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"See, it's not enough for the new black kid on the team to be just as competent as everyone else on the team, oh no. He has to be Super Negro and beat the snot out of everybody else in the entire gymnastics world."

When the Token Minority can do no wrong. She (this is most often seen with the lone female character) will never bumble or make a mistake, even in a show where the majority of the team does. She will be much smarter and have more common sense than average, she has more knowledge and skill than she has any reason to possess given her background, she will definitely be of superior moral character, and she can probably kick your ass too.

She may not be the star who actually saves the day (or she often will but will simply not get public credit for it, but since she's so selfless she doesn't really care), but she will never hinder the progress of the team. In fact, this trope is far more blatant if she's in a relatively minor role but is consistently better than the non-minority male lead at damn near everything. There doesn't seem to be much middle ground between this and the Faux Action Girl; people go to extremes. The sad irony? The creators usually want the audience to be proud of or in awe of this character; instead, the character is just so perfect that she's hated by the audience (and sometimes in-universe too) with all the fires of Hell.

Though this trope is more common with racial minorities, women, and sometimes gays and bisexuals, it is sometimes applied to disabled people as well. This often leads to Disability Superpower, Handicapped Badass, Idiot Savant, Inspirationally Disadvantaged, and other tropes that, done wrong, will imply that disability actually makes a person superior to non-disabled people. Unlike with other minorities, it has not yet become generally recognized that disabled people can be portrayed just about any way non-disabled ones can be. In an effort to compensate for a history of stigmatizing the disabled by using them as Morality Pets, objects of pity, or the subjects of miraculous cures, writers will often completely overshoot the mark, going from "inferiority" to "superiority" -- and skipping "equality" altogether.

Sometimes the writers are being deliberately Anvilicious about equality and discrimination. Other times, they're just concerned about looking sexist or racist if the only "X" on the show does something wrong, since "X" isn't on the list of Acceptable Targets, and they overcompensate the other direction. Rarely do they come across the solution of simply having more than one "X", which is, of course, half the problem of the Token Minority in the first place. Of course, this trope, just like all tropes by their nature, has its own inertia, and thus adding more X doesn't always solve the problem. Instead, all of X will still be unfailingly more competent and better than the others, essentially making the Unfortunate Implications of "X is superior in every way to Y" explicit.

This trope can usually be averted simply by adding more than one of the given minority; then they can spread the competence around. Failing that, they can try not making it a big deal that the character is X, and maybe no one will care that they're also depicted as flawed human beings. Speculative Fiction can manage the latter pretty well by creating a culture where women/"minorities" are in positions of power and no one thinks it's unusual (invoking Fantastic Racism optional), but sometimes they dip into this trope anyway.

The issue of Positive Discrimination can lead to a case of Unpleasable Fanbase. On one hand, lack of Positive Discrimination, as stated above, puts the writer in danger of being called racist, sexist, etc. just because they gave the Token Minority something as heinous as a common flaw. On the other hand, it puts the discriminatee in danger of becoming the Creator's Pet, since he/she will often be seen as a Mary Sue or Marty Stu in the eyes of the audience that is blatantly shilled one too many times and it leads to major Unfortunate Implications that someone from X isn't equal, but superior and can do no wrong. Even worse, in Real Life it tends to set the victim up for a dizzying fall: if they are assumed to be so hyper-competent, then their making even the slightest mistake will be seen as disgrace or, worse, hypocrisy. (To quote Hasan Minhaj: ”You gotta be on your A-game, you gotta be twice as good. You can't make any mistakes, because when one [person] messes up, [the] entire group [is faulted]. And now you know what it feels like to be a minority.”)[1]

If a Lady Land is a utopian paradise, it's probably running on this trope.

Contrast with Closer to Earth. Almost all instances of You Go, Girl! are this, when women are displayed as superior to their male competitors in sports or other traditionally male domains. The Innocent Bigot may display Positive Discrimination, but in this case it will be Lampshaded as a bad thing. You Are a Credit to Your Race is a related trope. Taking the polar opposite tack leads to Mighty Whitey. A very frequent character trait of the Gamer Chick.

No Real Life Examples, Please

Examples of Positive Discrimination include:


  • Used widely in kid-directed commercials. Picture this scenario: Two kids are having a race in an RC car commercial. As their two cars near the finish line, a third comes out of nowhere and beats them to the punch, doing flashy maneuvers the all the way. Mouths gaping, the two boys exchange awestruck glances and the camera panels to the mystery racer. If you hadn't guessed already, yes, it turns out to be some random girl holding the controller.
  • Also works for minorities. Some white kid will be sitting around, wearing bland clothes, with a bland haircut, and looking horribly bored while holding a product. Then, with a burst of hip-hop, in sweeps the black kid, wearing trendy clothes with plenty of bling, and of course he's got the far superior version of the product! The white kid looks on with resigned, mournful envy as the black kid dances up a storm. No, really, Gogurt did this exact commercial, and slightly milder variations are quite popular, especially for food products.
  • Watch any commercial - be it for beer, cars, or anything else under the sun - where a man is for some reason in conflict with a female. See how many times the man wins versus how many times the woman wins. In the world of commercials, the best a man can do is somehow tie with the woman, unless he's teaming up with another woman. If at any point the man says "Let's show you how the men do it" or any variation thereof, the chance of him even tying becomes zero.
    • Similarly, the number of commercials in which men are portrayed as fools and buffoons when compared to their smarter, wiser female companions is amazingly large. Inevitably, the commercials end with the women blatantly letting the man know just how much of an idiot he's been/is being. Most companies respond with "those commercials tested well" when complaints are made.
      • Even in commercials where there is no conflict, this can occur. A recent shampoo commercial had a guy using his girlfriend's shampoo and, lo, his hair is much improved.
      • See many of the examples on Men Buy From Mars, Women Buy From Venus.
  • Played ridiculously straight in this commercial for some sort of oven cleaning product. From the woman standing in the background with what can only be described as a scowl on her face, to the tagline "So easy...even a man could do it!". It's actually rather disgusting.
    • Said advert received 663 complaints from men and women (men claiming it portrayed them as idiots, women claiming it supported out-of-date stereotypes regarding women and the kitchen). Amazingly, they were not upheld - which sparked backlash from people saying an opposite advert would be shot down immediately. The Daily Mail had a field day.
    • The natural outcome of a reverse example was when DIY chain B&Q jokingly advertised a product as being so simple even a woman could use it. As soon as any controversy flared it had to rewrite.
  • The ads for Flash in the UK seem to be aware of this trope such as one had the mother coming home to find the kitchen in a complete mess and storming all over the house looking for her husband. The husband uses this time to quickly clean the kitchen up and then position himself in the living room so that when the wife comes in to scold him about the mess she looks back to see it clean and is left speechless.
  • Used in this Mario Kart 7 ad. The incredible opponents are Japanese girls.


Anime & Manga

  • Motoko Kusanagi of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, the sole female on her team, is the most skilled member of Section 9, being an expert hacker and skilled in both hand-to-hand combat and firearms. She even outdoes some of the other team members at their own specialties; anyone fighting her will lose because the Major is a Genius Bruiser and turns people's advantages against them.
    • Shirow Masamune loves this trope.
    • Deunan from his previous manga Appleseed is much less perfect and relies heavily on her much more level headed partner/boyfriend Briareos. Yet she is still the only woman of the unit and by far the most badass officer on the force.
  • Kirika and Mirielle from Noir are assassins who regularly use bumbling male thugs for target practice. Most male antagonists in this series fall under the "bumbling thug" descriptor. When they go up against more elegant, dangerous, and skilled opponents, the opponents are almost always female. In an aversion, the only character who manages to successfully manipulate them into serving his goals and get away with it (read: live) is male.
  • In Eyeshield 21, Patrick "Panther" Spencer, basically the only black character in the series, gets this treatment. By the final arc, where a chapter or play doesn't seem to be able to go by without saying he's greater than everyone else due to "his black genes", it really sticks out.
    • Though early on, Panther's main trait was his being a Determinator (he worked hard to impress his racist coach, misinterpreted the racism as his not being good enough, and worked even harder). While his race did come into it as described, it's not like they had the "he's awesome 'cuz he's black!" attitude the whole time.
  • There are two female Espada in Bleach, past and current. [2] Apart from Starrk, they're the only nice ones. They're also stronger with only two Espada stronger and Harribel is the last Espada defeated, taken down personally by Aizen. And the two female Espada seem to be the only ones that actually get to live.


