Follow TV Tropes


Splash of Color

Go To

Sometimes, in a Deliberately Monochrome work, you'll see an object with a different color, usually to indicate something important. This can be done to signal to the audience that something is important, abnormal, or even dangerous, or to create symbolism through the visuals of a story. Adding a Splash of Color is usually done in films, videos, animation, comics, and other forms of visual media (although it can be done in non-visual media like books and radio) because it is often an eye-catching and compositionally effective way to send a message to the viewers or communicate a specific feeling by limiting the visual information being presented. Done well, this trope makes specific elements pop out and focuses the audience's attention on the element(s) in question. Done poorly, it can make it seem like the color palette was just arbitrarily chosen or the artists just forgot to paint one particular item so that it matches the rest of the set.


    open/close all folders 

  • Note that when (present-day) commercials are shot in black-and-white except for the sponsor's product being in color, the effect is common enough that it's known as "splash of color".
  • De Beer's diamonds are the only thing that sparkle in a gray world!
  • Nuprin filmed their commercials in black and white, except for the "splash of color" which were the two yellow pills falling out of the bottle into the person's monochrome hand.
  • Done to the point of overuse in highlights clips for the BBC's 2008 Olympic Games coverage.
  • The "Meet the Buttertons" ads for I Can't Believe It's Not Butter feature a typical 1950s family filmed in black and white, except for the bright yellow of the ridiculous amounts of butter they put in their food.
  • The commercials for Chase bank follow this trope, with the only color being the Chase logo.
  • TD Canada Trust, which are monochromatic except for the green of the bank's logo. The intention is invoke simpler times.
  • Both movie posters for Joss Whedon's adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing (2012) (which was filmed in black and white) use this. One has the movie's title in hot pink letters between the black-and-white faces of Beatrice and Benedick. The other shows Claudio mostly submerged in a pool, holding a cocktail glass in his hand; the cocktail is bright orange (with an orange slice) and the movie title appears in orange letters above Claudio's head. (In the movie itself, the cocktail appears in black-and-white like everything else.)
  • The Washington Nationals baseball team will have ads where everything is black and white except the red. This includes the players' uniforms, the seams on the ball, and random fans who happen to be wearing red hats or shirts, as well as everything in between.
  • The Spy vs. Spy Mountain Dew ads were all in black-and-white, except for a can of the soda.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Durarara!!: Members of the Yellow Scarves among the completely grey Faceless Masses sometimes have their headscarves and neckerchiefs shown with their actual color (yellow, of course).
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Used in the first episode during the scene in which the Freezing Alchemist is killed.
    • During a monochrome flashback showing Winry's parents' death during the Ishval Civil War. All is in black and white except for the blue eyes of the Amestrian soldiers and the blue eyes of Winry's parents.
  • If You Could See Love: The main character, Mei Haruno, can see arrows that show who loves who; for example, her parents' arrows point at each other. Those arrows are colored pink, and are the only color in the black-and-white manga.
  • Iroduku The World In Colors: Hitomi is colorblind, so certain shots shown through her eyes are completely black and white, with the exception of drawings made by her friend Aoi Yuito, which she can see in full color.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid, like most manga, is mostly drawn in black and white. However, this trope was used in Chapter 52 during the flashback that shows how Wilfried Jeremiah met Olivie Sagebrecht, with the latter's eyes being colored red and green as the former describes them in narration.
  • The Maid I Hired Recently Is Mysterious is drawn in black-and-white like most manga, save for the eyes of the titular maid, which are always coloured in a vivid purple.
  • Manga Classics' adaptation of The Scarlet Letter is in black-and-white except for the titular letter on Hester's dress.
  • My Best Friend Who I Love Fell Completely in Love With My VTuber Self (a manga by the author of Shinozaki-san Ki wo Ota Shika ni!) is entirely in black and white except for the eyes of its two main characters.
  • My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness has pink as its only hue in an otherwise black and white work, excluding the cover.
  • She Becomes a Tree is entirely black and white except for Youko Kisaki and her brother's green hair.

  • The Problem We All Live With: Downplayed seeing that it's a colored painting. Instead of monochrome, the piece is primarily made of dull, neutral colors except for bright details — the tomato on the wall (bright red), the armbands on the men's arms (yellow, identifying them as U.S. Marshals), and the color contrast on Bridges.

  • Lamput: The clips from earlier episodes shown at the beginning of "Fracture" are all presented in black and white, save for Lamput who is still orange as well as all other objects that were originally orange in those episodes.
  • Lavatory-Lovestory: This cartoon is black line drawings against a plain white background—except for the bouquets of flowers that a mysterious admirer is leaving for the lovelorn men's room attendant. The flowers are brightly colored.

