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Cowardly Yellow

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A character turns yellow when frightened. Up For Grabs

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
Last Edited By:
Miss_Desperado on Mar 7th 2019 at 12:33:46 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: 19 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.

Jan 20th 2019 at 8:38:31 PM

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

Jan 20th 2019 at 8:41:35 PM

^ I mentioned that too.

Jan 22nd 2019 at 3:26:00 PM

I sent a private message reminder to Kartoonkid 95.

Jan 31st 2019 at 4:07:19 PM

Still haven't heard back from the draftmaker.

Feb 9th 2019 at 6:33:29 PM

Kartoonkid95 is active elsewhere on TV Tropes, but is still MIA on this draft.

Feb 14th 2019 at 8:51:02 PM

This goes Up For Grabs on March 6, right? Or does February being an extra-short month mess with the two-month deadline?

Feb 25th 2019 at 2:12:46 AM

^^ March 6th is correct. Up For Grabs says two months, not sixty days.

The number of days in the month doesn't matter except in a very rare circumstance: when the original date was near the end of the month and the current month has fewer days than the original month.

For example, a proposal is created on December 31st. Two months later would be February 31st, which doesn't exist. Since February only has 28 days (and 29 in leap years), you would add three days (or two in leap years) and it would become Up For Grabs on March 3rd (or 2nd).

The chance of this actually becoming important is so tiny it's not worth worrying about.

Feb 25th 2019 at 5:17:50 AM

  • Injustice Gods Among Us: When Green Lantern saw that his Injustice-verse self is known as Yellow Lantern and joined the Sinestro Corps, he points out his disappointment to his alternate self for choosing yellow, stated to be the color of cowardice.

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