All The Tropes Wiki
All The Tropes Wiki
WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic


The Power Trio's answer to the Five-Token Band. As with most of Tokenkind, group members typically exhibit absolutely no personality--at least, when they're in a commercial. Which they usually are.

If you want to sell a product like, say, Lucky Captain Rabbit King Nuggets to kids, you put kids in the commercials. That's basic demographic appeal. But you can't cast just any kids-- you want three, all implied to be friends, and for a mix of reasons-- political correctness, as well as representing the largest target demographics in the Western world with a minimum of actual effort -- you choose:

The end result manages to combine Token Minority and The Smurfette Principle: the Token Trio. Implicit in all cases is that the white male is the de facto head of the Three Amigos--at the least, he'll play a more prominent visual or verbal role in the commercial. Only on rare occasions will the girl be recognizably a third race, eg. Asian. And the black actor, naturally, will be not very black.

Even outside of advertising, this is an incredibly frequent attribute of the Three Amigos, where the white guy's status as The Hero is essentially guaranteed. Larger variety is Five-Token Band.

The Scott Westerfeld novel So Yesterday termed this phenomenon the 'Missing Black Woman Formation,' or MBWF.

Examples of Token Trio include:


  • Pick any kids' food commercial from North America, particularly Lunchables. However, breakfast foods are the real offenders here.
  • Older Uniroyal tire commercials had three racers, a woman named "Uni" and two men named "Roy" and "Al."
  • The Three Musketeers, named after the chocolate, were respectively white, black and Ambiguously Brown
  • There's an advertisement for a particular doll out there that comes in three versions. They are, shot for shot, identical; the only difference is that the child and the doll the child is playing with are, respectively, white, black, and light-skinned Hispanic.


  • The anime Transformers Armada has the incredibly stereotypically named humans Bradley "Rad" White, Carlos Lopez, and Alexis. No points for guessing who fits which demographic.
  • The Mysterious Cities of Gold: Esteban, Zia and Tao.
  • The Humongous Mecha show Metal Armor Dragonar gave Japanese protagonist Kain Wakaba a pair of wingmen, one black, one white whose mechs had paintjobs to match.
  • Pokémon: Its Black And White season's party stays true to the trope-- Ash fills the male Token Minority slot, Iris is Ambiguously Brown and Cilan rounds the trio out. Conversely, the group dynamic part of the trope is subverted, since Ash is the hero/leader.

Comic Books

  • Archie Comics: sometimes grouped Archie, Chuck and Betty this way in the 1970s.
  • Preacher has Custer, Tulip and the Irish vampire Cassidy.



  • An example that only works in-universe is Harry Potter. Harry is a Half-Blood, Ron is a Pure-Blood and Hermione is a Muggle-Born. The only demographics missing are Squibs, Muggles and Half-Breeds.

Live Action TV

  • American Idol - The original judge trio: Simon (white male; bonus points for being a Mean Brit), Paula (Middle Eastern female), and Randy (black male).
  • Arrow - Oliver Queen (white male), John Diggle (black male) and Felicity Smoak (white female). Guess which two become a couple? Need a hint?
  • Doctor Who — Lampshaded by the Master in the third season. You have the Doctor (white male), Martha (black female), and Jack (bisexual male).
  • The Famous Jett Jackson: Inverted example, where the leader of the trio is a black male, with white male and mixed race female sidekicks.
  • The Flash: Barry Allen (white male), Cisco Ramon (latino male) and Caitlin Snow (white female) are the same-age trio of close friends working together in S.T.A.R. Labs.
    • Before Barry's coma, Cisco and Caitlin were arguably in another such trio with Ronnie Raymond, Caitlin's fiancé who also gets superpowers.
  • House - The original three ducklings: White Girl (Cameron), Black Guy (Foreman) and White Foreign Guy (Chase). Later we also get the White Bisexual Girl (Thirteen), Jewish Guy (Taub) and Adopted Indian Guy (Kutner)
  • Lizzie McGuire - Sort of a gender-reversed version: White Girl (leader), Mexican Girl, White/Jewish guy.
  • The Mod Squad — Perhaps the prototypical Token Trio, first aired in 1968. The titular cops were famously billed as "one white, one black, one blonde." Which actually counts as two whites.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide would be an example (Ned, Cooke, and Moze fit the demographic sampling perfectly), except they are the main characters and genuinely fleshed out (i.e. not at all Token)
  • Nickelodeon: Played with on the series Supah Ninjas, which features an Asian male lead, Black Best Friend sidekick, and white female Love Interest.
  • Power Rangers:
    • Saban's VR Troopers (A short-lived Power Rangers clone) featured a Token Trio as its main protagonists. (Through no fault of the actors involved: Brad Hawkins {white guy} and Sarah Brown {the white girl} have both gone on to bigger and better things, though Michael Bacon {black guy} seems to have vanished)
    • Even the actual Power Rangers did this when it lacked a Five-Man Band. Seasons 11, 12, 16 started with these setups (before the arrival of any Sixth Rangers), while 11 and 17 mixed it up just slightly by having the minority male be the leader.
      • Ninja Storm had the New Zealand version: Maori guy, white girl, Latino guy. Then they added another white guy and an Asian guy, and finished it up with one last Asian guy.
      • Dino Thunder: White guy, white girl, black guy. Then they added a Native American guy and finished it up with an Asian (Filipino).
      • Jungle Fury: White guy, white girl, Asian guy. Then two more white guys.
      • RPM: Black guy (leader), white guy, white girl. Then two more white guys and finished up with an Asian guy and girl.
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures has Luke (the white guy), Maria (the white girl) and Clyde (the black guy). When Maria leaves, we get Rani Chandra (the Indian girl).
  • Smallville, back when Clark, Chloe and Pete were the Three Amigos. Pete had even undergone a Race Lift for the series!
  • Supergirl: Female-lead version with Kara Zor-El (white female), James Olsen (black male) and Winn Schott (white male)
  • That's So Raven: Another gender flip and inversion with a black girl, black guy and white girl.
  • Wishbone: The three main kids are Joe (main guy), Sam (Samantha), and David.


