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A common source of conflict for a set of married protagonists (or a couple of Star-Crossed Lovers) is for the couple to be of different races among very unaccepting folks. They will be pressured to divorce by family, bullied into leaving a community, ostracized, threatened and maybe even attacked.
Their children will be likewise persecuted, perhaps more so than the parents, for being a Halfbreed. Even if the adults are fine, other Kids Are Cruel after all. Expect the child to eventually pop the question about why they don't look like mommy or daddy, or why mom and dad don't look like each other.
And of course, sometimes it's not a mixed race marriage, but a mixed species marriage. All of the above applies plus Fantastic Racism. On the plus side, the kid is likely to be The Chosen One, a Half-Human Hybrid, a Dhampyr, or perhaps even a Hybrid Monster with really cool powers. That makes up for it, right?
Some examples of interracial marriages that earn disapproval can be found in Asian Gal with White Guy, Black Gal on White Guy Drama and Where Da White Women At?. For mixed species marriages, see also Vampire-Werewolf Love Triangle.
In Real Life, mixed-race marriages can be everything from completely accepted to something you only do if you've got a death wish. Thankfully, in most places it's skewed towards the "completely accepted" end of the spectrum, and a great way for someone to reveal himself as a severe jackass is to show bigotry towards a mixed couple. Mixed-race marriages seem to be one of the last bastions of racism. Many opponents of interracial marriage will claim to oppose all other forms of racism and have friends of other races. Their most common argument is that mixed-race children are subjected to prejudice and identity crises. In general, mixed-race children tend to have about the same level of trouble that their parents have, or less if they look like one race or the other instead of an obvious mixture. Mixed-race children are also likely (though not guaranteed) to be considered beautiful, due to having features both sides can find attractive.
In stories that take place before race became a defining factor in classifying humanity (as well as some that take place afterward, for that matter), a "mixed marriage" could mean many other different things: mixed ethnicity ("ethnicity" here being vaguely synonymous with "nationality"), mixed religion, or mixed class. Due to Values Dissonance, many of these other "mixed" marriages tend to be Dead Horse Tropes in fiction, though they do surface occasionally: consider My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which mines humor from the "scandal" of a (white) Greek-American woman choosing a (white) Anglo-American man as her husband.
Truth in Television, of course, as there are still people who feel this way.
- A few years ago, there were no U.S. commercials featuring mixed couples even though there was the occasional movie or tv show. The reasoning was most likely fear that this trope would lose them business. Some only included mixed groups in obviously friendly situations, and some would re-film the whole commercial to have two or three monoracial versions to play to different customer bases. It wasn't until E-Harmony and then Match.com started displaying happy mixed race matches and no one seemed to mind that other advertisers followed suit including explicitly romantic or sexual elements between people of different races.
Anime & Manga
- Van and Folken Fanel's parents in Vision of Escaflowne were human and Draconian, much to the outrage of the royal court due to the racism against Draconians.
- Inu Yasha: Shiori's parents, a human mother and a bat-youkai father, suffered a great deal of persecution, even costing the father his life.
- However, while InuYasha was similarly persecuted as a "half-breed," everyone generally accepted his parents' love for each other as they were.
- In Elf Quest, white forest elf Cutter ends up choosing black desert elf Leetah as his lifemate. This is never commented on by anyone in the comics (although, in a novelization, Leetah initially finds the pale complexions of the Wolfriders unnerving and Moonshade is chagrined at the thought of tanning) as skin color is considered purely an "evolutionary benefit" (the elves evolve fast) and just kind of pretty. However, the fact that Cutter has animal ancestors (and is mortal as a result) is considered absolutely disgusting by some characters, including Leetah's former boyfriend Rayek, who tries to separate them.
- Occasionally revisited theme in Horndog, played with a semi-metaphor (a white dog named Bob and his black cat girlfriend, Charlene), sometimes has this couple as targets of racism. But they're not married.
- In Treasure Chest of Fun and Fact, a comic book distributed in American Catholic schools, the "Chuck White" feature explored a mild religion-based version of this trope (Chuck's father was a Protestant.)
