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A character in an otherwise typical fantasy game/story whose profession seems at odds with their nature or appearance as assumed by tradition or the audience, like a dwarven ranger or an ogre engineer. Sometimes this is for sheer game balance and variety, while other times it's actually Lampshaded as being appropriate if seen in the right light.

Ocasionally this is invoked as a reason the Comic Relief seems so inept; it's just misplaced interest into something inappropriate for them.

Examples of Square Race Round Class include:

Anime & Manga

Card Games

  • Magic the Gathering has a lot of these, including Rhino Monks and a slightly more probable Ogre Samurai.
    • They also features an Ogre Savant, with the flavor text, "He's an oxymoron".
    • Goblin soldiers, in a setting where goblins are generally characterized by total lack of cooperation.
    • A surprisingly large number of Zombie Clerics. Similarly a couple zombie Druids.
    • Death Charmer and Pit Raptor, the improbable worm and bird mercenaries. Not humanoid worm and bird people, just inexplicably for hire animals.
    • The Time Spiral block is full of these, by design.
  • The Pokémon Trading Card Game has a year's worth of these in the Delta Species, Holon Phantoms, and Dragon Frontier expansions. These sets featured "Delta" Pokémon, creatures with mutated types (e.g., a Charizard would become Metal and Lightning instead of Fire and Flying).

Comic Books

  • The original concept of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles owes a lot to this trope. Turtles aren't exactly renowned either for their speed or agility. So what should we do, obviously? Turn four of them into Ninja Martial Artists! Trained by an intensely honorable and noble rat of all things.

Films -- Animation

  • Kung Fu Panda
    • Po himself is quite a good example of this trope.

 Tai Lung: He's a panda! You're a PANDA! What are you gonna do, big guy? Sit on me?

    • There was also a concept for an Elephant Ninja, though that was not used in the movie. It can be seen in the movie's artbook.
  • Rémy of Ratatouille. A rat doesn't seem the most obvious choice for becoming a gourmet chef....


  • Ironically found in The Lord of the Rings, where your average hobbit is generally not fond of adventuring, burglary, or heroic renown even though their latent abilities imply they'd be especially good at it. Most derivations are based upon the Bagginses (who prefer sneaking and cleverness) or Pippin Took (a more moderate warrior type). Most LOTR-influenced RPGs make the class more attractive to players by having a race of halflings that all are fond of adventuring and/or burglary. Interestingly enough, this might actually be close to the wandering hobbit ancestors alluded to in the prologue.
    In the early drafts of LotR, all the Rangers were wandering hobbits, Strider included (his name at the time was Trotter), and ironically fit very well in the D&D version of a hobbit adventurer. Later Tolkien came to conclusion that he had too many hobbit characters going around, and rewrote a fair deal of the story, which at the time had barely reached Rivendell.
    Wandering "wild" hobbits are still mentioned in the narration, along with a comment that they may be more common than their civilized Shire cousins might think, but none are actually met throughout the story. They seem to be more like survivalist vagabonds than adventure-seekers, however.
  • The very plotline of The Hobbit is a bunch of dwarves, apparently not much good at anything except fighting or running away, who got in a group to do nothing other than sneakily steal treasure from an effectively unfightable dragon. Fortunately, they did realize this and hired Bilbo.
  • A good example of this trope is Horton from Horton Hears a Who. The title elephant character must exercise a great deal of delicacy and gracefulness in order to protect a micro universe which he discovers.
  • Discworld
    • It may be easier to list the cases where race matches profession on the Discworld. Through the series we see vampire photographers, troll musicians, orc footballers, goblin savants, policemen of every race under the sun and hiding from it, and even girl wizards.
    • While Discworld plays with Our Dwarves Are All the Same a lot, they still tend to fall into a lot of the common stereotypes -- hard-working, greedy, serious-minded, dangerous when drunk, etc. Casanunda (a Casanova expy) is a dwarven con artist and dashing swordsman who channels his race's single gender into a seducer with hints of Anything That Moves.
  • In Dragaera, Dragons are known as arrogant warriors who are ultra-ambitious and if angered, are direct (and brutal) about it. Kragar, who was booted out of group, has no ambition, preferring to be a Servile Snarker, and is the epitome of stealthy, being an assassin with a Stealth Hi Bye ability so powerful that it's outside of his control.
  • In the very first Conan the Barbarian book, a young Conan's search for a thief daring enough to risk burglarizing an evil sorcerer's tower results in the disdain of the local criminal underclass, his own contempt returned... and an alliance with a master thief whom all the other rogues hail as their superior. He's massively obese and looks like a candidate for quadruple bypass surgery, yet he can shimmy up a rope faster than Conan can (a rope woven from the tresses of dead women's hair, which he stole from their coffins at night, and steeped in wine to give it strength).
  • In The War Gods, the Hradani are akin to Orcs. Even have a Tolkenish history of being a race of High-Men before wizardly twisted them into a race of berserkers. Bazhell, the main character is akin to an Orc Paladin chosen by the god of Justice. His best friend, Brandark, is a Bard and scholar.

Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons and Dragons, and most other fantasy roleplaying games, allow players to create all kinds of characters embodying this trope.
    • An old joke regarding character creation involves an "orc bard," where the player admits he just wanted to be able to hit people with a guitar. The counter to this is that a member of a primitive or outright illiterate race is actually more likely to maintain a strong song and oral storytelling tradition. It's not called an axe for nothing...
    • WOTC had fun with this one April: Humorous PC Portraits, including a Dwarf Ninja.
    • Also, one of the prepackaged miniature sets they released has a Halfling Barbarian... which works brilliantly with a couple of the settings that feature Halfling Barbarians as the central example of the race, just to flip common expectations. Dark Sun has them as cannibals and Eberron has tribes of dinosaur-riding halfling barbarians.
    • Ogre Mages in nearly any setting embody this trope. There's no point in being big and brutish when you can turn most adventurers into human popsicles.
    • Bugbears, despite being the biggest and toughest of the goblinoid races, are also quite stealthy.
  • Hackmaster, mostly a parody of AD&D, is a bit of a send-up of fantasy roleplaying in general. One subrace for player characters is the gnome titan, a member of a group of gnomes who follow the Gnomish God of War, and are trained from birth to be incredibly bad-ass warriors and battle mages. They still cling to their Cute/Comic Relief origins but in a decidedly twisted sort of way... one racially-specific magic item is the rightly feared +3 Gnomish Boots of Groin Stomping.
  • Warhammer 40000 has Ork Kommandos. Orks are, as a rule, the loudest and least subtle species in the galaxy (their word for firepower comes from the sound it makes), so of course their having stealth units is regarded as a joke (in true 40K fashion, the Guarsman trying to tell his encounter with them is executed for making stuff up). Meaning, of course, that Kommandos are all the more effective at their jobs when no-one thinks they exist...
    Ork have a system of color-coding where painting a vehicle/weapon gives it special properties: red is faster, blue is luckier, etc. Fans believe that purple and/or orange are the stealthiest colors to an ork. Why? Well, have you ever seen an purple/orange-painted ork?

Video Games

  • Most RPGs allow players to choose any class/race combination, so it's not really a notable trope for player characters unless there are restrictions that don't make sense. In many cases, the player can create a character who is unplayable or extremely challenging because of conflicting ability bonuses and penalties.
  • World of Warcraft has several class/race combinations that invoke a Willing Suspension of Disbelief.
    • Gnome and goblin characters can be the Warrior class, though the game ignores the problem of how smaller characters can hit and tank just as well as their larger counterparts. This is mostly for game balance, to give these otherwise intellectually-oriented races some class variety. Somewhat mellowed down by the fact that many bosses are humongous enough that every other race also looks positively tiny in comparison.
    • Dwarf Rogues are notoriously rare among players, as dwarves are crafty, industrious and honest people in general, they're too stocky to look convincing while sneaking, and dwarven racial bonus is of little to no benefit to a rogue. Nevertheless, the possibility exists.
    • Averted with the Draenei and the Tauren, neither of whom have access to the rogue class. Both races have rigid morality which makes criminally inclined individuals among them very rare (except non-playable splinter factions like the Grimtotem tribe). Additionally, Fanon has it that they're too big to be stealth-based combatants and can't sneak very well due to having hooves for feet. There are in-game jokes regarding this:

 Male Draenei: You know, our tails add to our natural balance and agility, ha! (Offscreen Crash)

Male Human: How does a Tauren hide in a cherry tree? He paints his hooves red!