    Comic Books 
  • 2000 AD:
  • In the anthology series Batman: Black and White, all the stories have Deliberately Monochrome artwork. One story, "The Gasworks", features red spot color for every appearance of a powerful hallucinogenic gas.
  • The Deluxe Edition reprint of Batman: The Killing Joke has the flashbacks sequences in black and white with a different red object, progressively standing out more, to build up to the reveal of the Red Hood becoming The Joker.
  • In Black Magick, color is used only for magical objects.
  • Blue Is the Warmest Color: In all scenes set in the 90s, the only color seen is the blue of Emma's hair and eyes.
  • In the Captain America Elseworlds miniseries The Chosen, the modern-day Middle East, including the soldiers stationed there and all of the locals are all depicted in shades of brown. This is meant to make Captain America stand out when he finally appears, as he is still wearing his primarily blue costume even in that setting.
  • DC Pride 2022: "The Gumshoe in Green" is a deliberately Deliberately Monochrome Noir tale in grayscale with deep dramatic shadows, except for the green that appears when Jo uses her lantern ring.
  • As an Affectionate Parody of The Walking Dead, only Deadpool is colored in the Night of the Living Deadpool miniseries. He briefly loses his color when he becomes a zombie for a while, and all of the zombies that bite the chemical-coated Deadpool get colored in too. Because they become Deadpool.
  • Many of Frank Miller's works following Sin City use this technique, but only when drawn by Frank himself. For some reason, the pages of Holy Terror are entirely black and white except for Natalie Stack's red shoes, her green eyes, and a flood of pink near the end.
  • The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist: The art is otherwise rendered as simple black-and-white sketches on a background that looks like notepad paper. During Adrian's NPR interview he looks across to the dental office across the street and sees a spray of blood, rendered in bright red, that highlights the stressfulness of the situation.
  • Sin City: That Yellow Bastard had Junior (and his blood) constantly colored yellow after the prologue. Other stories, like "Blue Eyes" and "The Babe Wore Red" featured similar use of color. The movie added splashes of color to stories that didn't have them in print.
  • Done in Soft Desire, which is a black and white comic with some color objects.
  • Wet Moon has no color in the actual stories, but the cover art depicts each individual character with a single thematic color, in their clothing and usually dyed hair.

    Comic Strips 
  • The final Calvin and Hobbes strip depicts the brightly-colored title characters in a blank white snowscape.
  • In Frazz, a colored egg is the splash in a monochromatic Sunday strip.