- Luke Cage had to deal with an heir to the Power Man name who was throwing all sorts of shade his way. When he got to fact that Luke was married to Jessica Jones (a white heroine), and implied this made him less of a black man, punching ensued.
- Spock's parents in Star Trek, to the point even completely logical Vulcan adults (and children) are incredibly racist towards him and his parents.
- In the original series Spock had his problems but Amanda seems to have been fully accepted, even becoming an initiate of Vulcan's ancient mystical discipline. Illogical but understandable; a human choosing to live according to Vulcan ways is a compliment; a Vulcan who isn't quite on the other hand is kind of creepy.
- The whole point of the movie Lakeview Terrace, starring Samuel L. Jackson. An interracial (the woman is black, the man is white) couple move in next door to a cop. He terrorizes them, mainly because his wife cheated on him with her white boss and died in a car accident trying to get to her boss' house.
- Something New has a successful black businesswoman falling in love with a white landscaper and her parents not exactly approving as they'd prefer her to be with someone of her own race (and class.)
- The main premise of Guess Whos Coming to Dinner and its remake Guess Who.
- The Royal Tenenbaums has Angelica Huston and Danny Glover's characters get married, and again the mixed-race thing isn't a big deal.
- Except on the part of Royal himself, though he may have just been upset about her (re)marrying ANYONE and simply been playing up the race angle in order to offend and provoke Glover's character.
- The short mockumentary White Face is premised on the idea that performers who appear to be wearing white greasepaint (clowns, etc.) are not wearing makeup; that's a racial trait, and they suffer Fantastic Racism for it. In the film, various "Clown-Americans" are interviewed, including a Vietnam War veteran, a college professor, and a recent immigrant (who communicates in his "native language" with a bicycle horn). There's also a Racist Clown Grandma who is upset that her grandchild is about to marry....a mime.
- In the movie version of The Wall, Pinks's Hammer army attacks a mixed race couple, viciously beats the black man, and rapes the white woman. This goes very well with the nazi-esque themes that appeared in the previous song (In The Flesh).
- This is subverted hard in The Feast Of All Saints (movie and book) as placage (an "official" relationship between a white man and a free woman of color in antebellum New Orleans whereby he was required to take care of her and any children in exchange for sex) was fully supported while marriages between people of color of different stations was seriously frowned on.
- From the Doctor Who New Adventures novel Lungbarrow, Leela and Andred's relationship. The other Time Lords find it rather embarrassing that Andred is with a 'non-Gallifreyan'. Leela and Andred, however, don't mind at all.
- In the Timeline-191 series by Harry Turtledove, Achilles Driver marries Grace Chang, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, much over the objections of her parents. Said parents refuse to speak to either of them for years. Achilles says this is because he is black, but Grace says they would have reacted the same way had he been white; the important issue is that he's not Chinese.
- JRR Tolkien has Beren and Luthien, the original mixed pairing, as well as Idril and Tuor, and Aegnor and Andreth - the only human/elf pairing that didn't work out because of the consequences of this trope. A few generations later, there's also Aragorn and Arwen, but they got off easy.
- The parents from Judy Blume's Are You There God Its Me Margaret eloped because Margaret's Christian maternal grandparents wouldn't accept their daughter's relationship with a Jewish man.
- In In The King's Service, predictably enough thanks in part to Fantastic Racism, the marriage of Lady Alyce deCorwyn and Sir Kenneth Morgan is condemned by both humans and Deryni mages. Hostile clerics and other humans don't like to see a wealthy and beautiful "sorceress" wed and reproduce; High Deryni Lords and Ladies who worry about protecting their heritage against hostile forces would prefer she wed another mage instead of a mere human, who will only father "inferior half-breeds".
- In Discworld novels, some people, most notably the Dragon King At Arms in Feet of Clay, believe that Carrot being in a relationship with a werewolf should prevent him becoming king (not that he wants to be king anyway, of course).
"The city knows how to deal with ... inconvenient kings. But an heir to the throne who is actually called Rex?"
- In The Full Matilda by David Haynes, Rodrick is black and his wife Katie is white, and both their families disapprove. There even is a class element, with Rodrick coming from a middle class black family and Katie coming from old money. This causes problems for his son Jacob who is Ambiguously Brown and can't decide which race he identifies with.
- Bridge to the Sun is the autobiography of an American woman who married a Japanese diplomat... right before World War II. It was made into a movie.
- Song In The Silence has the kingdom of the Kantri going mad because their leader has fallen in love with a human woman, and consider forcing him off the throne because he's obviously gone mad. She attempts to defend herself in front of their council. It ends... well! Eventually.
- In The Sharing Knife series, Dag Redwing's immediate family and to an extent his entire camp were more opposed to his marriage to Fawn Bluefield than her family and hometown, to the point of the couple being effectively exiled from the former.
- There are several examples of this trope in the Harry Potter series with wizards or witches who marry muggles or muggle-borns.
- Andromeda Tonks was part of the notoriously pure-blood Black family until she married muggle-born Ted Tonks and was literally burned off of the Black family tree.
- Similar things happen whenever a human marries a non-human; Hagrid's parents, Tonks and Lupin, etc.
- While it's only a single reference and not relevant to the plot, Star Trek: Hollow Men features a Lissepian criminal mentioning his upcoming marriage to a Nausicaan woman. Her family are trying to put a stop to it, unable to accept the validity of a mixed-race marriage.
- Helo and Athena from Battlestar Galactica Reimagined. Interestingly, no one in the show raises an eyebrow at other mixed race couples (Billy and Dee) or gay couples (Felix and Hoshi... well, Tigh does raise the one). But mention that Helo is in love with a Cylon, and everyone thinks he's crazy. It might have something to do with her race having nearly wiped out humanity, but hey, their kid is soooo cute! And the Mother of Us All. Do I detect An Aesop?
- An episode of Reno 911 featured a KKK member who proposed marriage to his African American fiance. The joke of course was that the two were somehow so madly in love that the woman's race and the man's bigotry were made completely irrelevant.
- In Charmed Piper fell in love with her whitelighter; this was initially forbidden, but Piper managed to out stubborn the Powers That Be into accepting a marriage. Throughout the series, the problems with this marriage kept coming up.
- Not to mention Phoebe falling in love with a demon.
- Forget him being a demon, he's the Source of All Evil. Kind of a bad idea.
- Not to mention Phoebe falling in love with a demon.
- Prince Arthur and Gwen are essentially this trope in Merlin not because of race, though Gwen is mixed race, but Arthur is royalty while Gwen is a servant, and King Uther won't hear of a romance between them.
- The relationship between Delenn and John Sheridan in Babylon 5 gets a lot of flack from both humans and Minbari (with the Fantastic Racism rather justified in that a mere ten to fifteen years before, the two species had fought a war in which the Minbari kicked the humans' asses and then surrendered, satisfying nobody), but they make it work; being two-thirds of The Chosen One helps. They eventually have a son named David and lead the galaxy together.
- On Flash Forward 2009, it is implied that Demetri's parents do not approve of his impending marriage to Zoey because she is not Korean.
- Scrubs has Carla (Latina) and Turk (Black). Turk even pulls the race card when they go to pick up their wedding cake.
Turk: Carla, there are white people on top of that cake.
Carla: Hush honey, they don't make tiny interracial cake topper couples.
Baker: I.. could color the groom in with some chocolate?
Turk: Oh, so you're going to put him in black face? This bakery is racist! I'm gonna call Jesse on you!
- Also, JD and Turk once treated a gay white man who was marrying a black guy.
Turk: Tell the truth, how pissed are your parents?