Comic Books

  • A particularly common theme in comics is to have black scientists as well, especially circa the 1970s or 80s, where it would likely have seemed ironic and well intentioned of the writers- Cyborg's parents (and his love interest at STAR Labs), Bumblebee of the Teen Titans, and more. Marvel examples include Thunderball (the only black member of the universally idiotic thugs in The Wrecking Crew was the brilliant nuclear physicist), Vermin, and streetwise more standard-type geniuses like Hobie Brown, among others. There's also Chimestro (Hood's go to science guy) and Deadly Nightshade from MODOK'S 11.
  • Arguably the reason that Black Panther's African country of Wakanda should be lifting into the air and hovering far above the backwards, petty influence of all those... well, every other ethnicity there is... any day now.
  • There was a time in the 1980s when Marvel Comics' two flagship ensemble teams, the X-Men and The Avengers, both had black female leaders. However, there's a reason why Storm caught on with readers and became a very popular character and Captain Marvel (yes, that Captain Marvel) did not. Basically, the latter was a girl scout who was as close to being The Cape without actually wearing one, whereas the former actually had more than one dimension and is an interesting character in her own right.
    • In addition to Storm of the X-Men and Monica "Formerly Known as Captain Marvel" Rambeau of The Avengers and Nextwave, Slingshot naturally gravitated to the leadership role of Dynamo 5, Skyrocket was the field leader of the Power Company, Misty Knight led Heroes for Hire, Vixen briefly gravitated to the leadership role of the Justice League, Jet of the Global Guardians, Vaporlock of Infinity Incorporated, Kid Quantum II of the Legion of Super-Heroes, Amanda Waller of the Suicide Squad ... basically, if you put a black woman on a superhero team, chances are she'll be running the show eventually. Oh, and Bumblebee ended up leading Titans East on the Teen Titans cartoon.
  • Although in theory Simpsons Comics (like The Simpsons itself) is non-discriminatory in its negative stereotypes and everyone was supposed to be a blockhead, the Superior Squad (a superhero team led by Bart Simpson's favorite comic-book character Radioactive Man that fought supervillains between the 1950s and 1990s) mostly adhered to this trope. The team consisted of six men and two women - and guess which two were the most positively portrayed? One of the females, Lure Lass, was a regular Mary Sue, while the other, Weasel Woman, did have some flaws but was braver and more Badass than everyone else on the team, including Radioactive Man himself. In contrast, the two most profoundly flawed Superior Squad members were male, as well as the two ostensibly most powerful: Purple Heart (who later changed his name to "Bleeding Heart", then to "Heart of Darkness", then to "Bleeding Heart" again, and finally to "Bloody Heart"), who was your standard Ted Baxter type, and RM himself, who was well-meaning but very much a Windmill Crusader and rather stupid.
  • Amy in Sonic the Comic was made into The Lancer with Improbable Aiming Skills due to Executive Meddling. She had few flaws compared to her very flawed male counterparts, and even Tekno (another thoroughly competent female character). Ironically her intitial persona was surprisingly close to the lovesick Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass Amy of the later games.
  • While Amy herself is a much more abrasive character in the American Sonic comics, it plays this straight with a fair few other characters. Sally and Bunnie are usually more rashional and Closer to Earth than many male Freedom Fighters, who are often harbored by significant flaws like arrogance or temper issues, meanwhile the female leads' shortcomings are often more minor or down to circumstance than deep personality issues (eg. Bunnie's robotocization, Sally's responsibilities as leader and monarch). Julie Su leans less into this vien, more or less acting as a Distaff Counterpart to Knuckles, though is still slightly more rashional than him.

Film

  • In Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Jane Smith is professional and usually the one to be in control of the situation. John Smith makes bumbling mistakes and more than once seems to succeed purely on luck. He is also not as cold-hearted as his wife. It appears she paid for that skill with her charisma and wisdom stats.
  • Occurs in the movie version of Get Smart due to Values Dissonance. Agent 99 being the competent and experienced professional while Maxwell Smart was a blundering incompetent was originally a surprising and subversive twist. Today it just seems like this trope. In fact they seem to have made Maxwell more competent in order to compensate. This may be to rectify the fact that in the original, 99 admires Smart, likes him being in charge, and is prepared to completely ignore his lack of ability in favor of his experience, character, and tendency towards dumb luck. The modern 99 is clearly aware of Max's inexperience, so they had to give him at least some capabilities.
  • Much hoo-ha was made over Harold and Kumar starring non-white main characters as stoned slackers, but the writers still went out of their way to mention how both are brilliant students with near genius-level IQs who simply have a problem with staying motivated, whereas white stoner characters are uniformly portrayed as total idiots.
  • A scene in the film Dogma depicts two angels condemning a room full of businessmen for their (many, many) sins such as child molestation, among other things. Every one of them are male, and the only female in the room is a secretary, who's worst sin was not saying "God bless you" when one of the angels sneezed. Although, to be fair, the angel was going to kill her all the same so in the eyes of the killer, she was just as guilty as the rest.
    • Well, that, and the golden calf.
  • Pick any kids' sports movie, and there will be one female player on the team. This girl will never miss a shot or strike out on camera. (Arguably, this implementation began with the original Bad News Bears movie in the 1970s.)
  • The Bourne Series. All the important female characters are pretty unambiguously good; except for Bourne himself nearly all the important male characters are corrupt and/or outright sociopaths. Julia Stiles' character does spend the first two films trying to kill Bourne, but only because she was given false information.
  • This is one of the rules set down for The Lone Ranger: all villains had to be white to avoid accusations of racism.
  • Sidney Poitier's most famous starring roles in Lilies of the Field, To Sir With Love, In the Heat of the Night and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. For the most part, all these roles have Poitier playing men who are nearly perfect specimens of humanity except for a bit of righteous anger at injustice. Dinner is the most blatant with character being less a man than an demigod of perfection.
    • Stanley Kramer, the director/producer of Dinner argued that Poitier's had to be perfect because the only objection to his marrying Spencer Tracy's daughter was his race.
    • This is a bit of Typecasting as Poitier is pretty much a demigod of perfection IRL.
    • Hilariously Subverted Trope in Sneakers. For most of the film, Poitier's character is his typical eloquent, composed, genteel family man. During the film's climactic confrontation, however, he and Dan Aykroyd's character are kidnapped by a pair of mooks. Poitier turns to Aykroyd, says "Hey, you know why they kicked me out of the CIA? My temper." and proceeds to beat the crap out of one of the mooks, as he screams, "Motherfucker, mess with me and I split ya head!".
  • In the new Charlie's Angels films, all the men are either buffoons, evil, secretly evil, a disembodied voice on a speaker phone, or Bill Murray. Then again, all the women other than the Angels are also secretly evil.
    • And the Angels get to be buffoons.
  • Lampshaded in The Animal: Miles, the only black man employed at the airport, is constantly complaining that, because he's black, the others treat him as if he could do no wrong, and ignore anything he does - such as smoking in a federal building - that would prove otherwise. This becomes a Chekhov's Gun when Miles claims to be the monster to keep the mob from killing the main character. The mob immediately disbands to avoid getting charged with a hate crime, and Miles stands there as they walk off, screaming about 'reverse racism'.
  • Cleverly Averted Trope in the otherwise forgettable Paul Hogan comedy Almost An Angel. A wheelchair-bound man is being a Jerkass in a bar and Hogan calls him on it. When the other bar patrons get angry over Hogan coming down on a guy in a wheelchair, Hogan pulls a chair out, sits down in it, and then challenges the guy to a fist-fight since they were now on equal terms. And wins. This earns the respect of the Jerkass, who stops being such a Jerkass for the rest of the film.
  • In the future of Virtuosity, the prisons are filled to overflowing with white people (who are all, of course, white supremacists). In fact, Denzel Washington's character may be the only black guy in prison in the future. And he's a cop. And it was basically a bogus rap.
  • Gamers 2: Dorkness Rising a female joins the group and two of the guys flip out (the other two being the ex boyfriend and the DM who knew ahead of time.) And:
    • In spite of being completely new to gaming, she's able to build a monster 9th level fighter using only the Players Handbook and a combination of feats that only exist in this movie that the Munchkin Powergamer Rules Lawyer somehow missed. She's far more mature than the other players and after only one game session is able to give the Game Master all the insight he needs to run his group correctly. The guys are a milquetoast, a Jerkass, and two emotionally stunted clowns.
    • Circumstances are contrived to make sure her character is the most effective (this last part possibly justified as the Game Master showing favoritism towards her). She excels against several weak opponents, but her low hit points make her weak against a tougher foe and the group has no real tank due to this.
    • To be fair, this has less to do with her being female but more with her filling the role of the newcomer that the resident jerkass thinks he can walk all over. Just as in every movie where an apparent naive newcomer sits down at a poker table with a bunch of cardsharps who think they can scam him out of his money, they will invariably be the ones who end up losing, either because of karma or because the newcomer wasn't quite as new at the game as they thought.
  • Done in the Harry Potter films with Hermione Granger (much less so in the books). The film version of Ron is rather Flanderized, being much more cowardly and incompetent than he is in the books, with most of his good material being given to Hermione. One major example is in the first film, when the Power Trio is caught by a man eating plant. Ron panics and is nearly crushed by the plant, while Hermione is the first to figure out how to escape, and subsequently saves Ron. In the book, while it is still Ron being crushed, Hermione is the one who panics and Ron has to yell at her to snap her back to her senses. She is still the one to save him, but if Ron hadn't kept a cool head (while being crushed to death), he might not have survived.
    • Averted from the fifth film onwards. Notably when the kids are being restrained by the Death Eaters, Ron struggles against his captor while Hermione just cowers in fear. And Ron is given a few CMOA in the seventh film to balance things out a bit.
  • In How to Train Your Dragon, Astrid has established that she is not only the most competent trainee but the only competent trainee. The others (who are mostly boys) barely do anything to the dragons.
    • And then you get whiplash when they leave training and she becomes a complete Faux Action Girl who's no use at all.
  • In Iron Man 2, Black Widow arguably causes the very problem she later blames Tony for on his evaluation (she gets close to him and then, aware that he's dying even though he doesn't know she is, tells him he should go out and do whatever he wants... and then slams him in the report for his irresponsible and impulsive actions) but is still held up as an insightful, intelligent agent. And when it comes time for her to fight, she defeats something like two dozen trained security personnel (all male) not only without any of them actually managing to challenge her, but without her even looking like she's trying. Just to drive it home, they include a male character who struggles with defeating one of these bad guys in the time she knocks out twenty.
    • Also, while Pepper Potts is not portrayed as an Action Girl, the movie still tries to drive home that she's much more sensible than Tony and morally superior as well... even as she spends the entire movie being passive-aggressive and rude. In the second movie, she becomes the company's CEO despite spending most of her career as a secretary.
    • James Rhodes is also much more responsible, level-headed, and reasonable than Tony, to the point that he really does seem to be a much better choice for keeping the Iron Man suit. Although in fairness, these three characters being more mature than Tony might have less to do with the fact that they're all minorities, and more with it being a very low bar.
  • The early movies starring Adam Sandler would often show not just Adam's character but practically everyone else to be annoying, bizarre, or just plain unpleasant (due to Rule of Funny, of course). The one exception would be the pretty young woman whom the Sandler character lusts after, who was always about as Mary Sue as it could get: always did the right thing, never disgraced or embarrassed, and without any but the smallest flaws that could be easily ignored by the story. The implication was that Sandler didn't deserve such a perfect creature and had to spend the entire movie reforming his behavior to be worthy of her. As time went on, the usual Sandler formula began to be subverted. In Big Daddy, for instance, the girl Sandler is with at the start of the film is even more morally flawed than he is, and receives her comeuppance in the final scene as most of the movie's characters (both male and female) laugh at her. And the remake of Mr. Deeds turns the trope completely inside-out: the heroine of the story is actually a villain at the start of it (well, more of a Defector From Decadence) while Deeds (Sandler) is Incorruptible Pure Pureness personified. The girl ends up having to suffer quite a few indignities (including a brutal "The Reason You Suck" Speech) as part of her Heel Face Turn and to prove to Deeds that she's worthy of him - and, just to add insult to injury, also discovers that in this film, Slapstick Knows No Gender.
    • The Waterboy subverts this, too: Sandler's love interest is good-hearted, but also somewhat trashy and a petty criminal to boot.
  • George Lucas' Red Tails does this with the African-American Tuskegee Airmen, not by making them unusually good but by making their white counterparts incredibly incompetent.

Literature

  • Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time seems to have this at first glance: Half of the nations and organizations in that world are openly matriarchal, and in the rest the women are in control anyway. But it soon turns into what's almost a reversal, or even Straw Feminism, since all women in this world turn out to be both incompetent and jerkasses.
    • Doesn't fit here in THIS context - what Jordan has shown is that BOTH sides think this of the other, thus the split in Aes Sedai factions (the male from the female) enhances his concept of "United you stand, divided you fall."
    • It should also be pointed out that[3] any male Aes Sedai are (now) slowly driven insane by the Dark One's tainting of saidin[4]. All these men, back in the Age of Legends, going immediately insane was responsible for the Breaking of the World. Also worth nothing is that the women of the time stubbornly refused to help even when their own plan had pretty much collapsed around their ears. Then again, they make it a point that if the women had joined in, it could have been even worse as both sexes would have gone wild. Or the men's plan could have worked and the Breaking never would have happened. It's left ambiguous.
  • Of the four protagonists of Patrick Tilley's The Amtrak Wars, the two guys are pretty deeply flawed, get slightly better or a lot worse, and die. The two girls wind up more or less saints by the end, and live.
  • Subverted in the Discworld book Jingo, where 71-Hour Achmed tells Vimes "Truly treat all men equally. Allow Klatchians the right to be scheming bastards."
    • The Watch series has this as a running theme, especially in Men At Arms. Due to the speciesism that pervades Ankh-Morpork, Lord Vetinari's demand that the Watch better represent the city's "ethnic" makeup means including a dwarf, a troll, and a werewolf on the Watch.
    • Though arguably the Watch books do err slightly towards this trope when it comes to sex: while you have capable male officers and capable female officers the more bumbling comedic roles like Colon or Nobby are all male.
      • Part of that is to show how Fred and Nobby are part of the "old" Watch rather than the "new" Watch. In the first Watch book a) Fred and Nobby were literally half the force, and b) the other two weren't much better (Carrot was a Naive Newcomer and Vimes was a drunk).
  • Dean Koontz often does this with his disabled characters. Needless to say, this annoys actual disabled people.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, after Jacen's death, the Moffs are caught using biological weapons against the Hapan royal family, and part of the terms of their amnesty are that a certain percentage of Moffs be female.
  • The saintly Uncle Tom in Uncle Tom's Cabin: Harriet Beecher Stowe intended him to be a model of a perfect Christian. Many other examples in that work.


Live Action TV

  • The seventh season of Red Dwarf introduced a female crewmember who quickly proved the most competent of any of them (not a challenge given the competition, granted...) They thankfully backed off this some in later episodes. It should be pointed out, however, that she came from an alternate universe where the Red Dwarf crew were all more competent than their "regular" universe counterparts. A recurring theme had Kochanski berating Lister for not being as competent as her Dave. However, there was a lot of implication that they were more competent because of her, so it still stands.
    • A subversion was Holly from Series 3-5, played by Hattie Hayridge. The character admitted in one episode to being a "deranged, half-witted computer" and in another couldn't even count without banging her head on the screen.
      • That being said, Holly still seemed smarter as a female, especially in episodes like "Backwards" with her theory on "The Big Crunch" and in "Polymorph" she was actually able to recognize the creature (a shapeshifter) when even Rimmer (who is always insulting Holly's intelligence) was too distracted by its current shape (his mother)
  • In the comedy Chalk, Suzy Travis is the sarcastic, intelligent straight man to the rest of the teaching department's idiotic fools - especially headmaster Mr Slatt. However, this is subverted in the second season as she slowly turns into Slatt herself.
  • News Radio -- the sole black character, Bill's co-anchor Catherine Duke, was by far the least ridiculous person at the station. Also the dullest, which is why few noticed her departure in the middle of the fourth season. Dave and Lisa were also more or less normal, as well as more successful. Still, in one episode when Bill is listing the positive traits of all his coworkers, for Catherine he simply says, "You're a woman, and you're black, oh what I wouldn't give!"
  • The Office (USA): Even though Stanley and Darryl have clearly been obnoxious or inappropriately insubordinate, Michael constantly ignores it for the cameras, fearing accusations of racism. The show is also pretty impressive when it comes to gender: the female characters are exactly as flawed as the male ones.
  • Spin City averted this cleverly with gay black guy Carter. Carter was highly intelligent, extremely good at his job and often acted as the voice of reason, but he was a flawed character in other ways such as his neuroses and hyper-sensitivity to racial and sexual discrimination.
  • In the BBC version of Robin Hood, the character of Djaq is a double token minority- the one non-white outlaw and the only female member of the group. She is frequently shown to be more intelligent than the other characters and is usually the one to tell them off for being idiots, kicks butt while fighting, has incredible healing powers, and can always get herself out of a fix with her Saracen know-how.
    • It got worse in S3, in which Djaq (whose Twofer Token Minority status was at least alleviated by a likeable personality and a plausible backstory for her assortment of skills) is written out and replaced by Kate, whose characterization was a mess of Double Standards. Essentially, the portrayal was an strange blend of blatant sexism and wannabe feminism: on the one hand, the only female of the gang was invariably the one that was constantly getting arrested, kidnapped or injured (usually due to her inability to keep a lid on her emotions), her only objective on the show was to become Robin's girlfriend (with a Love Triangle with two other outlaws on the side), and she was an otherwise completely useless member of the gang who contributed nothing and was in need of constant supervision. At the same time, Positive Discrimination played its part considering none of the male outlaws ever seemed to notice just how much of a liability she really was. Instead she was allowed to abuse and criticize them constantly, was never required to take responsibility for her actions, and had all the outlaws fall inexplicably in love with her despite her serious attitude problem. Too useless to be an Action Girl and too obnoxious to be a worthy Damsel in Distress, no one really know what the writers were trying to achieve with her.
  • Pretty much any family sitcom involves a wife who is far more intelligent and level headed than her spouse. This usually leads to one or two episodes where the trend is reversed so the husband can be right at least once. This one pretty much goes back to The Honeymooners.
    • Although sometimes they make it so the wife is still right anyway because the husband starts flaunting the fact he was right and messes up again. If you are a man on one of these shows, you simply cannot win.
  • Lampshaded and then massively subverted in the Inspector Morse episode "Twilight of the Gods." Nobody, including Morse, wants to believe anything too bad about Andrew Baydon--despite how unpleasantly he treats other people--because he has a Nazi concentration camp tattoo on one arm. In fact, the tattoo is a fake, designed to cover up what Baydon was really doing during WWII.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia had Sweet Dee, who started out in this trope but was quickly Averted Trope when the writers realized there was no reason Dee would hang out with such a horrible group of people if she wasn't just like them.
  • It's been noted (half-jokingly) that the only people to get a definitively happy ending at the end of series 4 of Skins are the lesbians and the black guy.
  • Parodied in My Name Is Earl:

 Joy: We're gonna require a second opinion from a real doctor. You know, a Jewish one.

