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Red/Green Contrast

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In basic complementary color theory, Color Contrast (a Super Trope) refers to 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.

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 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 placed in-contrast to a Primary-Color Champion, green can be used as the most prominent color for the Secondary Color Nemesis, 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.



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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.

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
    • Green Lantern contrasts the heroic, green-colored Green Lantern Corps with the villainous Red Lantern Corps.
    • 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.
    • As all the speedsters, Bart Allen from The Flash 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.
  • Marvel Comics:
    • 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.
    • 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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • To fit the color themes of Gryffindor and Slytherin, magic used by the protagonists in the Harry Potter films is usually portrayed as being red, while dark magic used by the Death Eaters and Voldemort is portrayed as green.
  • 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 it — red highlights in her hair stand out more 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.
  • Amélie uses predominantly red and green in its color palette, with the color blue used to make objects stand out.
  • Vertigo first introduces Madeleine in a green dress, which contrasts starkly against the red of the wall's rooms and other details.
  • 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 stripped sweater to make his appearance that much more fundamental disturbing.
  • 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.)
  • Star Wars does this twice, but in opposing ways. On the one hand, Rebel starfighters fire red while Imperial TIEs fire green. 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 blue. Ground troopers on both sides use red blaster bolts, however.
  • 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.
  • In 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.
  • 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.

  • 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 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. Leafpool even says in one book, "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.
  • 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.

    Live-Action Television 
  • The Arrowverse's 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.

    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • The titular Super Mario Bros. 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.
  • So common in the Fire Emblem series, 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:
  • 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.

  • 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 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.
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • Ladybug and Cat Noir from Miraculous Ladybug are both 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 accents of green (mainly his green eyes and the paw-print symbol on his ring when active).
  • It is established that the two most prominent superpowers in the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender are the Fire Nation (colored red and black) and the Earth Kingdom (colored green and gold). The Earth Kingdom was the most difficult nation for the Fire Nation to conquer, requiring Azula's tact infiltration to topple it rather than simple brute force.
  • A variation with Cosmo and Wanda of The Fairly OddParents!. Cosmo is an idiot prone to granting destructive wishes who wears green, and Wanda is his smarter yet temperamental wife who wears pink.

    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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