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Cowardly Yellow

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A character turns yellow when frightened.

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
Kartoonkid95 on Jan 6th 2019 at 4:43:27 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

When calling out an act of cowardice, it's common to call the guy "yellow" or "yellow-bellied". To get the point across that someone is a Dirty Coward or a Nervous Wreck, he may have something yellow on him. Sometimes, particularly in cartoons, a character's whole body briefly turns yellow when he gets a real fright.

A subtrope of Color Motif. Related to Metaphoric Metamorphosis and Visual Pun.


Film -- Live-Action

  • Popeye: At the end, a humiliated Bluto's clothes turn yellow as he swims away from Swee'haven.

Western Animation

Feedback: 11 replies

Jan 6th 2019 at 5:33:05 PM

I'd like to hat this, but I'd prefer to see a little more meat on the description first. Not sure what to suggest to expand it though. I'll watch this and see where it goes.

Jan 6th 2019 at 5:38:08 PM

The "Dastardly and Muttley" example needs more context. I don't know who Zilly is or why his yellow pilot outfight signifies cowardice.

Jan 6th 2019 at 8:15:07 PM

This is definitely an English language trope.

Jan 7th 2019 at 3:18:29 AM

I have seen this several times in Warner Bros. cartoons, but can't remember any specific examples.

Could be added to the Description:

A specific version is someone with a yellow streak on their back, based on the phrase "a yellow streak (possibly a mile wide) down their back".

Jan 11th 2019 at 11:09:47 AM

^ No, Color Failure doesn't cover this. Color Failure is when characters turn white or grayscale (NOT yellow) from, say for example, hearing bad news.

Jan 11th 2019 at 2:04:13 PM

Bring My Brown Pants explains why yellow is generally associated with cowardice; namely, the insinuation that the person the insult is directed toward would void their bladder if confronted with a situation that required a level of courage.

4 hours ago

The Dastardly and Muttley example doesn't have enough context. Sure, we know Zilly is wearing yellow, but how does Zilly act cowardly?

4 hours ago

^ I mentioned that too.

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