Doctor: I'm Indian. We're the new Jews.

Darnell: I thought that was Koreans.

Doctor: They wish!

  • Scrubs occasionally mocked this with Turk's history. Including the time he got 3rd place in the science fair without entering, and how he's photoshopped multiple times in his college brochure to make it more diverse. Then he's put as the face for an outreach project for the hospital.
  • In the short-lived series The Lone Gunmen, Yves Adele Harlow was the lone female on the primary cast, and also the only fully competent one. The individual characters all got their moments to shine, but Yves owned every single time she was on-screen (and even off-screen).
  • Hoooh boy Coronation Street. Any male character that isn't a gormless twat or a henpecked husband, or has any type of backbone, is some kind of villain. Be it a wife beater, serial killer, con artist, womanizer or just your average Jerkass. In affair storylines the woman will almost always be the sympathetic one.
    • Sean Tully, full stop. He's the Token Gay and more importantly a Karma Houdini and Jerk Sue. He gets away with everything and is always portrayed as the victim if things get serious.
  • In pretty much any show involving an Action Girl in hand-to-hand combat with a man, she effortlessly defeats her opponent, usually without him landing a single blow in return. Examples are numerous, but they include:
    • Alias: The entire show was built on this.
    • Walker, Texas Ranger: The bad guys never laid a finger on Sydney Cooke in the show's frequent martial-arts fights. Hell, even Chuck Norris took a few hits from bad guys on the show.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In one episode, Kira totally kicked the ass of Gul Damar, a Cardassian, with him never landing one blow in return. Keep in mind, the Cardassians are portrayed as very large, well-muscled aliens and this particular one had been in the military for most of his life.
      • Though it should be noted that Kira has also been fighting Cardassians almost her entire life, was a very effective resistance fighter when she was, and is not above fighting dirty, while Damar was more of a shipman and as such had less experience with close combat.
      • Kira's background as a Hot-Blooded fighter in La Résistance also put her at a disadvantage in diplomatic situations and forced her to adapt to life as Sisko's second in command.
  • In-universe Fantastic Racism version here: In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Dr. Pulaski is well-known for her casual dismissal of Data as anything other than a mere machine. However, she is shocked--shocked-- when Data is defeated in a chess-like game by a flesh-and-blood man, fully expecting him to ace the challenge.
  • ICarly has the episode iHireAnIdiot where Carly and Sam hire a male intern based on the fact that he's handsome, despite him being an idiot. For revenge, Freddie hires an attractive female intern who is also an idiot. At the end of the episode, it turned out that she was actually a brilliant college student pretending to be stupid.
  • Parodied in How I Met Your Mother, where Marshall's father suggests he borrow an umbrella from the Koreans down the hall, since Koreans are apparently all wise enough to be prepared for any situation and compassionate enough to lend their things out to neighbors. Marshall is just as confused as everyone else. Note, however, that the Koreans did lend him an umbrella.

Music

  • In the same vein, according to Jocelyn Brown's "Real Man", released in 1997, any man worth his salt would never offer to go half (split the check) on a date.
  • Beyonce Knowles in general; just about every song of hers is based on how she was jilted by some man in the past; "Single Ladies", "Diva", "Irreplaceable," and many more.
    • Todd in the Shadows has this as a Berserk Button, and called her out on the general misandry in the lyrics of "If I Were A Boy", saying that women are perfectly capable of doing (and indeed have done) everything she portrays in the song as only being possible if she were a boy.
  • Virtually every mainstream Kelly Clarkson single since "Since U Been Gone" is about how her boyfriend sucks. Even "Because of You," which is initially about a broken family, was remade to be about a bad boyfriend in a duet with Reba McEntire.
    • Averted with "My Life Would Suck Without You," which is about how she and her boyfriend are equally messed up and are therefore perfect for each other.
  • It's a trope of R&B in and of itself. Male R&B singers usually serenade women. Female R&B singers usually sing about bad relationships. Comedian Pablo Francisco even makes a joke about this.
  • The Distaff Counterpart flipside of the above trope, is the many love songs are sung by men, who see women not just as regular people, but as GODDESSES. Or at least the male singer can't stand to be without them.
    • In the most extreme cases, men think that they're not GOOD ENOUGH for women. Case in point: Tal Bachman "She's So High" (She's perfect as she can be/Why should I even bother?)
    • Men don't just treat their girlfriends with respect, they SPOIL them with love. Like pretty much every Justin Bieber song. Even in the breakup song "Baby" he promises to do anything for his girl if she stays with him.
      • If they're the one who made her suffer by accident, he begs for forgiveness because he'll more than make up for it. Jason Derulo with "Whatcha Say" (When the roof came in/and the truth came out/I just didn't know what to do/But when I become a star/We'll be living so large/I'll do anything for you.)
  • All American Reject's song "Gives You Hell" is initially about an ex-girlfriend, but due to this trope, the video is about opposite neighbors...
  • "Broken Heels" by Alexandra Burke is about how much better at everything women are than men.


Newspaper Comics

  • Scott Adams, the writer/artist of the comic strip Dilbert, has trouble including minorities in his central cast because he loves deeply-flawed characters, and doesn't want get angry letters by creating dumb, criminal or lazy minority characters. So he created Asok, an intern from India who's basically a foil to the rest of the cast. He's technically brilliant, hardworking, honest and nice. His only flaws are inexperience and wide-eyed naivete. Basically, he's TOO nice and TOO trusting. Adams still got letters.
  • Delta, the only black cast member of Luann, is of course the smartest and most level-headed of the entire group. Unless you count "being a workaholic" as an actual flaw, she's about as Mary Sue as they get.
  • Dr. Liz Wilson, the female veterinarian of Garfield, has it all. She's a hot babe, a caring doctor, and she's smart. Back when the strip played up the romantic antagonism between her and Jon Arbuckle (before she and Jon finally became a couple), Liz was pretty much consistently portrayed as a goddess whom Jon could never measure up to, and he was lucky to be even breathing the same oxygen as she. Really, her only perceptible flaw was her Deadpan Snarker behavior toward Jon (which Jon, of course, never seemed to notice). Just to make things even, though, she did shoot down Jon so many times, and so coldly, that after a while you stopped laughing at Jon being an idiot and started to resent Liz for being so mean to him.
    • Played more straight in The Garfield Show where Liz is far less snarky and irritable and willingly dates Jon from the get go. Jon, while not quite as brainless as his comic counterpart, is still pretty pathetic.


Professional Wrestling

  • Pro wrestling had this problem from the very beginning.
    • When wrestling shows first began to appear on TV, Westerns were popular, so it was perhaps inevitable that "Indian chief" characters would appear. The promoters were aware that depicting a member of America's smallest minority group as a cheating, savage, murderous heel would be, to put it lightly, kind of mean - so they set out to subvert the negative stereotype and totally overdid it. Just about every Native American character between the 1940s and the 1990s - Chief Jay Strongbow most famously - was the Noble Savage incarnate and always a hero. Not until just before the "Attitude Era" would Tatanka (a real-life Lumbee from North Carolina, although he depicted a Lakota) turn spectacularly heel, joining Ted DiBiase's Million Dollar Corporation. (Later, when he returned to WWE in the mid-2000s, Tatanka would turn heel in a different way, this time painting his face with creepy makeup and claiming to be a "vengeful ghost warrior" - and even then, his new gimmick was so Badass that it just resulted in Draco In A Leather Loincloth. Worse, he got only two matches with the new gimmick before mysteriously disappearing.)
    • Black wrestlers also faced this problem. Perhaps due to outbreaks of racially charged violence that tended to erupt in wrestling arenas in some parts of the country, promoters had to be very careful never to A) feature black athletes too prominently; or B) have them engage in behavior, even in Kayfabe, that could lead to race riots. The result was that guys like Art Thomas and Bobo Brazil never got to depict anything more interesting than the standard boring good guy who didn't do anything extraordinary, at least at first. Ernie "Big Cat" Ladd was the first to defy the tradition in the 1960s, transforming himself into one of the most obnoxious and bullying heels of his era.
      • Even though WWE now features several prominent black wrestlers, traces of the hapless black hero of yore can still sometimes be seen, usually with Kofi Kingston, the only African-born (from Ghana) WWE Superstar. While he has always been a face and can more than hold his own with some of WWE's best (even defeating Chris Jericho for the Intercontinental Championship in his first pay-per-view appearance!), many of his storylines have seen him job to the heels or get stuck in the tag-team ranks. Probably one of Kingston's most degrading moments was when he was attacked by Edge just before the 2009 Raw Elimination Chamber Match and prevented from competing at all, for no other reason than so that Edge could win the World Heavyweight Championship (and get a good Kick the Dog moment in the bargain).
  • In all eras, female wrestlers almost never have the moral or psychological depth of their male counterparts. WWE's Divas and TNA's Knockouts can be heels, of course, but they're more likely to commit petty or annoying misdeeds than to act truly evil. (This may now be changing, with Katarina "Winter" Waters in TNA portraying a character who has clearly crossed the Moral Event Horizon.)
    • Currently Beth Phoenix and Natalya like trapping the other divas in painful looking submission holds and holding the house microphone up to their face so the entire arena can hear them scream. Then there's Kharma.
  • In intergender situations, it's almost always the man as the heel and the woman as the face, even if the woman is a heel as well (see Beth Phoenix). Chyna was initially a heel in intergender competition but fans cheered for her anyway so she was turned face. Ivelisse Velez of Tough Enough fame successfully averted this as she competed in several intergender matches as a heel.
    • In perhaps her most notable appearance, Beth was more of a Wild Card than a straight face or heel. Still officially a heel at the time, she entered the 2010 Royal Rumble Match (which only two other Divas, Chyna and Kharma, have ever done) and foreshadowed her Heel Face Turn by easily eliminating Great Khali (who was a face at the time, albeit not a very sympathetic one). She then attempted to eliminate then-heel (and her Real Life boyfriend) CM Punk, but he got the best of her. It's doubtful she would have won in any case, since one of the last entrants in that match (and the eventual winner) was Edge, who has demonstrated in the past that he Would Hit a Girl.
    • A special case occurred early in 2004, when Trish Stratus was a face and Christian was a heel, and Christian brutalized Trish with a submission hold after promising to throw the match. But when Chris Jericho (Trish's boyfriend at the time) tried to come to her rescue, she inexplicably sided with Christian and became a heel herself (and yes, the Unfortunate Implications were thick).


