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Red/Green Contrast

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In basic complementary color theory, Color Contrast (a Super-Trope) refers to the use of any two polar opposite colors on the wheel. When such colors are put together in a single image, with almost no other color presence, the effect is called popping, or standing out heavily. This, in turn, colors films to have a strong contrasting palette as the natural technique. Red and Green are no exception.

In many ways it is more associated with the battle of good and evil, whichever color representing which being interchangeable depending on the work:

  • Red can be viewed as the color of passion, giving warmth and inspiring courage, while it can also be seen as representing fire's destructive capabilities. It is commonly used as the main color for the Primary-Color Champion (red being one of three primary colors), making it heroic in-context. When red represents an evil or villainous force, it is commonly associated with hatred and violence and the color of blood, and is usually paired with black or white for emphasis.
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  • Green is placed as a more serene and natural color, secondary colors meant to calm rather than excite. Heroes and heroic forces associated with green are often based around plant-life, the forces of nature and the Earth. When depicted as a force of evil, green can be used as the most prominent color for the Secondary Color Nemesis (as one of the three secondary colors), making them Green and Mean with the Sickly Green Glow of sickness, nausea and toxins.

It is also one of the reasons why Significant Green-Eyed Redhead and Redhead In Green are so popular.

Compare with Orange/Blue Contrast and Yellow/Purple Contrast.


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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Black Clover, childhood friends and rivals Asta and Yuno contrast with each other in various ways. One of these contrasts in the anime portray Yuno's Four-Leaf Clover Grimoire glowing bright green when in use, while Asta's Black/Five-Leaf Clover Grimoire glowing an ominous red.
  • Digimon:
    • Digimon Adventure: Sora and Mimi's respective Digimon are pink/red and green.
    • Digimon Adventure 02: In the episode where Davis and Ken's respective schools have a soccer match, Davis' team is wearing red while Ken's team wears green. Davis also has this dynamic with T.K.; Davis has burgundy hair, gains a red and blue jacket whenever he enters the Digital World and is the Hot-Blooded leader of the team while T.K. wears a green vest over a light green shirt and is the The Lancer.
    • Digimon Tamers: Takato and Henry have red and green Digivices and Digimon respectively. Henry and Terriermon are more mature (and in Terriermon's case more sarcastic) than Takato and Guilmon, the latter of whom is the youngest of the heroes' Digimon in terms of age; he comes into existence in the very first episode and for a while had difficulty telling the difference between humans and Digimon. On the girls' side we have Fiery Redhead Rika and Jeri who wears a green dress. They are the respective Tomboy and Girly Girl of the group.
    • Digimon Frontier: Takuya and Tommy, the warriors of fire and ice respectively. Takuta wears a red jacket and red armor in all of his Digimon forms while Tommy wears a green and white shirt and green clothing in his primary Digimon form. Takuya is Hot-Blooded while Tommy is a sensitive little kid.
  • My Hero Academia gives us Izuku Midoriya (green) and Katsuki Bakugo (red):
    • Midoriya: green hair, green eyes, predominantly green hero costume, Quirk that produces green electricity when activated; a kind and levelheaded person.
    • Bakugo: red eyes, red-orange hero costume, explosion Quirk; a chaotic, impulsive Blood Knight.
    • For bonus points, each character incorporates the other's primary color into their own design as an accent color (the primarily green Izuku has bright red shoes and glows red when he activates Full Cowling, while Bakugo's gauntlets and utility belt are dark green). This could be a reference to All Might's statement that each character has something the other needs to become a complete hero (Bakugo needs Izuku's "green" trait of compassion and desire to save people, while Izuku lacks Bakugo's "red", passionate urge to win).
  • Naruto: During the Chunin Exams, Evil Redhead and Glass Cannon Gaara is pitted against the green jumpsuit-wearing Rock Lee who is a Lightning Bruiser and Close Quarters Combatant. After their respective villages become allies, Gaara and Lee fight side-by-side against Kimimaro.
  • In Tamagotchi, a Show Within a Show called Gotchiman that Mametchi loves to watch features as its hero Gotchiman, who wears a red and white costume. His arch-enemy, Black Hat, is primarily green and black.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Happy Heroes, Happy S., the leader of the Supermen, is mostly red in color while Big M., the show's primary antagonist, wears a suit of green armor.