- Joy and Darnell on My Name Is Earl. Lampshaded several times during the series. (Including at their wedding, where they had a "cake" made of Hostess Twinkies and Cupcakes Cite error: Invalid
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- Another episode (from Earl's stint in Prison for a crime Joy committed) featured a couple consisting of a black man and a Latino. They were from rival gangs, but eventually fell in love during a month in the hole, and decided they would stage gang fights (which their gangs thought were real) so they could be together. Earl has to get them together in order to restore some semblance of peace to the prison yard.
- Subverted in the House episode, "Fools for love." A young white man has married a black woman, even though his dad absolutely hates the idea (to the point of beating his son). As it turns out, the dad doesn't hate his son dating a black woman because of her race, but because said woman is a product of an affair he had, making the relationship incestuous.
- On Farscape, D'Argo (Luxan) married Lo'laan (Sebacean), and they had a child, Jothee, together. Macton, a Peacekeeper and Lo'laan's brother, disapproved of the relationship (Peacekeepers believing interspecies unions to be "evil"). This ended badly, as Macton's attempts to convince Lo'laan to leave D'Argo resulted in his accidental murder of her. His framing of D'Argo for the murder, however, was not accidental.
- The hidden camera show What Would You Do has a few bits where actors pose as interracial couples and other actors harass them. The camera crew then interviews bystanders about their reactions.
- The Jews in New Testament Biblical history were so racist that if any Jew married a non-Jew, particularly a Samaritan, he/she was immediately given a funeral by his/her family.
- This is referenced in James McBride's memoir The Color of Water, when his Orthodox Jewish mother married a black man (his father) in the 1940s, they had a funeral for her.
- Way back in Old Testament times the Jews were of the same ethnicity as most of the surrounding peoples they were forbidden to marry but 'intermarriage' was forbidden in order to stop their assimilation of local religious practices (there were positively regarded cases of intermarriage where both spouses practiced Judaism or at least reverence of Yahweh). As with many other laws the restriction was progressively emphasized over the years while the reasons and context faded into obscurity.
- And of course, there were exceptions--Moses is described as being married to a Midian woman named Tzipporah and a Cushite (possibly the same person, possibly a case of polygamy), while the Midianitess Ruth married two Jewish men. Both cases were controversial, but God never disparaged Moses and Ruth is the ancestress of King David.
- Irish comic Dara O'Briain has a great bit in his stand-up parodying people's attitudes towards marriages between Catholics and Protestants. Can be seen here.
- This trope was taken to ridiculous extremes (ridiculous for 20th and 21st-century audiences, at least) in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers: Millie (the heroine) is scolded by one of her sisters for deciding to elope with Adam (the hero, whom she has just met) because "you don't even know if he's Presbyterian!"
- In Fiddler On the Roof, Chava marries Fyedka, who isn't Jewish. Her parents sit shiva (mourn) for her as if she were dead.
- In Robert Bolt's radio and stage play A Man For All Seasons, Sir Thomas More is a Roman Catholic (this was just before King Henry VIII broke England away from allegiance to the Pope) who at first objects to his daughter's fiancé, William Roper, because he's a Lutheran. The two men have a fairly bitter row about the matter early in the story: More declares that the man whom Roper now follows, Martin Luther, is an excommunicate; and Roper retorts, basically, that it's a mark of pride to be excommunicated from a bastard church. Ouch.
- And of course one of the most tragic mixed marriages in all of literature is that between Othello and Desdemona in Shakespeare's Othello. Iago and his friend Roderigo apparently consider Moors to be subhuman, because they ask Brabantio, a senator and Desdemona's father, if he is prepared to have animals as in-laws.
- Grand Theft Auto San Andreas features a relationship between African-American Kendl and Hispanic Cesar. Her brother Sweet has trouble with the relationship.
- In Fire Emblem Tellius, Beorc (human) and Laguz being is a relationship highly looked down upon, and their children are considered outcasts in both societies. This ends up setting up a lot of plot in Radiant Dawn.
- In Fire Emblem Elibe, Lyndis's mother Madelyn got a Parental Marriage Veto when she fell for a Sacaean Warrior Prince, Hassar. She then ran away from home with him, thought it took her a while to get used to a nomadic lifestyle. Once that was resolved, she and Hassar lived happily with their daughter Lyn... until the Lorca tribe was wiped out and Lyn was left as the Sole Survivor.
