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Photoshop Filter of Evil

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Murder documentaries be like: "They were a happy family...Until they weren't!"

Photoshop Filter of Evil is a trope about when a news program and/or documentary shows a photo of a criminal/victim in color, then shows a eerie black and white/negative of the photo to emphasize something malevolent about the person. Often combined with a slow zoom on the subject's now-black eyes, just to spotlight the creepiness.

You'll also hear a sound effect as the photo switches filters, like someone is throwing the giant "make negative" lever. Usually something like a giant clunk, followed by the sound of rusty nails on a blackboard.

Something very close to this actually happens in real life, as anyone who has had the lights suddenly go out on them can attest; the latent image on the retina tends to be chroma-inverted due to "bleaching" of the rod cells.

See also Deliberately Monochrome, Red Filter of Doom.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The DVD release of the Higurashi: When They Cry anime used this effect on the cover art to emphasize that this is a dark, violent show. The sleeves are reversible so that you can display the cute, colorful artwork from the original Japanese release if you want.

    Comic Books 

    Films — Animation 
  • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, Sunset Shimmer's attack ad meant to discredit Twilight Sparkle as a candidate for Princess of the Fall Formal features this over footage of Twilight's clumsy attempts to do research in the school library.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Used for horror in film in Ringu, as it happens every time somebody dies by a stare-down with Sadako.

  • Parodied in Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway, where two political candidates running against each other each show their opponent in hideous and increasingly libelous grainy black-and-white photographs, escalating to showing them shaking hands with Hitler and Darth Vader respectively.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The History Channel lives, breathes, and eats this trope. Monster Quest has had a reenacted first wild hog perspective attack or three, where the post-production crew apparently felt little shame applying a desaturation filter and jarring piano chords. Ice Road Truckers even does this for accidents or ice cracks.
  • A variant is the Fox News Channel showing obviously altered photos of New York Times reporters they accused of being "attack dogs".
  • People that Stephen Colbert has decided are "destroying America" often get this treatment.
  • Elizabeth Short, The Black Dahlia, has this done to her photo quite often on documentaries. It's usually meant to add chilling eeriness, emphasizing the way she was gruesomely murdered and severed. It's not applied to the actual crime scene photos, mind you, but her vanity head shot.
  • A popular variant on Australian tabloid television is to slow footage to ~6 frames/second.
  • An early episode of The Chaser's War On Everything has the group lampshading and spoofing this trope by using the same technique on the Australian PM. Hilarity Ensues.
  • 10 O'Clock Live often mock the papers doing this. Like having cleric Abu Qatada depicted as some sort of nuclear cloud or having Nick Clegg as an amoeba.

    Print Media 
  • Notorious example: TIME Magazine did the desaturation and edge burn bit on a photograph of O. J. Simpson, in addition to resizing and moving the man's prisoner ID number. The resulting image made O.J. Simpson's skin appear darker and gave a heavy vignette. The manipulation became extremely obvious when Newsweek used the same photo with accurate color, resulting in a side-by-side comparison when the two magazines were displayed together at newsstands. This was met with significant outcry. TIME would eventually issue an apology for the cover.
  • Martin Bryant, perpetrator of the Port Arthur Massacre, was represented in the media with a picture that had been digitally altered to look like an albino. One would think the fact he murdered 35 people would be enough to turn the public against him...
  • The method is Older Than Television, though was used not as a trope, but as a prank. R.W. Wood once asked a young lady to pose for a photo to be printed in Encyclopædia Brittanica article he was writing. She was flattered, but had no idea he's the trailblazer of IR and UV photography, the article is about fluorescence, and her photo is going to look like this.

    Video Games 
  • The Wii has this filter in the Photo Channel complete with a dramatic shock sound effect.
  • Puyo Puyo Chronicle has Rafisol, Ally's Evil Twin with an inverted color palette.
  • Resident Evil 3: Nemesis has the entire screen pause and go to photonegative when faced with a Live Selection: where you're given two options to deal with an impending threat. Played most straight with the titular Nemesis' first appearance after it murders Brad right in front of you.
  • Resident Evil 5 uses a color negative filter when a character goes into Dying status.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 


Video Example(s):


Cannibalizing Your Tax Dollars

In "The Dollhouse" from "Yellowjackets," Taissa Turner's state senate opponent Phil Bathurst runs a political ad using the Photoshop filter of evil on her and saying that she only supports education by "cannibalizing your tax dollars." However, what the ad is really suggesting is that she and her fellow Yellowjacket plane survivors resorted to literal cannibalism when they were stranded in the wilderness.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / AttackOfThePoliticalAd

Media sources: