Follow TV Tropes


Red Filter of Doom

Go To
Can't blame him for leaving. That situation doesn't look healthy.

The red filter, where everything shifts to a basically white-red-black spectrum, is often used to facilitate a change in mood. That change in mood takes plenty of forms — fist-pumping action by the light of a smoldering car, perhaps, or passionate romance by the light of young blood.

Then, there's the Red Filter of Doom.

Oddly enough, the best-case scenario with this is that the source of the red light is immediately apparent - say, the moon has turned blood-red, or there's a glowing doomsday device in the center of the room, or something nearby is on fire. If the only indication that it's a Red Filter of Doom is that it's not particularly romantic, there's just a general air of ominosity, or the fist-pumping action scene that was in regular saturation a few seconds ago has suddenly slowed and turned the color of blood, we can only issue a general warning to brace yourself.

Can sometimes overlap with Warm Place, Warm Lighting.

See also Color Wash, Photoshop Filter of Evil, Red Eyes, Take Warning, Red Alert, and Monochromatic Impact Shot.


    open/close all folders 
    Anime and Manga 
  • Done rather blatantly in the first episode of Claymore, when Raki literally walks into a room with it's own self-contained red filter to find a yoma eating his family. There's a few other red filters in the episode as well whenever yoma are involved.
  • Death Note has a big 'un. (Note to AMV makers in the fandom: using the scene basically uncut does not replicate the power of the original.) Actually, there are rather low-key Red Filters Of Doom throughout in the form of views through the Shinigami Eyes, which carry the implication of mortality and vulnerability.
  • Noragami uses this during flashbacks to the days of feudal Japan when two gods of calamity/war (namely, Rabo and Yato) are shown slaying dozens of people as per the wishes of their devotees.
  • More than once, when Sailor Moon's Tuxedo Mask sustains a horrible injury. Other characters sometimes get these as well, for example, in Sailor Stars the same effect is used when the four Guardian Senshi get their Star Seeds removed.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Warrior Cats graphic novel A Shadow in RiverClan, two scenes are shown in ominous red tones: Feathertail's flashback of Tigerstar at the Bonehill where he demanded that Stonefur kill Feathertail and her brother and then ordered Stonefur's death when he refused, and a nightmare sequence of Leopardstar supporting Tigerstar's actions at the same scene.

