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Red Live Lobster

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While lobsters may be red when cooked, the natural colors of most lobsters are usually a brown, olive-green or gray (and occasionally blue) when alive and in the wild, which helps conceal them on the ocean floor from predators. They get their shell color from a class of red and yellow pigments called astaxanthin.

However, most people don't know this. Lobsters only ever come in one variety in fiction (the Maine lobster), and even worse, especially in animation, they tend to be colored bright red. The reason many people think Maine lobster is naturally red is because, to put it in non-scientific words, they turn red when cooked. To elaborate, when lobsters are cooked, the proteins that astaxanthin bind to are denatured, changing the shell colors to a red pigment.

Real lobsters aren't always brownish-green, though. There are the 1 in 1,000 blue lobsters. Even rarer, around 1 in 10,000, are cotton candy lobsters (they definitely don't taste or smell like cotton candy though). Even brilliant red-colored lobsters as red as seen on TV do exist, caused by a rare genetic abnormality, which occurs in one in 10 million cases.

Despite the name, this trope can apply to crabs (including Giant Enemy Crab), crayfish, and other decapods since the trope can include them too. The reason for the name is because lobsters are the most common victim to this trope.

Sub-Trope of Artistic License – Marine Biology and Funny Animal Anatomy. Compare Amazing Technicolor Wildlife for when animals are intentionally vividly colorful.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Strips 
  • FoxTrot: In one strip, Jason plans on sneaking up on Peter while he's swimming to scare him, by dressing as a red lobster. The plan takes an unexpected twist, as Jason gets pinched by an actual lobster off-screen.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas: The Town Meeting Song has Jack Skellington describe "Sandy Claws" as looking like "a lobster huge and red".
  • The Little Mermaid (1989):
    • Sebastian is the classic bright red crab standard to cartoons.
      • Which could further explain why Chef Louis is so surprised Sebastian was a live one and how gung-ho he was to kill him. By all means, Sebastian should have already been dead.
    • Inverted with the lobster in "Under the Sea" that is colored blue. Blue lobsters exist, though they're a darker blue than that cartoon lobster. It's a rare mutation.

    Films — Live-Acton 
  • Godzilla: Ebirah is a crustacean kaiju coloured bright red, first appearing in Ebirah, Horror of the Deep. Depending on the source, he's either an actual lobster or a giant mutant shrimp.
  • Mysterious Island: The giant crab is red because Ray Harryhausen pragmatically used an actual cleaned crab shell to house the stop-motion armature and it was easier to get one that was cooked.

    Literature 
  • Encyclopedia Brown: Ultimately subverted. In one case, Bugs Meany offers a kid lessons on how to hypnotize a lobster and takes an instant color photo of himself performing the stunt in order to prove he's legitimate. But when Encyclopedia sees the photo of Bugs "hypnotizing" a bright red lobster, he knows it was already boiled and dead at the time, and Bugs returns the kid's money.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Noddy Shop: Johnny Crawfish is reddish-orange in color, but has small areas on his body that are grey.
  • Robot Wars: The entrant Thermidor 2, which was designed to look like a giant lobster, is painted red in all of its appearances.

     Music 
  • Noisestorm created a meme song titled "Crab Rave", in which the music video is about sentient crabs who dance to the song on an island.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppet Show: In the season two episode "Episode 209: Madeline Kahn", the Swedish Chef attempts to cook a lobster (which is red prior to being put in the pot), but it is saved by a group of Spanish-speaking bandito lobsters wielding pistols (who are also red).

    Video Games 
  • Civilization VI: Crab resources show up as a bunch of red crabs underwater, and the resource symbol is a red crab as well. This is particularly jarring, as they show up as appropriately blue-grey in previous entries.
  • EXTRAPOWER: Attack of Darkforce: Juno, one of the mer people of Deep Haven, who resembles a human covered in lobster armour. That's just what he is, and said lobster parts of him are a classic, well-cooked red.
  • Freddi Fish:
    • Fiddler Crab from Freddi Fish and the Case of the Missing Kelp Seeds is a red crab.
    • Claw from Freddi Fish and the Case of the Stolen Conch Shell is an orange lobster.
    • Herman from Freddi Fish and the Case of the Missing Kelp Seeds is a red hermit crab.
    • E. Tippet from Freddi Fish and the Case of the Hogfish Rustlers of Briny Gulch, much like Herman, is a red hermit crab.
    • King Crab from Freddi Fish and the Case of the Missing Kelp Seeds is a red crab.
  • Hay Day: Lobsters are bright red even when they've just been hauled out of the fishing pond.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: Ironshell crabs naturally have bright red shells with orange claws. This is averted for the other two crab varieties in the game, the teal razorclaw crabs and silvery bright-eyed crabs.
  • Pikmin: Crawmads, creatures resembling lobsters or crayfish, have bright red shells and pink flesh.
  • Pokémon:
    • Krabby and its evolution Kingler are crabs that are reddish-orange.
    • Corphish and Crawdaunt are crayfish and are likewise both red.
    • Dwebble and Crustle are bright orange hermit crabs.
    • Clauncher and its evolution Clawitzer are an aversion as they are lobsters with a blue coloring. Their shiny variants, however, are a straight example by being red.
  • RuneScape: Lobsters were originally depicted as bright red when caught and brown when cooked, until a 2004 update swapped the colours.
  • Spyro the Dragon: The levels Aquaria Towers in Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage! and Lost Fleet in Spyro: Year of the Dragon feature bright red crab enemies. Both games also have blue crabs, but they are only associated with Ice Worlds.
  • Stardew Valley: Lobsters, shrimp, and crabs caught in a crab pot are red or red-orange in color even before being cooked. They are, in fact, still alive, since they can be placed in a fish pond. The crayfish is an exception to the trope, being grey in color.

    Web Animation 

    Western Animation 
  • 101 Dalmatians: The Series: Cadpig rescues a bright red, living lobster from a seafood restaurant in the episode "Lobster Tale".
  • Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers: "Gadget Goes Hawaiian" sees Gadget attempt to pass a series of queenship tests. The first of the tests is to swim across the lobster tank in the resort hotel's restaurant. The tank's lobsters are all crimson red, have unbanded pinchers, and are fiercely territorial. Despite their adversity, Gadget succeeds in making the crossing.
  • Family Guy: In a Cutaway Gag from "Screams of Silence: The Story of Brenda Q.", Peter sings "Iraq Lobster" to the tune of "Rock Lobster" by The B-52s, complete with a red lobster dancing while dressed as a Muslim.
  • Fillmore!: Subverted. The mascot of Filmore's school is a lobster, which, surprisingly, is shown as a brownish-green color. In one episode, the lobster mascot is kidnapped, and one of the suspects is caught with a lobster in a bag. A red lobster, which means it was cooked. Fortunately, it turns out not to be the mascot lobster.
  • Futurama: Dr Zoidberg is a humanoid lobster alien. He and his species are red in colour. Potentially justified seeing as they're an alien species that only resemble lobsters by coincidence.
  • Garfield and Friends: In "Maine Course", Jon gets a lobster to cook, but the lobster turns out to be alive, so they decide to not cook it. The lobster is notably red.
  • Josie And The Pussy Cats take a break on a beach. Alexandra tries to seduce Alan with a hula dance and grabs a nearby grass skirt. She somehow fails to notice a crimson crab on the leafy green skirt and wears it around her hips. The crab dislikes all the motion and pinches Alexandra's glutes to steady itself. She gets very wiggly with this impromptu prompting.
  • Jungle Junction: Taxicrab is a red crab.
  • The Penguins of Madagascar: Dr. Blowhole's lobster minions (including Chrome Claw) are all bright red.
  • Sharky And George: One of the villains is a German-accented lobster who is named either Red Lobster or Colonel Klaw depending on the dub. As the former name indicates, he's a red lobster, though it's relatively downplayed, as only his back and claws are red, whereas his face and abdomen are grey. The trope is averted with his minions, who are black crabs.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Lisa Gets an 'A'", the subplot involves Homer raising a lobster to eat, but instead makes it his pet. Pinchy, the lobster, is red, even before it ultimately gets boiled.
    • "Moe Letter Blues" has a scene with a live lobster snapping its claws, even though it's bright red.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Larry the Lobster and Mr. Krabs are an anthropomorphic red-colored lobster and crab, respectively. Justified for Larry, as he tans a lot.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: The segment "Drawn and Buttered" features Hamton facing off against an obnoxious lobster he plans to cook for dinner. The lobster is bright red despite having not even gotten into the pot.
  • The Tom and Jerry cartoon "Salt Water Tabby" has the cat and mouse duo visit a public beach. There, they encounter a vivid red antagonistic crab that tends to pinch Tom and nearly snips Jerry in two.

    Real Life 
  • Christmas Island red crabs are a species of crab that are bright red even when alive.
  • Scampi, also known as Norway Lobster, are a pinkish-orange shade when alive.
  • Cancer productus, one of several species known as red rock crabs, actually have a bright red coloration that matches common cartoon depictions.

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