  • Massive Attack's three members, all male, came from different ethnic backgrounds. Inapplicable since Andrew Vowles left, however.

Professional Wrestling

  • Gender flipped with Lay Cool and Kaval (Lay-Kav-Ool) since there's Michelle (white girl), Layla (mixed race) and Kaval (half-Hispanic half-white guy).
  • At the start of 2010 there was the random team of Matt Hardy (white guy), Maria Kanellis (white girl) and the Great Khali (Indian) for a few weeks.
  • The APA had Bradshaw (white guy), Farooq (black guy) and sometimes Jacqueline (black woman).
  • The Dudley Boyz (white guy and black guy) added Stacy Keibler (white girl) to their stable from 2001-2002
  • MNM had a variation with two white guys and a Hispanic woman


  • The three human characters in Avenue Q are Brian (white Jewish male), Gary Coleman (black male), and Christmas Eve (Asian female).

Video Games

  • The first Streets of Rage video game had Adam (black), Axel (white), and Blaze (white female) as your choices of player character.
    • Its contemporary game, Golden Axe didn't have the stereotypical black guy. Instead, the fantasy setting used an axe-wielding dwarf.
    • Alien Storm, which basically was Golden Axe in a sci-fi setting, had Gordon (male), Karla (female) and Scooter (robot).
  • The poster party in all three games in the Mass Effect universe tends to be male Shepard, female human party member, and male alien party member.

Web Comics

  • In The Fourth, we have Derk as the white male, Lorelei as the white female, and Lord Skärva as the male minority: in his case, of shark-man descent.

Web Original

  • Not intentionally evoked, but the hosting crew of video game music podcast Nitro Game Injection has a white guy (Kyle), a black guy (Larry), and an Asian girl (Suraida).
  • Pico is the white boy alongside Asian girl Nene and black boy Darnell.

Western Animation

  • Danny Phantom
    • Technically speaking, Valerie Grey could be counted as the Missing Black Woman.
  • American Dragon Jake Long has the somewhat refreshing variation of having the main character of the all-Totally Radical Three Amigos be half-Chinese, with a sassy female Black Best Friend and a ditzy faux-stoner white guy.
  • Another variation takes place in Cyberchase, with its trio of two girls and one boy.
  • In the first season finale of Justice League Unlimited, three heroes are thrown back in time. The three? Batman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern (John Stewart).
  • Pepper Ann had this, with the gender ratio switched to accommodate the main character being female: Pepper as the lead, Nicky as her white best girlfriend, and Milo, whose ethnicity is never explicitly mentioned, but whose skin is noticeably darker than that of anyone else in the cast (Ambiguously Brown).
    • I always thought Milo was explicitly Hawaiian
  • Space Sentinels was one of the earliest in Western Animation. One team member was Asian and the women was African-American.
  • Any time The Zeta Project has a group of three, it's either Zeta, Ro and Bucky (a robot, a tomboyish girl and a mixed race boy) or Lee, Rush and West (Chinese woman, black man and white man, with the white man being lowest ranking in their group). When not doing that, it's Lee, Bennett and West (Chinese woman, white man, white idiot man who makes them look awesome by comparison).
  • The latest incarnation of the Voltron franchise, Voltron Force does this: Daniel is Asian, Vince is black, and Princess Larmina is white.
  • Subverted by Home Movies. The main trio consists of two white boys (Brendon and Jason) and a black girl (Melissa)
  • The main trio in Milo Murphy's Law: Milo Murphy (white male), Zack Underwood (black male), Melissa Chase (white female).