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Red Sky, Take Warning

Red sky, take warning. Bloodshed by morning.

Red skies at night, sailor's delight. Red skies at morning, sailor take warning.

Clouds are symbolic. Everyone knows that. White, fluffy ones mean happiness and light. Big looming grey ones mean doom, disaster and, more prosaically, bad weather. They're no less ominous in fiction, as evidenced by the tropes A Storm Is Coming and the Cliché Storm. But what if the sky is red?

Often the clouds being talked about here are themselves more, well... direct than their symbolic cousins. They're not just a sign or symptom of impending doom and disaster, they are the impending doom and disaster. Maybe they're really a mass of enemies so large that it just looks like a cloud, or maybe they're some ghostly beast of a supernatural nature. Maybe they burn. Or maybe they just hang there looking ominous and threatening to unleash something awful which never quite happens because the player/watcher either sees the story through to a Happy Ending or turns off the television. Or maybe it's nothing more than a visual representation of a story being dark and edgy. Whatever they are, you'd better believe it won't be good.

Evil clouds are not necessarily red, but this is still the general colour of choice: Red signifies a hazard in the West, so showing clouds in a crimson hue automatically flags them as dangerous. When the clouds roll red, it's time to run.

There is some Truth in Television to this, namely in the latter half of the "Red skies at night, sailor's delight. Red skies at morning, sailor take warning" adage. This is due to two things: 1. storms usually move from west to east, and 2. the sun sets in the west and rises in the east. In other words, approaching clouds will be illuminated in red in the morning, usually a sign of rainy weather to come that day. Clouds going away will be illuminated red in the evening, a sign of dry weather.

Subtrope of Portent of Doom. See also Death from Above. Not to be confused with Red Eyes, Take Warning. Related to Red Skies Crossover (when the source of the red skies is someone else's problem.)


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime & Manga  

  • Night time in Hellsing seems to always feature prominently red skies.
  • The "Catastrophe" arc of the Gantz features a red sky that heralds the Alien Invasion.
  • In Rebuild of Evangelion, during 2.0 Shinji causes the start of the Third Impact. Guess what the color of the sky is.
  • Members of the Akatsuki criminal organization from Naruto can be identified from their black cloaks with a pattern of red clouds.
    • Also, the only colors in the Tsukuyomi illusion are black, white, and red. Especially ominous is the red moon when Itatchi tortures Kakashi.
  • In YuYu Hakusho, when the demon bugs start appearing in Mushioriy ("Swarm" in the dub and "Swarm City" in the manga), the sky turns red.
  • Red skies show up several times in Berserk, usually when Guts or the Hawks have to fight one of the many demons of the series, particularly during the Eclipse.
  • The sky turns briefly red when Asura is released in the Soul Eater anime, and later on when Arachne uses him to increase the spread of insanity throughout the world. Appropriately, the only 'blue sky' left at that is in the Death Room. Once Asura is defeated, the blue sky returns immediately.
  • Happens in the Sengoku Basara anime whenever we see Oda Nobunaga's hideout, complete with Dramatic Thunder.
  • Happens in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds when Aporia comes into existence.
  • In the first episode of Saint Seiya Omega, the sky turns red right before Mars appears to kidnap Saori.

     Comic Books  

  • In The DCU, they have red skies, which includes the clouds, whenever there is a major reality-threatening crisis. This was lampshaded in Joker: Last Laugh, when the Joker, during his vast campaign against all of humanity, complained that he didn't warrant having anti-matter waves and red skies.
    • In DC Universe #0, the prologue to Final Crisis, this was explained by "the Bleed" (the space between universes and "life-blood" of the Multiverse) seeping through into the material universes due to damage to the structure of the cosmos.
  • As said by the Mouse Guard:
    Red sky at night, Guard Mouse's Delight. Red sky in morning... Guard Mice take warning.
  • Hellblazer once put John Constantine in a twisted nightmare/facet of Hell sort of version of America, with a monotonous dull blood red sky. John is. . .less than thrilled.

     Fan Fiction  

  • The sky of the Halloween World is permanently and globally red, as well as being the source of much weirdness.

    Film 

    Literature 

  • In The Lord of the Rings, Mordor was blanketed by a perpetual red cloud cover, at least in the movies. The air was said to be poisonous there, so it's a similar idea.
    • In the original books, it's not clouds, but masses of smoke from Mount Doom. Sauron deliberately summoned it up to hide under it, covering his preparations for his attack on Gondor (but also making "spy" hobbits harder to detect, which actually worries him).
    • Also subverted in The Return of the King (book only) when, after the Ring is destroyed, Sauron rises as a vast anthropomorphic cloud of dark smoke from the Dark Tower and appears to threaten the armies of Gondor - only to be swept away, impotent, by the wind from the West. Happens again in a very similar manner to Saruman at the end.
  • In Faction Paradox's the Eleven-Day Empire the sky's always blood-red, like something's burning beyond the horizon, forever and ever...
  • The World of Rod described in Labyrinths of Echo has red sky over one of its continents, not the most dangerous or safe. Theories vary, up to "the sky here reflects sands of Red Desert under it". In the Heart of the World any changes of sky color upset people. In the era of clashing dozens of magical orders, the sky was painted constantly, and just from statistics of celestial hues it was clear which one's adepts are stronger. Even the Great Magister of the only surviving order and a great aestheticist dared not to play with this (after the threat of magic overuse was gone): people remembering the civil war are still around.
  • In Fear Nothing and Seize The Night by Dean Koontz, the world visited through the egg room in Fort Wyvern has a blood-red sky, fleshy black trees, and hellish puppeteer parasites.
  • In The Night's Dawn Trilogy, given enough possessors they will begin to use their reality dysfunction powers to create a red glowing cloud above their territory - which, given the speed with which they spread usually means a planet. This is a psychological urge for them, and a prelude to removing the planet from the normal space time continuum.
  • In Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse: Dune, the sky of the planet Tleilax (home of the Tleilaxu masters, Face Dancers, Axolotl tanks, and a multitude of other dangerous and/or morally questionable things) is described as being an intense carnelian (a deep, reddish-brown) color.
  • In the second Warrior Cats book, the morning that WindClan arrives home, their medicine cat, Barkface, announces that the clouds are stained with blood, and the day will bring an unneccessary death. This comes true when Fireheart and Graystripe head home - rather than taking the long way around RiverClan territory to get home like they're supposed to, they take a shortcut through it. A patrol spots them and starts a fight, and one of the RiverClan warriors dies when he falls into the gorge.
  • Raft, the first published book of the Xeelee Sequence, takes place in a micro-galaxy in another universe (everything but life forms is smaller due to the higher gravitational constant). The galaxy is dying and must be evacuated. Guess what the most visible sign of the situation is.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Easter Special "Planet of the Dead" involved the characters being stranded on a desert planet comprised entirely of the deconstructed bodies of an entire civilisation and encountering what, from a distance, looks like a gigantic sandstorm heading their way. This in itself would be bad enough, but as it turns out [[spoile: it's not a storm, it's a living swarm of billions upon billions of sting-ray like creatures that survive by completely deconstructing and using the energy of entire civilisations — as they have already done with this world.]]
    • "The Poison Sky" has the sky turning red with poison.
  • The end of the episode "Red Sky" in the 'V' 2000's remake when Anna finds out her soliders were blown up in her spaceship by Erica causing her to breakdown and scream.
  • The Fades features this in the final episode. After Paul reopens Ascension, the final shot of the series is a pan up to the sky, indicating that something very bad is about to happen.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Amok Time", Vulcan's sky is scarlet when Kirk, Spock, and McCoy arrive for Spock's wedding, almost as though it knows what will happen before our hapless heroes do.

    Music 

     Tabletop Games  

  • Avernus (top layer of Lawful Evil plane in Planescape-based Dungeons & Dragons cosmology) has it. Take war-torn wasteland, scrapyard, Fire and Brimstone Hell and mix unholy hybrid combining their worst traits — it will be Avernus. And it's the least horrible of the Nine Hells.
  • Gamma World adventure Alpha Factor. One possible weather condition is "acid rain" (with real acid). It falls from an unusual storm system with red-tinged clouds.

     Video Games  

  • The final battle in Dragon Age: Origins has this...though it might only be the burning city of Denerim.
  • The final sequence of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood has this, as Ezio travels through Spain to face his nemesis.
  • In the Ganondorf-dominated future of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Death Mountain is perpetually surrounded by a red ring of fire instead of clouds. It's a plot point that once the boss is defeated the fire goes away and is replaced by the standard nice fluffy clouds.
    • Hm hm. As opposed to Castle Market Town and Ganondorf's tower perpetually being covered in brimstoney clouds and dark backgrounds. It's probably from the lava pit just around the corner though.
    • In Majora's Mask, the horizon takes on a red hue on the night of the final day.
  • In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion the skies of the Plane of Oblivion (a close approximate to Hell) are red (not only clouds, but also stars and nebulae). On the usual Plane, if the sky starts to turn red, you're nearing a Gate to Oblivion (expect some demons... er... Daedra to be around).
    • Also, in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, the sky inside the Ghostgate is red. The only color you can see once you approach the Dagoth Ur facility is red everywhere. After you complete the main quest, the sky becomes normal.
  • EarthBound: Giygas is not really a cloud per se, but he is red and vaporous.
  • The rolling distant red clouds in the point and click game Exmortis 2 which inspired this trope (found here). The player is racing against time to solve the puzzle and get out before the clouds get to him, these clouds actually being the Exmortis themselves and therefore being very dangerous.
    • Also, while the red clouds indicate the Exmortis are approaching, a red sky is present throughout the game as a sign of the Exmortis' domination of Earth.
  • In the original Star Fox/Starwing, the first level Corneria is different on each difficulty setting/route. On the third and hardest one, the normally blue sky background is replaced with an ominous red sky, presumably from the sunset (or sunrise, as the 'normal' boss has a "cameo" as a set of parts being carried around), and the level has seriously jacked up difficulty to boot.
  • When the orcs of Warcraft started worshipping demons and practicing warlock magic, they inadvertently turned the sky of their home world from blue to red. Good things did not result.
    • In the final Orc mission of Warcraft III, which pits Thrall's New Horde and human allies against Grom Hellscream's corrupted Warsong Clan, the red sky heralds the demons called to reinforce Grom - falling Infernals.
    Jaina: Thrall! The sky is burning!
    Thrall: This is no natural storm. Blessed ancestors... Everyone, brace yourselves!
  • Similarily in World of Warcraft Cataclysm expansion, Deathwing flies around at random scorching cities and assorted areas, incinerating anyone unlucky. His coming is noted by a dramatic change in the sky from "clean blue skies" to "red and on fire". Unfortunately this is actually a subversion because there's an achievement for dying to Deathwing's flames. A webcomic did take note on the absurdity of it all.
  • The Dark World of Eleven Eyes is signified by a red sky and a black moon that, besides its color, is immensely huge and hanging over the city.
  • In Stalker, a red sky means a blowout is in progress, and you'd best find some decent shelter if you want to avoid almost certain death. During the course of the blowout, it's guaranteed that for a second or two, all the light in the Zone will turn a vivid blood red.
  • In Command & Conquer: Renegade, Nod's superweapon (a beacon that calls a nuke) turns the sky red before it strikes.
  • This trope is the driving force behind Embodiment of Scarlet Devil: a red mist has covered Gensokyo and is strong enough to block out the sun.
    • Scarlet Weather Rhapsody has red clouds show up at the same time as a bunch of really bizarre weather... and earthquakes.
  • In Iji, the second time the Alpha Strike is shown charging up at the end of the game, the sky is ominously red. However, that's because the scene takes place at sunrise, not due to anything about the Alpha Strike, since the first time we see it used, the sky is blue.
  • When stuff starts to go really downhill in Drakengard (and it happens all the time), the skies take on a hellish red hue. The sky doesn't just change color...it shatters into thousands of pieces to reveal the red beneath the blue.
  • The final battle in Luigi's Mansion against King Boo (and Mecha Bowser) takes place among orange/red flame like clouds on the floating rooftop of the mansion.
  • The level Boogie Mansion in Wario Land Shake It has the background of ominous purple looking trees and clouds.
  • The After the End Crapsack World of Baroque has a blood-red sky.
  • The sky turns red on the 6th and Last Days of Devil Survivor due to the barriers between the Demon World and this world breaking down.
  • In the final chapter of the Tales of Monkey Island, the Caribbean sky is turned red, as part of LeChuck's latest bid to conquer the seven seas.
  • In Metroid Prime 2's Dark Aether, taking some energy from one of the dark areas turns the sky from purple to red.
  • In Secret of Mana the sky is red when the Fortress has risen.
  • The Director's Cut of Scratches replaces the sky's dark gray hue of the starting scene in the original version, with a dark red one.
  • The recent Call of Duty games from Call Of Duty 4 onward seem to adore blood-red skies. Whenever something horrible is going down, whether it's a nuclear bomb or a bloody street battle in Hue City, the skies are an ominous shade of red. Subverted sometimes when a terrifying moment or something plot-critical actually happens in clear blue skies.
  • The Wii version of a A Boy and His Blob: In the first boss level, the sky is is orange-red. The sky also turns red during the fight with a final boss and normal again when it is defeated.
  • The second half of Final Fantasy VI. However, it's more because of all the pollution that has reached the sky due to the cataclysm making it impossible to see anything but red (and it's more of a reddish-orange, though if pollution were to ever get that bad...).
  • In City of Heroes, the skies over most of Paragon City are rather glowy blue because of the War Walls - leftover Hand Waves for why you couldn't freely run from one zone to another except in designated spots. Slightly more varied in other areas, and in the Rogue Isles and Praetoria, the areas of the two expansions. But, when certain conditions are met (specifically a Halloween event that now pops up semi-randomly after a certain quest is completed any time of the year) zombies invade one of the zones. GUESS what color the sky becomes?
  • In Persona 3, the sky turns green and all water turns to blood during the Dark Hour.
  • A red sky in Half-Minute Hero means that you only have less than ten seconds left to finish your quest before the stage boss casts a spell to destroy the world.
  • Lampshaded in one level of Legitimate TD. The level preview says "That is never a very good thing is it. The whole 'red sky' thing." Then comes a nuke that takes up almost half the screen.
  • In Star Control II, the Ur-Quan slave shields have a red color. Guess how would look the sky from the surface of, for example, slave-shielded Earth -something mentioned by Starbase Commander Hayes-.
  • Doom, of course. The third episode (Inferno!), set in Hell itself, has a fittingly blood-red sky. (The fourth episode, Thy Flesh Consumed, has a mostly sunset-yellow sky tinged with red.)
    • Hell, Doom 64 takes it even further. Sometimes the sky is on fire.
  • The end of the beta for The Matrix Online saw the sky turn red with eyes, signifying that the Machines were watching closely as they prepared to reboot the Matrix.
  • Most of Super Tanooki Skin 2D is spent with a red sky. It turns blue once you get your skin back from Mario.
  • Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation uses this in its final stages, by the time mythological monsters have largely replaced human and animal opponents, and Set is about to reform.
    • Tomb Raider 2 uses an unnaturally-colored green sky in the Floating Islands.
  • Planet Snivelak from the 2nd Ratchet & Clank game.

     Web Original  

  • Broken Saints loves this one. The original rhyme for sailing is referenced by Gabriel in Chapter 15, Act 1, before a literal storm. And during the final two chapters, when the Evil Plan is about to unfold/unfolding, the sky is a scary, unnatural red for the metaphorical storm.

    Webcomics 

  • In Furmentation, when the demons attack.
  • The home world of the Cherubs in Homestuck is near a red supergiant, colouring the sky appropriately red. Dave also lived under a red sky before he entered the Medium.

     Western Animation  

     Real Life  

  • There are known to be places in the world where poisonous fumes and fogs hang in low gullies—many animals have died by wandering into these places and just not getting out again fast enough.
  • Smog can sometimes cause the sky to turn red.
  • The traditional saying "red skies at night, sailor's delight; red skies in morning, sailor take warning" (Alternatively, "shepherds delight", and with similar sayings in other languages.) According to The Other Wiki, (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weather_lore#Red_sky_at_night ), it's because weather systems usually move from west to east, and so red clouds at sunrise would mean the clouds and associated weather are headed towards you, while red clouds at sunset means they're already past. This phenomenon is even mentioned in The Bible.
  • The 2009 Australian dust storm, especially during the early hours of the morning in New South Wales and inland Queensland.
  • Less ominously, this also can happen on cloudy winter nights when there is snow on the ground (something about the way the light reflects).
  • Any planet that's orbiting a red giant. Guess what happens to our Sun in about 5 billion years!
    • Big, Badda Boom?
      • Close but no cigar. The Sun is somewhat of a runt and does not qualify for a Badda Boom. It's more like a slow agonizing burn. See more of it here.


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