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Color-Coded Wizardry
aka: Color Coded Magic

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"'...For I am Saruman the Wise, Saruman Ring-maker, Saruman of Many Colours!' I looked then and saw that his robes, which had seemed white, were not so, but were woven of all colors, and if he moved they shimmered and changed hue so that the eye was bewildered. 'I liked white better,' I said."
Gandalf the Grey , The Lord of the Rings

There is an idea (codified by J. R. R. Tolkien) that wizards are identified as X the Color. Sometimes, it indicates rank, sometimes, jurisdiction, and every now and then, the type of magic being used. White Magic and Black Magic, of course, are the most common examples. Another is Elemental Powers. This may also overlap with Magical Sensory Effect.

A Sub-Trope of Color-Coded for Your Convenience.

A Sister Trope to Color-Coded Elements.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Slayers: Wizards are given colors like Rezo the Red Priest, for example. The reason it doesn't enter into it much (especially outside the novels) is that Lina's title is "The Pink", which has a reputation in Japanese Culture. In-universe, there's also the fact that Lina utterly hates her title, so she goes out of her way to not draw attention to it.
  • In Jewelpet, all Jewelpets fall into one of four colour classes, depending on their eye colour - Magical Red, Blue, Green and Black. Magical Red can manipulate fire, Magical Blue can manipulate water and move objects, Magical Green can manipulate plants and use transformation magic, and Magical Black specializes in fortune-telling and the occult. Note that these are the definitions given in the toys' universe and they play no role whatsoever in the anime, where the Jewelpets' powers are given more freedom.
  • Rokujyouma no Shinryakusha!?: There are seven common domains of magic named and colored for the standard rainbow. Magical Girl names indicate by color which area one has mastered. There is also White and Black, magic which are only very rarely encountered.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering is centered entirely around a system of five colors of magic: white (order, purity and light), green (tradition, destiny, nature and life), red (fire, emotion and strength), black (death, undeath, ambition and decay), and blue (air, water, technology, trickery and mental powers). They sometimes dress in those colors, too, but thankfully don't always. Part of the reason for dressing "in-color" is that most card art has a palette that matches the card's color.

    Fan Works 
  • A.A. Pessimal's Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons parody When The War Is Over examines, among other things, the logistic difficulty involved in not so much the recruitment as the naming of field agents in Spectrum. You need hundreds of field agents and, well, there really aren't all that many colour terms in the English language, or indeed actual colours, to name them after. Colonel White reflects, at length, on the extraordinary difficulties this posed.
    Oh yes. Colours. Once you get past the basic seven, things start to get a little tricky.
  • Referenced briefly in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World by the seven towers of the ruling wizards in the city of Daarthayu. Although each tower is a different color, there's no indication as to whether the colors are related in any way to the type of magic practiced by each wizard. Rather, each tower gives the viewer the “feeling” of the type of magic practiced within.
    Ringo (looking at each tower in turn): It's like tunin' a radio.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Flight of Dragons animated movie had four wizards assigned to different realms: green to the forests and plains, blue to the oceans and waterways, gold to the skies, and red to the mountains and volcanoes. This was both the elemental power of a wizard (ie their area of expertise) and where they might hold actual sovereign power.

