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Deliberately Monochrome

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"You see dimensions in two,
State your case with black or white"
The Fixx, "One Thing Leads to Another"

Sometimes, the less we say, the more gets said. Despite and because of its simplicity, complexity, stark contrast and cultural cachet, Black and White movies and stand-alone TV episodes have remained popular in a few genres and story niches. Its uses vary, but these works are deliberately desaturated to help the general mood and theme of the Film.

While no genre has a lock on B&W, the likeliest to use it are Film Noir, detective stories and historical films or paying homage to historical films. The themes that can be expressed or heightened with B&W are generally moral ambiguity, Zeerust, mystery, drama and tragedy.

There are a few common variants: Desaturation, Limited Palette, and Splash of Color.

Desaturating the color of a film can also be used to mimic the look of older films, particularly colorized black-and-white films or faded prints of color films. This has led to use of Sepia tones (browns and tans that mimic faded photographs) to indicate the scene in question is a flashback. It's worth noting that combining a Desaturated picture with Splash of Color can result in a Limited Palette. It can also be used to symbolize depression.

A Limited Palette is a work completely in Black and White except for one or two recurring colors, shown in full vibrancy and linked to an important character or object. It's as if someone was making a "Paint by Numbers" movie with only two colors available. The net effect of these strategic and recurring uses of color in a B&W film may help to draw the viewer's attention; whether it’s to the MacGuffin, the Femme Fatale or Chekhov's Gun. The colors themselves also inform roughly what emotions or themes are present in the work. Whereas Splash of Color is usually just a visual grab, a Limited Palette with colors like red or blue means the world is violent or sad, and that the character or object is somehow more alive or real than the world they're in. This is why a common Flashback Effect is to use a limited palette of warm colors to signify happy and old memories. Until the tragedy kicks in, anyway.

A Splash of Color is much like the above, but appears only once or twice throughout the entire film as opposed to throughout.

In infomercials, Deliberately Monochrome signifies the "old-fashioned" (and usually inferior) way of doing things. The woman tangled in a mess of cling wrap or cutting her fingers off while paring potatoes with a knife will usually be in black-and-white, while the woman easily covering leftovers with a Covermate or "peeling" a potato with the Handy-Peel will be in full color.

See also Retraux, Real Is Brown, and Color Failure. A Monochrome Past is this trope limited to a flashback. Compare Colorization.


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Pure Black and White

  • Most "comparison" shots for diets, acne medicine, and other cosmetic applications will happen to have the "before" shot in black and white, and the "after" in color.
  • There was an advert in the 1980s for Courage Best beer that was deliberately shot in the style of a 1930s film — they actually got a cinematographer from the '30s involved to ensure authenticity. The advert is known as "Gertcha"; it's supposed to hearken back to an era where Courage Best was apparently served in every pub across the land. Or perhaps it's supposed to show that Courage Best is timeless. Either way, "Gertcha" is the name of the Chas & Dave song that plays during that advert, and in fact Chas & Dave did do more jingles for other, similar Courage Best adverts in the 1980s.
  • The Trope Too Incompetent to Operate a Blanket is in turn practically built around this trope.
  • Most attack ads during political campaigns do this, usually with the candidate they don't like. Magical colors reappear when the candidate they do like comes on screen.
  • Many ads for kids show the boring world in black and white before the introduction of the new product that gives everything color.
  • A commercial for Duracell batteries from the 1980s featured toys of Laurel and Hardy in a getaway motorcycle powered by the newer Duracell battery being chased by a police car powered by the older Duracell. The commercial is done entirely in black and white with dialogue cards in place of spoken dialogue (save for the Duracell logo at the end).
  • While the first part of a two-part commercial for Energizer batteries featuring King Kong is shown in color, the second part is shown in black and white. A more straight example from Energizer is a commercial parodying The Lone Ranger, as it is shown entirely in black and white.
  • A couple of the past commercials for Universal's Halloween Horror Nights were styled in black and white:

    Anime & Manga 
  • The 2023 anime adaptation of Junji Ito's Uzumaki is completely in black-and-white to match the manga's artstyle.
  • CLANNAD starts out like this, before Tomoya meets Nagisa. By the same company that made The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.
  • Darker than Black has an entire arc where suitably monochrome scenes indicate the past.
  • .hack depicts the real world, as opposed to The World of the on-line VR games, in grainy black and white... except in the very final scene, where two of the players joyfully meet up in real life for the first time.
  • The 1969 Dororo anime is entirely in black and white, despite other anime at the time being produced in color. The pilot was in color, but apparently the sponsor thought that there was too much blood, so the black-and-white was something of a compromise.
  • In Durarara!!, people that don't really have any plot importance tend to be grey.
  • In episode 10 of the Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun anime, the scene where Kashima tries to sing is rendered in black and white, in the style of an old film reel. This is to demonstrate her tone deafness.
  • The last episode of GunBuster, just cause it's so angsty. What do you expect, it's a Gainax Ending (the angsty version, not the budget one - though to be fair, the limited budget that remained to finish the show played a role in the decision too).
  • When Iori is telling ghost stories to Makoto and Yukiho at the beach during the night in the anime version of The iDOLM@STER.
  • Episode 7 of Puella Magi Madoka Magica displays the witch Elsa Maria’s realm this way, but takes it a step further. Everything but the background is either pitch black, blank white, or splattered red with blood (the blood is only visible in in the HD Bluray version).

  • Guernica is composed entirely in grey-scale. Many scholars believe that this was done to create a somber mood. Others think it's meant to evoke a newspaper photograph.
  • Postmodern painter Mark Tansey works in monochrome as often as not, partly because his art is intended to invoke the relatively recent past, which is defined by black and white photography, rather than the Renaissance and earlier, which we know by varicolored paintings.
  • Young Hylas with the Water Nymphs: Much of the image is done in sepia tone. Even the sky is a brownish blue.

    Card Games 
  • "Mystical Medleys: A Vintage Cartoon Tarot": Satan in "The Devil" is done entirely in greyscale. This contrasts the man, the woman, and the podium to which they are chained, and the torch in Satan's hand — all of them are colored.

    Comic Books 
  • The single issues of 20 Fists are black-and-white, though the future collected edition will be in color.
  • The Batman: Black and White anthology series has stories where it's in, you guessed it, black and white! Some stories are in pure black-and-white, while others have gray tones, depending on the art style. One story from around the middle of the run, "The Gasworks", has splashes of red. "The Black and White Bandit" features an eponymous villain who is colorblind and whose idiosyncrazy involves things that are black and white — adding a bizarre level of meta.
  • Bloom (2019) is inked with black and white with a blue color palette.
  • Caballistics, Inc.: The entire comic is in black and white, which adds a lot to the creepy atmosphere.
  • The Crow is done entirely in black and white.
  • Deadman # 5 (originally published as Strange Adventures'' #213) starts with a couple of black-and-white panels of Deadman in Tiny's mind. When the comic switches to the physical world, all the panels are in color.
  • Ghost Island is done entirely in black and white.
  • Group Of 7 A Most Secret Tale: The comic is done entirely in black-and-white.
  • The German version of Hellboy, when drawn by Mike Mignola.
  • Idées Noires: All the gags in this comic strip are Black Comedy about stuff that worry and depress most people: suicide, fear of world war, fear of the bomb, fear of nuclear power, fear of epidemics, ... but also fantastical After the End jokes, Take That! comedy aimed at hunters, the death penalty and jokes about bizarre monsters. So naturally everything is drawn and inked in black-and-white.
  • The Lost Boy: The comic is drawn entirely in black, white, and grey. The comic also seems to utilize a drawing style reminiscent of old charcoal drawings.
  • Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt (2019) is a miniseries which makes a lot of references to the works of writer Alan Moore. Most of it is a full-color superhero story, but issue 4 takes place almost entirely in a quasi-realistic world in which superheroes do not exist — depicted in low-key monochrome, in a pastiche of the style of sometime Alan Moore collaborator Eddie Campbell.
  • Puerto Rico Strong: In the short comic Stories From My Father, the "present day" Puerto Rico is portrayed as monochrome to show that the woman feels detached from it. A can of Florecitas cookies is coloured in because it reminds her of her childhood memories. The comic gets increasingly colourized as the protagonist begins to feel at home on Puerto Rico.
  • Most scenes set in The Gloom in Rainbow in the Dark are entirely black and white.
  • Red Dwarf Smegazine: For the most part, holograms in the comic strips are depicted in grayscale as opposed to their colour appearance in the TV Show.
  • Most of Sin City; it's entirely black and white, i.e., no gray. Starting with "That Yellow Bastard," certain characters are highlighted in color, falling somewhere between the other two versions of this trope.
  • The Tower by François Schuiten and Benoit Peeters has the building maintainer Giovanni live in an homonguous Tower (like the tower of Babel) which looks abandoned, and which is slowly falling apart around him. He intends to seek out "the pioneers" who are in charge of the building work at the highest level. The book is kept in black and white except for a series of old paintings about the Tower, shown to Giovanni during a fortuitous encounter at an inhabited sector. Finally he reaches the outside at ground level at the end of the book and emerges into a colored environment - in between the front lines of some military confrontation. His face, however, stays black and white throughout.
  • Twisted Dark: The series' stories are illustrated in black and white, possibly to emphasize the dark tone of the series.
  • Venom is almost entirely black and white, though only his lens and symbol are white.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes: While Sunday strips were ordinarily in color, one used an surreal Art Shift in which Calvin saw the world in a bizarre patchwork of heavy monochrome blotches (not resembling the necessarily monochrome daily strip format). Color returns only for the last panel:
    Dad: The problem is, you see everything in terms of black and white.
    Calvin: Sometimes that's the way things are!!
    • In another episode his father explains that old photographs are in black and white because the world was actually black and white until the 1930s.
  • Doonesbury once published a color Sunday strip entirely in black and white. The strip had Mike and Zonker discussing their distaste for "colorized" editions of black and white movies.
  • Brazilian comic strip Urbano, o Aposentado (Urban, the Retiree) once featured a sunday story featured the titular character utilizing a new brand of soap flakes at his washing machine the made the whole last panel colorless.

    Fan Works 
  • The credits' scene in Diamond's Cut, which makes it look cool in spite of the budget limitations.
  • In Deafening Silence a Muggle color photo of Harry and Snape taken during their wedding is changed to black and white for some unspecified reason.
  • In Super Therapy!, session "Captain America Therapy!", the video gets in black and white when the doctor starts talking like out of a Film Noir to reach out to Shell-Shocked Veteran Captain America.

    Films — Animation 
  • The shot of the White Rabbit's watch being smashed in Alice in Wonderland is in black and white.
  • For a brief scene in the original Fantasia, the screen goes black and white after Mickey Mouse hacks the broom in the "Sorcerer's Apprentice" segment.
  • Similarly to Young Frankenstein and Ed Wood, Frankenweenie is shot in monochrome to give it a '50s B Movie atmosphere.
  • The entire newsreel montage in The Incredibles about the denouncing of superheroes and eventually their rejection from society is in black and white.
  • In Mary and Max, Mary's world is shown in sepiatone, whilst Max's world is in black and white. There are occasionally shades of red that stand out, a la Schindler's List.
  • Persepolis (except for scenes in the present day).
  • While the art of the French The Future Is Noir film Renaissance is purely black and white, its story is told in shades of gray.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: Spider-Man Noir, in keeping with the Film Noir aesthetic of the universe he comes from, gets a completely monochrome palette.
  • The opening scenes of The Triplets of Belleville (a.k.a. Belleville Rendez-vous), done as a pastiche of early 1930s cartoons.
  • In Turtles Forever, this is how the Turtles Prime world, a.k.a. the original Mirage Comics Turtles, is depicted. The only exceptions are the characters and things from the 1980s and the 2000s worlds.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Betty Boop is shown entirely in black-and-white while the rest of the Toons are colorized. Her stint as a cigarette girl in the Ink and Paint Club sums it up when she meets Eddie Valiant:
    Betty: Work's been kinda slow since cartoons went to color.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 2:37: The "interview" segments the film cuts to every now and then, wherein one of the viewpoint characters details background information or their thoughts on various subjects to someone slightly off-camera, are in black and white.
  • 3 Idiots: Scenes set in Raju's house in the chronological timeline, which "came out straight from a 50's film", are black-and-white. It is to emphasize how poor the Rastogis are.
  • At a time when nearly all Disney productions were in color, The Absent-Minded Professor and its sequel Son Of Flubber were shot in black and white because the special effects required looked more convincing in monochrome.
  • Andrei Rublev, where the only color sequence is the ending montage of the title character's paintings. This is in line with director Andrei Tarkovsky, who usually only used color as a specific visual device.
  • Angel A: Luc Besson's film was shot in black-and-white.
  • Some shots in April Showers use this to look like security camera footage, evoking Columbine footage.
  • The Artist: This 2011 film is not only shot in black and white, but is silent as well.
  • Soviet film The Ascent (1977) uses stark black-and-white cinematography along with a lot of Snow Means Death to set the mood of despair and desperation, in a story of a Russian partisan unit fighting the Nazis during World War II.
  • Black Wake: Some scenes are shot from a corner in the ceiling and filmed in black and white to make it look like it was shot by a security camera.
  • Bedazzled (1967): The rock concert sequence is in black and white to mimic the look of mid-1960s TV shows like Top of the Pops. Logical, since Britain's two main networks didn't get color until 1969.
  • The short film The Bloody Olive is shot in b&w as an homage to the classic Film Noir genre.
  • Begotten takes this to the extreme. The film is so black-and-white that it doesn't even have any gray in between, everything is either extremely grainy white or extremely grainy black. This was achieved via intense processing through an optical printer. It took nearly ten hours to render each minute of the final product.
  • Bonjour Tristesse: Has present-day scenes in black-and-white and flashbacks in color.
  • The Butterfly Effect: In the timeline where Evan was caught in the explosion and rendered a quadruple amputee, ironically, this ended up being the one reality where everyone else had the perfect life. Because of this, Kayleigh, Lenny and Tommy are all shown in much stronger colours, while Evan is heavily desaturated and appears almost grey.
  • The Call of Cthulhu: The 2005 movie is deliberately done not only in black and white but as a silent movie.
  • The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society also did an adaptation of The Whisperer in Darkness which was shot in black and white in homage to a 1930's talkie.
  • Casino Royale (2006): The opening sequence prior to Bond receiving his 00 rating is shot in black and white.
  • Casshern: Has scenes with liberal use of color, and scenes reduced entirely to black and white. The point is contrast — black and white is only used for scenes taking place in Zone 7, where the war is going on.
  • Clerks: While the first film used black and white film to save money, Clerks II has brief scenes shot in black and white as a Call-Back to the first movie.
  • Clint Eastwood: His films Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima, though filmed in color, are shot and lit as if done in black and white, giving it the same effect. Adding to this, the volcanic rock of Iwo Jima is really not a very colorful place.
  • C'mon C'mon: the footage in the trailer of this 2021 film directed by Mike Mills and starring Joaquin Phoenix is black-and-white.
  • Computer Chess: The Mockumentary film was shot with a Sony AVC-3260, giving the film a grainy black and white for almost the entire film, save an acid trip sequence in which Papageorge is hunting for his drug money at his mother's house. (The narration informs us that sometimes computers get stuck in an endless cycle, which is a metaphor for Papageorge's drug addiction, hinting that 30 years later, he's still desperately looking for his drug money to buy pills.) The videocamera used tubes to convert the images to digital, meaning it could be damaged shooting directly into the sun (which happens just before the film ends.)
  • Comrade Stalin's Trip to Africa: This Georgian film was shot in black and white. It uses a lot of stock footage, especially of Stalin and his victory parade, and the new footage matches. (There's also a little color stock footage.)
  • Control: This biopic of Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis was shot entirely in black-and-white to recreate the appearance of 1970's band photography, particularly that taken by the film's director, Anton Corbijn, a photographer for NME, Rolling Stone and other magazines. Joy Division was in fact one of the many bands that Corbijn had photographed during their lifetime, and it is his photos that provide the most comprehensive visual reference for them.
  • Dead Man is purely in black and white.
  • Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid: This is a Film Noir parody-homage that contains a mixture of recycled footage from real films noir and new footage shot in black-and-white to match.
  • Defiance: At the beginning of this film, we see black-and-white film footage of German soldiers rounding up Jews. We cut to a scene which you swiftly realise is not contemporary footage, which then turns into color. At the end of the film, things return to black-and-white.
  • Down by Law (1986) was shot in Black and White which compliments the gritty Deep South scenery.
  • Ed Wood (1994): This was shot on real black and white film because it made it easier to recreate the spirit of Ed Wood's 1950s monster movies, and it made the actors look more convincing as people (Vampira, Bela Lugosi, etc.) whose iconic images were always black and white. It was also felt that it just wouldn't be right to make a movie about Ed Wood in colour.
  • Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin (Tales from the Gimli Hospital, The Saddest Music in the World and Brand Upon the Brain!) uses a mixture of black and white, film tinting, and individual scenes done in two-strip color to invoke the vintage look of silent and early sound films.
  • The Elephant Man: Done to make the environment seem more old fashioned.
  • L'Élève Ducobu (2011): Every Imagine Spot of Ducobu being sent to a Boarding School of Horrors is in black and white, to accentuate how dreary he thinks it would be.
  • Eraserhead: David Lynch's earlier film does this as well, in order to facilitate Nothing Is Scarier.
  • A Field in England is entirely in black and white.
  • Flaming Lips (Christmas on Mars): This is mostly in black and white to emphasize the dreariness of life in an abandoned Mars colony, with more fantastical or just plain Mind Screw sequences in vivid color.
  • Fando Y Lis, by Alejandro Jodorowsky is filmed this way. Perhaps because of lack of resources.
  • Following: Nolan's feature debut is filmed this way.
  • Frances Ha: This is filmed entirely in black-and-white, owing to its' French New Wave influences.
  • Friday: Smokey's flashback scenes were black and white.
  • Le Gendarme de Saint-Tropez: The opening of this French movie, set in a small village of the French Alps, is in black and white. Then it switches to color with the arrival in the much more colorful town of Saint-Tropez.
  • The Girl Can't Help It (1956): Starts in B&W and narrow screen, but this lasts only a few moments (which include the 20th Century-Fox sign-on). When Tom Ewell appears at the start of the opening credits to mention that the movie is in Technicolor and Cinemascope, the screen adjusts accordingly.
  • Girl On The Bridge: Patrice Leconte's film was shot in black-and-white.
  • A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night: Shot entirely in black-and-white, despite the heavy emphasis on red in the posters and marketing.
  • Godzilla: Gojira was shot in black and white, not because it couldn't be shot in color, but because it was decided that black and white would send the message better, and because although it was possible to shoot film in color, doing so would have poor quality (see Rodan), and also because it is easier.
  • The Good German: This film was shot in color (because this allowed the use of faster film than currently available in black-and-white, and the ability to use "green screen" techniques), but the color was then converted digitally to a grainier black and white, in order to recreate a 1940s film noir style, and blend with carefully restored period archival footage.
  • Good Night, and Good Luck.: This made the black and white footage of the real Senator Joe McCarthy in the film integrate very well visually.
  • La Haine: This French movie by Mathieu Kassovitz. The scenes shot in the inner city of Paris were originally intended to be shot in colour, to create a more stark contrast with the black and white scenes shot in les banlieues, but the budget wouldn't run to it.
  • Help!: The Beatles' second film, made a big deal of being in color - then, at the beginning, the scene shifts from a death-cult sacrifice being cut short to the band playing the title tune in black-and-white...turns out it's a film the cult is watching.
  • Dutch film Het meisje met het rode haar (The girl with the red hair), about a resistance fighter in WW2 Holland, deliberately fades almost everything to monochrome as a visual reminder of the grim nature of life under German rule. The only part of the picture to remain red, or at least in Dutch national orange-red, is the long hair of the titular character, Resistance fighter Hanne Schaft.
  • When the inevitable disaster in The Hindenburg happens, the film switches from color to black and white so that it can incorporate footage from the actual destruction of the eponymous airship from 1937. To further the effect, the entire climax was also shot with handheld cameras.
  • Horrorvision: The Flashbacks to when Dazzy was with Dez (before Horrorvision took her, and Dez had to smash her disk to free her) are shown in black and white.
  • 2014 Polish film Ida is entirely in black and white. It was the director's idea to go Retraux in order to mimic the look of Polish films in The '60s, but it also helps set the mood of a dreary, Stalinist Commie Land.
  • If (1968): Some scenes are in black and white. Many people have tried to find the "pattern"; some think that the black and white scenes are fantasy or dreams, but others think that the color scenes are. Star Malcolm McDowell claims that some of the scenes would have taken too long to light properly if they had been shot in color, and then other scenes were shot black and white to add "texture". But another view is that the filmmakers ran into money troubles halfway through shooting and so had to shoot the rest of the scenes in black and white.
  • Ivan Vasilievich Changes Profession: The beginning and the end of this Soviet classic are in black-and-white, while the rest of the movie is in color. This serves to indicate that the monochrome scenes are the mundane Real Life, while the color scenes are All Just a Dream.
  • J-Men Forever (1979): This comedy consists of clips from Republic serials from the 1940s and 50s, edited together and re-dubbed for comic effect. In order to frame the resulting incoherent story, creators Philip Proctor and Peter Bergman act in scenes as the Chief of the J-Men and his bumbling sidekick Barton. The scenes are naturally filmed in B&W to match the rest of the footage.
  • Kafka: All the scenes in the old city are shot in black and white. When Kafka enters the castle through a secret passage in the climax, the scenes shift to color and back to black and white again when he leaves.
  • The Czech director Karel Zeman did this multiple times:
    • The Deadly Invention is in black and white to evoke the original engravings from Jules Verne's books.
    • Baron Munchausen, The Stolen Airship, and On the Comet has live-action elements filmed in black and white, but also has color animation, color washes, and splashes of color all added for stylistic reasons. The resulting effect is rather like a 19th-century hand-colored postcard (The Stolen Airship and On the Comet even lampshade that similarity a couple of times) or one of those cool old tinted and hand-colored films from the early silent era (think the Early Films featured in Hugo).
    • A Jester's Tale is in black-and-white, but an article written during filming claimed that it would include color washes like the three films immediately above; Executive Meddling or Money, Dear Boy (or both) may have prevented this effect from being carried out.
  • Kild TV: The intro to Dr. Perseco's Late Night Horror is shown all in black and white. The rest of the show is in full colour.
  • Kill Bill: Parts of this film. Allegedly to fudge around censorship rules, due to the sheer amount of graphic bloodletting in the infamous battle royale with the Crazy 88. The second film as well, but as an artistic choice. It was a homage to the old westerns such as High Noon as well as an emulation of their themes. They went beyond just black and white: the first reel of the film (the part that is black and white) is actually recorded and distributed on an older form of film made out of vinyl instead of plastic. A real pain for the projectionists, and vinyl film scratches about ten times easier than modern plastic films.
  • The Last Picture Show was, according to Peter Bogdanovich, shot in monochrome at the recommendation of Orson Welles.
  • The Lighthouse was shot on black and white film with an almost-square aspect ratio. It emphasizes the bleakness of the setting and resembles photography from the 19th century, in which the movie takes place.
  • Logan: While the original version of the film was in color, much of the early promotional work was in the form of black and white photos. A full black and white release of the film based on the positive reception to those stills was released in theaters on May 16, 2017, and also included on the Blu-Ray release.
  • The Longest Day: This 1960 Star-Studded epic is in black and white to give it a documentary feel.
  • The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra: This film is in black and white, being an Affectionate Parody of 50s B monster movies.
  • The "Black & Chrome Edition" of Mad Max: Fury Road is a director's cut of sorts, identical to the theatrical version except it's completely B&W and has no sound except for the musical score. George Miller had wanted to release a Mad Max film this way ever since viewing a silent, B&W print of Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior created for sound mixing purposes and finding it more "visceral" than the version the studio would let him release.
  • Malcolm & Marie: The film was made in 2020 and is entirely black and white.
  • Man Bites Dog: The low-budget Serial Killer Black Comedy C'est arrivé près de chez vous, translated as It Happened in Your Neighborhood and marketed as Man Bites Dog, is filmed as black-and-white documentary.
  • The Man Who Wasn't There (2001): This is an interesting case; the film was shot in color, made monochrome for the US releases but released with the color in Europe due to the contract. The black and white is an homage to old noir films.
  • The 2011 Filipino neo-noir biopic Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story was shot exclusively in black and white.
  • Marathon: This 2002 film, aside from being a "Silence Is Golden" adherent, was also shot in black and white.
  • A Matter of Life and Death: Earth is in color and Heaven is in black and white — a deliberate inversion of expectations. At one point one of the Heavenly characters actually lampshades this by remarking, "One is so starved for Technicolor up there."
  • Memento: The series of scenes that occur in chronological order, as well as the flashbacks contained within them, are filmed in black and white to distinguish them from the scenes that are shown in reverse chronological order. The trope is played with very well when the plot threads' meeting point coincides with the color appearing in a developing Polaroid photo.
  • The Mist: The DVD has two discs: one with the film in color as theatrically released, one with the film deliberately monochrome.
  • Joss Whedon's adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing is shot in black and white to make setup and lighting easier, given the shoestring budget and 12-day production schedule.
  • Nadja (1994): This modern vampire movie is filmed entirely in black and white. Apart from the artistic considerations, it also allows for Bela Lugosi to make a cameo appearance via Stock Footage.
  • Nebraska: According to director Alexander Payne the movie was shot in black and white because the story seemed perfect for black and white. The result is gorgeous cinematography. A color version was aired on TV, to the disdain of the director.
  • The Edgar Wallace parody Neues vom Wixxer has Blackwhite Castle which is so traditional that it's still monochrome, as are therefore all scenes taking place there. This effect can be turned off with a switch, though.
  • Nickleodeon: Peter Bogdanovich wanted to film this 1976 homage to early movie-making in black and white but the studio insisted on a more commercial color release. The film was released in a black and white director's cut version on DVD in 2009.
  • Night at the Museum: The second film has two such cases. One has young Al Capone, whom the Big Bad uses as one of his Dragons, and Capone's Mooks. Also, when the protagonist and Amelia Earhart are escaping from Mooks, they enter the famous World War II victory photo (the one with the kiss), where everything but them appears monochrome.
  • The Notorious Bettie Page: This film is mostly black and white, but changes to lush 1950s style color in order to convey the sense of release the main character feels when visiting Miami.
  • Paper Moon: Set in the Great Depression, it was Peter Bogdanovich's follow up to The Last Picture Show (see above); also, he reportedly feared the father-and-daughter team of Ryan and Tatum O'Neal would look too good in color to be believable as 1930s con artists.
  • Paris brûle-t-il ? (Is Paris Burning?): This French movie was shot in B&W in 1966 (save for the final view of modern Paris). It allowed the Stock Footage of the actual liberation of Paris to mix more seamlessly with the film. Also, hanging red Nazi flags in Paris wasn't allowed by the French authorities, even for a movie; the flags had to be gray instead.
  • The Phantom of the Opera (2004): It includes several black and white scenes. In this case, these are the "present day" scenes, and the past is shown in full color. There's also a Splash of Color moment at the end — the rose on Christine's grave.
  • π: Darren Aronofsky's first film, was notorious for combining extremely high-contrast B&W with his "hip hop montages" to show the character's distorted world.
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945): Released in 1945, was shot in black and white, but Dorian's title portrait is shown twice in three-strip technicolor.
  • Psycho: Black-and-white films were common in 1960, but seven of Alfred Hitchcock previous eight films were in color.
  • Raging Bull: Released in 1980, this is a legendary example of a film deliberately shot in black-and-white. However, there is a brief montage in color that pushes the story several years into the future. That sequence is shot in the style of amateur home footage that has aged and faded.
  • The Red Spectacles pulls a reverse Wizard of Oz; the opening sequence is in color, while the next 90% of the film (which may very well take place entirely in the protagonist's head) is in black and white.
  • The Reluctant Dragon: The first half is in black and white, with the main character commenting on the switch to color.
  • Revolution (1967): This short is in black and white. It had to be a deliberate choice, because colour in films had become the norm by the 1960s.
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show: This film was supposed to be in black and white until the first chorus of The Time Warp, signifying the entrance into the new, colorful world of the Transylvanians.
  • Roman Holiday: Used black and white film because director William Wyler feared that if they filmed it in color, the viewers would spend too much time admiring the Roman landmarks to focus on the story.
  • Schindler's List (1993): This was filmed in black and white to make it "timeless", and to fit the period, with a few exceptions: A girl's red coat is shown in full color twice in the film, and the flames of the Sabbath candles symbolically fade to black and white early in the film, returning to color later. The effect wasn't so much to fit the period, as much as it was to emphasize the four different scenes that do have color.
  • Sharkenstein The prologue of the movie is shot in black and white.
  • Some Like It Hot: Billy Wilder mostly directed black and white films until the 1970s. Wilder's film was shot in black and white because the make-up used to drag-up Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon looked too garish on color film.
  • In Stalker (1979), the characters' hometown is black and white while the Zone is in color.
  • Stanley Kubrick: In the late 1950s and early 1960s, many directors such as Kubrick choose to stick with black and white film despite the rapidly rising popularity of color film, precisely for these reasons (not to mention at the time black and white still had an edge in picture clarity and contrast, and B-movies used B&W for budget reasons). Arguable examples include Marilyn Monroe's last film The Misfits, 3:10 to Yuma (1957), and Dr. Strangelove.
  • Sympathy for Lady Vengeance: There is a version of this film called Fade to Black and White in which the movie starts in full color, but the color gradually fades until the last scenes are completely monochrome. Even the regular version has a similar effect: The locations and outfits in the first few scenes make use of very bright colors, but towards the end, the bright colors are replaced by pastels, greys, and black and white. Park had planned to film Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance this way, but the idea was scrapped due to budget limitations.
  • Task Force (1949): Has the early parts in black & white to match existing footage; once it reaches WWII, the movie switches to color to match that footage.
  • Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)
  • They Live!: Black and white is used to show when the main character is seeing through the sunglasses that show how things really are.
  • Thirteen Days: Done a couple of times, probably to mimic the TV coverage of the time.
  • The Three Stooges: Most of the 1960s films, done as an homage to their more popular 1930s and 1940s shorts.
  • Three to Get Ready: This 1987 Duran Duran documentary was shot in black and white to highlight the cinema verite aspect of the documentary, which chronicles the band's first attempts at managing themselves while also promoting the album Notorious and preparing for an accompanying tour.
  • Van Helsing: The opening scenes of this film, in homage to the old monster movies of the 30s and 40s.
  • The opening credits of Vertigo are in black and white from the Paramount logo up until the title card, which has a red background.
  • Werewolf by Night (2022): The film is shot in black-and-white until the end to emulate the Universal Horror films of the '30s and '40s.
  • The White Ribbon (2009): This was originally shot in color and then altered to black and white in post-production in order to create a distance from a false naturalism that suggests we know exactly what happened in that village set right before World War I.
  • Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: This was shot in black and white mainly because the makeup to turn Elizabeth Taylor (then in her early 30s) into a woman in her fifties looked unconvincing in color.
  • The Wizard of Oz: The opening was deliberately filmed in B&W to highlight its transition to the then-new color filming. It was one of the first movies to use three-strip Technicolor. In the book, Kansas is gray, just like a black and white movie. In the movie (non-TV prints), Kansas is sepia and white. Presumably it's supposed to echo old photographs.
  • A few years later, The Wizard of Oz inspired the makers of the first film adaptation of The Secret Garden to use the same technique, contrasting the brilliant life of the restored garden with the glum drabness of the surrounding estate.
  • Several films by Woody Allen: Manhattan, Stardust Memories, Zelig, Broadway Danny Rose, Shadows and Fog and Celebrity.
  • Young Frankenstein: In order to better parody the old Frankenstein movies. (As Mel Brooks himself puts it in the trailer, "In black and white! No offense!") According to Brooks, he refused to shoot the film in color and took the project to a different studio when the first was too chicken to release a B&W movie then.
  • Zack Snyder's Justice League has a black and white version nicknamed Justice is Gray.

  • Aurora Cycle: Everything is black-and-white when inside the Fold. However, the Eshvaren star map is able to display red, marking the location of the Ra'haam, despite being activated inside the Fold.
  • Choo Choo (1937): the entire book is drawn in black and white, in a style that suggests charcoal pencils were used to make the illustrations.
  • Though its absence isn't indicated until far into the book, the majority of The Giver takes place In a World… where color (and music... and sex...) have been eliminated — or, rather, most people have been genetically engineered and drugged not to see it. This is employed in the film adaptation as well; it starts out in monochrome, but more colors emerge as Jonas receives memories that feature the full human color spectrum.
  • In the Goosebumps novel The Haunted School, the protagonist finds himself trapped in a world without colour, and finds out it's populated y the Class of '47 - children from five decades ago who ends up trapped in the colourless world thanks to a magic camera. Most of the story revolves around the protagonist's efforts to escape, until the final page has him — and his entire class — getting shot by that same camera. Again!
  • The Night Mayor is set in the City, a virtual reality realm based on old black-and-white movies, and so there are no colors in the City, only shades of grey. The narration occasionally underlines this by describing the color of something only the color isn't, such a woman's glossy black lipstick or a priceless grey jade necklace. After he's been in the City a while, Tunney finds he's having trouble remembering what "blue" or "red" look like.
  • The world of The Numberlys is all black and white until the alphabet is invented.
  • The Idrians of Warbreaker have tried to exclude color from their nation as a defense against Awakeners. It doesn't actually work, though, as they don't exclude browns or blacks, and both of those will work for Awakening.
  • The Way Things Work: Each double-page spread alternates between full colour illustrations, and a sepia theme.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel: A reference to being in Italy in the 1950s cuts to a Federico Fellini-style flashback (lasting some three seconds) of Spike and Drusilla drinking espresso in black turtlenecks and sunglasses, saying nothing but "Ciao".
  • Better Call Saul: Scenes set post-Breaking Bad are in black-and-white, showcasing just how dull and depressing Jimmy/Saul's new life as ordinary Cinnabon manager Gene Takavic is compared to his glory days. The only Splash of Color we get in this gray world comes from his old Saul Goodman commercials when he watches a tape of them.
  • A wine-tasting task on Big Brother Celebrity Hijack was broadcast in black and white at the behest of that day's celebrity Big Brother, Malcolm McLaren.
  • Boy Meets World did a Noir Episode in black and white.
  • Buzz (2000): One of the segments on the show involved parodying black-and-white silent films. This of course involved having the footage shown through a grey filter.
  • Charmed:
  • Cold Case imitates the production values of the periods they flashback to, and anything beyond 1950 or so ends up black and white. This includes when we get flashes of the Time Shifted Actors during present day scenes, which ends up looking sort of creepy.
    • One episode began in full old-photo sepia and appeared to take place in the early 1800s. Then a car full of people pull up. It was 2006, in Amish country.
    • Also, in episodes about bank robbery, flashbacks also are black and white despite being set in 2000 — to imitate security footage.
  • Community:
    • In the episode "Pillows and Blankets", Britta's rather inept and pretentious war-photography is all in black-and-white. The narrator of the episode is not impressed:
    Narrator: Unfortunately for Britta, and millions of photographers like her, just because something's in black and white doesn't mean it's good.
    • The season 3 episode "Curriculum Unavailable", which parodied clip shows, had flashbacks to "unseen episodes", one of which involved a Prohibition-style paintball game. Those segments were in black and white.
    • One of the Dean's more outlandish costumes had him in 1950s sitcom housewife drag, dressed and made up completely in black and white.
  • The first color daytime episode of Concentration, in November 1966, had the first couple of minutes in black and white, similar to The Wizard of Oz.
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend occasionally shifts into black-and-white for musical numbers, depending on the era of song being parodied.
  • This is a staple feature of nighttime filming in Paranormal Investigation shows; in The Dead Files, for instance, Amy Allen's psychic reading of the supposedly haunted location is always filmed in B/W while everything else that happens is in full color.
  • Daredevil (2015) season 3 depicts Dex's backstory as a stageplay shot in black-and-white as Wilson Fisk works his way through Dex's life to find his psychological weak spots.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Warriors' Gate": Some of the weirder parts of the story, for thematically-appropriate but difficult-to-summarize reasons.
    • The opening scene of "The Two Doctors", as a homage to the black-and-white 1960s episodes.
    • "The God Complex" gives us a creepy hotel. You know it's watching you when it's monochrome.
    • "The Zygon Invasion" kicks off with a black-and-white video by the Osgoods talking about their role in keeping the peace between humans and Zygons and something called the Osgood Box. The video is in black and white so viewers can't tell what colour the box is — because there are actually two boxes.
  • The TV remake for Fail Safe (the one starring George Clooney) was shot in black and white, imitating the original.
  • Frank Sidebottom's Proper Telly Show (titled Frank Sidebottom's Proper Telly Show In b/w on-screen around adbreaks) had its first run in a week shown in monochrome ("so you don't have to adjust the color on your telly") and subsequent repeats shown in color.
  • The pilots of the TV Comedies Get Smart and Hogan's Heroes were in black and white, all of the other episodes were in color.
  • Glee made use of this trope several times, in particular during Christmas Specials such as "Extraordinary Merry Christmas", which has an in-story special directed by one of the characters and shot completely in black and white. In-universe, the purpose is for it to resemble the 1963 Judy Garland Christmas Special. Off-universe, that and probably making sure the viewers know that the special is a parody of the days gone by and thus avoid Unfortunate Implications, especially that Holiday Roommates Are Funny. Notice that Finn's lightsaber is a nice shade of blue, making it a Splash of Color.
    • The special of the following season, "Glee, Actually", uses this in Artie's It's a Wonderful Plot subplot, perhaps in order to emphasize how worse things would have been if he wasn't paralyzed.
    • Outside of this Christmas specials, this was also used in the Shot For Shot Remakes of the music videos for "Vogue" in season 1 and "Scream" in season 3.
  • Referenced in The Goodies' episode "The Movies", where Bill believes that black and white films were made using black and white sets, costumes and makeup. This pays off in the surreal "movie" that forms the last few minutes of the episode.
  • Both Lois & Clark and Smallville have done film noir tribute episodes in black and white.
  • The "Interview" episode of M*A*S*H was shot in black and white to look like an authentic 1950s TV interview show. It even includes a brief voiceover from Alan Alda at the start of the episode informing the audience that the episode was deliberately filmed in black and white, presumably to keep people from thinking their TV was busted.
  • Matlock has a B&W episode about Matlock's father.
  • Monk has an episode, "Mr. Monk and the Leper", which was shown separately in both color and B&W (and heavily publicized as such).
  • Moonlighting has a B&W episode. Introduced by Orson Welles, no less.
  • The Murdoch Mysteries Noir Episode ''"Dead on Arrival", with a note at the start that this is intentional.
  • NCIS: Before every commercial break or at the end of the episode, the scene fades to black-and-white. One episode plays with this when Tony shows Ziva a picture he took in Paris, and she comments that it would look better in black-and-white. Cue the fade.
  • In one episode of Night Court, Harry is shown the world if he'd never become a judge, which is in black and white. Harry concludes that his absence would literally drain all color from the world, but his guide, an angel in the form of Mel Torme, explains that he's just doing it for effect, knowing that Harry is a film buff.
  • The "Rome" episode of No Reservations is deliberately shot in monochrome, as Anthony Bourdain explains how his impressions of the city were formed from old '50s Italian movies, which were generally shot in B&W.
  • Once Upon a Time has a Land Without Color, as a reference to the Frankenstein films, as Dr. Frankenstein came from that world.
  • In the Argentine series Poné a Francella, the titular character of the "Enrique el Antiguo" skits is a young man that is completely monochromed and acts as if the 70s were present times. Everything else is in full colour. In the final episode, he reveals he was purposefully acting that way to remind everyone of the happier past years, and once he stops doing that, he becomes fully coloured like everyone else. After a Time Skip, he is revealed to have a son that was also monochromed and also acted as a Fish out of Temporal Water.
  • Power Rangers:
    • In the "Dark Wish" three-parter of Power Rangers Mystic Force this effect was used to show a world where the Mystic Rangers never existed.
    • The Power Rangers Zeo episode "It Came from Angel Grove", in order to pay homage to old black-and-white horror films.
    • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: One episode featured a monster with the power to rob people and everything else out of their colors, making them black and white.
  • The Season 3 finale of Queer As Folk uses this device, contrasting a B&W police-occupied Liberty Avenue to its truer colorful and celebratory self (a rainbow flag being waved is the first item to regain color).
  • During the Season 5 Reunion Season Finale of RuPaul's Drag Race, contestant Detox showed up painted completely monochromatic, looking like she had literally just stepped out of a 1950's film. Later in Season 8, a runway challenge hearkened by to Detox's reunion look by having all of the contestants provide their own black and white movie look.
  • Siskel & Ebert once did a show shot in Black and White with themselves in tuxedos as part of their theme to demonstrate the artistic advantages of black and white film.
  • Small Wonder did this in the episode "Big 'J', Private Eye".
  • Sorry!: Timothy's dreams in "Perchance To Dream" (where he dreams that his job interviewer is his headmaster) are in black and white, mainly to emphasise that they are dreams.
  • St. Elsewhere: In "Sweet Dreams", Ehrlich's dream about being on an island of Amazon women is shown in black and white as it is an Affectionate Parody of adventure films of the 1930s to the 1950s.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: The holoprogram The Adventures of Captain Proton is black and white as it's based on 1930s/50s Film Serials like Flash Gordon and Commando Cody. When the holographic Doctor walks onto the holodeck, Harry Kim quickly tells the computer to "adjust the Doctor's spectral frequency" whereupon the Doctor turns monochrome too, much to his annoyance.
  • Supernatural had "Monster Movie" filmed in B&W as an homage to 1930s monster movies.
    Dean: It's about time the Winchesters got back to tackling a straightforward, black and white case.
  • In Tin Man, when DG meets the first Dorothy Gale, she enters a black and white landscape resembling The Wizard of Oz Kansas.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959) was intentionally always shot in black in white (they could have used color if they wanted to), to add to the feeling and theme of the show.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Dream Me a Life", all of the dream sequences are in black and white.
  • The Weakness, a series about vampires in Pittsburgh, is filmed entirely in black-and-white with occasional splashes of red for blood. Season 2 Episode 2 features color during a segment set in the spirit world.
  • The X-Files:
    • The episode "The Post-Modern Prometheus" is in black and white in homage to old Frankenstein movies and, presumably, the Deliberately Monochrome The Elephant Man. Only the very beginning and the last shot is in colour, but animated, presenting the episode as a comic book story.
    • "Tithonus" uses a special effect to mark people who are about to die. Alfred Fellig can sense it, and he sees such people in black and white on an otherwise normally coloured background. It's visually stunning, and appropriately ominous.
  • The ending credits of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles uses footage from the episode in black and white, as well as slightly cranked and with the grainy quality you'd expect from start-of-the-20th-century films.


    Music Videos 
  • Black & white videos were a huge fad in the 80s. In fact, virtually every significant musical act from the period has at least one. The most famous is undoubtedly the mega-hit "Every Breath You Take" by The Police.
  • Michael Jackson:
    • The non-musical segments of "Bad" are in black-and-white.
    • "Billie Jean": The first 20 seconds of the video are in black and white, which serves to play up the Film Noir aesthetic of the song.
  • Madonna's music videos for her songs Express Yourself and Vogue are done in black-and-white to evoke a glamorous Hollywood atmosphere from the 1920s and 1930s.
  • COMMUNICATIONS: ROTARY DIAL’s PV is entirely grayscale as a reference to Frances having achromatopsia. BLACK & WHITE has both grayscale and colored parts in reference to how Henry is the tie between Frances and Nancy.
  • John Mellencamp's "The Authority Song" and "Lonely Ol' Night".
  • Metallica's "The Unforgiven".
  • *NSYNC's music video for their song "Gone" is filmed entirely in black and white, while inserting a 1920's silent-movie storyline filmed in sepia tones in between shots of the band singing and at a party.
  • In Pepe Deluxé's "Go Supersonic" video, the scenes in the real world are black and white, while the hallucination is in color. Initially, the color is somewhat washed-out, but as the dream gets trippier, the colors become more vivid.
  • Clan of Xymox's "Stranger".
  • Roy Orbison's appropriately titled concert film, A Black and White Night.
  • Queen's music videos for "I'm Going Slightly Mad" and "These Are the Days of Our Lives" were shot in black and white to disguise Freddie Mercury's deteriorating health, and by the time of the latter, not even that could make him not look like crap, only make him presentable enough to appear on camera for potentially the last time. Indeed, the latter video was Freddie's final onscreen appearance before passing away.
  • "Cheap Thrills" by Sia and Sean Paul.
  • Bob Seger's "We've Got Tonite".
  • Bruce Springsteen's "Brilliant Disguise" and "Atlantic City".
  • Lindsey Stirling's work:
    • This is used at the beginning and end of the Phantom of the Opera piece (here), along with artificial aging to make it look like the film is old. Color is introduced when the texture and tempo pick up as the band appears.
    • The entirety of "Shadows" is done this way, since it is about the shadow and color isn't needed. It adds to the surreality of that video.
  • Tears for Fears: The "No Small Thing" music video consists entirely of black-and-white found footage.
  • The White Stripes' video for "My Doorbell" was entirely black and white, not to mention shot in the Magic Castle in Los Angeles, lending itself very well to the vaudeville atmosphere of the video.
  • Several of Nine Inch Nails' music videos are in black and white, including "Happiness In Slavery" and "We're In This Together".
  • Loona's "Mamboleo" was deliberately in black and white. Not deliberately on their own part, mind you, but on Herbert Groenemeyer's, whose song the group had plagiarized and who punished them by forcing them to withdraw their first video and shoot a new one, sabotaging the summertime feeling this way.
  • The Free's "Dance the Night Away".
  • Music video of White Town - Your Woman is in black and white to imitate old films.

  • Bally's Centaur is noted for its use of black and white throughout the cabinet, backglass, and playfield art. The only other color used is red, with a few small green lights and the ambient amber of the lamps.
  • The Munsters:
    • Downplayed with the display animations, which are usually in black and white (primarily to better fit with the use of clips from the original series, which was filmed before the widespread adoption of color television). It even affects the stock tutorial footage in the Attract Mode.
    • The game's Premium version changes the playfield art to be completely monochrome for the same reason, though Stern later put out a version in full color (like the Pro and Limited editions).

    Professional Wrestling 
  • This is common way wrestling promotions show matches that are really bloody on public broadcast, in order to keep their TV deals. Particularly after CMLL lost one.
  • Sami Callihan's promo footage is often shot in the style of old film and thus, not in color, in addition to being prone to skipping and being highly jumpy.
  • During the entrance of Willow The Wisp, the Impact Zone is filmed in black and white, with a filter giving a not quite look to the live audience.
  • Leah Von Dutch is fond of black and white video packages. She's even overtaken the Shine logo at times.
  • Olde Wrestling, a celebration of of pro wrestling from the 1920-40s, likes to go with a monochrome presentation.

  • The Besmirched in Gravestonecemetery are grey-scale. Justified, as they're all made of ink.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000 has Sons of Malice chapter of Chaos Space Marines. Their prime colors are black and white, though few golden strips also appear in official color scheme. Fan depictions of Malice followers often feature pure black-and-white color scheme.

  • As the Show Within a Show in the musical City of Angels is supposed to be a 1940s Film Noir, its costumes and sets are in black and white.
  • In Twice Charmed, the themed black-and-white ball has the scenery and almost everyone present in shades of black, white, and grey, making the colorful transformation afterwards more impactful.

    Video Games 
  • 1916 - Der Unbekannte Krieg is displayed in black and white, being set during World War I.
  • 1000 Amps uses grayscale graphics.
  • In Aether, each planet begins in black-and-white and as you go on your adventure they get filled with more and more colour. And as it gets more bright and coloured, the Earth progressively shrinks, until it completely disappears by the end of the game. This is meant as a metaphor for protagonist's fantasy world overtaking his real life.
  • In The Angry Video Game Nerd II: ASSimilation, the first two "Monster Madness" stages are in black and white, being an homage to vintage horror films, although the second has switches to temporarily activate the color, while "Virtual Insanity" is black and red in the style of the Virtual Boy.
  • The entirety of the 2022 sci-fi game, Astronite, is in black-and-white, in an attempt to emulate 1980s old-school games.
  • Asura's Wrath does this version on a couple of occasions. Such as when the Girl that looks like Asura's Daughter dies, and when Yasha does one final attack before dying standing up.
  • A few BBC Micro games, including Cholo, Plan B and Spellbinder, have graphics in black-and-white. To be sure, there were technical reasons for this (MODE 4 offered fairly high resolution while not tying up over half of the Model B's RAM as video memory), but it's not that color graphics were impossible on the system or that monitors would only accept monochrome output.
  • Parts of the epilogue of BioShock Infinite take place in a monochrome environment, particularly flashbacks to when Booker DeWitt sold his daughter Anna to Zachary Comstock to pay off a debt and then tries to get her back.
  • BLANC is entirely in black-and-white, to emulate a setting similar to a child's picture book.
  • There's a neat use of this in the obscure PS2 game Blood Will Tell. Set in medieval Japan, the player character Hyakkimaru had most of his body parts stolen by demons as a baby (then replaced with magical substitutes by a friendly wizard), so the main quest involves tracking down those demons and defeating them to get his real body back a piece at a time. The first couple of levels are in Black and White, but after an hour or two of gameplay you get to fight and kill the demon who had taken Hyakkimaru's eyes. At that point Hyakkimaru gets his "real" eyes back, and the game switches to color.
  • In Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombie mode, when playing on ascension, the screen is in black and white until you turn the power on, after that it shows a momentary (about 2 seconds) sepia tint, then it goes to full on color.
  • Cel Damage has a character named Fowl Mouth, who, along with his car, appears entirely in monochrome, due to him originating from the 1930's.
  • The original version of Closure uses only black and white color. The PlayStation 3 version has some shades of gray in between.
  • In Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley, the manga-based world of "Cutie Cutie Kid Cupids" is done entirely in black and white, complete with screen-tone shading like in a real manga.
  • de Blob starts out so because of the Inkie invasion. It's up to the player to destroy them and restore the world to its vibrant state.
  • In the original Doom and Doom 2 the player's vision changes to inverse monochrome (i.e. black shows as white and vice versa) when the Invulnerability powerup is active.
  • Dragon Quest VIII has the Dark World, which despite its name doesn't really fit the trope; it's no more evil or sinister than the normal world, and it's visually and geographically identical to the island from which you enter it except that it's all in shades of gray: gray grass, gray sky, gray enemies (who are slightly harder to beat than their in-color counterparts), etc. Although some elements like water, fire, and poison marshes are still in their respective colors (blue, red, and purple). It makes it surprisingly hard to get around and find stuff, although treasure chests are still in color, and show up even better against gray grass than green. Your party is also still in color, and the townsfolk (who are all in black and white) comment on how funny-looking you are, being in color and all.
  • In the bonus ending of Drakengard, the protagonist falls through a dimensional rift into an alien dimension where everything is in black and white. That realm happens to be modern-day Tokyo; the black and white is to emphasize the otherness of that dimension to Caim and his dragon.
  • Dream Alone, a horror-themed platformer, has entire levels in either black-and-white or sepia to reflect old-timey B-movies.
  • Dreamkiller turns the screen greyscale whenever Alice activates her Berserk mode, while turning enemies red. Slain mooks turns grey as well to help Alice differentiate background with enemies.
  • DUSK-12 has Gorin's X-Eye mode, when his power level is insufficient and the screen automatically turns greyscale.
  • Evoland is in black and white for the few minutes it takes to find the chest containing 16-color mode.
  • The Ashen World in Fairune 2 is this with a Splash of Color where things are either powered (cyan) or hostile (red).
  • In Fallout 3, at one point the player is put in a Zee Rust Lotus-Eater Machine which shows a black and white version of a sunny 1950s suburb where the player is a child for some reason. To be exact, you're a kid, the old man in control of the thing is a little girl and your dad is a dog.
  • Fancy and the Fox is done in the style of silent movies. As such, it's entirely in black and white and has title cards instead of normal dialogue.
  • While Fobia: St. Dinfna Hotel is in colour, occasionally during the Pianist boss fight the screen will turn greyscale when she pounces upon you. None of the boss, or levels in that matter, have this effect.
  • In The God of Crawling Eyes the protagonist Max is color-blind, so he sees everything in black and white. So does the player. Even though it's not a first person game.
  • The host of The Hidden Object Show is in black and white while everything else is in full color.
  • The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction has unlockable black & white and sepia settings.
  • Iris.Fall, an indie puzzle game featuring the spellbinding theme of "light and shadow", has a very limited colour palette. Your protagonist is notably pale white with black outlines, and there are several stages which are monochrome as well (intersect with a few stages in actual colour.
  • The flashback scenes in Jonathan Kane: The Protector is in greyscale, as is a level where Jonathan gets shot and left for dead by the villains, with the whole stage turning monochrome as seen from Jonathan's POV. He needs to reach his emergency medikit within 40 seconds or die, and if he made it the screen turns back to colour.
  • Karateka Mania and Rhythm Heaven's Karate Joe is only 1 shade, mostly blue or orange.
  • The Timeless River in Kingdom Hearts II, which deliberately emulates the look of 1920s Disney shorts for time travel purposes. The only colored elements are in the HUD, and even those are desaturated.
  • Kingdom of Loathing is black-and-white.
  • A level in Rainbow Resort from Kirby's Adventure for the NES has an all-B&W level, as a throwback to Kirby's Dream Land for the original Game Boy.
  • In L.A. Noire there is an option to play the game in black and white, for that Film Noir feel. If you choose to play in color, the screen gradually changes to black and white when you're injured — the closer you are to a Game Over, the less color there is. In addition, every case starts black and white at its title card, with color introduced shortly.
  • Being badly injured in Left 4 Dead to the point where you will die when incapacitated makes the screen go this, as a warning.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Twilight areas of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. According to the early trailers, the Twilight was originally supposed to be completely monochrome, but the development team decided to make it more sepia-like with lots of bloom, possibly as one of Nintendo's many Take Thats against the "realistic" graphics on competitor systems.
    • Also, The Wind Waker, with the rerun bosses in Ganon's tower. Hyrule Castle in The Wind Waker is also monochrome (and frozen in time) before you get the Master Sword.
    • The flashbacks in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild start off in sepia monochrome for a few seconds before transitioning to full color.
  • Limbo has a foreground that's entirely in black silhouettes except for the protagonist's Milky White Eyes, and a greyish, shadowy background.
  • In LittleBigPlanet, you can set up a monochrome filter on your custom stage.
  • In The Matrix: Path of Neo two Japanese-style pagoda/temple training levels are this. The first is caused by a glitch, that makes it look like an old flickering movie, the second is actually made to be deliberately monochrome.
  • Mickey Mania for the Sega Genesis, CD, and SNES starts in black and white save for Mickey Mouse himself, on screen graphics and collectible items. The first level is based on Steamboat Willie, as part of the game's theme around playing through classic Mickey Mouse short cartoons. However, as you progress through the level, colour is slowly added to the Steamboat Willie universe, though mini-boss Pete and the title character (who is separate from Mickey in the game's universe) remain monochrome when encountered. Future levels are all based on colour Mickey Mouse cartoons and are animated accordingly.
  • Minubeat is made up of simple, black-and-white contour graphics. Or white-and-black (you can invert the colors.)
  • The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom uses this with Silence Is Golden to invoke an old B&W silent film theme.
  • Indie game Monochroma has even the title telling its palette, with just some red along with the shades of gray.
  • Monster Hunter (PC) has the B-movie levels, where the entire screen is filtered in either black-and-white or sepia. It doesn't make the enemies more difficult to kill, but it makes finding the monster spawners difficult, especially when the player is trying to find the correct spawner to destroy in correspondance to the monster type they're killed.
  • The entirety of My Beautiful Paper Smile, a horror game whose graphics resemble pen-drawn images entirely.
  • Not for Broadcast: The in-universe camera feed in the Telethon level in its entirety, all capturing the Retraux feel of the TV shows of The '50s.
  • The Punisher for Xbox was considered too violent, and the game turns to black & white whenever you use one of the special interrogations to kill somebody. It's generally discouraged, but c'mon, you know you want to see a drill through that guy's face... This is actually a good thing, as the game is a last gen game. The PC version doesn't have the B&W happen, and it looks pretty silly, but the console versions make the blood look like blood in B&W instead of pixels.
  • Graphics in Pencil Whipped is designed to look like pencil drawings on a sketchpad coming to life. Some enemies might display a splash of red when hurt though.
  • The Nightmare stages in Pre Dusk are greyscale, while the rest of the worlds usually contains limited colour palettes. Then again, you're a Living Shadow in this one.
  • Characters in Rogue Legacy can be "born" with various random traits. If they have nostalgia, the entire game world will be shown in sepia, while color-blindness means everything is in black and white.
  • The vaporware Wii Gothic horror title Sadness was supposed to be presented entirely in black and white.
  • Shift is completely in black and white to clearly show where you can shift into. When the character shifts into the black squares, he becomes white and vice versa. Whenever you die, though, a bunch of full-color blood appears.
  • In Splinter Cell: Conviction, hiding in shadows turns the screen black and white. This is to reduce HUD elements and has a fair bit of realism as you do see in black and white in darkness in real life, although they don't adjust that fast.
  • The entirety of Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers is set in the 1930s and rendered completely in black-and-white, to emulate the atmosphere of old-timey Alien Invasion B-movies. The game even throws in some static for good measure.
  • Everything in Sunday Night Suicide is rendered in black-and-white, emulating the subject short of its origin.
  • Superliminal: One of the final sequences is purely black and white.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
  • The "How to play" movies for the official maps in Team Fortress 2 are black and white.
  • While rarely depicted in-game, Teslas Tower The Wardenclyffe Mystery takes place on an alternate Earth whose inhabitants have lost the ability to see color due to a sabotaged experiment.
  • Indie title Tower of Heaven was done in the style of an original Game Boy title, using shades of green rather than gray. The ending sequence is in color.
  • The Uncharted series of games include optional black and white and sepia filters.
  • In the Uncle Albert games series, starting from Le Temple Perdu de l'Oncle Ernest, the cutscenes about Uncle Albert are in black and white to simulate old movies.
  • Versus Umbra: The CPU-intensive Greyscale relic does what it's supposed to - make the battle black, white, and grey.
  • Wario Land 4: Upon running out of time after you hit the portal switch in a level, the level loses all color, and Wario begins to leak coins. Should you run out of coins, you are ejected from the level.
  • White Shadows is entirely in black-and-white, befitting it's setting in 1940s London. The graphics even looks like an old movie from that period.
  • World of Warcraft has the Sha, monstrous beasts of negative emotion introduced in Mists of Pandaria; their black and white figures stand in stark contrast to the colorful land of Pandaria. The Sha of Fear has some color, but it only reaches Limited Palette with a mix of purple and red.
  • Yin and Yang is essentially two games in one — one with everything black on a white background, and one with everything white on a black background. The two are kept separate, each with their own main character who can't directly interact with the other main character.

    Web Animation 
  • The "Old-Timey" universe from Homestar Runner. Partially averted with the Valentine's Day episode, "in A COLOR!"
  • Meet the Millers: It is completely black and white to reflect the time period the series is set in.
  • In Bravest Warriors, the afterlife mall, all its deceased residents, and the bus that ferries the dead to said mall, are all black and white.
  • The Red vs. Blue episode Grey vs. Gray, is shot entirely in black and white, to further the noir atmosphere. And because every character involved is colorblind.

  • Blip: The comic's format was switched to black and white for a month, citing "budget cuts" as the reason.
  • The Daily Derp. The characters are all white, the backgrounds are various shades of grey.
  • In Dream Keepers Prelude some contemplation.
  • Almost all the strips of El Goonish Shive are done in grayscale. This strip explains this choice by pointing out how hard color composition is compared to composing in gray.
  • Endstone was originally done in black and white, except the covers.
  • A comic called Webcomic/Flick is about a series of miniature universes, each of which has a specific set of rules that pan out to different genres. One of them is film noir, which is entirely monochrome and very 40s-esque in style.
  • Frankie and Stein is done in only black and grey.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court rendered Dr. Disaster's space battle simulation in black and white.
  • In Jenny and the Multiverse, the Man in Grey is always rendered in grayscale. Even his speech bubbles are grey.
  • Melvina's Therapy: Most of the stories are deliberately drawn in black and white, but color is sometimes used for certain effects, most notably during one of Bea's arcs.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Grayscale is used to display darkness seen through Darkvision.
    • The two prequel books (On the Origins of PCs and Start of Darkness) are (mostly) in grayscale. Best explained by the author, Rich Burlew:
    You may be wondering why on earth this book is in greyscale, when OOTS has always been in glorious full color. Clearly, it is to give that "nostalgic" feeling, so that you really feel like you are peering into the past. After all, these are the "home movie" of the OOTS characters, and so black-and-white seemed appropriate. I was outraged to learn that it was, in fact, less expensive and faster to produce, and insisted on paying the printer the full cost for a color book, simply to appease my conscience. That's just the kind of guy I am.
  • In Parallels, black and white is used while the artist works on making color work better.
  • Free Spirit (2014) uses shades of gray and white instead of colors, unlike the rest of the Platypus Comix series.
  • Not only is all of Sam & Fuzzy done in black and white, but the entire website is. Whenever something with color appears on the front page, it's either a guest comic or a new print to buy.
  • The dark and serious superhero webcomic Shades takes this further. When someone has a minor flashback, the images are "actual" photographs, including polaroids for the 70s and B&W for WWII. The WWII fighter pilot has a longer flashback entirely in B&W, while a flashback to the middle ages is drawn as if on parchment (black on dust-yellow). Sadly, the flashback to 3000 B.C. was not drawn as a cave painting.
  • In Soul Symphony, scenes in the real world are depicted in black and white. Scenes in the "Soul World" are depicted in full-color.
  • Inverted in Wapsi Square, which is usually in black and white, except for a few special occasions.
  • The Manor's Prize is drawn in grayscale to emulate the style of old black-and-white movies.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-316 is a camera that induces this effect on people.

    Web Videos 
  • The British Railway Stories: The scenes shown during the opening narration used in the earlier episodes were shown in black and white, while the rest of the show was fully coloured. Black and white were also used for the Flashback scenes in episode 10, The Legacy Of Gadwall.
  • The Music Video Show does this in Episode 86, which is in black and white because the video is on The Tragically Hip's "In View" music video, which is also in black and white. It's also dedicated to frontman Gord Downie, who passed away weeks before the episode was uploaded.
  • SyFy's The Mercury Men is filmed in black and white, reminiscent of The Outer Limits (1963) and old Fifties serials.
  • Pistol Shrimps had their The Slap video done entirely in black and white, to parody older films and the exaggerated misogyny of the time.
  • The Spoony/Linkara crossover review of Warrior #4 uses this at the end, after counteracting the effects of the comic on reality by aggressively not caring, and going slightly overboard with it.
  • In Demo Reel, behind-the-scenes scenes are shot this way, while "filmed" scenes are in color. Brad Jones' Demo Reel did this as well.
  • Whenever Tess Masazza, the creator and main protagonist of the Italian Webseries Insopportabilmente Donna suffers a disappointment or something bad (or perceived as such) happens to her, the video turns into black and white and a sad song starts to play.
  • The Star Trek: The Original Series Fan Sequel, Star Trek Continues, uses this a plot point in the episode "What Ships Are For", and it even has an In-Universe justification. Due to special radiation emitted by their sun, the inhabitants of Hyalinus are unable to see color, and as a result see everything in monochrome, something which also affects the crew of the Enterprise as they visit the planet, and as a result, all the scenes taking place on Hyalinus are rendered in black and white. This also works to hide the plot twist that Sekara and Thaius and several other "Hyalians" are actually Abicians.

    Western Animation 
  • Discussed in an episode of 6teen. Jonesy and Wyatt are on a double date with two girls at the movies. Jonesy is complaining that the film is in black and white when they have the technology for color and high resolution. Wyatt points out that it's a deliberate choice as a metaphor for the hard times depicted in the film.
  • Done in Adventure Time's "BMO Noire", as it is a parody (and homage) to mystery film noirs.
  • All of the film and television images in Batman: The Animated Series are in black and white, most noticeably in the episodes "Beware the Grey Ghost" and "Almost Got 'Im".
  • The Code Lyoko episode "Sabotage" has the trope directly referenced. Damage to the Supercomputer is causing lots of bugs on Lyoko, including one that makes Ulrich's Avatar lose all colors. Playing along, he starts fighting a Tarantula Three Musketeers-style with his katana.
    Ulrich: Since I am in black and white, let's do this old style. En garde!
  • Duckman has a noir parody episode done in B&W. In another where the cast travels to a caricatured 1950s milieu, the scene turns black and white; Cornfed remarks that they do not approve of people of color.
  • The Fairly OddParents!:
    • An episode switches to black and white for most of the story; it is a parody of gritty Dick Tracy-style detective stories.
    • Also in the episode where Timmy is babysat by his grandfather and wishes to transform the world into a 30s cartoon everything turns black and white and in the style of the era.
    • When Timmy wished everyone on Earth to look the same, Cosmo and Wanda turned the world and everyone on it grey.
  • The first segment of the Futurama episode "Reincarnation", done in the style of an early-'30s Fleischer Studios cartoon.
  • Garfield Specials:
    • Garfield: Babes and Bullets, a noir spoof that features colors only when Garfield is out of his fantasy.
    • Garfield: His 9 Lives has a B&W life when Garfield is a stunt cat for Krazy Kat.
    • The first scenes of Garfield in the Rough were deliberately on Black and White and it even started with a warning telling the viewers not to adjust the TV's color set.
  • The last episode of Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi was "It's Alive!", an homage to Frankenstein (1931) that was entirely in black and white and had Ami as a Mad Scientist with Yumi as her hunchbacked assistant helping her build a Frankenstein's Monster Kaz.
  • The Series Fauxnale of Justice League Unlimited and Batman Beyond feature black and white flash forwards that is actually just Terry imagining what he'll do after Luke, You Are My Father-ing Bruce..
  • Tex Avery's MGM cartoon "Lucky Ducky" had two canine duck hunters chasing a small wiseacre duck when suddenly everything turns black and white after crossing a boundary line. The three walk back to the line and see a sign: "Technicolor Ends Here".
  • The bonus Cars Toon Mater: Private Eye, which is exclusive to the DVD version. However, it's revealed at the end that some of the characters are actually indeed colorful.
  • One Oggy and the Cockroaches episode had the cockroaches causing Oggy's washing machine to overload, covering the entire house and garden with pink foam. When a rain cloud approaches over the house and washes away the foam, the area is left in black and white.
  • Pepper Ann features a "contemporary noir" spoof, although only the flashbacks are black and white.
  • Parodied in an episode of Phineas and Ferb, when the boys become detectives and wear "detective makeup" to make themselves look like they came out of a Film Noir.
  • Downplayed in Pibby. One scene in the trailer is set in an old black and white cartoon, though the main three remain in color.
  • An episode of The Powerpuff Girls (1998) features an Enemy Mime who can absorb the colors (as well as sounds) of anything he touches, turning part of Townsville in grayscale.
  • An entire episode of Recess was done in black and white, involving a story in which Gretchen is discovered for vandalism and explains via flashbacks to another student of how and why she ended up in that room in the first place.
  • The second half of the Samurai Jack episode "Samurai vs. Ninja" has a battle sequence done in pure black, pure white, and no other colors whatsoever. Jack wraps himself with his white gi and appears as a white silhouette, while his ninja adversary is already camouflaged in black and becomes a black silhouette. The two characters then dash about attacking each other, appearing and disappearing into the black and white shapes of their environment.
  • The majority of the Sheep in the Big City episode "Baah-dern Times" consists of a silent film starring Sheep and General Specific's grandfathers, with the film being black and white to complete the homage.
  • Zig-zagged in Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings (2002). Simon's world is presented entirely in black and white (except for Simon's chalkboard, which is dark green), while the land of chalk drawings is more vibrant and colourful.
  • The "King Homer" segment in The Simpsons episode "Treehouse of Horror III", a parody of King Kong (1933).
  • Scenes at the title camp in South Park's "The Death Camp of Tolerance" as a deliberate Shout-Out to Schindler's List.
  • Steven Universe: In "Legs from Here to Homeworld", White Diamond and her Pearl both have completely monochrome palettes, as does the inside of White's ship.
  • The Venture Bros. has the episode "Everybody Comes to Hank's" where Dermott's mother being late to pick him up from work launches Hank into a Noir plot entirely in black and white (the other threads are done in color) where Hank picks up the clothing, lingo and mannerism of a 1930's private eye to solve the mystery of who is Dermott's dad. He even provides noir style narration for his investigation. The Alchemist, bored out of his mind, decides to tag along and help. Every other character they meet acts like a classic noir archetype until the mystery is finally solved. As it turns out, Dermott's dad is Rusty and the woman he was always told was his sister was really his mother.
  • The Wander over Yonder episode "The Black Cube" is this until the ending.
  • The Wishfart episode "Happy Green Weirdo Day!" uses this to represent The Magic Goes Away as the setting's colors becomes increasingly grayer until Dez manages to restore the world's magic in the end.
  • The short The Wizard of Oz (1933) is the first depiction of the series in this manner: Kansas is monochrome while Oz is technicolor. The use of technicolor without permission led to the film never being legally distributed until it fell into the Public Domain in the 1980s. The MGM film later reused this method of depicting Kansas in grayscale.
  • Wunschpunsch episode "Colorless Chaos" featured the evil wizards casting a spell that made the town black and white.

