The Omniscient Council of Vagueness
We then pan up to get a clear shot of the big shots on the catwalk, and here's what we find: 1) a guy wearing an American army general's uniform, 2) an obviously Russian woman wearing a big Cossack hat, 3) a Yassir Arafat-type with a kaffiyeh on his head, 4) a dead ringer for Fidel Castro, 5) a black guy in a dashiki, and finally, 6) a Japanese guy in a business suit. Nope, not one single stereotype in the whole bunch
is in session! And what's this?! The shadowy faces
are actually lit!
Well what do you know? It's the employers of the Equal-Opportunity Evil Mooks
and the patrons behind the Five-Token Band
! These people can be any kind of congregation, whether to play poker or plot the downfall of western civilization, but are nonetheless very heterogeneous.
Options include both sexes (but usually just one woman
), ethnically, religiously and geographically distinct people, always in the regional chic rather than western business attire (except maybe one). A comedy can even highlight this by using ridiculously cliché or period dress, such as the Mexican delegate dressing like 1910 Bandito/Revolutionaries, the Russian contingent in Cossack dress or a military greatcoat and ushanka in the summer, or an American in a cowboy suit.
If they aren't outlandish/foreign enough, expect them to layer their English with lots of gratuitous phrases
The one trait that ties everyone together is that they are all in possession of skill, authority or money, and in excessive amounts. The members will probably be heavily accessorized with gaudy jewelry or a scar to prove their moral alignment
. In short, the implication is that each and every member has a varied and storied past... which we very likely won't learn.
Aside for positions of leadership, they also often appear as a group of prospective customers for a Mad Scientist
or Corrupt Corporate Executive
to sell his newest project/invention/acquisition to.
Related to Gang of Hats
: especially when dealing with meeting the heads of groups. Also related to the "How different" aspect of Conservation of Ninjutsu
Common councilmen and women include but are not limited to: an Arab Oil Sheikh
, a woman in a suit with Power Hair
, a Banana Republic presidente
, and a "Russian
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- The Akatsuki in Naruto, originally just fuzzy, indistinct holograms in a dark cave, are eventually revealed to have unique appearances (there's one guy with fish-like skin, one who's a living puppet, one with mouths on the palms of his hands, and let's not even get into the Venus flytrap guy), and with only a couple of exceptions all hail from different ninja villages.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion had such a council meet with Gendo, and thanks to cheesy lighting-effects, they were even color-coded (Instrumentality Commitee), but then opted to be cooler and more mysterious/ominous by turning into a circle of mysterious "SOUND ONLY" black monoliths (SEELE). Stanley Kubrick was not pleased.
- The SOUND ONLY monoliths were justified, those were the behind closed doors meetings.
- One Piece does this quite a bit.
- The leadership of the DUCK organization in Tsuritama is quite diverse, with the top brass depicted as having black, Arabic and Asian members.
- Steamboy has a gathering of military representatives from various countries that are going to buy steam-powered weaponry. David says there are "America, Prussia, France and Russia", despite the fact that many of these representatives are dressed as stereotypical Arabs and Hindu.
- DC Comics had the Quintessence, formed by Zeus, Highfather, Ganthet, The Phantom Stranger and Shazam. Zeus is depowered, Ganthet took a demotion to join the Green Lanterns, and Highfather is dead. But it used to qualify.
- It also has The Endless in The Sandman, though they all share the same pasty complexion. (Except Destruction.)
- The comic book Sojourn had an example of this, with a council of Troll governors of conquered territories: They were all Trolls, but each one was dressed in the ethnic garb of the area they governed. There was even a token She-Troll.
- In Runaways, the Pride is the very model of this: six supervillain couples each representing a very different kind of villain (mad scientists, aliens, mutants, etc.) Justified by the Gibborim specifically needing these "six young pair bonds" for the rituals needed for their return to power: the magicians (the Minorus, Japanese), the thieves (the Wilders, Black), the travelers (the Yorkes, Jews), the wise men (the Steins, apparently WASPs), the colonists (the Deans, Aliens), and the outcasts (the Hayes, Mutants).