    Films — Animation 
This trope is pretty common in animated films; here are just a few noteworthy examples.
  • Happens at the end of The Brave Little Toaster. Interestingly, this trope only occurs on the official released media download. The transfer used on European and Australian VHS tapes and DV Ds (which notably has a more clean and clear focus) merely has the sky turning red.
  • Raplph Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings starts with this.
  • The Pagemaster has a particularly gratuitous one during the Captain Ahab sequence.
  • Twice in The Thief and the Cobbler.
    • First is the introduction of the One-eyes: After the camera pans up to view the three golden balls that protect the city, the screen suddenly turns red, menacing music starts playing and the camera travels past vast areas of land to reveal the One-eyes in the middle of thousands of human corpses.
    • The second time is when the enormous war machine is collapsing, Justified by the fire.
  • The Little Mermaid (1989): Seen when King Triton, filled with unbridled rage, destroys Ariel's grotto with his magic trident (whose glow also creates the filter).
  • Seen in 101 Dalmatians when Pongo and Perdita fight off the Baduns in the DeVil mansion.
  • Occurs in Toy Story, when Woody inadvertently knocks Buzz out the window and the other toys accuse him of deliberately trying to kill Buzz. In-universe, it's caused by the sunset sky outside the window.
  • Cinderella: Happens when the stepsisters are ripping apart Cinderella's dress. In some shots, there's just red-and-black with no background details.
  • The Great Mouse Detective: This occurs briefly during Ratigan's Villain Song, as he vows that "no one, not even Basil, can stand in my way!"
  • In Turning Red, Mei's nightmare is entirely like this.
  • Used in The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part as all of Apocalypseburg and the Systar System gets banished to the Bin of Storajj during Armamageddon.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Happens in the climax of Mighty Joe Young (1939). An orphanage is burning down. In spite of the efforts of the caring staff, young children are still trapped inside. Fortunately, Mighty Joe Young and co. save the day.
  • Happens when Wash is killed by the Reavers in the Serenity movie. Definitely contributes to the inexplicable-is-worse axiom.
  • Used for significant impact by Akira Kurosawa in Kagemusha (in the dusk/sunset scenes of Takeda Shingen's army marching), and most notably Ran (the closing shot of Tsurumaru at the cliff).
  • In Conan the Barbarian (1982) the nighttime lighting turns to hellish red during the resurrecting ritual to fully restore Conan's life, due to Valeria and Subotai having to fend off against the demonic spirits that want to abduct him. Also used when they infiltrate into the Big Bad's "kitchen" where cannibalistic cooking takes place.
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the filter is red owing to a fiery demon, the Balrog.
  • Rocketship X-M. Scenes on the Red Planet were given a red tint — it turns out the Martian civilization has been destroyed by nuclear war.
  • Similarly, The Angry Red Planet depicts a Mars positively drenched in a hellish red lighting, which fits the alien horrors the protagonists come across.
  • Happened a lot in the old Shaw Brothers kung fu movies when a major character died a bloody and often painful death.
  • The red filter is used in Sha Po Lang when Wu Jing's character Jack kills the witness and kicks off the plot.
  • Used in the bizarre mausoleum scenes in The Wizard of Gore when Montag is carrying the dead bodies of the girls and putting them into that narrow passageway.
  • In Dreamscape the President of the United States' nightmare depict an After the End Scenery Gorn caused by a nuclear war, all lit in deep red.
  • In Aliens, the color palette goes almost solid red after the Xenomorphs cut the power, fittingly enough. The red is explained by the emergency lights.
  • Similarly, in Dredd alarm lighting dips everything in a deep red filter until the anti-nuke lockdown of Peach Trees is completed.
  • The hallways of the hospital in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019) are drenched in red light during the scene in which The Pale Lady goes after Chuck.
  • The final battle of the 2015 production of Macbeth is shot this way. It's justified by the fact that Birnam Wood is burning nearby, covering the battlefield in smoke and ash and lighting it with the fires, but the lighting gives the battle between Macbeth and Macduff an eerie quality to it.
  • Used a few times in Napoléon (1927), most notably during the final stages of the siege of Toulon, when the black-and-white film stock is tinted red.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Babylon 5, in Morden's more adversarial encounters with characters, the surrounding lights and ambience would darken and redden in his presence. This is seen when he encounters Londo when their relations are strained in "Interludes and Examinations", and when he encounters Kosh in "Signs and Portents". The Expanded Universe Passing of the Techno-Mages novels described Morden's encounters with Galen thusly as well.
  • Played with in Band of Brothers, especially the episode Crossroads, wherein the color was washed out to the point that everything except red was nearly in black and white.
  • When Brother Justin kills Scudder in Carnivàle.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia (BBC): Used during Peter's battle with the wolf in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.
  • The hypothetical flashbacks (necessarily gruesome) in CSI.
  • In the Supernatural episode "What Is And What Should Never Be" (S02, Ep20), the bodies in the Wishverse warehouse are hanging in from of back-lit red screens, giving these scenes an ominous and unreal air.

  • Used in LOONA Olivia Hye's video for Egoist when Olivia sets fire to the swan plushie, bed, and Eden uniform.
    • Somewhat of a Calling Card, as it also appears in sub-unit yyxy's love4eva video as Olivia wanders the forest and realises that the other girls have left her in Eden.
  • Genesis used this for Phil's Evil Laugh on "Mama." Live performances replicated this by illuminating Phil with red uplighting.