Video Games


Western Animation

  • The Simpsons began its existence with Marge and Lisa being clearly smarter and more sensible than their male relatives. This was taken to the extreme in an episode where it was revealed that there was a "Simpson gene" for stupidity which only affected males (we don't mention that episode much, and the writers seem to have retconned it). As the series progressed, Marge developed her own idiotic habits, but so did everyone else in Springfield... save Lisa, who apparently absorbed every ounce of common sense and intelligence in the city. Of course, it didn't have anywhere else to go. It was much different in the very earliest episodes: Homer was relatively well-adjusted (if a bit naive), Marge was a Lady Drunk, and Bart and Lisa were equally annoying, bratty nitwits.

    On the DVD commentaries, Al Jean has said that they once considered a bit that had Homer strangling Lisa, but others on the staff objected and were downright uncomfortable with such a notion. Jean then added that such opinions haven't been expressed in regards to Homer strangling Bart. It's perhaps worth noting that this trope stands tall in most of their cultural parodies too. For example, their Adam and Eve parody is altered so that Adam was tempted to eat the forbidden fruit, and then frames Eve for it, meanwhile the Milhouse-enacted Moses is depicted as an incompetent coward with the Lisa-enacted Aaron suggesting to free the Hebrews (albeit self preserving enough to bully Moses to defy the Pharaoh for her). The show really thrives on this trope with everything they do. Granted the probable reason the show manages to use this so consistently without being outright insufferable is that the girl cast are only more competent compared to the males. Lisa and Marge are gifted but still highly flawed individuals that can play the Idiot Ball or even act like Jerkass types on frequent occasions, just not nearly as consistently as Homer and Bart.