    • A common joke is that there are tauren and draenei rogues; they're simply so good that they've stealthed the class selection button.
    • And now, tauren and draenei hunters can actually go into stealth with Camouflage. Fear the invisible cows!
      • Sneaking animations actually exist for all playable races, as certain items may temporarily change a player's appearance into another race, thus allowing for rogues which look like tauren and draenei.
    • Considering how tall orcs are, and how big and burly the male model is, orc rogues have not escaped fan criticism. (Story-wise, however, it makes plenty of sense that they'd engage in subterfuge and assassination.)
    • The ursine pandaren will have the rogue class. They're as tall as orcs, quite a bit heftier, and nearly as painfully honorable as draenei or tauren.
  • The Warcraft RTS series has Ogre Magi as the equivalent of human mages, with their second head apparently making them smarter than the average Orc or Ogre and therefore capable of magic. They do put their massive frames to good use by pummeling opponents with enchanted fists.
  • Mass Effect 2
    • You are expected to be incredulous that Garrus' team's tech specialist is a Batarian. Seeing as every other Batarian in the game is either a criminal, a slaver, or insane, you really ought to be.
    • There aren't really any other surprises in your party: a Quarian mechanic, a Turian soldier, a Krogan berserker, an Asari biotic... The real surprise is Thane, not in that he is a Drell assassin, but in that he was trained by a group of Hanar. The Hanar train Drell as assassins specifically because they know how ill-suited they are to the job (poison tentacles notwithstanding).
  • Roguelike Moria prevented this trope. Angband permits it, but says they aren't recommended.
  • Nethack allows you to play as an orc wizard, apparently because the race is a bit of a Scrappy among players due to its poor starting equipment.
  • Arcanum of Steamworks and Magick Obscura lets you employ dwarven wizard in your party.
  • The RPG/RTS hybrid series Warlords Battlecry allow the player to combine any race with any class, creating Orcish Tinkers or insectoid Bards.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion
    • There is a wood elf character who wears a suit of heavy armor, and even trains in the art of heavy armor. He even lampshades it by saying: "No jokes about the Heavy Armor, eh? Not every Bosmer sneaks around with bows and arrows. I'm as tough and beefy as any Orc. Got it?"
    • There's an Orc assassain in the Dark Brotherhood. He is hardly sneaky, though: if you ask him to advise on your current target it tends to be "walk up to them and hit them with an axe!"
    • Trayvond the Redguard, who, when you first speak to him, lampshades that the aren't many redguards in the Mage's Guild.
  • The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim gives us Urag gro-Shub, the Orc librarian at the Mages' College.
    • A lesser example would be Legates Fasendil and Sevan Telendras, a High Elf and Dark Elf respectively who wear heavy Legion armor despite being more disposed to being mages and rogues respectively.
  • Rift, which lacks race/class limitations, has a rogue trainer NPC snarkily lampshade the trope:

 Djinaen Donox: Some claim that bahmi are too large for proper rogues, but then I stab them.

  • In Dragon Age, there's a Dwarf you can meet in Orzammar who desperately wants to study at the Circle of Magic. In the setting, Dwarves are physically incapable of using any magic, and this is pointed out to her repeatedly, but she is still dead set on studying there even if she can't sling a spell.

Web Comics

  • The Order of the Stick
    • Belkar Bitterleaf of the Order of the Stick -- a halfling Ranger with a level or two of Barbarian, making him the deadliest three-foot-tall dagger-wielding Sexy Shoeless God of War in the world. He also has fairly poor stats as a Ranger, not even having enough wisdom to cast spells.
    • A lesser example would be the half-orc ninja Therkla.
  • Yamara Tooke became a barbarian before Belkar. Also, the strip contains Too Much Information on halflings:

 Arcalula Tooke, cyborg halfling: And of course, who hasn't heard of the legendary Chibi -- the halfling Jester/Samurai of Japan?


Web Original

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