    Real Life 
  • Security cameras often record in infrared light at night. Because of the limited color space, this gets recorded as black and white.
  • Some digital cinema cameras, such as the Red EPIC Monochrome, record only in black and white. This results in higher quality detail than desaturating from a color camera.
  • Sketching. Often limited to shades of white, gray and black because they're usually done with regular pencils - coloration is also a different skill entirely and needs practice to do convincingly, so many artists simply choose to skip it and leave the work monochrome.
  • In the '80s, monochrome computer monitors tended to have higher resolution than color ones, so people who did a lot of text work favored the former. This is why the original Apple Macintosh had a black-and-white screen.

Limited Palette

  • Nuprin. Little. Yellow. Different. Better.
  • Many ads use Limited Palette; a good example being the Gatorade "Is it in you?" series, in B&W except for any liquid, which is in one of Gatorade's colors.
  • Commercials for Rice Krispies aimed at parents are displayed in black-and-white except for the box of Rice Krispies on the table, which is colored quite vividly. Sometimes, the cereal is also in color. The idea seems to be to evoke a feeling of a nostalgic childhood, or perhaps to relive it as a parent, with the colored box to draw attention to it.

    Anime and Manga 
  • My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness has pink as its only hue in an otherwise black and white manga, excluding the cover.
  • The Shigurui anime makes use of this to great effect through the recurrence of red in an otherwise-washed out/dark palette — Irako's lips, Iku's nipples, and blood, lots of it.

    Comic Books 
  • In Neil Gaiman's Black Orchid (painted by Dave McKean), people and everything man-made were black-and-white (or blue-and-white or brown-and-white in some scenes), while superbeings were in full color, as was nature and everything natural. So you'd have a color flower in a black-and-white room with black-and-white people, or orange firelight on a black-and-white face.
  • The only color in Championess is the yellow used in Elizabeth's caption boxes and a dull red on interstitial pages.
  • Deep Sea: The comic is mainly black and white, but it has blue and red to emphasize water and blood respectively. The graphic novel expansion adds in yellow, which the creators have left up to the readers' imagination as to what it could represent.
  • The Hunter Rose issues of the Grendel comic uses a palette of black, white, and red.
  • One of the cornerstones of Hellboy with heavy shadows and scarce highlights. Our red hero really stands out.
  • JFK Secret Ops has grey pictures, with any colour appearing on the outlines of buildings/objects/people.
  • Batman: The Long Halloween is printed in normal color. But whenever the Holiday Killer strikes, it switches to a Limited Palette (black, white, and blood-red) with Holiday's calling card as a non-red Splash of Color.
  • Magic Trixie: In "Magic Trixie Sleeps Over", when Magic Trixie goes to a sleepover with the vampire twins, she's dropped off in a cemetery that is only shown in black and white. The only colour shown is the red in the vampire twins' eyes.
  • Red Fog is presented in saturated greys, excepted for the red used on the nazi armbands.
  • Secret Path (2016) is mostly presented in black, white, and blue. The few times it's fully coloured are at the beginning, in a Flashback to when Chanie was still with his family, and at the end when Chanie says goodbye to his dead body.
  • Simon Says: Nazi Hunter is presented in mainly black-and-white. The only exception is the use of red.
  • Wonder Woman: Black and Gold: All the stories are done in black and gold coloring but story "Without Love" is set mostly in black and white due up until the ending due to the emotion of love being taken away by Eros, the God of Love.
  • Superman: Red and Blue is done entirely in different shades of the Primary-Color Champion's costume colors. One story is black and white because the world's colors have been stolen by a 5th dimensional imp (not Mr Mxyzptlk).
  • Harley Quinn: Black, White and Red was the first of the Batman: Black and White spin-offs, and adds the red of Harley's costume.

    Films — Animation 
  • The "Rhapsody in Blue" segment of Fantasia 2000 is done primarily in tones of blue, as well as bluish greens and purples, with the occasional red and yellow for emphasis. With the help of computer-controlled coloring, every pixel has some blue in it. The reds and yellows are just very red purples and very yellow greens.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The 90s Dick Tracy film used a color palette of red, green, blue, yellow, purple, orange, black and white to match the original comic strip.
  • The Element of Crime, notable because the movie was filmed in colors, and the reel was not altered afterward: instead, all the sets were lit only with low pressure sodium vapor lamps. Other gas discharge lamps are used sparingly to throw an occasional stain of red or blue.
  • In Erich von Stroheim's 1924 film Greed, a number of objects related to the eponymous theme were hand-painted yellow to appear golden.
  • The 2009 film Ink uses this. While the real world appears in normal colors, the dream/other world the Storytellers and Incubi inhabit can be told apart by how it is washed out and only one or two colors actually appear vibrantly.
  • Pleasantville has the eponymous Trapped in TV Land world in B&W, but as the brother and sister introduce Character Development into the static world, elements of color enter to represent it as well.
  • The 1983 film Rumble Fish is in B&W, except for the eponymous fish, which are in colour.
  • Sin City even uses key bits or red and yellow... albeit, this might have something to do with being faithful to the source material. The movie has noticeably more color than the comic books. The titular character in "That Yellow Bastard" is yellow in both the book and the film, but the film—which is an adaptation of "That Yellow Bastard", "The Hard Goodbye" and "The Big Fat Kill"— shows red blood, blue eyes, green eyes, red lips, a red bed, an orange pill bottle, red tail lights and a full color (though slightly desaturated) bar as well. The comic version of the story has no color whatsoever save for the "yellow bastard". Usually in the comics color is used to signify a character or item of importance, while the movie follows the Rule of Cool.
  • In the 2009 film A Single Man, most of the sequences are filmed in color, but all the colors are flat, grey, and monochrome. The whole movie is filmed like this, except for the scenes when George experiences an emotional connection with another character or has a flashback, when the color scheme suddenly becomes brighter and tinted with red, blue, or yellow.
  • Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound is black and white, but near the end, when the head of the mental hospital is identified as the killer, he turns the incriminating gun on himself and fires, the blast being a moment of bright red.
  • In TRON, the computer scenes were shot in black and white, with the only color being the glowing highlights and edges of the computer world, mostly red, blue and yellow.
  • The Tingler is in black and white, except for the blood red in a scene where the mute woman with a fear of blood is being scared to death.

  • Some versions of The Bible print Jesus' dialogue in red.
  • House of Leaves is printed in three colors, although there are some variations between the different versions of the book. Normal text is printed in black, the word "house" appears in blue, references to mythology or struck out passages that are vaguely threatening to the reader appear in red. In addition, there are a few instances of the color purple, including the phrase A Novel on the cover, the edition number, and one instance of a struck-out purple phrase in Chapter XXI. "Minotaur" may or may not be struck out, depending on whether it's used during one of the aforementioned mythology references.
  • A similar colored-text method is used in The Neverending Story, to distinguish scenes in Bastian's world from those within the realm of Story. In the paperback version, italics are used instead.
  • The various characters of Shades of Grey are blind to most colors, and have organized themselves into a hierarchy based on which colors they can see. The low-ranking protagonist can only see red.
  • Every Heart a Doorway: In the Halls of the Dead, colors are a sign of rank and must be earned. During her time back on Earth, Nancy refuses to wear anything other than pure blacks and whites, with the one exception of the pomegranate-colored hair ribbon which she had earned the right to wear.


    Music Videos 
  • a-ha's The Sun Always Shines on TV is completely monochrome for most of the video, then highlights the band members' faces and parts of the scenery towards the end.
  • Mariah Carey's performance in the 2005 MTV Movie Awards. Everything was in black and white, except the singer and her red dress.
  • Georgian pop group Ucnobi had the music video to their song "Vagoni miqris" shot in grayscale with red highlights. May have to do with red and white being the national colors of Georgia.
  • The clip for "Seven Nation Army" by The White Stripes from Elephant (Album) uses only White, Black and Red, the colors most often worn by the group.
  • Much like the White Stripes' example (and tying into the album on which the song features), Queens of the Stone Age's Go With The Flow uses a palette of red, white and black. It's only when the innuendo metaphors at the end (such as the two hood designs on the colliding trucks) begin that these get interspersed with brighter colours.
  • The performance scenes in Suicide Commando's "Die Motherfucker Die" video are monochrome except for the performers' red shirts.
  • The prologue and epilogue of the music video of Michael Jackson's Bad are in black and white. When he starts dancing it changes to color.
  • The music videos of Madonna's Vogue and Justify My Love are shot in a glamorous black-and-white.
  • The American version of *NSYNC's "I Want You Back" is shot entirely in black and white, but the band's dance routine is shot in color.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Most of the cards in Filsinger's Legends OF Wrestling are in black and white, though some wrestlers get updated color cards that focus on their lesser known or latter day accomplishments. Special release cards from the Cauliflower Alley Club reunion pack onward also "debut" in color.

    Video Games 
  • All Alone With Mannie: Since the game takes place at night, the most prominent colour in the game is black, with white being the colour of the outlines. The only other colour is red, like Mannie's eyes, the inside of her mouth, her paw pads, her necklace, and her weapon.
  • The Pale Realm in American McGee's Alice. Everything, beside Alice, the Meta Essence and weapons, is in black and white. After all, the place is a chess-themed palace. Guess which chess pieces live there. Alice: Madness Returns has Alice enter Hysteria when her health is down to a single rose. Everything is black and white except for blood. It remains as red as ever.
  • Badland uses exclusively black and yellow palette. Interestingly, there are no grays, even while there are shades of yellow.
  • Bendy and the Ink Machine has an artstyle that is meant to resemble the black and white cartoons of the 30s. This style is sepitatoned with various shades of yellow, brown, and orange, while most characters are pure black due to being made of ink.
  • The Skies Afire spell in Brütal Legend. The sky turns blood red, and all colour disappears except for shades of grey, red and orange.
  • Dark Echo has this as a given. Most of the game is black, and the player's footsteps + the echoes they make are white to contraast.
  • In the [adult swim] game Death Vegas, each character has only one item (or pair of items) with color.
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution uses a strongly saturated monochrome of gold colors as both a nod to the "golden age" of its setting as well as the Film Noir genre. Other colors, such as red and greens, serve as a Splash of Color. In-universe, it's because you're looking from behind Adam's yellow sunglasses. When the camera cuts outside his POV, it's much less yellow. To a much lesser extent, the previous two games did this, the original Deus Ex using electric blue and Deus Ex: Invisible War using purple.
  • Donkey Kong Country Returns has all kinds of levels with a limited palette. You've got the obvious sunset levels where the foreground and all objects are in black barring DK's tie, the factory level in the trailer where the foreground and DK are black at the front of the screen, then become a kind of mauve colour in the background (and the objects become really faint) and a Rambi level from the same trailer where all characters and foreground objects are black bar DK's tie (and maybe Diddy Kong's hat), while the background is all vibrant orange and purple.
  • Exponential Idle has absolutely zero colors other than grey and white (or black and white if you're playing with Dark Theme on), as a game heavily centered on math wouldn't really need color.
  • Fe's general palette is mostly shades of blue and violet, with important objects being given brighter colors, while areas occupied by the Silent Ones have a red-orange hue.
  • Free Spirits is in black and white with touches of color. For example, Lana has a yellow flower on her hat and bow on her dress, while the owner of her favorite speakeasy has a green tie.
  • Goblet Grotto has its first couple of levels in dusty greyscale, but later levels all have their own Limited Palettes. The swamp-like level is in shades of brownish-red, the racetrack level and insides of a King is in dark blue, the Criminal Hive is treacle-like black, etc.
  • The God of Crawling Eyes starts off in black and white due to main character Max having a genetic condition which prevents him from seeing in color. Shortly after a conversation with his mother about the drug he's started taking to treat the problem, some red is introduced.
  • The entirety of Hatred is in black and white, with certain special effects appearing in color such as blood, light up building signs, police car lights and large explosions.
  • Inked (2012): The game is mainly presented in white as part of its presentation. There are a few colours, though, such as blue to indicate water. The Artist's hands are two of the few objects in the game to be fully coloured.
  • The first half and the antepenultimate chapter of Journey (2012) have predominately orange colour scheme.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
  • The Lost Crown: A Ghost-hunting Adventure falls somewhere between this and the Splash Of Color option, using black & white (or black & green, for night-vision camera views) as a base, but highlighting occasional elements of a scene with color to convey mood or make bloodstains apparent. It also lampshades itself, when Nigel remarks that Dr. Black's paintings "lack color".
  • The Wii game MadWorld is in stylized black and white with red blood to emphasize the ludicrous violence. And yellow for the map icons, and blue alien blood.
  • One Game Mod of Marathon, RED, has a level consisting almost entirely of sandy brown textures titled "Jägermeister's Nightmare", intended as a Take That! at a player named Jägermeister, who thought the game's color palette was too Real Is Brown.
  • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots plays with this. Each of the five acts has one distinct (and often thematic) color and the maps conform to a palette around that color, as if it were being used as a white balance. The Middle East in Act 1 is brown, South America in Act 2 is blue during night maps and green during day maps, Eastern Europe in Act 3 is yellow, Shadow Moses in Act 4 is a blinding white, and Outer Haven in Act 5 is grey.
  • Environments in Mirror's Edge are predominately rendered in one color — usually light blue, but it varies a bit — with important objects highlighted in red. In the city itself everything that hasn't been highlighted is often simply just white or grey, even the trees and other vegetation.
  • Most of Mouth Sweet is rendered in a Game Boy-like palette. Though the game starts with you choosing a colorful avatar, this decision is forcibly overridden in order to better fit Chalfont, Chalfont and Chalfont Inc's dress code.
  • Mute Crimson is in either black-and-white or greyscale, depending on the version - with the addition of a shock of red to represent anything that can kill the player character, enemy or environmental hazard alike.
  • My Friend Is A Raven is presented in blacks, whites, and greys, though some deep brownish-yellows can come from sources of light. Plus, the text will sometimes turn red.
  • The Japanese adventure game Nostalgia 1907 paints its period setting in sepia tones.
  • When using the demon morph Super Mode in Painkiller, Daniel's vision becomes black and white, with enemies tinted red and black.
  • Perihelion deliberately uses a monochrome color palette (with white not always being the second color) as part of the overall mood, with color only used to highlight important elements or emphasize pieces of the interface, characters, and backgrounds.
  • Progressbar 95: Progressbar 1 makes several of its elements like icons and characters black and white. There are a few elements with colors like the wallpaper and some windows, but even those largely stick to one color (wallpaper 1 is just blue, wallpaper 2 is just green, and so on).
  • Fully Nazi-controlled areas in The Saboteur are in a Limited Palette — black and white, with some reds and yellows and the occasional blue. In areas where their control has been loosened and the resistance has a foothold, it's in full-color. The border between liberated and occupied areas is Desaturated.
  • In Strangeland the titular land is depicted mainly in sepia tones, with scattered hues of yellow, purple, and red showing as the only colors that shows up outside them. The "Deadland" part of the game takes it even further, being actually monochrome, with purple and occasionally spots of yellow being the only Splash of Color.
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl:
    • The Pictochat stage is largely black and white (by extension, the Pictochat software on the DS is also mostly monochrome), although the characters are still colored. In addition, flashbacks in the Adventure mode cutscenes are black and white.
    • King Dedede also has a colour swap which gives him a monochrome colour scheme in reference to his debut appearance, but his hammer remains the same, and he retained it in the next installment. Kirby also gets one, with his copy ability hats remaining the same. (Except Jigglypuff's in Brawl, since Kirby gets its ears and hair in his colour scheme.)
  • Paper Mario:
  • Timothy vs. the Aliens: While the game is based on old Film Noir movies, everything of Earth origin is presented in black in white. However, the aliens and anything from them, including Timothy's ace card, is fully coloured.
  • Witchkin invokes the look of old early-20th-century photos and films by presenting itself via brown filter.
  • ZeroRanger exclusively uses orange and green and a few extra shades thereof. Turning on Colorblind Mode switches green with blue. After completing the game once, you gain access to other two-hue palettes.

    Visual Novels 
  • Monochrome Past was part of the basis of Detective Tyrell Badd's design in Ace Attorney Investigations. Since he appeared in a flashback case, the artist decided to make him desaturated and give him a grey skin tone in addition to giving him the look and attitude of a Film Noir detective. The only bright things about him are his red handmirror and pink lollipop.
  • Despite the locations being full colour, the character sprites in Hotel Dusk: Room 215 and its sequel Last Window are almost entirely in black and white, likely to add a Film Noir feel to Kyle Hyde's investigations.
  • In Tsukihime, all of Shiki's flashbacks are done in a sepia tone. This is done in part to disguise a plot point, mainly the identity of which of the twins Kohaku and Hisui he met and when — the two are identical apart from eye color and the flashbacks later switch to color once this is revealed.
  • We Know the Devil uses desaturated and compressed character sprites on top of washed out photo backgrounds for a lo-fi 80's horror aesthetic, with full color CGs to give the endings extra kick.

    Web Animation 
  • DEATH BATTLE!: The climax of the fight between Sabrewulf and Jon Talbain takes on a monochrome palette, with the only color remaining being the red of the moon and blood.
  • Madness Combat does this intentionally with a few notable exceptions (most notably the blood).
  • In Mr Plastimime, everything but Betsy's lips, the balloon Graeme blows up, and and the flames from the fire in her apartment is black and white.
  • The characters in Tankmen are this, while the background and environment are shades of orange and yellow, to match the style of the Newgrounds logo they originate from.

  • And Shine Heaven Now:
    • Used in two flashback arcs, namely the two arcs that feature Jeeves and Wooster as prominent characters. While the first one technically goes under Desaturation, the more current arc fits this to a T: the comics is done in a sepia tone, and the only colors used are for Alucard's vampire eyes... and the fangirls.
      Alucard: What is this thing, and why does it get to be in color?
    • Another comic in the same universe, The Eagle of Hermes, does this as well: the comic is in black and white, and the only color given prominence is, again, red...except for one peculiar instance on a title page where the blue of Jon's tie is highlighted.
  • Variation in Antihero for Hire, where the Christmas comics are drawn only in green and red.
  • This was how the Roaring Twenties were portrayed in Ansem Retort: all in black and white, with the four modern day time travelers being the only ones in color. It even got lampshaded when Zexion started to sell stocks (in the month right before the Great Depression began):
    Zexion: I'll take 4000 shares, my colorful friend.
  • In Blip, during a Pensieve Flashback, Liz's memories are rendered entirely in purple and magenta.
  • Count Your Sheep, starring a young girl named Katie, is usually colored in shades of blue. Flashback episodes featuring her mother Laurie as a girl are in shades of mauve. In a strip where Laurie was pregnant with Katie the strip switched from mauve to blue the moment Laurie went into labor.
  • Dead Winter is nearly entirely in grayscale, except for Monday's red Cool Shades; and Lizzie's bandana and mental landscape.
  • Dissonance colors anything yellow that should be yellow, but everything else is some shade of grey.
  • Girls in Space After an explosion in the 'Greyverse', all colour is drained from the normal universe making the Colourblind story appear in Black and White.
  • Guilded Age: Scenes set outside the game are sepia toned, with a few splashes of color. Such as the People Jars and Mr. Daedalus' tie.
  • Gumshoe: The entire comic is drawn this way in homage to Film Noir, featuring a limited palette of pinks and blues.
  • In No Rest for the Wicked, only red gets coloured in. It fits in with the Darker and Edgier/Dark comedy fairy-tale style. Also lampshaded, a little girl notices Red's signature cape, and comments that it's a "funny colour".
  • Every chapter of PepsiaPhobia is done in black, white, and a few shades of one color. This color changes with every chapter.
  • Sleepless Domain: The cover of Chapter 17 is an homage to the Film Noir aesthetic, depicting the main characters in a heavily desaturated private eye's office. The only splashes of color on the page are the girls' vivid hair, and the hint of purple light leaking in between the blinds of a window.
  • Used in Sore Thumbs, in one story arc where Cecania is shipped off to Guantanamo Bay. Cecania has pink hair, and it is the first time the audience gets to see it. The guard mentions "I find I enjoy the color of your hair. I was unaware that more than two colours existed."
  • The Story of Black Pearl: As a reflection of how Black Pearl's senses have been dulled, scenes from her point of view are cast in grayscale, while her memories of happier times are either tinted heavily pink or filled with color.
  • Wally and Osborne: The only colors employed are black, white, blue, orange, and mixtures thereof. Rather impressively, the strip even managed to depict a rainbow in limited colors.

    Web Original 
  • In Ask Princess Molestia, the comics are mostly done in a single lilac palette, with the occasional Splash of Color. When later comics are done in full color, Molestia retains her lilac mane so she's differentiated from the canon Celestia.
  • The Colour My Series takes place in a world where almost everything is black and white. Color and emotions are forbidden. However, the protagonist, who has found love, can use color to manipulate things within the world. Clicking on certain objects will fill spots with color sometimes, too.
  • Freshy Kanal's Rap Battle!:
    • "Mr. Bean vs. Charlie Chaplin" is in color for Mr. Bean's parts, but is in black-and-white for Chaplin's since all but one of Chaplin's movies is black-and-white.
    • Norman Bates' scenes in his battle against Jack Torrance is almost completely black-and-white as a reference to his film being black-and-white, although the blood is red unlike in the film.

    Western Animation 
  • Animaniacs does this in some of the shorts set before color films (Babblin Bijou, Newsreel of the Stars, etc) — the only color found would be the Warners' noses.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • In the first season finale, the world goes red and then grayscale when the Moon Spirit is endangered and then killed. The only exceptions are fireblasts, the blue Avatar magic of Koizilla, and the still-blue eyes of Yue, which signify that a bit of the Moon Spirit survived in her, and can be returned.
    • Aang's childhood memories, of the Air Temple, are heavily yellow and glowy, to show nostalgia. To a lesser degree, the same is true of Zuko's. Sokka and Katara, not so much.
  • In a Kaeloo episode parodying film noir, the first scene has everything in black and white apart from Stumpy's red lipstick and high heels (he's dressed as a girl).
  • In the 2018 reboot of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Horde Prime's clones look like Hordak, but with green eyes, white hair, and black, white, and gray clothing. The fact that Hordak has a different color palette suggests that he is different from his clone brethren.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man has this happen in the 13th episode. It's a Journey to the Center of the Mind where most of the episode is a flashback in black and white but with the Spider-Man suit in full color. The mental fight with the Venom symbiote is like this too, until Peter imagines his True Companions and many other characters from the story which is in color, and then it returns to reality.
  • In The Smurfs (1981) episode "The Color Smurfy", the world becomes black-and-white with the only color existing being Smurf blue when the Smurflings accidentally destroy Spectra's color wheel. The only place where color still exists is the Rainbow Pool, which the Smurfs must go to in order to get liquid light so they could restore Spectra.


  • Several US companies are doing commercials with faded color. Not really monochrome or sepia, but just faded enough to stand out. Or at least they would stand out, if every other advert wasn't doing it now.

  • Boogiepop Phantom, justified because almost all the series is a gigantic Flashback (just see the borders of the screen for an extra clue). The last episode features vivid colors and full-screen image.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) used either very mild desaturation or a muted color palette when depicting what lay on "the other side of the Gate." This had the end result of making the other side of the Gate seem less "fantastic" or "alive". Note, for instance, that Noah has more realistic hair colors than Rose in The Movie. This is made even more poignant when it's revealed that "the other side of the Gate" is our world and that ultimately, the Elrics become stranded in our reality, forced to see history unfold and unable to return.
  • The first establishing shots of the first (chronological) episode of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya are another example, presumably in the mundane/nonmundane contrast vein. Everything suddenly gets a lot more colorful once the narrator meets the title girl.
  • The beautiful anime short Kigeki is almost completely desaturated (giving it an appropriately Gothic feel) making certain vivid colours like the little girl's green eyes and the copious amounts of blood stand out.
  • The Downer Beginning of Kotoura-san anime applies a desaturation variety to mark Haruka's progressive, downward spiral of broken-ness that was brought by a power that she couldn't turn off. Her first meeting of Manabe at 10:38 shatters this desaturation filter.
  • My-HiME not only does almost all flashbacks in sepia, but they're slightly blurred, presumably to simulate the distortion of human memory.
  • The Nue arc (Episodes 8 & 9) of Mononoke uses desaturation and color in a very unique way. The arc revolves around the smell of incense; to simulate this without having to go into verbal descriptions, when the characters inhale the incense, the entire scene gains full colour momentarily before fading into monochrome once more. When the legendary incense is lit at the end, the mansion in which the story is set becomes brightly coloured and the wall murals come to life. But the smell quickly fades away, revealing that the entire building was just an uninhabited ruin under enchantment.
  • Borderline: Monster intentionally had a low-key, brownish-grey color palette with very little use of strong colors to enhance its atmosphere as a realistic, psychological thriller.
  • Possibly unintentional example: the original (and international) video releases of Evangelion: Death & Rebirth and The End of Evangelion contained a muted color palette and a radiant "glow" effect, giving them an appropriately dreamlike atmosphere. The (Japan-only) Renewal edition contained a brighter color palette.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann:
    • The first episode was very low in coloration, as it took place underground, where there was little light. As soon as they get to the surface, the rest of the series is filled with color. Episode 5 was the same way, except even moreso, to the point of being nearly black-and-white, as it took place in an underground village with even fewer resources and less light.
    • Gainax also made various close-up shots of characters desaturated (Often going to completely black and white), usually because they were doing something epic and/or dying.
    • The "Celestial Being" movie within the movie, which is basically a big Gainax homage with bits of Char's Counterattack and G Gundam thrown in, had a monochrome close up of Setsuna.
    • The brawl between Simon and the Anti-Spiral at the climax of Lagann-Hen also has a desaturated palette, though some colors are added for emphasis (Red for blood, green for the glow of Simon's drill)