    Video Games 
  • In ANNO: Mutationem, whenever Ann's Life Meter nearly runs out, the screen turns red from all sides.
  • In SCP: Secret Laboratory, the lights in the facility turn bright red when the Alpha Warhead's countdown is started/restarted. They will return to normal if the countdown is stopped, but remain red for the rest of the round if it detonates.
  • In combat racer Blur, the screen turns red when you're about to die. This of course does a smashing job at obscuring the colours of the power-ups, including the one that repairs you, forcing you to look for the tiny wrench icon on several different squares approaching at 300 kph.
  • This happens when you're near death in many first person shooters, e.g. Call of Duty.
  • In Dark Tales: Morella, once the player and Dupin are trapped inside the malevolent house, the light coming in one of the windows has this effect. It only adds to the already creepy setting.
  • In the second Detectives United game, the heroes visit another dimension in the bonus chapter, where the Alien Sky gives this appearance to everything. It's revealed that this is the result of some experiments which have had devastating impact on the environment.
  • Seen in the first Diablo. The title says it all.
  • Doom
    • Throughout the classic games, when you pick up the Berserker Pack, your screen will turn red, you'll be restored to 100 health if you were below that and your fists become more powerful than a shotgun for the rest of the current level.
    • In Doom³, a red color filter is used during certain setpieces. Usually it appears alongside screen noise and a reduction in movement and aiming speed.
  • In Dragon Quest, the screen is tinted red when thy HP is low.
  • This is applied whenever you go berserk (which can happen for a number of reasons) in Dungeon Crawl.
  • EarthBound (1994): The borders on dialogue boxes and the like turn red if one or more of your party members have been KOed.
  • Fallout 3 shows this when you become addicted to a drug.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VI, to cap off the incredible turn for the worse in Thamasa. (The even-more-doom-laden scene after the next dungeon skips out, though.)
    • Final Fantasy IV also uses it during an attack on a small village—somewhat appropriately, since the place is set on fire.
  • This usually accompanies the Lethality skill in the Fire Emblem series.
  • Forestia: The whole forest is bathed in an eerie red glow during the Fire Mountain chapter.
  • Gears of War: The entire turns red as the player is near death while the main logo appears in the center.
  • Used all over the place in Higurashi: When They Cry. Sometimes, it happens when a corpse is discovered (There, it's probably supposed to be a stand-in for blood), but it's just as likely to show up when someone's in the grip of a paranoia episode - perhaps trying to give off a bit of a fever vibe. Here's a good example shot.
  • In Iron Tank, the screen strobes red when your tank is destroyed.
  • In Katawa Shoujo, a red-and-black filter that throbs on and off is used to signify Hisao's arrythmia acting up.
  • Happens in The King of Fighters '97 when facing Blood Riot Iori or Blood Riot Leona.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • This happens when you die in The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom: The sky turns bright red (and the nearby clouds rapidly pass by) when a cluster of Gloom Hands notices Link. This is not only done for horror, as the red sky will also enforce a Maximum HP Reduction every time Link is grabbed by one of the hands. The sky goes away when Link manages to lose sight of the Hands (if he instead defeats them, then he'll also have to defeat Phantom Ganon to make the sky go back to normal for good).
  • Police Quest 4: Open Season turns the screen red whenever you blunder into a Game Over.
  • Resident Evil 5 momentarily displays a negative color filter when a partner goes into "Dying" status.
  • Silent Hill 3 has a sequence in the amusement park where you have to run through a twisty hallway while a deadly buzzing red light is advancing up the corridor behind you.
  • In the Syphon Filter series, the interface flashes red when you're in imminent danger, eg an enemy targeting your head.
  • In Terraria, Blood Moons have a chance of happening each night, where most environments noticeably turn red, and the spawn rate of hostile creatures increase.
  • In WET, in certain segments when Rubi enters Rage mode, the screen is cast entirely in shades of red, with enemies, items and background elements in black and white.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines the player character's vision is tinted red when he or she enters Frenzy.
  • Neku's flashback in The World Ends with You.
  • IL-2 Sturmovik: Happens when the player's pilot is "wounded". The worse the player is hit, the redder the screen is tinted.
  • F/A-18 Hornet has this if you pull excessive negative G-forces.
  • IL-2 Sturmovik, will give you a red filter for negative G's (due to the blood in your body being forced up into your head), the filter becoming more intense the more negative G's you pulled. For positive G's, the screen will darken instead, to show that the pilot is beginning to black out for the opposite reason. Neither condition being terribly good for the pilot. Both instances are Truth in Television, "black-out" and "red-out" being serious problems for combat pilots.
  • Golden Krone Hotel applies a red filter to the screen when Sorina is about to turn into a vampire.
  • In Dino Run, the screen turns red and black when the pyroclastic Advancing Wall of Doom is nearly upon you.
  • In Harvest Town, the screen blinks red if your HP is less than 50 and an enemy/monster is nearby. The red filter disappears if you reach a safe space, even if you haven't recovered your health yet.
  • In Stray, if at least one Zurk is latched onto you, the screen will turn redder and redder as it takes away more of your health, and you die if you fail to shake them off. After shaking the zurk(s) off, the red filter goes away as you recover your health. On a grander scale, there are some areas where the atmospheric lighting has a red tint to it, usually associated with the zurks.