    Films — Live Action 

  • The Lord of the Rings has (at the beginning of the book) Saruman the White, Gandalf the Grey (later the White), and Radagast the Brown. Tolkien's notes also make reference to Alatar and Pallando the Blue. Alatar has no unique color epithet note , but is also blue, and he and Pallando together are known as the Blue Wizards. When Gandalf goes from Grey to White, Saruman tries to pass himself of as Saruman "of the Many Colors" and his robe shines in multiple hues when it moves because white light is all the colors of the rainbow.
  • Discworld
    • Radagast is parodied with Ridicully the Brown (probably with the intention of making you think of... certain body functionsnote ), who, rather than a Nature Lover, is more of an Egomaniac Hunter.
    • One book also references this by having the wizards' washerwomen mock the cleanliness of those who use "The White" as a title. Mrs Whitlow's line in Equal Rites is probably another LotR parody: "Grampone the White? He'll be Grampone the Grey if he doesn't take better care of his laundry."
    • Finally, a straight example is Ipslore the Red in Sourcery.
    • In Unseen Academicals, Unseen University's late sports instructor was Evans the Striped. Presumably, they were black and white stripes, as per referees.
  • The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson engages in some Magical Realism by having Enoch Root, who also appears in Cryptonomicon, which is set several centuries later — it's implied that he's a sort of "Wandering Jew" type. His last name is similar to the Dutch or German word for red and, at one point, he's referred to as Enoch the Red and linked to wizardry.
  • Modern Healing Mage: At The School apprentices wear color coded robes, based on the discipline they use. Teachers wear black robes with runes stitched in the color of their discipline.
  • Tortall Universe
    • In the Tortall books by Tamora Pierce, the color of a mage's robe signifies his level of expertise — eg, Numair Salmalin in the Immortals quartet is said to be one of only seven Black Robe mages in the world. (...Because almost everyone else who tried to reach that level is dead.)
    • Also, each person's "Gift" has a specific color, which tends to run in families (Alanna and her ancestor Lionel both have violet magic). It's mentioned in a couple of books that people with unusually strong Gifts tend to pick up stigma such as matching eyes: Alanna's violet eyes, Neal's green eyes, and Jon's deep blue eyes.
  • The Circle of Magic series (also by Tamora Pierce), however, color-codes its mages by their elemental affinity.
  • Most of the adepts in Apprentice Adept are explicitly color-coded and are referred to only by their color. (Protagonist Stile is one of the exceptions.) Later on, in the second trilogy, there are a few adepts that don't bother with the color dynamic at all.
  • The Saga of Recluce color-codes its order and chaos mages, though, surprisingly, the chaos mages are white and the order mages are black; mages that can do both are still predictably grey.
  • Trudi Canavan's The Black Magician Trilogy. There's color coding for the three different disciplines of magic (Warriors wear red robes, Alchemists wear purple robes, and Healers wear green robes) as well as for rank (the heads of each discipline wears a black sash, the King's Advisors wear gold sashes, the Administrators wear blue robes, and the High Lord wears black robes.) Also, at the end of The High Lord, Lord Balkan becomes the new high lord and changes the robe color to white, and the black robes are now worn by the Black Magician.
  • Andre Norton describes a similar system in the Witch World novel The Jargoon Pard but with more colors; brown, orange, purple, violet...
  • The Wheel of Time does this explicitly with the Aes Sedai, sorting them into one of seven colored Ajahs based on interest: Red, dedicated to preventing another Breaking, which mostly means symbolically castrating severing male channelers; Blue, active with personal causes; Green, aimed at preparation for Tarmon Gai'don, the Last Battle; Grey, mediators and diplomacy; Yellow, the healers; Brown, who dedicate themselves to study and knowledge; and White, the philosophers. And Black, the evil ones.
  • Colors are a really big deal in The Seventh Tower, where there is a whole society of Light-magic wielding mages who organize themselves according to the colors of the rainbow: with Red being the lowest rank and Violet the highest. On top of that, most magic in this series has to do with manipulating light, and using one's Sunstone to generate light in various colors has uses ranging from battle to music to common courtesy.
  • Katherine Kurtz's Deryni are somewhat color-coded. Deryni with green or silver auras are able to Heal. The Haldanes have red auras. Since the society is feudal, Deryni nobility tend to have their aura colors included in their coats of arms (Haldane red, Morgan's Corwyn green).
  • Allen L. Wold's The Eye in the Stone takes color-coded magic to the extreme, running through the spectrum of magic-associated pigments three times, so even different hues have their own meanings. Purchasing supplies for a ritual circle to invoke a needed spell, the protagonist has to buy an extra-large box of crayons, because the smaller boxes didn't have a dark enough blue!
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has the Red Priests of R'hllor who have impressive magical abilities, supposedly powered by the sacred fire of that god. One of the major characters who belongs to this group is the Evillish Sorceress Mellisandre, who Word of God has stated to be a similar figure to Gandalf. The other is the much more benevolent Thoros of Myr, who, at one point, is referred to as the Red Wizard.
