Ambiguously Brown

Shadow had seen black guys who looked like Mr. Ibis. Shadow had seen white guys with tans who looked like Mr. Ibis.

An ambiguously brown character is one with a skin tone that's definitely not Northern European, but it's not entirely clear what ethnicity they are supposed to be. It's used to avoid Monochrome Casting, but for some characters, you have no clue what ethnicity or race they are just by looking at them. Are they a light-skinned black person? Hispanic? Arab? Indian? American Indian? Malaysian? A really tanned Japanese person? Polynesian? Their facial features don't correspond to any particular race either, so we don't know. They're just... brown.

This can be especially confusing in animated works, where it may be unclear whether it's a true example of a random and common appearance, a non-specific visual shorthand the creators liked or perhaps a stylized attempt to actually portray a real ethnicity. Or even if the design is supposed to visually inspired by something totally different rather than having a basis in real life. The character in question is also usually the only person in the entire show with this appearance, making it especially strange.

Note this is generally a fandom issue and happens whether or not the debate is even relevant to the character. Expect a lot of assumptions of how ethnicities only look a particular way. You can pretty much give up all hope of identifying their backgrounds if they're in a fantasy world, especially one that goes light on recognizable cultural counterparts. If there are a large number of ambiguously brown people in a future world, then it's In the Future, Humans Will Be One Race.

You should understand that this isn't simply "brown skin equals ambiguous" but there are several qualifiers involved here, such as:

  1. The character or culture must have features that do not fit with the stereotypical appearance of whatever the most commonly depicted race is for the setting (i.e. White American for most Western Animation / Japanese for most anime - usually accomplished through brown skin).
  2. The character or culture must have no real life racial stereotype (that would instead fall under Space Jews in the case of fantasy works).
  3. The character or culture's nationality must not be based on a real life nationality (that would instead fall under Fantasy Counterpart Culture).

Compare Mukokuseki: in principle anime characters are supposed to be "stateless". The Dark-Skinned Blond and Dark-Skinned Redhead will commonly fall under this as well. See also Amazing Technicolor Population for a more colorful way of making you ask, "What ethnicity are they, anyway?" See also But Not Too Foreign, of which this is a sub-trope.

Truth in Television, since brown in its various shades is statistically the most common human skin color - and also because there are some "brown" people who are able to pass (sometimes just barely) for lighter colors, so if they change their names and don't emphasize that heritage, you might not ever get to know just what they are.

