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It is almost inevitable that whenever you see a bull in frame, sooner or later that bull will see red. Almost always, this bull will see it on the person of the protagonist. And absolutely always, the mere sight of red will drive the bull into a frenzy. No exceptions. Bull sees red, you better start runnin'.

This is more popular in cartoons where the bull's emotions and behaviours can be drawn (gusts of breath snorted from the nose, red filling up the eyes etc.) and you don't have to pay for the pleasure of an irritated bull in your studio.

In real life, it's not the color of the cape the matador's waving; it's the fact that he's waving it. The fact that the color is irrelevant was proven long before the MythBusters tackled it on their show. Characters may also occasionally mention that bulls are colorblind, but this is also untrue (though the range of colors they can see is narrower than a human's). As this awareness has grown over time, expect to see many deconstructions and aversions, with the characters pointing out these significant bits of information.

The actual reason for the use of red in Real Life bullfighting is covered by Bring My Red Jacket. It's to mask the bull's blood.

Examples of Bull Seeing Red include:


  • Lampshaded in a Russian ad, where a guy ends up in inside a fence with a bull. One of his friends shouts from outside he's wearing red. The guy covers himself with mud... and then another of his friends remarks "Aren't the bulls color blind"?

Anime & Manga

  • An episode of Naruto has our hero procure a ride on a bull, though the bull seems less interested in letting him ride than chasing that big, bright red spot on the back of his jacket. Enter two more bulls, and Naruto has a free run to wherever he wants to go (as long as he's doin' it on foot).

Comic Books


  • The best live-action example has to be from Pee-wee's Big Adventure, when the red shirt-clad bully chases our hero into a Texas rodeo.
  • Danny DeVito's character in Johnny Dangerously is whacked by handing him a Schlitz Red Bull beer and a red smoking jacket. Sure enough, the Schlitz bull comes charging through the wall at him.
    • The bull on the "malt liquor" is blue. Weird Al Effect kids, Schlitz tried to "mainstream" their malt liquor with a famous ad campaign, it's probably on Youtube..

Live Action TV

  • Busted in one episode of MythBusters. The experiment culminated with a terrified Tory in a red jump suit standing very still in a rodeo ring with a temperamental bull. While rodeo clowns ran around distracting the bull, Tory was completely ignored. It did look for a time like he should have brought some brown pants
  • In the Adam West Batman, the trope is subverted when Batman escapes a deathtrap of being tied to the ground to be trampled by a herd of bulls. He frees himself and waves his cape to make the charging herd avoid him. When Robin notes he was able to do that without the cape being red, Batman tells him that cows are colorblind so the color of his cape didn't matter.

Video Games

  • Even mythical bull-creatures are affected by this trope. In King's Quest VI: Heir Today Gone Tomorrow, the hero manages to lure a minotaur into a trap by using a bright red scarf. The minotaur's growled comment: "Rrrrrreeed..."
  • Conkers Bad Fur Day had a boss battle against a bull that hated the colour red. And as Conker was a red squirrel...yeah.

Western Animation

  • The Classic Disney Short "For Whom the Bulls Toil" features a bull which only moves when Goofy produces a red handkerchief, with results that land Goofy in a Mexican bullfighting ring.
  • Woody Woodpecker encounters this moment in the early short The Hollywood Matador. It happens when the bull in question sees his red underside. (note: Woody's belly feathers were originally red)
  • spoofed: In Scooby Doo and the Cyber Chase, Fred uses Daphne's violet jacket to outmaneuver a charging lion, noting "it's not red, but it'll have to do". (In Fred's typical smartass fashion, he shouts "Leo!" instead of "Toro!" while doing so.)
  • In the Disney short "Mickey's Rival", Mickey Mouse's animate car lures a bull away by waving its red turnlight.
  • In the Berenstien Bears cartoon this trope was averted when the characters are told to distract the bull by waving their brown scout hats. As the smart one points out, its not the color so much as the motion that the objects that makes them upset.
  • Space Jam had Daffy painting the rear end of one of the Monstars red. This elicited great laughter from the Toons in the audience, until the Bull from Bully for Bugs notices it, which is what Daffy was going for all along. Cue one Monstar going airborne involuntarily.
    • "Bully For Bugs" itself never mentions this trope - the bull is just angry.
  • An episode of Tiny Toon Adventures spoofing Star Wars features a bull named "Chewcudda". Never show Chewcudda anything red...not even your tongue.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Robot Rodeo," robotic bulls go absolutely insane at the sight of a red balloon. Oddly, it works quite well.