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Evil Costume Switch

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Wonder Girl: You're not a villain.
Arrowette: I am. And it's gonna stink. I'm not going to get to win anymore. All my friends will hate me. Oh God... I'll have to get a tight, skimpy black leather outfit that shows off my cleavage. Oh God... I'll have to get cleavage.

The most dramatic way to show that the protagonist has gone to The Dark Side is to give them a new costume. This outfit's coolness is sometimes inversely proportional to the coolness of the original, but is just as often much cooler, more flattering, and (for women) baring more skin and curves, with a new hairdo and costume colors to complete their Evil Makeover and look. A character who returns to the side of good usually ditches the entire costume.

Sometimes, a character will split into a Good Twin and an Evil Twin, with the latter wearing one of these costumes. If so, the Good Twin will often wear a more "good" version of the costume, with lots of white and, usually, gold. And, of course, if the character already wears dark colors, the switch is often to a creepy, funeral/ghost style of white.

This trope is arguably most prevalent among Superheroes, where outfits are iconic.

Why does this costume almost always look better than the hero's original? Why, that's because Evil Is Cool (either that, or because it was designed second).

If the newly evil look is entirely spontaneous, requiring no shopping of new clothes for the character, then it is the sub-trope Paint It Black.

Often overlaps with Evil Wears Black (as in the new costume will be that color) or Good Colors, Evil Colors. Sometimes overlaps with Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains (as in the new costume will be skimpier) and Dressed Like a Dominatrix (the new costume is obviously inspired by dominatrix outfits).

A Sub-Trope of Significant Wardrobe Shift. Compare Adaptive Armor. Contrast Good Costume Switch. Not to be confused with an Evil Twin dressing as his/her good twin.

Example Subpages

Other examples

    open/close all folders 
  • Happy Heroes: When Doctor H. succumbs to the Planet Gray virus in Season 5 and becomes that season's Arc Villain, he switches out his yellow and purple shirt and helmet for gray ones, as well as a light gray vest.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm: while the traditional red and gold of the Dark Phoenix isn't strictly 'evil' - more a host's combat form, if it verges into dark blood red and black, then it starts to become this.
  • The climax of Loved and Lost has a downplayed example in a sense that the already villainous characters who change their attires become more unlikely to commit a Heel–Face Turn. When King Jewelius decides to slaughter all of Ponyville's inhabitants along with the heroes, he and two of his top minions, Vivian and Commander Hildread, replace their normal attires with battle armors. The final minion, Lieutenant Shackle, retains her normal uniform, and she's the only one who sees the error of her ways during the final battle and helps the heroes save the day. Even though Jewelius is the only one of the four villains who has absolutely zero qualms about the attack, Vivian remains devoted to Jewelius, while Hildread chooses her delusions over her conscience.
  • In the Hero: The Guardian Smurf story "The Dark Hero", Hero's gold-colored outfit becomes black when Gargamel's reversal spell (which was originally intended for Smurfette but ended up affecting Hero instead) takes its full effect, changing Hero into an evil "un-Smurf" that served Gargamel.
  • Played for Laughs in the Miraculous! Rewrite story "Anansi"; when Chat Noir is brainwashed to play the part of the villain by the titular akuma's Reality Warper powers, his outfit as a civilian is changed to include a black leather jacket, messy hair, and Creepy Shadowed Undereyes.
  • Heavily downplayed in Harry and the Shipgirls when it comes to Masamune-no-Kotegiri. She is The Dreaded because if she busts out a kimono that was given to her by her first master, it means she has been given Carte Blanche by the Emperor of Japan to execute those who would threaten Japan's people, by any means necessary.