Plays Great Ethnics is for when actors are Ambiguously Brown and can play a wide variety of ethnicities.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Pick a guy, any guy, from Tokyo Mew Mew (except Keiichirou, any of the aliens, and the Blue Knight/Deep Blue). They're all incredibly tanned. What's more, Ryou's mother was white.
  • Bleach:
    • Yoruichi, pictured above. The Other Wiki compromised on "dark-skinned" to end an Edit War over her ethnicity. It's not relevant to the story so it's never mentioned. She can transform into a black cat, so it's even debatable whether it's about artistic symbolism rather than ethnicity.
    • In the anime, Mila-Rose is made very dark-skinned, as is her superior, Tier Harribel. In the manga, Mila-Rose is paler and Tier Harribel seems to be a ganguro. Of course, given that arrancars are humanoid amalgamations of souls, it may be debateable if they even technically have a race.
    • Jackie Tristan is dark-skinned. Ethnicity isn't very important for most characters in the story, so hers is never discussed.
  • Kojiro Hyuga/Mark Lenders from Captain Tsubasa. Spanish fans use to joke saying that Lenders was the first/only Japanese Gypsy.
  • Jun Hono from the Mazinger series—Mazinger Z, Great Mazinger, Mazinkaiser, Mazinger Angels...—has Japanese traits but she is brown-skinned. This is due to her mixed heritage—she is child of an African-American man and a Japanese woman, which plays an important part in her Character Development (since she experienced racism as a child).
  • Panzer World Galient: Redd Winduu was brown-skinned, but it is hard to tell what his race is supposed to be.
  • Saint Seiya has a cast of characters hail of very different countries and ethnicities. Good luck trying to ascertain the race of some of them, though. A good example is Chrysaor Krishna: he is from Sri Lanka, he is brown-skinned and white-haired.
  • Akio and Anthy from Revolutionary Girl Utena. Some believe that they're from India due to the forehead marking, though the fact that they may be ancient gods or something very similar makes things moot.
  • Berserk has Casca, Guts' primary Love Interest, and for years fans have been trying to classify her as either A. Black. B. Mixed. C. Arab D. East Indian. In reality Kentaro Miura probably just decided that he liked the design. Also worth noting that in the Berserk universe, there are the East Indian-based people called the Kushans, who typically have brown skin. Casca had mentioned living by the border and does have the same skin tone as the aforementioned people, so it is possible that she is from the Kushan Empire, which would definitively make her of East Indian-equivalent descent.
  • Sailor Pluto in Sailor Moon has significantly darker skin than her comrades, (it's lightened somewhat in The Nineties anime). Though her ethnicity remains vague, Naoko Takeuchi quite obviously took inspiration for one of Pluto's artbook portraits from African American model Naomi Campbell modeling Chanel couture.
    • Haruka's friend Elza Gray from the first anime. Her name would suggest her being of African American descent.
  • One Piece has a few characters like this, though if you look at the original designs the "darkness" of some of the characters seem to come from the designers of the anime taking liberties.
    • In the main cast, there's Usopp, who also has kinky black hair and drawn lips (which most characters lack), and Oda said that if the Straw Hats were from the real world he would be from Africa, so he is most likely intended to be black.
      • However, Usopp's mother Banchina was very pale, and had an Italian name, whereas his father has similar features including drawn lips. Also, while he now has blond dreadlocks, he was shown when Shanks first recruited him to have curly black hair, so it's likely he dyed/bleached it. This might point to Ussop being biracial.
    • There's also Robin as a borderline example, whose skin looks slightly darker than most of the other Straw Hats but looks slightly tanned at most. However, Oda stated in the SBS that if the if the straw hats lived in the real world Robin would be from Russia. As of the Time Skip, there isn't any Ambiguously Brown anymore. Her tanned skin is gone.
    • Before his death Brook fit this trope, and even as a skeleton he still has an awesome afro.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Also Hiroto Honda/Tristan Taylor, Kemo, and Ryota Kajiki/Mako Tsunami from the main series.
    • Yusei Fudo of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds is noticeably darker-skinned than everyone else, but not by much.
  • Kidomaru in Naruto. In the cover for Volume 24, his skin is even darker than it is in the anime (despite it being almost completely white in the regular pages, but that's a frequent occurrence). Later, several characters from the Cloud Village are shown to be unambiguously black.
  • Kaolla Su from Love Hina. Her origins aren't revealed until towards the final chapters (she's from a fictional country on the International Date Line), but her appearance was actually relevant to a subplot involving Keitaro assuming she as from India (which she denied)
  • Fakir in Princess Tutu has tan skin and dark green (almost black!) hair, in a town that appears to be set in Germany. Fanon states he has some Middle-Eastern blood in him (because of his name and appearances), but the creator tends to dodge the subject when a question is asked about it.
  • Johann Trinity in Gundam 00. Further complicated by the fact he's brown with dark hair, his brother is white with blue hair, and his sister is white and freckly with red hair. Probably explained by the fact that they're artificial humans.
  • Moonbay from Zoids: Chaotic Century is the only primary character with a much darker skin tone than everyone else.
  • Maria from Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei. She's an illegal immigrant, but her country of origin was never specified. It's possibly intentional, since the series has another character who's also a generic foreigner (of a different variety). Considering her brown skin color, Hispanicized real first name, illegal immigrant status, war-torn past, lack of formal education, and stereotypically genki personality, along with the fact that she's still supposed to be from "Asia", it is most likely that she is actually Filipina, which would make sense considering the historical relationship and geographical proximity between the Philippines and Japan.
  • Raven from Earl and Fairy is the Heroic Bastard half-brother of a clearly white Ermine, meaning that he's half British, and his other half is eventually revealed to be demon. His appearance is also used to show the discrimination obviously non-Anglo people in Victorian England faced.
  • Turn A Gundam is chock full of characters like this. Dark-Skinned Blonde lead Loran has curious platinum hair that's sometimes drawn fairly straight, sometimes looking more like dreads. He doesn't really look like anything, but expect lots of jokes about "Black History Month" every February on /m/, anyway (it helps that he spends most of the first episode dressed up as Hoke). Guin Rhineford is fairly dark-skinned, too, but judging by his facial features and hair, he's probably just a white guy with a really deep tan. Meshy/Meshie/Miashe/Mia-Shay Kune/Kyuun(/Coo- whoah, let's not go with that romanization!) Is yet another Dark-Skinned Blonde, but her facial features are pretty "black"-looking (very prominent lips for an anime character, for one). Her hair and complexion, along with the fact that her very white, hick-ish father is a minor character suggests she's supposed to be a mulatto, though we never see her mom. The Moonrace is considerably whiter (a few Asians, too), but Evil Chancellor Agrippa looks like he's supposed to be But Not Too Black.
    • Justified for the Earth-based characters in that they're a result of millennia's worth of multiracial intermingling following the Moonlight Butterfly apocalypse.
  • Victory Gundam has Shakti Kareen. This particular Gundam actually features a good number of dark-skinned characters, but Shakti is a bit odd considering her mother is extremely white, living in a society (Zanscare) of predominantly white-skinned people. No explanation for this is ever given (her father is never shown).
  • Enrico Pucci from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure looks black, but it's actually an important plot point that he's not. His parents are both white as snow. This is never commented on or explained.
  • Rally Vincent in Gunsmith Cats. Her mother was British and her father is either Indian or Pakistani, although his already very dark tone suggests South Indian heritage.
  • Jan Valentine from Hellsing is pretty dark skinned. However, it becomes really ambiguous in light of his brother, who is whiter than this page background. Sir (Lady) Integra and Father Andersen are both Dark-Skinned Blond, though in the anime tv series, it is directly implied that Integra's mother is actually Indian, as she was both darker-skinned than her husband and wearing a sari in the family photo taken when Integra was a baby.
  • The English version of Bakugan Battle Brawlers has Julie Makimoto, a girl from Eagle Land who has dark skin and white hair. While her build and face seem to imply African, when compared to Komba (who is confirmed African) and considering her last name is Japanese, it's surprisingly open to interpretation. In the original Japanese, she is Australian (implied to be Aboriginal) and her last name is Hayward.
  • Code Geass:
    • Villetta Nu is from the Britannian Empire, but since it geographically covers not only the USA but all of Central and South America as well it could account for the wide variety of skin tones among its members.
    • Dorothea Ernst is slightly darker than Villetta and is killed off after only a few minutes of screen time.
    • Dalque in Nightmare of Nunnally is from one of the numbered areas, but it's never revealed which one.
  • Goemon Ishikawa and Inspector Zenigata of Lupin III went back and forth on this one in the early years.
    • Goemon was portrayed with tan skin early on for the original manga series and the pilot, had pale skin for the first TV series, and then went tan again for the first Lupin movie, The Mystery of Mamo, which was based on the original manga art. The second TV series returned to the pale tone, and he has kept it ever since. The argument would be because Goemon's nationality (Japanese) is the only one known of the gang and so it makes him stand out more ethnically. Except...
    • Zenigata is also Japanese and was was pale for the pilot, but got noticeably tan in the first TV series, the opposite of Goemon. He also has a slightly ruddy complexion in The Castle of Cagliostro, but since then, has also evened out to paler tones.
  • Tom Tanaka from Durarara!! not only has noticeably darker skin than most characters but also has dreadlocks, and this combined with his first name raise the possibility that he has some non-Japanese ancestry. That, or he's just really tanned and has odd style habits.
  • In Samurai Champloo- technically, everyone is Japanese except for those explicitly designated as foreigners, but as part of the hip hip style, there's a lot of darker skinned characters (often mooks) who often look black or Hispanic. In contrast, higher class characters have paler skin. Mugen looks Ambiguously Brown compared to the other main characters, which might be Truth in Television, since he's from the Ryuku Islands, and it's traditional to draw Okinawans darker, and there has for decades been contention about whether they are to be recognized as a racial minority or not, and in the time the show is set, the king of Ryukyu was still paying tribute to the emperors of Japan and China as a subject state.
  • Master samurai Kambei & Gorobei from Samurai 7. Word of God says that Kambei was originally intended to be deliberately distinctly African-looking in appearance but ended up being Southeast/Southwest Asian/Latin American. His original design was then used for Gorobei.
  • Almost all the characters in Haré+Guu have dark skin. In fact lighter skin characters are a little rare in the series. Justified as it takes in a Jungle, likely somewhere in South Asia, though oddly enough Weda came from "the city", to where Hare goes later and, guess what, more or less everybody is white-ish. She still have the exact same appearance of the other inhabitants of the jungle. So... that was some lucky choice for a placed to be banned.
  • Heiji Hattori from Detective Conan has a dark skin tone. Episode 221 specifically states he gets the skin color from his grandfather, so it's definitely real in-story. In #263. his girlfriend recognizes that a person in a mask is not him because his skin is too pale.
  • Kenji Harima from School Rumble has significantly darker skin than most of his classmates. Lara, from Class 2-D gets away with it due to being explicitly stated to be Mexican, though somehow she has a Russian accent in the English dub.
  • Psy from Heroman seems to fit the Black Best Friend and Black and Nerdy tropes, has puffy hair, and lives in America but it's hard to tell. He might be Mexican, mixed, or African-American.
  • Edrear from Bizenghast is Ambiguously Screentoned in the manga, but is given the same skintone as his siblings in official art.
  • Words Worth: Rita is the only dark skinned character shown to be in the Light Tribe besides her mother, Sabrina, and doubles as a Darkskinned Blonde.
  • Endemic in Michiko to Hatchin, which is to be expected, considering the series takes place in a fictional version of South America. Atsuko Jackson is explicitly half-black and half-Japanese but we never know for sure what Michiko's racial makeup is. Both women appear to be Afro-Latina (for those to whom this isn't immediately obvious, there is an episode in which Michiko wears her hair natural), Michiko being more likely to be considered "Zambo"—as opposed to Atsuko's "Jambo"—and the racial demographics of the show are surprisingly accurately represented. Characters in the series tend to have a mish-mash of Portuguese (sometimes Spanish) and Japanese names, which is most likely a nod to the fact that Brazil has the largest Japanese population in the world barring Japan.
  • In Eureka Seven, we have Matthieu, Hilda and Gidget. Their skin colors are actually slightly different shades.
  • Anime (and anime-based game) only Lucy Liberty of F-Zero Falcon Densetsu/GP Legend is this. She shares roughly the same skin color that Kate Alen has (who is black in the core games) in the series, but her hair color is a fairly pinkish shade of red.
  • In Gurren Lagann, Lordgenome is noticeably more olive-toned than other human characters. His facial features and clothes suggest he's Middle Eastern, although this may just be the result of his Nonstandard Character Design, and when he was a child he looked exactly like his daughter Nia. There's also one recurring background member of Team Dai-Gurren (the wiki calls him "Old Coco") who is like this, although his skin tone is closer to a black person's than Lordgenome's is.
  • In ...Virgin Love, Daigo's mother is Japanese and his father is American. Though his father's ethnicity is never specified, both he and Daigo are ambiguously brown.
  • Used deliberately in Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water to underscore Nadia's mysterious origins. Nadia's brown skin, straight hair, green eyes, and "stateless" anime heroine looks all stand in marked contrast to the rest of the Nautilus' multinational crew, who all have recognizably European, African, Indian or Asian features. (She's actually Atlantean.)
  • Claire Forrest from Red Garden is definitely one. Her race is really unclear, mostly because both she and her brother have darker skin tones, while her father doesn't. Also, her brother incidentally has blonde cornrows. Most fans assume that she is potentially bi-racial, as she's had that color since she was a child. To add to the debate, in a later episode Claire seems to get noticeably more upset and hesitant when she sees a picture of the caucasian man they have to kill standing next to his black wife although the reason could have more to do with her parents' past relationship than their races.
  • Variable Geo: It's never said whether Jun's complexion is her natural skin color, or a really deep tan. None of the others seem to find anything unusual about her appearance, even though she looks like a foreigner; including having Green Eyes.
  • A significant number of people in the Trigun manga, which (brownness and its ambiguity) makes sense given the setting, though Nightow switches to greyscale skintones for dramatic effect so often it's hard to tell what's significant.
  • Kenta Nakamura from Initial D is fairly dark-skinned in the manga, anime, and video games. Nobody finds anything unusual about this, and his ethnicity isn't addressed even once.
  • Aomine Daiki of Kuroko no Basuke. He's dark enough it can't just be explained away with him exercising outside a lot. Especially when he combines it with blue hair.
  • In Summer Wars, Kazuma is quite dark-skinned compared to the rest of the cast, including his own pale-skinned parents. He's also something of a Hikikomori, so his skin likely isn't just tan, which adds to the confusion.
  • The people that Talking Bird Dela works for in Tamako Market. They lives on what looks like a tropical island and is a monarchy, but the food Choi prepares in episode nine looks suspiciously Vietnamese.
  • Ymir from Attack on Titan in the anime is clearly a different ethnicity than most of the main cast, possessing olive-colored skin, freckles and straight black-brown hair in a cast that has mainly Northern European features. Despite this no one ever comments on it, even though earlier in the story Mikasa's half-Asian heritage was a minor plot point. In Ymir's case this is a hint that she not only comes from beyond the Walls, but is in fact a Titan Shifter. The manga shows her with a skintone closer to the other characters.
    • To a lesser degree, Bertolt Hoover as well. His complexion and hair are similar to Ymir's, with dark Green Eyes and a Cleopatra Nose that make him rather unique compared to the others. Like Ymir, it's also a hint that he's a Titan Shifter born outside the Walls. However, his name is about as German as one can get, rivaled only by Reiner Braun.
  • In the Pokémon original anime series Brock varies in color from light brown to dark brown. There's been a gag a few times where he dances in a sombrero and maracas, but most fans consider him asian.
    • Ash always had a skin tone was always slightly darker than other characters, though he's undeniably Japanese. Starting in Hoenn he's just barely lighter than Brock and has stayed that way since.
  • Ria Hagry in Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai has noticeably darker skin than most of the Japanese cast and is referred to only as "American", leaving her exact ethnicity uncertain.
  • Tooru Mutsuki from Tokyo Ghoul :Re is brown-skinned, with a Japanese name and anime-typical features. An orphan, there is absolutely no information concerning his possible racial background leading to much theorizing.
  • In Zeta Gundam, Titans' second-in-command Bask Om is a light tan that seems to get darker depending upon the lighting.
  • In ZZ Gundam, Rakan Dahkaran is darker skinned then the rest of the cast, and depending on the episode and the lighting ranges from tanned to almost black in skin colouration. When combined with his facial features he looks almost, but not quite Arabic.
  • In Death Parade, Castra has dark brown skin and Ginti is noticeably darker than the rest of the cast as well. Neither are human like the others (they deal with the afterlife) and so like them they don't seem to have a particular race.

  • Comedian Russell Peters once commented that we live in a multicultural society and that in a matter of time, there will be no black, white, or yellow people, but that everyone's going to be beige.

    Comic Books 
  • Western artist Kevin J. Taylor also loves this trope as colorized or not, there are only two racially distinct characters, Blue (White) and Jesse James (Black with tan-tipped dreadlocks.) His main character, Girl/Jaliera Dane, originally looked Pacific Islander, then possibly Mexican, then almost the complexion of DCAU Lex Luthor during a cameo, and finally temporarily Indian for a special based on the Kama Sutra. Girl's friend, Jill is even more ambiguous as she's got green eyes, apparently natural orange-caramel skin, matching straight hair and while narrating her story, mentions the races of the men she's with without identifying herself with one or the other. Lastly, Marty (a girl) is similar to Storm with shorter, but still white hair.
  • Generation X and X-Factor member Monet is the daughter of a dark-skinned French father and mother of Algerian citizenship and indeterminate ethnicity. She is always depicted as brown-skinned, with the precise hue varying from issue to issue. Whenever it gets too light, there's an outcry that Marvel is trying to make her "less black" for nefarious purposes, and when it gets too dark, there are cries that she was never black in the first place, but it was never stated that she is or isn't. She and her siblings (who are more consistently dark-skinned, the few times we see Emplate's human form) are most likely mixed, though colorists should settle on a tone and stick to it.
    • Obvious Fridge Logic answer: Her healing factor causes her to both tan rapidly, and lose that tan when it's no longer needed.
  • Also X-related, Bishop was long assumed to be African-American, even though his long straight hair didn't quite add up. This assumption carried well into the mid-2000's when the time-travelling mutant cameoed as a little boy in present-day New York in X-Men Legends. It wasn't until later that he was established as an Australian Aborigine (one can assume he learned to disguise his Aussie accent to avoid unwanted attention).
  • British girls' comic Nikki had a strip called The Comp about a Good Old British Comp, which featured a vaguely Asian-looking character named Aisha, whose ethnic background was never elaborated upon. The trope was abandoned when the strip moved to Bunty, who re-named the character Kiko and made her Japanese.
  • Judge Dredd was originally designed to deliberately invoke this. The artist who originally designed him, Carlos Ezquerra, drew him with thick lips to suggest some racial ambiguity. Unfortunately, he didn't tell every artist at 2000AD his plan, so some of them drew him with European features, and some of them with African features, which, since the comic was drawn with outlines only and you could only see the bottom half of his face, no-one really noticed, and it was eventually decided that Dredd was white.
  • DC Comics's time-travelling hero Walker Gabriel, aka Chronos (not be confused with the villain of the same name) was adopted as a baby, and never knew his parents or his ethnic background, though he clearly wasn't white. He eventually met his father, who was Chinese, and learned that thanks to said father being a time traveler, his mother was an ancient Mayan.
    • Vandal Savage in the New 52 is this. He has a crooked nose, ridiculously high cheekbones, and dark skin but perfectly straight hair. It makes sense his ethnicity would be hard to place since he's more like a cromagnon than any modern race.
  • Dallas Barr after his cosmetic surgery early on in the series.
  • Alana and Marko from Saga, in deliberate aversion of the Humanoids Are White trope. Word of God from Fiona Staples is that Marko and his family are supposed to be of Asian descent (or at least the Rubber Forehead Alien equivalent), and that she based his design off of various Japanese actors and male models. She also commented that people may not have been aware of this since she avoided the stereotypically exaggerated features associated with Asian people in most comics, which falls into Reality Is Unrealistic. Likewise, she claims she envisions Alana as mixed race with an Indian (again space equivalent) father, while her mother is similarly Ambiguously Brown but looks like a real-world person of African descent.
  • The Superior Foes of Spider-Man has three examples, two justified and one not yet explained; Shocker (who Word of God states is white but really tanned), Beetle (who is mixed race being half-black, half-Dominican), and Boomerang's girlfriend.
  • Capture Creatures has Tamzen, one of the main protagonists of the series.
  • In Gen 13, there's a running gag of sorts that nobody can guess what Sarah Rainmaker's ethnicity is when they first meet her. An entire issue during Adam Warren's run features Sarah in the background waiting for drinks at a bar, all while an idiot next to her tries to guess her background, getting further and further from it as he goes. (She's half American Indian.)

    Fan Works 
  • In From Bajor to the Black Eleya's human Starfleet Academy roommate Jasmine "Jazz" Velasquez is pretty clearly multiracial, with brown skin, black hair, almond-shaped eyes, and a Multi-Ethnic Name (Jasmine is Persian in origin, while Velasquez is Spanish or Latina). And then we get to the part where she's had family in uniform going back to the Revolutionary War, implying Jazz has Caucasian ancestors as well.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Greek muses from Hercules. Their musical numbers are reminiscent of Soul and Gospel Music and they are depicted with certain physical characteristics usually associated with black singers. Moreover, in the Disney Parade of Hercules, the women costumed as the Greek muses were black.
  • Wybie from Coraline can come across as this. He's supposed to be black (or at least partly, it's not entirely clear) but the racial cues are harder to notice given the animation style. Alongside a blue-haired Coraline and blue-skinned Mr Bobinsky, it's easy to believe Wybie's an orange-skinned white boy with afro-textured hair.
  • Prince Naveen from The Princess and the Frog was deliberately designed to be this to avoid upsetting any minorities. Since he was going to marry the first black Disney princess it would either tell people Disney didn't believe in mixed race marriages or were cheating their fans out of a black prince. Henceforth he is a thoroughly ambiguous mish mash from his name, the native words he uses, his skin, his hair, his eyes, etc. When we see his parents at the end of the movie they both have white hair from age, but that doesn't offer much in the way of clues either.
  • Minty Zaki, a minor racer in Wreck-It Ralph, has skin that varies from a medium to darker brown, though not all merchandise and artwork are consistent with this (sometimes depicting her as light-skinned). It has been debated whether she's meant to be black, or if she's a darker-skinned Asian. In the Japanese release, her skin is considerably lightened and she's altered to be a kimono-wearing Japanese girl.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Super Troopers, no one seems to know Arcot Ramathorn's ethnicity. People think he's either African-American, Mexican, or Arab-American. He is Indian.
  • Doctor Gonzo in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is either Samoan (what Thompson introduces him as) or Mexican (what everyone else mistakes him for). Justified in that he was based on a real Mexican-American attorney, who Thompson was using as a source for a story, and the whole point of going to Vegas was to keep quiet that he was talking to Thompson.
  • Paxton in the first Hostel film. Played by Mexican-American Jay Hernandez, the character's Ambiguously Brown status goes unremarked-on until he is about to be tortured to death (by someone who's paid a lot of money to torture and kill an American): "Look at me! I'm not a fucking American!" But then the torturer is shown Paxton's U.S. passport...
  • Two characters in Satan Claus, due to the extremely poor lighting, as one review pointed out (referring to them as "ambiguously ethnic").
  • In Ted, Lori's ethnicity is never revealed. Her boss comments that it's ambiguous, hazarding "Baltic" and "Czech." Actress Mila Kunis is from a Ukrainian Jewish family.
  • The Green Lantern movie has Hal's friend Thom as the Token Minority among a largely white (human) cast. The actor who plays him is Polynesian, who openly admitted he was cast because they wanted a non-white actor for the role but didn't want a Black Best Friend. In the comics Thom is Inuit, but the movie keeps it deliberately ambiguous.
  • In Iron Man 3, The Mandarin is of indeterminate but apparently Middle Eastern birth (played by the half-Indian Ben Kingsley). Further confused by his American South accent, Chinese name, and tactics similar to South American militants. This is in contrast to the Mandarin of the comics, who (as his name implies) is partly of Chinese descent. Perhaps surprisingly, the movie manages to make sense out of all this by the time it's over.
  • The character of Jimmy in That Thing You Do! is played by dark-skinned actor Jonathan Schaech, whose ancestry is mostly German and one-quarter Italian. Jimmy's full name is the very British-sounding "James Mattingly III" (his official credit on the rock album he and his band record), but Schaech made no attempt to lighten his skin tone for the role. Really makes you wonder about Mattingly's true ancestry, especially when A.M. White (Tom Hanks) orders Jimmy to record the title song in Spanish, causing Jimmy to become very peevish and sarcastic and unceremoniously quit the band. Hmmmm...
  • The Warriors:
    • Deborah Van Valkenburgh, a slightly dark-skinned actress, plays Mercy, a girl who lives in the South Bronx (which is heavily Puerto Rican) and speaks in a voice not unlike that of Jennifer Lopez. But since Mercy's surname never comes up in the script, there's no way to know where her family is from.
    • Cyrus, the Gramercy Riffs' gang leader, is supposed to be black.... but his portrayer, Roger Hill, had straight hair and relatively light skin. He looks like he could belong to one of three or four different races.

