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Color Failure

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"Ah! Senpai turned white again!"
Megumi, Food Wars!

In Real Life, people can turn pale when ill or shocked. In animation, they can go grayscale or pure white. These events are usually played for comedy and characters once grayscale can be unresponsive or completely frozen in place.

See also Blue with Shock, an artistically different and most of the time less extreme version, common with Blank White Eyes. Sister Trope to Blank Face of Shame. Compare Deliberately Monochrome. Common side effect of a Corner of Woe. Not to be confused with colors looking wrong on something due to artistic oversight. See Death Is Gray, Gray Is Useless, and No Power, No Color for instances of this occurring for more dire reasons.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Doraemon: Nobita and The Space Heroes have Doraemon comically turning white after the new alien character, Aron, mistook Doraemon's gadget robot, the Burger Director, to be the leader.
  • Happens a lot to Yato in the Noragami anime.
  • Hidamari Sketch, Sae (and Hiro) do this when Yuno and Miyako first mention that Yoshinoya is their teacher.
    • Yuno gets one when she gets the results of an English exam back.
  • School Rumble: Harima does this after a rush to complete one of his manga, in a Shout-Out to a certain boxing anime.
  • Azumanga Daioh: Poor Chiyo-Chan gets like this after one ride with Yukari, who Drives Like Crazy, and it basically shows that she's gone through a very traumatic experience. She goes white again the first time the "Yukari-mobile" gets mentioned after the aforementioned trip. Then, in the third year, Kaorin takes the ride and ends up similarly.
    • Yukari does it when she is informed that she just effervesced into the wrong class.
    • Kagura, upon realization that there are actually quite a few grades on the test that far surpass her own.
    • After Minamo is reprimanded by Yukari, of all people, for interfering with the girls' studies, she sits in the corner with her knees to her chest and without color for the rest of the evening.
  • K-On! shows this many times with Mio, and once with the entire band.
  • Kyouran Kazoku Nikki: Teika does it out of shock/surprise.
  • Ouran Highschool Host Club: usually to Tamaki, but most of the characters have had one of these moments.
    • One episode (the one with the "reverse harem" girl) had all of them do this after she calls them so.
  • FLCL: Parodied, as one character's strong emotions sends them through the whole rainbow of colors.
  • Lucky Star: Hiyori whites out and slowly dissolves away after staying up all night to beat a deadline.
    • And Anime Tencho turns Minoru white in a Lucky Channel segment. This is a pun, as a literal translation of "Shiraishi" is "Whitestone."
    • The entire group of four main characters has a Mass "Oh, Crap!" version of this when Tsukasa asks why a certain dog command is called "chin-chin" (Chinese children's word for penis).
  • Happens to Yuki and his sister and father in the Gravitation anime when Shuichi shows up in a hideous dress and makeup, pretending to be Yuki's fiancee.
  • A Certain Magical Index: Index and Aisa do this (plus Thunder Rage) when Komoe starts happily talking about how Touma was a naughty boy, and how "various things" happened. "Another one?" "That bastard."
    • Komoe-sensei gets another one (pictured above) when she sees her class wrecked after a fight.
    • Subverted with the return of Kakine Teitoku, the #2 Level 5. Due to his body being totally made of Dark Matter now, it's entirely plain white, with pitch black eyes. Even after Beetle-05 takes his identity and likeness over, he's still extremely pale, albeit his eyes are now green.
  • Soul Eater: When Excalibur arrives in the Death Room in episode 46, several seconds pass of Shinigami, Yumi and Spirit in color failure...until they turn back to normal and promptly resume their assessment of the ongoing mission, ignoring Excalibur's repeated statements of "Fool!".
    • Earlier on in the series, Black*Star goes through this multiple times while trying to overcome a jar of water that sucks out your soul.
    • Even earlier on in the series - more specifically, the first episode - Soul and Maka go through this after realizing that Blair's soul didnt turn Soul into a Death Scythe.
  • This frequently occurs for comedic effect in the Mahoromatic series.
  • At one point, Nako and Uruka of Steel Angel Kurumi 2 are being chased by a giant statue of Buddha. It Makes Sense in Context. Sort of.
