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Culture Chop Suey is a Fantasy Counterpart Culture cobbled together from multiple real-world cultures.

The reasons for this can vary from case to case. Like with Anachronism Stew, it can stem from the writer's ignorance on the subject, and they may simply not realize that these cultural elements are alien to one another. Likewise, it can be a case of Creator Provincialism, when the writer uses aspects of their own culture in the fictional one, either because they aren't aware that they would seem out of place, or because they want to make it more familiar for their audience. Of course, when they're completely aware of the differences, they may be taking Artistic License, blurring the lines for unique World Building, or just playing to the Rule of Cool or Rule of Funny.

These are cases where elements are of a contrasting culture, elements of technology from a contrasting time period are Schizo-Tech. When ninjas show up as part of a Culture Chop Suey, that is also a McNinja. A Ruritania is usually constructed using this trope. A character from one of these cultures may sport a Multiethnic Name just to drive things home.

Some cultural mash-ups are common enough to warrant their own pages: Ancient Grome, Far East, Mayincatec, Scotireland, Spexico, and some versions of Norse by Norsewest.

Since the distinction between the cultures is the point, and no example is Self Explanatory, when citing an example, please mention what real world cultures that the fictional one is based on.

Examples of Culture Chop Suey include:


Anime and Manga

  • Fullmetal Alchemist has at least one scene where Ed is shown to be eating rice out of bowls with chopsticks in what is otherwise based on early twentieth century Europe.
    • May simply be something he picked up from his Japanese (well, with a name like Izumi, she's certainly not a full Amestrian) alchemy teacher. In the 2003 anime version and the manga, a Japan analogue is shown to exist; Breda is once shown playing shogi and is able to answer when someone asks where it came from.
  • In Wolf's Rain, all of the writing is in Russian, yet there are Native Americans. With tepees, of course...which they reach after crossing a frozen strait and passing through what looks a lot like the Pacific Northwest. Funny how that actually works with real life geography (the teepees should be in the Plains, not the Southwest, though).
  • An early episode of One Piece had Rice Balls (edited out by 4Kids to be cookies), even through the pirates are somewhat based on Western fictional depictions of pirates. The characters also drink sake, wield katanas, make Japanese-language puns, etc.
  • Sora no Woto is a very deliberate version of this. Most everyone has Japanese names, the writing is French, the country is named for Switzerland but is modeled on a Spanish city, the uniforms are German, and so on. What makes this especially interesting is that it appears to be in the future of our world.
  • The Five Star Stories practically runs on this trope. Most of the countries have some level of Japanese styling, even if it's just their samurai-inspired sword designs, but beyond that, it's completely all over the place. Colus, for instance, has castles designed to look like techno versions of Mayan pyramids, military uniforms based on post-WWII West Germany, hovertanks based on the Swedish S-Tank, & insignias based on Viking runes.
  • Turn a Gundam takes place in what appears to be Sweet Home Alabama, but aspects of the culture and technology are closer to World War One-era Europe and their religion seems to be some weird kind of Native American shamanism or animism, possibly similar to Shinto. And let's not even get started on the parralels to the Arab-Israeli Conflict with the Moonrace...
  • Samurai Champloo, with its rapping samurai (and graffiti ninja, and marijuana monks, and...), is more an example of Anachronism Stew, but also worth mentioning in as the title's "champloo" refers to a dish not unlike chop suey, and is used in the same sense as the trope title.
  • Naruto has the Land of Iron, which is Switzerland with samurai.

Literature

 "They are five great families feuding. The Hongs, the Fongs, the Sungs, the Tangs, and the McSweeneys."

"McSweeneys?"

"Very old, established family."

