Why don't you just wear a target instead?
It was almost too easy, should not be allowed —
If only you hadn't stood out from the crowd!"
Attention, Parents: For God's sake, do not dress your tiny daughters in red. Particularly not red coats. Particularly if the daughters are blondes. Awful, awful things will happen.
Often, this is clearly an intentional invocation of Little Red Riding Hood, signalling an innocent heading into danger. It is a very popular element of Grimmified works. To increase the association with the fairy tale, the red garment is often a coat, a cape, or something with a hood.
Red is, of course, the color of blood, and as such it carries ancient associations with sexuality (as in Lady in Red) and danger (as in Red Shirt). It is also simply a very strong, eye-catching color. Anyone wearing head-to-toe red is marked out, highly visible and memorable — not only to the audience but also to anyone who may wish to harm her. When that person is a little girl, she is bound to seem especially exposed and vulnerable.
This is Older Than Steam, considering that some of the older endings for Little Red Riding Hood really do end with the wolf killing and eating her, notably the 1697 Charles Perrault telling that predates the more popular (and less grim) Grimm Brothers version. (Ironically, another early version of the story where the protagonist survives was one written in 1890 by Andrew Lang called "The True History of Little Goldenhood". As the name suggests, she does not wear red at all, and what makes it ironic is, she is saved by the golden hood itself, which is enchanted. Lang's narration explicitly states that the earlier story had been mistold.)
It can be considered an Always Female version of Bring My Red Jacket. Dressing all in white is often a dangerous choice for girls and women, too. Contrast Little Red Fighting Hood, where the blood and danger associations are meant for her enemies.
- Averted/Subverted in Detective Conan. During the bus hijacker case, Haibara wears a red coat. Then she feels the presence of a member of the Black Organization, pulls her hood up, and spends the rest of the case scared out of her wits. At the end, she's convinced that she only attracts evil and tries to commit suicide on the exploding bus. Conan comes and saves her and gives her one of his "Suicide is bad, don't give up" speeches.
- Christina Sierra, Anew Returner, Nena Trinity and Wang Liu Mei from Mobile Suit Gundam 00. Yes, 00 loves this trope.
- Lampshaded constantly in Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, which quotes from the original Little Red Riding Hood tale. The protagonist Fuse hesitates at shooting a young girl in a red hood who's carrying a terrorist bomb. After she blows herself up, he finds himself drawn to her sister, also wearing red who is actually a terrorist-turned-police-informant. And as in the original fairy tale, the girl in the red hoodie is killed by the 'wolf' at the end.
- Also adapted to Ilang: The Wolf Brigade. Except that the girl playing the red riding hood character was able to get away from the SU.
- In the anime of Golgo 13, Duke Togo is sent to kill a Double Agent in a Canadian winter. He captures a female agent guarding the man, drugs her, and strips her naked so she can't run away. She's only feigning unconsciousness, and once Togo leaves she knocks out a staff member at the hotel where they're staying and takes her clothing, including a bright red overcoat. She then runs to the agent to warn him that Togo is on the way. As they flee on a snowmobile, she realizes that her red jacket makes her stand out in the snow. Togo set the whole thing up so he could pick out his target at a distance.
- Satoru of ERASED specifically remembers Kayo alone in the snow and wearing a striking red jacket on the night she was murdered by a serial killer.
- Don't Look Now. A little blond girl in a hooded red coat. She drowns. And the ghost of her is seen as such... turns out to be a dwarf murderer in a coat, thus actually inverting the trope.
- Schindler's List. A little blond girl in a red coat. Murdered in the Holocaust. Steven Spielberg wanted to use red because of the association with blood, and because Oskar Schindler really did see a toddler dressed in red. The girl's red coat is also one of the only color imagery used in the film.
- The paedophile murderer in The Pledge preys only on little blond girls in red dresses.
- Carrie by Stephen King. Well, it was a red prom dress, but that's fairly close... Definitely at least qualifies for the blood-shade color-coding in the related trope Bring My Red Jacket.
"It's pink, Mama."
- Cthulhu (2007). Julia (a blonde girl in a red top) the liquor store clerk who tries to warn the protagonist and ends up tied to a bitthead with barbed wire as a sacrifice to the Deep Ones. There's also a scene where she panics when the protagonist stops his car on a backwoods road at night — clearly she has a justifiable phobia about The Lost Woods.
- Freeway, a parody of Little Red Riding Hood — starring Reese Witherspoon in a red leather jacket and Kiefer Sutherland as creepy pedophile Bob Wolverton.
- Trick 'r Treat has the innocent, virginal girl among her group of more experienced friends who've forced her to dress as Red Riding Hood. She's on her way to their party deep in the woods when she's attacked by, apparently, a vampire. The friends at the party hear her scream and see a red-cloaked body crash to the ground, but it turns out to be a subversion: the cloaked figure is the "vampire", who was a normal human, albeit a serial killer, and Red and her friends are lycanthropes (her "virgin" status comes from not having killed anyone yet). She then proceeds to eat him alive as he lies helpless and screaming, while she and her friends turn into werewolves.