  • Lampshaded in American Gods. The undertakers Mr. Ibis (Thoth) and Mr. Jackal (Anubis) note that they can pass for "white" or "black" with their Egyptian looks. Shadow agrees that he's seen both "white" and "black" people who look like them. Shadow himself is mistaken for every ethnicity under the sun throughout the book, but you can ultimately figure out by various clues that he's half black, half Scandinavian.
  • In Diana Wynne Jones's The Lives Of Christopher Chant, Tacroy/Mordecai Roberts is described as having very curly light brown hair and light brown skin. He is later revealed to come from a different world, and may not even really be human.
  • In Dragon Bones, the valet Axiel has brown-ish skin, and the only thing Ward knows about where he comes from is that his father brought him back from a war. It later turns out that he's half-dwarf, and had his own reasons to stay in Hurog. Everyone else in Hurog is white, with blond, brown or reddish hair, or Raven Hair, Ivory Skin.
  • In Little Men by Louisa May Alcott, the character Dan is described with black eyes, black hair, and, at several points where his skin is mentioned, brown skin. But it's unclear as to whether this is racial, tanned, or just dirty. Everyone else in the book seems to be Caucasian (several are specifically blond Germans) except for a Black cooknote , but Dan just seems like the odd boy out.
  • In Little Women, the last chapter makes mention of a "merry little quadroon", who might be Dan. Then again, considering said quadroon acts nothing like the taciturn Dan, Alcott may have had a different boy in mind (possibly Nat, due to the child's "sweetest voice of all"), or she might have radically changed his characterization between books.
  • In Friday, the eponymous protagonist of the Robert A. Heinlein novel, is some shade of brown. Justified in that she's an Artificial Human, genetically engineered with genes from around the world. Her mentor even remarks that she couldn't be racist, as she'd be shooting herself in the foot.
  • In Vernor Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep, all humans living in the Beyond are said to descend from Nyjora, one of ancient Earth's colonies. They are all described as being black-haired and brown-skinned, but what cultural markers Nyjora has are Scandinavian. Pham Nuwen's red hair and slanted eyes engender much comment, as he's obviously a different race.
    • To the point where the protagonist actually accuses Pham Nuwen of being a created construct by the Old One rather than a real human being, since those two features are so rarely found together. The truth was a bit more complicated. He is a real person, but much of his body was destroyed in the deep-space accident from which he was later revived. The Old One made up his hair from the DNA of another passenger who was killed at the same time... which is a bit of Fridge Horror when you realize that the red-haired woman was once his lover.
    • Given that the Vikings are known to have considered foreign women hot & would import exotic-looking women, nothing that a Scandinavian-derived gene pool might produce ought to surprise terribly. It's actually rather curious that they don't have more variety now.
  • Deconstructed in Hero by Perry Moore. Golden Boy is a speedster and sidekick to Silver Bullet (a Flash expy); he grew up in an orphanage and he himself doesn't know what race he is. This has kept him from being adopted since "The blacks thought I was Hispanic, the Hispanics thought I was Arab, and the whites didn't want any questions." The patronizing nature of his codename isn't lost on him either, but Silver Bullet is the closest thing he has to a father, so he just goes with it.
  • Larry Niven's Known Space series:
    • Louis Wu is described as having (when he's not using cosmetic drugs that change his skin, hair, and eye colors), "black hair, brown eyes with no discernible slant and yellow-brown skin". By the year 2850, Ambiguously Brown has become the dominant natural skin-tone on Earth due to the fusion of all of the ethnic races.
    • Two of Louis's parents (his genetic father, Carlos Wu, and his mother, Sharrol Janss) and his sister Tanya had similar coloration. Beowulf Schaeffer, his adoptive father (and the father of Louis' stepsister Jeena) was an albino. Jeena Wu had the same skin color as Louis, but was naturally blue-eyed and blonde-haired.
  • The Erdlings in the Green-Sky Trilogy are darker-skinned, darker-haired, and "sturdier" compared to their willowy, pale Kindar counterparts. This is explained somewhat by the fact the only places the Erdlings are able to gather food are places where the tree cover has been cleared away, exposing them to direct sunlight (and a tan) whereas the Kindar are almost always shaded by the leaves of their tree-cities.
  • Johnny in The Outsiders, despite being played by Italian-American Ralph Macchio in the movie, has a "dark tan" and is too dark-skinned to look okay with blond hair. Some fans of the book consider Johnny to be Native American.
  • Vlad Tepes's family in Count and Countess.
  • In Animorphs, Ax's human morph is described this way. He's a Mix-and-Match Man derived from the four human Animorphs: Jake and Rachel (white), Cassie (black) and Marco (half-white, half-Hispanic).
  • The Big Bad of The Stand, Randall Flagg, is able to mix with terrorists of every colour to further his agendas, from the Ku Klux Klan to the Symbionese Liberation Army ('no one disputed his claim to be a black man, although his skin was very light'). Given who he is, he could just be hypnotising people, but in any case his appearance is kept vague, and he really could be of any race.
  • The Kabra family in The 39 Clues is described as having dark skin. London's large population of Indian-Brits may make the skin color of Ian and Natalie, the children, less ambiguous, but that doesn't explain why their mother (whose maiden name was Vesper-Hollingsworth, which doesn't hint at anything) also has "coffee-colored" skin.
  • The skin tones and facial features of Billy Slade, from Simon Hawke's Wizard novels, incorporate such an ambiguous blend of ethnic traits that he could well have a bit of any race in his ancestry. Having been orphaned young, he doesn't even know what ethnic group(s) his parents might've resembled; the one thing known for sure is that there's a bit of Celt and Old One in him, by way of being Merlin's and Nimue's last descendent.
  • Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights is described as dark-skinned and probably Romani, but it's stated that seemingly no one knows his ethnicity really. A recent film cast Heathcliff as a black man.
  • In Craig Shaw Gardner's novelization of Tim Burton's Batman (1989), Harvey Dent is described as having "brown skin," with absolutely nothing else said about his appearance. You have to watch the movie itself to confirm that Dent is being played by the African-American actor Billy Dee Williams.
  • Trillian in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is "darkish", with brown eyes and black hair. On-screen, she's always been played by white actresses.
    With her red head scarf knotted in that particular way and her long flowing silky brown dress she looked vaguely Arabic.
  • In Cold Mountain (the book only), Ruby, a homeless woman of Tennessee, is described as being dark-skinned, with a broad nose and hair the texture of a horse's mane. Whether this is due to mixed racial heritage, or simply her rough outdoors life, is up to interpretation. The film cast Renee Zellweger, a white woman, in the role.
  • It's implied that all three teenagers in Dr Franklins Island are nonwhite, but only Semi gets more detail - she has Jamaican ancestry. Miranda is "brown", and there are no hints with Arnie. Semi always notes when she sees someone for the first time if they are white, and doesn't do this meeting them.
  • In the Rainbow Magic series, several fairies have brown skin of differing tones.
  • Harry Potter has a reaction something like this when he sees a picture of Dumbledore's mother Kendra. The narration comments that he thinks she looks a little Native American. Bear in mind her children are described as having blonde or auburn hair.
  • Rose Hathaway from Vampire Academy, is described as naturally tan and black-haired. Her father is Turkish, which explains where she got her looks from.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 30 Rock: Carmen Chao, a rival reporter to Avery.
    Jack: Carmen Chao is relentless, like a bloodhound. Perhaps literally. We still don't know her genetic background.
    Jack: She's very sneaky, which isn't racist since we don't know what she is.
    • Her actress, Vanessa Minnillo, is Filipino on her mother's side and Irish/Italian on her father's side.
  • Skye from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is played by the half-white, half-Chinese Chloe Bennett, but went through the first season without clarifying her ethnicity (one episode states that she was found in the Hunan province as a baby, but it's far from confirmation - the same episode starts casting doubts on whether she's even human). This has led to Unfortunate Implications where critics of the show's admittedly white cast usually ignore Bennett's ethnicity while talking about how the series needs more characters of color. The second season eventually confirms that Skye shares Bennett's ethnicity, showing that her parents were a white dad and Chinese mom; though with the twist that Skye has some Inhuman ancestry that Bennett obviously doesn't share.
    • Reina is another example. While her appearance and accent suggest that she's a light-skinned African-American, she spent much of her early life in Asia and we know next to nothing about her. Actress Ruth Negga is Irish and Ethiopian, but Reina's background is still a mystery except that she's at least partially Inhuman like Skye.
  • Anger Management: Lacey, one of the characters on the TV series, is a light-skinned Asian-Indian - as is the actress who plays her, despite having a vaguely German- or Dutch-sounding surname. One of the other group-therapy members, who is quite the redneck, dislikes her because she looks like an Arab to him. Many viewers seeing her for the first time will probably just think she's a white brunette (Italian or Jewish, say).
  • Slade Wilson from Arrow was Race Lifted from white in the comics to this. He's from Australia and the actor who plays him is half-Māori, but other than that we have no clue what his ethnicity is.
  • Rainbow from Black-ish has a white father and an African-American mother, and mentions in one episode that she stole a scholarship from a Polynesian student because she can easily pass for Samoan.
  • Ilana Glazer from Broad City is described as Jewish, but gives no further indication of her ethnicity. The show take place in New York City so she could plausibly be any Jewish/mixed race.
  • Burn Notice: As an intentional casting effect has Sixth Ranger Jesse played by the bi-racial Coby Bell. This allows Jesse to use a claim to be any ethnicity for a cover ID. See here.
  • Phoebe in Charmed has notably darker skin that her sisters Prue and Piper and half-sister Page. The reason, obviously, is because the character is played by Italian-American actress Alyssa Milano. This is never acknowledged in the series, though.
  • The Cosby Show had a whole episode revolving around this trope, wherein one of the kids got a new teacher who asked her pupils to guess her ethnicity. It was a mix of several: African-American, one specific European nation, and one specific Native American tribe. While she obviously had much fun with her own ambiguity, Cliff also told a story about a boy he knew, who got upset with everyone wondering about his ethnicity, and one day decided just to answer every inquiring with: "I am an Arachne."
  • Covert Affairs: Lampshaded slightly in reference to Jai (played by Chicago native of Indian descent Sendhil Ramamurthy): his father is white and his mother's ethnicity has not been elaborated upon, and Annie's sister calls him "the George Clooney of...wherever he's from!"
  • Da Vinci's Demons: Zoroaster is half-Italian, and half... something. Whatever this other heritage is, it makes him noticeably darker than his fellow Florentines. It's relatively common for people to presume that he's part-Arab.
  • Eric Andre from The Eric Andre Show is the child of a Haitian father and an Ashkenazi Jewish mother. He's stated that because of this mix, he is often mistaken for Puerto Rican or other Latino nationalities.
  • Santana on Glee is this initially, though she later confirms that she is Hispanic. Other characters aren't as sure, like Sue who says to her "I'm still not certain on what your ethnicity is." Her actress, Naya Rivera, is half Puerto Rican, quarter German, and quarter African American.
    • Puck is this as well. It's lampshaded when Lauren says that she was initially attracted to him for this reason, and was disappointed to learn he's just a tanned white guy.
  • Rashida Jones is of black and Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, and her ambiguous appearance has been lampshaded of her character on both The Office and its "sister show" Parks and Recreation.
    • In The Office, Jones' character Karen Filippelli has an Italian last name (and admits to Italian ancestry), but the character also speaks some French and Chinese and it's also speculated whether she might have Filipino ancestry. At one point, Michael tactlessly tells her she looks very exotic and inquires whether her father was a G.I.
    • In Parks and Recreation, the season 4 finale has it commented of Jones' character Ann Perkins, "I’ve said this to you before and I know it makes you uncomfortable, but you’re thoughtful and you’re brilliant and your ambiguous ethnic blend perfectly represents the dream of the American melting pot." There's also an earlier episode where Tom (Aziz Ansari) tries to set up a dirty joke by asking if Ann has any Indian in her.
  • Keegan-Michael Key of Key And Peele. He is half-black and half-white, but looks ambiguous enough that he sometimes plays Latino, Indian, and Middle-Eastern characters.
    • Interestingly, Jordan Peele has the same ethnic background as his costar, but Peele has slightly darker skin, so he tends to just play Black characters.
  • Leverage beat Burn Notice to the punch with Sophie Devereaux. Sophie in British, but as a con woman has convincingly portrayed multiple characters from around the world. Her actress, Gina Bellman, is of Russian and Polish descent.
  • Revolution: Nora and Nate. The former is canonically Latina, as revealed in "Sex and Drugs". The latter is revealed in "Soul Train" to have a black father and a white mother.
  • Seinfeld: Parodied in the season 9 episode "The Wizard". Elaine has a new boyfriend who Jerry thinks is black, even though the actor playing him is pretty lightly-skinned. Elaine spends the episode trying to figure out his race and gets pretty conflicting answers, but concludes he is black when he says that they are an interracial couple. In the end of the episode when Elaine tells him she thinks he's black, the boyfriend reveals he thought Elaine was Hispanic. Realizing they're both a couple of white people and not an interracial couple, they decide to take a trip to The Gap.
  • Shake It Up: Eventually subverted. Rocky and Ty Blue seem to be ambiguously brown for the entire first season (both of their actors are mixed race), until their mother is revealed to be black and their father is revealed to be mixed.
  • According to Word of God, Julian Bashir from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (played by Sudanese actor Alexander Siddig) was intended to be of no ethnicity recognisable to 20th/21st-century viewers. The name is Arabic and the character's accent is clearly British, so it's not too hard to make an educated guess as to his background.
  • That '70s Show: Where was Fez from again? His actor, Wilmer Valderrama, is of Colombian and Venezuelan descent.
  • Trauma hangs kind of a weird lampshade on this one in an episode concerning the ethnicity of Cliff Curtis' character, Rabbit. note 
    Marisa: My cousin saw you on the news and she thinks you're super hot. And Mexican.
    Rabbit: Not Mexican.
    Marisa: He's not Mexican. (On the phone) Ugh, don't make me ask him that. (Back to Rabbit.) OK, so what are you then?
    Rabbit: I'm, uh, not going tonight.
In a later episode his father is also Ambiguously Brown while Rabbit as a child (flashback) looks more Ambiguously White. Go figure.
  • Cliff Curtis is famous for playing a wide range of ethnicities. He's been Maori (his actual ethnicity), Mexican (Training Day), Colombian (Blow), Iraqi (Three Kings), Cuban (Runaway Jury), Afro-Hispanic (Die Hard 4.0) and ambiguous (Sunshine), to name a few.
  • Victorious: Beck - his actor's of Indian descent, cultivating a "bad boy" image at an arts magnet school averts the stereotype without ever mentioning it and the only background mentioned in the show of his ethnicity is that he's Canadian.
  • Workaholics: Montez. There's even a joke in one episode where he accuses some of his coworkers of discriminating against him because he's black, and they act as though they are genuinely unaware of what race he belongs to. In real life, Montez's actor, Erik Griffin, has a stand-up routine about how nobody can seem to identify his ethnicity.
    • There's an episode where Adam and Blake have a crush on the same woman, with Adam thinking she's black and Blake thinking she's Asian. They awkwardly try to trick her into revealing her ethnicity until she explains that she's both; she has a black father and a Filipino mother.
  • Deke from 2 Broke Girls His race is never mentioned in the series at all, leaving us to wonder if this was on purpose or just didn't seem important. Word of God has not spoken on the subject yet.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Garfield:
    • Liz the veterinarian (now Jon Arbuckle's steady girlfriend) was implied to be East Asian in an early strip, with Jon, while sweet-talking her, insinuating that she looked Chinese. ("Haven't we met a rice paddy in Hong Kong?") This was quickly dropped.
    • Another early strip shows Jon on vacation in the South Pacific. He tries to sweet-talk a Polynesian-looking woman in a sarong by calling her "my little wahine" (Hawaiian for "woman") and saying he assumes she lives in a grass hut. Without smiling, the woman responds, in perfect English, "I'm a computer programmer from Cleveland."
  • For Better or for Worse: Michael's best friend Lawrence is eventually revealed to be the result of his mother's relationship with a dark-skinned man during an extended stay in Brazil. At first he was colored white/pink, but when society began accepting mixed-race people he got a tan.
  • Brad's friend TJ in Luann is this whenever the strips are coloured. He never states where he's from, but implies he might be Mediterranean.
    • TJ has since been revealed to be biracial: Italian and South American.
  • Phil Jackson from Stone Soup. Probably black, but between his ethnicity having never been remarked on and the art style giving him the same facial features as everyone else (with brown skin), it's still up in the air.