- Similarly, if Lyn gets together with Eliwood, it's mentioned that some nobles got up in arms because of her heritage. Curiously, it's not the same if she marries Hector.
- Averted in The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim, because, despite the fact that Fantastic Racism is a fairly big part of the setting (The Thalmor, for example, run on it, and the Stormcloaks show shades of it as well), no one in Skyrim seems to have an issue with people of two different races, or even species marrying.
- In Mass Effect, this is inverted with the Asari, who prefer that members of their race mate outside their species (as they can mate with any other species), because mating within their species doesn't add anything to their species, and has an increased chance of producing an Ardat-Yakshi, who kills anyone she has sex with.
- There She Is, featuring a rabbit and a cat in a very unaccepting alternate version of Korea.
- The main protagonist in Goblin Hollow is a bear. His wife is a cougar. Certain people don't approve.
- Only her grandparents on her mother's side truly disapprove. Her parents understand the problem since the same grandparents had a fit when Lily's mountain lion mother married her African lion father.
- Kevin and Kell is about a multi-species family headed by a rabbit (Kevin) married to a wolf (Kell). Society at large doesn't get it.
- One of Kevin's sisters who originated in a parallel reality (of Humans) said that his marriage to Kell is just as controversial back home (though the mix is left unstated).
- To be precise, interspecies relationships are fine in Kevin and Kell -- the taboo comes from intermarriage between predator and prey species. Other controversial pairings feature a wolf and a sheep, and a cat and a mouse.
- Rocko's Modern Life: Cats and Turtles don't mix. That doesn't prevent Filbert and Paula from marrying.
- It turns out Paula's father was a Turtle, giving her mom a Freudian Excuse.
- Paul and Jean Baptise from Superjail The two are a very loving and devoted couple despite the fact that Paul is a black gangbanger and Jean Baptise is a former white supremacist. The episode "Gay Wedding" chronicles their rocky but ultimately successful attempt to get married.
- Nate Griffin (Peter's black slave ancestor) and Lois-Laura Bush-Lynne Cheney-Pewterschmidt (the daughter of Nate's owners) on Family Guy. They end up having three biracial babies that look like Chris, Meg, and Stewie.
Carter: Lois, how, in God's name, could you embarrass the family like this?
Stewie: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! Sitting right here.
- Don't remind him.
- Taye Diggs and Idina Menzel, most famous for their roles in Rent, got hate mail for being married.
- Conversely, R&B singer Seal (a black Englishman) and supermodel Heidi Klum (a white German national who now lives in the USA) is questioned not because they are mixed, but because of the supposed Ugly Guy, Hot Wife dynamic (Seal's features are heavily scarred due to a childhood bout of lupus, which some people think make him unattractive).
- Bruce Lee and Linda Lee faced considerable opposition to their marriage, both in the US and his native Hong Kong.
- A lurid TV movie from The Nineties entitled Bad To The Bone was based (very, VERY loosely) on the true story of a Korean-American teenage girl who committed matricide because her mother wouldn't allow her to marry any boy unless he was also Korean. The girl fell in love with an Irish boy.
- As if to show that old attitudes die hard, a small Kentucky church banned marriages and some other services for interracial couples after a longtime member became involved with a Zimbabwean man.
- A somewhat similar incident occurred in New Orleans.
- Virginia's ban on mixed-race marriages led to the arrest of Mildred and Richard Loving which in turn led to a landmark Supreme Court decision with a hilariously appropriate name: Loving v. Virginia, which declared bans on mixed-race marriages unconstitutional.
- Diane Farr of Numb3rs and Rescue Me fame married an Asian man and got hit with a bit of this early on from his family. She also spoke with friends on the issue. She found that many parents forbid their children from having interracial romantic relationships while otherwise preaching racial tolerance.
- This Louisiana judge refused to give a marriage license to an interracial couple.