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • This was done on occasion in Silent Films, when Technicolor was in its early, experimental stages.
    • In Battleship Potemkin, the red flag was colored by hand.
    • In 1903 in The Great Train Robbery, again hand-colored, for the gun smoke and some clothing.
    • In the 1925 version of Ben-Hur, all the scenes with Jesus are shot in color (even though he is not shown), as is Ben-Hur's triumph and the final scene.
    • Similarly, in the 1927 Jesus movie The King of Kings, the first scene shows Mary Magdalene lounging around with the Romans in color, and at the end of the film Jesus walks out of his tomb in color.
    • Erich von Stroheim was fond of this trope. In Greed, a dark drama about greed and obsession destroying three people's lives, everything made of gold is hand-colored yellow—gold nuggets, Trina's gold wedding ring, and the $5000 in gold coins that Trina wins in a lottery, which end up wrecking everything. In The Wedding March, the ornate royal procession scene is shot in Technicolor. And originally, von Stroheim's version of The Merry Widow had the closing wedding scene shot in color, but unfortunately that footage is lost and surviving prints are in black and white.
    • Lonesome makes heavy use of hand-tinting during the Coney Island Amusement Park sequence—the lights, bunting, the moon, balloons, a circle of moonlight around the protagonists, red coloring for a roller coaster wheel that catches fire.
    • In The Red Kimono, red is associated with prostitution and sin. Hence the eponymous red kimono that the unfortunate protagonist wears when entertaining johns is hand-colored red. Additionally, the streetlights in the Red Light District are also hand-tinted red.
    • The 1900 Joan of Arc film contains splashes of colour here and there. Several of the character's outfits are coloured. The crew coloured each frame by hand.
    • The 1929 film Redskin has the scenes set at Native American lands in Technicolor, while the scenes set at "civilization" are in black-and-white.
    • In the 1924 version of The Sea Hawk, the torches carried by Asad's bodyguard are hand-colored.
  • The 2004 The Phantom of the Opera does this. While the present-day scenes are sepia-toned, in the final scene when Raoul finds the Phantom's rose on Christine's grave shows the rose in red. The actors in the "Masquerade" sequence are all in black and white, except for Christine, who's in pink, and the Phantom, who's in red.
  • During the "feeding" scene in the otherwise monochrome The Human Centipede 2, the feces is distinctly brown.
  • A number of early sound films made between 1929 and 1931 had some color sequences, including The Broadway Melody, Broadway, The Hollywood Revue of 1929, Show Girl in Hollywood and Good News.
    • Some scenes of Fox Movietone Follies Of 1929 were made in Multicolor, a forerunner of Cinecolor. While the now-lost film also used the experimental Grandeur widescreen process, it is not known if both systems were used concurrently in any segments.
    • Mostly averted with part-talkie The Mysterious Island, which was made in Technicolor except for a few scenes at the beginning.
    • The Great Gabbo is an odd example, as the stark drama in black-and-white was interspersed with some Pre-Code musical numbers made in Multicolor.
    • It's A Great Life had its Technicolor musical sequences bridged with the black-and-white scenes by a whirlwind-style transition.
    • Mostly averted with The Show of Shows, which was almost entirely made in Technicolor, except for some 20 minutes.
    • Hell's Angels has the fancy dress ball scene in Multicolor. This is the only color footage of Jean Harlow's career.
    • Some British films made in 1930 were made in color, particularly Elstree Calling, made in response to American all-star revues, featuring some hand-colored sequences.
  • A number of 1934-35 films had segments in three-color Technicolor, including The Cat and the Fiddle, The House of Rothschild, Hollywood Party (a cartoon by Walt Disney), Kid Millions and The Little Colonel.
  • This bizarre early script for Being John Malkovich ends with The Devil taking over the world and removing all color while a resistance movement has managed to keep Central Park colorful.
  • The 2005 remake of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari has a purple flower that appears near the end of the film.
  • The opening scene of Carlito's Way is shot in black and white, with the exception being a traveling advertisement.
  • The pre-titles sequence of Casino Royale (2006). The first splash of color in the film is the blood from the Bond Gun Barrel (which is moved to the end of that sequence and integrated into the plot — it's the POV from the gun of one of Bond's targets).
    • Later, as Bond searches for Vesper through the Piazza San Marco, he's able to spot her because of her red dress. Even though it's in color, she is intentionally the only one in the scene wearing red so as to stand out from the crowd.
  • Curse of Chucky has a Monochrome Past flashback sequence in which some things are colored, such as the yellow flowers in Charles' hideout, the red decoration of his Voodoo knife, the neon lettering of the toy shop and the blue eyes of the Good Guy doll he possesses.
  • Die Farbe, a 2010 german film adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft's The Colour Out of Space uses this to convey the titular Fictional Colour.
  • Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now is a color film but shot in very subdued, dark, dingy tones. A red child's coat is made extremely vivid by contrast, and has plot significance.
  • Friend of the World is mostly a black-and-white film, but flashbacks, dream sequences and the outside world are in color.
  • In the Dutch film The Girl With The Red Hair (1981), the only thing in color in the movie is Resistance heroine Hannie Schaft's red hair. Everything else about grim wartime Holland is in grey.
  • In The Giver, as in the book, Fiona's red hair is this at first, standing out in a black-and-white society to Jonas, one of two people who can see color.
  • Hidden Figures was shot in color, but achieves the same effect the first time Katherine walks into the Space Task Group office since she's a black woman in a colourful dress in a room full of white men in identical white shirts and black ties.
  • In the black and white Akira Kurosawa film High and Low, smoke from a smokestack, which was turned pink due to a chemical hidden in evidence that a criminal disposed of, is shown in color.
  • The French 1949 film Jour de Fête was released in black and white, with hand-painted bits of color here and there (such as the flags).
  • Appears in Mad Max: Fury Road, during the blueish sequences of Hollywood Darkness. The blood on Max' face retains a red color hue. Also a plantlet produced from a bag is shown in bright green color.
  • The Navigator depicts a flag in yellow color while the rest of this Silent Movie is all black-and-white.
  • US prints of the 1959 British film Jack the Ripper have a brief color insert of blood when Jack dies, crushed by an elevator while hiding in the shaft. See here.
  • In Parking (1985), anything in the Underworld colored red is bright and vivid when everything else, including the characters, is rendered in dull grey or dark blue tones.
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945) is shot in b&w, except for the titular portrait, shown in color.
  • In Pleasantville, a brother and sister travel back to a 1950s town, which is originally in black and white. Their influence leads people to develop color as they learn to think for themselves.
  • Raging Bull is shot in b&w except for Jake LaMotta's home movies, in color.
  • An early draft of The Rocky Horror Picture Show was supposed to start in black and white as a nod to The Wizard of Oz. The first thing we'd see in color would be Frank N. Furter's lips.
  • In The Film of the Book of Rumble Fish, the titular fish are the only things shown in color.
  • Samurai Fiction, a spoof of traditional samurai epics striving towards art-film stylism, is black and white except for splashes of color used for dramatic effect.
  • In Schindler's List, Spielberg uses red to highlight a single Jewish girl's coat — once as she's being led from the Krakow ghetto, and again as her body is being taken to a mass grave. This is to symbolize the fact that the Roosevelt administration knew what was going on but didn't try anything to stop it. The red is just as obvious against the background as what was going on and just as obvious as what was going to happen to that poor little girl. The candle flames are also in color when the Jews celebrate the Sabbath for the first time since being hauled out of the ghettos and into concentration camps.
  • The Film of the Book of The Secret Garden that was made in the forties is entirely in black and white except for the titular garden once the kids restore it.
  • Sin City is mostly in black and white, with some flourishes of color used for characterization. The Yellow Bastard's skin and blood are yellow, emphasizing his monstrosity. Goldie's hair is gold, emphasizing her allure and distinguishing her from her identical twin sister. Becky's eyes are blue, emphasizing her (supposed) innocence.
  • The 1956 film version of The Solid Gold Cadillac is a black-and-white movie until the very final shot.
  • Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound is filmed entirely in black and white, except for a couple of frames of red inserted at the climax when the villain commits suicide.
  • The Spirit is in black and white (though some scenes are so gray they might just be desaturated) except for the Spirit's signature red tie and a handful of other things like yellow police tape and a few closeups with red lipstick.
  • The title card in Them! is in striking color, while the rest of the movie is in black and white.
  • William Castle's The Tingler is in black and white, but one segment shows red blood in the sink and bathtub in an otherwise b&w shot.
    • Interestingly, the shot itself was actually all in color, but it was a color shot of a grey set and an actress who had been painted grey. The effect is deeply unnerving.
  • Baltimore Hall's dreams in Twixt are in black-and-white except for splashes of red, appropriate since he seems to be dealing with vampires.
  • The 1987 Wim Wenders film Wings of Desire has most scenes filmed in black and white or sepia, except for a few scenes featuring only the female lead, which are supposedly not from the point of view of the angels.
  • The 1939 The Women is presented in black and white, except for the Fashion Show sequence, shot in color.