  • Done unintentionally in Centigrade 37; depending on lighting conditions and the condition of the wood table, the two blonde Caucasian women on the playfield might end up with medium-brown skin and light blonde hair.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) is half African-American and half American Samoan; his maternal grandfather was in fact the High Chief of the Samoan people. Amusingly, he has portrayed Caucasian characters in the course of his acting career.
  • Batista was half Filipino and half Greek, but was often mistaken for Latino because of his Spanish last name, which lead to him being unexpectedly popular in Mexico and put in an angle with Eddie Guerrero to capitalize on it. Just to confuse the issue even further, he had an East Asian dragon tattoo on his back.
  • Perry Saturn is so tanned (especially in his Radicalz period) that in the videogame WWF Smackdown 2: Know Your Role, the programmers made him black by mistake. Saturn is of Italian and Greek heritage.
  • AJ Lee (April Mendez) is Puerto Rican, but she looks like she could just as easily be Chinese, Japanese, Indian (either Hindi or Native American), Middle Eastern, or a Pacific Islander. It's a bit of Fridge Brilliance that her TV surname, Lee, is extremely common worldwide and can belong to people of almost any race. What's more is her character is that of a Hollywood Nerd, which would usually go to a white person.
  • Homicide is frequently mistaken for Black. (well, black Puerto Ricans aren't too uncommon but apparently Homicide is not one of them)
  • MNM due to disgustingly fake tanning. Well, Melina didn't look quite so bad on her own, but Mercury and Nitro did and the flaws in whatever she was using became readily apparent when all three were together. Morrison would later become Mr. Fanservice when he started tanning in a less fake way and then would travel back in time to tease Johnny Nitro about it.
  • Former WWE Diva Karlee Perez has a very ambiguous appearance, as her complete list of ethnicities include Spanish, Chinese, Cuban, Italian, Hawaiian and English. She was given an exotic sounding name 'Liviana' in developmental, but then given the Anglo name Maxine. As such her character had elements of a Spicy Latina, but she was still presented as somewhat Anglo (probably because of Latino Is Brown).
  • Sasha Banks has her ethnicity constantly in question. Before she joined WWE, she seemed like a light-skinned black girl. When she debuted on NXT, her skin was even lighter and she had dark blonde hair. Despite having Hispanic ancestry (her real name is Mercedes after all), her on-screen character leans towards a black girl (possibly due to commentators referencing that she's related to the obviously black Snoop Dogg) - even if her features don't quite match.

  • Mixed Martial Arts fighter Brendan "Big Brown" Schaub is often mistaken for a mixed-race black man. When a cast mate on The Ultimate Fighter began making racist statements, all of the black cast members approached Schaub for support, telling him, "He's insulting our people!" In reality, Schaub has entirely European ancestry.

    Tabletop Games 
  • GURPS has the perk "Passing Complexion".
  • BattleTech has had human cultures so well mixed that a tanned redhead calling herself "Rabbi Martinez" doesn't even bat an eye.
  • It's not easy to notice at first, but many of the people shown in the artwork of Numenera have traits from multiple ethnicities (this is certainly true of the ones in the coverart, at the bare minimum). Like BattleTech above and Mass Effect down in the Video Game examples; this is due to humanity having co-mingled enough that they are now a single ethnicity. Of course; why humanity still exists in a recognisable form after a billion years and the falls of eight eons-long civilisations (the last few of which weren't human at all) is one of the setting's greatest mysteries which kind-of makes the whole 'ethnicity' thing a moot point. And this is before you factor in mutations, genetic modification, encounters with crazy nanites, etc.
  • Done very, very badly in Postmortem Studios' Privilege Check, which has a card for "Proud Brown Person," bearing the flavour text, "Guess my race. Guess wrong and I will guilt trip you into the stone age." There are, in fact, more offensive cards.

  • In the American Girls Collection of dolls, none of the "tan" Just Like You dolls are given a specific race, and can generally be whatever the purchaser chooses. The tan dolls now actually have more facial diversity than the light ones. Sometimes this happens with the dolls that are given a specific race. For example, the face template used for the Girl of the Year doll Sonali, who is Indian, is not too different from the template for Addy, who is African-American.