- Marvel Comics has a council made up of the heads of all Earth's Pantheons, called the Council of Godheads.
- In preparation for the slew of events in 2006-2008, Marvel retconned the existence of a Cosmopolitan Council of superheroes called The Illuminati (the name alone raises warning bells): Namor, Black Bolt, Professor Xavier, Doctor Strange, Mr. Fantastic, and Iron Man.
- The Black Glove from Batman RIP.
- The Kryptonian Science Council.
- In Camelot 3000, the world leaders who gather to conspire against Arthur include a bulky, dour-faced Russian in a wide-shouldered suit, a prim Chinese matron in conservative skirt and jacket, an Idi Amin-inspired African dictator in overly-bemedaled military uniform, and an American president dressed like a Wild West cowboy in "Uncle Sam" colors.
- Dr Evil's Evil Panel in Austin Powers is a (very slightly) toned-down version.
- The first film also had the Good Counterpart in the United Nations Secret Security Council Meeting Room when Dr. Evil gives his blackmail threat - for instance, there were a pair of sumo wrestlers in the room.
- As is the SPECTRE leadership in Thunderball from which Dr. Evil's panel is derived.
- Austin Powers International Man of Mystery: the ambassadors in the United Nations Secret Meetings Room. (Mike Myers even put the Israeli representative next to the Palestinian, which he admitted "didn't change much".)
- James Bond:
- In the Daniel Craig version of Casino Royale, there is a very important poker game with a diverse set of players.
- Quantum in Quantum of Solace. Its members include corrupt French, Japanese and Russian businessmen, a British advisor to the Prime Minister, and other unidentified diverse evil people.
- In the third Pirates of the Caribbean film, the Pirates Council: all the greatest pirate captains from nine distinct geographic regions are in it— Caribbean (Jack Sparrow), Indochina (Elizabeth Swann), Japan, northwest Europe, North Africa (Corsairs). This is accurate because each of the areas they used were actually known for their large populations of pirates. Several of the pirates in the council were based on real life pirates (although they did not all live at the same time, obviously). Mistress Ching, for example, was most likely based on the Chinese pirate Ching Shih.
- The "United World" representatives in Batman: The Movie (1966).
- The page image is of the potential buyers of Bane in Batman & Robin.
- In Zoolander, there is a group of high-profile fashion industry leaders that comprise this role.
- The movie version of Wild Wild West has a Cosmopolitan Council comprising the South, the Native Americans, the British, the Mexicans and anyone else with a grudge against 1860s America.
- SPECTRE, mainly in the James Bond film series, tended to have multinational representation when they were shown meeting. Their successor, Quantum, in the reboot starting with Casino Royale and revealed in Quantum of Solace, are even more multinational and composed of men and women.
- The Naked Gun starts with Frank Drebin barging into a meeting of an "anti-American" council consisting of (the film was made in The Eighties): Ayatollah Khomeini, Yasser Arafat, Muammar Gaddafi, Idi Amin, Fidel Castro (IIRC) and Mikhail Gorbachev (who comments on how he fooled the Americans into thinking he's "a good guy").
- The Council of Zion in The Matrix sequels is extremely diverse. Of its 18 members, 12 are women, and the majority of councillors are non-white. Hamman is the only white male.
- The Jedi Council in the Star Wars prequels.
- The President's Committee of Inquiry in Escape from the Planet of the Apes. The board "consisting of leading experts in all fields relevant to a situation whose implications - whether zoological, biological, psychological, medical, mathematical, historical, physical or even spiritual - are numberless."
- The group of drug lords working for Mr. Byers and who were behind the Golden Lords in Meteor Man included a female and an Arab sheik.
- The World Security Council in The Avengers. Justified in that they are implied to be representing the permanent members of the UN Security Council (see below), and they are all dressed in suits.
- The Yeerk Empire from Animorphs is made up of officers called vissers, who take orders from the Council of Thirteen.
