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Red Is Heroic

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A crossover made with this trope.

"Besides, everyone knows that red robots are always the good guys."
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Red shows up a lot when it comes to the heroes of a story, usually the color of their clothing. As their main color motif, it could also be their hair color, gear, Battle Aura, or body parts for robots and non-human characters. This could be limited to the main protagonist, or be as wide as an entire Badass Army. Some Chromatic Arrangement trios have the leader wear red.

The reason is that red is the color of fire and blood, hence the color of action. Thus it conveys that the heroes are people of action as well (regardless of exactly how the heroism is presented in the show).

In Japan, this was traditional in old Kabuki plays and the like. It's made to represent the hero bathed in the blood of his enemies. It is much less common in America due to the association with red as the color of the country's enemies (redcoat British in the Revolutionary War, Red Scares and the Cold War in the 20th century), but gets a pass if it's paired with white and/or blue.

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Keep in mind that since not all heroes wear red (for example, Blue is also very common), and other characters don't avoid that color, there isn't much point in listing aversions to this.

A Super-Trope to Primary-Color Champion and Pink Heroine. A Sub-Trope of Good Colors, Evil Colors. A Sister Trope to Fire Is Red and Blue Is Heroic.

Compare Heroes Want Redheads, Bring My Red Jacket, Heroes Prefer Swords, Color-Coded Characters, Purple Is Powerful, Law of Chromatic Superiority, Satan is Good, and Red Oni, Blue Oni.

Contrast Red and Black and Evil All Over, Red Eyes, Take Warning, Evil Redhead, Big Red Devil, a literal Red Shirt (and Red Shirt Army), Char Clone, Evil Wears Black, Green and Mean, Little Dead Riding Hood.

Compare AND contrast Red Is Violent, its Evil Counterpart (even when sometimes both tropes overlap).

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Examples

    open/close all folders 
    Art 
  • One of the central figures in Raphael's The School of Athens, Plato, is seen wearing a bright red that distinguishes him and his metaphysical ideals from the muted world at his fate.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Happy Heroes, Happy S. is the leader of the heroes and is mostly red in color.

    Audio Play 

    Fan Works 
  • In Wonderful!:
    • Super-hero and main character Taylor “Wonder Red” wears a red suit, jacket, and scarf.
    • Her friend and partner Emma "Wonder Star" also wears a red-and-white super-hero outfit.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness: Ahakon Maradoza, an addition to Tsukune's group who first appears in Act III, is a Child Mage who has red hair and wears a red cape.
  • Let's save a lot of time and say that most Neon Genesis Evangelion fanfics carry Asuka's association with the color red over from the anime.
  • In Supergirl fanfic Hellsister Trilogy, Legion of Super-Heroes member Dev-Em is a redhead.
  • The 4th installment of the Tales of the Undiscovered Swords is narrated by Kiriha Sadamune, a Long-Haired Pretty Boy with red pigtails.
  • In The Portal, there are quite a few dragons who have red scales and are good:
    • First of all, there's Sansa, the Fear Guardian.
    • The new Fire Guardian, Blaze, also has red scales, being a fire dragon.
    • There's also Scorcher, a fire dragon who is roughly the same age as main character Blizzard.
    • Similar to the above, there's Solaris, who almost looks like a red version of Spyro.
    • Finally, Blizzard's father, John, is transformed into a dark red dragon when he is pulled into the Dragon Realms along with his wife.