    Comic Books 
  • The short-running Transformers comic Hearts of Steel takes place in the 1860s rather than the usual modern-day setting, and uses faded colors and a general sepia-toned color scheme to reflect the time period. Might also qualify as Real Is Brown.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Tim Burton has always been a fan of this trope, to fit with the general gloomy nature of his films. Many of the examples below involve him in some role or the other.
    • To show how deep the connection goes, his first two shorts, the stop-motion Vincent and live-action Frankenweenie, already used this trope.
    • His Batman films come pretty close at times.
    • Not B&W per se, but the first sequence of Edward Scissorhands shows a huge set painted in monochrome tones, with the scientist played by Vincent Price as the only bright color character.
    • Sleepy Hollow (1999), has all its colours bleached and only the blood is brightly hued.
    • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is desaturated before the factory proper — or maybe oversaturated after.
    • In Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street even the cheerful and sunny beach is sparsely colored, it is practically a relief to see all that bright, happy red blood liven things up.
  • Thirteen (2003): As the situation with Tracy becomes more bleak and troubling, the colors of the film itself become more faded and pale, as opposed to the more vibrant colors used earlier on.
  • Most of Avalon, a film about a virtual reality MMORPG in a dystopian future, is deliberately shot in murky sepia. The movie switches to normal color and lighting at the end, when the protagonist arrives in the level "class real", which looks much like our world.
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid uses sepia thrice: in the intro, in a travel montage and the finale... you know it...
  • Clerks II: The entire movie was desaturated. The only scene that isn't desaturated and is presented in its original form is the dance scene.
  • Cypher is shot predominantly in a heavily desaturated, high contrast and near-monochrome world of drudgery, suits and concrete. It's only at the end, when Sebastian has realised his true identity and is sailing with Rita, that true colour returns.
  • In Dolores Claiborne, scenes set in the present are desaturated and faintly blue-tinted to give a cold look. Flashbacks are in full color with reds and yellows emphasized.
  • Double Jeopardy employs mild desaturation at the beginning of the film, with the color saturation increasing through the movie, in order to subtly heighten the audience's suspense as the chase continues.
  • Eden Log is very heavily desaturated.
  • Some scenes in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, such as Harry in the cave force-feeding Dumbledore liquid in order to get a horcrux, are so desaturated that they have little or no color to them.
  • Mexican film La Ley De Herodes uses sepia tones and era music for its set on the 1940s.
  • The Dolph Lundgren vehicle Missionary Man (2007) is an accidental example: the film stock was ruined during processing, so they decided to desaturate it. The effect, however, suits the film's modern-western theme well.
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four (the one starring John Hurt) wasn't desaturated, but it used bleach bypass, which produces a different kind of harsh, bleak look.
  • The scenes O Brother, Where Art Thou? are all thoroughly desaturated.
  • Paranormal Asylum: At least one shot done through Mark's and Andy's camera is shown in grey.
  • Mel Gibson's mobster flick Payback is shot in faded colors for most of the film, representing the present day. However, flashbacks to the past are in full color, while flashforwards are in black and white. The film's tone is not a happy one.
  • In The Road the colors are bleached to give a bleak, desolate, post-apocalyptic scenery.
  • Saving Private Ryan desaturated almost the entire movie for a grittier feeling. This results in a very gray D-Day.
  • Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was desaturated then resaturated to make it dreamlike, more like a painting than a photorealistic movie. Real Zeerust.
  • The film version of Sir Henry at Rawlinson End was shot in slightly sepia-tinted monochrome, allegedly to imitate the look of an Ealing Studios comedy and not because the budget wouldn't stretch to color....
  • Star Trek III: The Search for Spock: The pre-titles opening sequence replays Spock's death and funeral from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, initially greyed out before gradually becoming colorful again.
  • The shooting at the end of Taxi Driver has been desaturated by director Martin Scorsese to turn down the violence.
  • Scenes set in the real world in Who Framed Roger Rabbit were desaturated for that film noir look. This contrasts with the opening cartoon and the scenes set in Toontown, which are fully saturated.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The third season of Fargo undergoes a similar filter to The Coen Brothers movie Inside Llewyn Davis, supposedly as some sort of meta season-wide shout-out, or maybe to emphasize the drawn out nature of this season as opposed to the first two.
  • In the 5th season episode of House, after the characters find Kutner dead much of the rest of the episode is darkly lit and desaturated to reflect the somber mood.
  • Vladimir Bortko's miniseries adaptation of The Master and Margarita portrays the "Soviet" segments of the original novel in sepia and the "Yershalaim" and "Woland's party" segments in color.
  • MythBusters has two examples. First, they've shown (Reenacted, obviously) Civil War footage in near-monochrome. As if that wasn't silly enough, they switch to a desaturated/faded color look for their flashbacks. Apparently modern color technology was invented sometime after 2003, as their flashbacks always end up looking like 60s movies.
  • The biggest part of the time, the Dutch series Kroongetuige (crown-witness) uses dimmed colors, with a slightly grey/blue mixed in. Even the Team Shot is done in this style.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017) is desaturated to help maintain the dreary, depressing tone, and the only episode which isn't desaturated is "The End". Especially if you’ve been binge watching the show, the shift can be rather jarring.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Pictures of Johnny Wave, a Heavyweight Champion of Magnificent Championship Wrestling, are old fashion brownish. This is partly a stealth pun, he's such a Surfer Dude even his photos are washed out.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Ironically, Filsinger's cards based on Olde Wrestling tend to have a more desaturated look, perhaps to distinguish them from the Legends Of cards, to look as if they were made between the US prohibition and second world war periods, or both.

    Video Games 
  • 96 is presented in blacks and greens.
  • A couple examples from the Call of Duty series: when your character is wounded, his vision will wash out to black and white (with the exception of some encroaching red mist). However, this is played straighter in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare when one character emerges from his downed chopper after being caught in a nuclear blast. The resulting reddish-brown-tinted hell you witness can verge on horrifying.
  • The Cat Lady's graphics are predominantly dark and desaturated.
  • F.E.A.R. 2 does this with both its own nuclear aftermath and a few of Alma's hallucinations. It's less brown than Call of Duty's version, and it doesn't just verge on the nightmare fuel.
  • Left 4 Dead uses various shades of brown when playing as a special infected in VS mode to visualize on how a zombie's eyes would work. The sepia tone reverts to normal colors when thhites, and greys, though some deep brownish-yellows can come infected player is killed.
  • In corrupted areas in Prince of Persia (2008), everything is shown in dull, faded colors — sometimes taken to the point of nearly being genuine monochrome — except for the lead characters. Healing an area makes its colors varied and vibrant.
  • The "Old Movie" filter in Resident Evil 5 uses this.
  • Most of the Silent Hill series does this, along with using an old movie-style noise filter.
  • One of the many Mario Paint-inspired Easter Eggs located within the title screen of Super Mario Maker applies a sepia filter to whatever is on the screen, complete with 8-bit music reminiscent of the original Game Boy.
  • Suikoden:
    • Suikoden II uses sepia for all flashbacks in the story, including one flashback to a scene you played through normally.
    • In Suikoden IV, the island of Iluya is rendered in shades of grey after being hit by the Kooluk's BF Rune Cannon.
  • ZanZarah: The Hidden Portal: The London level uses a deliberately color-muted sepia palette to clearly distinguish it from the colorful landscapes of Zanzarah proper.


    Web Original 
  • In Stampy's Lovely World, episodes involving Hit The Target are usually edited to have desaturated footage, instead of the normal bright, colourful, happy episodes, as shorthand that the episode in question is going to be Darker and Edgier and considerably more suspenseful. The nightmare sequences in Episode 351, "Nightmares", are also presented with desaturated footage.

    Western Animation 
  • Let's Go Luna!: A decent chunk of the episode "Spring Has Not Sprung" is presented in a duller color scheme when the clouds block out the sunlight.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic's Season 3 finale, "Magical Mystery Cure", the colors are desaturated during Twilight's BSoD Song to reflect the mood.
    • The Town with a Dark Secret in "The Cutie Map" has its denizens and surroundings desaturated to show a lack of diversity and emphasis of forced conformity. The Mane 6 are still colored brightly, but become desaturated as well when their cutie marks are magically replaced.
    • Most of "Rarity Investigates" is done in sepia black-and-white, to invoke 70s Film Noir.
  • Used beautifully in one episode of Recess, in which recess is canceled indefinitely. As the kids' days get less and less interesting, the color slowly drains out of the picture until it finally becomes pure black & white. Of course, when recess is inevitably restored, the color returns.

    Real Life 
  • Many cities or homeowners' associations limit the colors with which houses can be painted as well as the color of objects placed in front of the house.



    Comic Books 
  • All-Star Comics: While most of the Fairytale Lands are far more vibrantly colored than Earth's normal dimension, the Loreli is in pure grayscale from black to white.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side: Gary Larson mentioned a variation: One of his (black-and-white) strips featured a waddle of penguins, one of them bursting into song ("Oh I gotta be me, I just gotta be me!"). However, when printed someone in editing had made the singing penguin pale yellow, reversing the entire point of the strip.
  • In one Sunday Prickly City strip, Carmen and Winslow are sitting on a butte, in grayscale. In the second panel, Winslow hugs Carmen; the background is sunshine yellow and all the panel yellow tinged. The third panel has reverted to full color, with a blue and purple and cloudy background.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Billy Club (2013): The Flashbacks shown early in the movie are shown in a whitened tint. Of course, it gets dropped as the movie progresses.
  • In The Giver, because humanity has lost the ability to see color, the first part of the film is initially in black and white, save for splashes of color when Jonas "sees beyond." When he is given the memory of color red tones begin to show (as his first color was red). By the time he regains more memories the film is in full color. When he leaves the Community it is once again shot in black and white until Jonas manages to return the memories, at which point it's shot in color again.
  • In Halloweentown II: Kalabar's Revenge, Halloweentown loses its color as its citizens fall victim to the "Grey Spell", which slowly changes them into drab humans. Those in early stages of the spell appear black and white, with remnants of their otherworldly physical traits and/or fashion sense providing splashes of color, while those in later stages appear completely monochrome.
  • Medicine For Melancholy uses a very limited palette, ranging from black and white to sepia to desaturated color depending on how well the characters are connecting. Given it's a film about how colored people are being driven out of San Francisco, it's a very deliberate choice.
  • Pitch (2009): The film is mostly in black and white. Exceptions are a scene of Jim and Belial in heavenly/hellish surroundings, which is in color, and the spirit of Gene's mom, which is in color while her surroundings are in black and white.

  • Commander Toad, a series of children's books parodying Star Wars and Star Trek, switches between color (Color Wash of green, red, and brown) and grayscale pencil illustrations every 2 pages. A sole exception is the last book of the series, Commander Toad and the Voyage Home, which uses only full-color illustrations, which makes sense it was published a decade after the previous entry.
  • The Dresden Files: Perception Filter potions cause the user to see the world in greyscale while they're active. Anybody who shakes off the effect and is able to notice the user snaps back into full colour.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Band of Brothers has many of the battles with everything but red heavily desaturated (with the desperate Battle of Bastogne being practically monochrome, due to all the snow), with the more peaceful scenes away from the fighting being in beautiful natural colors.
  • The HBO TV movie The Cat's Meow takes place during The Roaring '20s and is about the Love Triangle between William Randolph Hurst, his actress mistress Marion Davies, and Charlie Chaplin who Hurst tries to kill but winds up mortally wounding another guy instead. Because all the characters are involved in the silent movie business, their fancy clothes are black, white, and grey (which makes it look like a live-action Edward Gorey story) and the victim's funeral is in black and white.
  • In From the Earth to the Moon, the episode "1968" is filmed in black-and-white on Earth (where things are going to hell in a handbasket.) Meanwhile, Apollo 8 up in space is filmed in color, reflecting the telegram read after their successful lunar orbit which stated "You saved 1968."
  • In The Librarians, Flynn and Eve end up inside an old noir film. Naturally, they're entirely black-and-white, and Flynn immediately wonders what happened to the color. When the other Librarians end up in a Western film, the colors are deliberately muted to the film quality of that era. Then they end up in a black-and-white Zeerust sci-fi film... except they're still the same colors as in the Western film, while everything around them is monochrome. In the season 4 finale, the world without the Library isn't quite black-and-white, but it's certainly close to it. This is done in order to demonstrate the utter creative sterility and blandness of it all.
  • Red Dwarf: The original plan for indicating that a character was a hologram was to have them appear in monochrome while everyone else was in normal colour, but getting a consistent and convincing effect in post-production or with stage makeup was deemed too expensive and time-consuming and the idea was dropped.

  • The band PVRIS really likes their black-and-white aesthetics. All of their music videos are either pure black and white, or really desaturated, with just the occasional Splash of Color. This also extends to their album covers, photoshoots and promotional pictures, stage setup when performing live, instruments and sound equipment, and most of the clothes they wear.

    Video Games 

  • All Roses Have Thorns starts off being completely in gray tones, save for blood and eye colors. But as time goes on and it gets closer to modern day, it slowly grows more saturated with colors. To the point that by the 19th century the comic is now nearly full-color.
  • Archipelago is black-and-white on the whole, but uses multiple colors to accentuate magical effects. The character will be monochrome, but when they cast a spell, or when their soul is torn from their body, their colors are revealed. Also, dramatic events like flashbacks are portrayed in full color.
  • Derelict uses desaturation, except for the pinwheel, which is in full and brilliant color.
  • In Dragon Mango, most strips are in black and white. Some are in color. Some are mostly black and white with fillips of color.
  • In Hexenringe, characters from the dimension of Maragan known as Imagina tend to be black and white if they are manga characters. They stay that way even if they cross over to Mundana (our dimension).
  • Next Town Over sometimes uses desaturation with a splash of color.
  • In Princess Chroma, the entire plot is based around this concept. The world is being taken over by "Monochromes" and it's up to June to become a Magical Girl and defeat them. Whenever there's a color shift of any kind, something big is bound to be going down and the fact that the world is in monochrome by default shows just how bad the situation on Earth is.
  • Question Duck: black shading to white, or red, or yellow — not invariably.
  • In Strays, Meela's story is desaturated, with a splash of red.
  • Color in the otherwise black-and-white world of Zelfia indicates magic. There are also full color flashforwards that serve as Milestone Celebrations.

    Web Original 


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Deliberate Monochrome


Puella Magi Madoka Magica

The witch lair in Episode 7 is almost completely black and white, with characters done in dark silhouettes. This is to show Sayaka getting more and more insane due to her tragedy.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / DeliberatelyMonochrome

Media sources: