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Whoever you are, whatever you do, there will always be those who disapprove. You are always a sexual deviant in someone's eyes, even if you are asexual.

Sometimes Played for Laughs, other times as serious drama. Wagon Train to the Stars shows usually play it somewhere in between.

Often a side effect of Fetish Fuel Future, used as a way of highlighting its Blue and Orange Morality or sometimes Bizarre Alien Reproduction. A form of Culture Clash. Can be a case of Deliberate Values Dissonance.

Examples of Your Normal Is Our Taboo include:



  • In one This Modern World strip by Tom Tomorrow, centuries in the future, there are people known as "breeders". We see them chanting "We're straight / We mate / Get used to it." A mainstream man says "Perverts," shuddering.
    • The former is a real term used this way in "childfree" communities.
  • Midnighter is regarded oddly in a friendly manner by time-traveling allies from the future. Not because he is gay, because he is not bisexual. In the future, Everyone Is Bi.
  • Similar to the TV examples below, one Star Trek: The Next Generation miniseries featured a planet where there are three sexes and it is therefore seen as perverse (by the more conservative elements at least) to have only one sexual partner.


  • Sex is not taboo for a Jedi. Now, attachment is taboo. Therefore, if you're a Jedi, you can have all the sex you want, but not monogamy. And yes, the Expanded Universe takes this as far as possible under the censors. And yes, the fanfic takes it even further.
    • It's not just romantic attachments, either; having any sort of strong emotional connection to anyone seems to be at least slightly frowned upon. Actual enforcement seems to have been rather intermittent however, which is probably for the best, and Luke quite sensibly ditches it completely.
  • A non-sexual example occurs in the 2010 remake of The Karate Kid. Dre (who comes from the United States) claps and cheers loudly after his crush's violin recital. This provoked anger from the crush's father as the Chinese tend to stay silent out of respect after a performance of any kind.


  • In the alternate England in the Slave World novels, it's considered perverted and socially unacceptable to have sex as equals. Sex is supposed to be between an aristocrat and a slave who has legally been deprived of basic human rights. And the sex slave has to be tied up or similar; to have sex with an unrestrained person is also considered perverse.
  • In The Forever War, at one point homosexuality is required and heteros being seen as freaks. At this point in the future Earth is suffering from an overpopulation problem, so uncontrolled birth is the real prejudice. This flip-flops back and forth as Time Dilation lets the main character experience many different portions of Earth's future culture.
  • Brave New World has something like this. While conventional sex is not outlawed, orgies are the norm and sleeping with the same partner multiple times is considered peculiar.
  • In Player of Games, the hero, who is from a Free-Love Future, is perceived as odd because he's fairly monogamous, is strictly heterosexual and has no interest in having a sex change.
  • In one Isaac Asimov story, it was considered odd to have more than one child with the same partner. Having kids with several different partners was normal.
    • In The Naked Sun, Gladia is psychotic by Solarian standards because she thinks sex should be enjoyable, rather than a painful duty.
    • The Solarians have a wider taboo forbidding physical presence of another human in the same room for all but the most utterly necessary occasions. They feel disgusted by breathing the air which just went through someone's else lungs. Compare it to our disgust to drink water from a brook someone has just urinated into in our presence.
  • The Wheel of Time has several examples, but one of the most noted is the difference between Aiel and "Wetlanders". To Aiel, nakedness is not taboo, they use co-ed sweat tents as a fill-in for showers in their desert homeland, Wetlanders find this scandalous. And this trope occurs for both sides, to Aiel displaying affection in public is taboo. Kissing your spouse with others watching would apparently be viewed similar to how a Wetlander might view having sex with them in public.
  • In Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon, the last human society's favourite pastime is highly refined eroticism of various stripes. However, food consumption is so surrounded by rituals and taboos drinking using a straw in public would be considered shocking except in the most liberal and emancipated circles.
  • In the Robert A. Heinlein novel, Space Cadet the Venusians consider it obscene to eat in public.
  • In The Kingkiller Chronicle, suggesting to an Adem mercenary that his mother gets paid for sex will get you thanked warmly for the compliment. On the other hand, complimenting the Adem mercenary's mother's musical talent will get your ass handed to you.
  • In the Hainish universe, the people of the planet O would never marry just one other person. Their marriage arrangement, called a sedoretu, involves four people, two women and two men, and both heterosexual and homosexual relations are expected.
  • In Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness, the entire story takes place on Gethen, an isolated planet. The near-humans there naturally shift from male to intersex to female to back in seemingly-monthly cycles. A small proportion of the population does not shift and are called "perverts". A normal human travels there, trying to establish a diplomatic connection with the rest of humanity; his mission is complicated because they all consider him a "pervert". (One character, in an attempt to seduce another, used hormones to shift his/her cycle timing and ensure his/her gender is the opposite of the target's. The target's reaction shows they think the attempted seducer is also a pervert, though the word is not used there.)
  • In The Number of the Beast, there's an alternate world where Christianity exists, but interpreted the role of nudity from Genesis rather differently: because Adam and Eve didn't start hiding their bodies until after they lost their innocence, it's standard practice to strip naked for Church services, symbolically reclaiming that innocent purity.

