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Colour-Coded Timestop

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"Time stopped. Coates faded, in a world made up of shades of gray."

It's hard for authors to make it clear that time has stopped moving or merely slowed down from the character's point of view, and that's because...well, because it doesn't happen in Real Life, time being, in fact, famous for waiting for no man.

This brings forth a problem: how will the viewers know time has stopped? Well, we could just have everything freeze in place, but it would work only in areas where there are a lot of actions (or at least a single movement we can see clearly) to be interrupted at once.

Sometimes, however, the plot demands time to freeze during a scene with no cops shooting bullets to stop in mid-air or falling debris that refuses to fall or clumsy waitresses who drop glasses of water and are comically frozen in an awkward pose trying to catch it. Movies can avoid this easily; they may just refrain filming a timestopped sequence without these visual aids, or perhaps zoom the camera in on a bug that froze above the hero's head. Videogames that offer timestop as an ability have no such luxury; a player could try and stop time anywhere from a crowded street to a small empty room, and, as such, a new visual representation is needed. Such a visual representation is also useful in media such as manga and comic books, where the pictures are never moving; it would be rather clunky to include text to the effect of "yep, time's still stopped" in every panel until it starts up again, after all.

One common solution for that is to simply colour the area affected by the timestop with a filter, and thus we have a convenient Colour-Coded Timestop.

These usually come in two flavors: either the timestopped area changes from colourful to a grayscale or sepia-toned zone, or it may have all of its colours turned negative. These are not the only kind of Colour-Coded Timestop, but are certainly the ones that get used the most. Almost invariably, the character(s) who caused time to stop will be exempted from the colour shift, so if you see anybody still in normal colours that means they can still move.

Please note that this trope applies to any Color-Coded Bullet Time as well.


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Grayscale Timestop

    Anime and Manga 
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • The original black and white manga began using the inverting effect for the dramatic moment in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders when DIO cornered Joseph. From then on, it used it on and off for the first panel of a time freeze. Ironically, the first time DIO's time freeze was depicted, it was in a color issue with no fiddling beyond Araki's usual odd pigments.
    • In the 2015 anime adaptation of Stardust Crusaders, when DIO activates The World's time stop, everything around him turns slightly darker after a brief negative-color flash. Eyes of Heaven follows suit.
    • The Licensed Game Heritage for the Future shows DIO's time stop as completely gray.
    • Since All-Star Battle was made before the aforementioned anime adaptation, DIO's time stop is yellow-colored there. Instead, it's Jotaro who gets the monochrome coloration.
  • In the second half of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, we see the inside of Homura's Time Stops, which are grey-colored. Homura herself is also greyscale when compared to the vivid colors of the other Magical Girls, which foreshadows the truth of her own time loop; for Homura, time is always standing still.
  • Star Driver has Zero Time, which activates whenever somebody uses their Cybody and makes time stop in this visual fashion. It should be noted, however, that this only applies to the real world, the actual Zero Time is its own realm and, visually, something else entirely.

  • Night Watch: Vimes sees the world as grey during a brief timestopped sequence.

    Video Games 
  • In Alundra, the Big Bad throws the entire Very Definitely Final Dungeon in a gray and misty time stop as a last-ditch effort to stop the hero.
  • Asmik-kun Land (a Platform Game for the Famicom) has a clock item that stops enemies for a limited time while the screen turns black-and-white.
  • Baldur's Gate II: The Time Stop spell renders everything affected by it gray.
  • Chrono Trigger: The titular object, when activated. Everything except the player's party turns monochrome.
  • Cube Colossus: A.M.U-03: "This AMU is capable to manipulate time, slowing almost everything in the range", and when it's activated, all colors are inverted.
  • Devil May Cry 4: Using the Chrono Slicer devices to slow down time results in a grayscale effect and goes further by making it seem like you're watching an old-timey movie.
  • In Dishonored, whenever Corvo uses his "Bend Time" ability, everything around him becomes black and white. This is also true in Daud's case.
  • Whenever Dante uses his Devil Trigger in DmC: Devil May Cry, the environment is painted in black and white, while his coat gains a glowing bloody red aura.
  • In Fable III, whenever time stops for the Prince or Princess to go acquire new skills.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Played with in Final Fantasy IX: When Stop is cast on a character (if it hits) it's not the character or the screen that goes greyscale, but rather their ATB gauge (which also stops moving). Likely done so that the player can tell at a glance who is affected.
    • Final Fantasy XIII-2: Whenever Serah's seer powers or Caius' tampering causes time to go into flux and/or stop altogether, everything but unaffected parties are completely desaturated.
    • Final Fantasy XIV follows suit: Whenever Alexander Prime uses its time stop the world turns considerably grayer.
  • Ghost Trick: Whenever Sissel fails to save someone and their time is up, time stops in a greyscale frame seconds later.
  • Primarily used for the Chrono Samurai's power in Gotcha Force. The projectiles were affected by the Negative Color version, however, to signal that the Chrono Samurai could still be hurt by colliding with them.
  • In Inazuma Eleven, the Heaven's Time hissatsu technique turns nearly everything gray for the duration of its Bullet Time effect. Exceptions are the user, who simply gets a Motion Blur, and the slowed-down opponents, who merely look dimmer.
  • Focus Mode in Jade Empire is more Bullet Time than a full timestop, but it does colour the screen greyish as everything slows.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • In NEO: The World Ends with You, executing a 200% Mashup with the time element stops time with the greyscale effect. Similarly, time can be slowed down with the same greyscale effect with a 100% Mashup or certain pins.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers has areas of stopped time portrayed in grayscale.
  • While it's not a full time stop, the Time Bubble ability in Psychonauts 2, which greatly slows down enemies and objects, is denoted by the affected target becoming grayscale, albeit surrounded by a rainbow outline.
  • In RosenkreuzStilette, this happens when Sichte Meister uses her Time Stop ability.
  • Sonic and the Secret Rings: The "Time Break" ability, which slows down time nearly to a stop, is portrayed by everything gaining a sepia-toned near-greyscale filter.
  • Super Mario Galaxy 2: Slowing down time makes everything fade into greyscale, and the music matches it by changing into a tinny, flat-sounding version of the normal BGM.
  • The Time Stop spell in the various Tales Series games, such as Tales of Phantasia and Tales of Vesperia, make the affected enemies turn grey.
  • The Touhou Project Fighting Games, with Sakuya Izayoi.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 

  • In DICE: The Cube That Changes Everything, Main Character Dongtae gets the power Time Stop. During that time, everything around him goes monochrome.
  • In Sluggy Freelance's Timeless Space, anything or anyone that's run out of time is frozen and grey. Downplayed in that the art style used inside the bubbles of active time is mostly black-and-white line drawings, so the golden glow at the edge of a time bubble and contrasting blue background often look more colourful than anything else in a strip.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Justice League episode "Only A Dream, Part 2", the Flash has a nightmare where he speeds up so much that, to him, the world seems frozen. Once he understands what's happening, the world changes to grayscale.

Negative Colour Timestop

    Anime and Manga 
  • [C] – Control: Asset Q's "Economic Blockade" does the color shift and paralyzes Yoga and Mayu, but they still talk, somehow... despite their bodies not moving at all.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders:
    • Dio Brando's Stand ability of stopping time is depicted in the '90s OVA as a quickly-spreading circle which inverts the colors before fading back to normal. The circle would also be commonly used by later adaptations and homages.
    • As mentioned above, the 2015 version of the World's time stop starts with a flash of negative color before turning to grey scale.
  • Suzuka: In the anime, Yamato seems to catch up with Arima Emerson during a track race. However, Yamato begins to falter and fall behind, causing everything around him to shift into negative colors complete with slow down time and a heart beat sound effect.
    Yamato: What's going on? I feel like my legs are buckling! I can't run any further!

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 
  • DEATH BATTLE!: The episode Metal Sonic vs. Zero had both fighters with Time Stands Still abilities. Metal Sonic's Chaos Control is shown to be an inverted color timestop which he uses to stop Zero's finishing move, but is countered by Zero's Dark Hold.
  • Sakuya Izayoi of Touhou Project, uses her time stop abilities frequently, not just for battles but to keep the residents of Scarlet Devil Mansion from getting out of hand. When seen from the outside, Fantasy Kaleidoscope uses an inverted tone, with gear mechanism patterns surrounding the edge of the screen.

Other Colors

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Cardcaptor Sakura, whenever the Time Card was used, all the things affected by it get covered in yellow.
  • Guldo's time-stopping powers in Dragon Ball Z turn the area purple until he has to breathe again.

  • A Fuzetsu/Seal from Shakugan no Shana colors the enclosed area in completely red, while turning any ordinary humans inside greyscale. Seal zones can be other colors as well, like the Aizen twins' Cradle Garden (yellow) or Snake of the Festival's personal seal (black).
  • In the Astropolis series, by Sean Williams, the subjective passage of time can be altered by most individuals through a process called overclocking. When a character is overclocking to move at an accelerated rate, the spectrum of light becomes red-shifted for that person (and blue-shifted if they choose to slow down their subjective perception of time too).
  • In the John D. MacDonald story The Girl, The Gold Watch, And Everything, the titular watch seems to stop time, but actually speeds the user up to the point where it seems that time has stopped. One of the side effects is that (to the user) everything appears red, due to some sort of effect on photon speeds.
  • Spider Robinson's Callahan's-universe novel Lady Slings the Booze features a very similar watch (with explicit reference to MacDonald's story) with the same effect.
  • In Scott Westerfeld's Midnighters, time stopping is signified by a blue haze.
  • During Thief of Time, the title-inspiring apprentice Lobsang learns to slow time around him to an almost-standstill, with the sky and air becoming a deeper blue as he slices seconds even finer. It even becomes a deep purple when he slices so finely that time starts to approach a full stop. Although this was not, strictly speaking, a direct result of Lobsang's slicing. He was just moving so fast that he blueshifted.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Andromeda: As the Andromeda got close enough to a black hole for time dilation to make 300 years pass in a matter of minutes, the picture took on sepia coloration.
  • Whenever the Handler stops time in The Umbrella Academy (2019), a saturated vintage filter washes over the scene.

