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A minority resolves to join a profession dominated by an excluding majority.

In their attempt, the character is subjected to considerable verbal abuse, threats and attempted sabotage by the bigoted members of the profession. In response, the focus character shows considerable skill and iron determination to see the challenge through. Meanwhile, sympathetic main characters offer to help while understanding the focus character's insistence on success on their own to gain credibility.

Often there is one final challenge that the focus character must face and, in a climactic moment, the character succeeds, proving their worth in spectacular fashion and setting a valuable precedent for others.

In the more poorly done variations, you can expect there to be no rule that the focus character can't do an action... as if racism/sexism ever had to be on the books to have an effect.

Named after Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in major league American baseball.

Contrast with Billy Elliot Plot, that's about a girl/boy having problem with doing activies that are not "according" to his/her gender. Compare Sweet Polly Oliver. Also see the subcategory of You Go, Girl!, although that is usually more light-hearted.


Examples:

Anime and Manga

  • The Anime series Princess Nine is about a whole team of girls trying to win the Japanese national High School baseball championship.
  • In the same vein, Taishou Yakyuu Musume, only even moreso a Jackie Robinson Story because as the name implies, the story takes place in the Taishou period (early 1920s), where Stay in the Kitchen was still a very common belief.
  • In the manga version of Eyeshield 21, Panther tries to become a player for the Nasa Aliens, but he is repeatedly rejected by Coach Apollo for being black.
  • Kou Shuurei in Saiunkoku Monogatari sets out to become the first woman to ever hold a position as a government official in a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to feudal China, after the current Emperor changes the law that previously denied women the right to apply for government positions. Even with the support of the Emperor, she faces quite a bit of opposition, to the point that when an outbreak of plague occurs in the province she's been appointed to, a cult starts a rumor that it's divine punishment for allowing a woman to hold office.

Comic Books

  • Aiko Inaba in the Judge Dredd spinoffs Shimura and Hondo City Justice, who ended up being the first woman to qualify as a Judge-Inspector in Hondo City despite institutional pressure on her to fail. It helped that her mentor, Shimura, is much more liberal than most of his (then) colleagues.

Film

  • The made-for-TV movie Quarterback Princess, about (you guessed it) a girl who wants to play (American) football.
  • The film A League of Their Own, about a female baseball league formed during World War II.
  • In the family comedy film Little Giants, it is Becky O'Shea's getting rejected from the local Pee-Wee football team (for nothing more than being a girl) that inspires her father Danny (played by Rick Moranis) to create a team from everyone who got rejected from that team.
  • Pretty much the entire plot of G.I. Jane. In that case, the US Navy SEALs. (One might even mistake the first line of this trope entry as a synopsis for the movie, and at least one troper has.)
  • Glory Road, the story of the first all-black Texas Western college basketball team, who defeated the mostly white Kentucky (led by Coach Adolph Rupp, who wasn't the overt rabid racist the movie made him out to be) in the finals of the NCAA tournament.
    • Plus in Real Life the teams they were playing against mostly already had 3 or 4 starting players who were black, they were just the first to have an all black starting line-up.
  • Subverted in Ice Princess, where the protagonist is the same age, sex, and ethnicity as the other young figure skaters she wants to compete with, yet is hassled for this ambition -- even by her own mom -- because she's a science geek.
  • The Express, about Ernie Davis, first black Heisman Trophy winner.
  • The Jackie Robinson Story. Duh.
    • In which Jackie Robinson was played by . . . Jackie Robinson. Badly.
  • It's a secondary plot going on in Mel Gibson's The Patriot.
  • Glory, about a unit of ex-slaves fighting for the Union army.
    • In reality, there were also plans to deploy at least one unit of current slaves for the Confederate army, which is... sort of this, we guess.
      • Funny thing about that was that the Confederate unit was an integrated unit with both black and white companies in the same battalion. The units were formed in 1865 and served until the end of the war. I don't think they ever actually saw combat.
  • Men of Honor tells the story of the first African-American Master Diver in the US Navy. First he had to overcome VAST amounts of prejudice and repeated attempts from his superiors to make him fail. Then, he lost a leg and had to fight the bureaucracy to be allowed to return to the Navy. Talk about Badass...
  • Blue Skies Again, an early 80s comedy about the resistance a woman faces when she tries to play on a men's minor league baseball team.
  • Red Tails is based on the first African-American pilot squadron.
    • Also covered with a bit more detail in the earlier HBO movie, The Tuskegee Airmen.