  • In Septimus Heap, Wizardry is color-coded: Purple is used by the ExtraOrdinary Wizards and their Apprentices, while bright green is associated with other Magyk.
  • Jack Vance's Green Magic, has white, black, purple, and the eponymous green magic. The story can be read in its entirety on the Web.
  • Dragonlance has three Orders of High Sorcery, each with its own color-coded dress code: White Robes (good wizards, specializing in divination), Red Robes (neutral wizards, specializing in illusion), and Black Robes (evil wizards, specializing in necromancy).
  • Dress robes of White Council members in The Dresden Files include color-coded stoles over black robes: blue stoles for younger members, red for those with over a century of service, or purple for Senior Council members. Various adornments to the stoles signify honoraria or fields of study. Apprentices wear brown robes without stoles, and Wardens wear grey cloaks over their dress robes.
  • Mages in A.L. Phillips's The Quest of the Unaligned are all color-coded by element and rank. Peasant mages wear a white sash and a robe in their element's color (red for aeshes, blue for shamais, silver for ruahks, and green for aretzes). Noble mages wear white robes with trim in their element's color, while the unaligned royal house wears white robes with gold trim.
  • If you have read Diamond Sword, Wooden Sword by Nick Perumov, this page's picture is bad news for you. The Magical Orders of the Rainbow are the powerhouse of The Empire who made even the emperor their puppet. The Order of Arc the Red are fire mages and militarists; Garam the Orange are healers and medics; Ugus the Yellow are specialists on sacrifice and necromancy; Kutul the Violet are necromancers too, but their specialty is breeding monsters. What do Flaviz the Green, Liv the Blue and Soley the Indigo exactly do, we are not told.
  • In The Children Of Man, the light magic was splintered into its six component colors eons ago, and the first six color mages founded six Orders of wizard-monks to prevent anything like the Shattering from happening again. The Orders, and their colors and powers, are as follows:
    • Red magic can heal or kill. The red-aligned order is the Tereskans, who serve as doctors.
    • Orange magic can be used to bind or track or seek out truth, as well as being usable as a weapon. The orange-aligned order is the Daniyelans, who serve as a kind of international police.
    • Yellow magic can manipulate emotions and make things appear to be what they are not. The yellow-aligned order is the Lusicans, who serve as traveling entertainers.
    • Green magic can infuse plants and animals with vitality, or drain the same away, as well as serving as the fuel for other forms of magic. The green-aligned order is the Phadrians, who serve as gardeners and farmers.
    • Blue magic can reveal the future. The blue-aligned order is the Nikelans, who are the mouthpiece of the local form of the Christian God.
    • Purple magic grants the ability to teleport and see the past. The purple-aligned order are the Amserians, who serve as couriers.
  • Priests and monks in The Will Be Done each have their own particular color of magic, sorcerers are always red.
  • Journey to Chaos:
    • All elemental spells are tinged to a color depending on the element of the spell because the mana for the spell is colored by the Worldly Mana Gates. Thus we have brown for earth spells, red for fire spells, green for forest spells etc.
    • Some powers share colors but have something else that distinguishes them. For instance, both fire and bladi magic is red but the shade of red is different. Bladi magic is, naturally blood red.
    • Spiritual abilities don't have a color because they are technically not magic and so they come across as "clear". Ordercraft technically doesn't have a color either because it is the absence of chaos, which is the source of all the other kinds of magic. The closest that mortal minds can get to is "silver-grey". Chaoscraft itself is a similar case; it is seen as a "golden-brown" color.
  • In The Grisha Trilogy, the Second Army wears robes called kefta, which are color-coded depending on which class they belong to: Etherealki (blue), Corporalki (red), and Materialki (purple). Servants wear white and grey. The Darkling is technically an Etherealki, but only he can wear the color black.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Magic uses color-coding to indicate a magician's power level. Each level is named for a similarly-colored gemstone, starting with Quartz (white) and progressing up through Carnelian, Sunstone, Citrine, Emerald, and Sapphire. As a magician's power level increases, the color of their "shroud" (the field of magic that surrounds them) changes accordingly.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The rangers in Mahou Sentai Magiranger/Power Rangers Mystic Force fit this trope well. They are even called "Magician of the *color*" in Magiranger.
  • In Kamen Rider Wizard, the name alone tells you this will be in play, as form-changing is the franchise's trademark. Flame Style is red, Hurricane Style is green, Land Style is yellow, and Water Style is blue. (No, this doesn't match Magiranger's colors.)
  • The various fairies in Once Upon a Time usually identify by their colors, like the Blue Fairy (Reul Ghorm), Green Fairy (Tinker Bell), Red Fairy (Tiger Lily) and the Black Fairy (Fiona, formerly known as the Gold Fairy).