    Film 
  • Star Wars' Rebel Alliance, with their famous "red bird" emblem. On that note, their elite team of Ace Pilots is code-named "Red Squadron" (although later renamed "Rogue Squadron").
    • The striping on Han Solo's pants, known as Corellian Blood Stripes, comes in two colors, one of which is red. They are an award given by the Corellian military for conspicuous gallantry.
    • In addition, in the original trilogy, the starfighters used by the heroes often fired red lasers, compared to the green ones fired by TIE fighters. In addition, Rebel blasters tended towards red while stormtroopers had blue or green blasts, though this was somewhat less universal.
  • The Time Machine used by Lewis and Wilbur in Meet the Robinsons is painted red. The Time Machine used by the Bowler Hat Guy and DOR-15 is pale blue.
  • In Kagemusha Shingen Takeda's fiery lieutenant Yamagata Masakage aka "Fire" and the contingent under his command are dressed in bright vermillion red.
  • In The Hobbit, Bilbo wears a red jacket throughout the film. Also Balin, one of the most outwardly virtuous and heroic of the dwarves, wears red robes.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe
    • Iron Man, as Tony Stark himself said to Jarvis when designing his Powered Armour.
      Throw a little hot rod red in there.
    • James Rhodes aka War Machine, has a red eye-lights on his helmet and red arc reactor.
    • Natasha Romanoff aside from her hair, she also has red in her outfits and casual clothes.
    • Thor has a red cape and other red highlights in his outfit, in contrast to his brother and sister who wear green. In Thor: Ragnarok the God of Thunder has even more red in his costume, even on his face. Odin, Thor's father also wears a red cape and he was for most the part benevolent.
    • Steve Rogers aka Captain America has red in almost all his outfits, ironically when working for S.H.I.E.L.D. he wore all blue and S.H.I.E.L.D. turned out to be HYDRA. In Avengers: Infinity War however the red in Cap's costume has either been ripped peeled off or faded, symbolizing his status as an undercover fugitive and his fall from grace since Civil War.
    • Hawkeye has red in his outfit in The Avengers and Age of Ultron, but changes to purple in Civil War matching his comic book counterpart.
    • After her Heel–Face Turn in Avengers: Age of Ultron Wanda Maxmimoff/Scarlet Witch certainly fulfills this trope in her attire and color of her aura though she's arguably more of a Anti-Hero.
    • Sam Wilson aka The Falcon's costume is very red, he even names his Robot Buddy Redwing.
    • Hank Pym and Scott Lang as the Ant-Man and Janet Van Dyne when she was the The Wasp have red outfits, Hope (Hank and Janet's daughter) however changes it up having yellow in her costume instead, which is accurate to most comic book depictions of The Wasp.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy at least when they all wore the red Ravager outfit, Peter Quill aka Star-Lord wears red all the time, and Drax has red tattoos.
    • Spider-Man of course, in Homecoming the techno-spider suit even has red aura when powering up and even red HUD in the eye lenses.
    • Doctor Strange has the magnificent red Cloak of Levitation, which literally kicks more ass than he does.
    • Intentionally invoked with Okoye and the rest of the Dora Milaje in Black Panther (2018); in fact, at the end, they set against the Border Tribes men who wear blue.
    • the heroic android Vision is originally created with red skin, though he later gets a peach-colored skin in order to blend in with humans. His red skin comes out when he uses his special powers, or whenever he's relaxed.
  • Sophie Scholl, the anti-Nazi activist in Sophie Scholl: The Final Days, dresses this way.
  • In Warm Bodies, R wears a distinctive red hoodie that makes him visually stand out from the greyish zombies around him.
  • The Book of Life:
    • Maria's dress is red and she's the one who rallies the townspeople to stand against Chakal.
    • La Muerte wears a red dress and is the Big Good.
    • The Adelita Twins both wear predominately red clothes and are heroic characters based on La Adelita, the Mexican cultural icon of a strong and patriotic Mexican woman.
  • DC Extended Universe
    • Superman's cape of course.
    • Wonder Woman's chest piece is red, not that she needs much protection. Diana also wears a red dress at Lex Luthor's party in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
    • Naturally the Flash in Justice League, as the "Scarlet Speedster".
  • Cars: Race car Lightning McQueen is red and the central character of the whole franchise, though it's played straighter after his Heel–Face Turn.
  • Simba from The Lion King (1994) is a lion with a red mane. His father Mufasa qualifies too. Pumbaa is a red-brown warthog, but fits perfectly. Downplayed with Timon, as the only red is a small tuft of hair on his head, and he's a cowardly Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • The British soldiers and officers in the Battle of Rorke's Drift in Zulu all wear red tunic jackets, with the exceptions of the noncombatants and auxiliaries.

    Literature 
  • Harry Potter:
    • Red is one of the colors of Gryffindor house, which is associated with bravery and chivalry, and Godric Gryffindor himself is garbed in red and has red beard in his depictions. Also blood red rubies are encrusted into Gryffindor's sword to drive the point home even further.
    • The red-feathered Phoenix is also commonly used in the books as a symbol of nobility and heroism (hence Fawkes the Phoenix with his healing tears, and the Order of the Phoenix).
    • The disarming charm Expelliarmus is one of the few unambiguously defensive spells and lets out a red light when used. It's also considered Harry's signature attack.
    • The entire Weasley family has easily-recognizable red hair, and they treat Harry more like family than any of his living relatives (particularly Ron, his best friend). Other good guy redheads include Harry’s mother Lily and Dumbledore when he was younger. For bonus points, they are/were all in Gryffindor...
  • In the Deryni works, the kings of the House of Haldane wear red (as do their liveried servants, pages, and squires), and the coat of arms features a golden lion on a red field.
  • Laeshana in The Quest of the Unaligned wears a red robe through most of the book, and she is one of the three primary heroes.
  • Shallan Davar of The Stormlight Archive has bright red hair and is a Lightweaver, the Radiant order associated with garnets. In addition, when she summons Pattern in his Blade form in Words of Radiance, it glows with red Tron Lines.
  • Scarlet Benoit of the The Lunar Chronicles not only has her first name but has red hair and wears a favorite red hoodie throughout the series.
  • The redheaded Lord John Roxton in The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle. A Gentleman Adventurer and connoisseur of South American culture, he's made numerous trips up the Amazon, and encountered the natives being oppressed by slavers - all of whom he has personally made war against (adding a notch to his rifle for every slaver he shoots), while the grateful natives refer to him as "The Red Chief." Although there's a little bit of Mighty Whitey at work, Roxton is nevertheless a decent guy who goes above and beyond in his heroics, and the fact Doyle mentions his red hair frequently suggests this trope is very much at work.
  • Fritti Tailchaser is the titular orange tabby protagonist of Tailchaser's Song. The book is about how he became a Living Legend.
  • The Wheel of Time: Rand al'Thor, The Chosen One destined to save the world, is a redhead who comes to favor red and gold clothes when he claims his title. He also uses a red-and-gold dragon as a personal sigil, inherited from his previous incarnation.

    Pinball 
  • In Stern Pinball's Transformers, the Autobots are represented by "Autobot crimson" on the indicator lights and the playfield, even extending to the cabinet in some of the Limited Edition tables.

    Theater 
  • The Red Shadow from The Desert Song.
  • The song "Red and Black" from Les Misérables. Red symbolizes the blood of martyrs, the dawning of a new age, and passionate love, while black is the darkness and night of the status quo, and the despair of loneliness. Similarly, the red vest of student leader Enjolras symbolizes his heroic character, and the red flag used in "One Day More" and "The Final Battle" is bright red.

    Toys 
  • In almost every heroic BIONICLE team, the red character, always associated with fire, is the hero and leader. Villain teams, on the other hand, mix it up a bit.
    • The same goes for William Furno of Bionicle's successor, Hero Factory.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Warhammer 40,000, the Blood Angels are one of the noblest (for this setting) of the Space Marine Chapters, a group of optimists who genuinely fight for the people of the Imperium. Unfortunately, thanks to a flaw in their gene-seed, they might devolve into Ax-Crazy berserkers during combat and end up killing the people they're trying to protect. When this happens, their armor is ritually painted black and they join the Death Company. This is inverted, however, with the World Eaters and Word Bearers Chaos Marine Legions.
  • Red and other similar warm colors adorn several of the 'good' factions in BattleTech, most notably the heroic mercenary units Wolf's Dragoons and the Kell Hounds. The Warden Wolves are known for their prominent red and brown colors, and they are among the most restrained and protectively-minded of the Clans, especially after accepting an invitation to protect part of the Inner Sphere. On a much smaller level, the famous Centurion Yen-Lo-Wang is pearl-white with a brilliant red sunburst covering its body (and a blood red helmet) and is most known for being piloted by two of the most heroic and talented warriors in the setting, Justin Xiang Allard and his son Kai.
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[[folder:Visual Novels]]

  • Umineko: When They Cry protagonist Battler Ushiromiya boasts bright red hair.
  • Fate/stay night protagonist Shirou Emiya also has visibly-red hair, and has made it his life's vision to become a "hero of justice." The Servant Archer, despite falling more into Anti-Hero / Well-Intentioned Extremist territory, is also primarily decked in red robes, which makes sense considering he's Shirou's alternate-universe self.
    • Archer's Master, Rin Tohsaka, can also arguably qualify, despite her Tsundere and ego problems.
    • In the prequel, Fate/Zero, the Servant Rider (i.e. Alexander the Great) is probably the most affable, reasonable, and heroic among the Servants.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY:
    • Ruby Rose, the main heroine, wears a red hooded cloak as a reference to Little Red Riding Hood. She is the most optimistic and dedicated to heroism of the main four.
    • Qrow Branwen, the Cool Uncle to Ruby and Yang, wears a red, tattered cape.
    • Pyrrha Nikos has red hair and wears a brown and red outfit. She is characterized as kind and loyal almost to a fault.
    • Nicholas Schnee was an honest businessman and honorable Huntsman and is depicted in the show's world-building series "Word of Remnant" with a red scarf. The Schnee family is typically associated with the color white, to the extent that the current patriarch, Jacques, adopted the colour when he married into the family. The family these days has a reputation for ruthless business dealings and unethical labor practices but Nicholas forged a reputation as a compassionate leader who looked after his men and worked hard to lift the people of Mantle out of poverty. He is the only member of the family currently associated with red as the dominant color motif.

    Web Comics 
  • Redd is about a girl named Vicky Redd, who fights super villains with bionic floating hands that are custom-colored red. She's rotten to the core.
  • Commander Badass of Manly Guys Doing Manly Things
  • Jigsaw and Daisy of Last Res0rt, as members of Team Andromeda, are the only team that includes red in their color scheme. Matching ascots were added later after Daisy started getting self-conscious about her neck, adding a further splash of red.
    • The unaffiliated Players Mob wears red as well, but theirs is more in the Red Shirt sense.
  • Dasien originally wore a red costume.
  • In Homestuck, Karkat and Dave are both red-themed heroes, as is Karkat's ancestor, who's a Crystal Dragon Jesus.
  • Coga Nito: Main protagonist Eric's Piece form is the appropriately-named Red Special. Niko even mentions that she's jealous that Eric gets to be red, and favors wearing a red jacket in her human form.
    • Mentioned more directly later on when a character does a tarot-style reading using collectible cards themed after anime tropes, one of which is the 'Hero In Red'.
  • The bunny protagonist of Blue Moon Blossom has mostly red fur, or is wearing some kind of floor-length red garment with specially shaped sleeves in the hood covering their ears and a hole for their tail. The red is also a bright shade that doesn't really appear anywhere else in the comic.

     Web Original 
  • How to Hero recommends that superheroes wear red, though, in a rather cynical twist on this trope, it's to hide the inevitable blood they'll be spilling more than anything else.

    Real Life 
  • The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
  • The French Resistance, with their red Cross of Lorraine emblem.
  • The Knights Templar also used a flared red cross as their official symbol. Though their portrayal in fiction varies depending on interpretations, the group's stated purpose was at any rate heroic from their own perspective.
  • In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, red symbolizes God's love for humanity and is the liturgical color (the color of clerical clothing and hangings in the church) for the forty-day period from Easter (the main feast of the calendar) till the Ascension. Overlapping with Red Is Violent, it is also the color on martyrs' feast days.
  • A common visual cue in military traditions (not limited to the obvious Worker and Peasant's Red Army, the original name of the Soviet military) where solid colors aren't always used. The German and Japanese Imperial armies, the post-Civil War Chinese, Vietnamese and North Korean armed forces, and a number of armies in Latin America, if they used a color-coding system in military dress, used the color red both politically and/or as a 'heroic' color. At a certain point, it's probably the norm rather than the exception in color-coded military forces.
    • The British Army also wore redcoats for a time (and in the case of the Royal Guards, still do).
    • It's been said that using red helped to make the Communists more popular during the Russian Civil War since red was traditionally considered a "good" color in Russian culture (a common saying even went with "The redder, the better"). Plain Red was also the traditional color of the Grand Duchy of Moscow, as opposed to the blue-white-red and yellow-black-white flags used by the imperial family.
    • The famed Tuskegee Airmen decorated their P-51 Mustangs with bright red empennage.note  Red markings in general have long been popular for military aircraft, such as the Red Baron and his all-red Fokker Dr.I and D.VII fighters.
  • Samurai warriors in the army of warlord Ii Naomasa were required to wear a uniform of all-red armor and under-kimonos. This introduced the concept of uniform to Japanese warfare. Naomasa's men were known as "the Red Devils" for their appearance and fighting skill.
  • Actors playing a hero role in Aragoto theater had red face make-up.
  • Firetrucks are generally red (though other colors do pop up), and both they and police vehicles often have red and white light bars. In some locales, red helmets denote line officers in a fire department.
  • The burgundy beret of the Israeli paratrooper unit of the IDF is well known for denoting what is often perceived as an elite unit.

Alternative Title(s): Red Headed Heroine, Red Headed Hero

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