    Video Games 
  • In Mass Effect, the vast majority of human characters are ambiguously brown. There are some exceptions, such as African-descended Jacob, Japanese Kasumi, and Hispanic James and Steve. Specialist Traynor is implied to be Indian due to some comments made in the Citadel DLC.. Everyone else's background is debatable. Expanded Universe material states that In the Future, Humans Will Be One Race, as globalization in the 21st and 22nd centuries broke down social barriers between races.
  • Alyx in Half-Life 2 is practically impossible to pin down at first. Shortly after meeting her, you learn that her father is black and a picture in his lab shows her mother to possibly be Asian (her name is "Azian"). Note that like most (all?) main characters, Alyx's face was modeled after a real person.
  • Chell of Portal has a tanned skin tone, dark hair and blue-gray eyes, and given that she never speaks no concrete word on her ethnicity is ever given. The person she was modeled after, Alesia Glidewell, is of Brazilian and Japanese descent. In Portal 2 she's gotten lighter (and noticeably younger) for some reason.
  • Kingdom Hearts has Xemnas/Xehanort/"Ansem" (actually Xehanort's Heartless), all three being permutations of the same man, who is White Haired And Black Hearted with orange/brown/it varies eyes and dark skin. Xehanort himself is a result of Terra's body being stolen by the original Xehanort in Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep. Both the original Xehanort and Terra had brown skin (although Xehanort's was darker), and besides the fact that Terra was constantly tempted by darkness, he was a good guy at heart, negating the Unfortunate Implications of having the two dark skinned characters be associated with evil.
    • In Birth by Sleep they explain that the Dark-Skinned Blond effect is a result of traveling between worlds without adequate protection.
    • Probably more coincidence than intentional, but the two main monsters of the games, the Nobodies and the Heartless, are white and black, respectively. Xehanort's Heartless is noticeably darker than Xemnas.
  • Kiesha Phillips of Backyard Sports. Unlike, say, Ernie, you cannot tell if Kiesha is African-American or not.
  • The SCV driver from Starcraft. It doesn't help that the picture's damn tiny, but he is kind of dark-ish looking. However, the campaign-only "Civilian" unit, who is completely white, and the SCV have Stop Poking Me lines which imply they're the same person, who gets drafted into the military as a worker.
  • Much like it has (very nearly) Purely Aesthetic Gender, The Sims series features Ambiguously Brown characters, although it also features Ambiguously White characters because there are no real-world ethnicities; everyone is Simlish. If you want to set up a character as from a real place, it's as simple as naming them right, but NPC names often do have mismatches between first and last name or between name and appearance.
    • The Sims 3 however shows a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to Egypt and China, with the sims of the region looking the way they might in the real world.
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Godot and Juan Corrida were this in Japan, although they were made Hispanic in the American translation.
    • The jury's still out on Damon Gant and Colias Palaeno, although given the former is an ardent swimmer and the latter is a different color from even his countrymen, they're probably just tanned.
    • Both Zak and Magnifi Gramarye as well. Made more ambiguous by the fact that Magnifi's daughter is clearly white, and his grandchildren (one of whom is Zak's child) are even whiter. Fans speculate that the Gramaryes are Romani.
    • Lotta Hart is pale, but not pink - unlike the other characters. Americanisation gives her a stereotyped Deep South accent and dialect to match that afro. With that and the name, she ends up coming off as a stereotyped, pale caricature of blackness.
    • Marlon Rimes is a caricature rapper with a black bone structure but an ambiguous complexion. He mixes street slang with pirate talk. He goes super-Saiyan and looks whiter, but reveals dreadlocks and rapper bling. Turn on the 3DS' 3D mode for even further ambiguity.
  • Venom and Potemkin from Guilty Gear. Venom is British, but fans have theorized that he's of Egyptian descent, probably judging from the imagery involved in his character design and attacks. It's also worth noting that in the first game, Potemkin was a slave.
  • Harvest Moon:
    • Denny, from Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness. Is he black, or just tan from fishing so much? Who knows.
    • Harvest Moon 64 and its related games also have Kai, who practically defines this trope.
    • Kai's expy in Magical Melody, Dan, is similar. However he seems to be Indian from his voice and looks.
      • Through talking with Dan, he reveals much about is life as a traveler and the odd jobs he's had and indicates that he's a gypsy, or Romani is descent.
    • Selena from Tree of Tranquility and Animal Parade. She's a belly dancer, her artwork is darker then the other character but her model isn't much darker then anyone else in the game, and her Japanese name (Sheila) isn't much help. Her child with Luke in the latter game also has a darker skin tone then the other children.
      • Although visiting her home island and meeting her parents Samson and Sue, it is heavily hinted that she's Pacific Islander in descent, often speculated to be closely related to the Okinawan people.
  • Advanced V.G.: Judging by her name, you'd think Jun Kubota was Japanese, but her caramel complexion and green eyes makes her appear to be a foreigner. Or, it may imply that she's of mixed heritage. But, since no one ever comments on it, it's unlikely that we'll ever know.
  • While Yggdra Union's cast tends to have easy-to-identify "ethnicity", Ortega is a notable offender; it's hard to tell whether he's supposed to be black or Hispanic. For the English version, he is cast as an unflatteringly stereotypical Mexican, complete with a whiny voice that doesn't fit his Boisterous Bruiser personality and appearance.
  • Dudley from Street Fighter is English in nationality, but his racial makeup is far less distinct, as there is some debate over whether he is of Indian or African descent. It's Dudley's hair that throws people off — that and the fact that he has blue eyes and a face designed to look like a stereotypically upper-class (white) Englishman, with a prominent aquiline nose and downward sloping, heavy eye-brows. This is in stark contrast to the designs of unambiguously black Street Fighter characters like Balrog and Deejay, who exhibit the usual curly hair, broader, flatter noses and full lips of African-heritage people. More than likely, Dudley was simply designed to look "English" as per his nationality, but as boxers are typically black, he was given an African-British colouring. There are over 1 million Black people in the UK and many of the top Heavyweight boxers to come from the UK (David Haye and Lennox Lewis specifically) have been Black. In fact, the only British Heavyweight that wasn't Black to win the world title was Bob Fitzsimmons.
    • Elena, on the other hand, nicely averts the trope, as her facial features are distinctly African despite having bleached white hair. Although it wasn't until Street Fighter III: Third Strike that her skintone matched those features.
    • C. Viper is considerably darker then a lot of characters, especially the girls from her game. It's been speculated that she's mixed-race or Latina.
  • Chordia from Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party has light brown skin; Gliss and Sharp are in the same range, but they look more obviously tanned. The game has much darker black characters too, so it's not just But Not Too Black.
  • Jade from Mortal Kombat. It seemed like she was black (dark skinned model/recolor), but in the film Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, she was portrayed by a Russian woman. Now speculation ranges from black, to latina, to Filipino, the whole gamut. Tanya falls under this speculation too, under a lesser extent. She's generally speculated to be black.
    • To further add to the speculation, the original casting call for Mortal Kombat 9, asks for Jade to be voiced by an African-American or Middle Eastern woman.
    • There is also the widely overlooked example of Darrius from Deception. He's Seidan like Hotaru (who is clearly Caucasian) and Dairou (who looks more Eurasian, if not straight-up Japanese), yet is obviously Black. It's possible that Edenia, Seido, and the other realms independent of Earthrealm don't even have ethnic differentiation, though.
    • Judging by the wardrobe, Edenia seems vaguely Middle Eastern-inspired so calling Jade Black/Indian/Middle Eastern could all fit.
  • Escher from Chaos Rings. He has dark skin but blue or grey eyes and has white hair.
  • Christy Monteiro from the Tekken series has a pretty divided fanbase on what ethnicity she actually is (see the Brazil entry in Real Life below). When they were casting an actress for the live action movie, cue complaints about Christy being black, hispanic, Italian and even Asian. The character was modelled after Tyra Banks and has a grandfather with Asian features.
  • During the Nintendo64 era, Princess Daisy had a tan, even in her official artwork. She was like this even in her skin for Super Smash Bros. Melee, and her trophy. She went back to her original light tone later on though.
  • Little Mac in the remake of Punch-Out!!. In previous games he was either Asian or White depending on the game and artwork, but in the Wii game he has a noticeable tan.
  • Since almost all the peoples of Golden Sun games are Fantasy Counterpart Cultures, this trope is mostly avoided. By learning what their home culture is based on, you can figure out anybody's race. The only known exception to date is Sheba, who is a foundling of unknown origin (widely speculated to be Anemos) raised in an Egypt-counterpart (so it might just be a tan).
  • In Assassin's Creed, Desmond Miles' ethnicity isn't immediately apparent from looking at him, but this is intentional, allowing him to have Middle Eastern, Italian, and even Native American ancestors. For the record, Desmond's face model, Francisco Randez, has a Spanish background.
    • Invoked in the case of the half-English, half-Mohawk Ratonhnhaké:ton who is 'advised' by his Assassin mentor to pass himself off as a Spaniard or otherwise from the Mediterranean, due to discrimination against his people, hence his English name of Connor.
  • Orchid from Killer Instinct.
  • Raven from Tales of Vesperia has darker skin than the other party members, not to mention, many other people on Terca Lumeris. It's never really established why though. Considering Yaeger's skin turned darker after He supercharged his blastia heart, it may be a result of that and not an indication of race.
  • First-time players of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker often started out believing that Tetra must be a Gerudo with pointy ears, due to her being dark-skinned and a female pirate like their Majora's Mask incarnation. However she lacks the Arab flavor Gerudos are usually associated with. It's confirmed latter in the game that she's Hylian. She's the only character with Hylian ancestry in the game with dark skin like that, not even the other members of her crew or her own mother come close to match her tan. It might just be a tan...if she didn't seem to get a lighter skin tone when she is revealed to be Zelda. Likewise, Sheik's skin tone in Ocarina of Time is somewhat tanned while Zelda is white, white, white. The answer may lie in some scrapped concept art for the game, as Tetra also had the distinct red eyes of a Sheikah, so her darker skin tone is probably a Call Back to Sheik.
    • Similarly Din the Oracle from the Oracle Games and the Minish Cap is a Dark Skinned Red Head. Because of her association with Din the Goddess, and by extension Ganondorf, you might assume she's Gerudo also but she lacks the longer nose, yellow eyes and round ears common to the race. Add to the fact that in the Minish Cap she's sisters with Nayru and Din who both look like Hylians, as she does too despite her skin tone.
  • Iris from Pokémon Black and White and Pokémon Black 2 and White 2. She has a darker skin tone than a majority of the other characters, though still lighter than the canonically black Lenora (more so in the anime).
    • Phoebe, who has a darker skin tone than the rest of the Gym Leaders and Elite Four, from Pokemon Ruby And Sapphire.
    • The player can choose to be this in Pokémon X and Y.
      • Olympia, the Gym Leader of Anistar City, also qualifies.
      • Emma in a post-game arc. The mind jumps to her just being a light-skinned black person, but then you realize that the game is set in (effectively) France, and that she could just as likely be of Southern European descent or something similar, and it just becomes a mystery.
      • She does seem to be darker than Shauna, who has an Arabic name and brown skin.
    • Dahlia from Sinnoh is implied to be Latina, as she's named after a flower from Mexico and Central America. Pokémon Special drives it in further by making her speak Gratuitous Spanish.
  • Mr. Big from Art of Fighting and King of Fighters. Either he's a tanned white guy or a very light skinned black guy. His official birthplace is listed as Australia, if that's of any indication.
  • Little Mac in the 2009 version of Punch-Out!! is considerably darker than other depictions of him. There are hints that he's Italian.
  • Sheva Alomar in Resident Evil 5, modeled after South African-born Michelle van der Water, looks somewhere between fair-skinned black and Indian ethnicity, has an Indian-sounding name, and a quasi-British/Australian accent, although voiced by American actress Karen Dyer.
  • Owen from the Clue Finders is ambiguously light-skinned.
  • Clementine, from Telltale Games' adaptations of The Walking Dead is an example, as her parents are very definitely not white, but Clem is ostensibly light-skinned enough to pass for white.
  • Final Fantasy VI's General Leo is quite clearly a Dark-Skinned Blond in his character portrait and concept art, though his combat and overworld sprites don't show it (likely due to a limited palette; the iOS adaptation darkens his skin there, too.) Like Barret in FFVII, Leo is the only dark-skinned character in the entire world, and his racial origins are not commented on (some of the concept art gives him exaggerated African features, almost to the point of caricature; but his in-game character portrait is ambiguous.)
  • You can create your very own Ambiguously Brown characters in The Sims, including making them a Dark-Skinned Blond or Dark-Skinned Redhead. And if you feel like it, you can give them a names that adds even more confusion regarding their ethnicity. Also, there are several pre-made Sims in the game who already fulfill this trope.

