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"God, I got more in common with these gooks than I do with my own spoiled-rotten family. Jesus. Happy birthday."

The noble bigot prides himself - and it usually is a trans man, since women are commonly stereotyped as being "nicer" and more sensitive - on doing the right thing, making sure that those in need are taken care of, yet in the same instance has no qualms with labeling those different from himself with unreasonably prejudiced terms or backhanded compliments. Although the noble bigot basically wallows in his own Jerkass nature, he's on the side of good as well. His bigotry might even be motivated by a misguided desire to be good and "loyal" rather than a Category Traitor. Other characters either are constantly revolted by his nature, or brush it off as it just being in his nature, in the hope that others will get used to it. It may or may not prove to be Pretend Prejudice.

This character will almost always be totally redeemed in the end - and even if he isn't, it will still be acknowledged that he has his good qualities. Sometimes he is as sympathetic as such a character can be, only holding on to his prejudices due to a Freudian Excuse (his parents taught him to be this way, or he was once wronged by a member of the group he now despises). A distinct but closely related trope is the Innocent Bigot, who honestly thinks he is not prejudiced due to Values Dissonance, and is thus ignorant rather than a Jerkass.

This trope has its roots in the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, when the great minds of the day condemned religious bigotry but viewed racial bigotry as acceptable and even logical. The attitude went mainstream during the Victorian era and then became steadily degraded as it percolated down through the less educated classes. More modern anthropological discoveries during the early twentieth century did much to discredit scientific racism, and then the Holocaust killed it off for good as a topic of serious discussion. In fiction, however, it is alive and well.

See also Noble Bigot with a Badge and Boomerang Bigot. Compare Good Is Not Nice. May overlap with Wicked Cultured or Fair for Its Day. May come off as Affably Evil (or even Evilly Affable) to the targets of his prejudice.

Examples of Noble Bigot include:

Anime and Manga

  • Most of the heroes in Fullmetal Alchemist are at least slightly racist towards the Ishvalans.
    • The surviving Ishvalans have also admitted that they hate Amestris and many of its people for what they did to Ishval. Many bluntly state that they may never forgive Amestris for what its people have done. However, most of them are willing to put this aside and work with the heroes to save Amestris because they want to end the cycle of unthinking hatred and vengeance.
    • Many of these refugees (they're all refugees) are motivated by the opposite side of Scar's religious position, that Ishvala would not want them to be consumed by revenge but to survive and carry on their culture and blood. This is almost the only truly positive depiction of religion among the many, many appearances and references it receives over the course of the series.
    • And then there's Miles. Kimblee has a remarkable scene with Miles where he's flaunting his evil Ishvalan-slaughtering cred (he seems to have founded his whole identity there and gets a huge kick out of how much Scar hates him) and enjoying what he presumes is Miles forcibly restraining himself because of the chain of command, when really Miles has mostly made his peace with the genocide issue, values the living more, and just wishes the annoying guy would shut up, but won't say so because his job is to keep him busy.
    • Racism of Amestrians towards Ishvalans is much more prominent in the 2003 anime version.
  • Haruka Suzushiro of Mai-HiME implies that she finds lesbianism disgusting.

 Haruka: Two women behaving like that with each other... you're filthy! Both you AND Natsuki Kuga!

Comic Books

  • Rorschach from Watchmen. He Does Not Like Women and is homophobic (both apparently the result of the abuses of his childhood that makes him recoil from any expression of sexuality), but he does try to do the right thing a lot of the time (albeit from his own f-ed up perspective). Similarly, earlier heroes Captain Metropolis and Hooded Justice, both seriously racist. (Not homophobic, though - in fact, they were a couple.)
  • The Ultimate version of Captain America has bouts of this, although for the time he was brought up it's fairly light. Usually manifests in lines like "You're a credit to your people."
  • Bulldog Drummond comes off as one during his appearance in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, especially towards the end. True to his origins, he's not too keen on Jews and other minorities, but he still manages to look pretty decent compared to his overtly cruel, conniving and misogynistic fellow agent "Jimmy". Drummond even pulls something of a Heel Face Turn towards the end. Sadly, Redemption Equals Death.
    • Captain Nemo is a very rare non-white example. He harbors a severe hatred for the English but still works to save British civilians. Also shows a great deal of loyalty to his crew, many of whom happen to be white.