  • In Cucumber Quest, the palette changes into stark black-white-red hues during the fight with Rosemaster who is using an Amplifier Artifact to double her power. Much of the action happens in silhouette and blood red, giving a more dire effect than anything that's happened so far.
  • Nebula: The last page of comic #3 is silent shots of the other characters, all in red, and then Sun's clenched fist and closing lines.
    Sun: ...Hungry. I'm hungry.
  • Played for Laughs at the end of this Dumbing of Age.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In the fourth season finale of The Adventures of Puss in Boots, a deep red sun and, later, moon herald the arrival of an Ancient Evil.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • In the first season finale, the nice pale blue light of the moon turns all red when the moon spirit is in mortal danger. Then things go wrong, and while the red looked unhealthy, the black and white just looks dead.
    • In the finale, when Sozin's Comet arrives, its strong fiery trail makes the entire sky red and pink, which washes over every outside scene with a red tint. In this case, the "doom" is that the Big Bad and his Dragon have a massive boost in power while the comet is around, and the former has started his plan to burn the Earth Kingdom to ash.
  • Big City Greens:
    • The blood moon in the Halloween Episode covers the whole city in a red texture which turns the Greens' farm animals into zombies.
    • Cricket's Villain Song in the Christmas Episode takes on a wicked red hue with brief hints of pale green, as he decides to resort to being naughty when he thinks Santa claims he's just that.
  • Parodied by Kim Possible in a scene where Professor Dementor tries to make himself look ominous by illuminating his face from below with a red flashlight.
  • Gravity Falls does this in the scene in "Sock Opera" where Dipper makes a Deal with the Devil leading to a case of Demonic Possession. In-universe, it's caused by the light shining through the red Cipher-shaped window in the twins' attic room.
  • In a Ninjago Season 12 episode the atmosphere turns red when the Big Bad Unagami pauses time in the video game world and looms over the NPC Okino, offering to take him to the real world if he betrays the ninja.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998): This occurs several times throughout the series, usually when HIM is involved.
    • Near the beginning of "The Rowdyruff Boys", this happens when Mojo Jojo, after being defeated for the umpteenth time, goes ape in his jail cell.
    • A variation occurs in "Fuzzy Logic"; during Fuzzy's destructive rampage through Townsville, he and the backgrounds turn red, but the other characters are colored solid white.
  • VeggieTales: In "Rack, Shack and Benny", the shot where Nezzar does a Kubrick Stare and Evil Laugh simultaneously as the title characters are successfully loaded into the furnace has a very intense, to say nothing of hellish, red tint to it.

    Real Life 
  • A soldier who fought for the Union at the Battle of Antietam during The American Civil War reported that "the whole landscape for an instant turned slightly red" as he charged the enemy lines.
  • Joe Biden used this in a 2022 speech criticizing the Republican Party before the 2022 midterms.


Video Example(s):


This is Your Backstory

Perry kicking Doofenshmirtz out of his chair gives him the final memory that fully powers the -inator and enhances his evilness!

How well does it match the trope?

4.33 (15 votes)

Example of:

Main / NiceJobBreakingItHero

Media sources: