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Paint It Black

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Jyrras: Remember that time you thought Alexsi went evil because she wore a black dress?
Dan: Oh come on! I was twelve!
Jyrras: The other time.
Dan: Hey! I was very drunk!
Jyrras: No, Dan. The other time.

A specific form of Evil Costume Switch, one that requires no effort whatsoever on the part of the newly evil party.

See, your Transformation Trinket, your Empathic Weapon, and your costume aren't too happy with your Face–Heel Turn. Being inanimate objects, though, the only way they can express their disapproval is to turn black and evil-looking — goodbye Frills of Justice, hello Spikes of Villainy. The transformation usually, if not always, happens right before your eyes and those of your astonished friends, just for dramatic flair.

A possible variant is when a character happens to be split between good or evil or gain an Enemy Without (sometimes just for a Mirror Match); the Evil Twin (or both) might immediately get Colour-Coded for Your Convenience in the process. In visual media, it naturally helps the viewer telling apart the good guy and the bad guy.

A Sub-Trope of Convenient Color Change and Evil Makeover.

Compare Evil Wears Black.

This trope is named for The Rolling Stones song "Paint It Black", although the song itself is completely unrelated to the trope, being about grieving a loved one's death. For the Nancy A. Collins novel (also named after the song), see Sonja Blue. It is also unrelated to Ron the Death Eater, formerly known as the other thing named after the same song ("Paint the Hero Black"), which involves more than a costume change.

Important Note: Please read the trope description before adding any new example. It is NOT about characters getting a new black (or even darker) outfit. It's about a costume/color change being spontaneous. Unfitting examples will be removed.


    open/close all folders 

  • In Season 5 of Happy Heroes, Doctor H. is brainwashed into helping antagonists Big M. and Little M. with their schemes to take over Planet Xing. When Doctor H. is in his evil form, his typical yellow and purple suit and helmet change to black and gray, with the suit in particular having one feature — a vest — that Doctor H.'s normal clothing doesn't have.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In 11eyes, when Lisette becomes Liselotte, her Elegant Gothic Lolita outfit changes from white to black.
  • Inverted in Bleach — Ichigo's normal outfit is black and his Enemy Within is a completely white version of himself with black sclera. While Ichigo's Super Mode turns his sword black, Hollow Ichigo's version turns it white. Justified in that white is the color most associated with death in Japan.
  • The Devil Suit in Corrector Yui is an insta-corrupted Angel Suit.
  • Digimon:
    • ShineGreymon Ruin Mode (a berserk, corrupt power-up), in Digimon Data Squad, is a darker, duller palette swap of ShineGreymon Burst Mode (the true power-up), though, in this case, the dark version occurs first.
    • Also, in Digimon Adventure 02, Ken forces Agumon to become Metal Greymon when under the control of a Mind-Control Device, and when he does, he's gray instead of his usual orange (if you take the card game as canon, this means he's a Virus type instead of a Vaccine type now — think of it as Digimon's version of Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors), though his Agumon form remains unchanged.
  • In Fate/Apocrypha, Atalanta's clothes turn black (and Stripperiffic) and her hair turns grey after activating her second Noble Phantasm, Agrius Metamorphosis. She normally hates using this, since it drives her insane, but the events of the War take a toll on her psyche...
  • In Fate/Zero, an unwilling Irisviel has this, when her mind gets absorbed by all the Evils in the World — Angra Mainyu.
  • Trisha Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist has brown hair, but in the 2003 anime version, when she is "resurrected" as a homunculus named Sloth, her hair is jet black. Black hair and paler skin seem to be a general effect on the homunculi of the anime. Lust's human form was Ishvalan, and they're all mostly middle-eastern in appearance.
  • In Hellsing, after Seras finally drains a human to death and unlocks her full power as a vampire of Alucard's line, her yellow Hellsing uniform turns red. Or maybe that had to do with the scenes both before and after her transformation, where it liberally soaked in blood.
  • Holoearth Chronicles Side:E ~Yamato Phantasia~: A subtle case whenever humans are corrupted by especially powerful Stigma, with them gaining a black aura and black Tainted Veins that appear to only be visible to Kami. A much more blatant case is when an Ayakashi becomes stigmatized, if the squirrel Ayakashi fought by Fubuki is any indication.
  • Inverted in Kill la Kill: the Quirky Miniboss Squad's uniforms changing color from white to black indicates that they've joined the good guys.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • Brainwashed Tuxedo Mask fights by throwing black roses. In some "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight scenes in the anime, the rose in his hand is flickering between red and black.
    • The normally black-clad antagonist Sailor Tin Nyanko only gets partially purified by Sailor Moon, resulting in a half-black and half-white costume.
    • Sailor Galaxia was evil to begin with, but once Chaos completely overtakes her, her golden fuku turns pitch black, along with her hair going bright red and her skin greyish-white.
  • Saint Seiya:
    • Pretty much a staple of any Gemini Saint who has a case of Split Personality: Saga, Aspros, Paradox...
    • In Saint Seiya Omega, Gemini Paradox's light blue hair turns black when her more violent personality takes over. Her lipstick also goes from coral to dark purple.
    • In Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas, Alone, The Protagonist Tenma's best friend, normally has blond hair, but when Hades' corruption on him starts showing up, his hair turns black. After Hades' soul is expelled from him, his hair turns back to blond.
  • In Transformers: Kiss Players, when Starscream possesses Atari Hitotonari, her uniform turns black.