  • Aurora Cycle: Inside the Fold, where everything is Deliberately Monochrome, the Eshvaren star map is able to display the colour red.
  • Some of Dr. Seuss' earlier books.
  • The Eloise books have this in every illustration: blue skies, Eloise's pink panties, her red hair bow, and/or a brown coat she wears in Moscow, are generally colored in, along with anything else of the same color in that scene (which may include walls or floors).
  • An in-universe version appears in The Giver; Jonas first starts seeing color by noticing red for the first time, when everyone else is unable to see anything other than black and white.
  • House of Leaves uses this in its typeface, depending on the version. All instances of the word "house" are colored blue, and all instances of the word "minotaur" and crossed out words are colored red. Some instances of the word "mother" are purple.
  • The Night Mayor is set in a virtual reality realm modeled on old black and white movies, to the point that everything in it exists in shades of grey. When people are murdered they bleed black. And then, about halfway through the novel, one character is stabbed and bleeds red, which is one of several hints that there's something different about him.
  • Most illustrations in One Cool Friend have objects in a grayscale wash save for a couple of things that are colored, such as the aquarium being blue, Elliot's backpack colored red, and Elliot's father having a green theme.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Better Call Saul features many flash forwards portraying Jimmy under his Gene alias in a depressing, monochrome existence following the events of Breaking Bad. The exception to this are when he is seen rewatching his old commercials which are reflected in his glasses in color. The other exception is in the final scene of the show, where the glow of the cigarette he is smoking with Kim retains an orange glow in an otherwise monochrome scene.
  • Season 2 of Breaking Bad features several Cold Opens which foreshadow an accident scene, with hazmat-besuited men sifting through debris. The only thing in color is a pink teddy bear.
  • Cold Case episode "Forever Blue" does this. All of the flashbacks to the time the murder took place are set in black and white outside of the red colour on the police car and the white/yellow glow from certain lighting (candles in the church and a lamp).
  • Doctor Who: In "The Lie of the Land", the Doctor's new office is nearly devoid of colour, being mostly white with grey and black for "variety". The only exception is a bright red hotline phone on his desk.
  • The Good Detective: Episode 2.5 has a Monochrome Past flashback scene in black-and-white. Sung-gon's maniacally jealous father comes in to find his wife putting on red lipstick—the lipstick is shown in color. The red lipstick is a Berserk Button for Sung-gon's father, who thinks his wife is cheating on him, and promptly slits her throat. The blood is also shown in red.
  • Used extensively in the TV version of Half Moon Investigations for scenes showing how the Crime Of The Week was actually commited (black-and-white otherwise), most notably with spot colour on the pink clothes worn by the Pinks and a yellow jacket that was a Clue. Never two different colours in the same scene, though.
  • Hi Honey, I'm Home! was a reversal of Trapped in TV Land featuring the Neilsons, a family from a 50's sitcom that has been canceled. They are relocated to the Real World, in a typical 90's suburb. When overwhelmed by the complexities of the world in which they now live, they seek comfort by using a device known as a Turnerizer, which causes themselves and their home environment to revert to monochrome. The outside world (as seen through open doors, etc.), as well as anyone from the outside world, are unaffected.
  • Inverted in the Velma Mulholland sketches on In Living Color!. Velma is a 1940's Film Noir-type character and was always shown in black and white, while everything else is in color. Even her apartment and her car are in black and white.
  • I Love Lucy Columbia House VHS tapes, and the CBS/Paramount DVDs of the first season, begin with Ricky singing the theme song over a montage showing the Ricardos and Mertzes in color, but everything else in black and white.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: In the Deliberately Monochrome Film Noir pastiche episode "The Janitor Always Mops Twice," some objects are colored red, including blood, cherries and fruit punch.
  • In the short-lived series John Doe, the protagonist is colorblind, so the things shown from his point of view are shown in black and white. However, in the pilot, when he sees the news about a missing girl, her face shows color and Doe is convinced the girl is related to him somehow. She wasn't, but every other time the "warning colors" appeared during the series, they were things related to him (like the woman in the green scarf, or the Phoenix statue).
  • Mandalay Pictures does this with their opening logo, which has a black-and-white video of a jungle and a tiger colored normally in its vibrant orange color.
  • In an episode of Monk, Stottlemeyer's case-solving (which is normally black and white) is showing purple napkins, which were at both places.
  • In Once Upon a Time, Dr. Frankenstein's world is in black and white, but the visiting Rumplestiltskin (and the gold he gives Frankenstein) are in color.
  • The Umbrella Academy (2019): The "afterlife" in season 3 is Deliberately Monochrome save for the yellow of Klaus's shirt and the flowers "God" has in her basket.
  • VR5 played all sorts of games with color during the VR sequences. Typically, unimportant objects were desaturated, while important ones were supersaturated.
  • Waking the Dead: "Skin" with some red parts for a tattooing scene, where a guy deliberately infects four neo-Nazis with HIV.
  • WandaVision:
    • The first two episodes are in black and white like a sitcom from the 1950s or 1960s, but despite that, some things are in color, all of them red. A toy helicopter (which is in reality a transformed S.W.O.R.D. drone), the light of a Stark Industries-brand toaster in a commercial, and Dottie's blood.
    • The fifth episode has a spin on this despite the show now being in full color. A drone from the 80s is sent into Westview, and it's camera isn't in full color. Despite that, Wanda's eyes still glow red on the monitors. This is justified, as Wanda's powers mess with perception, meaning it's possible her eyes were only glowing in the minds of those seeing the monitors, but not the monitors themselves.
  • In the "Tooms" episode of The X-Files, the titular liver-eating mutant singles out a woman he spots on the street as a potential next victim, and sees her in full color while the background and other passersby appear black and white.

    Music Videos 
  • The video for Asia's "Praying For A Miracle" is mostly in black-and-white, except for a few items that are in red like Geoff Downes' scarf and Pat Thrall's guitar, as the video was filmed in Red Square in Moscow.
  • The video for "Blame It" by Jamie Foxx shows everything in red-tinted monochrome, except for white camera flashes and blue drink glasses.
  • Italian singer/songwriter Gala's video for Faraway has this.
  • The video for Elton John's "Sad Songs Say So Much" has everything in black-and-white except Elton himself and a few neon signs.
  • The video for Kotiteollisuus' "Iankaikkinen" is shot in monochrome, with the exception of a woolen hat and scarf worn by a young girl accompanying the funeral procession, which remain red.
  • The video for "The Perfect Drug" by Nine Inch Nails shows everything in blue-tinted monochrome, except for one green drink of absinthe. The ensuing trip switches to a green tint.
  • The video for Of Monsters and Men 's "Little Talks" is all in black and white except for the girl made of sunshine and rainbows, who is in every colour. At the end, so are the beings from her domain.
  • Queen's video for "I'm Going Slightly Mad" is nearly all black and white, but there is a feathery cape that Freddie Mercury flings near the end that is in vivid rainbow colors.
  • Inverted in Sting's video for "If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free". Bassist Darryl Jones is in black & white, while everyone else is in color.
  • In Supertramp's video for "Cannonball", in segments where the band is playing, one rectangle would be in color while everything else was in black & white.
    • Also, the cover of their album Crisis? What Crisis?, features a man sitting in a beach chair under a beach umbrella in color, while the background (a rundown factory) is in black & white.
  • Tears for Fears:
    • In the first "Mothers Talk" music video, everything is saturated in blue except for a reddish cloth bag next to the girl's bed, her red visor, the red-and-beige blinking lights on her wrist monitor, and the yellow flame of the candle she holds.
    • In the 1986 "Mothers Talk" music video, all the scenes with the 1950s family are sepia-toned, but the fires are yellow (such as the one burning in the fireplace and the flames that consume the newspaper the father was reading), plus the screen of their TV set displays broadcasts in full colour.