Live-Action TV

  • In one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Riker falls in love with an alien woman who gets really hated by her own people for their love. Not because he's a human, but because he's a man. Her culture require her and her partner to both be intergender. So, it's like inverted homophobia and inverted heterophobia. A fear of having a gender at all. Which is also a cisphobia, an inverted transphobia.
    • Or possibly because she had a partner in the first place. Even though it violates most of what biologists know about sexual reproduction among hermaphrodites, dialogue in the show implied that individuals of that species were capable of breeding by themselves and expected to do so.
    • The very first encounter with the Ferengi in TNG reveals that they find females wearing clothes repulsive (or hell, doing anything that would make them anything much more than property). By the time it gets to DS9, while a good number of them do harbor these attitudes, most of the ones that handle matters off-Ferenginar have enough business savvy to keep it to themselves (not many Alpha Quadrant species/powers that we've seen share or tolerate this attitude to such a degree, especially the ones with more villainous tendencies...). It seems some of them secretly don't really mind some aspects of this so much, though, and later in DS9 more progressive minds among the Ferengi begin to give it a serious questioning.
  • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Trill marriages are "until death do us part". Too bad if you die and come back from the dead: The love of your life is now taboo forever. Even worse, the cycle of life in the elite circles of Trill society is based on a kind of reincarnation. Jadzia falls prey to this in one episode, falling head over heals in love with her ex-wife. Nobody even notices that they are of the same gender, the ethical/cultural problem is all about them having been husband and wife in a previous life.
  • In Farscape, Zhaan's people have no nudity taboo, and she finds it amusing that other cultures do.
  • In yet another Star Trek example, this time Enterprise, the B-plot of one episode had delegates of a newly encountered alien race being offended after being given a tour of Enterprise. It ultimately turns out that what offended them was being shown the mess. Communal eating is considered taboo and disgusting by their culture (their word for "sex" was the same as their word for "eating", and therefore a private occurance). And then one officer putting food in her mouth was the final straw for the entire delegation to storm off cursing.
  • In season the season two episode "Acts of Sacrifice" of Babylon 5, the race known as the Lumati treat sex as casually as they do handshakes (as noted by Dr. Stephen Franklin). In the episode "Soul Mates", Minbari Ambassador Delenn reacts with some confusion at the concept of human bathing (in her words, Minbari do not perspire as humans do, albeit she couldn't finish the elaboration because it made Susan Ivanova uncomfortable). Similarly, after Ivanova washes and fixes Delenn's hair and puts clips on it, Delenn's aide Lennier reacts with restrained horror at the sight of Delenn in hairclips. He asks her if it's painful, and is told that it is "oddly relaxing".
    • Also in Babylon 5, while it is commonplace for humans to be making dolls and action figures of celebrities and famous people, for the Centauri (or at least in Ambassador Londo Mollari's case), it is unthinkable for Centauri to be miniaturized, especially since dolls don't have certain "attributes" (genitalia, which, for the Centauri males by the way, are in the form of six prehensile "tentacles").
    • In season 3 of the show, Delenn reacts in horror when John Sheridan resorts to "thinking like the enemy" in order to guess the strategem behind the Shadow rampage.
    • In the show, the seemingly harmless question of "What do you want" is seemingly taboo amongst the Vorlons (Kosh, at one point, berates Sheridan for asking him this). Similarly, the Shadows avoid answering the question "Who are you."
    • For the Narn, translating the bible-esque Book of G'Quan is considered blasphemy--it must be read in the mother tongue or not at all (oddly, Citizen G'kar read a passage in the book about telepaths defeating Shadow agents 1000 years ago not in Narn, but in English).
  • In Sliders, practically every world the main characters land on either considers something normal from 'our' world taboo, or something taboo on 'our' world being normal there. Examples consist of a world where all technology and science is banned, a world where "fair trial" means "fastest draw", a world where the "Hippy" lifestyle never died out and so is freely accepted by practically all age-groups, where fortune-telling is a politically-charged position, and where dinosaur-poaching is outlawed. And that's not even half of what they show before Season 3.