  • Hordes of the things [BBC radio parody of The Lord of the Rings!]; Radox the Green, Badedas the blue, Fenjal the Pink... (all names of bubble bath products).

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Colleges of Magic in Warhammer are each dedicated to a different "wind" of magic, which the human mind perceives as being of different colours. These colours, the names of the "wind" associated with each colour, their corresponding aspects, and the common names for those trained in their use, are Red/Orange (Aqshy, Fire, Bright wizards), Gold (Chamon, Metal and logic, Gold wizards), Green (Ghyran, Life and fertility, Jade wizards), Blue (Azyr, Air and the heavens, Celestial wizards), Purple (Shyish, Death and fighting the undead, Amethyst wizards), Brown (Ghur, Beasts, Amber wizards), White (Hysh, Light, knowledge, and fighting daemons, Light wizards), and Grey (Ulgu, Shadows, illusions, and trickery, Grey wizards).
    • Some wizards in Warhammer use the classic Tolkien-inspired naming convention as well, such as Anurion the Green, Arkhan the Black and (subtly) Balthasar Gelt. Warhammer 40,000 gets in on the act too, with the primarch Magnus the Red (also known as the Crimson King).
  • In the Ironclaw RPG, the colors of a practitioner's robe details their abilities, they don't necessarily need to wear their colors but there are certain Gifts that allow them to recharge spells faster if they wear the related color. Cognoscente adepts wear either green or purple, Elementalists wear the color of their chosen school (yellow for air, brown for earth, red for fire, blue for water, and starred for the secret star school), clerics wear white, and thaumaturges wear grey. And, of course, necromancers wear black.
  • The Dark Eye has the three guilds of mages, white (law-abiding and usually following strict ethics and codes when using magic), black (free-thinkers who believe that every type of magic deserves to be researched) and grey (somewhere in between). All other practitioners of magic don't fall into this scheme though.
  • An old SPI boardgame, Sorcerer, featured eight colors of magic, but the main six were identical to each other, just having non-transitive relationships to each other (Green dominates Yellow dominates Orange dominates Red dominates Purple dominates Blue dominates Green), with White and Black being very rare; White was essentially any of the six main colors it wanted to be, and the Black Sorcerer was a Person of Mass Destruction rather than having the array of spells the other colors had.
  • The Dungeons & Dragons setting of Dragonlance, this is how the Towers of High Sorcery work. The division between White, Red and Black Robes serves a two-fold purpose. First, it serves as a declaration of philosophy about the purpose of magic and how it can be usednote . Secondly, it marks the wizard's specialty, as each Tower focuses on mastery of two specific styles of magic. White Robes focus on Abjuration and Divination magic, Red Robes on Illusion and Transmutation magic, and Black Robes on Enchantment magic and Necromancy.

  • The Toa of BIONICLE are color-coded based on powers, as are all of the Matoran and Turaga. Red is fire, blue is water, green is air, white is (unusually) ice, brown is stone, and black is earth. Rust colors are often associated with the Makuta. Starts to dissolve in the last couple of seasons.

    Video Games 
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion follows this trope implicitly, in that every school of magic has an associatyed sigil and color and the type of mage in random and most non-random encounters can be identified by the color of their robes (Conjurers wear turquoise, Hedge Mages wear grey, Necromancers wear black with a Worm Sigil).
    • It's also true within the Mages' Guild itself; you move from no robe at the lowest rank, to a green robe at intermediate ranks, then a turquoise robe at higher ranks, and finally a royal-blue robe as Arch Mage. Of course, you don't actually have to wear the robes you're given, but they usually have the added incentive of enchantments.
  • In Guild Wars, most spells and other skills have the color of their casting animation determined by the class and attribute the skill belongs to.
  • Each class in World of Warcraft has a color associated with it, so a character's class can be discerned at a glance, e.g. on a listing of raid members. Warrior = Brown, Paladin = Pink, Death Knight = Red, Shaman = Bluenote , Hunter = Green, Druid = Orange, Rogue = Yellow, Priest = White, Mage = Light Blue, Warlock = Light Purple, Demon Hunter = Dark Purple and Monk = Spring Green.
  • Practitioners of magic in the Final Fantasy universe are often aligned with colors, although it color-codes according to type of magic rather than specific mages:
    • White Mages actually wear white, and focus on healing and status buffs.
    • Black Mages tend to wear blue instead of black, but, like Jawas, have their faces impossibly overshadowed to the point that their eyes actually glow in the shadow cast by the brim of their Sunday hats. (Lulu from Final Fantasy X is an exception: she does not hide her face, and instead plays this trope straight.) They have Elemental Powers and focus on offensive magic.
    • Red Mages actually wear red. They can cast both white and black magic, but usually stop gaining new spells from either around the midpoint of the game.
    • Blue Mages actually wear blue, and learn new spells by observing the techniques of enemies. They usually get a nice mix of offensive, defensive, healing, status buffs, and general oddball effects.
    • Time Mages are usually associated with purple, but varies from title to title. In addition to the obvious Haste and Slow spells, they typically get the ability to cause various other status buffs and debuffs.
    • Summoners are usually associated with green, but varies, especially when Summoning is triggered by some kind of magicite or the summoner also fulfills one of the other mage classes (such as Yuna in Final Fantasy X). Their summons usually also revolve around dealing elemental damage and can be summed up as "like Black Magic, but more expensive and flashier," although they sometimes double as White Mages, e.g. Rydia from Final Fantasy IV and Garnet from Final Fantasy IX.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics A2 has Green Mages that wear green and focus on buffs and debuffs.
  • Battle for Wesnoth, since it's inspired by Final Fantasy, has a similar categorization. Brown is for apprentice magi, red for master (fire) magi, white for holy magi, silver for teleporting magi, and black for dark (necromantic) magi.
  • Eternal Darkness combines this with Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors. Red, Blue, Green, Purple and Yellow Magick each correspond to a specific Ancient; offensive Magicks cast gain an alignment advantage while defensive magicks grant an alignment-specific bonus. (Red grants Health, Green restores Sanity, Blue restores as much Mana as you've spent casting it and Purple grants Health, Sanity, embues your weapons with Poison and turns your character invisible. Yellow Magick is never available to the protagonists, but apparently belongs to some other, unseen being...
  • The spellcasting animation in Wizard 101 has your character drawing a sigil of his/her spell school in midair. The various sigils are color-coded.
  • The wizards in the Disgaea series color code the first four levels by the element used (fire, wind, ice, and Non-Elemental), and the next two by being able to use multiple elements. The system was revamped in D2, however, as now mages select an element from the base three they want to specialize in when you first recruit them and the levels now work like with other classes, with higher levels getting access to Star spells naturally.
  • The spheres of magic in the final Wizardry trilogy are color-coded. Red: Fire, Blue: Water, Purple: Air, Green: Earth, Cyan: Mental, Yellow: Pure Magic/Divine.
  • RuneScape: Before the destruction of the old Wizard's Tower, there were four orders of Wizard; Blue, Red, Green and Grey, aligned with Saradomin, Zamorak, Guthix and lesser gods respectively. Each order of wizard had their own set of values; unfortunately, those values clashed, and in the end, the wizards started an argument during a ritual, causing an explosion which killed all but the Blue and Red apprentices. The Blue apprentice founded the new tower, which is why most modern wizards wear blue and tend to be at least superficially Saradominist.
  • In DragonFable Warlic will, when asked, inform the player why his nickname is "The Blue Mage".
  • The Magikoopas in Paper Mario come in various colors that denote the sort of magic they use. Red ones use attack boosts, green ones use defense boosts, gray ones use invisibility, white ones heal, and yellow ones electrify. The classic blue ones, however, use everything the others do.
    • In the sequel, they've been condensed a bit, with the red ones providing generalized stat boosts, and the green ones using protective buffs like invisibility and electrification.
  • In Gems of War, there are six gem/mana colours, and each seems to link to a certain theme (not quite Elemental Powers, but similar). Roughly speaking: red for fire; brown for earth; yellow for light and sky; green for nature; blue for water; and purple for darkness and maybe magic. Troops have an affinity to colour which is appropriate to them, used for charging their Limit Break.
  • In The Sims 2, the garments that witches and wizards wear correspond t] the alignment of magic they use. Good witches wear white and blue, neutral ones wear grey and green, and evil ones wear black and purple.
  • The wizard smileys in Everybody Edits have colored headgear depending on the element they represent, though being Digital Avatars we don't get to see their wizardry in action.