  • This happens to Taiga a few times in Toradora!, such as when she see her crush Kitamura naked. Also, all the boys in class 2C end up this way when the person who led their campaign to unite and outvote their competition on what to do for their school festival ruined the very same campaign by doing a lottery draw instead of majority vote.
  • It happens to Itsuki in SHUFFLE! when the main character gets a higher test score than him.
  • This happens a few times in Chrono Crusade. In one instance, Chrono does this when Rosette calls Sister Kate an "ugly old hag", in another Rosette does this when Chrono faints into Satella's breasts.
  • Kurimu in Student Council's Discretion, lampshaded.
  • Happens a lot in Ninja Nonsense, usually to Kaede.
  • In Naruto, Sakura does this when Pakkun (a dog) notes that they both use the same shampoo.
  • In the TV anime of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, this occurs to Daniel J. D'Arby during his Freak Out when Jotaro makes outrageous raises in their poker game. It's gradual: first, he loses all the color in his hair, then in the moments before he passes out, he loses the rest of his color.
  • Sgt. Frog has this happen to Dororo whenever he's driven to the Corner of Woe. It also happens to Keroro in episode 3 when he uses the "Space Plant Dreaming Alpha" to generate some pleasing hallucinations. The latter is lampshaded in the dub, when Tamama remarks that one of the side effects of the plant is "pigment loss".
  • In the first episode of Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu, Kaname exhibits this when Sousuke reveals that he took the gang leader's kid brother hostage to use as leverage against Kaname's own kidnappers.
  • One Piece: When Garp reveals the uh... family circumstances of the Monkey family, then remarks he probably said a bit too much, he asks everyone to please forget what he just said, every marine there, the entire Straw Hat crew and everyone nearby simply freezes and goes white with shock.
    • In general, Oda tends to do a smaller version of this whenever someone's shocked or scared, namely, an Eye Colour Failure. It's notable because whenever someone with dark eyes does it, they go nearly white.
    • A little earlier, Nami and everything around her in about a one-meter radius was black-and-white to reflect her deep depression. At the time, she thought all their belongings, especially the mikan trees from her hometown, had been lost to Aqua Laguna.
    • Sanji makes this one when he heard Zoro saying he and Duval, whose ugly face matches the ugly drawing of his wanted poster, to be 'like two peas in a pod'.
  • America in Hetalia: Axis Powers after he finally gets a look at his own weight.
  • Rozen Maiden has this happen when Suiseiseki steals Hina Ichigo's strawberry. Suiseiseki turns around and claims that Hina Ichigo stole from her. Cue Hina Ichigo turning white as Suiseiseki starts fake crying to gain sympathy.
  • In some of its more comedic moments, the Pokémon anime does this often. One good example was when Marilyn (who's obsessed with cute Pokémon) didn't think Dawn's Piplup was cute. Piplup ended up pulling an example of this trope and staying like that for the rest of the scene.
  • In Eureka Seven, protagonist Renton not only suffers color failure, but emits a color failure field extending about a foot around his body when his crush's adopted children brutally cut down his "compatibility" with her - in front of her.
  • In Nichijou it's standard fare for nearly everyone to get this, sometimes even combined with Blue with Shock.
  • In Oreimo, Makabe, one of the game research club members, suffers a particularly brutal/hilarious one after Sena, one of the other members, blurts out that she has no trouble fantasizing about Yaoi, and then says that she dreamt about Makabe getting gang-raped by the entire club the night before. While it shocks the entire club upon hearing that, poor Makabe turns completely white, and a few scenes later, still hasn't recovered from it.
  • PandoraHearts:
    • Every time Gilbert sees a cat.
    • Oz gets one after Elliot spoils him on his favorite book.
  • Daily Lives of High School Boys
    • The boys' reaction when Mei finds Tadakuni using her skirt (plus a few other items) in High School Boys and Skirts.
    • Again in Episode 2 when Tadakuni and Yasunori discover Nago can look pretty in a convex mirror.
    • Yanagin discovered in High School Girls are Funky — Ramen that NAGO didn't even know it was her who was making a duel—despite winning over Yanagin twice.
  • This also happens in the Fairy Tail anime, sometimes with blue lines coming out of the characters who turned white.
  • At the end of episode 3 of New Dominion Tank Police, Britain ends up like this. What should've been his Moment of Awesome for pulling off a very difficult shot with his revolver turns into this when he ends up centimeters from being run over by a huge truck. He'd been literally scared stiff.
