What's the best way to indicate that an aristocrat or other person of wealth has arrived at an engagement? By rolling out the red carpet, of course! Making an entrance by walking on red carpet is a symbol of both fame and luxury. It immediately identifies a person using it as someone important. Alternatively, it may be used in a Prince and Pauper story to show the Pauper is now being considered a man of upper-class stature after the switch has been made by showing him walking on this.
This trope tends to come in two flavors: either the palace of the King or wealthy man will be decorated with red carpet, or a literal red carpet will be rolled out to mark his/her arrival at some event. The chance of seeing an actual red carpet being rolled out (rather than already being set on the floor when the scene begins) by servants or attendants is increased if watching an animated work. That way it is easier to show a red carpet being rolled out the exact moment the VIP sets his/her foot on the ground.
This is also a luxury trope that has survived many long centuries and can be seen both in works set in older time periods and the modern day. The earliest known reference to this attention-drawing symbol is from an Ancient Greek play.
- Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: In the beginning of episode 495, Wolffy arrives at a show well-dressed. He begins walking down a red carpet and waving at everyone, only for him to fall over on a watermelon.
- A Love Like Blood: A very gory variation appears when vampire Lord Karkossa arrives to dine with his followers. The vampires arrange a row of helpless humans and then slit all their throats to create a bloody "red carpet" for their master to walk on.
- In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the door to the factory's all-important Chocolate Room is reached by walking down a red carpet.
- Captian Hook's ship in Hook invokes the trope by having a mechanism installed in the stairs leading to the captain's quarters which, when kicked in the right spot on a nearby post, will flip open a series of hidden panels with red carpeting on it down the stairs. Hook always waits for the carpeting to appear before descending the stairs. It even gets Inverted when Peter shows up and challenges Hook — the carpeting is "un-rolled" back up the stairs in a display of rather petty snobbery by Hook as the whole pirate crew mocks Peter before the latter simply flies up to confront him.
- In The Runaway Carpet, the doorman to the Bellevue rolls out a red carpet in preparation for the Duke of Sultana's visit...and it keeps rolling all the way to the dock.
- The earliest known reference in history is from a Greek play titled Agamemnon by Aeschylus. A red carpet is rolled out for the returning hero, but he is apprehensive because only the gods deserve such honor.
- One is rolled out in front of the gates to Wonka's Factory in the 2013 stage musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
- Red carpets are still used for Heads of State when traveling.
- Events marked by the appearances of many celebrities typically feature a red carpet. The Academy Awards are a prominent example.