New Media

  • The Image Board 4chan, home to all manner of horrific NSFW material, considers the single most heinous sexual practice to be...consensual sex in the missionary position. Definitely Played for Laughs.
    • That shit gets even more horrifying when done for the purpose of reproduction.
    • And it's ten times worse if they're happily married.
    • The gag is most prominent on the /d/ ("alternative hentai") board where there are occasional "happy sex" threads that play on the joke.
  • Similarly, consensual heterosexual sex between spouses is occasionally played as the strangest, rarest, most taboo kink ever on Kink Memes.
    • Another "strange and unusual" request sometimes found on Kink Memes is gen fic, with no sex or romance at all!

Tabletop Games

  • In Feng Shui's 2056 juncture, people of different races getting together is the norm, as are homosexual relationships. Same-race relationships, on the other hand, are considered "racist" and are rather frowned upon.
  • In Cthulhu Tech, the Nazzadi have no nudity taboo, and the artists for the books will demonstrate their lack of modesty.

Video Games

  • In Culpa Innata, marriage nuptial contracts are seen as perversions and are illegal in the World Union. Only rogue states follow such barbaric customs. As for being with the same sexual partner for long periods of time, most people consider this strange. Families also don't exist, as children are sent off to Child Development Centers until they are adults. This leaves adults to make as much money and get as much sex as possible. Oh, and it is women who are expected to hit on men, ask them out, pay for dates, and initiate sex. This is often a problem for men who immigrate from rogue states, who still follow the old traditions. Their advances often put World Union women off, so they tend to go after women who have also emigrated.
    • Stoicism is also important to World Union citizens, and any candidate for citizenship must display a great degree of it. Anyone who panics or gets overly emotional during the interview is rejected.
  • In Mass Effect, having the hots for a Blue Skinned Space Babe (or an armor-plated Proud Warrior Race guy, or the rasp of scales against your flesh, or wondering just what IS under that quarian environmental suit) is quite understandable, for the most part, though most permanent couples tend to be same-race for obvious reasons. Then we get the asari, who consider it a horrible taboo to actually get pregnant with another asari (not have sex, just a baby). During the first game and most of the second game, it seems like this is just a cultural thing, even having it explicitly stated that it's because they feel it "adds nothing to the mix" to not incorporate some alien DNA. And then you meet Morinth, an asari with a genetic defect that results in the death of anyone she has sex with, and it turns out that same-race breeding for them drastically ups the chances of things turning out very badly.


  • In The Order of the Stick, Xykon refers to people sexually attracted to living humans as "disgusting biophiliacs." This may imply he'd be just as grossed out by living humans making out with each other just like the thought of two liches making out with each other is to the average living human. He was explicitly shown, however, only to be repeatedly grossed out by Tsukiko's necrophiliac advances aimed at him, one of which he was rebuffing this way.
  • In Homestuck, a perfectly ordinary bucket in our culture has some... dirty connotations in Troll society. On the other hand, their reproduction system involves a centralized mother making each generation from the genetic material of all the previous one, making "one diabolical incestuous slurry" the standard, so they don't understand our taboo of incest.
    • A lesser example is that the trolls are surprised homosexuality "is even a thing" since any troll couple can contribute to the slurry as long as they really love or hate each other.
    • Another example is uu, who persistently pesters Dirk to draw filthy harcore porn for him...of people acting out totally normal, nonsexual romantic actions such as kissing or hugging. (To be fair, uu may well just be weird.) And then after two pages of this, it's subverted right at the last minute:


TT: Yeah, gimme a minute.

TT: Ok.






  • In Drowtales, bisexuality and multiple partners is the norm for Drows, while pure heterosexuals like Zala'ess and her hubby Sabrror, and pure homosexuals like Snadhya'runes and Mel'anarch are considered abnormal.
    • Cannibalism is also acceptable. With so few resources, Drow eating Drow is the norm amongst the lower class.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal plays the trope straight (well, mostly) but for imagined titillation rather than offense.

Web Original

  • Played for Blue and Orange Morality in Tales of MU, most notably with nymphs, who have been granted their humanoid bodies as a gift to those who created them from the great Mother Khaele. What this means is that they must expose themselves at all times, and wearing clothing is their taboo. They also are given these bodies (as opposed to their "other body," that is, the field that is also a physical part of them) to engage in frequent sexual activity with others, which causes their field and humanoid form to both become healthier and sustained.
    • In the same universe, implying that an elf enjoys heterosexual intercourse is apparently a dire insult.
    • Played with regarding Dee's (dark) elf culture as well, where the heavily-matriarchal society in which she was raised gives Dee some less-than-humanizing views of men, resulting in some Deliberate Values Dissonance when she talks with surface-dwellers about their "fathers," a concept with significantly diminished importance in her society.