    Averted as well with Krusty the Clown and Karl. Krusty, who is a Jew, has simply too many flaws to even list. He doesn't really see himself as a Jew and even hates Jews (mostly because of his daddy issues), so there's that. Karl, who is black, is part of a Comic Trio with Homer and Lenny, and has no problem in getting drunk or joining their bizarre plans. Similarly, Apu is not presented in an unambiguously positive light. Indeed, in his early appearances he seemed little more than a broad caricature of Indian immigrants. Again, however they are more competent in comparison. As stand alone characters the likes of Karl and Apu are fairly flawed and humanized, but much more toned down compared to their co stars and more likely to be The Straight Man against them (Karl indeed is often the Only Sane Man of the Comic Trio, if only just).
    • The episode "The Last Temptation of Homer" played this trope ridiculously straight, especially in comparison to the farcical depiction of female characters in earlier episodes. Facing a string of lawsuits, Mr. Burns is forced to adopt an affirmative action hiring policy so he at least won't get hit with an anti-discrimination lawsuit (though why he wouldn't have been forced to do this before 1993 is never explained). As a result, the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant hires its first-ever female technician, Mindy Simmons (voiced by guest star Michelle Pfeiffer). Much to Homer's consternation, he discovers that Mindy shares all of his good qualities (proudly working-class, friendly, fun-loving) and none of his bad ones. Indeed, despite being shown eating at least as much as Homer does, Mindy never gains any weight and remains forever a sexy babe. And while she does have at least some flaws, Mindy seems downright perfect compared to silly, pathetic, bumbling, stupid Homer. She's definitely the more grown-up and sensible of the two, and all the humiliating gags in the episode are at Homer's expense. All this, of course, is to test Homer's morality: can he remain faithful to Marge while in the constant presence of this goddess (quite literally, as Homer imagines Mindy as Venus the first time he sees her)? A subversion of the trope finally came in a later episode, in which Homer finally confessed to his family his temptation to sleep with Mindy (which he didn't do), and assured everyone that they never see each other anymore, because Mindy "hit the bottle pretty hard and lost her job."
      • Amusingly this was despite the episode seemingly trying to subvert the trope and displaying Mindy as a bumbling, more compatable female for Homer, however many of her flaws mirroring Homer's are minor or merely implied. The show doesn't seem to know how to get away from this trope, even when it's trying it's hardest to avoid it.
  • Lampshaded and Averted Trope in King of the Hill, where Peggy envisions herself as the suffering smart one, but is actually far less sensible than Hank.
    • Averted with Kahn, Hank's Laotian neighbor, who from day one has been portrayed as a racist Jerkass. In the first episode they meet, Hank doesn't want to associate with him and Peggy accuses Hank of being a racist, causing Hank to remark, "What kind of country is this where you can only hate a man if he's white?"
  • The major reason for the general fandom rejection of Lola Bunny in Space Jam, who aside from being the only new character didn't follow any of the usual humorous slapstick conventions. For instance, late in the film, Bugs pushes her out the way when one of the Monstars is about to squash her, as though she, unlike all the other toons and even Bugs himself afterwards, will not just get flattened like a pancake or some other temporary cartoon injury that is easy to recover from. Even a human character in the movie gets flattened and does not receive permanent damage.
  • Illustrated quite well in The Fairly Odd Parents. Although (much like The Simpsons) the emphasis on humor quickly turned the entire cast into idiots, viewers were constantly reminded that Cosmo and Timmy's dad were far stupider than their female counterparts Wanda and Mrs. Turner.
    • However, that's not to say Wanda and Mrs. Turner are perfect (or even close). Wanda borders on being a complete bitch more often than not, while Mrs. Turner is still (usually) neglectful and not exactly a genius, even if she seems so in comparison to Mr. Turner. As for other female characters, Vicky is the embodiment of evil, Tootie and Veronica are borderline-psychotic stalkers, and Trixie is a bit bitchy and air headed. In fact, the guys on average, sans Cosmo and Mr. Turner, probably have it better off. Despite some of their flaws (Timmy being a bit of a slow minded Jerkass, AJ being a bit of an Insufferable Genius, Chester being poorer than dirt), they're all otherwise relatively normal kids who are (usually) able to handle themselves.
    • AJ starts off as Timmy and Chester's Black Best Friend who happens to be a Straight Man to Timmy. Now he's an Insufferable Genius who (very rarely though) rubs his brain power in Timmy's face.
  • With Danny Phantom, Butch Hartman was able to do it all over again with Danny's parents. In the early episodes, though goofy, Jack was portrayed as a visionary ghost-hunter whose over-enthusiasm often got in the way of common sense, while Maddie was soft-spoken and more of his assistant. By halfway into the first season, it completely flipped: Maddie became the bold action-oriented commanding ghost hunter, while Jack could barely even point a rifle in the right direction.
    • To be fair, though, Jack's positive side was that he was clearly the more enthusiastic of the two, and had a lot more invested in the job. While he's not great on the field, it seems that many of the ghost-catching inventions were in fact his creation, and when the chips were down, Jack was very capable.
    • Positive Discrimination was also regularly expressed by Sam, constantly the voice of reason to the perpetually Idiot Ball-holding Danny and Tucker, and Jazz, the perfect student in contrast to her Book Dumb little brother.
    • Danny eventually averts this for the most part come Season Three through Character Development. If anything, his only Book Dumb moments occur as an excuse to give Sam a reason to nag, an act that is all but pointless by that point.
  • In Yin Yang Yo, the two main leads are basically girl and boy versions of each other. Yin is the overly girlish girl who likes ponies and anything pink and naturally is the more studious, mature, and level-headed of the two. Yang is a crass, crude-humor spouting blue bunny who likes boyish things like monster trucks, mindless video games, fighting anything that moves, and not studying. Also the more likely to receive physical slapstick. Once again, the three shows share writers and directors, so not much of a surprise.
  • In Atomic Betty, Paloma is a Token Minority with more powers than the rest of the cast (good guys and villains alike), no flaws whatsoever, genius IQ, probably enough psychic powers to take over the world, but since her role is to be a token minority she's like 1% of the show, and never gets to beat up any bad guys, save the world, gets any substantial adventures of her own, or even get to do some comment on Betty's adventures.
  • Gwen of Ben 10 is generally portrayed as smarter, more competent, and all around better than Ben, despite Ben being the main character. Culminates in the TV Movie, in which Gwen is portrayed as selfless and Ben as selfish respectively.
    • Don't forget the episode "Gwen 10", where Gwen is instantly better with the Omnitrix.
    • And when it's time to hand out An Aesop, Ben's always the one it's handed to (or beat over the head with). Despite Gwen almost always having just as big a part in her arguments with Ben as he did (being insulting, condescending, shrill, and, well, argumentative), no one ever seemed to express that this might be a bad thing, not even with a "catch more flies with honey" type thing.
    • This is averted in the later series(Alien Force and Ultimate Alien), where there are even times she needs to learn an Aesop.
      • But then winds up being reapplied when she's given the most reliable and versatile powers on the show, while Ben has to deal with the still occasionally unruly Omnitrix (and even has it futz with his mind repeatedly), and Kevin's powers are only good for hitting things (and he's constantly getting Worfed anyway). The only two times her powers were a drawback were when she had to deal with her grandmother, and when they threatened to make her even more powerful than before.
  • In both versions of Jonny Quest, Hadji is intelligent, resourceful, knows Judo, and may or may not have mystic powers. Jonny Quest the Real Adventures makes him a computer whiz and an Indian prince.
  • In Daria, the two major African-American kid characters at Lawndale High, Jodie and Mack, seem to be the only ones outside a handful of others who have intelligence and integrity enough to earn Daria's respect.
    • Ofcourse this is lampshaded frequently with them. In one episode they're voted King and Queen in a parade, and they point out that they win every year just because the school wants to look diverse. Jodie frequently points out that she feels pressured to be the perfect "queen of the negroes" as she puts it, because she and Mack are the only black people in their entire grade. In the series finale she ends up wanting to go to a traditionally black college just so that she can act like a normal person for once.
    • Averted with the show's two Asian characters. Ms. Li is power-hungry and corrupt and Asian Airhead Tiffany is Too Dumb to Live.
  • In The Proud Family, Penny dates Johnny, a wheelchair bound boy, out of pity. However, it turns out that Johnny is a very rude and horrible person who uses his disability to his advantage to make people do things for him. Eventually, Penny has enough and tells him to take a hike.
    • Another subversion is when Penny joins the football team. The coach reluctantly puts her in the game after attempting to put in everyone else, like his waterboy son. Everything seems to follow the aforementioned case of the single girl in a team, including Penny being single-handedly responsible for her team's comeback...and then she fails to catch what would have be the game winning touchdown and cries. She still convinces the boys that she can play, though.
  • Foxxy Love of Drawn Together is consistently portrayed as the smartest, most moral character on the show (though that isn't saying much). She is even referred to in one episode as being "the only person in the house who isn't completely retarded". In contrast, the show's white characters (Hero, Clara, and Toot) are fair game for all kinds of abuse.
  • Sealab 2021 invokes this trope with Dr. Quinn, in order to mock it.
  • Averted with Genki Girl Frida Suez of El Tigre. She is just as mischievous and misguided as Manny, if not more so. In the same vein as Babs, she also suffers double the amount of painful-looking slapstick than her male co-star.
  • In Wolverine and the X-Men, when Wolverine is unconscious after braving a fire to save a little girl, the little girl's parents want to help him (risking their whole family), but another member of the group wants to turn him in to the mutant registration forces. Fair enough. The little girl's parents are also a mixed race couple and the other guy is white. Okay, fine. Except the mixed-race couple are toned, young, attractive, and wearing fashionable clothes, while the white guy is fat, middle-aged, balding, and wears Bermuda shorts and Hawaiian shirts. Successful mix of Positive Discrimination and an Acceptable Target.
    • Also happens in X-Men Evolution. Humans in their area (who seem less ethnically diverse than the mutants) find out about the mutants and freak out. So the X-Men take a Caribbean cruise to 'take a break' from the bigotry. They are exposed as mutants and treated as freaks/outcasts by the other passengers (almost all of whom are white) when Jean uses her powers to put out a fire. They visit an island where they are again revealed to be mutants, though the dark skinned islanders are shown to be extremely friendly and actually admire them for their abilities.
      • Of course, Boom Boom was the one who caused the fire by blowing up someone's plate out of annoyance, so yeah. And the islanders are welcoming to the mutants after Amara saves them from a volcano (yes, she accidentally triggers a second eruption, but they don't really see the connection).
      • There's also the fact on how they first met mutants. The general populace of America, including there school and those on the boat, discovered mutants when they were fighting a robot and causing lots of property damage. Sure, it wasn't their fault and they were acquitted, but the damage was done, and most had made up their mind that Mutants are evil, evil abominations who all have some ulterior motive. The islanders apparently had never heard of a mutant (Did they look like they had a TV, or even electricity?) and their first introduction to them was, them selflessly saving their lives (Ironically, from something they caused) and had only the good ones to see. It wasn't so much as positive discrimination, just a matter of first impression. Plus, there's been other ethnicities at their school.
      • This is played straight with Amanda, a black(?) girl, but completely averted with her (also black) parents. She dates Kurt/Nightcrawler despite knowing his true appearance (and was actually initially more interested in him because of it) but when her parents find out, they want her to stop seeing him, though she doesn't listen to them.
  • Barbie in A Christmas Carol has Barbie's Black Best Friend Christi playing a living saint while Barbie is in the role of The Grinch.
  • Played with and then mocked in a Robot Chicken sketch where they play a skit once, then play it with the races reversed. Then they do something completely unrelated to the previous two skits. Each is bookended by a scientist asking what the audience feels about the skits, then concluding something completely nonsensical.
    • Subverted in the Robot Chicken short 12 Angry Little People in which the only black juror starts to loudly complain about how the police once took his shoe-shine box and beat him with it while using a stereotypically ignorant inflection. When the others stare at him in disgust he says, "What? Every black man on the TV gots to be a posi-a-tive role model?"
    • Done again immediately afterwards when the other minority juror (a dog) gives a technical explanation and another juror interrupts him with, "Uh, you're a f**king dog."
  • Abby from The Replacements. In addition to being rich, she also seems to be the Straight Man in her Girl Posse, and is rarely the butt of anyone's joke.
    • Subverted in one episode with Terrance, a blind kid who bullies Todd and uses his disability to play the victim and make it look like Todd is bullying him.
  • Played pretty much straight in Family Guy. Lois and Meg have their flaws, certainly, but they're certainly far more clever and competent than Peter or Chris. Also with Joe, who is by far the most competent male character in the show, despite being confined to a wheelchair. You could arguably claim this for Cleveland as well; despite his rather boring nature he's also way more competent than Peter, and saner than Quagmire. Originally averted with Stewie, but now played straight due to his rather obvious gay (or bisexual, depending on the episode) nature.
    • Subverted in one episode where Chris dates a girl with Down's Syndrome who turns out to be a total bitch.
    • Furthermore, in later seasons, Lois is increasingly portrayed as a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing only slightly less callous than Peter, and Meg is increasingly going insane from the abuse.
    • In Joe's case, his competence in the earlier seasons is at least in part a result of the relatively two-dimensional role he fulfilled in his initial one-off appearance. When he became a permanent cast member, he developed a string of personality flaws and behavioral defects just as deep, if not always as obvious, as most of his neighbors.
    • Interestingly, upon getting his own moment in the spotlight, Cleveland became a much zanier and obnoxious character (if not nearly to the same callous extent as Peter) with his wife Donna generally portrayed as having more common sense. Played with for the kids, Cleveland Jr is a Kindhearted Simpleton, meaning he is dopier but less selfish and obnoxious than Roberta.
  • In The Goode Family this was lampshaded with the quote "We can't hire minorities! That's racist! It's whites only at the Goode house."
  • Justice League Unlimited: Every time the female league members are shown sparring with the male league members, the female members win, despite their individual powers, strengths, any invulnerability, their level of training, and basic logic.
    • Personality-wise, all the team members have flaws - black Green Lantern John Stewart is quick to jump to conclusions and lay blame, and Hawkgirl is hot-headed. Wonder Woman's main flaw seems to be that she's a bit naive and stuck up. In fact, the least flawed character seems to be the white male Batman, but that's because he's Crazy Awesome.
      • Of course, one could claim that Batman's in the minority of being the only person without superpowers on the team; and when you're on a team with Green Lantern and Superman, that practically counts as a disability superpower.
      • Batman has issues of his own which are mentioned but rarely used against him, namely his obsessiveness, lack of trust, and anti-social tendencies.
    • The most glaring use of this trope was when Superman and Wonder Woman were tricked into fighting each other and Diana beat him half to death. Though this might be justified in that Superman caught onto the illusion first and spent the majority of the fight trying to be as inoffensive as possible to try and find a way to snap Wonder Woman out of it.
  • Partly averted in Cats Don't Dance, as Sawyer is subjected to quite a bit of humiliating slapstick in the opening. Played straighter in that her dance scenes lack the more comedic takes that Danny employs.
  • In Rugrats, African-American Susie is the smartest of all the babies, her dad is the creator of a widely successful TV show and her mom is a doctor.
    • Well, Susie is the oldest kid (barely older than Angelica). Also, Angelica's parents are also successful, and Phil & Lil's parents apparently run their own business. Only Stu, Didi, and Chazz are the "average" ones.
    • Susie was a late addition to the original cast who quickly was utilized as a counter/foil to Angelica and to play a good 'big sister' role for the younger babies. It could be argued that since the intent was to add a an older character that the babies could look up to anyways she would have had the same positive traits no matter what race she was given. She may very well be an example of an intentionally good character who just happened to also be black for diversity sake.
    • It's worth noting that this is somewhat in contrast to Suzie's debut role in "Meet The Carmichaels", where she is introduced as fickle crybaby. "Tricycle Thief" also greatly subverts her Canon Sue role.
    • It's also worth noting that All Grown Up subverts this even more by giving Susie realistic flaws. In the first episode she is easily conned by a woman into giving her $1000 thinking it's for a record deal, in another she completely buckles under pressure when she has to juggle an audition and a spot on her language team, she's shown to resent how the others look on her as perfect as well as sometimes acting rudely towards Angelica.
    • In the first movie, the black female rookie park ranger is much more competent than the experienced white male park ranger.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door has a five man band, the only one with an actual hint of common sense is Numbuh 5, who is female and black. However, Numbuh 3 averts as the resident Cloudcuckoolander, giving her the least common sense of the five. Granted, given the series, having the most common sense doesn't tell you that much.
  • Princess Sally Acorn of the Sonic the Hedgehog animated series seemed to gradually get hit by this trope. While Closer to Earth compared to Sonic in early episodes, she was still capable of being flawed in judgement or acting equally childish or arrogant. However, in the second season she is increasingly emphasized as the most competent member of the team, with a lot of follies and screw-ups made by others such as Sonic being due to not listening to her advice earlier. Bunnie and Dulcy were ditzier in personality, but still less prone to Idiot Balls of the same scale as Sonic and Antoine.
    • In the comic, Sally (especially in the beginning) was not only the smartest, bravest, most sensible, and overall best Freedom Fighter (yes, despite Sonic's name being on the series), but she actually expected everyone else to be Genre Savvy enough about this trope to know that she was. She once berated Sonic for saving her from a roboticizer... because she had a gizmo (that was of course never mentioned or brought up again) in her boots that not only would have protected her, but analyzed how the machine worked so they could reverse it. Keep in mind, she didn't tell Sonic about this, she just naturally expected him to know she was perfectly in control and everything was going according to her plan, even though it just looked like another situation where he needed to save her, like every other issue.
  • Sandy Cheeks of SpongeBob SquarePants played this to such extremes early on she almost comes off as a parody of the trope. Compared to the more flawed males cast, Sandy was much Closer to Earth and often acted as the unfallable voice of reason as well as being extremely talented in both intellectual and brawn levels, suggested to be both the strongest and smartest member of Bikini Bottom. Following the second season, Sandy was arguably swayed from this trope, being granted her own set of flaws and often having her overboard positive aspects parodied or Lampshaded. However this came to be played straight again in later post-movie episodes, where the rest of the cast were Flanderized to extreme levels and Sandy arguably ending up the only main character not to have her callous or idiotic traits exagerrated.
  • Subverted in Tuff Puppy, which has Action Girl Kitty Katswell as The Chew Toy.
  • Though she does have her flaws, Piper of Storm Hawks is the most competent member of the Five-Man Band...of course she's also the token female, Ambiguously Brown...may or may not be a lesbian, or at least bisexual.
  • Kanga of Disney's Winnie the Pooh adaptations is presented as being much more logical and mature than the rest of the Hundred Acre Wood for the most part, albeit largely due to taking on a Team Mom role. The majority of Disney's attempts to bring in other female additions are similarly far less zany and have less distinct personality flaws than the male leads. This is interestingly subverted in the original novels, where Kanga is more equally idiot-prone as the rest of the cast while the unofficial sequel Return To The Hundred Acre Wood introduces Lottie the otter, who is actually one of the more obnoxious and scatter brained characters.
  • June is the only main girl in the wraparound shorts on Ka Blam. She's also (at least from season two onwards) the most competent of evryone.
  • Villain example; Jinx is the only female member of the HIVE Five on Teen Titans, and is also the only one of them to both largely escape Villain Decay and get to do a Heel Face Turn.
  • In one episode of South Park, the boys are forced to attend the Museum of Tolerance. One display shows a stereotyped young Asian with a calculator, to show that even positive stereotypes -- such as the stereotype that all Asians are good at math -- can have an overall negative effect on the stereotyped group in question.
    • While South Park is usually known for it's "equal target" rule, it has leaned slightly into this vein concerning recurring characters. The blatantly named Token Black has few distinguishing flaws and is one of the more normal acting kids, while previously shrill and idiot prone female characters like Wendy, Sharon or Sheila are now Closer to Earth, with the majority of their now toned down overreacting or protesting proved to be justified. Of course any non white male celebrity is still free game.
  • On Phineas and Ferb, the evil villain organisation L.O.V.E.M.U.F.F.I.N. is about half comprised of women and at least one is Asian.
  • An odd subversion occurs in Adventure Time. One episode deals with an Alternate Universe populated by gender-flipped versions of the cast. While most of the gender-flipped characters are on par with their counterparts in competence, the Ice Queen is noticeably more dangerous and competent then her Spear Counterpart Ice King. Then it's revealed that the whole episode was a fanfic written by the Ice King, with the Ice Queen as an unconventional self-insert. The gender-flipped characters are aware of the Ice King's existence, and everyone sings his praises and all the girls want to marry him.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Azula is more dangerous than Zuko.
    • She was also favored by her father for her more cruel and dangerous behavior, while Zuko was always being told how much worse he was then her.
    • Keep in mind that this is not seen as a good thing, and that ultimately, Azula's badass qualities were less admirable considering that she's a troubled sociopath. Arguably, the trope is played straighter with Azula's sidekicks, Mai and Ty Lee, who were almost as threatening as Azula, but nowhere near as psychotic, and portrayed in a far more positive light.
  • Penny of Inspector Gadget, the most down to earth character on the show and several times more competant than her Uncle Gadget and the entire police department combined, it is not rare for her to save the day almost single handedly while the latter completely screw things up (keeping in mind she is a ten year old girl). Granted Brain is near equally skilled, if far more blundering and neurotic in execution. Other female characters such as bumbling MAD agents appear but are rare.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic more or less completely averts this. While this is to be expected since the large majority of the cast are female, the show also goes to great lengths to show similarly varying degrees of competence and morality with their few male characters. Spike in particular, while rarely the main hero, trades the Idiot Ball and Sanity Ball rather equally with Twilight Sparkle with both showing a similar dependance on each other (this is keeping in mind Twilight is one of the saner female characters).
  • In the eighties cartoon Bionic Six, the family started out with three children, two of their own (a boy and a girl) and an adopted child who was black. The male son was a jock, and go-to guy for saying or doing anything stupid. The adopted black son was not only just as big of a school hero jock as the white son, but was a supergenius on top of that.