    Comic Books 
  • Shazam!: Mary Marvel's white costume switched to black when she received Black Adam's powers in Countdown to Final Crisis — which had the side effect of turning her evil.
  • The Smurfs: Smurfette originally had black hair, as she was a creation of Gargamel, but when Papa Smurf changed her into a real Smurf, her hair became blonde. In the cartoon show episode "Smurfette Unmade", the spell that Gargamel casts on her to undo the spell that made her into a real Smurf causes her hair to turn black as she reverts to her "un-Smurfy self". In The Smurfs 2, Smurfette's skin also changes to pale grey as she turns back into a Naughty, although this only occurs in a dream sequence.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): Evil Sonic (a.k.a. Scourge) eventually goes green and vile-looking when he absorbs enough energy from the Master Emerald, which also helps drive him a bit mad and he becomes even more evil when Sonic points out their similarities. In the end, this leads to his using his super form, a bizarre inverse of his usual color scheme with purple hair, black eyes with red pupils and even a slight outfit change, with the red and green parts becoming purple and blue. It's a surprisingly creepy looking form, fitting for how crazy he's become.
  • Supergirl:
    • In Girl Power, Supergirl was exposed to black kryptonite and she was split into her normal self and an evil (and oversexed) alternate personality that wore a black-and-silver version of her normal costume. The black costume returned in a later Justice League of America storyline where a battle with the Omega Man accidentally reawakened the Dark Supergirl persona within her.
    • This was based on an earlier story, The Condemned Legionnaires, in which Kara was exposed to a piece of red kryptonite that created Satan Girl, who likewise wore a black outfit. Her version had a cowl and no S-symbol, because her identity was originally a mystery.
  • Teen Titans: Inverted by Raven, who usually switches from her dark-blue to a white outfit when her demon father Trigon's influence becomes too great.
  • X-Men:
    • Jean Grey/Phoenix. When she first becomes Phoenix, the new suit is just there, and when she becomes Dark Phoenix, it turns red. Later in the original Phoenix arc, she can tell how close she is to losing control by what she sees her costume is doing. In the Endsong storyline, she frequently changes from green to red as her personality shifts between "Jean with Phoenix powers" and "cosmic destroyer". When her issues are finally resolved, it becomes white. (The white suit has its own meaning, which, like all things Phoenix, is needlessly complicated.) note 
    • Another Phoenix example is when Emma Frost briefly possesses the Phoenix Force during Endsong, her normally white costume becomes black and gold and more slutty. Yes, it's possible.
    • Every Phoenix host seems to get a new Phoenix-ified version of their outfit. Even Spider-Man, though he wasn't actually a Phoenix host at the time, so where'd the outfit come from?

