Archived Discussion

This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Known Unknown: Is this really valid in a group of three people, where one person must, by necessity, be a token gender? I'm not sure about considering Smurfettes in so small a group.

creamsoda: Added "Avatar" — not the show itself, but the merchandising arm.

Micah: Removed "Oh, and of all the does they meet throughout the story, only two (?) actually have names." from the Watership Down example. I totally agree with the rest of the rant, but Watership Down has hrair named does.

Kilyle: Ah, thanks for the correction. Been quite a while since I read it. (Still recall enough of the language to insult people, though. And I'm trying to teach my nephew hrair and hrududu/hrududil)

[Guy Smiley]: Is this a subspecies of "Most Writers Are Male," or does it belong by itself?

Ununnilium: Needs to be crosslinked.

Andyzero: If I recall, The Smurfs was even weirder than one might think. There are no naturally occurring female Smurfs. They were all created by Gargamel's magic. (then "purified" by Papa Smurf. Yeah...)

Earnest: It's weirded than that. Only Smurfette was made by Gargamel, afaik whenever a new smurf is needed The Stork literally delivers one, there's no physical procreation involved. Come to think of it, if Gargamel could make a counterfeit smurf like Smurfette, why couldn't he just turn her or other copies into gold/eat them?

Also, I'm both impressed and terrified at the speed and size of examples this trope has accumulated in just one day.

Andyzero: Just the boys. The other girl Smurf, Suzette, was created by the other Smurflings who broke and stole Gargamel's sorcerer stuff in order to deliberately give themselves a little sister.

Pie: I'm not surprised... but then again, I'm a supporter of women's rights and discussed this in detail in my Communications class at the women's college I go to, so I kind of know how deep this rabbit hole goes. It really is a widespread problem in the media, even today. And a lot of it has to do with the way the media looks at women... as a deviation from the norm.

Ununnilium: I think we should take out the examples that are only slightly unbalanced. I mean, when you've got Captain Planet in there, the epitome of politically correct... It shouldn't be about the precise mathematical ratios as much as actually treating "female" as a viable option for characters.

Also, taking out for vagueness:
  • Almost any Capcom arcade game after Final Fight.

Also also: The first paragraph says "Predominately in the West", but the second says "It also seems to be more prevalent in anime than western animation". Which is it?

What about the Naruto example? It seems to be saying that having a 2 to 1 ratio of male ninja to female ones is a case of the smurfette principle. Given that the trope is about a small number of stereotyped female characters, and that each of the main ninja, male or female, is given a different characterization it seems a little odd to have here. (And also, technically, there is a team with a 1 to 1 ratio, 2 female ninja. Though you do have to count the leader, who is rarely seen with the team, as a member of the team for that to work. There was also the time a temporary team with 2 girls and 2 guys was created in the fillers...0

Coolnut: I think the trope's universal. Edited it for clarity. That said...

Took out:
  • Even Captain Planet and the Planeteers, while sporting a diverse group, falls somewhat victim to this as well - three male planeteers, two female. And Captain Planet himself is male. But at least neither of the girls are the one with the power of Heart...
...because it's a 3:2 ratio for males to females, which is approximately "equal" in my eyes. And neither female has the lame power of Heart, which has been said.

IMO, the only examples that should be on the list is if (a) there's one female character; or (b) there's an overwhelming number of men versus a handful of women; or (c) it's all about the Unlucky Everydude. (Among a few other exceptions.)

Pie: Good point. Though it is worth noting that a full, comprehensive list of series that fall victim to this to some degree would be staggaringly long - I added the Captain Planet as a note that even it exhibited signs of the trope, despite being a heavily PC series.

Haphazard: When I started reading this, I immediately started thinking of the manga Fruits Basket, where most of the characters are male because the girls like looking at the pretty boys. Should that be added here, or should that be a new trope altogether?

Zeta: That'd be more along the lines of Bishounen Ghetto. In this trope, the boys are supposed to be the indentification characters for a male audience, not sex objects.

Ununnilium: Taking out:
  • Back in the old days of theatre, the roles of women were played by male actors in unconvincing wigs and makeup due to the belief that women would make for poor performers.

...because that's something totally different.

Kilyle: Also, I don't think it's accurate. I may be buying into a commonly understood untruth, but wasn't it against the law for women to be onstage, not for poor performances but because it was unseemly? E.g., the plot of Shakespeare in Love.
Lale: Shouldn't Cardcaptor Sakura be on this list? The "action series are for boys" mentality seems to be the reasoning behind its Macekred job of making Li the star.

Kilyle: Okay, first, as Zeta said, if it's about having a large cast of Bishounen for the female viewers to drool over, it doesn't fit here.

Secondly, I don't think it's quite the same thing if you have the Red Dwarf situation: a cast of guys cut off from society who spend most of their time missing sex. Some genius tried to add a female cat to the American version; insane! It can't help destroying the unrelieved sexual tension that was a major element in the original. In this case, the lack of women is a major defining feature of the concept.

But third, and more importantly: Yes, in many cases, there's either a token Chick or a small number of girls compared to guys. Most of this (I doubt all) is a form of sexism, okay. But taking a Five-Man Band and calling it sexist because it includes only two girls is seeing all literature through the lense of this trope. There's only two choices that get anywhere near balance (2/3 or 3/2), and the division of gender in the support characters shouldn't instantly pop the statistics up to Sexist just because the ratio is now 2/4 or 2/7.

I mean, for one, there's a hefty tradition of support roles that fall almost exclusively to the male, I think with good reason: The Jeeves, Cool Old Guy, Mysterious Protector, and just about every Mentor. I'm sure there's more. But beyond that, when someone start sayings a story must have statistically equal representation, they're denying the right of the author to craft the characters that the story requires. They're saying it's necessary to alter the gender of characters, even minor characters, not because it serves the story, but because it makes the cast fit some ideal ratio of gals to guys. That doorman that Bob talks to every morning? Why not make him a woman? It'd make your show seem less sexist.

So, yeah, point out the cases of the token Chick, the cases where a cast of dozens includes only five women. But be careful not to mistake craft for sexism. If the female characters are important to the plot and show good characterization, the fact that there are fewer women than men shouldn't, in and of itself, be seen as a negative.

Coolnut: Pretty much agree what Kilyle said.

Also, I would not add, say, Mythbusters to the list (Kari is the only female in the group) because that is more of a de facto Smurfette Principle rather than something intentional by the producers of the show. It just happened that way. Though it's obvious the staff of the show makes a genuine effort to show more women helping out in the myth-busting. Too bad Scottie didn't stay. Apparently, women and science still don't mix (yet), but that's a different story entirely.

That said, I'm tempted to knock off several of the less egregious examples on the main page.


  • Out of six primary Freedom Fighters of the Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon, there were two females, Sally Acorn and Bunnie Rabbot. Neither was a full-out stereotype, but Sally was a princess and the Love Interest, and Bunnie was fanservice-y despite her strength. Later, Dulcy the Dragon was added, bringing it up to almost half females...

because (a) the "ratio" of female to male wasn't too low and (b) the characters were developed somewhat - as that troper said, "neither was a full-out stereotype".
Pro-Mole: Is that just me or this really cries "Justifying Edit" all over it?

  • In the original book, the gender issue was dealt with as just the way rabbits think. They're not human. They can't wrap their minds around a board that floats on the water. They pass countless dangers and finally locate the perfect new home, settle down to start a colony, and realize, "Oh, damn, we forget to bring any women." Which is the impetus for the second half of the story ("Shoot, we better find someone to bear our kits").

BTW, I'm the one that started the Watership Down examples, and I do understand why the hell this happens(I've read Wikipedia, too).

Semi-Known Troper: Removed duplicate Avatar toy example.
Willy Four Eyes: Transplanted the Riviera example into The One Guy.

Old text: Inverted in Riviera. Your Five-Man Band consists of one male and four females. There's a reason for this, though — being a stripped-down RPG with Dating Sim elements (that affect the ending) and limited character interaction, the designers probably saw fit to give you your own harem.

Cassius335: Kinda confused about this one:

  • (The manga explicitly says Tuxedo Kamen is Sailor Moon's equal in raw power, and a much better fighter, to boot.)

Is this still true after... what, three power ups? I don't remember any mention of "Eternal Tuxedo Mask"...

Lavode: The final volume of the manga was pretty confusing, but didn't Mamoru receive the Golden Crystal? Which was stated to be even more powerful than Sailor Moon's Silver Crystal?
Jisu: Agatha wasn't the Champion. Took that note out.
Retnuh: Do we have to use the words "fixed" and "remedied"? Doesn't that seem a little sexist? I think it would be less sexist if we used "changed" instead.

Re: "Which opens the question what would NOT be sexist."

Simply put, if the female cast didn't exist solely in relation with, or far less priority to, the male cast. No matter how many women are in the story, if all the men (or man) are given center stage and the women tacked on (either as a token or a haremlike cast or what-have-you, rather than well-developed characters), that's TSP in action.
Rebochan: I pulled the entire set of entries on "what women want" because it has nothing to do with this trope, which is about gender distribution in a cast.
Sagaril: There's a whole chunk of broken code in the Video Games section (the part about Warcraft) and I can't find anything wrong with it. Someone more familiar with the wiki's markup than I should probably take a look at it.

prescience: Fixed. Turns out that the preceding paragraph had an unclosed [ = which caused everything up until the next = ] to be displayed literally.
prescience: Removed this from the section on Ghost in the Shell.
  • It's also hinted, if this troper remembers correctly, that said woman team leader couldn't even remember her original gender.
In the episode "Kusanagi's Labyrinth - Affection" (episode 11 of 2nd GIG), the Major is shown to have been female (if rather tomboyish) when she first became a cyborg. I'm not sure if things are substantially different in the manga, though.
Lavode: "On the other hand, this trope is often justified (the quantity aspect, at least, if not the personality aspect). It is perfectly reasonable and realistic that armies, adventuring parties and many other types of groups would be predominantly male."

I'd like to reword or remove this. First, it sounds a bit gender essentialist, especially in a fictional setting where the writer makes the rules (instead of following real-world norms). Second, even if the story focuses on an army or a party of adventurers, characters who don't belong to the group can still play an important part in it.