    Video Games 
  • The True Final Boss from Asura's Wrath uses a blue color with his timestop attack.
  • In Bayonetta, both Umbra Witches and Lumen Sages have abilities that slow down everything around them, with different colours used for each. Witch Time throws a purple/blue tint over everything, while the sages' Light Speed reduces it to grayscale. Both versions, when used by the player, also have a translucent clock covering the screen to show how much time you have left; if the player is the one affected, they must jiggle the stick to escape it. Bayonetta 2's main antagonist has his own version that uses a red colour scheme.
  • In Blinx the Time Sweeper, each Time Control tints the world a different colour: purple REW, orange FF, blue PAUSE, green REC, and yellow SLOW. RETRY has no colour, but Blinx 2's Retry is orange.
  • In Bunny Must Die, the time powers are colour-coded blue for stopped, pink for rewinding, yellow for slowed and so on.
  • In Devil May Cry 5, the Elder Geryon Knight's timestop and the Ragtime Devil Breaker's Break Age move color the screen in a purple-gray tint. It also comes in a smaller scale via the time-stopping spheres produced by the Elder Geryon Knight, the Ragtime, and Urizen; anything inside the spheres will be tinted, while those outside will have normal colors.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim plays with it. On the one hand, the Slow Time Shout does have a clear colour-effect (the screen is tinted blue while it is affecting you). On the other hand, the colour-code doesn't mark Bullet Time effects — it signifies that you are under the effect of one of your Shouts. The other ways to trigger Bullet Time variants doesn't have the blue tint, while the Become Ethereal Shout does.
    • There's also the visits from members of the Psijic Order during the College of Winterhold questline, which sort of... blue-scale things. Whether it's a true time-stop or something else is debatable, but everything aside from yourself and the monk certainly seem to be frozen from your perspective. Your only option during these timestops is to talk to the monk; after these discussions, the timestops abruptly end, and events in the 'real' world continue as they were before.
  • Ghost Trick: While in the Ghost World, time stops entirely. The world is overlaid in red for Sissel, and later green for Missile and blue for Yomiel.
  • In God of War II, the Amulet of the Fates lets you briefly slow time to a crawl, covering everything in a hazy green hue and muting all sounds, save for a constant, ghostly breeze.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle has a yellow tint for DIO's time freeze, as well as a red motif for Diavolo's similar ability.
  • In Kingdom Hearts coded, everything turns green when Jafar stops time.
  • Max Payne 2 uses a slight sepia filter for Bullet Time.
  • Minty Fresh Adventure!: Colgate's cutie mark gives her the power to stop time with a Charged Attack, the ability being a Shout-Out to Kamen Rider Kabuto' "Clock Up" ability. It also grants her invincibility to Collision Damage and can be customized to play Boots Randolph's "Yakety Sax" while it's active, or some rock song. It gives Colgate faded out Speed Echoes, plays some sort of wooshing sound by default that stops into silence after a while, and some faded Speed Stripes, and a bit red, overlaid onto the background.
  • In Persona 3, the Dark Hour is a phenomenon that occurs between 12:00 and 12:01 at midnight, clocks stop moving and machines stop working, while ordinary beings sleep in their coffins. Only those with the "potential" are able to stay awake and move during this period. During the Dark Hour, there is a green filter all over the world.
  • Whenever time gets screwy in a Ratchet & Clank game, it's usually accompanied by a light bluish glow with some odd floating particles.
  • Singularity pulses in Singularity wash over everything in blue-white. Then, time either stops, goes backwards, or goes crazy.
  • TimeShift: Has color coded hazes, a white one (stop time), the red shift (reverse time), and the blue shift (slow time).
  • In Tokyo Xanadu, whenever Rem shows up to speak with Kou, the surrounding area turns dark-turquoise. She mainly uses this to privately discuss with certain people without interruptions though.
  • Wild ARMs 4: Whenever Jude activates his Accelerator in gameplay, everything except him gains a blue tint. During this time Jude moves normally, but everything else is slowed to a crawl. When he's shown using it in cutscenes, it's him who becomes blue.

  • Fighting Dreamers Everything goes red toned whenever Hood Cat uses their Time freezing abilities and the only cats not frozen have a slight red glow around them.
  • Girl Genius: The color of everything trapped in the Mechanicsburg time stop is red shifted. The only things in Mechanicsburg that aren't red-shifted after the Take-Five Bomb goes off are those things in the tunnels of real time Gil has managed to extend in and the monster from outside of time and dimension that is tearing it's way into the world in the middle of it in response to time being messed with.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, Coyote's time-freeze causes the world to turn blue-gray.
  • Homestuck:

    Web Animation 
  • In If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device, just milliseconds before Fyodor Karamazov gets a Greater Daemon's axe to the head, we get a brief wave of negative colour and then everything turns to a pinkish monochrome.

    Web Original 
  • In Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, the warm lighting of the ceremony room turns to cold/blue when Dr. Horrible turns on the freeze ray. Of course, this wasn't a full time stop, but only affected Captain Hammer.

    Western Animation 
  • In Teen Titans, Raven inadvertently froze time to stop the resurrected Slade, who, with his new pyrokenesis, became too much for the Titans. The surroundings turned completely blue save for Raven (who wears a lot of bluish purple anyway), and, unfortunately, Slade.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Color Coded Time Stop


Time Stop Doesn't Stop Them

Ainz stops time to cheat on a test, only to notice that it doesn't affect everyone.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / MoveInTheFrozenTime

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