    • The Agatean Empire, as featured in Interesting Times, is itself a mixture of various Fantasy Counterpart Culture elements, borrowed mainly from Japanese and Chinese history: We have both samurai and a thinly-veiled Terracotta Army taking part in the climactic battle. Needless to say, as this is Discworld we're talking about, Funny reigns supreme.
    • Uberwald is, well, Uberwald, but Bonk's chocolate museum and mad fretwork that make the buildings look like cuckoo clocks sounds more like the Black Forest. Fat soup was inspired by a signing tour in Poland, and the Unholy Empire's crest parodies that of the Russian Empire and its name that of the Holy Roman Empire. Basically, anywhere east of France where v and w are the same letter.
    • Word of God describes Ankh-Morpork as a cross between Renaissance Florence, 18th century London, 19th century Seattle and 20th century New York. (This is a simplification - it also has elements of 19th and 20th century London, post-Imperial Rome, medieval Prague, and pretty much any other city with some interesting stories attached to it.)
  • All over the place in the Honorverse, but Justified by the peculiarities of a humanity's Diaspora to the stars.
    • Haven is a pretty equal mix of all things Anglo-Saxon and French, both ethnically and politically: their original and later state was pretty much a United Space of America, while most of the series they've spent as a variation of Revolutionary France with a healthy dose of Stalinist Soviet Union thrown into the mix.
      • Alfredo Yu. That is all.
    • Andermani Empire is an ethnically Chinese but culturally German state, built by a loony but very successful eponymous ex-mercenary Gustav Anderman, who believed that he's a reincarnation of Frederick the Great.
    • Grayson is a funny mix of the Sweet Home Alabama, Idaho with Space Mormons, and just enough of Meiji Japan for it to be noticeable.
    • Even Manticore itself, while giving undeniably British vibes, was actually an all-European effort, so at least ethnically it runs the whole gamut from the UK to Russia. Plus the royal family is Black.
      • The most amusing example of this would be Commodore Sir Aivars Alexovich Terekhov, who has a) Russian surname and Patronymic, b) Latvian given name and c) apparently could not decide conventions of which language to use.
        • To elaborate a little, Latvian has an "-s" as a nominative case suffix, while Russian has none, so in Latvian his correct name would've been "AivarS TerekhovS", but just "Aivar Terekhov" in Russian.
    • Cult Colony went bad? Ok now you've got a planet of Atheists. Racial Colony go bad? Now you've got a planet of Albino Zulus. There are examples in some of the short stories of what happens when different colonies hit the same planet and it gets ugly.
    • Then there is Beowulf whose biggest examples have been members of Honor's family, so a planet with a large junk of Asian ancestry and very pseudo-Spanish names.
  • Most cultures in The Wheel of Time. The Aiel have a nomadic desert culture mixing Native American, Bedouin and Zulu influences, but they look Irish and speak with Slavic accents. The Seanchan are a Imperial Chinese/Japanese/Persian/Hellenistic melange that were founded by an Expy of King Arthur, while Word of God says they have Texan accents.
  • Lois McMaster Bujold's Barrayar has a mixture of Russian, French, Greek and English influences.
  • Stationery Voyagers has this with the Inktacto system.
  • Dune is a completely justified example - while it is less chop suey and more cultural broth, it is reasonable to assume that after so long in the stars, all the cultures that have been subsumed into the Sublime Padishah Empire will mingle - although there is a heavily pronounced islamic strain, suggesting some sort of Islamic or neo-Islamic period.
  • The civilization of the Masters from The Stone Dance of the Chameleon comes across as a mixture between ancient Rome and indigenous South American people.

Live Action TV

  • The Klingons as portrayed from The Next Generation onward combine about 50% each of Viking and Japanese Samurai culture. Essentially, they are Viking Samurai In Space. With forehead ridges. (In the original series they appeared to be about 50/50 Russian and Thief of Bagdad Persian stereotypes, although there was little to no cultural exploration at all.)
  • The Firefly 'verse is a case of Culture Chop Suey, but it's not really an equal blend of Western and Chinese culture; rather, it's a Space Western where the characters supplement their English dialogue with (bad) Mandarin, eat Chinese dishes as well as Western ones, and in some cases (like the Tams) have Asian-ish surnames but look white.

Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons and Dragons loves this for the non-European based areas of its settings. The "Middle East" tends to be a blend of Turkish, Persian and Arabic influences, and the "Far East" Japanese and Chinese.
  • Big Eyes Small Mouth actually spells this out for the world of Ikaris: the Seven Stars are described as a fusion of ancient Greece and samurai-era Japan.
  • Exalted has many of these -- always done very deliberately. The one described in the most detail is the Realm: it's mostly a blend of Imperial Rome and various Chinese dynasties, but there's also hints of Tokugawa Japan, Achaemenid Persia, and pretty much any other premodern Old World empire you could name.
  • Empire of the Petal Throne is very much this trope, blending elements of several Mesoamerican cultures along with elements of Indian, Mogul, Chinese, and some African Cultures along with various other cultural and historical aspects. The official website states, " Their governments are greatly hidebound and bureaucratic, like those of ancient China, They have mighty, well-organized legions like those of the Romans. Their gods are like those of the Hindus, with a heavy dose of the bloodthirsty Aztec or Mayan deities. Their legal codes and sciences are much like those of the Arab philosophers of the Middle Ages; they are obsessed with personal and family honor much like the medieval Japanese"

Video Games

  • The Legend of Zelda, especially in the earlier games, has largely had the feel of being based around Medieval European Fantasy. It varies in later games, but not in a way that makes Link using a boomerang ever seem to fit.
    • While the series superficially appears to be Medieval European Fantasy, any fans knows the amount of Eastern influence in some of the architecture, symbolism, and especially the religion, featuring Eastern elements like reincarnation and polytheism.
  • The Ever Quest series has the monk guilds in the human cities, which seem Asian-influenced, in what is otherwise largely Medieval European Fantasy.
    • In the second game, while the city of Freeport maintains a largely medieval feel, the Freeport Militia have gained a distinctly Roman aesthetic.
  • Jade Empire, which is based on Ancient China, includes creatures specifically identified as golems, which are from Jewish folklore.
  • Most World of Warcraft races are a hodgepodge of many different bits and pieces from real world cultures. For instance, Night Elf architecture is based in equal parts on Japanese and Northern European styles. The Draenei speak with an Eastern-European accent and are inspired in equal parts by the Roma and some South Asian cultures, but use a lot of Greek sounds in their names. Goblins are infamous for both their gold smarts (a Jewish stereotype) and the pervasiveness of the Mafia in their culture (an Italian stereotype, with a matching accent to boot).
    • There was a small controversy regarding the Pandarans being too Japanese. This offended China's government and they were redesigned to be more Chinese.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is set in a predominantly European Fantasy Counterpart Culture. However, Cloud Ruler Temple is a Buddhist temple, complete with upturned roof corners. Once inside, we're back in fantasy Europe.
    • There is a reason for that, though, as Cloud Ruler Temple is based off of Akaviri culture, and the Akaviri were Bethesda's go-to Japanese surrogates.
  • The whole Iron Grip series lives and breathes this trope, in addition to being chock-full of Punk Punk Schizo-Tech. Example : The Fahrongi are a nation that has many similarities to the Holy Roman Empire, the Byzantine empire and Napoleonic France. As if this wasn't enough, they have an Up to Eleven Crystal Dragon Jesus Church Militant with Knight Templar attitudes and medieval-esque flagellants... who serve as volunteer suicide bombers... The ruler of the country is something like a cross between a Byzantine emperor and an Islamic calif.
  • The ruins of La-Mulana have design motifs that echo those of numerous ancient real-world cultures.
  • The Pokémon world is basically a mashup of Japan and America (or at least Japan's view of America). Not surprising, given the fact that many of the the original employees on the first Pokémon game had worked on Earthbound.
  • Dragon Age gives us Antiva, a land of olive-skinned macho men with Spanish accents, the culture of which is otherwise based on medieval Venice.
  • In Heroes of Might and Magic, Academy/Wizard faction at different points has Greek Titans, Indian Rakshasa and Nagas, Middle-Eastern Djinns/Jinni, European gargoyles, English gremlins, and Jewish Golems. Heroes of Might and Magic V also gives them an Arabian Nights Days style.

Web Comics

  • Lampshaded in Order of the Stick in the backstory strips during the trial sequence. When the gods are creating the world again they have to take turns to prevent the Snarl from forming and one of the 12 gods of the Southern pantheon (The Monkey) puts in ninjas 'cuz its his turn.
    • Some of the individual cultures play the trope straight: Azure City is a mix of Japanese, Chinese, and Korean elements, while the Western Continent has Arabic, Babylonian, and African pieces mixed together (along with lizard-people).

Western Animation

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