    Web Comics 
  • 8-Bit Theater naturally has this, being a parody of Final Fantasy I. Played with when White Mage temporarily becomes grey during her Face–Heel Turn.
  • The magicians of Zebra Girl earn a The X after their first ascension. The color tends to be something they wore before their near death experience, though. J-jack became Jack The Plaid, for example, with a major boost in power, a tendency to have some rather nice plaid-oriented spells, and a shapeshifting robe that's a pocket into a plaid dimension.
  • In Trigger Star, Breadbun explains to Avocado that Mages are color-coded depending on what their spell specialty is. Breadbun herself is a Panda Mage, which means she uses both holy and dark magic.
    Breadbun: ...And then there are rainbow mages.
    Avocado: They practice everything?
    Breadbun: No, they're homosexuals. Their magic makes everything fabulous.
    Avocado: Zounds!
  • In The Order of the Stick every spellcaster has their own color-coded magic aura, usually based on or complimentary to their clothing colors. Sometimes it is based on eye color: the heterochromatic cleric/sorcerer Tsukiko casts arcane and divine magic in different colors. Vaarsuvius the evoker is pink, Durkon the cleric of Thor is white, Miko the paladin is light blue (most of the Sapphire Guard and people living in the area use blue, actually), etc.
  • Dimensions are color-coded in Frederick the Great: Length is red, Area is blue, Space is green, Time is turquoise, Possibility is magenta, the Eigenpower is gold, and Funk is mauve.
  • Gaia: The world of Gaia has bluestream and redstream magic, which are, of course, blue and red.

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the element a person can bend is related to their nation. Since cloth color is based by nation, this means waterbenders will usually wear blues and purples, earthbenders green/brown, airbenders oranges and yellows, and firebenders reds and black. Eye colour also enters the equation, with the people from the Water Tribe having blue eyes, Earth Kingdom having green eyes, Fire Nation having amber eyes, and Air Nomads having grey eyes.
    • By The Legend of Korra, set 70 years after the first series, this trope has become less pervasive due to greater intermingling between nations.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, as of season 2, episode 3, unicorn and alicorn magic glows with specific colors, often the same color as the caster's eyes, cutie mark, or mane. Twilight Sparkle and her brother Shining Armor have a sort of pink-purple color to their magic, Rarity's is a light blue, Celestia's is bright yellow, Luna's is a deep, deep blue, the Flim Flam brothers' are green, Cadance's a light blue, and her impostor is dark green. In season 3, we see Sweetie Belle's is the same light green as her eyes, and while Trixie's magic is normally purple, when she's using the Alicorn Amulet, it turns red, and so do her eyes for brief periods.
    • The trope holds in the Season 4 finale, even after the magic of Celestia, Luna, and Cadance is combined and transferred to Twilight; you can still see all of their individual colors when she preps and unloads her Wave Motion Gun during the climactic battle.
  • On Steven Universe, a Gem's magic seems to match the color of their gem, though sometimes it's only a hint in a mostly-white glow. They keep their basic color scheme when they shapeshift and their magically-generated weapons follow it too. The only exception of this so far is Pearl, with a white gem and sky blue magic.

Alternative Title(s): Colour Coded Wizardry, Color Coded Magic, Colour Coded Magic


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