Created By: Folamh3 on March 2, 2013 Last Edited By: Folamh3 on March 9, 2013
Troped

Chromosome Casting

A work in which all of the named characters belong to a single sex

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
A work which features only male named characters or only female named characters, but not both. Commonplace in works in which the setting would necessitate such a casting choice: prison dramas, war films, sports dramas etc.

Depending on the choice of sex, it can serve as the exact opposite of the Bechdel Test or its logical extreme. As the examples below demonstrate, most works like this tend towards the former.

See also Improbably Female Cast, female-dominated casts in unlikely situations, and The Smurfette Principle, for when a single female character is introduced into an otherwise all-male cast as a sop to gender equality (The One Guy is the Spear Counterpart). Compare Monochrome Casting, the equivalent in race.

Note: When adding examples, please be descriptive.

Examples:

Male Only

Film

  • The only female character of significance in The Shawshank Redemption is Andy's wife, who's killed in the first five minutes.
  • 12 Angry Men (though often performed as a play as 12 Angry Jurors, averting this trope).
  • Reservoir Dogs.
  • The first Dirty Harry film: the only female character who impacts upon the plot in any way is the villain's teenaged kidnap victim, who doesn't even appear onscreen until after she's dead.
  • Platoon, appropriately given the military setting. The only women who appear onscreen are unnamed Vietnamese civilians.
  • Ice Station Zebra has an all male cast.
  • The Thing takes place in a research station in Antartica, with only men working there. Because of the setting, no women appear in the movie at all.
  • My Dinner with Andre features only two characters, both of whom are men.
  • Lawrence of Arabia has no female speaking parts (unless you count people singing in the background).
  • Das Boot, set on a German U-boat.
  • Master and Commander.
  • Both The Hunt for Red October and the novel of the same name by Tom Clancy.
  • K19: The Widowmaker.
  • The Enemy Below.

Literature

  • Lord of the Flies. All of the characters are pupils in a single-sex boarding school.
  • The only living human female character in the six-book Lucky Starr series is a housewife who's on screen for less than a chapter (in Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus).
  • The short story "Who Goes There?", upon which the aforementioned film The Thing was based.

Theatre

  • David Mamet's plays American Buffalo and Glengarry Glen Ross (the latter was adapted as a film, which is also an example of the trope).
  • The Boys in the Band.
  • All the versions of Sleuth (the original play, the 1972 movie version, and the 2007 remake) have a Minimalist Cast, where the male stars are pretty much the only characters we ever see. The 1972 movie has one short scene with a female character, but she isn't named.
  • Waiting for Godot: Vladimir, Estragon, Pozzo, Lucky and a small boy (some productions play with this, given that "Pozzo" and "Lucky" are decidedly androgynous names).

Video Games

  • All of the named characters in Spec Ops: The Line are male. Justified given that most of them are members of the armed forces. Female civilians do pop up here and there, but they never feature in the plot.
  • The original Spyro the Dragon features about 80 named, voiced characters, all male. There are female-looking enemies in a couple of stages, but they're not named.

Female Only

Anime and Manga

  • Yuru-Yuri does not have a single male character in the anime version with the exception of one male character who is both a Show Within a Show character and a robot meaning he is technically androgynous. He also does not even remotely resemble a human seeing as how he's just a ball with arms and legs. In the manga one of the female characters is a man instead but you never actually see them in the manga meaning the manga counts as well.

Film

  • The Women went so far as to have all the animals seen on screen be female as well as the cast.
  • The French movie Innocence, directed by Lucile Hadzihalilovic, is set in a mysterious boarding school for girls, where the staff is all-female too. A few males appear briefly, but they have no speaking roles.

Theatre

  • The aforementioned David Mamet's play Boston Marriage, revolving around a lesbian romantic relationship.
  • The one-act play Chamber Music by Arthur Kopit takes place in an insane asylum with 8 women who think they are famous people from history. There is an unnamed male doctor.
  • The play Last Summer at Bluefish Cove, by Jane Chambers, set in a lesbian beach resort area.
  • Federico Garca Lorca's La casa de Bernarda Alba, which is about a restrictive mother who keeps her 5 daughters at home.
  • The play Top Girls by Caryl Churchill, which has a cast of 7-9 women; it's about women keeping each other down in the business world of 80s England.
  • The play Uncommon Women & Others by Wendy Wasserstein. About friendships in a women's college.
  • The Vagina Monologues.


Community Feedback Replies: 25
  • March 4, 2013
    Duncan

    Might want to mention Improbably Female Cast in the description.
  • March 4, 2013
    grenekni3t
    • The only living human female character in the six-book Lucky Starr series is a housewife who's on screen for less than a chapter (in Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus).
  • March 4, 2013
    m8e
  • March 4, 2013
    Tuomas
    • The Thing takes place in a research station in Antartica, with only men working there. Because of the setting, no women appear in the movie at all.
  • March 4, 2013
    Tuomas
    • The French movie Innocence, directed by Lucile Hadzihalilovic, is set in a mysterious boarding school for girls, where the staff is all-female too. A few males appear briefly, but they have no speaking roles.
  • March 4, 2013
    Tuomas
    • All the versions of Sleuth (the original play, the 1972 movie version, and the 2007 remake) have a Minimalist Cast, where the male stars are pretty much the only characters we ever see. The 1972 movie has one short scene with a female character, but she isn't named.
  • March 4, 2013
    JoeG
    • Moby Dick has only male characters, appropriately since it takes place entirely on a whaling ship.
  • March 4, 2013
    Folamh3
    @Joe G - There are some minor female characters in the first 100 pages of the book. Not a full example.
  • March 4, 2013
    SpoonElemental
    • "Yuru Yuri" does not have a single male character in the anime version with the exception of one male character who is both a show within a show character and a robot meaning he is technically androgynous. He also does not even remotely resemble a human seeing as how he's just a ball with arms and legs.
  • March 4, 2013
    ACarlssin
    The Tintin comic series. The only recurring female character is Bianca Castafiore, a minor character at best.
  • March 4, 2013
    mightymewtron
    The My Little Pony franchise features prominently female characters, and even My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic only has a handful of named male characters.

