Created By: yogyog on November 20, 2011 Last Edited By: yogyog on December 3, 2011

Token American

Films set in the UK often have a token american in the cast.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Community Feedback Replies: 24
  • November 20, 2011
    fulltimeD
    Combat Hospital, a Canadian show, has a Token American, one of the two newly assigned doctors.
  • November 20, 2011
    nitrokitty
    I don't think this is just in the UK. Lots of shows outside the states throw in a token American.

    Anime And Manga:
    • Ai Yori Aoshi: Tina is the only American in the Japanese boarding house.
  • November 20, 2011
    Generality
    See also Token White (the Token American is always a white guy, because of Phenotype Stereotype) and Mighty Whitey.
  • November 20, 2011
    Jordan
    I'm not sure if it was a British production or not, but in The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen film, Tom Sawyer was added to the team in order to supply an American character to appeal to an American audience.
  • November 20, 2011
    nitrokitty
    ^^ Not always, though most of the time. I remember seeing a couple of anime series where the token American was a black guy. There's one I can't remember the name of, but it was a martial arts series at a Japanese high school, with the one black guy named Bob.
  • November 22, 2011
    yogyog

    Yes, this is not just a trope for UK films.

    Interesting about your comment about The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen film: Often this is an excuse to include an American star in a UK (or other) production.

    Crossover with Token White, and interesting to read Phenotype Stereotype... Often this is a stereotype American: cool, fast-talking, confident, arrogant, etc...

  • November 22, 2011
    azul120
  • November 22, 2011
    Generality

    I remember the Great Escape example from the stand-up comedy of Eddie Izzard, who remarked that Steve played "the American who gets dropped into British films to make them sell in America". If a comedian can get material from something, it's probably a trope.
  • November 24, 2011
    yogyog
    • a German version: Wings Of Desire features Columbo - (Or rather the actor Peter Falk As Himself, inbetween filming scenes of Columbo)
  • November 24, 2011
    LeeM
    This was also a staple of TV shows made in the UK by ITC Entertainment for export to the US, many of which had at least one US or Canadian character designed to appeal to US audiences. These included almost all of Gerry Anderson's puppet and live action series.
  • November 24, 2011
    Aspie
    Live Action TV
  • November 24, 2011
    arromdee
    Kanuka Clancy in the anime show Patlabor is a variation where the token American is of Japanese descent and drawn so. She still fits the cool and confident stereotype.

  • November 24, 2011
    OmarKarindu
    Literature example: Quincy Morris in Bram Stoker's Dracula.
  • November 25, 2011
    AgPrv
    In the 1950's - 1970's, British media mogul Lord Lew Grade was notorious for this. Known as "Low" Grade for the questionable output of some of his work, he viewed popular enertainment as a matter of making money by appealing to the lowest common denominator. Indeed, he insisted his ABC and ITC production studios, which controlled large swathes of the ITV network, shoe-horn American leads into just about everything, so as to make it easier to sell the shows to the lucrative North American market. He was frequently reminded that he had a statutory duty to produce TV shows that were tailored to the needs and interests of the British viewer first and foremost, that he should produce British shows for British TV, and that any sales to the USA afterwards were a bonus (and would indeed sell if the quality were good enough). Grade dismissed this as a hopelessly naive point of view. Indeed, he was responsible for nurturing Gerry Anderson's expensive-to-produce sci-fi puppet shows with guaranteed screenings on British TV - provided the main characters had American accents. Thunderbirds was designed from the start with US resale in mind - hence the Tracy family. Grade's other big TV success was The Muppet Show - parodied by one British comedy as "always guest-starring some unfunny untalented American who you've never ever heard of".

    This attitude ran in the family: his son Michael Grade rose to be a senior executive with the BBC, who made himself most unpopular by killing off a long-running sci-fi series that had outlasted its time and run out of ideas. It's name - "Dr Who".
  • November 25, 2011
    AgPrv
    Oh, and the drama "Colditz", a BBC -made war story about the Germans' maximum security Po W camp for persistent escapers, broke from known history to incorporate a token American, Robert Wagner, despite the fact that only a very small handful of American officers were sent there and then only in the last closing months of the war. Up until 1945, America was the only Allied country to be unrepresented at Colditz...
  • November 26, 2011
    Hello999
    Shears in The Bridge On The River Kwai. He was played by William Holden, who got top billing.
  • November 28, 2011
    yogyog
    Bumpedy bump.....

    (I'll edit all comments into the description soon...)
  • November 28, 2011
    checkerbored
    Anime And Manga
  • November 28, 2011
    Trotzky
    Older Than You Think, the book Dracula included Quincey, the Token American.
  • December 3, 2011
    BlueIceTea
    Could Jack Harkness from Torchwood count? He comes off as American because of the accent, and stole his identity from an American. But he's the main character of his show, so even though all the other characters are English and Welsh, I'm not sure he can be thought of as "token".
  • December 3, 2011
    blueflame724
    Rocky from Chicken Run.
  • December 3, 2011
    FatCorgi
    This trope is too narrow in my opinion. Characters of different nationalities are brought in as token characters in a huge number of works without necessarily falling under Token Minority. Instead of having a Token American, a Token British, a Token German, Token etc. page, somebody should create a Token Nationality page as a catch-all for this convention.
  • December 3, 2011
    LeeM
    ^^ Given that the 2011 season of Torchwood was a US/UK co-production I'd say the inclusion of an existing American actor hlped sweeten the deal.
  • December 3, 2011
    JonnyB
    Afro Samurai, the titular character appears to be an African-American. (Although since it's a Schizo Tech world that seems to combine Edo-era Japan with cyborgs and lasers, it's hard to tell if "America" even exists in Afro Samurai's world.)
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=9jq9nxqon1dqt85i8fklfmfp