    Video Games 
  • The 11th Hour normally plays in color, but has an option to play instead in black and white, with only the puzzles and cutscenes in color. For an added touch, this mode also adds an artificial film grain.
  • ANNO: Mutationem: In a few scenes when Ann has an encounter with the Masked Woman, the scenery turns fully monochrome, with the exception Ann and the Masked Woman who remain in color.
  • Ballad of an Evening Butterfly is completely monochrome save for the colour red, which shows up in Chou's eyes and blood.
  • In Brütal Legend, when the Skies Afire spell is active, the color palette switches from full-color to black, white, and orange.
  • Chicken Police is inspired by Film Noir, and is almost entirely black and white, except for a few details. For example, Natasha's eyes are green, a threat painted on the wall of her house is red, and various posters are full colour.
  • In Dragon Quest VIII, when entering the Dark World, your party and Empyrea are in color. Fire and water are also in color.
  • Found in Everyday The Same Dream, where everything is monochrome save for three objects.
  • In the Ashen World of Fairune 2, the only color comes from Hope Girl, Layla's hair and eyes, as well as the cyan glow of energy in some objects and red markings of hostiles.
  • The God of Crawling Eyes is Deliberately Monochrome because the protagonist is colorblind and can only see like that. However, he started taking medication to treat it and, sure enough, soon one other color becomes visible: red. Just in time to witness a room full of dead people...
  • Katamari Forever casts several stages in monochrome, gradually adding color to show which items you're able to collect as your katamari grows bigger.
  • In Kirby's Adventure, the last stage before the Final Boss is a Nostalgia Level reminiscent of Kirby's Dream Land on the Game Boy, and is thus entirely in black and white except for Kirby (and the enemies and items in the GBA remake).
  • In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, when you first visit Hyrule Castle after it's frozen in time, it's completely in black and white. Notable because it's a very sharp contrast to the bright, cel-shaded graphics in the rest of the game, and to Link himself as he is still in color as he runs around. The same applies to the boss rematches in the final dungeon.
  • Used mostly for style in The Lost Crown, which is black-and-white with this trope applies to flowers, a red phone booth, and a few other odds and ends.
  • MadWorld is always Deliberately Monochrome, except for the bits of yellow in the player's HUD and the onomatopoeia that show up on-screen. And red. Lots and lots of red. With the occasional bits of cyan.
  • In Mutant Mudds, traveling through the secret V-Land and G-Land gates turns the backgrounds Deliberately Monochrome (grey for G-Land, and blood-red for V-Land), while leaving the color palettes of Max and the Mudds untouched.
  • Neverending Nightmares uses an Edward Gorey-inspired black-and-white art style, but highlights interactive objects and blood with color.
  • Inverted in OMORI, as the titular character is Deliberately Monochrome, while everyone else is in pastel colors. As if he isn't supposed to be there.
  • Pencil Whipped have graphics resembling a pencil drawing coming to life, but there are occasional moments where mooks will shed some red.
  • The cutscenes in [PROTOTYPE 2] are entirely black and white, except for virus powers and the lights on Blackwatch technology, which glow red and blue respectively.
  • In The Saboteur, the eponymous protagonist sets about World War II Paris giving the people the will to fight back. Upon restoring a given district's willpower, it will go from black-and-white to dazzling color. Until this happens, however, the only color at all is the bright red on Nazi symbols and the occasional bit of blue on your allies.
  • Shadow of Destiny revolves around the use of time travel to change your fate— each era you travel to has a different color tone. The modern day is in bright, normal colors, slightly older is a bit off, the turn of the century is black and white, and the 16th century is sepia tone. Oddly enough, your character doesn't change color when he travels, and stands out against the background. What makes it even stranger is when two important characters from the 16th century era are brought over to the present time, their character models suddenly have normal colors.
  • World 6-3 in Super Mario Bros. is completely monochrome except for Mario or Luigi's sprite. The remake in Super Mario All-Stars, on the other hand, redesigns the level to more closely resemble the other snow levels in the game.
  • The titular phenomenon of TOEM, the one the player character goes on their quest to witness, is revealed to be a giant crystal that radiates an aurora of color against the monochrome night sky.
  • This was originally planned for the "Nightmare in Vegas" Bonus Level of Tomb Raider II Gold, with everything but Lara in black and white and with Lara herself wearing a garish leopard print outfit. Executive Meddling caused this idea to be scrapped (and Lara to be returned to her standard Iconic Outfit.)
  • Undertale:
    • Toriel's room is rendered in dim blue-and-black monochrome, except for a couple of yellow and orange flowers sitting on the bookshelf; this emphasizes their use as an Arc Symbol.
    • Monster sprites within battle are rendered in pure black and white, with the exceptions either noting something off or something outside the player's scope; Asgore's red trident symbolizes that this isn't going to be a simple "Mercy until they give in" fight, Photoshop Flowey is in a variety of colors, since he has incredible power unlike anything you've faced thus far, and Sans' yellow and blue eye references how he is much more powerful than originally thought.
    • Monster attacks are rendered in the same black and white as the Monsters themselves; when attacks with actual color show up, they signify different mechanics (e.g. don't move for teal attacks, move for orange attacks, etc.).
  • The character sprites in We Know the Devil are black and white, but the characters' Humanoid Abomination forms are portrayed in colour in each of the four endings.
  • In Wizball, you played a wizard boarding a green bouncing/flying orb with a face in order to bring color back to the various worlds. At first, the worlds were in drab monochrome, but once you directed your cat's own orb to catch enough paint you returned to the lab, after which one of the three colors of that particular world was restored.
  • White Sky: Tobi's house is the only colorful thing in the monochrome world that Blanca lives in, which catches her eye and gets her in trouble because the government intentionally ignores the house and expects the rest of society to follow suit.
  • Yes, Your Grace: If the end of the game's plot is reached, one last mystery remains to be solved. The Player Character then remembers a couple of past moments that explain it. The flash-backs are mostly monochrome, but the person whose actions explain everything and their immediate surroundings are in the game's usual colors.

    Web Animation 
  • asdfmovie:
    • The series is entirely black and white apart from when blood and rainbows are involved, which is often.
    • The Stylistic Suck-filled THE TWENTY MINUTE ASDFMOVIE has foodstuffs colored in.
  • Homestar Runner:
    • The Old-Timey short "Sickly Sam's Big Outing" is a Valentine's Day Episode presented in "a color", with the result that some items in the cartoon are colored a pale pink.
    • Inverted in "20X6 vs. 1936" where The Homestar Runner is still gray in Stinkoman's otherwise completely colorful world.
  • JAMIErightmeow's earliest videos were colored like this, the one color being the pink hair of Jamie's avatar. Later they switched to their more familiar pink/purple/turquoise color scheme.
  • Madness Combat started as monochrome with three important exceptions: Jebus's yellow halo, the green skin of the zombies, and blood. Lots of blood. In later episodes, red also serves as the Alien Sky, and more yellow was added for the ATP units' Alien Blood.

