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"Time stopped. Coates faded, in a world made up of shades of gray."

It's hard for authors to make it clear that time has stopped moving or merely slowed down from the character's point of view, and that's because...well, because it doesn't happen in Real Life, time being, in fact, famous for waiting for no man.

This brings forth a problem: how will the viewers know time has stopped? Well, we could just have everything freeze in place, but it would work only in areas where there are a lot of actions (or at least a single movement we can see clearly) to be interrupted at once.

Sometimes, however, the plot demands time to freeze during a scene with no cops shooting bullets to stop in mid-air or falling debris that refuses to fall or clumsy waitresses who drop glasses of water and are comically frozen in an awkward pose trying to catch it. Movies can avoid this easily; they may just refrain filming a timestopped sequence without these visual aids, or perhaps zoom the camera in a bug that froze above the hero's head. Videogames that offer timestop as an ability have no such luxury; a player could try and stop time anywhere from a crowded street to a small empty room, and, as such, a new visual representation is needed.

One common solution for that is to simply colour the area affected by the timestop with a filter, and thus we have a convenient Colour-Coded Timestop.

These usually come in two flavors: either the timestopped area changes from colourful to a grayscale or sepira-toned zone, or it may have all of its colours turned negative. These are not the only kind of Colour-Coded Timestop, but are certainly the ones that get used the most.

Please note that this trope applies to any Colour-Coded Bullet Time as well

Examples of Colour-Coded Timestop include:


Grayscale Timestop

  • Chrono Trigger: The titular object, when activated.
  • TimeShift: Also added a white haze (stop time), red shift (reverse time), and blue shift (slow time).
  • Devil May Cry 4: Using the devices to slow down time results in a grayscale effect and goes frther by making it seem like you're watching an old-timey movie.
  • Night Watch: Vimes sees the world as grey during a brief timestopped sequence.
  • Super Mario Galaxy 2: Slowing down time makes everything fade into greyscale, and the music matches it by changing into a tinny, flat-sounding version of the normal BGM.
  • The Legend of Zelda Phantom Hourglass used the grayscale version.
    • Its predecessor also rendered Hyrule Castle in grayscale while it was frozen in time.
  • Baldur's Gate II: The Time Stop spell renders everything affected by it gray.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Explorers has areas of stopped time portrayed in grayscale.
  • Time Hollow: (I-I've stopped time...)
  • Umineko no Naku Koro ni.
  • Focus Mode in Jade Empire is more Bullet Time than a full timestop, but it does colour the screen greyish as everything slows.
  • In Fable III, whenever time stops for the Prince or Princess to go acquire new skills.
  • Ghost Trick: Whenever Sissel fails to save someone and their time is up, time stops in a greyscale frame seconds later.
  • The Touhou Project Fighting Games, with Sakuya Izayoi.
  • In Inazuma Eleven, the Heaven's Time hissatsu technique turns nearly everything gray for the duration of its Bullet Time effect. Exceptions are the user, who simply gets a Motion Blur, and the slowed-down opponents, who merely look dimmer.
  • The Time Stop spell in the various Tales (series) games, such as Tales of Phantasia and Tales of Vesperia, make the affected enemies turn grey.
  • In Rosenkreuzstilette, this happens when Sichte Meister uses her Time Stop ability.
  • Primarily used for the Chrono Samurai's power in Gotcha Force. The projectiles were affected by the Negative Color version, however, to signal that the Chrono Samurai could still be hurt by colliding with them.
  • Justice League episode Only A Dream part 2; the Flash's nightmare where he sped up too much, so that, to him, the world was frozen. Once he understands what is happening, the world changes to grayscale.
  • In Shakugan no Shana, this happens to all of the affected world and characters during the geographically limited time stops employed to limit damage to the Masquerade.

Negative Colour Timestop

Other Colors

  • During Terry Pratchett's novel Thief Of Time, the title-inspiring apprentice Lobsang learns to slow time around him to an almost-standstill, with the sky and air becoming a deeper blue as he slices seconds even finer. It even becomes a deep purple when he slices so finely that time starts to approach a full stop.
    • Although this was not, strictly speaking, a direct result of Lobsang's slicing. He was just moving so fast that he blueshifted.
  • In Blinx the Time Sweeper, each Time Control tints the world a different colour: purple REW, orange FF, blue PAUSE, green REC, and yellow SLOW. RETRY has no colour, but Blinx 2's Retry is orange.
  • Similarly, in Bunny Must Die, the time powers are colour-coded blue for stopped, pink for rewinding, yellow for slowed and so on.
  • Singularity pulses in Singularity wash over everything in blue-white. Then, time either stops, goes backwards, or goes crazy.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, Coyote's time-freeze causes the world to turn blue-gray.
  • In Cardcaptor Sakura, whenever the Time Card was used, all the things affected by it get covered in yellow.
  • In the John D. MacDonald story The Girl, The Gold Watch, And Everything, the titular watch seems to stop time, but actually speeds the user up to the point where it seems that time has stopped. One of the side effects is that (to the user) everything appears red, due to some sort of effect on photon speeds.
    • Spider Robinson's Callahan's-universe novel Lady Slings the Booze features a very similar watch (with explicit reference to MacDonald's story) with the same effect.
  • Guldo's time stopping powers in Dragonball Z turn the area purple until he has to breathe again.
  • Max Payne 2 uses a slight sepia filter for Bullet Time.
  • In Scott Westerfeld's Midnighters, time stopping is signified by a blue haze.
  • Witch Time in Bayonetta throws a purple/blue tint over everything, with a translucent clock covering the screen to show how much time you have left.
  • The True Final Boss from Asura's Wrath uses a blue color with his timestop attack.
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