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
    • The Flash: As all the speedsters, Bart Allen uses red as part of their costumes (being Impulse, Kid Flash or even The Flash himself for a while). In contrast, his nemesis is Thaddeus Thawne, known as Inertia and Kid Zoom, the Reverse-Flash version of Bart Allen, who has green eyes and his costume as Inertia uses green as the main color.
    • Green Lantern contrasts the heroic, green-colored Green Lantern Corps with the villainous Red Lantern Corps.
    • Superman: Superman wears a red cape and whenever Lex Luthor feels the need to engage him in battle he dons green Powered Armor.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): Inverted with Diana and her friend/rival Artemis. Diana wears her signature red, blue and gold one piece while Artemis switched to wearing a white and green Leotard of Power after her death and resurrection. However, Diana was the kinder and more levelheaded one while Artemis was arrogant, hot-tempered and disdainful towards men.
      • Played straight with Diana and Circe one of her most recurring enemies. Circe was introduced into Post Crisis continuity wearing a green dress and usually wore green during the post crisis era. While Diana was a super strong hero Circe was an evil sorceress with a disdain towards humanity, mostly men.
    • The various Robin costumes over the years have been predominantly red and green. Special notice goes to Tim Drake's costume which did away with the completely yellow cape instead opting for a black cape with yellow lining and adding actual pants, in green, making his costume almost entirely made up of red and green rather than the traffic light coloration of the previous Robins.
    • The criminal duo and sometimes Battle Couple of Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. Harley wears red and is the more childish of the two while Ivy wears green and is the relatively mature one. Ivy's design also invokes this being a redhead who wears green and sometimes has green skin.
  • Marvel Comics:
    • The Incredible Hulk, in an inversion of the usual, is bright green, while his opponents — villains like Madman, Red Hulk and Juggernaut — are often red.
      • Jennifer Walters, the original She-Hulk, is green while Betty Ross is the Red She-Hulk. Betty as the Red She-Hulk was originally an antagonist and even after her Heel–Face Turn was still less pleasant than the green She-Hulk.
    • Spider-Man: Many of Spider-Man's enemies have predominantly green outfits: Doctor Octopus usually wears a green jumpsuit, Scorpion and Vulture wear green costumes, Sandman has his green-and-brown striped shirt, the Jackal wears a green jackal costume (and eventually re-engineered himself into a green jackal-man), and of course the Green Goblin has green right in his name.
    • Young Avengers: One visual hint that Wiccan and Speed are Polar Opposite Twins is their opposing color schemes — Billy is dark-haired and always has a red mantle complemented by cooler tones, while Tommy is white-haired and has a white-and-green costume.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Amélie uses predominantly red and green in its color palette, with the color blue used to make objects stand out.
  • Cries and Whispers: The interior of the manor the characters reside in is famously almost entirely red, which underlines the unsaid but intense emotions the characters are feeling. In the rare moments the film goes outside the manor, the viewer is presented with a lush green garden, and the few serene moments take place in it.
  • Harry Potter: To fit the color themes of Gryffindor and Slytherin, magic used by the protagonists is usually portrayed as being red, while dark magic used by the Death Eaters and Voldemort is portrayed as green — most notably, the Unforgivable Killing Curse, the infamous Avada Kedavra, is marked by a blinding flash of green light.
  • Home Alone packs nearly every scene with red and green objects to make the whole movie feel more like Christmas. This doesn't just include the in-story Christmas decorations: even the wallpaper and furniture are often red and green. (In Cinema Wins' video on Home Alone, Lee counts 237 unique red and green objects over the course of the whole film.)
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • The most prominent color on Thor's outfit is his flowing red cape, a color scheme that carries over into his gladiatorial design in Thor: Ragnarok. To contrast against him, many of his opponents possess a prominently green color scheme, including Loki, Hela, and the Hulk.
    • Gamora's appearance utilizes red highlights in her hair to stand out against her green skin.
    • Spider-Man: Homecoming uses red for its hero, Spider Man, and green for its villain, the Vulture. This allows them to contrast with the Orange/Blue Contrast used throughout the rest of the film.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street: This trope is part of Freddy's carefully-crafted frightening appearance. Wes Craven had read that red and green are the two most difficult colors for the human eye to see when placed right next to each other, so he gave Freddy the iconic red-and-green striped sweater to make his appearance that much more fundamentally disturbing.
  • Star Wars does this twice, but in opposing ways.
    • On the one hand, Rebel ships fire red laser bolts, while Imperial TIE fighters and Star Destroyers fire green ones. Ground troopers on both sides use red blaster bolts, however.
    • On the other, the Sith exclusively use red lightsabers while the Jedi use a variety of colors, most notably green — such as Luke's lightsaber in Return of the Jedi — and light blue.
  • Troop Beverly Hills: The Culver City Red Feathers are a fiery all-business working class troop. The titular troop, with the various green accents on their uniforms, is as Spoiled Sweet (and woefully out of their element) as any group can get.
  • Vertigo first introduces Madeleine in a green dress, which contrasts starkly against the red of the wall's rooms and other details.
  • The Wizard of Oz:
    • Aside from the deadly poppy fields surrounding Emerald City, the magical ruby slippers that Dorothy is wearing gives a striking contrast to the all-green setting of the city.
    • Inbetween Dorothy is the conflict between the all-pink Glinda the Good and the green skinned Wicked Witch of the West.

    Literature 
  • In Harry Potter, each of the four houses at Hogwarts has its own respective color schemes that reflect its ideologies: Gryffindor is red and gold, Slytherin is green and silver, Ravenclaw is blue and bronze, and Hufflepuff is yellow and black. While competition between all four houses exist, the rivalry between Gryffindor and Slytherin is by far the most prominent, their founders (Godric Gryffindor and Salazar Slytherin) having had a particularly famous falling-out and this animosity being carried on between the houses to this day.
  • In The Space Merchants, the Mega-Corp Starrzelius Verily's consumer products are noted for their "colorful" red packaging, while its bitter rival Universal wraps its products in green.
  • In Warrior Cats, yew berries — which the cats call "deathberries" due to how poisonous they are — are almost always described specifically as being bright red against the dark green of the bushes. In one book, Leafpool even says that "these berries are evil."
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: The all-green Emerald City is surrounded by a vast field of deadly red poppies. Crossing over the fields would cause someone into an eternal slumber. Dorothy, just a little girl from Kansas, did not know this, but her friends luckily pulled her away from the flowers.

    Live-Action Television 
  • Arrowverse: The two flagship shows, Arrow and The Flash (2014), are headed by the green-themed Green Arrow and the red-suited Flash, who also contrast each other in several different ways.
  • Two Marvel Netflix shows revolved around heroes who dealt with TheHand. One was Daredevil who wore a red superhero costume and the other was Iron Fist who wore green hoodies or jackets. In an inversion of the personalities associated with this trope, Matt was the more mature of the two.
  • Power Rangers:
    • In Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Jason the Red Ranger was the primary opponent of Tommy the Green Ranger while the latter was under the control of the Big Bad. Even after Tommy joined the team, the two had something of a Friendly Rivalry for a bit.
    • Tommy's Ranger career in the Zordon Era begins with him as the Green Ranger and ends as the Turbo Red Ranger. In the Turbo movie he briefly wore his green bandana.
    • TJ Johnson and Carlos Vallerte, the second Red and Green Turbo Rangers respectively. T.J was friendly and level-headed while Carlos was proud and hotheaded.
    • Power Rangers Lost Galaxy: The Red Ranger Leo was brave but impulsive and didn't seem to have any career. The Green Ranger Damon was an engineering genius who despite being fearful of danger never let that stop him from saving the day.
    • Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue: The Red Ranger Carter was a serious-minded Humble Hero who previously worked as a firefighter and Jumped at the Call when recruited to fight the demons. The Green Ranger Joel was a cocky and carefree showboater who previously worked as an aerial stuntman and was initially reluctant to join Lightspeed.
    • Power Rangers Time Force: The episode "Trip Takes A Stand", sees the Green Ranger Trip protecting a mutant from the Fantastic Racism-motivated attacks of the Sixth Ranger Eric whose suit is red.
    • Power Rangers Ninja Storm: Shane the Red Ranger and Cam the Green Sixth Ranger. While Shane's non-Ranger hobby is skateboarding, Cam is computer and engineering geek who spends most of his time at HQ. Both have SuperModes but Shane's gives him Powered Armor while Cam's discards his armor to increase his speed and improve his swordsmanship. Both have aerial Zords but Shane's is more like a jet while Cam's is a helicopter.