    Web Comics 

  • AntiBunny: Most of the art is black and white with certain eye colors standing out, as well as the red at the tip of a cigarette. Very rarely there are moments of full color that stand out to symbolize someone rising above the oppressive gray of the world around them.
  • Archipelago has only magic spells, flashbacks and the cover pages colored.
  • Savu0211 combines this trope with Color-Coded for Your Convenience in his webcomic Behind the Woods. Almost the entire comic is drawn in black and white to reflect the dark tone, the character's eyes are colored to identify them. This really helps, considering the fact that the characters look exactly alike otherwise.
  • Most strips of The Boy in Pink Earmuffs are in black and white with the exception of Danny's titular pink earmuffs.
  • The visual novel spinoff of Brutus is monochrome except for Malacoda's bright purple vest, which Mirabelle reacts to as a mild Brown Note.
  • In But I'm a Cat Person, everything is grayscale except for a few parts of every character, particularly their eyes.
  • The Color of the Crystal has colored panels mostly to indicate genuine romantic moments between the main couple.
  • Comic Book SNAFU is primarily in black and white, but many supernatural elements are shown in color.
  • El Joven Lovecraft is almost completely B&W with very few exceptions like blood.
  • Dead Winter uses this, all pages are black and white except for the red of Liz's bandana and Monday's shades. Pages that depict the realm of Liz's subconscious are shown in full colour.
  • Disney High School does it in this strip, for one panel when Belle and Adam dance. The colors are more subtle than you usually see with this trope, though.
  • Dresden Codak: In the lengthy and somewhat confusing Dark Science chapter, Kimiko Ross's dreams of being Azra, a brawny Barbarian Heroine in a fantasy world - which may or may not be tied to the origins of Nephilopolis and Dark Science itself - are done in shades of blacks and greys, until it gets to Dark Science 106, The Keeper Of The Flame, when Azra's fragment of stolen fire lights her up in colours...and then the leader of some new allies is herself lit up in colour when she takes off her mask, possibly because presumably Azra is just as bisexual as Kim Ross herself. (The "CUT!" panel being in full colour has other implications.)
  • The only time color has been used in the main comic of Ears for Elves was for blood drips from a dark elf. They are spattered across the page, making it more ominous.
  • EVIL: While primarily in black in white, vibrant splashes of red are used frequently. In fact, every major character except Trevor has a splash of red somewhere in their character design.
  • Façade: The sight of the City which Nicole lives in is noticeably stingy with its color.
  • Fans! had this recently when they needed to point out for plot reasons that two characters (one a parody and therefore inferable, but the other entirely original) had the same hair color. This came after over ten years of nobody caring.
  • The Fox Sister: Used for dramatic effect when Yun Hee is looking for Alex, after learning that Soot Bull was hurt.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court:
    • The two-page tribute "Metal Gear Theatre" is in sketchy black-and-white, except for a pink sunrise and a red exclamation mark.
    • When Annie uses the blinker stone to see into the Ether, any non-magical people and objects are shown in black and white. So, when looking through Ether-vision, the Court becomes grey with some splashes of colour, while Gillitie Wood becomes far more colourful.
      • Renard/Reynardine's original body is also in greyscale, since it's waiting for his soul to come back from Annie's plushie. See here.
  • The first part of Juathuur is in black and white, save for the occasional color page and Mijuu's blood in chapter 22.
  • Lackadaisy is colored in the sepia tones of faded 1920s photographs. The only color that ever shows up is red - be it blood, flames, or the flowers that sometimes show up on people's suits.
  • The entire comic of The Letters Of The Devil is in black and white, with certain special objects and flashbacks being drawn in red.
  • Long Exposure is usually in monochrome except for the ribbons of light Jonas makes.
  • MegaTokyo is a black-and-white comic, to the point that a major character changes her hair color twice and we have to be informed of this both times, but occasionally the Magical Girls' Supernatural Gold Eyes will be shown in their proper color, like here.
  • The comic Namesake uses this. Because the artist does not have time to make the comic fully in color, she limits colors to significant scenes/elements. Ex: Red for the poppies in Oz. To some this is actually part of the appeal of the comic.
  • In Nip and Tuck, the Show Within a Show Rebel Cry has Green Chicks in otherwise black and white scenes.
  • No Rest for the Wicked is black-and-white except for a few uses of the color red (roses, Little Red Riding Hood's cloak).
  • OrangeLemon's Sannin Swap: Whenever the Caged Bird seal is shown, the panels in which it appears are monochrome save for the seal itself, which is drawn with a Sickly Green Glow.
  • Ow, my sanity has the Delta Green symbol and some magic effects, while everything else is black pencil.
  • Penny Blackfeather mainly uses color to indicate magical items, evens and people.
  • The flashback sequence of Remus is drawn in greyscale with spots of color for certain eyes, blood, and gunfire.
  • The Roommates and also its Spin-Off Girls Next Door are black and white... except for covers and specials. If you see color in the regular pages it's probably there for a reason like in the panel of James' speech about second chances got a fully colored sunrise.
  • Scarlet Lady uses this to highlight special items, such as those created with the Lucky Charm.
  • Scoob and Shag is in black and white, except for Commander One's red eyes and the sound effects of its power. This is a clear indicator of how unfathomably powerful it is, compared to the rest of the cast. It is later shown that colored eyes are the sign of a Ballyhoo that has evolved. Some people's eyes become colored only when they use the enhanced version of their power, but those most affected by the "voices" have colored eyes by default.
  • Shadamy Comic is predominantly in monochrome but contains the occasional splash of red or pink, such as when Amy blushes.
  • Sluggy Freelance uses this now and then. In the "Anima" chapter, for the most part, the only things that are coloured in are the blue and red animas (sort of external manifestations of souls, or emotions) that people have in that Another Dimension, with the red ones only shown when a Seer is looking at a Bedeviled, whose animas appear normal to others. Eventually some paintings by Torg are shown coloured as well — finally revealing the fairly prominent and so far completely obscured fact of what colour the dimension's humanoid inhabitants' skin and hair are.
  • Terminal Lance is drawn in black-and-white, with the exceptions of reflective belts, which appear a bright vivid yellow.
  • Trans Ponies: Flashbacks are in grayscale, except for the characters' eyes.
  • Trying Human has the Forties storyline in sepia, but some red items are color.
  • Wapsi Square is almost exclusively in black and white. However, color is used in Shelly's "boiler room" mental landscape. Unearthly color, but color none-the-less. This is probably to represent the alien, existing on multiple levels of reality nature of the place.
  • xkcd does this occasionally.
  • Inverted in Wilde Life: Sylvia is monochrome while the rest of the comic is in color. She's from the 1940s and Word of God says that she loved the idea of making her look like an old photograph.
  • Color in the otherwise black-and-white world of Zelfia indicates magic.

    Web Original 
  • A Beginner's Guide to the End of the Universe has Snuffy the Pooch, imbued with a purple color in the greyscale world.
  • James Rolfe's zombie short The Deader The Better is black and white except for the blood and gore, which is bright, cherry red.
  • In A Trailer for Every Academy Award Winning Movie Ever, when Lead Female's actress is introduced (as Academy Award Winning Actress), she's filmed in black-and-white, only her shirt is bright red.
  • Most of Ruby Quest is in black and white, but there are a few exceptions, such as certain buttons, blood splatters, and the sunset seen as Ruby, Tom, and Jay ride the tram away from the Metal Glen facility.

    Western Animation 
  • Animaniacs has a fair share of B&W segments, in all of which the Warners still retain their red noses. Including one literal use of this trope: a documentary style interview with an old star about the Warners back in the day has her mention that the Warners would go around "painting the town red, literally". Cut to a shot of them splashing red paint all over a black and white city.
  • In the Arthur episode "D.W., Bossy Boots", D.W. and her preschooler friends watch a movie and D.W. wonders why the balloon is yellow while the rest of the film is in black and white, also calling the film "stupid" for being inconsistent.
  • The season 1 finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender uses a very dramatic version when Zhao killed the moon. First red light spreads like a bloodstain once the moon spirit/koi is captured and then the entire city loses all color when Zhao kills the moon spirit. Only firebending attacks, the blue Avatar magic of Koizilla, and Princess Yue's blue eyes are shown in color.
  • The Pixar short The Blue Umbrella focuses on two brightly coloured umbrellas, a red one and a blue one, while all the rest are black.
  • The Fairly OddParents!:
    • An episode in which Timmy wishes everything is the same turns everything gray and blobby, leading to Cosmo and Wanda being unable to find Timmy. However, since before the grayification, Timmy's mom tried to make a pink casserole and it collapsed and turned gray, blob-Mom's casserole collapses and turns pink, allowing Timmy to make his signature pink hat and unwish the wish.
    • In another episode, Wanda disappears and Timmy wishes everything was like a black-and-white noir film, but Cosmo missed a corner of one room.
  • Kaeloo: In "Let's Play Detectives", in the Deliberately Monochrome segments, the only color that can be seen besides black and white is red.
  • In the Noir Episode of The Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show, everything has extremely limited color except for what turns out to be tomato sauce, which Sherman initially assumes is blood.
  • The Disney short Paperman (released with the feature Wreck-It Ralph) is in B&W, except for the pretty girl's lipstick (and the imprint it leaves on a paper), which is in red.
  • The Smurfs (1981) episode "The Color Smurfy" has everything covered in black-and-white—except for the Smurfs' usual blue.
  • Steven Universe: In "Chille Tid", Steven's first dream is entirely black and white, only Lapis is the one in color when she shows up.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Splash Of Colour, Mostly Monochrome


Fifty Years Ago

Tom Riddle takes Harry back to the days when everything was in black and white.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / MonochromePast

Media sources: