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Color-Coded Secret Identity

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You'll never guess which one’s which!

Tommy: Well, I'd better get going.
Hayley: Going? Where are you going?
Tommy: Shopping. I checked my closet this morning, and there's a serious shortage of black in there.
Power Rangers: Dino Thunder, "Back in Black", after Tommy Oliver becomes the Black Dino Ranger

Everyone recognises Captain Superhero! He wears a blue cape, a red tunic, and green tights! And no-one suspects he's the mild mannered Steven Ulysses Perhero...who always seems to wear a blue jacket, red shirt, and green pants. Hmm...

This is where a superhero's Secret Identity wears clothes that somehow match his superhero costume, in order to make him easier for the audience to identify.

Compare Astonishingly Appropriate Appearance, especially if he always dressed like that, but didn't choose their costume colours. If a shapeshifting superhero wears the same colours in his superhero identity because of the clothes he's wearing, that's Morphic Resonance.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the 2012 Black★Rock Shooter anime, Black★Rock Shooter/Mato is blue, Dead Master/Yomi is green, and Black★Gold Saw is Red. Meanwhile, Strength is grey/orange, and Chariot/Kagari is yellow. Insane Black★Rock Shooter is purple.
  • The kids from Digimon Frontier. Except for Koji and Koichi, they mainly wear colors very similar to their Legendary Warrior Digimon forms (Takuya wears red and yellow like Agunimon, Zoe wears pink like Kazemon, etc).
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
    • Justified with Nanoha. Her Barrier Jacket is based off her school uniform in-universe (it was the first thing to pop into her head when she was asked to come up with a design). This continues in StrikerS, where her uniform as an Air Force instructor is also white. That said, her choice of casual outfits tend to be more varied.
    • Fate also tends to prefer black clothing (according to supplementary material, it's her favorite color). And just like with Nanoha post-Time Skip, her Enforcer uniform is black.
  • The Pretty Cure franchise takes this to ridiculous lengths since Yes! Pretty Cure 5 as they not only wear color-coded civilian clothes, most of them have color-coded hair. The only one who defies this trope is Ako/Cure Muse of Suite Pretty Cure ♪, who wears pink and blue despite wearing black at first then going into yellow.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • Sailor Moon's costume as a magical girl looks almost exactly like the sailor-style school uniform she wears as Usagi Tsukino: a white Sailor Fuku with a blue collar and pleated skirt and a red bow on the chest. The difference is mostly that Sailor Moon's outfit is a snug-fitting bodysuit rather than a loose middy blouse, the skirt is shorter, and the ensemble includes elbow-length gloves and red knee boots. (The resemblance becomes increasingly less pronounced as her transformation upgrades in later story arcs, adding more colors and Frills of Justice in the process.)
    • The school uniforms of the other girls mostly don't bear so close a resemblance to their magical girl outfits beyond the general sailor style (notably, Minako's uniform has the same color scheme as Usagi's and Ami's, despite studying at another school whose uniform uses the traditional sailor neckerchief instead of the bow), and adaptations vary on how strongly the color-coding is in effect where it comes to their street clothes. In Sailor Moon Crystal they almost uniformly dress in their signature colors, while in the '90s anime adaptation everyone wears a range of clothes in different colors from one day to the next and any color-coding is mostly coincidental.
  • The Samurai Pizza Cats' civilian outfits were so similar to their mission gear (and they always wore the same helmets!) that it was often hard for the viewer to tell which they were in, yet the villains of the show couldn't even identify the heroes when in their civvies. Lampshaded at least once.
  • In Tiger & Bunny, Kotetsu's Powered Armor is black, green, and white. His casual clothes? Black slacks, green shirt, black and white vest with matching hat. Barnaby also has similar color coding, but he has the excuse of not actually having a secret identity.
    • The casual clothes of the heroes tend to be similar in colour to their costumes (Pao Lin in yellow, Nathan in red/pink, Keith and Ivan get blue/purple-ish shades). Karina is an exception, wearing warmer/darker colours than her skimpy blue outfit as Blue Rose. Possibly intentional, given how uncomfortable she is with her hero persona. Even Lunatic gets in on this, as when we see Petrov at the end of episode 9, he's wearing a grey suit with a blue-and-green patterned tie, similar to the colours of his costume.
  • Tokyo Mew Mew: The heroes' Magical Girl outfit has the same colour as the uniform they wear to work part-time in the cafe.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • Golden Age Bruce Wayne frequently wore blue and grey outfits, and Dick Grayson wore red and green. They actually tried to avert this in the first season of Batman: The Animated Series and have Bruce Wayne not wear clothes the color of Batman's outfit. Due to color palette limitations, that means he spends a lot of time wearing a rather ugly brown suit. In later episodes, Bruce usually wears a dark suit and Dick wears a red sweater vest. Barbara Gordon favoured purple, perhaps reflecting Batgirl's costume in the 1960s TV series.
    • Like his predecessor, Tim Drake almost exclusively wears red or green shirts in his civilian life.
  • Shazam!: In the current DC Comics and dating at least from the Shazam! (1974) TV series, Billy Batson always wears a red shirt with a yellow collar.
  • Superman:
  • In The Superior Foes of Spider-Man and its Spiritual Successor Astonishing Ant-Man (both written by Nick Spencer), Janice Lincoln, the new Beetle, wears some shade of purple whenever shown in civilian attire, whether in flashbacks or the present (i.e., her valedictorian graduation robes, her business dress as an Amoral Attorney, and a swimsuit), evoking the color of the Beetle costume. The former series also parodies this trope with the Shocker having a couch with the same eye-watering red and yellow check as his costume.
  • Wonder Woman: While her normal outfit back in the Golden Age when she spent a lot of time maintaining her secret identity was a USAAF uniform Diana has always had a propensity for wearing red shirts, red dresses and blue skirts with star patterns on them while she's not acting as Wonder Woman, though she generally only wore the later out in public after her identity was public.

  • Accel World: In the Accelerated World, each duel avatar is themed after a unique colour based on the user's personality. The majority of Burst Linkers wear a similarly-coloured Neurolinker around their neck in real life, and some take it further with clothing or even their hair and eyes. Lampshaded when Chiyu notes that she's been unconsciously adding more green to her wardrobe since becoming Lime Bell, and Haru cautions her not to get a green case for her Neurolinker unless she wants to make their group's identity too obvious. He's quick to defend his own silver Neurolinker by pointing out that he had it long before he became Silver Crow.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Pretty much every Power Rangers season fulfills this trope in some way, a fact occasionally lampshaded. This also extends to its trans-Pacific counterpart Super Sentai.
    • In the early seasons, the characters seemed to own nothing that wasn't in their ranger color. Some actors have said they couldn't stand the color anymore after their time on the show. Getting to keep their secret identities was a major point of Fridge Logic, as the five teenagers who obsessively wore nothing but the colors of the Rangers and were all skilled martial artists kept disappearing just before the Rangers showed up. At least Tommy, as the Green and White MMPR Rangers, the Red Zeo and Turbo Ranger, and the Black Dino Ranger, got to change his every so often.
    • The best example of that comes from Power Rangers: Dino Thunder when Tommy, returning to action as the Black Dino Ranger, approaches Conner, Kira and Ethan and tells them he has to run to the mall - he checked his closet and realized he had a complete lack of black.
    • The current page image comes from Samurai Sentai Shinkenger. Ironically, they're much less obsessively colorcoded than some series and don't care if people know who they are.
    • Even the villains get in on it. In Power Rangers in Space, the surviving (Red, Black, and Yellow) Psycho Rangers take on human form. To emphasize that they're evil, they are all wearing black pants and black leather jackets and have colored undershirts so we know which one is which. Unfortunately for Psycho Black, this meant he was wearing nothing but black. Justified in this case, as we had never seen them as humans before.
    • Power Rangers Cosmic Fury deserves special mention because it features a color-based Rank Up. Once Amelia is promoted from Pink to Red Ranger, she mysteriously acquires a red leather jacket despite the fact that she's stranded halfway across space and the Rangers didn't exactly pack for a multi-day trip when they made their Blind Jump from Earth to Erridus.

    Video Games 
  • EXTRAPOWER: Attack of Darkforce: The Henshin Hero and Magical Girl team have mundane appearances that match their super powered forms. Kojiro Mido has brown hair and red leather jacket, and becomes the red-armoured Guren Tiger. Ryo has stark black hair and dresses in blue tones, and becomes the blue-armoued Gecko Wolf. Blue-haired Rurine with her blue school uniform transforms into Ruritia, the Blue Hikari Warrior, whereas Mashura and Bashura are red-heads with red school uniforms who together become the Crimson Hikari Warriors Shura Soshu. The other Hikari Warriors are only lesser examples - while they wear the same blue or red school uniforms in the ending epilogue, they do have hair colours to match their colour.

  • Batman: Wayne Family Adventures: Most of the Bat-family wear colors relating to their costumes while outside of them. Jason is always wearing some red, Stephanie is decked out in all purple or at least a purple shirt, Bruce and Cass wear black and grey. Tim often wears red somewhere in his outfit and the same for Damian with green and Dick with blue. The only family member who doesn't wear costume colors as civilian wear is Duke who is never seen in yellow outside his costume.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series: Bruce Wayne usually averts this with his civilian attire. In most episodes, Bruce wears a brown and yellow suit, distancing himself from Batman's trademark black and gray. The only similarity the two outfits have to each other is that Bruce's yellow shirt is the same shade of yellow as Batman's utility belt.
  • DC Super Hero Girls 2019: Everyone, both heroes and villains, all wear clothes in the same color scheme that sometimes have even more traits that evoque their ater egos.
  • Most of the characters in Marvel Rising not only wear the same colors in their civillian identity, but generally sport some kind of accessory with their insignia on it. The most blatant is Ghost Spider, who wears a white top with a neon pink spider over black as Gwen Stacy.
  • In Marvel's Spider-Man, Peter Parker wears a red hoodie over a blue shirt, and Miles Morales wears a black hoodie. Subverted with Harry Osborn, who wears a purple sweater that references the Green Goblin's costume in other realities, but doesn't take that identity.
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, prior to becoming Venom, Eddie Brock always wears a black leather jacket and a white t-shirt, foreshadowing the color-scheme of his living "costume". Of course, once bonded to the costume, he naturally has it shapeshift to look like his civilian clothing.
  • Justified with the titular characters and their human friends in any Transformers series. Whenever a Cybertronian transforms, they maintain the same color scheme (Prime is always red, blue, and silver, Bumblebee is always yellow and black, Ratchet always has some medical imagery somewhere on him, etc). Their human friends can usually identify them quickly in vehicle mode because of this (and also the fact that they're sentient cars), while humans who don't know about the Cybertronians don't give them a second glance.
  • In Voltron: Legendary Defender outside of their lions and armor, their casual costumes still fit their color scheme. Shiro wears a black body suit, Keith has a bright red jacket, Lance wears a blue shirt and jeans, Pidge has a green shirt, and Hunk wears a yellow shirt and bandanna. However, the "secret identity" part does not apply currently.
  • Winx Club: Although this setting has no need for secret identities, everyone's civilian clothes —i.e., when not transformed into fairies or witches or in military uniform— feature prominently as the main color of their magical suits. This has varied across seasons, however. The first season plays it straight for everyone except two of the Specialists. Bloom's pants and shirt are light blue. Stella wears an orange skirt and orange-laced sandals. Likewise, Flora has a pink skirt. Tecna's outfit is almost all-purple. Musa wears a red sleeveless top. Icy, Darcy, and Stormy's outfits are essentially lighter-colored, casual versions of their witch forms.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Colour Coded Secret Identity


Back In Black

Dr. Tommy Oliver, former Green, White, and Red Ranger morphs into the Black Dino Thunder Ranger for the first time. Later that day he declares he needs to shop for more black civilian clothes.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / ColorCodedSecretIdentity

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