Created By: Diddgery on March 19, 2010
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Mistaken For Terrorist

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A standard post-9/11 plot for American television. A One-Shot Character is introduced who is Middle Eastern and Muslim. The majority of the cast welcomes this new character with open arms, except for one. He's convinced that this new character is a terrorist, and will do whatever it takes to show the rest of the cast that his suspicions are correct. In doing so he invades the new character's privacy, and eventually learns An Aesop about being considerate of other cultures.

Alternately, a character is mistaken for a terrorist while acting suspiciously in an airport or on a plane. Most of the time it's a misunderstanding.

Unfortunately, this is Truth in Television. A number of people on airline flights have been discriminated against, including being forced off the plane, because the other passengers or pilots panicked and thought they were terrorists just based on their appearance or misunderstood actions. Sikhs have to deal with this too.

Examples:

  • The Simpsons episode "Mypods and Boomsticks."
  • South Park episode "The Snuke."
  • Law & Order played with this: a family of Italian Americans considered their son's Muslim girlfriend's family potential terrorists. The girlfriend's family thought of her boyfriend's family as Mafiosos. Both lovers end up being murdered.
  • In Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, we see a POV Shot from a little old lady on the plane and Kumar looks like a terrorist - turban, beard, Evil Laugh. Then he lights up a bong in the restroom and people think he's got a stick of dynamite. He even says "it's only a bong" and people mistake him for saying "bomb."
  • There was a Degrassi: The Next Generation episode where Paige was harrassing a Muslim girl, even going and telling her to her face "Terrorist chic? So not in," in reference to her hijab.
  • 30Rock: Liz Lemon grasses up an Arab man to Homeland Security when she glimpses maps on the wall of his apartment and sees him running through an obstacle course. Turns out he was in training for a TV game show.
  • When Dr. McNinja goes on a plane, people (rightfully) suspect something because he keeps his mask on.
  • Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back; the jewel thieves set Jay and Bob up as animal rights terrorists.
  • My Name Is Khan features a main character named Rizwan Khan, a Muslim American with Asperger's Syndrome living in post 9-11 America. He says to another character that he wants to tell the President, and the people, of the United States that his "name is Khan and that [he] is not a terrorist." When he repeats this to himself in a crowd gathered to meet President Bush, he is arrested, imprisoned, and tortured as a terrorist suspect. A "Funny Aneurysm" Moment occurred when Shahrukh Khan, the world famous actor who played Rizwan (seriously, he's probably the most popular actor in the world) was detained by Immigration offers at Newark Airport on August 14, 2009 and questioned for two hours.
  • This short story from rec.humor.funny.
  • An episode of Wings had a few of the guys taking a plane for a trip only to end up landing in the middle of a cornfield. At one point Antonio goes exploring the field to look for help and comes back with the farmer behind him... with his hands raised while a shotgun is pointed at him.
    Antonio: "Joe, would you tell this man I am *not* a Libyan terrorist?"
Community Feedback Replies: 16
  • March 13, 2010
    Redneck Rocker
    What I always LOOOOOOOVVVVVEEEE is that the person seems to have Compressed Racism for the episode, and upon trying to decide whether or not the person's a terrorist without evidence? Their attitude is "evidence-schmevidence."
  • March 13, 2010
    Bisected8
    An episode of Law And Order played with this; a family of Italian Americans considered their son's Muslim girlfriend's family potential terrorists. The girlfriend's family thought of her boyfriend's family as Mafiosos. Particularly both families mother's. Both end up being murdered.
  • March 13, 2010
    randomsurfer
    in Harold And Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay we see a POV Shot from a Little Old Lady on the plane and Kumar looks like a terrorist - turban, beard, Evil Laugh. Then he lights up a bong in the restroom and people think he's got a stick of dynamite. He even says "it's only a bong" and people mistake him for saying "bomb."
  • March 14, 2010
    Arivne
    Truth In Television
    • A number of people on airline flights have been discriminated against, including being forced off the plane, because the other passengers or pilots panicked and thought they were terrorists just based on their appearance or misunderstood actions.
  • March 14, 2010
    Bisected8
    In the Law And Order example I meant The girlfriend and boyfriend end up being murdered not the mothers. Sorry >_<
  • March 14, 2010
    Grahamr
    Just adding to the Truth In Television, Sikhs have to deal with this too.
  • March 14, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    @Grahamr, wasn't that referenced in Sleeper Cell? I think it was the first episode
  • March 15, 2010
    Sceptre
    It's definitely happened in 24 several times.
  • March 16, 2010
    deuxhero
    When Dr. McNinja goes on a plane, people (rightfully) suspect something because he keeps his mask on.
  • March 16, 2010
    archaicchaos
    I believe there was a Degrassi The Next Generation episode where Paige was harrassing a Muslim girl, even going and telling her to her face "Terrorist chic? So not in," in reference to her hijab.
  • March 16, 2010
    darrenr
    It happened in 30 Rock. Liz Lemon grasses up an Arab man to Homeland Security when she glimpses maps on the wall of his apartment and sees him running through an obstacle course. Turns out he was in training for a TV game show.
  • March 16, 2010
    GoatBoy
    Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back; the jewel thieves set Jay and Bob up as animal rights terrorists.
  • March 16, 2010
    MatthewTheRaven
    • My Name Is Khan features a main character named Rizwan Khan, a Muslim American with Asperger's Syndrome living in post 9-11 America. He says to another character that he wants to tell the President, and the people, of the United States that his "name is Khan and that [he] is not a terrorist." When he repeats this to himself in a crowd gathered to meet President Bush, he is arrested, imprisoned, and tortured as a terrorist suspect. A Funny Aneurysm Moment occurred when Shahrukh Khan, the world famous actor who played Rizwan (seriously, he's probably the most popular actor in the world) was detained by Immigration offers at Newark Airport on August 14, 2009 and questioned for two hours.
  • March 17, 2010
    Korodzik
    This short story from rec.humor.funny.
  • March 18, 2010
    Socius
    An episode of Wings had a few of the guys taking a plane for a trip only to end up landing in the middle of a cornfield. At one point Antonio goes exploring the field to look for help and comes back with the farmer behind him... with his hands raised while a shotgun is pointed at him.
    Antonio: "Joe, would you tell this man I am *not* a Libyan terrorist?"
  • March 19, 2010
    Diddgery
    I think this is about ready to launch. Anyone have suggestions on what I should change before launching, or should I just go ahead and launch it?
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