open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Mohammed Avdol from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, an appropriately dressed Egyptian fortune teller who introduces the main cast to the concept of a Stand. His own stand, appropriately enough, is named Magician's Red and gives him power over flame.
- May Chang from Fullmetal Alchemist is from Xing, the setting's equivalent of China. She's the only practitioner of alkahestry seen in the story.
- Mahajarama from Rockman.EXE practices "yoga magic", is a master of disguise, and operates the Merlin-esque Magicman.
- Mahou Sensei Negima! features Western, Hermetic Magic-using magi interacting with Eastern, Onmyodo-using ones, thus managing to fulfill this trope from two cultural perspectives.
- When Ranma from Ranma ½ needs esoteric lore, he goes to Cologne, an unspeakably ancient Chinese wisewoman.
- Another manga by Rumiko Takahashi: Urusei Yatsura features Tsubame Ozono, Sakura's boyfriend, who is a practitioner of Western black magic. He is involved in a fight with Sakura's uncle Cherry, and while Cherry uses Obake to do his work, Tsubame summons Western creatures, including a Gorgon and Frankenstein's Monster.
- In Cardcaptor Sakura, Clow Reed is famous for merging Eastern and Western magic styles, because his father was British and his mother was Chinese.
- In the Genzo extra, the Big Bad Genzaemon mentions the use of sorcery "from the western lands".
- In Berserk, the Western-analogue cultures like Midland and Tudor have very few (human) magic-users, really only a couple of witches who subscribe to an oppressed, near-dead nature-focused pagan religion. The Kushan, on the other hand, an Indian / Persian Fantasy Counterpart Culture, have sorcerers out the yin-yang.
- Recording artists/prank callers The Jerky Boys had a comical version with their character "Tarbash, the Egyptian Magician," whose stage tricks included eating hot coals, punching his chest and making it disappear into the audience, and terrorizing audience members with a mountain lion.
- Marvel Comics has Jericho Drumm, a Haitian who trained as a psychologist in America and returned to Haiti to become a houngan called Brother Voodoo. He succeeded Doctor Strange as Sorcerer Supreme.
- Strange's own tutor in magic was a Tibetan Chinese man called the Ancient One.
- The Ancient One himself invoked this on a previous student and candidate for Sorcerer Supreme, Anthony Ludgate, by unlocking his magical potential which inexplicably turned him from a white man into an asian man.
- DC Comics has Zatara, full name Giovanni Zatara (aka the father of Zatanna Zatara, one of the DCU's most powerful magic-users - who by proxy also fits this trope). As you can probably guess from the name, he's your standard Italian magician but with actual magic powers. Adding to the sheer level to which this trope is played utterly straight, his father had the equally-super-ethnic-sounding name of "Luigi", and both are supposed to be descended from Leonardo da Vinci. Though the "backwards speech" that Giovanni and his daughter use to cast their spells is technically based on English (the spell to levitate for instance is "ETATIVEL!"), they're fluent in it to the extent that it's a genuine second language, which especially given how it sounds when used out loud for say, the animated adaptations, can further emphasize the "foreign magician" feel.
- Subverted in Demon Knights - the Moorish genius Al Jabr is the only one on the team who doesn't rely on some type of magic.
- Calpurnia Crisp from Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things, the only Black witch in the entire coven. A subversion too, considering her magic is in no way linked to her ethnic roots.
- Usually played straight in Tex Willer, as non-white magic users tend to be this. Then we have El Morisco, who is Egyptian but has knowledge in all forms of magic...
- They also escape the negative connotations by being extremely competent at what they do and often physically fit (indeed, the only ones who are Squishy Wizards are Mefisto and his son Yama, who are whites, the Tibetan Padma, who is a monk and thus eats very little, and the Egyptian El Morisco, who is rather fat), with Rayado being an all-around badass who deflected bullets with his axe and overpowered and nearly killed Tex in hand-to-hand combat.
Films — Live-Action
- 300: During the battle, the Persians send out troops who chuck explosives of some kind. The narrator refers to them as cowardly magicians.
- The first Conan the Barbarian (1982) film had James Earl Jones (though he was no Squishy Wizard in the beginning) and Mako as the two resident good and bad wizards. The second one also had Akiro, who also fits.
- The Scorpion King inverts this in that the primary Squishy Wizard is not only white, but very British, and played by Bernard Hill. Though the Sorceress is played by Kelly Hu, and appears very much Asian.
- Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves: "The Moor" Azeem was added to the Robin Hood mythology as a Token Minority (a massive historical liberty), and spends most of the movie commenting how barbaric and primitive Britain is. At one point, he introduces them to black powder explosives which they adapt to using rather quickly. He's not actually a magician though; he just has better technology. The whole Middle East did at the time (although the explosives are a little dubious).