    • Another one related to Tommy in Power Rangers Dino Thunder. In the episode "Fighting Spirit", Tommy ends up in a coma and has a Battle in the Center of the Mind with his past Ranger forms. He fights the Red Zeo Ranger in a desert first and fights the Green Mighty Morphin Ranger in a forest with fallen pillars last. Also, while the Red Zeo Rangers is depicted as being a respectful fighter who is encouraging to Tommy and wants to test his skills, the Green Morphin Ranger is outright antagonistic towards Tommy, trying to get him to surrender and threatening to kill him though all this turns out to be a secret test of character for Tommy.
    • Power Rangers Mystic Force: Nick the Red Ranger and Xander the Green Ranger embody both the positive and negative aspects of this. Nick is passionate and not afraid to speak his mind and fights with determination and emotion in battle but can also be hotheaded, insensitive and antisocial. Xander is laid back and prefers to talk his way out of conflicts but can also be lazy.
    • Power Rangers RPM: The Red Ranger Scott is a Standardized Leader while the Green Ranger Ziggy is a Butt-Monkey and Lovable Coward who is only a Ranger because he wanted to stop the Green ranger morpher from falling into the villains' hands.
    • Power Rangers Samurai: Jayden the Red Ranger is The Leader while Mike the Green Ranger is The Lancer. Jayden is disciplined and focused while Mike doesn't really take his training seriously. Jayden wields the power of fire while wields the power of forest.

    Video Games 
  • Buriki One: The Protagonist Gai Tendo is a Fiery Redhead who also uses red in his outfit, and The Rival of the game is the Final Boss is Silber, a brutish karateka with White Hair, Black Heart who also uses green in his karategi.
  • Fire Emblem: This is so common in the series that it's considered a franchise character archetype. Two paired characters share the same class (usually cavaliers) and are sometimes blood relatives (usually brothers). One will have a predominantly red colour scheme and is usually the stern, serious type, while the other will have a predominantly green colour scheme and will be more casual and laid-back. The red character of the two typically has better offensive stats, while the green character typically is more geared towards defence, although these roles are sometimes switched. Red/green pair characters include:
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon Red and Blue were released as Red and Green in Japan. When the games were remade for the Game Boy Advance, these versions were renamed "FireRed and LeafGreen''.
    • The original protagonist is named Red and his rival is named Green in Japan. They're often associated with their respective colours. Internationally, this is lost as Green is renamed "Blue" (though he still keeps the green motif and even becomes the gym leader of Viridian City in the sequels). The GBA remakes added a female counterpart to Red named Leaf, although her outfit is more of a teal or turquoise than green.
  • Street Fighter: Cammy White wears a green Leotard of Power with a red beret and red gauntlets.
  • Super Mario Bros.: The titular brothers wear clothes in red (Mario) and green (Luigi). Mario is portrayed as a classic fearless Primary-Color Champion who jumps into action on a minute notice, while Luigi scares much easier, but is portrayed as heroic because he jumps into action despite being scared.

    Webcomic 
  • Awful Hospital has one that's observed In-Universe: The Hero Fern appears with a vivid green overlay, while red is associated with The Corruption of the Old Flesh that's consuming The Multiverse, which manifests in things like feral Plague Zombies and the Great Red Blight.
  • In The Glass Scientists, Jekyll's eyes and clothing accessories are red, whilst Hyde's are green - matching the colors of their respective transformation potions.
  • In Homestuck, the red/green colour pallete is associated with the cherub species. Good and evil adult cherubs have green and red blood, eyes, tongues and cheek swirls respectively. This is reflected in the two main cherubs that drive the plot of the story — Calliope is kind, friendly and types in green while Caliborn is rude, malicious and types in red. Intended as foils to each other due to being split personalities in the same body, they share an antagonistic sibling relationship which is exacerbated when Caliborn kills Calliope to prematurely take over the body and goes on to become the comic’s Big Bad, Lord English.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: The most prominent political powers are the Fire Nation (associated with red and black) and the Earth Kingdom (associated with green and gold). The Earth Kingdom was the most difficult nation for the Fire Nation to conquer, requiring Azula to infiltrate and topple it rather instead of relying on simple brute force.
  • Carmen Sandiego: Red is used to represent Carmen and her allies, while green is used to represent V.I.L.E. This even extends to how certain scenes are tinted; scenes where V.I.L.E. has the upper hand or when things are just generally going badly for Carmen are tinted green, while scenes where Carmen has the upper hand or is just doing well in general are tinted red. In fact, this also serves as subtle foreshadowing towards the big twist at the end of season 1: rewatching the episodes with the color symbolism in mind means you'll pay more attention to the fact that several of Shadow-San's scenes are tinted red.
  • The Fairly OddParents: A variation with Cosmo and Wanda. Cosmo is an idiot prone to granting destructive wishes and has green hair, and Wanda is his smarter yet temperamental wife and has pink hair.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: Ladybug and Cat Noir are partnered heroes that share this color scheme. Ladybug's outfit is predominantly red, tempered with black spots. In contrast, Cat Noir's design is predominantly black, tempered with various green accents (mainly his green eyes and the paw-print symbol on his ring when active).
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • When it comes to making gadgets and building larger-than-life buildings, there's the redhead Phineas, who is the initiator of ideas, and his green-haired stepbrother Ferb, who is an an action-speaks-louder-than-words kind of guy, who are gonna do it all.
    • In an Opposites Attract case, there's the determinant Candace who has a red hair and wears a red shirt and the down-to-earth Jeremy who wears an olive green overshirt.
  • Young Justice:
    • Artemis and Robin, the only two members of the season one team with no super powers wear green and red respectively. In an inversion of this trope, Robin is the more tactical of the group while Artemis is impulsive.
    • Cheshire and Red Arrow. Cheshire wears a green kimono and is an aloof, sarcastic assassin while Red Arrow wears a red outfit and is a Fiery Redhead who is rarely seen smiling (at least until season 3).

    Real Life 
  • Traffic lights work on this principle — the red light for the "negative" signal indicating that a driver or pedestrian is required to stop, and the green light for the "positive" signal indicating that the way is clear.
  • Red and green is a very popular Christmas color scheme as the warmth of the red and the life of the evergreen pines provide a sense of joy in the cold winter.
  • In every infographic on the war between Meat Versus Veggies, Team Meat will often be red and Team Veggies will often be green.

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