  • Oreshura: When Masuzu tells Eita that she likes him, he turns white, followed by the entire class.
  • Nyaruko: Crawling with Love!: In episode 7, when Mahiro tells Nyarko "I don't like you", she collapses on the beach, turning white and muttering Madness Mantras straight out of the Cthulhu Mythos. After Mahiro is convinced to apologize and take Nyarko on a date, she starts invoking this trope deliberately to get him to do certain things with her (though he draws the line when she tries to drag him into a sex museum, even saying "Turning white's not going to work this time!")
  • Hunter × Hunter: Hisoka, of all people, gets this upon finding out that Chrollo, his target, could not use Nen due to Kurapika's Judgement Chain. All after stripping his shirt (and false tattoo) and getting pumped up with Nen, ready to fight.
  • Bakuman。:
    • When Hattori sees the main characters' designs for shonen heroes and says "These all suck!"
    • When Mashiro and Takagi are meeting with Miura to discuss what to do after hearing that Detective Trap got cancelled. Miura takes note of it and suggests that it's too soon for them to make a decision.
  • In the Girls und Panzer manga, Yukari has this reaction when she overhears that Miho will be disowned if she does not win against Pravda.
  • In Negima's Gag Series, Ayaka and Makie have a Running Gag, wherein if Makie is even slightly less bubbly than normal, Ayaka will call her out on it and say she fails at "being Makie!" Makie goes white with shock and a big, stone-textured "CRUSHED" in Japanese falls on her head. She stays this way for the scene and everyone else ignores it, whether by themselves or when someone else prompts them to.
  • No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular! has Tomoko take this Up to Eleven rather frequently by going beyond grayscale to completely transparent.
  • Manako in Monster Musume goes into shock after hearing that a 100+ cm bra was too small for Centorea. Grasping the air in front of her own flat chest.
  • In Shaman King anime this sometimes happens, but it's played with. It happens when Chocolove tells a Pun, so it seems less like shock and more like disappointment.
  • Himouto! Umaru-chan: Happens to Umaru-chan after she spills coke on the Internet router at home and realises with horror that she's been cut off from the outside world; she tries all her other devices and even attempts to play games but finds out all of them need the Internet to work. Complete with "Psycho" Strings.
  • In Gundam Build Fighters Try, Mirai's Petit'gguy punches a rival's ∀ Gundam right in the Core Fighter, causing this in the pilot, announcer, and half the audience.
  • Food Wars!'s Konishi tends to turn white when thinking about his club's outlook. Lampshaded by Megumi.
    Soma: Splash water on him!
  • In the anime adaptation of Run with the Wind:
    • As a result of Hanako's... questionable cooking, almost all the guys in the team end up losing color from their faces. Only Kakeru and Prince manage to survive it without any complaints.
    • After barely qualifying for the Hakone race in episode 16, Haiji proudly announces to the reporters that the team is going to train harder than ever before (and not taking a single day of rest), which leads to nearly everyone else in the team to lose color once more.
  • Tokyo Shinobi Squad, En suffers this when Taiga tells him to scram, believing him to be The Load who has no place in the Narumi-kai.
  • In Beastars, Legosi's fur completely turns white when he mistakenly believes he killed Haru in his sleep and it stays that way for several days even after he finds out she is ok. This ends up helping him when he gets into a Not What It Looks Like situation shortly after and has to hide from the police until his fur goes back to normal so they won't recognize him.
  • Happens a few times in Tamagotchi, in particular to Himespetchi in episode of Yume Kira Dream when she sees Mametchi (her love interest) and Yumemitchi Holding Hands and thinks they're in love with each other (Mametchi was actually just helping Yumemitchi when she tripped, but Himespetchi doesn't realize this until after she wakes up from fainting from the sight).
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: Both Kobayashi and Makoto has this reaction when they first see Fafnir in his demonic true form.
  • Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out!: Fujio suffers this (Hana even asks if "turning white like that" is the latest trend) when he sees her and Shinichi Holding Hands.
  • Ayakashi Triangle: Suzu goes all-white when she sees an amnesiac Matsuri appearing to fall in Love at First Sight with Soga.

    Asian Animation 
  • This is a common form of take in Happy Heroes. An episode of Season 7 not only lampshades this and similar reactions from the characters, but has the Monster of the Week weaponize it against the Supermen (the phenomenon is apparently a symptom of "anti-inertia thinking", wherein a person is stunned by a rational thought and an absurd thought colliding in their mind; in that episode, color failures are one of the most used reactions used to demonstrate the "anti-inertia thinking" thing).

    Comic Books 
  • The Hair Bear Bunch: In the adaptation of the TV episode "Raffle Ruckus" (issue #4, Nov. 1972), Botch observes that Peevly always turns chameleon green whenever the superintendent calls.

    Films — Animation 
  • In A Bug's Life, Heimlich turns pale when the ant children painted a bloody battle between the circus bugs and the grasshoppers and see that they made him the casualty to make the battle more dramatic.
  • The Boov from Home (2015) turn white when extremely shocked, as opposed to yellow for merely scared.
  • In Plucky's sub-plot of Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation, Plucky joins Hamton's family on a trip to the HappyWorldLand amusement park. During the car ride, the Pig family pass the time by playing a game where they hold their breath through a tunnel and make a wish, with the wish coming true if they hold it the whole time. Uncle Stinky continues to hold his breath long after the game is over, and when Plucky tells him this, Uncle Stinky exhales on him, causing Plucky to lose his color and Hamton to have to paint it back on.
  • Trolls: It's eventually revealed why Branch is not nearly as colorful as every other troll. Trolls become grey when they become depressed. It eventually happens to every troll when they all get captured.
  • This is generally the effect of the arsenal of the Blue Meanies in Yellow Submarine.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Big Bird in Japan, Kaguya-hime's guards wipe her memory and take her back to the moon. The loss of memory is symbolized by her and her entourage shifting from color to black-and-white.
  • (500) Days of Summer has an epic one. It also doubles as a Heroic BSoD.
  • Bandit Queen has a scene which washes out to nearly all white during a scene with the Queen exacting some revenge on the Thakur.
  • In Avengers: Infinity War, when Thanos kills Vision a second time by ripping the Mind Stone out of his head, he loses his vibrancy.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger, one retired officer forgets the name of the Green Ranger, who is immediately shown black and white and crouching in the Corner of Woe.
  • In the first episode of Merlin, the villain kills a maidservant by draining the life out of her, resulting in this.
  • Father Ted: Bishop Len Brennan immediately after being kicked up the arse.
  • In Supernatural, the victims of the reaper have their eyes and skin turn gray as their life is drained in "Faith".
  • Inverted in one episode of Big Bad Beetleborgs, when Count Fangula learns that a member of a legendary clan of vampire hunters is coming to the mansion, his normally deathly pallor becomes flushed. Mums observes, "Fangie's so scared the colors going into his face!"

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner: Happens to The Cheat while watching a 'shock-u-mentary'.
  • This is a common reaction of those who hear whatever random trivia the Mameshiba have to give them.
  • In RWBY's third season, the normally-exuberant Nora Valkyrie undergoes this when she rapidly explains what would happen if her team loses the upcoming Vytal Festival Tournament and makes herself sad. While this seems like one of the cartoony gags the series sometimes engages in, as Volume 4 reveals, Nora's teammate (and love interest) Lie Ren has the ability to suppress negative emotions to hide people from creatures of Grimm, which manifests by his targets' colors turning washed-out. So Nora's Color Failure wasn't a sight gag, it was Ren trying to calm her down.
    • After losing the doubles round against Yang and Weiss, the colorful and vibrant Neon Katt appears with muted colors like Nora when she realizes they lost. She quickly regains her colors when she cheers up and gushes over how amazing Team RWBY is.

    Web Comics 
  • Samson from Destiny Fails Us loses his color when he embarrasses himself in front of Lily.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • Nanase does this twice after discovering that Ellen knows that it's her who picked out Ellen's outfit for the party. She had been a bit bolder than she might otherwise be when choosing Ellen's outfit because she assumed it would just be blamed on Susan. Finding out that wasn't the case was a bit embarrassing.
    • Shortly afterwards it happens to Tedd, when he learns the party theme was for his benefit, and Grace is now blaming herself for not realizing he wouldn't be comfortable.
    • In another arc, Tedd goes white with shock when he discovers that the man who had been hitting on him earlier was straight, and thought he was a girl. Previously, he had simply assumed that the guy was gay.
    • Susan does this after finding out that Diane is a cheerleader, given their contrasting personalities. Particularly since this was during their first meeting and neither was sure if they were related by blood somehow.
    • Ashley gets one here when she blurts out that she can't picture anyone other than Grace as a character in a story she's writing, by proxy admitting that she's attracted to Grace to her face.
  • The normally tough Aeris from VG Cats has a color failure when she looks at Donkey Kong for too long.
  • Characters in Slightly Damned sometimes do this when they are shocked, especially Rhea.
  • Herbert from Sinful constantly suffers from Color Failure, usually when he's just been hit by the Clue Bat.
  • Poharex becomes pale after accidentally activating his healing power for the first time. He then passes out, as using this power had exhausted his energy.
  • .:Sandbox:.: Yosie has one of these in the first Spam Dump.
  • In Rain, Rain's reaction to Gavin asking her if she happened to be familiar with his childhood friend, Ryan Flaherty.
  • In Cucumber Quest, this happens to Peridot when it seems that Almond has forgotten about her.
  • Selkie has the titular character suffer one after using her father's credit card without permission while at school.
  • Grrl Power: When Varia (the super whose power varies depending on whom she's in contact with) accidentally touches Scarlett (a vampire) and turn into a demonic-looking form, Olivia (a normal) becomes entirely white in shock, with hair going straight up, eyes widened and round as well as jaw hanging. Then she orders six rounds of alcoholic shots.

    Western Animation 
  • Used and even lampshaded in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic when Discord corrupts the protagonists into acting in ways opposite to their respective Elements of Harmony (e.g. Applejack begins telling Blatant Lies).
    • Pinkie Pie's color becomes desaturated whenever she reverts to her depressed "Pinkamena" personality.
    • In the pilot, Princess Luna's colors, after reverting from her Nightmare Moon form, are more muted than in her later appearances. According to Lauren Faust, this was due to her being reborn with low magic levels. However, when she surrenders her magic to Twilight in the Season 4 finale, her colors remain unchanged.
    • In the Season 5 premiere, as seen in the teaser trailers, the Mane Six's colors become washed-out after having their cutie marks replaced with equals signs.
  • Teen Titans: Raven does this when beaten in a game of chess. Her opponent, Cyborg, had recently had an upgrade.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • In both Cats A-weigh! and The Slap-Hoppy Mouse, Sylvester loses his black coloration after being mildly surprised to see Hippety Hopper in the basement (where he expected a mouse).
    • The same thing happens to Wile E. Coyote in Stop! Look! And Hasten! when he leaps into the Burmese Tiger Trap he has dug, only to learn that, rather than the Road Runner, he's caught a Burmese Tiger. ("Surprisibus! Surprisibus!")
    • This happens to Porky Pig (and his horse) in Porky's Phoney Express, when he sees a horde of Indians chasing him.
    • In Uncle Tom's Bungalow, the expies of Little Eva and Topsy briefly switch skin colors when they get scared.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: Edd went monochrome simply by smelling a piece of rotten cheese.
  • Optimus Prime turns charcoal gray upon death in The Transformers: The Movie, Transformers: ★Headmasters, and Transformers: Animated. Starscream in The Transformers: The Movie does as well, after Galvatron incinerates him with a blast from his plasma cannon mode.
    • Transformers: Prime references this, when Megatron ponders when Optimus will "fade to gunmetal gray" as he's dying. He does upon dying from his wounds from the assault on the base in Jasper.
    • Beast Wars features more traditional cartoony "turns white from shock" example in the episode "Power Surge", where, when Terrorsaur returns to base, and Megatron, who was scrapped by him earlier, come back alive and VERY pissed.
      Megatron: Well, well, look who's… BACK!
      Terrorsaur: [loses color in fear] Help!
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball, this happens to Mr. Small whenever he hears Tina Rex's name. The color from his tye-dye shirt doesn't just disappear, it flows in liquid form in a puddle around his ankles, combining it with another trope entirely.
    • Darwin and Anais experience color failure when being driven around by Richard in "The Bumpkin", with the color splattering on the walls of the car and them picking it back with their hands when getting out.
  • In the Ben 10: Omniverse episode "Special Delivery", Psyphon sees Toepick's hideous face and is reduced to a whimpering mess; turning completely white in the process.
    • Anyone who sees Toepick's face seem to do this.
  • In the Dungeons & Dragons (1983) episode "Valley of the Unicorns," the unicorns suffer this when their horns are stolen.
  • In The Smurfs (1981) episode "Smurfette's Dancing Shoes", Grouchy turns completely white when he falls victim to a harmless trap in Dreadful Hollow without realizing it.
  • The Mickey Mouse (2013) episode "Black and White" makes it the focal point of the episode, as Mickey is scared out of his color, which manifests as an entity which he must chase back.
  • Middlemost Post: Parker, who is usually clad in a colorful rainbow unitard, becomes quite literally dull and gray when he's depressed.
  • In the Talkartoon short Minnie the Moocher, Betty Boop and Bimbo both get scared and have their monochromatic colors inverted.
  • When SpongeBob SquarePants found out what chum is made from in the episode "The Hankering", the yellow drained from his torso. He was able to wipe it off the floor with a towel and wring it back into himself.
  • Rocko's Modern Life: Ed Bighead does this when Dr. Hutchison says that they couldn't save Bev... then she realized she never specified that it was Bev's nose they couldn't save.
  • This happens twice in the Tom and Jerry short Penthouse Mouse, first to Jerry and then later to Tom after narrowly avoiding being crushed by a crusher.
  • In the Comi Color Cartoons short "Little Black Sambo", Sambo encounters a tiger and turns white with fright. And by "white", we mean caucasian.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Colour Failure


Stop! Look! And Hasten!

Upon leaping into his Burmese Tiger Trap and discovering who he's actually caught with it, Wile E. Coyote runs away in sheer terror. The book "How to Build a Burmese Tiger Trap" instructs him on how to construct a very effective Burmese tiger trap, and the trap works exactly as intended... as in catching a real Burmese tiger that emerges from the pit.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / ColorFailure

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