- The Senior Council from The Dresden Files has The Merlin (who looks like The Merlin and is British), a Scottish wizard who lives in Missouri (Ebenezar McCoy), a small Asian witch (Ancient Mai), an older black witch (Martha Liberty), a hooded Arab wizard (Rashid, the Gatekeeper), an American Indian shaman (Joseph "Injun Joe" Listens-to-Wind) and a French wizard (Aleron La Fortier). They also used to have a Russian wizard (Simon Petrovich).
- The leaders of the Illuminati as depicted in Dumas's Ancien Regime novels are collected from all leading societies of the time, including Emanuel Swedenborg, Rousseau, and John Paul Jones. But they are duly humiliated when Cagliostro does the revelation of "I am The One, bow to me!"... and we find later that his Master Plan has already plotted the entire course of the French Revolution and Empire.
- The Council of Elrond in The Lord of the Rings is made up of people who just happened to be in Rivendell at the time. The council members end up representing all the "free peoples," including Elves, Dwarves, Men and Hobbits.
- In Illuminatus!, the Erisian Liberation Front is represented by a council of people in really bizarre costumes, including a cavewoman. (Being Discordians, they might just be playing dress-up for the fun of it.) And in subversion, while the Illuminati Primi are for a while implied to follow this trope, in fact apart from one exception they are all siblings.
- The Seven in the Babylon Rising series is made up of two British men (one apparently a Roman Catholic priest), a Spanish man, a communist Chinese general, a German woman, a Romanian woman, and an Indian man.
Live Action TV
- An episode of Dirty Sexy Money has a poker game similar to the one in Casino Royale.
- The System Lords in Stargate SG-1, each choosing to inhabit an ethnically distinct host and formed the basis for the ancient gods and cultures of every ancient religion except the vikings. Previous councils have included Egyptian, Mesopotamian and even Japanese and Chinese gods.
- The Xindi in Star Trek: Enterprise were five different alien races from the same planet who were in a council. A Five-Token Band for the bad guys, basically. They would've had six, if the Xindi-Avians weren't all killed when their planet was destroyed.
- On The 4400, this was parodied in in a returnee's low budget black and white home film that purported to expose "The Marked", a cabal of Body Snatchers from the future out to kill the 4400. The film showed a round table meeting with a geisha and a Catholic bishop, among others but the only confirmed member at the time was a powerful software magnate. The actual hosts of the Marked were exclusively white men save for one token black female.
- The business meeting in S4E08 of Royal Pains has an Arab Oil Sheikh in appropriate garb and a black man, plus a Russian and the ambiguously European-American Boris. This makes sense, given that it's about oil.
- The evil Cabal from Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising fits this trope to perfection: there's a sinister American radicalist who thinks that "Without control, we may as well end all life on this planet and see if the cockroaches can get it right", a Russian who remembers "de old days", a German chick that wants to "take major urban areas back to the Stone Age", plus an assortment of guys who look like gangsters, ganglords and corrupt politicians. Oh and the obligatory cigar-smoking El Presidente lookalike.
- See the whole thing here.
- The villains in the first Kingdom Hearts. You can't really call yourself diverse unless your council includes a giant talking sack filled with bugs.
- To their credit they actually had two women in the group of 6, Ursula and Maleficent, the latter of whom was the leader of the group. The successors as antagonists, Organization XIII, only had the one girl and much less diversity in background... well, except for the Anime Hair.
- It even has the Arab tyrant covered. No word on whether there's oil in Agrabah, though.
- The Athkatlan Twisted Rune cell from the second Baldur's Gate game. Of course, as a Cosmopolitan Council in a Heroic Fantasy setting, they consist of a lich, a vampire, a beholder, a male fighter with no armour, and a woman mage with her pet devil.
- The Citadel Council in Mass Effect consists of three members (four from the end of the first game onwards), each of different species.
- In Evil Genius one of the tasks is to assemble a meeting with the crime lords from all around the world and announce your ascension to world domination.
- A brief downplayed version appears in the introductory briefing of the 5th Allied mission of Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2 - the Non-Entity General sits in on a call between US President Dugan, General Carville, Tanya, and the leaders of Britain, France, and Germany. The latter three are somewhat stereotyped in terms of appearence - the British Prime Minister is a clear expy of Margaret Thatcher, the French President looks a lot like Charles de Gaulle and stands in front of a picture of the Eiffel Tower, and the German Chancellor looks much like Helmut Kohl.
- The Inter-Fiend Cooperation Commission in The Order of the Stick is one of these for the three evil outsider races. (It currently only has three members, and they all dress identically, though.)
- In The Gamer's Alliance, the Crimson Coalition council consists of various leaders of different factions which oppose the Grand Alliance. The current members are Glaurung Losstarot (leader of the Rebels and the overall commander of the Coalition), Hannibal Losstarot, Adela al-Saif (High Priest of the Clergy of Artemicia and deposed Sultana of Vanna), Yoshimuriko (High Priest of the Clergy of Nergal), Kamelith (lord of the Dark Elves), Endoran L'Sarius (leader of the Mullencamp), Boris Ivanov (general of the Proninist Party), Orestes (leader of the Vulfsatz), Simon (representative of the Totenkopfs), and last and definitely least, Craig Rimner (representative of the Scunnish rebels and author of the horrible yet ear-wormy Rimnerian Songs).
- The Board of Trustees of Superhero School Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe. They range from Totem (an over-hundred American Indian former superhero) to Lord Paramount (a notorious supervillain who now has his own country in Eastern Europe).
- International organizations involving groups of countries make this Truth in Television to varying extents, especially those that get significant news coverage. Big examples include:
- The UN Security Council. There are five permanent members: One American (the US, obviously), two Europeans (UK, France), one Eurasian (Russia), one East Asian (China), and a smattering of ten elected Red Shirts, which have to be from different regions: They split into 3 from Africa, 2 from Asia, 2 Latin America and Caribbean, 2 Western Europe and Other and 1 Eastern Europe. This has to be maintained (not by word of UN charter but in the interests of political/diplomatic expediency), and there also has to be at least 1 Arab country (it alternates whether the Arab country is in Africa or Asia each cycle). Subverted, in that the dress is almost universally Western business attire, and that it can't actually do that much, since the Permanent Five are at each others' throats (politely and diplomatically, of course) and can veto each and every decision.
- The BRICS (an acronym of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) fit the bill perfectly. At their annual summits national leaders Dilma Rousseff, Dmitry Medvedev, Manmohan Singh, Hu Jintao, and Jacob Zuma make up a remarkably diverse bunch, even including the token woman.
- CHOGM, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which is more or less exactly what it say. A meeting of the government heads from the Commonwealth of Nations, most being former British colonies and now independent nations, from a broad group of nations across Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Americas (mostly Caribbean nations, but also Canada and Belize in North America and Guyana in South America). See the full make up here
- The G20 (a now-annual meeting of 19 countries plus the EU that together make up 2/3 of the world's population and 80% of its trade and economy) can be considered a product of this trope. Originally, it was the G7 (the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan) that drew political and economic attention, as they were the premiere free-market economies when they first met in the mid-1970'snote . Russia joined the group (making it the G8) after the Cold War, but the rise of several developing economies, most notably China, made the need for a more diverse group evident politically. Downplayed insofar as it's not really that organized and its legitimacy is questioned at times due to its exclusivity.
- Regional organizations can put up a downplayed verison of this - a good example is APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), with Anglo-Americansnote , non-Anglo-Americans (i.e., Latin-Americannote ), Anglo-non-Americansnote , and non-Anglo-non-Americans (i.e., East Asiannote and Southeast Asiannote . And Russia.) For several years their summits would even end with all the state leaders dressing up in some fashion iconic of whatever country was hosting for a photo op (i.e., everyone wore hanboks when South Korea hosted in 2005), though the past couple appears to have done away with this.