  • March 5, 2013
    Folamh3
    ^^ Again, if they feature even a single named character of the sex other than that of the rest of the characters, it's not an example. Yuri Yuri DOES count because the character in question is a Show Within A Show character (if I'm understanding that correctly) and hence does not exist within the fictional reality of the rest of the characters.
  • March 5, 2013
    abloke
    • The original Spyro the Dragon features about 80 named, voiced characters, all male. There are female-looking enemies in a couple of stages, but they're not named.
  • March 5, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In the original Twelve Angry Men only the 12 men on the jury are seen, plus a male bailiff. A male judge is heard at the very top sending the jury to chambers.
  • March 5, 2013
    Duncan
  • March 6, 2013
    Antonymous
    This isn't a trope; it's just something that happens. Most of the examples are either Minimalist Cast (which will often be single-sex by chance alone) or People Sit On Chairs in single-sex settings (e.g. military). If we want to trope this, we should restrict it to cases where the single-sex cast is somehow significant -- which is already covered by Improbably Female Cast. Are there any other cases?
  • March 7, 2013
    Folamh3
    I think you'd probably find that the number of cases where the sex of characters in a work of fiction is determined by chance alone is vanishingly small. I also don't believe that the fact that militaries across the world typically only hire men makes this a People Sit On Chairs trope. The mere fact that human cultures across the globe have for the most part collectively determined that women are unfit to serve in the military is fascinating, and works such as these which feature only men are often to a greater or lesser extent examining what is meant by terms like "man" or "masculinity" and the like, especially in a military context.

    Compare the relevant tropes for race: Monochrome Casting is when all of the characters in a work are of one race (à la this trope), while Black Vikings is when the casting choices in a work from the perspective of race and ethnicity seem decidedly unrealistic or unlikely (à la Improbably Female Cast). It seems appropriate to have a corollary to Monochrome Casting in terms of sex.
  • March 7, 2013
    Antonymous
    ^"Chance" here doesn't mean that the sex of a character is determined by flipping a coin, but that it's determined by other causes that have nothing to do with this trope -- so it will follow this trope about as often as if it were determined by chance. (So a work with only two characters would have a 50% chance of having them the same sex even if there were no tropes about gender.)

    Single-sex settings are significant in the real world, but does it mean anything different to use one in fiction? One way they might mean something is if readers see a single-sex group differently from a mixed group. But that's about groups, not whole stories.

    One way to tell whether a pattern is meaningful is to check whether the story would be different if the pattern were broken. Most single-sex stories wouldn't be significantly affected by introducing a character of the other sex. This trope should be about the ones where it does mean something.

    Monochrome Casting has the same problem as this trope: it's often a side effect of a Minimalist Cast or of a monochrome setting, rather than meaning anything.
  • March 7, 2013
    PolarBears

  • March 7, 2013
    Duncan
    • The one-act play Chamber Music by Arthur Kopit takes place in an insane asylum with 8 women who think they are famous people from history. There is an unnamed male doctor.
    • The play Last Summer at Bluefish Cove, by Jane Chambers, set in a lesbian beach resort area.
    • Federico Garcia Lorca's La Casa De Bernarda Alba, which is about a restrictive mother who keeps her 5 daughters at home.
    • The play Top Girls by Caryl Churchill, which has a cast of 7-9 women; it's about women keeping each other down in the business world of 80s England.
    • The play Uncommon Women & Others by Wendy Wasserstein. About friendships in a women's college.
    • The Vagina Monologues.
  • March 8, 2013
    Folamh3
    As I understand it, People Sit On Chairs describing something which recurs in various works or media, but conveys no narrative or thematic meaning. The thing is, sex is one of those things which is so fundamental to the human experience that anything to do with sex and gender can't help but convey narrative or thematic meaning in a work, whether in an overt or subtextual level (or even in a way not intended by the author). If you were to compile a list of all the works in which sex and gender plays absolutely zero rule in the work's narrative or thematic meaning, I think you'd come up with a pretty paltry list. I sincerely doubt that a majority of the examples of this trope would feature on that list.
  • March 8, 2013
    acrobox
    this has to be complete chromosome casting to count, as in no important roles of another sex. examples where there's one important person of the other sex are Smurfette Principle and The One Guy
  • March 8, 2013
    Folamh3
    Exactly. No named characters of the opposite sex.
  • March 8, 2013
    grenekni3t
    The The Thing example also applies to "Who Goes There", the story on which The Thing is based.
  • March 8, 2013
    randomsurfer
    There are no women in Glengarry Glen Ross, David Mamet's play about the cutthroat world of real estate sales.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=tx3ycacz33k4sjvnclpux63v