Real Life

  • In ancient Greece, a "Real Man" would find his pleasure with teenage boys, since apparently, that was the macho thing to do. Women were mainly for procreation, and a man who preferred to sleep with them was considered something of a sissy, or just downright weird.
    • Also, being well endowed was considered comical and barbaric - real men didn't have big dicks.
    • They thought it transferred arete from the man to the boy. A similar thing is found in Papua New Guinea, where it's thought that boys will never become men if they don't eat a steady diet of semen. However, vaginas are poisonous, so once a man has slept with a woman, he can't feed the boys anymore.
  • In modern Western culture, premarital sex is accepted, and even considered normal. Couples can live together without being married, and even raise a family like that. One can go home from a nightclub with someone he/she has just met and have sex. But go to a conservative country or region with deeply-entrenched traditional values regarding marriage and sex, and such behavior is frowned upon at best, and (in some cases) a capital offense.
    • And this is relatively recent development even in the West. Sex has been Serious Business in most cultures for most of written history.
    • And even within the West. Nearly everything mentioned above would be maligned in the more conservative areas of the US, while no one would bat an eye in liberal cities like New York or Los Angeles. And even in New York or Los Angeles, there are numerous jokes about the so-called "walk of shame", referring to someone post-one night stand heading home in the early morning, wearing the party clothes they wore the night before, making it obvious to most people what they've been up to. Whereas in somewhere like Paris, people will all but congratulate you on having gotten some good lovin' the night before.
  • The National Geographic show Taboo discusses things that are taboo in Western society, usually in non-Western cultures but it sometimes discusses various subcultures in Western society.
  • The Sioux don't even have taboo words. You'll find men named Penis or Testicles and women named Vagina with no trouble whatsoever.
  • Dietary law? Try having an interfaith dinner with the Hindu who can't eat beef (and may be a vegetarian), the Jew who has to eat food prepared ritually (and won't eat pork, shellfish, and meat-dairy combos), the Muslim who has to have food prepared ritually according to other rituals (also no pork, but no alcohol too), and the Sikh who can't have any food that has been prepared ritually. Also, Mormons believe coffee (and anything with caffine for some) and some forms of tea are very addictive and unwise to drink, and therefore avoid it at all cost, to the point of some not eating chocolate (where caffine is also extracted from). Meat in general can be taken off the menu if it's Friday during Lent and you've got Catholics around.
    • Order the salad! Oh, wait. You'll have a problem with the Jain who can't eat root vegetable (carrots, potatoes, radish, turnips, etc), the Yazidi who can't have lettuce, the Buddhist who can't eat onions, and the Kashmiri Brahmin who won't eat strongly spiced food (so no pepper, garlic, or onion).
    • Note on Catholics: Good news and bad news. Bad news is there is a growing trend among more traditional Catholics to go back to the original rule of no meat on Fridays at all, which is officially the case in the UK. Good news is that the dietary laws don't consider fish to be meat.
  • Kissing. Not taboo perse, but its level of seriousness varies A LOT from culture to culture, as well as the kind of kiss--a warrant was put out for Richard Gere's arrest after he kissed an Indian actress on the cheek, and Natalie Portman and a co-star where chased away from the Western Wall after filming a kissing scene--behavior that wouldn't have batted an eye in the US.
    • Relatedly, hugging. The "European Cheek Kiss" is much like a hug in the US, but hugging a stranger or a mild acquaintance in, say, France, runs into the same problems as kissing someone would have in the US. It basically like the meanings of the two actions got switched somewhere over the ocean.
    • Any form of touching, for that matter. There are cultures in the United States that forbid even holding hands until marriage.
  • The Mosuo culture, a small group in China have been described as a "world without husbands or fathers". Men and women never get formally married, but go through long courtship rituals competing with other guys, and its wrong to feel jealous if a girl chooses someone else. The man will continue to visit the woman for the duration of their relationship, sometimes with months between visits. The fathers are not considered related to the children; only to the mother. Instead the children's uncle will care for them, doing household tasks, while women do the hard work and run the family.
  • An American teacher living in Japan could not understand why so many of his co-workers and students were commenting on--and complimenting/congratulating him on his recent weight gain. A colleague finally told him that they assumed that he had met a woman who was a good cook--a catch for a man from any country or culture--and were happy for him.
  • Dress codes. What many people consider normal would be considered slutty in more conservative cultures.
  • Discordians will happily marry just about anyone to any combination of people or things, but may have some reservations about joining a man and woman in holy matrimony.
  • Holding up your index finger and middle finger while spreading them apart. In some countries, this is a symbol for peace, in others it represents "V for Victory", but in Britain it's considered an offensive gesture, similar to how Americans view raising just your middle finger.
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