Film

  • Andy Sipowicz in NYPD Blue is a reformed mean drunk, whose racial bigotry stems ostensibly from his father being battered by a black man when trying to read the man's gas meter, and his own experiences infiltrating the Black Panthers when he was still freshly traumatized by his Vietnam war experiences. Sipowicz struggles to keep his racial bigotry from affecting his work, and consistently displays genuine empathy for people of color, even though at times his temper gets the best of him and he says the wrong thing to the wrong person.
  • Walt Kowalski from the film Gran Torino, even toward the end of the movie after being adopted as a new grandparent by a Hmong family, still referred a particular Asian girl as "Yum Yum" when he couldn't pronounce her name.
  • Ethan Edwards in The Searchers has this toward both Comanches and Yankees. His hate of Comanches comes from years of fighting and his hatred of Yankees comes from a mildly distasteful event which he took part in.
    • Averted somewhat in that Ethan fully intends to kill Debbie when he sees that she has effectively become Commanche. Thankfully for John Wayne fans, he redeems himself.
  • Dirty Harry Callahan "doesn't play favorites." He hates all races, including his own.
  • Sergeant Hartman from Full Metal Jacket is considerably homophobic but a well-intentioned guy.

Literature

  • The Rivers of War portrays Andrew Jackson like this. He is highly bigoted, even by the standards of the time, and does not hesitate to call friendly Cherokees "savages", ask how Sam Houston can be so sure that his coloured teamsters won't steal his gear and sum up state militias as drunken and cowardly to a man. However, he hesitates to shoot Red Eagle (a rebel Cherokee responsible for a major massacre) because he surrendered voluntarily, promotes a coloured sergeant to commissioned rank, against regulations, and threatens to kill a man who protests against arming free coloured men, but who won't join the militia himself. Essentially, the Andrew Jackson in the book is bigoted against groups but is capable of respecting an individual who is especially heroic and or a fierce fighter. While he is a bigot, he hates fools and cowards even more.
  • Believe it or not, Hawkeye Pierce from the original novel M*A*S*H was very much a Noble Bigot With a Medical License (and even more so in the sequels). It's even conjectured that Richard Hooker wrote M*A*S*H Mania primarily as an attempt to "rescue" the character from Alan Alda's portrayal and have the last say. He failed.
  • Adrian Mole's grandma doesn't like Indians or Pakistanis, but is otherwise sympathetic and somewhat badass.
  • Played for laughs in Good Omens with Witchhunter Shadwell. He has a (mildly) derogatory slur for everyone, belittles foreign cultures and religions, and suspects everyone of being a witch or a warlock, yet everyone is charmed by him and he fearlessly prepares to fight Satan when the Apocalypse comes.
  • Sam Vimes from Discworld is an equal-opportunity racist. He thinks dwarves are irritating little bastards, trolls are irritating big bastards, werewolves are violent bastards, vampires are bastards who embody everything that's wrong with wealthy aristocrats, and humans are just... well, bastards. This doesn't stop him from being Knight in Sour Armor who consistently helps anyone in need, no matter their species.
    • He also (maybe) acknowledges that Lady Margolotta (a vampire) isn't a complete monster (though he doesn't like her), and highly values Angua (a werewolf), Detritus (a troll), Cheery (a dwarf), and all the other Watchmen he works with, because they're no longer just dwarves/trolls/werewolves/vampires...they're watchmen.
    • In return, the non-human members of the Watch generally ignore Vimes' racist rhetoric, because they know that if their backs are against the wall, he'll be the first one diving in to help them.
  • In the Dragaera universe, the Vlad Taltos books give us Aliera, and sometimes Vlad himself. Played with and lampshaded by Vlad when he realizes that while he hates Dragaerans almost all his friends and loved ones are Dragaerans.
  • Slughorn in Harry Potter is a minor example. While he's one of the most sympathetic characters Slytherin House produces, there are times when he displays the 'Blood Purity' ideology that makes most Slytherins so distasteful; he assumes Voldemort must be a pure-blood due to his immense magical power, and expresses mild surprise when he finds muggle-born wizards with above-average talent, such as Lily or Hermione.
    • Notable is his manner of viewing these things more as a statistical basis. Purebloods are simply more likely to be skilled wizards/witches than muggle-borns, people with relatives with skills will be similarly skilled, etc... However, this means that this is only his first guess. As soon as he sees what the student can do, he will update his views, his prejudices never lasting past simple facts.
  • In The Grimnoir Chronicles, Joe Vierra is a Portuguese farmer who spits at the Okies that pass by his farm. But he still buys and adopts the daughter of one family when he notices that she has a potentially self-destructive power that needs training.
  • Barrayar in Vorkosigan Saga. Honorable and valiant warriors who always keep their word but have an extreme prejudice against cripples.