Literature

  • In literature, Kel in Tamora Pierce's Protector of the Small quartet. She was actually the second female Pierce character to train for knighthood, but the first was dressed as a man at the time.
    • And because of being god-chosen, magically gifted, friends with the prince and several powerful nobles, etc., the first one was often accused of having cheated her way through.
      • Kel was also god-chosen (or Extremely-Powerful-Entity-chosen) and friends with the (next) prince, but the former was only ever revealed to her, and the latter is basically guaranteed for anyone who's not a complete Jerkass.
  • Menolly in Dragonsinger and Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey is the first woman to apprentice herself to the guild of Harpers.
  • An interesting example is Julie Sims from the Ring Of Fire novels by Eric Flint. Prior to the negative space wedgie that triggers the main plot of the books she was training to be an olympic athlete on the cross country ski and shoot events, but once in 1632, it turns out that all that training makes her the absolute best sniper in western europe.
    • The Olympic biathlon pretty much is cross-country sniper training.
    • And she had a rifle which was centuries ahead of any weapon of the time, plus she was trained by someone who was trained as a Marine sniper himself.
  • Erika Berger in The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest leaves the left-wing monthly Millenium to be editor-in-chief at Sweden's largest conservative daily. She is immediately harassed and threatened. Subverted somewhat in that the main antagonist of that subplot didn't actually care that she was a woman in charge, only that she had refused to have sex with him in high school.
  • Droushnakovi in the Vorkosigan Saga is very tall and strong and gifted at martial arts and unarmed combat, but lives on a planet where anything like that is largely a male preserve. She has three older brothers who smuggle her into boys' judo classes, and finds a niche as a royal bodyguard as an adult.

Live Action Television

  • Appears in Without a Trace. A victim of the week turns out to have been a Japanese American who enlisted and was killed by one of his own teammates because the other guy, already kind of a racist douchebag, cracked from the stress of war.
  • About half of the victims in Cold Case are this. If not more.
  • In the Century City episode Love and Games, a bionic eyed player has to make an appeal, as bionics aren't allowed to play because bionic parts give them an unfair advantage.

Western Animation

  • Subverted on Futurama, when Leela is allowed to become the first female professional Blernsball player only because she's so comically bad that it makes for a good crowd-draw. She eventually makes it into the hall of fame -- as the worst pitcher in history.
    • It turned out that she still inspired other female players to turn pro -- by making them determined to prove they didn't all suck that bad.
    • There's even a Shout-Out: "The first woman to play [major-league Blernsball] well" is a black woman named Jackie Anderson; who berates Leela at one point for being nothing but a "freakshow" who is "making it impossible for female ballplayers to be taken seriously".
  • Subverted in an episode of The Simpsons, featuring a kids' football team. Lisa shows up in full gear, announcing "That's right, a girl wants to play football!" ...only to quit in disappointment, when she finds out there are already four girls on the team.
    • She tries to excuse her quitting by saying she won't play with the skin of a helpless animal. She's then told all the balls are synthetic and the proceeds from buying them go to charity. Denied the ability to lecture everyone, she bursts into tears and runs off. One of the only times Lisa's ever been called on being a Soapbox Sadie.
    • Played straight in another episode where Lisa joins a till-then boys only military academy.
  • A one-episode version of this occurs in the penultimate episode of Book One of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Katara has traveled literally from one side of the world to the other to learn Waterbending: she sees it as her right to learn, and when Master Pakku refuses to teach her and demands that she apologize for trying to learn, she challenges him to a fight and gives him a battle to remember. She doesn't win, but she breaks through to him and is allowed to take the classes, doing so well that he designates her as a Master in record time.

Webcomics

  • Baseball comic The Dugs introduced a female pitcher attempting to break into the major leagues in a story line that beings here. The team and management is less than supportive.

Notes

  1. Yes, that's right, the second from the left is freakishly tall
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