    Visual Novels 
  • Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors has Seven.
  • Katawa Shoujo has two ambiguously brown characters in the classroom scene. Hilariously, when the characters are finally given small profiles (with names, clubs and disabilities), one of the brown girls (Molly) has her defining feature as being Indian rather then legless.
  • Archer in Fate/stay night has skin dark enough to clearly mark him as distinct from most other characters, but lacks any clear markers of his race. Subverted when it's revealed he's actually Japanese; overuse of his thaumuturgy changed his skin color, among other things.

  • Lampshaded in pictures for sad children #64:
    Gary: Oh hey, you're Asian.
    Paul: So?
    Gary: Can you guess what ethnicity I am? Nobody ever can.
    Paul: Brown... ish?
    • To add to the absurdity, the webcomic is in black and white. Gary is drawn white as milk; we can only tell he's non-Caucasian from context.
  • Gaia from Frivolesque falls under this trope. Her skin is a deep shade of brown, especially compared to everybody else, but she doesn't look especially black otherwise.
  • Tony from Real Life Comics is a webcomic example, though a nigh-indistinguishable one. This at least has the reasoning that nobody knows what the real Tony is, either.
  • Questionable Content falls into this partly because the art style makes everyone look Caucasian-ish and partly because its darker-skinned characters are generally no darker than the image that used to be up there. Some characters have non-Western names, like Amir, but they still look just sort of generically brown. Word of God states that one character, Dale, is African-American.
    • A later introduced character is Padma. Her appearance (dark skin, straight hair), combined with her name might strongly suggest an Indian descent.
    • Someone asked the creator what race Tai was, to which he responded, "Tan." He later replied to another person asking what her nationality was with "American." It's also said later in the story that her red hair is actually dyed, implying that it's naturally dark brown or black.
  • Phineas, Camilla and Mirage of Zoophobia are all just "dark-skinned".
  • Maree-Celee from The Princess 99 has dark red hair, red eyes, and brown skin but then it's later revealed that her father Docteur Haypenny has pale skin, red eyes, and Skunk Stripe hair to add to the confusion. Admittedly, Skye has dark skin and multicolored hair but this is made moot with the fact that she's an alien. The entire novel tends to fall into this trope when you consider that the setting is based of 1920s New Orleans but isn't set on Earth.
  • Tajel in PhD Comics fell into this trope for a long time, but the series of strips surrounding her wedding introduced her parents: an English father and an Indian mother.
  • Quant and Kurudan from Tower of God.
  • Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name:
    • In a variation on this trope, {...} is ambiguously Asianish. He has almond-shaped eyes, black hair, high cheekbones, a nose that looks a little Asian if you want it to, and a sentimental attachment to paper cranes for reasons not even he knows. He's also, at present, green. If he is Asian, he'd be an Inscrutable Oriental too...
    • There's also Casimiro, who definitely fits. He is noticeably brown (or, well, dark gray), which is weird for a vampire since all the other specimens thus far have been portrayed as pale white. Word of God has Cas claiming that he was just sporting a "nice tan" before he died. Considering his Italian origins, this seems to make sense.
  • A number of Templar Arizona characters are described by the comic's creator as "Templar brownish", that being the default ethnicity of characters whose race hasn't been pinned down specifically. Because, in her words, "It's dumb to care, if it's not going to be an element of the story."
  • El Goonish Shive:
  • In the now-defunct Life Of Riley, Cowkitty is an interesting case, as it's not clear if she has dark skin or simply light brown fur.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal introduces new one-time characters for almost every strip, and these are a diverse bunch, not just straight white men by default. However, perhaps simply due to the art style, the non-white characters mostly look ambiguously brown.
  • Petunia's entire family in Todd Allison & the Petunia Violet presently falls under this trope, as well as Meredith. Later chapters may change this, however. Considering the setting (early 20th century Australia), they are presumably Aboriginal Australians.
  • Powerup Comics does this as part of its Stylistic Suck. Darkwinkle is just another character model recolored with darker skin, and the author himself can't remember what race Darkwinkle's supposed to be. In one story arc, he's black, but in another strip, he takes offense at being called black, and insists that he's Mexican.
  • Benny from Looking for Group is a fantasy example, and an in-universe one at that. The series was initially a World of Warcraft parody and her design is based on their trolls. But once the series developed its own world, its version of trolls appeared and she looks nothing like them. She has even been dubbed "Lady of Unknown Pedigree. It is eventually revealed that her mother is a blue elf, and her father is most likely the minotaur Krunch.
  • Lampshaded in Dumbing of Age with Walky and Sal (who, it turns out, are one-quarter black on their dad's side):
    Joyce: I...I've been trying to determine if it's rude to ask what, um, flavor of human you two are.
    Walky: Well, my sister is black, but I'm generically beige.
  • Scandinavia and the World: America is getting darker because the 2010 census indicated that Caucasians will soon no longer be the majority of Americans. His hair is still blonde because he bleaches it.
  • Durkon of The Order of the Stick and his mother. However Durkon is a lot less brown as a vampire.
  • Lampshaded by name by Commander Badass in Manly Guys Doing Manly Things, who explicitly describes himself as 'ambiguously brown'. Possibly justified by the fact that he's an Artificial Human assembled from the genetic material of who knows how many people, and thus hasn't really got a specific ethnic background.
  • Open-source character Jenny Everywhere "appears to be Asian or Native American".
  • Gogo and Didi from Bomango. Gogo says she's from Omingo Island though, where ever that is. The fact that Didi literally budded off Gogo makes the issue even more confusing because of the possibility they might not even be human.
  • In the colored comics for Roommates, Javert is noticeably more tan than the other roommates despite only being identified as French. His darker skin tone is almost certainly a nod to how Javert in the novel was the son of a gypsy woman and a convict, but the webcomic has Javert's mother be Morgan Le Fey, who seems to be white. A spin-off comic has his father be Clopin which would explain things, but it's uncertain exactly how canon that is.
  • Chloe and her mother in Bad Moon Rising. There's some in-universe debate about who Chloe's maternal grandfather actually was, and both she and her mother are noticeably darker than their known relatives.

    Web Original 
  • Amir in Awkward Black Girl
    J: He's a walking rainbow of racism and the main reason he gets away with it is because nobody knows what he is.
  • Julian Avery of Survival of the Fittest, at least in his artwork, is coloured a vagueish brown colour that's not quite black. Justified somewhat in that his profile describes him as being half African American.
  • Todd in the Shadows, when not sitting in the dark, keeps half of his face covered at all times. From what we can see, his skin is fairly dark, but his exact race (black? Asian? Hispanic?) is something of a Running Gag, and Todd himself has decided not to comment either way.
  • AJCO has Vinnie, who looks vaguely Hispanic but with enough elements of Middle-Eastern Asian to throw off any assumptions. It has yet to be pointed out, possibly because unlike the other factions there are actually several other people of colour in Katton.
    • Egg is also a shade of brown, lighter than Vinnie but much darker than the white characters such as Kaja or Lorelei. Word of God is that she's mixed race, though Word of God hasn't said exactly what those races are.
  • In The Nostalgia Chick's review of Pocahontas (see above) she notes that the title character doesn't look particularly Native American, but more like "an a-ethnic mush of unparalleled hotness."
    • She also uses that word to describe Tommy Wiseau. He's clearly white, but that accent makes figuring out his exact ethnicity...difficult.
  • Carlos from Welcome to Night Vale is described as having "dark skin" but no other clues as to his race or ethnicity are given (besides his Spanish name). Fanartists tend to depict him as a sort of brown-skinned Latino person, but you see the occasional black Carlos too.
  • Emerald from RWBY is the first character to appear in the show that has a much darker skin tone from any of the other characters introduced in Volume 1. However considering that the show takes place on a completely different planet and there have been no set nationalities mentioned, she can only be describes as brown.