Live Action TV

  • Archie Bunker from All in The Family. (Based on an ignoble bigot.) This comes to a head in an episode where he meets the KKK.
  • Logan Echolls from Veronica Mars is something of a racist, and very much a classist. He really hates poor people. And yet, he's also genuinely heroic at times, and we root for him, and we cheer when he falls in love with Veronica and they become a couple.
  • Daryl Dixon from The Walking Dead. While he still harbors the same racist tendencies as his older brother Merle, at the end of the day, he's still an effective and capable survivor who's a crack shot with both a crossbow and rifle, and he pitches in to help the rest of the survivors as much as he can. Wisecracks about "Chinamen" aside.
  • Mal Reynolds usually takes some issue or another with Inara's career as a High Class Call Girl, or Book's religion. It may be some sort of ploy.
  • Gregory House, the title character of House MD.
  • Frances "Our Country, Our Rules" O'Brien from The Librarians. In spite of her frequently culturally insensitive comments and racially stereotyping (thinking that an Arabic internet banking site was advocating terrorism), she still manages to work with and even apparently care about a highly diverse group (many of whom she presumably does have the authority to fire). She's made more sympathetic by her unfortunate home life, her past, her panic disorder and the fact that at least some of her behaviour is apparently resultant from her repressive Catholic upbringing (diving into Christine's breasts obviously suggested she did still have at least some bisexual leanings she was denying).


Video Games

  • Zelos Wilder from Tales of Symphonia was taught from birth that half-elves were disgusting, stupid, beneath regular humans, and confesses to the rest of the party that he feels conflicted about traveling with two half-elves. However, at the same time, he sympathizes with them far more than he does with his aristocratic background, and even before meeting the party, he stopped the Pope from passing various anti-half-elf legislations.
    • Which is ironic, since the Chosen's bloodline, in order to get as close to Martel's physical makeup as possible, was probably descended distantly from Mithos himself, a half-elf. In other words, Zelos probably has some very diluted half-elven blood himself.
  • It'd be quicker to list the Mass Effect characters who don't fall into this. Almost every one of your squadmates will have at least moment of mistrust, condescension or downright hostility to some other species. Fans tend to point to Ashley as the "racist" squadmate, but she's actually one of the milder cases - she just worries about letting alien nationals (including a bounty hunter and a Cowboy Cop) on your prototype warship. The kicker is when Dr Chakwas, ship medic and all-around Cool Old Lady, reveals some unexpectedly strong feelings about synthetic life in the third game.
  • Khelgar Ironfist from Neverwinter Nights 2. Initally hates Neeshka because she's a tiefling. Hates Elanee because she's an elf. Through his sidequest though you can get him to see his attitudes are an injustice. If you complete that quest he never quite forget them but he far more willing to let the person's actions speak.

Web Comics

  • This A Softer World strip.
  • In When She Was Bad, Amber is openly homophobic, which only worsens her conflict with the main character Gail. Of course, it's not like she has no legitimate reasons to oppose Gail...
  • Siggy in Dominic Deegan... briefly.[1]
  • Equius of Homestuck is an alien version. He's contemptuous of his fellow trolls with blood colors too far to the red end of the rainbow and annoyed that the more purple-blooded Gamzee doesn't act like an aristocrat. He's also perfectly willing to work with lesser-blood trolls and even makes a pair of robotic legs for one on the bottom of the totem pole. His bigotry ends up getting him killed when Gamzee goes on a murderous rampage. Despite his obscene strength, he doesn't lift a finger to defend himself.

