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Death Is Gray

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If Power Glows, then what happens if something is out of power, or even dead? A great way to indicate this is to have it fade to a monochrome color scheme, usually a gray one. Certain sections and parts might be the only ones to be affected by the loss of energy, but the entire body might fade too.

Can be Truth in Television. Humans owe the warm tint of skin to the blood circulating underneath it. In death, the circulation stops and within less than an hour the skin turns grayish. In fiction however, discoloration usually happens much faster and affects more than just the skin.

Robot characters undergoing this process can overlap with No Power, No Color.

Commonly used in Video Games for both gameplay and storytelling, especially for menus indicating incapacitated members. In most examples of Subsystem Damage, the system that is lost, disabled, and/or destroyed is often grayed out on the diagram if red isn't used instead (or red is reserved for when a system is destroyed versus gray when it's merely disabled).

A Sub-Trope of Color-Coded for Your Convenience and Gray Is Useless.

See Color Failure for when the change to a singular color scheme is the result of a state of shock. See also Undeathly Pallor.

As this is a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Jewelpet Sunshine: Iruka-sensei is a dolphin with pink skin, but will start changing colors if he's left out of water long enough. He turns gray once he is on the verge of dying.
  • Promare: The Burnish don't leave corpses when they die. Instead, they turn gray before slowly disintegrating into ash, as shown with Thyma. Lio's theme, 'Ashes' references this fact.
    They've burnt to ashes
    Faded to gray
  • Transformers Victory: God Ginrai's dead corpse fades to gray. The resemblance to Optimus Prime's death in the movie and Ginrai's similarity to him is probably unintentional as said movie had not been released in Japan yet (for further proof that it is probably a coincidence rather than intentional, Wheeljack, who dies in the movie, shows up alive and well in the same episode as Ginrai dies).

    Comic Books 
  • The Transformers (IDW): "Aggressive depigmentation" is an occurrence in Transformers who suffer intense damage or death wherein the natural colors of their bodies fade to shades of gray.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey: After Bill and Ted are thrown off a cliff by their evil robot twins, they appear as ghosts with gray skin.
  • I, Robot: The AIs' positronic brains fade from luminescent blue to dark gray when they're destroyed by the deactivator nanites. Most obvious when the nanites are used on the evil Master Computer and take several seconds to work through its oversized brain.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe
    • Avengers: Infinity War: When the Vision has the Mind Stone torn out of his head by Thanos, he fades from his usual red and green into a lifeless gray. Justified because he's made of Vibranium metal, which is naturally gray in its unaltered state.
    • Thor: Love and Thunder: A somewhat positive subversion. After defeating Gorr the God-butcher, Dr. Jane Foster - a.k.a. The Mighty Thor - succumbs to a combination of terminal cancer and having her life force drained by wielding Mjolnir. She dies in Thor's arms but has earned her place in the Asgardian paradise of Valhalla. She arrives at the gate dressed in a gray gown and is greeted by Heimdall, who is garbed in the same color.


    Video Games 
  • Alisa: Enemies that die turn gray after falling to the ground and dropping their tooth-wheels.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II: When a member of the Player Party is dead, their Character Portrait turns to grayscale until they're resurrected.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition: In The Stinger, Solas is revealed to be Fen'Harel, the ancient elven trickster god. He approaches Flemeth and absorbs her powers, killing her in the process. Her lifeless body immediately turns ash-gray and colorless.
  • Golden Axe: In the arcade version, when opponents are killed they turn gray.
  • Jump Super Stars: The playable characters' colours become less saturated as they take more damage. When there is only a sliver of health left, they turn gray.
  • League of Legends: When the player dies, their entire screen goes grayscale, save for the red number ticking down to their respawn. Color only returns once they respawn.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: The Great Deku Tree fades to a lifeless gray when it succumbs to the fatal curse inflicted on it by Ganondorf.
  • Metroid: Other M: The King Kihunter's death is signaled by its body and the nest it's attached to shriveling and turning a pale gray colour.
  • Parameters: Defeated, and therefore unusable, enemy spaces, are grey.
  • Project Zone: If a playable unit falls in battle, its sprite in the map takes on a dark gray coloration.
  • RemiLore: Lost Girl in the Lands of Lore: When Remi loses all her HP, the entire screen goes grayscale before the run's statistics list is provided and continuation options are offered.
  • TinkerQuarry: While the toys cannot die, they can be "Impaired", which traps them in a death-like state. When a toy is either Impaired or close to being Impaired, they lose all their color and go grayscale.

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia: In the final episode, Anne's whole body turns a flat shade of grey after her (temporary) Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Tangled: The Series: The decay incantation is incantation of death and destruction. And it is represented by anything it touches going gray, for example when Zhan Tiri casts the decay incantation to murder all of Corona, the town as well as the citizen's slow death, is represented by them getting grayer.
  • Transformers: Animated: In reference to Optimus Prime's death in The Transformers: The Movie, all Transformers fade to gray upon death. This is justified by the concept of Transformers having "electronic paint jobs" that let them change color at will, with the implication that their normal color schemes are such paint jobs that deactivate to reveal their real gray colors underneath when they die. After Blurr is crushed by the disguised Shockwave into a cube and handed off to be disposed of, it's noteworthy that the cube is still Blurr's powder blue coloring, hinting that he's still alive but immobile.
  • Transformers: Prime: The movie death is alluded to in an episode wherein Bumblebee enters Megatron's comatose mind to find a cure for a disease afflicting Optimus. Megatron is quick to sense his advantage and pressures the scout to agree to a little quid pro quo or else "Optimus fades to gunmetal gray."