    Western Animation 
  • Alex from Totally Spies!. Like many of the other examples, she's implied to be biracial. Her dad is White and her mom looks exactly like her but darker; she's implied to be Latina or Filipina.
  • An interesting example is Gaia from Captain Planet and the Planeteers. Justified in the fact that Gaia is supposed to be the spirit of the earth, and was drawn to embody the four most common ethnicities: dark skin, long, wavy dark hair most common amongst Latin Americans, high cheekbones common in Asians, and blue eyes most prevalent in Caucasians.
  • Piper from Storm Hawks
  • WordGirl gets double points for being a generically-brown girl adopted by a different-color-of generically-brown (a redder shade) family, nothing about whom seems ethnic in any specific way (last name being Botsford), and possibly another half-point for actually being a Human Alien foundling.
    • Minor villain Miss Question is this as well, though her curly hair implies she might be black.
  • Doug. Many characters seem to have brown skin color, but it's never known if that springs out of a real ethnicity when most are far weirder colors. It's hard to tell if Patti is a Dark-Skinned Blonde intentionally or the brown is stylized like the green and blue skinned characters.
  • Several examples from Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Prevalent in The Water Tribe, since their culture and aesthetics are a mixture of Inuit, Native American and Pacific Islander and tend to have dark brown skin and hair. It's the blue eyes that cause the most confusion. Fanfiction tends to just label Water Tribe characters "tanned", despite the fact that they're clearly born that colour.
    • The people of the Fire Nation seem to be the fairest skinned, though narrowly. The immense size of of the Earth Kingdom leads to significant diversity across its breadth.
    • Guru Pathik is another example- he strongly resembles a Hindu holy man despite there not being a single other character who looks even remotely Indian.
    • There's dark-skinned people among all of the other nations as well. There are also lighter-skinned people from the Water Tribe, such as Hama, reflecting how even among relatively insular ethnic groups there can be a good deal of variation. The sequel series introduces several more, including Lin Beifong's half-sister Suyin, who is darker than her sister (and we never see her father) and Kai, a new recruit to the Airbenders following the Harmonic convergence.
  • Kim Possible:
    • Bonnie Rockwaller, though it's implied she's just a white tanning addict based on her vanity and her family members. The alternative is that she is mixed.
    • The Seniors (Sr. and Jr.) are dark and have Spanish accents. Junior is canonically a tanning addict; in his first scene he's under a tanning lamp the size of a hot air balloon.
  • X-23 from X-Men: Evolution is ambiguously brown despite being a clone of Wolverine, who is Caucasian.
  • Good luck telling what most of the many race lifted characters in The Spectacular Spider-Man are supposed to be (except for Ned Lee and Kenny Kong, who are clearly Asian). Race lifted Liz Allan is at least part Latina, though her exact background is somewhat complicated (to explain why she has a typically British last name despite her ethnicity and slight Puerto Rican accent). Word of God says that Liz is half-Puerto Rican (and half white?) For another example, the Warren brothers are supposed to be Indian.
  • Melissa (and her dad Eric) and, oddly, Josie, from Home Movies. Maybe that explains the divorce?
  • Lex Luthor in Superman: The Animated Series. He is slightly darker than many other characters, but he has fuller lips, a more prominent brow, and a voice that to many sounded like it had African-American accent (his voice actor, Clancy Brown, is white). He was supposed to look like Telly Savalas, a Greek-American actor. In Justice League, he is given a lighter skin tone to rectify the confusion, which led some viewers to think he'd been given a Race Lift.
  • The Batman: The Animated Series' version of Two-Face looks to be a lighter-skinned black man, with fuller lips while not as dark skinned as other characters like Lucious Fox. Apparently, he was supposed to be Italian-American and appears to be based on actor Humphrey Bogart.
  • Family Guy:
    • A Cutaway Gag of a trailer for a movie starring Stewie and the Rock is derailed when the narrator starts questioning the Rock's race.
    • Peter wrote a romance novel called "The Hot Chick Who Was Italian or Maybe Some Kind of Spanish".
    • Two recurring characters originally introduced as "Foreign guys who've been here long enough to only almost sound American." They're Dark-Skinned Blond and probably supposed to be Europeans of some sort, but all clues as to their origin are deliberately vague or ridiculous.
  • In Moral Orel, Mr. Figurelli and his family are... Italian? Greek? No, Italians are white so.. maybe 1/4 Arab? (Contrast the Jews for Jesus, who are the closest thing to a different religion that exists in the town, being ex Jewish Christians and still doing Jewish stuff out of habit, but their skin happens to be white.)
  • Athena in the latest Dennis & Gnasher animated series. It's not made clear whether she's half black or heavily tanned. All we know about her ethnicity is her father is white.
  • In Gargoyles:
    • When the main characters are temporarily turned into humans, Goliath becomes this. This is because the gargoyles' human forms were designed to resemble their voice actors, but it wouldn't have made sense to make Goliath African-American like Keith David, since the rest of his clan were caucasian.
    • Also, Xanatos himself is darker than most of the other caucasian characters, though he's confirmed as being ethnically Greek.
    • Also Eliza comes off as this before her family is explored (Her father is Native American, her mother is black). Her brother Derek looked more black (before he got transformed into a mutant pseudo-Gargoyle), while her sister was just as ambiguous.
  • Winx Club's Nabu looks like he could be black, white with a tan, or Hispanic. Similar to The Princess and the Frog, this may have been done to avoid controversy since he was engaged to Princess Aisha, the token dark-skinned fairy.
  • Henry from KaBlam!. He's tan...ish, with green hair.
  • The Rocket siblings from Rocket Power. Their skin tone is on a similar level as their tan Hispanic friends, and it doesn't appear to be a suntan, but their dad is white. It is suggested that their late mother was of Hawaiian descent; in The Movie their dad even got remarried to an old flame from Hawaii who was her best friend.
  • Quite a few characters on Total Drama, though Word of God has cleared up some of the confusion: Courtney is Hispanic, Noah is Indian, Justin is native Hawaiian and Katie is Caucasian (with a tan). Sierra remains unidentified, although it's been stated that she has German family members.
    • Mostly averted with the new cast, where the ethnicities of the various minority characters are pretty obvious - With the exception of Mike.
  • Ursula of George of the Jungle has brownish skin and greenish eyes.
  • John Blackstar was originally going to be black, but the network chickened out and wouldn't let Filmation make a cartoon with a black hero. So John ended up just sort of brownish with straight hair. Fanon holds that he's Native American.
  • Sari from Transformers Animated is a Dark-Skinned Redhead although her adopted father Isaac Sumdac is obviously Indian, complete with accent. This may or may not have been intentional, it's revealed that Sari is something of a human/Cybertronian hybrid from a protoform absorbing Issac's DNA.
  • Billy Jukes from Peter Pan & the Pirates. The taller twin from the Lost boys as well.
  • Kiva Andru from Megas XLR, who doubles as Dark Skinned Red Head.
  • Molly from Bubble Guppies.
  • South Park has a particular problem with possibly-Asian characters, in part due to its distinctively simple style. When a character is specifically supposed to be Asian, they're usually designed like a white person who's squinting. The head sixth-grader has this look, but his race has never been noted in-story.
    • Kevin Stoley. An early episode specifically notes that his parents are from China, and Chef calls out the others for making fun of his "ethnicity." However, Kevin looks identical to all the white characters (without a "squint") and has a rather European-sounding surname. Were his parents Caucasians who lived in China? Was he adopted? But then, how is Chinese his "ethnicity?" Fans tend to just say he's Asian and not question it further.
    • Likewise, Michael of the Goth Kids is animated like any other white kid, but "Goth Kids 3" shows his parents to be a white guy and an Asian woman. To further confuse things, a line of dialogue in "Raisins" could be taken to say that his parents are divorced, implying this woman is his stepmom...but the Goth Kids are somewhat Unreliable Narrators when it comes to angsty back stories, and he specifically calls her "Mom."
    • Big Gay Al also counts. The Wikia page for him just says he's "heavily tanned."
  • Rhonda's friend Nadine from Hey Arnold! has skin that is a light shade of brown and her hair is blonde. (During the episode "Parents Day," it's implied that she's mixed-race - one of the parent couples consists of a blond white man and a black woman who share Nadine's facial structure.)
  • Jonny 2x4 and Rolf from Ed, Edd n Eddy, though Jonny might be black.
    • Jonny is twice shown to a curly brown afro, if his hair was longer, and his short cut is pretty popular with black boys. Rolf is heavily in the air though.
  • Jasper the elf from Pearlie.
  • Billy Billions from Ben 10: Omniverse.
  • Darryl from Bob's Burgers. It's even Lampshaded when Bob suspects that he might have been bullied for being a minority, but can't seem to figure out which race he actually is. He may be of Indian descent like his voice actor, Aziz Ansari. The Belchers themselves were also this for a time. Word of God is that "Belcher" is from a French or French-Canadian ancestor, and the rest of their family are "Greek-Armenian-Italian-Jewish-German."
  • More a voice example, since the character in question is a bright red box of fries, but episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force has Master Shake wondering if Frylock is supposed to be black ("You sound black.")
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has a similar example with Sapphire Shores, who sounds like a Sassy Black Woman despite looking the same as most other ponies. Considering the one character who's canonically African is a zebra, it's ambiguous what Sapphire Shores' enthicity is supposed to be.
  • Sam Alexander/Nova from Ultimate Spider-Man is shown to be lighter than Ava and Luke, but darker than Danny and Peter.
    • The comics establish that he's mixed race, with a white father and a Mexican mother.
  • Guru Kid, the Diggers, Skeens, and Miss Grotke from Recess
    • Spinelli caused some confusion with this. She has an Italian surname and Word of God establishes her father's family as being from Italy, but her almond shaped eyes and straight black hair lead to quite a few people assuming she was at least partially Asian. There's also one episode where she mentions a great aunt who ran the Iditarod in Alaska, which raises the possibility of her having Inuit blood, and a mention that her grandmother and Miss Finster were good friends "back in Guam" which could mean she's part Pacific Islander.
  • Mike Chilton, his sister Capri, Tennie, her father Bracket, Kaia and some of the Terras on Motorcity. Word of God has confirmed that Mike is mixed race.
  • In universe, Archer apparently considers Lana to be ambiguously brown, although the context indicates she is a black American with medium-brown skin:
    Archer: You're black... ish.
    Lana: ISH!?
    Archer: Well, what’s the word for it, Lana? You freaked out when I said "Quadroon"!note 
  • An episode of The Cleveland Show featured a woman who spoke with a Hispanic accent, dressed in a Middle Eastern style, and used French exclamations.
  • The Ice King/Simon Petrikov from Adventure Time was this when he was human, before being cursed with the Ice Crown, which turned his skin blue.
    • Also Moseph Mo Maestro Giovanni.
  • In Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths and Legends one part of the Detail Team is a woman named Neema, who while apparently Greek can pass as a number of ethnicities, which is useful for her job, which requires her to be able to blend into just about any situation anywhere in the world.
  • Jasper Jones of Littlest Pet Shop (2012) has brownish skin, dark-brown hair and brown eyes, but has visible freckles (a trait that only occurs in people of fairer complexion), a Caucasian dialect and facial features, a Persian-originating given name and an English surname that was adopted by numerous freed African slaves from their estate managers and owners.
  • Deckard from Bee and Puppycat.
  • Several characters from Steven Universe, though averted with Connie since Word of God has stated that she's Indian. A good portion of the voice cast is non-white to support this.
  • Princes Ariel in Thundarr the Barbarian. Justified, since you'd expect there to be different ethnicities 3000 years in the future.
  • Francine from Arthur. A lot of fans think she's black but fur tone only vaguely signifies skin tone. She's Jewish and implied to be of Polish descent but is also second cousins twice removed with Joshua Redman, who is black.

    Real Life 
  • There's still a good deal of debate as to what the ancient Egyptians looked like, apart from having dark skin and curly hair as described by Greek sources (since "dark skin and curly hair" is kinda vague).