Web Original

  • The Most Popular Girls in School: Matthew Derringer and Tanner Christiansen play the Only Sane Men role to Dumb Jock Blaine, douchebag Than, and the occasionally annoying Justin.
    • Surprisingly for a such queer-friendly show, the two openly non-heterosexual female characters avert this: Jenna Darabond is a manipulative and even downright dangerous Depraved Bisexual, and Lunch Lady Belinda is a Dirty Old Woman Abhorrent Admirer who targets both males and females.
  • Inverted in this video by Macho Sauce Productions where the only black guy of the team are dense and considerably less intelligent as the other 3 members (who are white).
  • In the Reincarnation series of games, the Reincarnys (sinners who have escaped from Hell) have all been male up until the most recent mini-release. While the male Reincarnys have typically been serial killers, child rapists, and so on, the first female is simply a drug dealer. And unlike most of the other Reincarnys you recapture, her death occurs offscreen (though the bloody aftermath is shown) and there's no scene of "Luke" torturing her afterwards.
  • On the blog Regretsy (which mocks pretentious or ridiculous items on the craft site Etsy), people who leave honest criticism in threads full of fawning approval have their own name and avatar replaced by a default one made up by Regretsy and the name "The Only Sane Person In The World". The icon is of a black woman.
  • Red vs. Blue used to have this issue, when the only female characters were Tex and Shiela, one of whom is canonically the biggest Badass in the series and the other is a tank's AI. Later seasons grew out of this to some extent, after introducing a female character who is just as laughably incompetent as the main cast (Sister), and giving real flaws to the more hypercompetent ladies (Tex).
  • Deconstructed in this blog post. The author argues that having a single highly-competent black person in the company of many white people of varying competence only shows that black people have to work harder than white people for the same rewards. According to an article she quotes “...one of the ways in which we will know when black people in the United States are truly liberated and equal to their fellow white citizens will be when there are as many mediocre blacks in academia as there are currently mediocre whites.”
  • Mocked in Harry Partridge's "Change The Bees". In it, Dr. Bees isn't allowed to make a comic cover that shows a woman getting attacked by bees (out of fear of offending women) but is allowed to depict a woman gruesomely murdering a sentient bee. The video is a parody of the RealLife incident where a Batgirl 2011 cover was changed.
  • In some Internet communities this is referred to as "the Galbrush Paradox". Someone complains about there not being enough female or minority characters, only to then complain when those characters are depicted as equally flawed as the straight white male characters. The result is a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: creators using white male leads over and over because those are the only type of people they feel they can depict as realistically flawed without offending someone. The name is a reference to Monkey Island, with the theory positing that if Guybrush was a woman named Galbrush instead, the writers wouldn't be able to depict her as the bumbling idiot Guybrush is without being accused of sexism.
  • An early "parents'-guide" film review website, Screenit.com, invoked this trope inadvertently in its discussion of film characters as "role models." At the beginning of each "content" analysis, the reviewer would list all the major characters in a film and determine whether each one was a good role model (while occasionally admitting the absurdity of considering fictional characters, some of them quite fantastical, to be role-model material). The male characters were judged entirely based on their moral virtues (or lack thereof), but the female ones (at least if they were supposed to be heroines) would often have to "prove" their ActionGirl status, with "ability to beat people up" listed alongside their moral strengths or failings. Apparently, a heroine's inability to punch out anyone even the slightest bit physically stronger than herself made her a borderline disgrace. True, there is a male equivalent to this "moral" hypocrisy, but Screenit.com never invoked that one.
  • One of the ongoing trends in Death Battle. In all of the mixed gender matchups so far, only two of them so far has ended with the male characters winning: Yoshi vs. Riptor andDante vs. BayonettaOtacon hacking into Grim's computers and causing her death during the Solid Snake vs. Sam Fisher episode also counts.


Other

  • In the Lego series Bionicle, each Toa team has only one female on it, the main three so far being Gali, Nokama and Hahli. In each case they are the least flawed and the wisest members of their teams. Particularly noticeable in Legends Of Metru Nui in which each Toa Metru is given a major character flaw which they must overcome to unlock their individual mask powers, such as Vakama's lack of confidence and Matau's inability to stop and think before rushing in. Not only is Nokama's flaw relatively small (not admitting when she's wrong), it is only referenced once and she overcomes it very early on, extremely quickly.
    • It gets better after a Retool that switches settings to focus on a world with Gladiator Games. The one girl there, Kiina, is brash, aggressive, and blunt; traits that help her in the arena but make her a pain to deal with outside of it.
    • Actually kind of Averted on the original team, as Toa Onua, a male, was very wise and never argued with the others, unlike Gali who frequently argued with Tahu and Kopaka.
  • Across all forms of fiction, it is very common to treat bigotry as something only white men do. White women are usually, at worst, an Innocent Bigot (unless, of course, they're a standin for a female political figure), but are generally presented as too intelligent and empathetic to be prejudiced. If a non-white character is ever portrayed as bigoted, it will almost always be a "humorous subversion" or even treated as justified, as they will only hate white people. Ethnic characters being prejudiced against other non-white ethnicities is almost completely unheard of in fiction, as they are usually portrayed as above such things or knowing better. Many works even have two different minorities teaming up against common racism, even though in Real Life that either usually didn't happen or was subverted. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), for example, has included white members from its very earliest days.
  • There's also a common Double Standard in the real world of excusing members of minority groups for sexist or homophobic (or yes, sometimes even racist) beliefs or attitudes, with the justification that any criticism of this behavior would be "disrespectful to their culture." During the age of European imperialism, this dilemma came up a lot. One famous case study focused on the controversy surrounding female genital mutilation among the Kikuyu tribe of Kenya (then known as British East Africa). The British colonizers were caught on the prongs of a Morton's Fork: if they condemned the practice, they faced the Mighty Whitey accusation; but if they tolerated and/or defended the practice, they would be attacked by feminist groups.


Notable Aversions

  • It goes without saying that any work shot through with a racially or culturally supremacist viewpoint is going to avoid this trope like the plague (The Birth of a Nation and The Eternal Jew perhaps the most noteworthy examples).
  • Unless they're the protagonists, Jewish characters in many stories (where most of the characters are not Jewish and the one character's Jewishness is made explicit) will often be arrogant and obnoxious, talking down to Gentile characters with a "know-it-all" attitude. Almost any character portrayed by Jon Lovitz will come off this way. A well-known example is his portrayal of Artie Ziff, Marge Simpson's creepy former boyfriend on The Simpsons who acted snooty toward Homer back in high school. Marge once asked Artie if he knew why everyone disliked him, and his answer was "Anti-Semitism?" Marge then had to inform Artie that he was so hated because he was an insensitive Jerkass.
  • Asians (the Chinese in particular) are also often depicted acting superciliously - sometimes even cruelly - toward other characters, especially if the topic in question is something that Asians are "naturally" better at (martial arts, philosophy, etc.). This trend has inspired the Cracked website to identify a common negative stereotype: "The Wise Old Asian Asshole." Pai Mei in the Kill Bill movies probably took this character type about as far as it could go - so far, in fact, that Pai Mei's extreme sadism drove one of his victims to murder him in revenge.
  • The Man Show, as its name suggests, takes a (jokingly) male-supremacist attitude toward the world, even going so far in the very first episode to start up a petition to repeal women's suffrage. Somewhat softened in that most of the male characters - including the two hosts themselves - are hardly paragons of virtue, and also in that the treatment of the pretty girls on the show was generally with the relatively harmless "sex object" stereotype (although occasionally the gags would get crueller than that). One spoof episode even had the hosts get in touch with their "feminine" sides: while continuing to wear male clothing, they acted much less raucous and talked in gentle tones and cuddled some kittens in the finale. (However, recent radio-show remarks by Adam Carolla suggest that his chauvinistic attitude on the show may not have been just an act.)
  • The 2000 stoner comedy Dude, Where's My Car?? has two white, Anglo-Saxon (though admittedly drug-addled) young men as its protagonists, and many of the butts of the movie's jokes are women, ethnic minorities, or other generally exotic or eccentric characters. There's the sassy black female cop who is mean to our heroes when they get arrested, as well as the obnoxious, screeching, barely articulate Asian immigrant who works the drive-thru speaker at the "Chinese Fooood" restaurant. The one French character in the movie is a sadistic pervert. Blonde beauty Christie Boner is an idiotic slut, while the protagonists' twin girlfriends are harpy-like and generally bitchy. On the other hand, Christie's boyfriend and his gang of (mostly) white bullies who torment our heroes certainly fall under the Jerk Jock stereotype.
  • Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson) in As Good as It Gets is a lonely romance novelist afflicted with a serious case of obsessive-compulsive disorder (which, granted, isn't a "traditional" disability but still can - and often does - wreak quite a bit of havoc with its victims' daily lives). In a more trite or inoffensive film he'd come off as The Woobie due to this trope. But director James L. Brooks turns him into more of a Jerkass Woobie whose extreme shortage of social skills has made him unbearably rude and misanthropic. (He's been prescribed pills for his disorder, but never takes them because he's too ashamed to.) Much of the movie is concerned with Melvin slowly becoming friendlier and more sensitive, especially to a gay neighbor whom he had mocked earlier in the film. Especially shocking is a scene in which Melvin, irritated that his daily breakfast at the diner just down the street from his apartment is not going as planned, offhandedly mocks a waitress for being "fat." The restaurant owner immediately flies into a rage and forces Melvin to leave the building, prompting everyone else in the diner to burst into wild applause - a humiliating punishment that would never be administered to any disabled character suffering from any ailment more serious than OCD, unless said character blatantly crossed the Moral Event Horizon.
    • But it can also be seen as a straight white guy needing a gay man and a woman to make him less of a jerk so he can be happy.
  • Danish short film Election Night completely obliterates this. The entire movie is about a guy who, in his constant quest to be as politically correct as possible and thus has an Everything Is Racist attitude to just about everything, is trying to go vote on time and has to take several different taxis - two of the three are driven by deplorable white men (one is heavily hinted to be a neo-nazi) - but one is driven by a sterotypical immigrant cab driver who suddenly asks him to vote to 'make sure those Yellow bastards get the hell out of the country' because they keep closing down kebab bars and opening chinese restaurants instead.
  • The disabled protagonists of Rory O'Shea Was Here are as flawed and human as everyone else in the film.

Notes

  1. 2017 White House Correspondents' Dinner
  2. And Cirucci but she isn't considered one anymore.
  3. until a certain point in the plot
  4. the male half of all magical energy
  5. Yes, this includes Naesala and his ravens, considering that all the piracy and mercenary work they do is for the sake of feeding their people at home.
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