- In Erik the Viking, the mysterious wise woman Freya was played by Eartha Kitt with an exaggeration of her customary vaguely-foreign accent.
- In Holes, the old Egyptian curse-woman Madame Zeroni is also played by Eartha Kitt with an exotic accent.
- Averted in Doctor Strange, as the Ancient One was Race Lifted from Tibetan Chinese to white, specifically Celtic. (The role was also Gender Flipped from male to female, but that's beside the point.) The film also features non-white sorcerers such as Mordo (black) and Wong (Asian), with the overall effect that magic is unrelated to race.
- Older Than Print: In the Norse sagas — for example, Heimskringla — if a character was a Finn (note that this word usually referred to those who later would be called Lapps or Sami, not Finnish/Suomi people), it was implied they were inherently magical. This tradition went on for a long time. The last person to have the reputation of a Lapland Witch died in early 20th century.
- Carried over to the age of Norwegian Television: Sami characters tend to be used as an equivalent of the Magical Negro even today.
- In the original, Arabian Nights version of Aladdin, the main characters were Chinese while the Evil Sorcerer was from North Africa. The Disney version settled for making the Evil Sorcerer more of a stereotypical Arab than the heroes, and a villainously-upgraded historical character as well.
- The Earthsea setting was created simply to avert many heroic fantasy tropes, with the aforementioned pale barbarians and darker skinned advanced races, but in doing so helped cement this trope.
- The Lord of the Rings mentions that the less Europeanish corners of Middle-Earth have sorcerers and magical cults. Although you have to bear in mind that this doesn't say anything about if they are actual 'magic sorcerers' or just believed to be, as the typical generic fantasy spellcasting kind of wizards doesn't exist in Middle-Earth. And "wizards" like Gandalf & co. are another thing entirely.
- And there are also sorcerers who come from Númenórean descent as well, though according to Faramir this generally does not happen in Gondor. The Witch-King himself was one prior to his, ah... alteration. "Sorcery" (as opposed to the wizard or elven magic) is generally presented as the province of Sauron and his minions, regardless of what culture they hail from.
- In Robert A. Heinlein's Magitek novel, Magic, Inc., Archie Fraser is surprised to find the English accented magic expert on the phone turns out to be a black African "witch smeller" in person.
- In Rick Cook's Wiz Biz series, the leader of the Wizard Council is Bal-Simba, a towering black man who has his teeth filed to points and wears a lionskin loincloth. It's practically a lampshade...
- Most of the Evil Sorcerers that Conan the Barbarian fought came from Stygia, the Howard universe's analogue of Ancient Egypt.
- Aces with magical powers in Wild Cards are almost exclusively this. Justified in that the powers manifest from subconscious, so western people usually get super-strength, flight, telekinesis and other stuff, while people of less advanced cultures get whatever powers are known in their native cultures. Likewise, western jokers are almost exclusively half-animal hybrids, while in other countries they tend to be mythical beasts: among infected Mayans there were literally hundreds of Quetzalcohuatli.
- The most straightforward example of this trope is Fortunato, a tantric magician ace who is a twofer minority: black/Japanese, his powers have nothing to do with his nationality but root in the fact that he is a pimp, thus gets sex-based powers. His counterpart, Astronomer, whose powers use rape and violence as a power source, is very Caucasian, though.
- The red priests from A Song of Ice and Fire are seen this way, at least in Westeros where their monotheistic religion never took hold. Of the three prominent red priests in the series, Scary Black Man Moqorro fits this trope the most.
- Mild examples in Night Watch, since this is an Urban Fantasy setting, many powerful Others are very old, and don't usually talk about their origins. Geser is a powerful Light Other, originally from Tibet, although he has adopted a Russian name after moving to Moscow and his vaguely Asian appearance doesn't seem strange to people (considering how many ethnic groups live in Russia, it's not surprising). He is, occasionally, seen walking around in an Eastern robe and pointy shoes. Zabulon's origins are unclear, although an old friend of his calls him Arthur in a spin-off novel, and another novel indicates that he lived in Ireland for a time, so he may have been born in the isles thousands of years ago. The latest novel also introduces a powerful Jewish mage whose spells tend to be related to his culture in some manner (for example, he creates a golem to fight the Tiger and commands it in Hebrew). Overall, it's not that magic is different from culture to culture (Magic A Is Magic A, after all), but the way the Others use magic tends to be affected by their culture. For example, Western Others tend to go for more direct magic. When Anton meets a Taiwanese Other, he notes how intricate and beautiful the Oriental mage's spells are, composed of multiple interconnected layers like a tapestry.