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Inverted in Aladdin where Jafar's outfit turns white after he uses his first wish to become Sultan. Then again, he was already evil in the first place, and the white outfit seems like the traditional color for male Agrabah royalty.
  • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games, Human Twilight absorbing all the magic stored in her device grants her an instant Evil Makeover as Midnight Sparkle, with ominous black wings, a sexy Dark Magical Girl outfit, a glowing horn and magical emanation around her eyes, as well as her skin taking a darker purple hue.


    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • As Willow powers up for her homicidal Freak Out, the phlebotinum involved turns her hair and eyes black in front of an astonished Anya.
    • Also inverted in the finale, where Willow's good use of magic turns her hair white and makes her glow. That only lasts for a few seconds, though, and she goes right back to being a redhead afterwards.
  • Doctor Who: At the end of "The Keeper of Traken", kind, generous, good Counsel Tremas, with his white beard, hair, and robes, sees an odd-looking grandfather clock in the middle of the room. He goes over to touch it. Oh, Crap!. Bad plan. It's The Master's TARDIS, and out comes the Master, cackling "A new body, at last!" Tremas de-ages, his hair and beard shortening and turning black, and gets a spiffy new black outfit. Why hello there, new Master.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • In Kamen Rider Dragon Knight, it was first played straight in dreams: first, Kit is attacked by a black-clad version of himself, and in another one, Kit dreams of taking Xaviax's Deal with the Devil and going through a second Transformation Sequence, transforming into the black suit, before hunting down and taking out his teammates. He was, needless to say, not too enthusiastic when first presented with a real-life version of the black armor.
    • In Kamen Rider Kuuga, Yuusuke Godai's black Super Mode originally comes from a serious mad-on and threatens to make him a Destructive Saviour. However, when powered by his sense of justice, "Ultimate Kuuga" is... still black, but the eyepieces go from black to their usual red. In Kamen Rider Decade, the black-and-gold but much more evil-looking Rising Ultimate Kuuga form, with Spikes of Villainy, is bestowed upon Yuusuke Onodera by the Legion of Doom when they brainwash him. You get the black eyes until he gets de-brainwashed, and again, they become their normal red.
  • Inverted in The Umbrella Academy (2019): when Viktor goes on a rampage and starts building up telekinetic energy, his outfit and violin turn completely white from the power.

  • The gold parts of Takanuva's armour turn black when his light is partially drained in BIONICLE.
  • Transformers:
    • It's very common for Hasbro and Takara to re-release an existing toy model with a black repaint. This business model is common enough that it has its own page at the Transformers Wiki which explains these changes as "Spontaneous Recoloration". Shortpacked! frequently takes shots at this. Often, though, the change isn't good/evil, but a powerup that leaves the character's personality alone.
    • There's also the Black Repaint page at TFWiki, which covers when toys are specifically recolored black. In a great many cases, the recolors are issued as Evil Twins, especially if it's a version of Optimus Prime (although some black Optimus Primes are simply cases of Optimus Prime wearing black). Again, though, if the recolored toy represents the same character as the original version, it generally doesn't affect the character's personality.

    Video Games 
  • BlazBlue:
  • In Bowser's Fury, the eponymous Fury Bowser has turned jet-black with Flaming Hair and Glowing Eyes of Doom, and with this appearance comes a change of personality. No longer is he the Large Ham Boisterous Bruiser he was before, but now he's a feral rage-fueled monster who'll lash out against everyone, even his own son. Turns out this trope is played literally, as his change in attitude was caused by a prank gone awry from Bowser Junior.
  • Dragon Age II players expected the worst when, in the game's third act, Anders' robe turned black. They were right.
  • In several Dragon Ball Z fighting games, if Vegeta is wearing one of his armored outfits when he is transformed into Majin Vegeta rather than the blue jumpsuit like he was in canon, the armor turns black.
  • The various machina enemies in Freedom Planet 2 turn black and green when infected with Code Black, effectively placing them under Serpentine and Syntax's control.
  • Aya, the poster girl of the Japanese fan-made fighting game Hinokakera, undergoes a radical transformation when the mental blocks on her massive psychic powers are shattered. In addition to a personality change from timidity to a berserk aggressiveness, she gains a new black outfit that is much less conservative than her usual attire.
  • In inFAMOUS, Cole gets more scars on his body and red lightning the more evil deeds he does. Also, it's possible to get black lightning by going full evil and making a turn to good at the last moments of inFAMOUS 2.
  • In the Knights of the Old Republic games, characters' appearances change when falling to the Dark Side, include their underwear inexplicably darkening to black and switching from normal brown Jedi robes to grey-black Sith robes. Also, the Handmaiden in the second game switches from red lipstick to black lipstick while on the dark side.
  • The Unbreakable Darkness of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable: The Gears of Destiny, whose clothes go from white and pink to red and black whenever she loses control of her powers.
  • In Mega Man Legends, committing enough cruel acts (which is difficult) turns your armor black.
  • Metroid:
    • Metroid Prime: Although it's not evil, Samus' Phazon Suit is her normal Varia Suit mixed with deadly blue stuff, turning it black and gray with bits of red.
    • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes: EVERY Ing-possessed enemy. Be they bugs, bad guys, or even robots, if an Ing's in charge, expect black-and-purple enemies, maybe with Spikes of Villainy.
    • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption: Samus' suit changes if you get corrupted. It's implied the suit has a psychic and biological link to Samus.
    • Metroid Fusion Inverted with the SA-X. It looks no different from Samus' original appearance, while the real Samus sports a mangled and scrawny blue suit which resulted when the federation surgically removed her infected power armor. Said armor became the SA-X, by the way.
  • When Aribeth renounces Tyr and swears fealty to Morag in Neverwinter Nights, her armor immediately turns darker in colour. (The model doesn't change, but apparently the spikes on it become villainous by default.)
  • In Wii's Punch-Out!!, both Don Flamenco and Mr. Sandman change from rather vibrant colors to predominantly black outfits in Title Defense mode. Both lost their titles to Little Mac and were furious about it.
  • In Puyo Puyo 7, while Arle is possessed by Ecolo, her outfit has a dark color scheme. When Ringo and her gang drives Ecolo out of her body, her clothes turn back to normal. Though some fans were shocked when she was not wearing her usual blue.
  • In Shadow of the Colossus, Wander's hair becomes darker and his skin becomes paler as you progress through the game, and then at the end, you become the new embodiment of Dormin, which kind of explains everything.
  • Street Fighter's Evil Ryu takes his standard white karate gi and turns it a dark shade of gray.
  • Oleander the Unicorn in Them's Fightin' Herds once had a pure white coat, just like other unicorns. But after reading a certain number of pages from the Book of Undying Misery, a "mark" was left on her by the book's Black Magic, turning her coat and mane black.

    Visual Novels 
  • Fate/stay night: Saber Alter. And even more notable, her master: Dark Sakura. Berserker gets the same treatment, becoming a vaguely human-shaped cloud of black tendrils.
  • Marco & the Galaxy Dragon: El Skeleton’s body and clothes turn black after he is made "heartless" by Ulginos. He reverts back to his original colour scheme once Haqua breaks through his brainwashing.

  • The Order of the Stick:
    • When Miko Miyazaki loses her Paladin powers, her white and blue armor becomes grey and tan. Word of the Giant says this is because the armor is magically enchanted only to work for a Paladin.
    • Inversely, when Belkar gets a temporary Wisdom increase, his shirt turns white and his cape a lighter green.
    • The most striking example being, of course, when Vaarsuvius acquires ultimate arcane power through a deal with three fiends. His/Her normally red cape turns black (along with instant hair extensions and pointy teeth). Bonus: the strip title is "I See a Red Robe and I Want to Paint it Black". Lampshaded by Elan after the situation ends. "You're alive! And less scary!"

