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Interesting shadow you got there.


Much like Hollywood Darkness, purple is often used as a stand-in for black in comics and animation. This is predominantly because purple is easier to shade quickly and thus give the appearance of three-dimensionality; solid black objects in animation (and theoretically, Real Life) would lack contours and look very flat.

In regard to character design, pseudo-purple hair is popular for similar reasons. It also makes a character more recognizable from a copyright standpoint. Characters who fall under the Dark Is Not Evil trope are occasionally depicted this way too, to perhaps subconsciously suggest they aren't stereotypically evil.

In older comics, blue was used because it was one of the basic pigment colors and thus inexpensive (and because Hollywood Darkness is generally blue-tinted). This has led to some mixed messages over whether (for example) Nightcrawler's fur or Spider-Man's pants are blue, or if they're black in the same way Superman's hair is black (despite having blue highlights).

As far as reality is concerned, this trope induces a lot of Fridge Logic, since violet is the most intense part of the light spectrum.

Compare Hair Color Dissonance, Purple Is Powerful.

Not to be confused with Degrassi sophomores hanging out in The Dot in their school uniforms.

Examples of Purple Is the New Black include:

Anime & Manga

  • In the anime of Rurouni Kenshin, the uniforms of the Oniwabanshuu/the Oniwaban Group have been colored purple. The original manga was bichromatic, and Watsuki's coloring has been...startlingly inconsistent. The fans who wonder will probably never know whether the Oniwaban uniforms actually were purple, or if that was just a choice made by the animators to avoid the pitfalls of animating black.
  • Takasugi Shinsuke from Gintama, who is a Space Pirate and definitely not a Well-Intentioned Extremist, has a purple Kimono.
  • In Sailor Moon, Hino Rei is noticeably native Japanese (even though all but Aino Minako supposedly are), with long black hair — highlighted purple — and a distinct epicanthic fold. On the other hand, Chiba Mamoru's hair is often straight black, but when highlighted, tends to be highlighted blue.
  • The Moon Empress in Yaiba has her hair and Playboy Bunny outfit shaded violet.
  • In the manga of Revolutionary Girl Utena, Anthy's hair is black, while it's purple in the TV series and movie.
  • Inverted in Digimon Tamers, in which Sakuyamon, which is a Vaccine type, has a purple light power. The more dark Virus types are more associated with red.

Comic Books

  • There is some debate over whether or not The Joker originally wore a purple or black suit.
    • Regardless, the purple suit is now iconic and has been used throughout comics and by actors as varied as Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger and Mark Hammill's versions of the Joker.

Live-Action TV

Tabletop Games

  • Shows up in some Magic the Gathering art related to Black cards. For instance, some varieties of Swamps have purple colors. This is largely to give them some color, as purple isn't claimed by any of the others. Inverted, however, with some old card catalogs; Red, Blue, Black, and Green card names are all printed in their respective colors, but White is printed as purple (since, obviously, printing it as white would be problematic).
    • Frequently inverted in regard to White cards; several White spells are seen emiting a purple light.
  • In the Yu-Gi-Oh card game, "Dark" has a purple symbol. Earth, on the other hand, has a black symbol with white lettering--so maybe black is the new brown?
  • Bakugan of the Darkus element are colored black and purple.


  • Ravage, the stealthy jaguar whose colors traditionally are black with either red or yellow highlights, has recently been getting purple highlights on his figures. His abilities have always been explicitly shadow-based, and it seems like designers are taking it to the next level.
  • Toy versions of Spider-Man's black costume sometimes get this, as a pure black costume would be visually uninteresting and, apparently, toy designers get sick of blue highlights.

Video Games

  • In God of War, this is usually not used (green, red, or even yellow are more used), but Hades' Claws have a distinct violet glow.
  • Played straight inconsistently in the Pokémon games: some Dark-type moves are purple, even though the icon for the Dark type is black, with purple being used for the Ghost type. Likewise, a standard Shadow Pokemon has a black-purplish aura when detected. A Shadow Pokemon caught in Hyper or Reverse Mode has a blood-red aura instead
  • Shadow-based weaponry and attacks in Spiral Knights are typically purple.
  • The Fire Emblem series as a whole depicts Dark magic as a mix of black and purple, at least from the GBA era onward. Most playable Dark users - Sophia, Lleu, Niime, Canas, Knoll, and Etzel - wear a shade of purple or have purple hair.
  • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes brings the purple blob-shooting Dark Beam that can freeze enemies with charged shots. Dark Aether is visually a copy of Light Aether, but darker and purplier. Not to mention the dark purple Ing and the purple-colored doors that require said Dark Beam to open them.
    • In earlier stages of the game, the unique damage received from exposure to Dark Aether's takes the form of purple circles.
  • In Age of Mythology, the "Evil Clouds" are purple and black, and Big Bad Kronos has the same color smoke rising off of him. His minion also shapeshifts in a puff of purple-black smoke.
  • In the GBA (and some DS) Super Robot Wars games, many units intended to be black (most notably Mazinger Z and it's relatives) were either purple or nonexistent (in the case of the Astranagant), allegedly due to the GBA not displaying black properly. However, these were alongside the M9 Gernsback and Gespenst S, which were light grey but still usable enough to be black. Especially considering the Mazingers had perfectly fine black in their cut-ins.
  • Tales of Symphonia does have a black Shadow, but the logo of his power is purple, though still represented with pitch black half the time.
  • In the Mega Man Battle Network series, a lot of characters and objects associated with darkness wear purple or are colored purple; DarkMan, ShadeMan, Dr. Regal (BN5) and his henchmen, most DS Navis, DarkMega (in BN5, he's the regular MegaMan with a purple tint while his anime counterpart has MegaMan's outfit colored purple), Dark Chips, Nebula Grey, and EraseMan, to name a few.
  • All over the place in the Final Fantasy XI expansion Wings of the Goddess. Most prominent in the Spitewardens, who wear purple versions of Red Mage artifact armour, though we also see it in Lady Lilith and Atomos.
  • In Breath of Fire 2, Nina's "cursed" black wings appear purple in her in-game sprite.
  • As the page quote points out, the Black Chronicle of Radiant Historia appears purple.
  • The Shadow Sirens and Shadow Queen of Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door appear a fairly dark purple.

Visual Novels

  • Miku's hair in A Profile is called black, but it clearly has some shade of purple. On the cover and in the introduction, it's a fairly bright purple, but apart from that, it tends to be grayish purple instead.