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Red is, of course, the colour of blood, and as such it carries ancient associations with sexuality (as in Lady in Red) and danger (as in Red Shirt). It is also simply a very strong, eye-catching colour. Anyone wearing head-to-toe red is marked out, highly visible and memorable - not only to the audience but also to anyone who may wish to harm her. When that person is a little girl, she is bound to seem especially exposed and vulnerable.
This is Older Than Television, or even radio for that matter, considering that some of the older endings for Little Red Riding Hood really do end with the wolf killing and eating her, notably the Charles Perrault telling that predates the more popular (and less grim) Grimm Brothers version.
Anime & Manga
- Averted/Subverted in Detective Conan. During the bus hijacker case, Haibara wears a red coat. Then she feels the presence of a Black Organization, pulls her hood up, and spends the rest of the case scared out of her wits. Finally at the end she's convinced that she only attracts evil and tries to commit suicide on the exploding bus. Conan comes and saves her and gives her one of his "Suicide is bad, don't give up" speeches.
- Christina Sierra, Anew Returner, Nena Trinity and Wang Liu Mei from Mobile Suit Gundam 00. Yes, 00 loves this trope.
- Don't Look Now. A little blond girl in a hooded red coat. She drowns.
- But oh so subverted later on, because it turns out the 'little blond girl in a hooded red coat' that haunts Venice is... not a victim, quite the reverse really.
- Schindler's List. A little blond girl in a red coat. Murdered in the Holocaust.
- Steven Spielberg wanted to use red because of the association with blood, and because Oskar Schindler really did see a toddler dressed in red - apparently she actually survived!
- The paedophile murderer in The Pledge preys only on little blond girls in red dresses.
- Seems like parents would have a pretty easy way to protect their kids, then - different clothes or hair dye.
- Hard Candy ends up inverting this. The red hoodie that she wears when she goes hunting was initially chosen without this trope in mind. Same as the Oasis example from Sluggy below.
- According to filmmakers while this trope does fit it wasn't intentional until post-production when they changed the orange shirt to red in editing.
- Carrie by Stephen King. Well, it was a red prom dress, but that's fairly close... Definitely at least qualifies for the blood-shade color-coding in the related trope Bring My Red Jacket.
- "It's pink, Mama."
- In The Princess Bride, Buttercup is kidnapped while she is wearing a red cloak.
- That was probaly not on purpose, as it's not mentioned in the book. Also, Buttercup is not that little anymore.
- Cthulhu (2007). Julia (a blonde girl in a red top) the liquor store clerk who tries to warn the protagonist and ends up tied to a bitthead with barbed wire as a sacrifice to the Deep Ones. There's also a scene where she panics when the protagonist stops his car on a backwoods road at night -- clearly she has a justifiable phobia about The Lost Woods.
- Freeway, a parody of Little Red Riding Hood - starring Reese Witherspoon in a red leather jacket and Kiefer Sutherland as creepy pedophile Bob Wolverton.
- Trick R Treat has the innocent, virginal girl among her group of more experienced friends who've forced her to dress as Red Riding Hood. She's on her way to their party deep in the woods when she's attacked by, apparently, a vampire. The friends at the party hear her scream and see a red-cloaked body crash to the ground, but it turns out to be a subversion: the cloaked figure is the "vampire", who was a normal human, albeit a serial killer, and Red and her friends are lycanthropes (her "virgin" status comes from not having killed anyone yet). She then proceeds to eat him alive as he lies helpless and screaming, while she and her friends turn into werewolves.
- In Inglourious Basterds Shosanna is wearing a red dress when she and Zoller shot each other.
- Miette in The City of Lost Children.
- Lampshaded in the Darkest Powers series, when Chloe is wearing a red windbreaker while out scouting the woods. She is found by an Ax Crazy ghost whom she (and her werewolf friend) pissed off earlier. He taunts her, "That's a pretty red coat you're wearing. Little Red Riding Hood, all alone in the woods at night. Where's your big bad wolf?" And then he tries to stone her to death.
- Consequently, like in Schindler's List, Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel's autobiography Night depicts his youngest sister Tzipora wearing a red coat the last time Elie ever saw her (and their mother) again.
- In the Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms story Beauty and the Werewolf, Belle is wearing a red cloak while visiting the old woman who lives in the woods with a basket of goodies. On her way back, she is bitten by a werewolf. Given that the in this series The Tradition (Which forces the repeating of fairy tales) is a major part of how the world works, it was pretty obvious that this was going to happen.
- In an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer when Buffy herself (blonde) shows up in a red coat, and particularly vulnerable because she has lost all her slayer powers. A vampire taunts her by saying, "Why did you come to the dark of the woods? (opens Buffy's bag of weapons) To bring all these sweets to grandmother's house?"
- Invoked in another episode, Fear Itself, where Buffy goes to a Halloween party dressed as Little Red Riding Hood. She's feeling emotionally vulnerable at the time, and ends up facing a demon that makes you face your worst fears, leaving her trapped in a basement, being dragged down into the ground by zombies. Of course, she gets over her fear and saves the day, because she's the Goddamn Slayer!
- Although she isn't wearing red, Joss Whedon refers to the scene in "Hush" where Tara, a new and innocent character, goes out into the night to see Willow and gets attacked by the Gentlemen as the "little girl lost in the woods".
- The Red Riding trilogy - well, it's there in the title. A little blond girl in a hooded red coat. Abducted, murdered.
- Blonde Rose Tyler wears a red hoodie in at least one episode prior to her switch to Action Girl. Perhaps intentional - she is the Bad Wolf...
- Red-haired Amy Pond also owns a red hoodie, including in "The Pandorica Opens", when she is fatally shot by Rory. She also wears it earlier in the episode "Flesh and Stone", which completes the symbolism by having her walk alone through a forest avoiding monsters.
- The classic Star Trek Red Shirt. That is all.
- Ironically, though, only one actual female Red Shirt was ever killed in the Original Series. All other female crew members who died over the course of the show were either Gold or Blue shirts.
- Though not blonde, Piper of Charmed ended up in a hood and eaten by a wolf-shape shifter in a Fairy Tale themed episode. She eventually blasts her way out, blowing the wolf up.
- In the Supernatural episode "Bedtime Stories", a little girl in a red jacket literally takes the place of Little Red Riding Hood, as a ghost is making the inhabitants of the town reenact fairy tales. Her grandmother is killed, and she is abducted by a man with a Wile-E Coyote tattoo, but Dean saves her.
- Life On Mars: Annie Cartwright wears a bright red dress, while walking in a forest, before being attacked by Vic Tyler.
- In an episode of Merlin Morgana runs away to the forest in a bright red hooded cloak and is attacked by giant scorpions.
- The "Big Bad Wolf" villain in the pilot episode of Grimm went after young women walking or jogging in red clothing as his modus operandi. The color does something to Blutbaden instincts.
- Inversion: Baby Bonnie Hood from Darkstalkers. Little blond girl in red dress and hoodie. Bounty hunter and possible mass murderer.
- The Path is all about this trope, in both straight and inverted ways.
- Princess Ovelia from Final Fantasy Tactics.
- Its closer to pink than red, but the unnamed little girl in the trailer for Dead Island.
- Similar to the Hard Candy example: Oasis's trademark hoodie during the "Phoenix Rising" arc of Sluggy Freelance.
- Survival of the Fittest v4 character Carol Burke is usually seen wearing a red hoodie. Said character is a Wide-Eyed Idealist in a Kill'Em All type story. This trope has actually been confirmed by her handler.
- There's one video by Dirty Doll Creations called Little Red Riding Hood.