Western Animation

  • Cartman in South Park, surprisingly, is turning into this in the most recent seasons. After his scary encounter with "Jewpacabra" and subsequent proclaimed conversion to Judaism he argues in favor of an angry and malicious Torah/Old Testament god. And the entire plot of "Cartman Finds Love" revolves around his racist views manifesting in a need to hook Token up with the new black girl in class because they 'belong together'. The lengths he goes to prevent Kyle from mucking up is plan is pretty extraordinary.
  • The Teen Titans episode "Troq" featured Val-Yor, an intergalactic space hero who enlists the Titan's help to defeat an otherworldly menace. Unfortunately, his people are extremely prejudiced against Starfire's people, and he repeatedly uses the slur "Troq" (meaning "nothing") when speaking to her. This prejudice appears to be the extent of his negative character, however.
    • The show still treats him as utterly irredeemable solely on that, though.
      • That was mainly because he was insulting their True Companions.
      • They don't even demand an apology, though; they just get all pissy and make him leave. So much for teachable moments.
        • Even if he had apologized, he wouldn't have meant it. His racist tendencies are still there, too. It would've colored their relationship, and put people in danger. (he almost died because he refused Starfire's help.) His help shouldn't be welcome.
      • He actually does try to "apologize" once he realizes that the Titans don't share his prejudices and are rather offended on Starfire's behalf; they're incredibly backhanded, and the closest he gets to acknowledging Starfire's value as a person is by claiming she "must be one of the good [Tamaranians]". Yeah, he's really learned a lesson here.
      • Let's see, he's spends the episode sending Starfire out to do the dangerous grunt work while calling her a troq to her face, despite the fact that she even demonstrates a willingness to sacrafice herself for the others. Near the end of the mission she even saves his life at great risk to herself, and his response? "Not bad - for a Troq." And of course the rest of the team calls him out on this and asks him to leave; even then, his attitude is one that suggests he's thinking "Ugh, Troq lovers...". Yeah, I don't think the Titans are being unreasonable here.
  • Pakku from Avatar: The Last Airbender held sexist values for most of his life. When he was a teenager, his bigotry caused his fiancée Kanna [2] to leave him. After realizing this as an old man, he realizing that his ideas were wrong and starts to see women as equals. (For example, he trains Katara in combat waterbending, even though traditionally, female waterbenders are only allowed to use their powers for healing.) He even meets up with Kanna again, and after she realizes that he's changed, Kanna marries him, making him the grandfather of Sokka and Katara.
    • Sokka is a bit sexist for the first few episodes, believing that women should Stay in the Kitchen and out of the fighting. After getting to know a group of female warriors firsthand and realizing their fighting capabilities, he realizes that his views were incorrect and learns to respect women and girls.

Real Life

  • In the United States, the easiest targets would be the Founding Fathers, many of whom owned slaves. 'All men are created equal'? Then again, several of the Founding Fathers vigorously fought against the "slavery clause" in the Declaration of Independence, especially Thomas Jefferson. Pointed out by another member of Congress in 1776.
  • Abraham Lincoln, while staunchly anti-slavery, did believe that white people tend to be smarter than black people.
    • In his own words from the 1858 "Great Debates" with Stephen A. Douglas, "I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, or to intermarry with white people, and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the two races which I believe will forever forbid the two from living together on terms of social and political equality." Though, a number of his papers that were published posthumously suggest that those were not his beliefs, but he had to work within the political reality of the time; he was regarded as one of the most cunning politicians of his era after all. His friendship with Frederick Douglass undoubtedly helped to change his views.
    • Lincoln also had a chequered history with the Indians, participating in the Trail Of Tears and imposing harsh measures on the Lakota to win support from Midwestern homesteaders in the North.
  • Winston Churchill was for a time a supporter of eugenics, but considered one of the great heroes of all time by many in America and Europe.
  • In both cases (Churchill and Lincoln) it needs to be pointed out that pretty much everyone was a "bigot" when judged by the standards of the 21st century. When compared to their peers, Churchill's views were perfectly average, and Lincoln was extraordinarily liberal.
  • Gandhi was against Indians helping in WWII and was struggling to remove a LOT of British power from Churchill. And Gandhi wasn't too fond of blacks. He helped many Indians in South Africa and when people asked why he didn't help blacks in the exact same situation he was dismissive towards their struggle. Now, this is because he believed blacks must inspire blacks and he was very open minded religiously but when it came to races Gandhi cared about Indians and mostly Indians.
    • It was also alleged that Gandhi didn't care about the Jews, either, calling them as greedy and self-centered.
      • Yet it was also alleged that he had a Jewish boyfriend, Hermann Kallenbach.
  • H.P. Lovecraft was a known racist most of his life, his beliefs clearly evidence in many of his works. He has no care for blacks, Jews or many other minorities. After becoming aware of the horrors of the Holocaust and the Nazi party he changed his tune considerably.
    • He was also married to a Jewish woman, making his casual antisemitism seem......very confusing.
  • Walt Disney was also something of a casual anti-Semite in his early years (he grew up to a Catholic family in the rural Midwest during the early 1900s, so this really isn't all that surprising), though his views changed after World War II. Despite rumors to the contrary, possibly perpetuated by the Unfortunate Implications present in Song of the South, Disney was actually on good terms with black people (as well as other minorities), which made him more progressive than most of the filmmakers in Hollywood at the time.
  • In something of a subversion, despite making a number of racist cartoons Tex Avery actually had black friends and he gave them voice roles in those cartoons because it was the only way he could get them work.

Notes

  1. Briefly refers to the Noble part of the equation; bigotry is always there.
  2. Katara's future grandmother
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