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The red filter, where everything shifts to a basically white-red-black spectrum, is often used to facilitate a change in mood. That change in mood takes plenty of forms - fist-pumping action by the light of a smoldering car, perhaps, or passionate romance by the light of young blood.

Then, there's the Red Filter of Doom.

Oddly enough, the best-case scenario with this is that the source of the red light is immediately apparent - say, the moon has turned blood-red, or there's a glowing doomsday device in the center of the room. If the only indication that it's a Red Filter of Doom is that it's not particularly romantic, there's just a general air of ominousness, or the fist-pumping action scene that was in regular saturation a few seconds ago has suddenly slowed and turned the color of blood, we can only issue a general warning to brace yourself.

See also Photoshop Filter of Evil, Red Eyes, Take Warning, and Red Alert.

Examples of Red Filter of Doom include:


  • Death Note has a big 'un. (Note to AMV makers in the fandom: using the scene basically uncut does not replicate the power of the original.) Actually, there are rather low-key Red Filters Of Doom throughout in the form of views through the Shinigami Eyes, which carry the implication of mortality and vulnerability.
  • More than once, when Sailor Moon's Tuxedo Mask sustains a horrible injury.
    • Now, now, it's not just him; other characters sometimes get these as well, for example, in Sailor Stars the same effect is used when the four Guardian Senshi get their Star Seeds removed.


  • Happens when Wash is killed by the Reavers in the Serenity movie. Definitely contributes to the inexplicable-is-worse axiom.
  • In the first Lord of the Rings film, the filter is red owing to a fiery demon, the Balrog.
  • Happened a lot in the old Shaw Brothers kung fu movies when a major character died a bloody and often painful death.
  • The red filter is used in Sha Po Lang when Wu Jing's character Jack kills the witness and kicks off the plot.
  • Used in the bizarre mausoleum scenes in The Wizard of Gore when Montag is carrying the dead bodies of the girls and putting them into that narrow passageway.

Film - Animated

  • Twice in The Thief and the Cobbler.
    • First is the introduction of the One-eyes: After the camera pans up to view the three golden balls that protect the city, the screen suddenly turns red, menacing music starts playing and the camera travels past vast areas of land to reveal the One-eyes in the middle of thousands of human corpses.
    • The second time is when the enourmus war machine is collapsing, Justified by the fire.
  • The Pagemaster has a particularly gratuitous one during the Captain Ahab sequence.

Live Action TV

  • When Brother Justin kills Scudder in Carnivale.
  • The hypothetical flashbacks (necessarily gruesome) in CSI.
  • Played with in Band of Brothers, especially the episode Crossroads, wherein the color was washed out to the point that everything except red was nearly in black and white.


Video Games

  • Throughout the Doom series, when you pick up the Berserker Pack, your screen will turn red. So what? So now you are raised back to standard health and your fists become more powerful than a shotgun for the rest of the current level.
    • In Doom 3, the Berserker Pack not only has the red filter and maxes out your standard health, but also has your character screaming in rage for the short time that the Berserk effect is active, and your fists and your chainsaw do horrendous damage to anything within your reach.
  • This happens when you die in The Legend of Zelda.
  • And also in the first Diablo.
  • This is applied whenever you go berserk (which can happen for a number of reasons) in Linleys Dungeon Crawl.
  • Final Fantasy VI, to cap off the incredible turn for the worse in Thamasa. (The even-more-doom-laden scene after the next dungeon skips out, though.)
    • Final Fantasy IV also uses it during an attack on a small village--somewhat appropriately, since the place is set on fire.
  • This happens when you're near death in many first person shooters, eg Call of Duty.
  • In the Syphon Filter series, the interface flashes red when you're in imminent danger, eg an enemy targeting your head.
  • In Wet, in certain segments when Rubi enters Rage mode, the screen is cast entirely in shades of red, with enemies, items and background elements in black and white.
  • Happens in The King of Fighters '97 when facing Blood Riot Iori or Blood Riot Leona
  • Neku's flashback in The World Ends With You.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines the player character's vision is tinted red when he or she enters Frenzy.
  • In combat racer Blur, the screen turns red when you're about to die. This of course does a smashing job at obscuring the colours of the power-ups, including the one that repairs you, forcing you to look for the tiny wrench icon on several different squares approaching at 300 kph.
  • In Dragon Quest, the screen is tinted red when thy HP is low.
  • Silent Hill 3 has a sequence in the amusment park where you have to run through a twisty hallway while a deadly buzzing red light is advancing up the corridor behind you.

Western Animation

  • In the first-season finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender, the nice pale blue light of the moon turns all red when the moon spirit is in mortal danger. Then Things Get Worse, and while the red looked unhealthy, the black and white just looks dead.
  • Parodied by Kim Possible in a scene where Dementor tries to make himself look ominous by illuminating his face from below with a red flashlight.

Real Life

  • A soldier who fought for the Union at the Battle of Antietam during the American Civil War reported that "the whole landscape for an instant turned slightly red" as he charged the enemy lines.
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