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Grayscale of Evil

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Gray is the queen of colors, because she makes everyone else look good.
Helen Van Wyk

The gold standard of differentiating the heroes from the bad guys is making the heroes' color scheme sufficiently brighter and the villains' sufficiently darker. However, this ends up looking pretty bland. Sure, it's very intuitive, but still cliched and overused. However, the dichotomy of dark shades against solid white backdrops is striking and highly effective.

Cue this trope, where villains feature mostly black, white and gray color motifs, with at the most a dash of red here and there for effect. The heroes might occasionally wear black or white when this trope is in effect, but rarely at the same time or to a degree that exceeds the villains. The heroes will instead usually favor a more vibrant color scheme with fluid colors and a rainbow mix, to further contrast the villain's shaded motif.

What happens when Light Is Not Good and Dark Is Evil are combined. Contrast Primary-Color Champion, Secondary Color Nemesis and of course Bright Is Not Good.

Supertrope to Enemy Mime.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Digimon Frontier: Lucemon Falldown Mode, the One-Winged Angel form of the Big Bad Lucemon, is stylized as a Fallen Angel and it shows: he has both white feather wings and black bat wings, and his clothes incorporate black and white.
  • In Sword Art Online, Death Gun has a black cloak, white bandages on each arm, and a silver mask. This is a reference to his old identity; back when he was controlling the XaXa avatar, Shouichi Shinkawa wore a black cloak with a white skull mask.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: Ami's first dungeon has a black and white chessboard theme. Downplayed, because while she's not evil, everyone who shares her occupation of Dungeon Keeper is, and everyone else assumes she's evil because of that.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Dr. Evil from Austin Powers is famously depicted as wearing grey Nehru jackets, and his lair in International Man of Mystery is quite grey in its color scheme. This helps to contrast him with the more colorful Austin.
  • Batman Returns: In contrast to the garishly coloured antagonist of the previous film, this time the villains are devoid of colours:
    • The Penguin wears grayscale Victorian clothing, and has a pale, colourless complexion as well.
    • Max Shreck is always seen in grayscale suits as well, with an occasional red bowtie as the only splash of colour.
    • Catwoman, though more of an Anti-Villain, is dressed in black leather with white stitches and seams.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales has the ruthless Captain Armando Salazar and his crew. All of them appear as monochrome ghosts, making a contrast against the main characters' brighter and more earthy getups. Even before Salazar and his crew were turned into ghosts, they wore grayscale outfits not seen on any other crew in the series.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World:
    • Todd Ingram and Envy Adams have a black and white color scheme.
    • The Katayanagi Twins take this a step further. One wears black, the other white.
  • No matter who plays the role of Ghostface in the Scream franchise, the costume is always the same; a black cloak and hood with a white mask.
  • Star Wars
    • During the Clone Wars, warships such as the Republic Army's attack cruisers and the Confederacy's dreadnoughts were largely the same dull color palette aside from highlights of red and blue respectively. Just like how their leader was the same, they were mostly the same shades of gray.
    • Darth Vader in black, stormtroopers in white. George Lucas made a point of this, in fact, using warmer earth tones for the heroes to better contrast the lack of color of The Empire. Carrying over from the Clone Wars, their star destroyers are shades of dark grey, this time without red markings.
    • The First Order continues this tradition with a black-clad Kylo Ren and white-suited Stormtroopers. Their ships are an even darker grey than the Empire's were, but Downplayed given they incorporated reds into their architecture.
  • Although the Big Bad of Spider-Man: Far From Home starts off with a colorful costume straight out of the comics, it's revealed that Mysterio's true costume is a black, gray, and white mocap getup.
  • The "uniform" of the War Boys from Mad Max: Fury Road is white body paint and black eye shadow. Played with by Nux, who starts the film as a War Boy and keeps the color scheme after his Heel–Face Turn.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Judge Doom's black suit, clean white shirt and unnaturally pale skin makes him stand out from the lead characters (namely, Eddie's brownish tones and Roger's bright colours), hinting about his malicious nature. However, it's subverted when Doom's true appearance is revealed to be that of a very colourful Toon, with his human appearance simply serving as a disguise.


    Live-Action TV 
  • Our Miss Brooks: Osgood Conklin prefers to dress in black three-piece suits, or at least dark colors. Although the program appeared on television and film in black and white, and didn't "appear" at all on the radio, this tendency is mentioned several times:
    • "First Day": Mr. Conklin not only dressed in black, but drove a large black sedan that Walter Denton compares to a hearse.
    • "Friday The Thirteenth": Mr. Conklin brags about his respectable black suit and hat to his daughter. He worries that his "midnight blue" tie might be loud.
  • American Gods:
    • The Technical Boy and his minions take on this aesthetic. After he abducts Shadow, his limo lair is shown to be as black and white as his costume.
    • Downplayed with Media, who is only this by virtue of appearing to Shadow through a television currently screening I Love Lucy, which was originally recorded and broadcast in black and white.
  • Once Upon a Time: Everything Regina wears after becoming evil is this. Her office in the real world has black and white wallpaper, and black and white knick-knacks strewn everywhere.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: The Eldrazi
    • Introduced during the Zendikar block, the Eldrazi were mechanically unique at the time for actually requiring colorless mana to play in some instances.
    • The Eldrazi made a return in the Innistrad block, introducing horrific fusions of local flora and fauna with Emrakul's essence. Cards that depicted these horrors usually required colored mana to cast, but were marked with "Devoid (this card has no color)."
    • The Orzhov Syndicate, a criminal syndicate masquerading as a church, use a combination of black and white mana, so this color scheme comes naturally to them.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The color scheme of the Sons of Malice Chaos Space Marines is black and white, representing the renegade Chaos God's paradoxical nature of evil fighting itself, as they're far more likely to destroy other Chaos forces.
  • The Drow of Dungeons & Dragons have charcoal grey skin and white or very light hair. This makes them stand out among the surface races, but their lack of color is not uncommon among the races of the underdark where they live.

    Video Games 
  • Applies to Loki who shows up in Persona 5 decked out in black and white stripes of Dazzle Camouflage which is a perfect mien for him given that he is the original Persona of Black Mask otherwise known as Goro Akechi.
  • Azure Striker Gunvolt: Nova's One-Winged Angel form is a colossal humanoid figure with a black side and white side, and also controls a big black drone and a white one.
  • Final Fantasy VII: Sephiroth, with his black clothing, pale skin, silver hair, and gray pauldrons. Also his clones — Kadaj, Yazoo, and Loz — in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.
  • Hollow Knight: The world of Hollownest flips this trope on its head; the world is painted in shades of gray, with the influence of the Radiance being represented by an earthy orange. Downplayed since the world of Hollownest also features a blue tint in many of its areas and helpful features.
  • The Heavy of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Ghirahim, begins the game with white skin, white hair, and white clothes under a red cloak, but can summon knives and swords with black blades. Parts of his body begin to turn black in his second fight with Link, and he eventually sheds his outer layer to show off his real form, a pitch-black humanoid with white stripes. He is finally reconverted into a sword by Demise, and becomes pure black.
  • KanColle: While their eyes and Tron Lines vary in color, the Abyssal Fleet have a distinguishing Undeathly Pallor and hair, clothing, and mechanical parts in either black, metallic grays, or white. In contrast, the shipgirls have a normal human range of skin, hair, and eye colors, and dress in colors of all kinds.
  • Kingdom Hearts II: During the last stage of the Final Boss battle, Xemnas switches from a Black Cloak to a robe with black-and-white patterns resembling the Nobody emblem. The battle itself takes place in a gray void.
  • I=MGCM: All demons (except the elemental ones) have black and white colors, from the hair, body marks, wings and skins.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa: Monokuma, the "headmaster" of Hope's Peak Academy, is a deceptively cute looking black and white bear and the most visible antagonist. He also has a Duality Motif note  with a sinister red eye and a Slasher Smile. From the very first game, it doesn't take long to establish him as the Big Bad of the entire series.

    Web Comics 

    Web Videos 
  • Nando V Movies made an entire video decrying the use of this trope in modern big-budget blockbuster films. The argument made suggests that this is becoming a Discredited Trope.
  • RWBY has Salem, who is a Humanoid Abomination with unnaturally white skin, black tainted veins, and a black dress. The only part of her that isn’t black or white are her eyes.
  • Tribe Twelve: The videos made by members of The Collective — Slender Man's evil group of possessed souls — are in an animated sketchy style, making them black and gray. Every picture shown of the collective members is in this same style.

    Western Animation 
  • Miraculous Ladybug: The Villain of the Week Reverser's design is half black and half white, fitting his personality-reversing powers and contrasting his civilian self's Rainbow Motif.
  • The Nixels from Mixels are black and white cubes, in contrast to the multi-colored and multi-shaped Mixels they oppose. The goal of the Nixels' is to make the world just as drab and uncreative as they are.
  • Steven Universe: White Diamond is not only entirely white and black as her name implies, she can control other Gems and turn them monochrome.
  • In The Powerpuff Girls (1998) episode, "Mime For a Change", a happy colorful clown named Rainbow ends up getting accidentally drenched in bleach, turning him into an evil black and white mime that makes anything he touches grayscale and lifeless.
  • Murky Dismal from Rainbow Brite's goal is to rid the world of color, so naturally he lacks any color himself.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: Two-Face is drawn with his trademark two-tone suit being half-white and half-black.
  • In Darkwing Duck, the High Command of the terrorist group F.O.W.L are depicted as three black shadows with white eyes. They reappear in DuckTales (2017) in the form of Scrooge’s board of directors. They wear black-and-white business suits, although the primary member, Bradford, gets some reds added to the mix when empowered by the Sword of Swanstantine.
  • Sofia the First: Princess Ivy has hair that's black on one side and white on the other, wears a dress with a black and white pattern, and can even magically summon butterflies that drain the color from anything they touch, leaving her surroundings entirely in grayscale. Her second appearance shows she lives in exile on an island she's turned gray, and she becomes distraught when a patch of colorful flowers blooms and starts spreading to her butterflies. After her Heel–Face Turn at the end, her personal color scheme doesn't change, but she starts wearing tinted glasses to block out color so she doesn't have to remove it anymore.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Greyscale Of Evil


White Diamond

While the Diamond Authority is billed as four matriarchs working together to lead the Gem Homeworld, White Diamond is the defacto God Empress of all gemkind. Her power easily surpasses that of Blue and Yellow Diamond, let alone lesser gems. She claims to be the perfect being, with all other gems, even the other Diamonds, merely being flawed reflections of herself. She refuses to listen to others or admit that she is wrong, and the end result of her plans would be the annihilation of all other life in the universe in order to fuel the creation of more gems- more subjects for her to rule. She demands that her subjects be perfect in their actions, thoughts, and desires at all times, and destroys everything that is "off-color". The only one shown to be able to stand up to her is Steven.

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