- In Inglourious Basterds Shosanna is wearing a red dress when she and Zoller shot each other.
- A Walk Among the Tombstones. The two Serial Killers decide to give up on their next intended victim after finding out she's in a bedridden coma (they like their victims conscious and terrified) whereupon the woman's 14-year old daughter steps out of the house, the wind blowing the hood of her red coat off her face.
- X-Men. Rogue dresses In the Hood when she meets the big bad Wolverine. Though not a red hood, the Rule of Symbolism is obvious.
- Bram Stoker's Dracula: Lucy Westenra is wearing red everytime she is bitten by Dracula. She seemingly dies after the third and final attack, but rises as a vampire instead.
- Lampshaded in the Darkest Powers series, when Chloe is wearing a red windbreaker while out scouting the woods. She is found by an Ax-Crazy ghost whom she (and her werewolf friend) pissed off earlier. He taunts her, "That's a pretty red coat you're wearing. Little Red Riding Hood, all alone in the woods at night. Where's your big bad wolf?" Then he tries to stone her to death.
- The Dresden Files: Taken very literally in Grave Peril. Susan shows up for the climactic costume party dressed as Little Red, complete with crimson cloak. By the end of the night, she's half-turned into a Red Court vampire and spends the rest of her time in the series resisting the urge to kill a human and transform fully.
- Consequently, like in Schindler's List, Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel's autobiography Night depicts his youngest sister Tzipora wearing a red coat the last time Elie ever saw her (and their mother) again.
- In the Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms story Beauty and the Werewolf, Belle is wearing a red cloak while visiting the old woman who lives in the woods with a basket of goodies. On her way back, she is bitten by a werewolf. Given that in this series The Tradition (which forces the repeating of fairy tales) is a major part of how the world works, it was pretty obvious that this was going to happen.
- In Quite Contrary Mary wanders into the fairy tale while wearing a Sexy-Little-Red-Riding-Hood Halloween costume, and is pursued by the wolf. The sexuality aspect of this trope is played up for maximum creepiness, since Mary is twelve years old and the wolf wants to both sleep with her and eat her.
- When little Princess Rhaenys, age 6, of A Song of Ice and Fire was assassinated, she was wrapped in a red cloak, so her blood wouldn't show so much.
- Invoked (or at least joked about) by a wealthy werewolf socialite in Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I., who claims she's considering opening up her private Montana estate to overnight Girl Scout camp-outs. And providing nice, thick red cloaks to help the visiting girls keep off the chill.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- In "Helpless" where Buffy herself (blonde) shows up in a red coat, and particularly vulnerable because she has lost all her slayer powers. A vampire taunts her by saying, "Why did you come to the dark of the woods? (opens Buffy's bag of weapons) To bring all these sweets to grandmother's house?"
- Invoked in another episode, "Fear Itself", where Buffy goes to a Halloween party dressed as Little Red Riding Hood (with a basket full of weaponry). She's feeling emotionally vulnerable at the time, and ends up facing a demon that makes you face your worst fears, leaving her trapped in a basement, being dragged down into the ground by zombies. Of course, she gets over her fear and saves the day, because she's the Goddamn Slayer!
- Although she isn't wearing red, Joss Whedon refers to the scene in "Hush" where Tara, a new and innocent character who takes over the Damsel in Distress role, goes out into the night to see Willow and gets attacked by the Gentlemen as the "little girl lost in the woods".
- In the opening of "Earshot" when Buffy is pretending to be a Victim of the Week to lure out a demon, she's wearing a red hoodie.
- Although she's not wearing a hoodie, also worthy of mention is "Amends", when Angel encounters Buffy in her bedroom wearing a blood-red dress, looking particularly vulnerable and sensual, and struggles with the urge to force himself on her.
- The Red Riding trilogy — well, it's there in the title. A little blond girl in a hooded red coat. Abducted, murdered.
- Doctor Who.
- "In The Forest of the Night" opens with a little girl running through the woods and encountering...the TARDIS. She later gets chased by wolves, and Little Red Riding Hood and other such Don't Go Into the Woods tales are specifically referenced.
- Blonde companion Rose Tyler wears a red hoodie in at least one episode prior to her switch to Action Girl. Perhaps intentional — she is the Bad Wolf...
- Red-haired Amy Pond also owns a red hoodie, including in "The Pandorica Opens", when she is fatally shot by Rory. She also wears it earlier in the episode "Flesh and Stone", which completes the symbolism by having her walk alone through a forest avoiding monsters.
- The classic Star Trek Red Shirt. That is all.
- Ironically, though, only one actual female Red Shirt was ever killed in the Original Series. All other female crew members who died over the course of the show were either Gold or Blue shirts.
- Though not blonde, Piper of Charmed ended up in a hood and eaten by a wolf-shape shifter in a Fairy Tale themed episode. She eventually blasts her way out, blowing the wolf up.
- In the Supernatural episode "Bedtime Stories", a little girl in a red jacket literally takes the place of Little Red Riding Hood, as a ghost is making the inhabitants of the town reenact fairy tales. Her grandmother is killed, and she is abducted by a man with a Wile-E Coyote tattoo, but Dean saves her.
- Life On Mars: Annie Cartwright wears a bright red dress, while walking in a forest, before being attacked by Vic Tyler.
- In an episode of Merlin Morgana runs away to the forest in a bright red hooded cloak and is attacked by giant scorpions.
- The "Big Bad Wolf" villain in the pilot episode of Grimm went after young women walking or jogging in red clothing as his modus operandi. The color does something to Blutbaden instincts. Juliette, in addition to having red hair, wears the color red a lot, and Nick is shown to be uncomfortable about it in early episodes, though he doesn't say anything to her about it since she didn't know about The Masquerade yet.
- A Gender Flip from Teen Wolf: Scott is wearing a faded red hoodie the night he's bitten by a werewolf.
- He also wears a red hooded shirt the night he's almost killed by Mrs. Argent. Also, an inversion, because this time he's the wolf in danger.
- In the Community episode "Epidemiology", Annie shows up at the Halloween party dressed as Little Red Riding Hood. After the guests start turning into zombies, Annie gets bitten and becomes one. She gets better.
- Midsomer Murders: In "The Ghost of Causton Abbey", Barnaby is reading Little Red Riding Hood to his daughter. As he reads, the scene cuts to a female suspect wearing a long red scarf/cape being stalked by the murderer through the overgrown gardens of the abbey at night. Barnaby's narration of the story continues over the top of the action as the woman is killed.
- Inversion: Baby Bonnie Hood from Darkstalkers. Little blond girl in red dress and hoodie. Bounty hunter and possible mass murderer.
- Princess Ran runs afoul of this trope in Twinkle Star Sprites, where the otherwise peaceful Nonja Monja creatures attack only one thing — little girls in red dresses. Fortunately she can defend herself.
- King's Quest II subverts this as Little Red Riding Hood makes it through the game completely unscathed. Possum, her counterpart in the Fan Remake, becomes a vampire. Surprisingly, this is portrayed as a positive outcome.
- Invoked by Paz in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, a cute young girl who wears a red raincoat during her first meeting with Snake in order to inspire his pity and sympathy, with the aim being to make his mercenary army easier for her community to hire. Her mentor Galvez even explains to Snake that she had been tortured, allowing the player some Costume Porn interactions where they can zoom in on her clothes and look through them to see the scars from this abuse. Even though she is deliberately putting on the Red Riding Hood act and Snake sees straight through the cheap emotional manipulation (while also allowing it to work), when we meet the villain of the game later, he has a head tattoo of a wolf. Also played with as the game uses a form of Good Colors, Evil Colors to code the protagonists with bright yellow and the antagonists with red — Paz's association with red suggests she may not be all she seems.
- Claire wears a red hoodie in the present day. One of her younger selves also wears a red shirt, while the very youngest version of Claire we see has a pure white nightgown on instead.
- The RPG Maker game The Dark Side of Red Riding Hood by Charon takes this Up to Eleven. When staying on the path, nothing will happen, but if Little Red Riding Hood strays from the path, then she will be eaten by her cannibalistic grandmother, be raped by the hunter/wolf or be sold by her mother as a slave. The two endings that are at least somewhat harmless are the one where Red kills her grandma with an axe because her mother asked her to and the one where she gets lost and starves in the woods. It is also implied that there are several Little Red Riding Hoods, since both the slave owner and grandma mention how she isn't the first and certainly not the last that they will get their hands on.
- Fate/hollow ataraxia starts with a Fake-Out Opening in form of a horror story being told by one of the characters. It involves a little girl dressed in a red hood that the featureless protagonist aptly nicknames "Little Red Riding Hood". She wears a red hood to hide the bruises inflicted by her abusive father and winds up dead after her mother commits family suicide. Before dying, she tried to get the protagonist to help her because she couldn't reach the elevator button by herself but he ignored the frantic pounding on his door in favor of watching TV. The girl's spirit starts haunting the protagonist and eventually shows up before him to seemingly kill him in revenge... before the story is interrupted by one of the characters freaking out.
- The Path uses this heavily, as a loose adaptation of Red Riding Hood. One of the most common interpretations of the game's Mind Screw Blipvert endings is that each girl has died, and the game files refer to it as murder.
- Averted in the short animation Red undead, Little Red Riding Hood goes into the wood, being stalked by the wolf, but without her cape. She tries to lure the wolf out on purpose to avenge her grandmother who got eaten by the wolf and successfully kills it in a bloody battle with a knife, only to rip out its guts to find her grandma's eaten corpse and start crying. She takes her grandmothers once yellow, but now blood-soaked red cape and proceeds to exit the forest, dragging her grandmothers corpse behind her.
- RWBY's Establishing Series Moment is subverting this trope. The first trailer opens with a red-cloaked teenage girl wandering a snowy plain alone at night. Inevitably, a pack of about fifteen wolf-demon...things surround her and start attacking. It's at this point that the girl whips out a huge gun-Scythe and starts shooting. It would be hilarious if it weren't so awesome.