      Played with in the middle of the V incident. When Haley freaks out about Vaarsuvius, Belkar snaps at her, and asks her what she would do if Elan thought she had turned evil because she was wearing her dark and edgy Resistance armor. She backs off. Then it turns out Belkar was messing with her and really does think V's evil — he's just okay with it, since he's evil too.
    • And then, When Malack reanimates Durkon as a Vampire, his armor instantaneously become dark grey and black, his Holy Symbol becomes gold and black, his eyes red, and his skin and beard get paler.
  • Spoofed in Our Little Adventure, when Angelika dons a Cloak of Charisma that immediately gives her a Darker and Edgier look. Her familiar concludes that she must have turned evil.
    Norveg: ... Oh great. The cloak is cursed and it turned you evil.
    Angelika: I don't feel any eviller.
    Norveg: That doesn't prove anything.
  • Bael from Suppression does this when he finds his hat while possessing General Victus. He decides it doesn't match his current outfit and sprouts tentacles that dye both red.

    Web Original 
  • Sailor Nothing takes this as one of its main targets of Deconstruction by having it happen to the heroine, who is not evil, just disowned.

    Western Animation 
  • Beast Wars:
    • when Starscream possesses Waspinator, his Predacon emblem changes to the Deception emblem.
    • When Rhinox is reprogrammed as a Predacon, his normally-brownish hide gains a purplish hue, and his gold accents become silver. Once he's restored as a Maximal, he returns to his original colors.
  • Code Lyoko:
    • When a Polymorphic Clone takes Ulrich's appearance in episode "Revelation", it has gray skin and a black samurai outfit with orange highlights. This is solely for the viewer's benefit of telling it apart from the true Ulrich during the following Mirror Match, since, before, the Clone had been identical to Odd, up to the color.
    • William goes through a full Evil Costume Switch in "Final Round", but this is more XANA altering his avatar than a spontaneous change.
  • In the Kim Possible episode "Bad Boy", in which Ron accidentally stole Drakken's "evil energies", you could tell what the balance of good and evil in Ron and Drakken was with their skin color. Drakken's grew to be a disturbing pinkish tone and Ron's became Drakken's usual evil shade.
  • While she's first introduced in the evil persona, this is the case for Princess Luna/Nightmare Moon in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. As the good Princess Luna, she has a dark blue coat and a lighter blue mane. As the evil Nightmare Moon, her coat is black and her mane becomes darker and even more nebulous than usual (when she first transforms back, her mane is light blue and looks more like hair, but in her subsequent appearances, it's darker and flows more like Celestia's).
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, after being gaining the symbiote, Peter's costume is changed to how it looked in the third movie — a black-and-silver version of its regular appearance. Then as the symbiote exerts more control over Peter's behavior, the suit gradually transforms into its design from the comics, with the webbing fading away and the spider insignia becoming larger.
  • Teen Titans: Happens in reverse for Raven. Normally, she's under her father's influence but in control of herself, and her costume is dark blue, but when she's in a very good mood or completely free of her father's control, her outfit turns white.
  • Wakfu: Falling under demonic possession causes Goultard's skin to turn black and his hair white.
  • Yin Yang Yo!: Yin starts to get infected with Coop's suppressed evil energy the longer their date goes on, signified by her clothes and makeup turning goth. Coop catches onto this, and also that Yin prefers him when he's evil, but is too moral to allow him to hurt people, so he zaps her with black magic. She gets a full on Evil Makeover as a result, becoming just as evil as he is.

    Real Life 
  • In the right conditions, some species of harmless grasshoppers can metamorphose into dangerous locusts. In addition to developing stronger wings and becoming much hungrier, breedier and swarmier, this also causes their normally-green bodies to turn black.
  • Chameleons puff up their crests, open their mouths, lift up their tails and turn black when they're angry or distressed, in order to show themselves bigger (and therefore more dangerous)
    • Similarly to chameleons, octopuses also turn themselves black and get an intimidating posture when they're angry or distressed.
    • Exploited in both cases, since none of those color changes actually make the animals more dangerous or evil, but only helps them look like it.


Video Example(s):


Coop's evil is contagious

Coop's evil starts infecting Yin, turning her outfit black.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / PaintItBlack

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