    Films — Animation 
  • Jafar from Aladdin, during his Villain Song near the end, when he's tossing Aladdin around and becoming an all-powerful sorcerer/genie. In that one song, he changes his costume style about three times in less than two minutes. In this case, his evil costume becomes even more evil. Interestingly, his powerful wizard form is wearing his old outfit, so he switches outfits to power up (becomes sultan) and then switches outfits back to power up again. The only difference in the costumes is that the hat and shoulders are more pointy and his snake-staff's mouth is open, representing that his magic is now aggressive like a snake's bite, as opposed to passive, like a snake's hypnotic eyes. Then, he becomes a genie and really changes clothes.
  • Barbie movies:
  • In The LEGO Movie, President Business demonstrates a taste for the theatrics when he goes from a simple but sophisticated grey suit and red tie to an all-out ensemble of massive stilt boots, red cape (note: it's shaped like a tie) and a helmet that spurts fire (note: yes, those are coffee cups on his helmet, I'm not joking) whenever he adopts his evil persona of Lord Business. A lot of it symbolises his power and dominance over others, especially prominent in intimidation to any of his lackeys (Good Cop Bad Cop suffers the worst, though), but the climax reflects the fear he can truly instill in his enemies when he's in this state.
  • In the 2012 adaptation of The Lorax, the Once-ler starts out in a simple Depression-era cheap suit while he's simply trying to improve the world. When he finally opens his own business, though, he switches to a flamboyant dollar-bill-green outfit that's a cross between a pimp and a steampunk factory owner.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Spider-Man 3, the Black Suit is the result of the Venom symbiote bonding to and corrupting Peter Parker. At one point, he even enters a clothing store and buys more black, complementing the symbiote.
  • In Legend (1985), Mia Sara's character, Princess Lili, does a Face–Heel Turn (not really) and gets a whole new outfit plus Gothy makeup and a hair dye job. If the Lord Of Darkness (Tim Curry) could come up with all this while living in a cave complex, he's probably now in Japan selling to the EGL crowd and rich-rich-rich.
  • Star Wars:
    • Most of the Jedi knights dress in earthy-colored (brown, green, ivory) natural fabrics. From Attack of the Clones onward, Anakin Skywalker leather. In-Universe this had more than a few Jedi worried about his mental state and intentions.
    • Anakin actually wears very dark brown robes in the second movie, which inexplicably become black after he kills the Tusken Raiders.
    • They even lampshaded this in the toys; you can buy lightsabers that switch colors for when you "turn to the dark side".
  • MirrorMask: After she's brainwashed by the Dark Queen into playing her daughter (Helena's double) she gets dressed in the Dark Princess' garb, which includes dark lipstick, a black dress and getting her hair drawn into a severe style. Last of all, her eyes go black.
  • When Dana Barrett becomes Zuul in Ghostbusters (1984), her outfit suddenly becomes a diaphanous dress which shows lots of shoulder and leg.
    Venkman: That's a new look for you isn't it?
  • When Sam Rockwell's character does his Face–Heel Turn in the Charlie's Angels film, he goes from a "shy, rumpled guy" look to a slick, black, and stylish outfit.
  • Robert the Bruce in Braveheart wears a very bulky and intimidating "dark knight" armor after betraying William Wallace in favor of King Edward "Longshanks". At least he has a reason to do it - namely, obscuring his identity from the Scottish forces.
  • In Warriors of Virtue, Elysia goes from a high-neck, long-sleeved white dress with a cloak to a sleeveless orange dress with exposed cleavage after her betrayal.
  • Exaggerated and justified trope when it comes to TRON Lines. A Program's circuitry color identifies its alignment, identity, and position in the system.
  • The Stinger of Green Lantern (2011) shows Sinestro undergoing this as he puts on the yellow ring.
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: When we're introduced to Dr. Elsa Schneider, she's wearing feminine outfits of the time. But once it's revealed she's allied with the Nazis, she starts wearing more masculine clothing, wearing a military-style riding outfit, complete with black tall boots and black leather gloves, in the final act. This outfit proves to be fashion over function since she clumsily trips over her boots twice during the grail temple's earthquake and the leather glove slips from Indy's hold when she tries reaching for the grail.
  • X-Men Film Series:
  • In Dracula Untold, when Vlad launches his Roaring Rampage of Revenge, he dons the armor he wore as "Lord Impaler" for the Ottomans.
  • In Trail Street, one lawman in a white hat switches to wearing a black hat when he sides with the outlaws.
  • Get Out (2017): Once Rose is revealed to be an eager participant in her parents' scheme, she switches from cute, modern outfits to an old-fashioned, button-up white shirt.
  • In The Final: The outcasts all switch into macabre versions of their costumes after they drug the partygoers. Ravi's clown costume becomes a Monster Clown, Andy switches from a SWAT uniform to an SS uniform, Jack switches from a Raggedy Andy doll to a scarecrow, Emily drops her butterfly costume in favor of a black leather smock and gloves (reminiscent of Asami from Audition), and finally, Dane changes out of his welder's costume and into a gas mask and a Badass Longcoat.
  • When Dom goes rogue in The Fate of the Furious, he's often shown wearing an all-black outfit.
  • Virginal Jessica wears white dresses in The Thing That Couldn't Die. When she falls under the undead sorcerer's power, she switches to a black dress with significant cleavage. (No one seems to notice this drastic change in her personality).
  • In one of the fastest and latest examples, the Love-Interest Traitor in Decoys loses her green sweater for a black top with bared midriff and cleavage minutes before the film ends. Justified in that she was using his Victory Sex for a Post-Climax Confrontation for her breeding purposes, and her alien species has reproductive organs coming out where her belly button would be.
  • Ajnabee: After Vicky is revealed to be evil, he starts wearing dark clothes and Cool Shades.
  • In Jurassic World when Dr. Henry Wu shows up, your first clue that he's up to no good is that he's wearing a black turtle-neck under his labcoat rather than the soft-gray polo shirt he wore in the original film, reflecting how before he was accidentally doing wrong but is now deliberately doing wrong.

  • In Dragonlance, when Raistlin switches allegiance from the Red Robes of neutrality to the Black Robes of evil, he naturally starts wearing a black robe. There's at least one point in which he's wearing a red robe which other characters think gets darker the more evil he's being.
  • The Origin of Laughing Jack: Laughing Jack starts as a colourful Non-Ironic Clown, but years of abandonment have caused all his colors to fade away, leaving him as an emotionless husk of his former self, completely black and white. When he leaves his box after being influenced by Isaac's violence, Jack appears much more demonic as well, having also developed razor sharp teeth and Creepy Long Fingers.
  • Shade's Children: Metaphysical example. As Shade's humanity deteriorates, he abandons his glamourous human avatar and places his consciousness in a large, terrifying spider robot. When he redeems himself, he appears using a hologram much more similar to the real Robert Ingram, imperfections and all.

  • The premise of the song "Want You Bad" by The Offspring.
  • This happens in The Wall — the 1980 tour, the 1982 motion picture, the 1990 Berlin show, and (mostly) the 2010 tour—when Old Pink turns into "Dark Lord Pink". In the original tour, Roger Waters wore an over-the-top, rhinestone-studded trenchcoat; in the movie, Bob Geldof got an Oswald Mosley-esque makeover; in Berlin, RW wore a Field Marshal's costume; and in 2010, RW sometimes uses nothing more than black clothing with a crossed-hammer armband, but at other venues, the costume is a bit more elaborate.

  • When the Sequinox girls get sent to the Mirror Universe in episode 10, the whole team find themselves in dark, sinister (and revealing) costumes rather than their usual outfits. Notably, any instance of a rose on their costumes has been replaced by a cutout of a star - as in, the symbol of the Stars that they've been fighting.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Hulk Hogan's Face–Heel Turn to Hollywood Hogan in WCW involved a switch from his trademark red-and-yellow tights to black tights with lightning airbrushed on them. He also started wearing black and white feather boas, and white-rimmed sunglasses, and grew a 5-o'clock shadow and dyed it black (which looked rather odd and sinister next to his platinum-blond hair and mustache).
  • Many WWE superstars who do a Face–Heel Turn or a Heel–Face Turn also get a change in intro music and outfit.
  • Michelle McCool switched from long tights to shorts after turning heel in December 2008.
  • In CHIKARA, when Shane Storm went bad, he went from this to the Rudo known as STIGMA.
  • The Usos ditched their colorful face paint and shorts for monochromatic hoodies and black pants, and replaced their upbeat entrance theme with a self-sung Boastful Rap. All this remained after they turned face again.
  • Neville ditched the cape and started wearing a darker version of his usual ring gear.
  • It took a while for this to happen to Seth Rollins after he turned in 2014. Apart from a couple Authority-esque suits he has come down to the ring in, Seth continues wearing his Shield uniform (sometimes complete with the Shield patch!) even weeks after defecting. Eventually, he started wearing leather tights that look like they could fit on an X-Men villain.
  • Randy Savage actually went the opposite direction during his 1989 Face–Heel Turn. He switched from trunks to elaborate tights, often wore vests or shirts in the ring, and switched his headbands and sequinned ponchos for his crown (later cowboy hats) and jackets with tassels on the sleeves, which he retained when he turned face again. Perhaps justified since Savage had just come off steroids at the time and was trying to hide his loss of definition. By the time he got to WCW, he had toned up enough to go shirtless again but kept the tights.
  • Roman Reigns: After his Face–Heel Turn in 2020, he wrestles without his vest and wearing a golden glove on his right hand.

  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, Simon is usually modest in his choice of turtlenecks and trousers. His evil personality, the Dark Dragon, hates Simon's sense of fashion and gets rid of it as soon as he takes over their body, replacing it with an all-black ensemble that includes No Shirt, Long Jacket.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Warhammer 40,000, Space Marines who turn to Chaos get Spikes of Villainy on their Powered Armor, and also have different-looking backpacks for some reason. In particular, the War Hounds (better known as the World Eaters) originally had blue and white Powered Armor. However, they were so ferocious in battle that their armor would always be drenched in blood which made maintenance quite the chore. After their turn to Chaos, the World Eaters now wear scary blood-red armor. Said armor is actually their original white armor (with the requisite spikes added) — the only difference is that they no longer bother to clean off the blood.
  • Magic: The Gathering has the twin cards Chosen of Markov, a Vampire Vannabe, and Markov's Servant, the same person after being turned. She goes from a simple white dress to a skin-tight black gown, cut to below the navel.

  • At the start of the second act of Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore (in productions that don't bump it up to the first act curtain), Robin Oakapple, following his Face–Heel Turn at the end of the first act, reappears as Bad Baronet Ruthven Murgatroyd; originally, his faithful steward Adam was to have changed his name to Gideon Crawle to suit his new appearance as the evil henchman, but this name change was undone during the original run except for one line that Gilbert missed.
  • Wicked:
  • In Tanz der Vampire, the vampires in the cast swap out their centuries-old clothing for more Gothic attire. In some productions, everyone switches to wearing black, modern-day Gothic clothing. Even Abronsius. Mostly, this has been set as Rule of Cool, but it could also represent the vampire's successful takeover of the world.
  • In the second act of Cirque du Soleil's Amaluna, the Peacock Goddess and her backup dancers switch to Goth-esque black and silver outfits with spiky headdresses.
  • As the SQUIP gains more and more control over Jeremy in Be More Chill, he changes his wardrobe to include darker colors with less individuality. When it is finally defeated, he changes back into a geeky t-shirt and "lame" shoes with a Hello Kitty decal.

    Web Animation 
  • Anyone who joins the on Cult of Personality gets a black uniform, but the lieutenants and the leader himself have more unique outfits after defecting, namely more elaborate hats and clothing.
  • At the end of the Puffin Forest video D&D Story: We Were Just Making Everything Worse, Ben has an Imagine Spot where his character Aligaros and the other members of his party are villains in another party's campaign. In it, Aligaros has switched from his green shirt, blue vest, black pants, and BFS, to being dressed like an evil sorcerer or priest in a red and yellow robe with a spiky high collar and a skull amulet.

    Web Comics 
  • A small example occurs in MegaTokyo, where Miho's Endgames character is not seen wearing Miho's synonymous hair ribbons until just after betraying Pirogoeth (he/she is even seen putting them in shortly after this happens).
  • 8-Bit Theater: after White Mage concludes she spreads nothing but pain and misery in her wake, she trades her traditional white robe for a gray one. Of course, being the most good character in the entire comic, she isn't very good at it.
  • Technically, Erfworld's Wanda Firebaugh was already evil before, but in a sympathetic, Villain Protagonist way. In Book Two, however, she started dressing as a hideous The Rocky Horror Picture Show reject with pale makeup and big, puffy hair with a skunk stripe, which significantly reduced her Draco in Leather Pants status among fans. She later changed back into something sexier.
  • Homestuck:
    • Gamzee Makara's Face–Heel Turn is first demonstrated by a change in his typing quirk, which goes from aLtErNaTiNg CaPs to alternating between all lowercase AND ALL CAPS; considering that, earlier, he said that typing in any way not lIkE tHiS feels unnatural, it serves to cement the fact that something has Gone Horribly Wrong. Additionally, his clown makeup is smeared and cracked, and, at one point, he wore Equius's shades and Nepeta's cap, trophies from the two trolls he murdered (and he managed to look positively in both).
    • With the use of the Tiaratop, Her Imperious Condescension brainwashes Jane, switches the colors of her godtier outfit to Betty Crocker red and white, makes her skin even more pale than usual, turns her eyes black with red irises, and makes her text color (except for her name) turn red.
    • This trope is combined with Villain Protagonist when Aranea Serket wears Mindfang's pirate dress when she decides to defeat Lord English on her own, how many people get hurt as a result be damned.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • During the period in which Ellen was trying (and failing) to be evil, she wore a suit to school.
    • Elliot discovers that he can access a Superpowered Evil Side of his Cheerleadra form. This results in a version of her costume that's Red and Black and Evil All Over.
    • Notably, neither of those outfits shows more skin than their regular one (Ellen's suit shows somewhat less than her usual t-shirt). Dan has spoken in The Rant on several occasions about his wish to avert the trope that revealing clothes are evil.
  • Sarah, in The Princess (2009), has a bad day and turns up dressed " Eeyore barfed on Alice in Wonderland!" Her best friend snaps her out of it immediately.
  • When Kendra chooses to become a villain in To Prevent World Peace, her halo grows spikes and her magical girl costume disappears completely. So, of course, she has to get a new outfit made by a villain fashion designer.
  • In Drowtales, Lulianne starts off the series in a fairly conservative suit of armor that leaves only her face exposed, but after being possessed by the demon Khaless switches to a red and black outfit with very low pants, a bare midriff and a Cleavage Window.
  • Not quite evil, but in Kevin & Kell, Kell changes from peach-colored business outfits to dark red ones when she becomes CEO of Herd Thinners. Then again, CEO of Herd Thinners is more of a Necessarily Evil position, given the nature of the Kevin and Kell universe, and Kell is much more fair than her predecessor was.
    • And now she's switched to a more neutral green now that she's set up a rival company to Herd Thinners with funding from the decidedly more corrupt Rabbit Council.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • During the Soul Splice, Vaarsuvius' red robes turn black and their hair becomes long and wild. Haley catches onto this when they're reunited, but Belkar convinces her otherwise, citing that the dark leather clothes she wore during her time as leader of a resistance movement could have been considered to be evil-looking. Once Haley is out of earshot, Belkar welcomes V to "the deep end of the alignment pool."
    • In strip 474, a hypothetical one-panel Fantasy Sequence of Roy having turned into a vampire shows his armour having turned dark and his boots reddish.
  • Sebastian gets one in True Villains, as well as a cool haircut.
  • Nebula: Pluto's spacesuit changes to something much spikier and bulkier after he physcially joins Black Hole in the void, with threatening-looking tubes making his shoulders seem larger, the markings on his arms changing from blue to red, and a Cool Helmet hiding his face.
  • In New Sonic Adventures the Chaos Emeralds' radiation transforms Eggman physically as well as mentally, turning his lab coat into a villainous outfit.
  • Seen among angles in Kill Six Billion Demons, although mostly in the form of being implied to having happened already. Angels manifest in the physical world in armour-like artificial bodies. While angels in general aren't particularly good, two groups have turned clearly bad, and their armour reflects this, suggesting they must have made a costume change as they turned. The Petal Knights have abandoned the Law altogether and become nasty, violent hedonists, and their armours are vaguely sensuous and have colours like pinks and purples as opposed to the standard greyish tones. Meanwhile, the Holy Thorn Knights are extremists who want to see the universe destroyed, and they've adopted armours with lots of Spikes of Villainy.

    The closest to seeing such a change in action is when White Chain is offered the chance to become a Thorn Knight and shown a Thorn Knight version of their current armour. Defied because they don't accept the offer, even though they still end up working for the offerer.

    Web Original 
  • Generator can't resist playing with this trope in the Whateley Universe every time she gets to play a supervillain in the holographic simulations. The first time, in Team Tactics class, she goes for the Dragon Lady look with a cheongsam. In "Ayla and the Mad Scientist" when she is asked to play 'the team member who has gone Dark Phoenix' in the holographic simulation, she goes with glowing black eyes, Kirby Crackle, and a black and purple minidress with a Navel-Deep Neckline.

    Web Videos 
  • Critical Role: When the Mighty Nein discover Molly's grave to be empty, their first clue that whatever was revived is not Molly is that Veth finds Molly's beloved longcoat discarded in the dirt. When they finally meet Lucien, he is dressed far more practically than Molly, switching out the flamboyant circus garb for darker, furred clothing to combat the cold of Eisselcross.
  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog: After joining the Evil League of Evil, Billy switches from his white outfit to a red one, with black gloves.
  • Life SMP: Most of the players invoke this by having a separate skin for when they get knocked down to one life left, where they become Omnicidal Maniacs whose main goal is to kill everyone else on the server.note  These Minecraft skins are often either red and black or grayscale (both crossing over with Red Is Violent), with red eyes, and sometimes grey skin. However, there's a small minority of players who don't do thisnote , making it a Zig-Zagging Trope for the series overall.
  • The Nostalgia Critic showed his desire to conquer the world in Kickassia by dressing up as M. Bison.note  To a lesser extent, The Nostalgia Chick went from normal clothes and acting disinterested to dressing like Sarah Palin and trying to kill the Critic every five minutes. There's also Handsome Tom, who changed his "hero" shirt into one that says "villain".
  • Pop Quiz Hotshot also treated Critic's normal clothes as this trope, when he goes from a lonely kid in a Transformers t-shirt to a suited adult who will force people to be his friends by kidnapping them.


Video Example(s):


Sakura's Downfall

After suffering abuse for the thousandth time, Sakura succumbs to her darkest emotions and gets a seductive black and red dress to go with it.

How well does it match the trope?

4.83 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / EvilCostumeSwitch

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