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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
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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.

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What happens when Light Is Not Good and Dark Is Evil are combined. Compare Evil Albino for when a character's skin complexion takes on aspects of this. Contrast Primary-Color Champion and Secondary Color Nemesis.

Supertrope to Enemy Mime.


Examples:

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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.

    Fan Works 
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    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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.

    Literature 

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Kantai Collection: 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.

    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 
  • Exterminatus Now: Former Inquisitor and now Chaos Sorcerous Overlord Silas Morth is a badger. His entire cult follows black-and-white motifs: penguins, zebras, tigers...
  • Klonoa: Dream Traveller of Noctis Sol: Nightmare Klonoa, the Evil Counterpart to Klonoa, is all black and gray (with a little white), from his fur to to his clothing. He initially appears in a completely grayscale world, but when he comes to the "real" world, he retains his coloration... aside from his eyes, which turn yellow. By contrast, while Klonoa himself has black and white fur, he wears clothing in the primary colors.

    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.
  • 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 episode, "Mime Time", 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.

 
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Alternative Title(s): Greyscale Of Evil

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Reverser

The normally colorful Marc Anciel is akumatized into the black and white Reverser.

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