warfare. Naotaka's men were known as "the Red Devils" for their appearance and fighting skill.

Redhead in GreenCharacteristic Clothing ColorsTrue Blue Femininity
Redheads Are UncoolPaint the Index RedRed Link
Primary-Color ChampionGood Guys GarbSensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains
Red Eyes, Take WarningSymbolismReptiles Are Abhorrent
Red-Headed HeroHeroesRetired Badass
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Power Rangers Wild ForceImageSource/Live-Action TVPower Rangers Dino Thunder

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