- In Holes, Madame Zeroni is an old Egyptian woman with dark skin and a very wide mouth. She puts a curse on Elya and his descendants for not carrying her up the mountain so she can drink from the stream.
- In The Kingdom of Little Wounds, Midi isn't actually a witch, but everyone—including the other protagonist Ava—treats her like she is because she is "The Negresse."
- In Skin Hunger, it is ethnic minorities that have the most knowledge of magic spells and songs. The Wizarding School (that is a Boarding School of Horrors and the setting for the part of the plot that takes place many years later) is implied to be the result of a white, aristocratic male gathering all magic knowledge for himself and intentionally eradicating everyone else's.
- The Vinland Sagas: Clearly the Skraelings, the natives the Norsemen encounter in Vinland, are magic-users. They put a sleep spell on Thorvald and his companions (Saga of the Greenlanders), make Thorfinn and his party believe an illusionary host is attacking them from the rear (Saga of Erik the Red), and sink into the earth like ghosts (Saga of Erik the Red).
- The Saga of the People of Vatnsdal: The soothsaying woman who tells Ingimund that he will settle in Iceland is a 'Finn' (i.e. a Sami), and so are the three wizards whom Ingimund hires to undertake a spirit-journey to Iceland.
Myths & Religion
- when the pilot Jose Maraleda (who really existed by the way) wished to prove his proficiency to these huilliches (Mapudungun means "southern people") and establish that he was the most formidable sorcerer in the world. The locals didn't believe him and called upon the Machi Chilpilla, who lived in Quetalco, to confront this intruder to their lands. Moraleda was defeated and in recognition of this offered the Machi an enormous book of ancient witchcraft around the world. Further, Moraleda wrote that the natives of Chiloé were not as deplorable as he had believed and, in fact, were even better than some Chileans. This being the origin story of the "Warlock of Chiloé."
- Queen Hvit in The Sagaa Of Hrolf Kraki who was the illegitimate daughter of a Sami chieftain.
- In ancient Jewish culture, Egyptians tended to be associated with magic and astrology. One notable example is the priests from the Exodus story, who had a collection of legends written about them.
- Zezylrick in Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire... though he isn't very good at it.
- While the Mahou Sentai Magiranger and Power Rangers Mystic Force use Western, Harry Potter-style magic, their resident Sixth Rangers Hikaru and Daggeron have more of an Arabian flair, including a genie in a lamp and a magic carpet. Daggeron is also Ambiguously Brown (he's played by Maori actor John Tui). In addition, Lunagel and her counterpart Claire (in her capacity as Gatekeeper) have distinct Romani motifs.
- The Vampire Diaries: All witches, save one, are descended from one apparent family line of black people... Descendants of a handmaiden... The writters may have notice this, as going farther back in the family tree shows her ancestor to be Qetsiyah one of the most powerful characters in the show's mythology.
- In the Earthsea miniseries, most of the characters were given a Race Lift to become white — save for Ged's mentor, played by Danny Glover. So the only black actor was the (quite literally) Magical Negro who helped the white hero with his magical talents.
- Game of Thrones has the Red Priests who are considered exotic to Westerosi society. One of the priestesses depicted in the series was played by an East Asian actress, and per Word of God hails from the China-equivalent region of Yi Ti in the far east of Essos.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- In the Birthright setting, the Khinasi culture (the setting's generic Middle Eastern Turkish/Persian/Arabic mishmash) is particularly renowned for its wizards, who are held in even greater esteem than magic-users of the other human cultures, and this is reinforced by the Khinasi getting a cultural bonus to Intelligence.
- In the Ravenloft setting, the Vistani are a race of magical gypsies, based off of the stereotyped gypsy fortune teller.
- "Ethnic" wizards also show up in the Oriental Adventures setting (for the Far East) and in Arabian Nights-flavored Al-Qadim. The Sha'ir in particular is a wizard who doesn't so much memorize and cast spells in the classic Vancian fashion as send out his or her genie familiar across the planes to fetch what spell he or she might need next.
- White Wolf's infamous World of Darkness: Gypsies supplement attempted to do this for the real-life Romani. See the Romani entry for just how that turned out.
- Everquest: The Erudites. Their skin was changed to gray for the sequel.
- Shadowbane: One of the "seven races of man" is the Indyu: "dark as the Northmen are fair", and "magic runs in their veins".
- The original Diablo game has a black sorcerer and two white warrior types as player characters.
- Diablo II mixes it up a bit — the two distinctly non-white heroes are the Sorceress (a Squishy Wizard type with a haughty intellectual personality) and the Paladin (a decidedly non-squishy fighting priest type, complete with lots of analogies to real-world monotheistic religions). The Barbarian class is the only one that doesn't use magic of any kind, as his culture forbids it, and he is white.
- Diablo III has a white Barbarian, a black Witch Doctor, and an Asian Wizard.
- In Age of Conan, most of the magic classes are Stygian (an Egyptian/Middle Eastern Fantasy Counterpart Culture) or Khitan (Chinese/Korean based Fantasy Counterpart Culture).
- And in the Conan the Barbarian universe, Stygians are indeed the most common sorcerers of the world (and Conan's most frequent villains as a result) along with certain sorcerers of Khitai.
- There are also sorcerers from Hyperborea, which is somewhere around the real-world Greenland - these ones are white.
- In the most recent versions of Gauntlet, the wizard is a black Egyptian and the Sorceress is black as well.
- By default. All the other colour variations of the classes are white. In fact, every class can be black if the yellow variant (default for spellcasters) is used.
- In Fable II, two of the three legendary heroes are white, as is the hero (if he/she isn't blue), but the Hero of Will is dark skinned with cornrows, scholarly, and voiced by Book.
- Quest for Glory has several of these, which is only fitting in a series where each game takes place within a different Fantasy Counterpart Culture. Of the full-human spellcasters, Erasmus is Germanic; Aziza, Al Scurva, and Ad Avis are Arabic; the Leopardmen are African; and Magda is Romani.
- The Dragon of The Witcher is a fire-using mage who is basically Fantasy Counterpart Arab.
- The sisters offering teleportation service in the Pirate chapter of the second The Lost Vikings game are stereotypical old Gypsie women.
- The Occultist class in Darkest Dungeon is Middle Eastern looking and wears a turban. He's almost certainly a reference to Abdul Alhazred "the Mad Arab", the H.P. Lovecraft character who wrote the Necronomicon.
- The Battle Mage in Sacred is notoriusly dark-skinned, and one of his armor sets is a Sim Sim Salabim costume complete with a turban, a curved sword and a crescent-shaped shield.
- In Parallel Dementia Commander Silverton fufills this role, most visably in This Comic
- Stand Still, Stay Silent: Lalli and Onni Hotakainen are post-apocalyptic versions of the Magical Finn. It's also mentioned in the comic that Finland has taken to worshipping the Old Gods and spirits to an even larger extent than the other nations of the Known World, and have the highest relative number of magicians.
- Dexter's Laboratory: An episode has Dexter and his friends playing a Dungeons & Dragons-style game. Two of his friends are the knight and ranger, while his Asian friend is a wizard.
- Hadji from Jonny Quest. "Sim Sim Salabim!" anyone? The update of the cartoon, Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures, had Hadji be a computer hacker instead of a mystic.
- The 1968 Fantastic Voyage cartoon had Guru, "master of mysterious powers". He wore a turban and had the mandatory slightly lower albedo. Yeah.
- The venerable Shaman in Bravestarr.
- Averted in Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. Everyone in that world comes from a Fantasy Counterpart Culture for either China, Japan, Tibet or the Inuit, (or the Aztecs in the case of the Sun Warriors), so the ones that can bend the elements don't stand out from the ones that can't.
- A purely literal example in an episode of King of the Hill featuring a Hispanic stage magician.
- Zecora is the closest approximation of this in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. She is a zebra, the only one in Ponyville. She lives in the Everfree Forest, collecting various herbs for use in potions or elixirs. Oh, and she speaks entirely in rhyme, so that's nice.
- Think of how many classic magic performers have stage names ending in "-i" or "-o." That's because in the 19th Century the best-known magicians on the English music-hall circuit were Italians. So later generations of magicians adopted pseudo-Italian names to sound all magickey. Erich Weiss, a Jewish kid from Wisconsin, took the name of a Frenchman and added an Italian -i suffix to become... Houdini.
- The word "magician" comes from the Old Iranian "magush" that refers to a Zoroastrian priest, and some tropes, such as Robe and Wizard Hat, also have roots in ancient Iran.
- In Medieval Europe, this was the popular perception of Muslim philosophers and scientists, partially due to cultural bias and partly due to the belief that Alchemy Is Magic. Some Sufi scholars were occultists, but they were extremely rare.
- Hoodoo is a form of folk magic practiced in the Americas primarily by people of African descent. Downplayed slightly due to the syncretic nature of the tradition: the "ethnic" elements are often combined with Western occultism and elements of Christianity.