"Okay, let's see... we got the Hispanic one, the black one, the Asian one, the one in a wheelchair... oh yeah, and the white one. Time to write the scripts."
A Five-Token Band consists of characters from very obviously different backgrounds and ethnic groups, but rather than being assembled disparately they all happen to live in the same area, regardless of how diverse the town should be. In school-centered shows and media, the "different backgrounds" may also include different social groups, hobbies, or cliques (ex. nerds, artists, jocks). Typically, this is designed for one of two purposes:
To bring diversity to a cast for the sake of mass market appeal, visual distinction, complaining Media Watchdogs, to represent an area, field or organisation that genuinely is just that diverse, or just because.
To deliver An Aesop about accepting others' differences. This version was commonly used in The Nineties when diversity was considered a big deal, before it became Snark Bait.
The first type is more likely to be benign than the second. The second may be be handled poorly.
The Multinational Team will often have a reason for the cast's diversity, whereas the Five-Token Band may often be diverse for the sake of being diverse. This is not to say that a Multinational Team is immune to tokenism or stereotype - it is simply a different breed of trope.
Note that in real life, people often do have extremely diverse backgrounds. There really are Jewish Black Brits,note Sophie Okonedo for example or half-Polish half-Pakistani Polish-speaking Americans,note such as Danny Pudi from Community or even lesbian, Malaysian-born Chinese Australians.note such as Penny Wong, current Finance Minister of Australia It is not egregious to include such characters, as that merely reflects the diversity of the real world. When the diversity is shown in a way that is absurdly hamfisted, too stereotypical or formulaic, or ignorantly written, however, that may be a problem.
Despite the emphasis on racial harmony, in this trope the Caucasian, blond, All-American male is all too often the leader, or conversely, the complainer. Other characters may also end up more as stereotypes than people. However, the Five-Token Band is usually created with no malicious intentions, and indeed, many of the bands listed below have well-developed characters or are from well-written shows.
The most common variant of a Five-Token Band, especially in the nineties, will go as followed:
The Burger King Kids Club Gang — illustrated at the top of the page. An Asian girl named Jazz was added later.
The Sweet Cred Gang. It's hard to tell whether their efforts were inspired by political correctness, though — the black kid plays basketball, raps, and sports a gold tooth and chains.
Anime & Manga
Anime typically only uses a Five-Token Band to add some exotic flavor where diversity is an important feature of the show (e.g., Sci Fi, Humongous Mecha); otherwise, much like the real country, everyone is Japanese.
In the early 1990s, before DiC acquired the rights to the North American release of Sailor Moon, an outfit called Toon Makers made a bid for them. As part of their pitch, TM made a short demo film of what they wanted to do with the property. They threw out the original cast and created a politically-correct grouping of girls, right down to a Sailor Senshi in a wheelchair. The result is often called "Saban Moon" or "The Saban Nightmare" due to people mistaking the relatively unknown TM for a more well-known company. (See it here or search YouTube.com.) They've even got a wheelchair that can sail through space.
A similar thing would have happened to the Gundam series, but it would have been a decision of Sunrise. Doozy Bots was a way to get the Gundam franchise to America, and it would have featured a cast of a Football-playing Char look-alike, a skater/surfer, a cheerleader, a hockey player, and a Token Twofer black kid on a wheelchair. For an extra dose of Unfortunate Implications, while the heroes turn into Super-Deformed versions of various Gundam mecha, the paraplegic kid turns into... a Guntank.
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing is the most famous Gundam example, with Heero (Japanese), Duo (American), Quatre (Middle Eastern*
This gets a lot of debate because Quatre is blond-haired and blue-eyed, but Fanon typically explains it as Berber heritage or simply taking after his mother.
), Wu Fei (Chinese), and Trowa (...something*
Because Trowa was orphaned at a very young age, his ethnicity is vague. Even if you accept that he's Cathy Bloom's long-lost brother, that doesn't change the fact that official sources have variously labeled her Latino, Russian, and "Eastern European". All we know for certain is, he's some kind of European
). That said, the characters' ethnicities have absolutely no impact on the plot, and no special attention is drawn to them (except for explaining why Wu Fei is an Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy).
Mobile Fighter G Gundam did it first, although there is a slightly reasonable explanation for this, since the setting is a worldwide tournament and the Five-Man Band were the ones who realized there was something more important going on.
Done again in Mobile Suit Gundam 00, but instead we focus on four Gundam pilots with no extras to pop in and instead of a centralized theme focused on individualizing the characters, the pilots do not particularly act like their nationality rather they are based on their own personality templates. An example is that although Tieria is by technicality the Glasses character, he is the complete opposite of most of them where he is in fact completely capable killing just about anyone who gets in his way.
The main team of Black Lagoon consists of a Black man, a Jewish guy, a Chinese girl, and a Japanese ex-salaryman.
One Piece is set in a fantasy world, but Word Of God has given each of the Straw Hats a real-world nationality based on their looks, and they are very diverse:
Chopper: Canadian (and that whole reindeer thing)
In Sonic X, Chris Thorndyke has a black friend (Danny) and a friend in a wheelchair (Helen).
The All-New, All-Different X-Men. The wheelchair-using mentor (Professor X, representing the handicapped) and Caucasian male team leader (Cyclops from the original team, which was all-white) were joined by an African woman (Storm), an Asian (Sunfire), an Apache (Thunderbird), a German (Nightcrawler), an Irishman (Banshee), a Russian (Colossus), and a Canadian (Wolverine). The in-universe reason the "All New All Different" X-Men were so diverse was that, back then, mutants were assumed to be danged rare, and Professor X had to gather together those few he could find from all around the world. Of course, as more and more mutants kept getting introduced in subsequent years, mutant rarity became a forgotten concept, until a bit of House of Mforcibly restored it.
The New Mutants spinoff is no better. Ambiguously Lesbian Vietnamese (Karma), check. Son of Brazilian self-made millionaire (Sunspot), check. Neurotic Scots werewolf (Wolfsbane — devout Calvinist half-convinced she is damned to Hell for bonus Wangst), check. Angry young Cheyenne Action Girl (Mirage), check. Appalachian coal-miner's son (Cannonball), check. As for the ones who joined up later, let us say that the only Ordinary High School Student joined the same night as the shapeshifting alien of living circutry (Cypher).
The teen series Generation X is a subversion. The Asian girl (Jubilee) is the class clown, the Latino (Skin) is physically the ugliest member, the redneck is the brain, the black girl (M) is the Alpha Bitch, etc.
Runaways. They even lampshade it as looking like those multi-ethnic gangs you only see on TV. Original line up (not counting Old Lace the dinosaur): Alex Wilder (black male), Gertrude Yorkes (Jewish female), Karolina Dean (looks white but actually an alien, female and gay), Molly Hayes (white female, mutant), Nico Minoru (Japanese-American female), and Chase Stein (white male). Later members: Victor Mancha (looks hispanic but actually a robot, male), Xavin (shapeshifting alien, sometimes looks like a black female, sometimes black male, sometimes Skrull male, involved in lesbian relationship), Klara Prast (white female).
Chris Claremont's rebooted Gen 13 has a team of a poor Irish-American kid (whose father was a firefighter who died in 9/11), a Black girl, a Chinese-American girl and a Black Muslim boy in a wheelchair.
The Young Avengers, now that their white male leader is gone, are a shining example of how Marvel are really, really trying. Patriot (black) leads an interspecies gay couple, two girls and an android. Young!Kang looked asian in the ''Young Avengers' (or at least biracial).
The main cast of the current X-Factor volume has a black Algerian Muslim, a time-displaced half-black, half-Latino teenager, a bisexual Mexican male and a gay futuristic gladiator from another dimension.
The Justice League goes back and forth on this. As of the 2011 DC relaunch, the Justice League has The Atom (Chinese American), Cyborg (African American), Firestorm (African American), and Element Woman (Korean American), with Vixen (African), Fire (Brazillian), August General in Iron (Chinese), and Rocket Red (Russian) in the team's spin-off title. The Justice League Dark has Zatanna (Italian American), John Constantine (English bisexual) and Madame Xanadu (bisexual).
Lampshaded in Justice League Elite, where Sister Superior refers to the team's ethnic make-up as a "PC Nightmare". Coldcast is black, Manitou Raven and Dawn are dark-skinned Atlantean Natives, Batgirl is Asian American, Menagerie is Latina and Naif al-Sheikh is an Arab. The only white males on the team were The Flash, Green Arrow and Major Disaster.
Very much so in the first Atari Force series, which featured two Caucasians, a Black Best Friend, one Asian Indian, and a Chinese/Irish security chief out to save humanity.
Avengers Academy is arguably an example, as Reptil (the current leader of the group) is Latino, Mettle seems to be Polynesian, Hazmat is Asian-American, Finesse and Veil are women, and the only Caucasian man on the team, Striker, is a gay teenager from a working class background and a survivor of sexual abuse. The West Coast revamp of the title introduces White Tiger (Puerto Rican), Power Man (Black Dominican ), Spider-Girl (Latina), Wiz Kid (Asian American), Rocket Racer (African American) and Hollow/Penance (originally Yugoslavian, retconned into being a black Alegerian, current ethnicity unknown) into the Academy. It also adds Julie Power (bisexual), and X-23 to the cast.
Pride High has this: Mindsweeper (half black, gay), Kid Mischief (Puerto Rican, gay), Suravi (Indian, blind, lesbian), Scotch Bonnet (Scottish, bi-curious), Chip Cheetah (British), Unison (from Hong Kong), Kid Olympus (half Chinese, half Greek), Kilauea (Hawaiian), Cameron Ashton (gay), and Lightspot (gay). Word Of God says that diversity was not the reasoning as the characters were created by different people, and his own experiences in high school were just as diverse (though the diversity of gay characters was intentional.
The Flashpoint version of Captain Marvel is a group of six children who can turn into Captain Thunder. In addition to the original Caucasian Power Trio of Billy and Mary Batson and Freddy Freeman, there's Eugene (Asian-American), Pedro (Latino), and Darla (African-American).
Blood Syndicate is about, well, the Blood Syndicate. Formed by the survivors of a freak accident at a multi-gang war, the group is mostly black and Latino (including a couple black Latinos, a gay Latino, and a black Muslim), but also features two Asians (one Korean-American and the other a Chinese-American woman) and a Token White.
Alison Bechdel's Dykes to Watch Out For. Bechdel herself has joked that, yes, the cast is almost diverse to a fault (with a main cast comprising just about every ethnicity, religion, political affiliation—yes, there are indeed lesbian Republicans out there). However, as they're all fully-fleshed characters with their own personalities, they tend not to suffer from being the token something-or-other. Thea (disabled, with MS) is the only possible exception, even lampshaded by her in an Animated Actors segment: "I move that no new personnel be introduced until I get properly established here! I thought I was gonna be a fully-fledged, three-dimensional character like everyone else, but nooooo! I just show up on my crutches every tenth episode like a goddamn poster child!"
HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH parodies this when describing a group of children: "They were well-groomed and impeccably attired, and there were 5.8 of them, just enough to represent an array of genders and races that would leave no-one unhappy, save for the Eskimos."
Atlantis: The Lost Empire: So we have the French geologist, the Italian demolitions expert, the female Hispanic mechanic, the half-black/half-Native American doctor — and the white American guy. He's near-sighted though — does that count? Either way, he's clearly the Butt Monkey, at least for the first half. After that he's the naive idealist before finally becoming the hero.
The Secret of Kells has possibly the most bizarre version of this of all time: a Five-Token Band of Irish Catholic monks. We get a French monk, a Russian monk, an English monk, a Chinese monk, and Black monk. It's not even alluded to how they all came to be at the same Irish monastery in the 9th century. The creators state that this was to represent diverse influences in the Book of Kells.
Films — Live-Action
A nice early example are the Our Gang theatrical shorts. Despite the fact that every kid was some obvious stereotype, the series broke major ground in depicting the group in an informal manner and as getting along with each other despite their differences without really calling attention to it. Their major shared trait was being lower-middle class and a dislike of icky girls.
One of the archetypical examples: The Steven Spielberg comedy The Goonies (1985). The formulaic band of seven kids includes a jock (the big brother), the smart quiet kid (the younger brother), the geek/gadgeteer (who is also Asian), the fat comic-relief boy (Jewish), the token pretty girl (and love interest of the older brother), the tough girl (the tomboy), and the loudmouthed guy who just can't shut up. Not so much different ethnicities (all except the Asian kid are white) but rather different personality archetypes.
The Warriors is a prime example of this (although it falls more under White Gang Bangers). The title street gang is a mixture of blacks, whites, and Latinos. The enemy gangs are portrayed much more realistically: there is an all-black gang and a white biker gang. And then there's the Baseball Furies.
The Dungeons & Dragons movie goes a step further and enforces representation of fictional minorities. After the white man the leader and destined hero, naturally, there's a white girl as the snobby wizard, a black man as the comic-relief bumbling sidekick, another white man as the tallest dwarf in the world, and a black woman playing the elf (making her a threefer, maybe?). Worst of all, each and every one of them is 100% pure, concentrated stereotype.
The commando team in Executive Decision consists of a white guy, an Asian guy, a Hispanic guy and a black guy, and is led by Steven Seagal, who might be part Native American (seriously, does anyone know for sure what Steven Seagal is?). To add bonus minority points, the black guy is injured early on and spends most of the movie paralyzed from the neck down.
The Big Hit has the Irish-American protagonist working for and later against the most diverse criminal syndicate of all time. The crime boss is black, Melvin's fellow and rival hitmen are black, Latino, East Asian and Italian-American, and he spends part of the film juggling his blonde Jewish fiancee, his black mistress, and the Japanese girl he kidnaps for ransom. This is partly lampshaded for laughs in a scene where the aforementioned Jewish fiance's father wanders in drunk, sees the aforementioned protagonist and hitmen (not knowing that they were sent to confront him about his suspected betrayal and remarks how happy he is to see four young men of different races sitting together in friendship, in contrast to his wife's rejection of Melvin as a future son-in-law for not being Jewish.
In The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, the crew of Steve's ship (on the hunt for the Jaguar Shark) consists of Steve himself, Klaus Daimler, Vikram Ray, Bobby Ogata, Renzo Pietro, Vladimir Wolodarsky, Anne-Marie Sakowitz, Pelé dos Santos, and seven interns from the University of North Alaska. Of course, as a world-sailing international icon, this is justified, even though Steve points out that none of them actually have outside nautical experience.
In the movie of Twilight, Bella's school "friends" are this. Jessica is a white female, Eric is Korean, Mike is a white male, Tyler is black, and Angela is Hispanic/Italian/Irish.
Rifftrax: Our surprisingly diverse group of friends certainly does have fun.
A recent example is the live action adaptation movie of Battleship. The main charcters are Hopper (white male), Nagata (Japanese male), Raikes (Black Female), Sam (White love interest) and Lieutenant Colonel Mick Canales (Black male).
In the novel Men at Arms, the Night Watch is forced to admit a dwarf (other than Carrot), a troll and a female who is also a werewolf. They've had a gnome since Feet of Clay, hired because he was six inches tall and thus had certain capabilities biggers lack (he rides an assortment of birds, buzzards and falcons and such, as the Watch's airborne division). In Thud!, they are forced to enlist another woman (this time a vampire). Though they have a lot of women, but a lot of them are dwarves, who tend to be less open about gender.
And then there's Monstrous Regiment, where the army recruits are also varied but the title is, if you know a different title, a deliberate spoiler/Fanservice of a subversion. Try Googling "First Blast of the Trumpet Against".
The Baby-Sitters Club. It went beyond having to have a black girl and an Asian girl. A diabetic, a boy, and a girl in a very large family also counted for diversity points, as well as family relationships that got to the point where the backstory of the characters was The Theme Park Version of Dysfunction Junction. The Cousin Oliver seemed to be everything the author left out crammed into one: she was Jewish, an asthmatic and a twin. All the girls also have different areas of interest: writing, art, sports, fashion, etc.
One of the main characters in the spinoff series California Diaries is Latina.
Animorphs does this with its main cast. The white Jewish male leader Jake, his female cousin Rachel, his black girlfriend Cassie, his Hispanic best friend Marco, and Tobias who has a messed-upfamily (and is a bird). They later add an alien, Ax. Toward the end of the series, they get a Redshirt Army made up of disabled children. Rachel's parents are divorced, too — she's raised by her mother, who isn't Jewish.
A meta-example: the original lineup for the rebuilt Rogue Squadron in the eponymous books was deliberately chosen on politically correct grounds by the Alliance leadership, given how important a propaganda symbol the squadron is. However, this is a Star Wars Galaxy Twelve Token Band, so it consists of: the token Bothan (for their work in finding the second Death Star), the token Twi'lek (Ryloth is coming into its own at this time), other other token aliens (an insectoid, a wolfman, and another... thing, to represent the more non-human ones), the token refugee (a woman), the token kid brought up in jail (also a woman), the token precocious kid (who's also from Tatooine), and two token Thyferrans (including one woman) because that's the only way to please the two factions of the planet producing the most critical medical supply in the galaxy. In fact at one point, a good Corellian pilot isn't allowed to join because they already have two Corellians. Wedge is highly displeased about leadership picking the squadron for him, but he grows to like his people.
Young Jedi Knights has as its main characters: one male human, two female humans (one of whom is from a primitive planet), one male Wookiee, and a miniature protocol droid. The Sixth Ranger is also a male human, but was written in the Dark Nest trilogy as bisexual. It's somewhat subverted by the fact the droid was built by C-3PO, and the Wookiee is Chewbacca's nephew.
In The Egypt Game, the Egypt gang consists of a white girl, a black girl, her younger brother, an Asian girl, a white boy and an Asian boy. The white girl is more-or-less the protagonist.
The Lord of the Rings has this with the Fellowship: four Hobbits, two Men, an Elf, and a Dwarf all to represent the Free People of Middle-earth. Leading them? A Wizard originally from the West. Of course, the process of their meeting was well-described by Tolkien: the Council did not want to have Elves, Dwarves, or Men to be carrying the Ring (since they would resent each other, which would be bad for morale); and although Gandalf called the meeting and needed to go south to help prepare the war, he didn't want the Ring either, so it fell to Frodo (who volunteered, at any rate); Sam, Merry, and Pippin insisted on joining Frodo; Aragorn was The Chosen One; Boromir is from Gondor and would be going that way anyway; and then Gimli and Legolas are intentional Tokens to ensure that all races are represented in the quest.
In Stephen King's It, the Loser's Club is made up from kids who are ostracized by the others for various reasons: Bill stutters, Ben is fat, Eddie is physically weak, Stan is Jewish, Mike is black, Beverly is poor, and Richie just can't keep his mouth shut.
The House of Night has Damien and later Jack, two gay boys who quickly become a Token Minority Couple, Shaunee, a black girl, her white mental "twin", Erin, and Stevie Rae, a country girl from the middle of nowhere with an Oklahoma accent. Add in Zoey, the main character of Cherokee descent, and you definitely have one of these forming.
The Virals series by Kathy Reichs has the main character Tory, a white girl, Sheldon, a biracial (black and Japanese) guy, Hiram, who is Jewish, and Ben a white guy who claims he is part Native American.
Harry Potter has an example that only works in-universe; the main Three Amigos has Harry, the half-blood, Ron, the pure-blood, and Hermione, the muggleborn.
Invoked by Sue in the episode "Throwdown" when they split the glee club into two groups and Sue picked all the minorities for her half in an attempt to drive a wedge into the group.
The current roster now stands at Rachel (Jewish), Mercedes (black), Tina (Asian), Artie (handicapped), Puck (Jewish), Sam (poor), Kurt (gay), Mike (Other Asian), Santana (Hispanic and lesbian), Quinn (former pregnant teen), Brittany (bisexual), Finn (white), Blaine (gay), Rory (Irish exchange student), Joe (Ambiguously Brown)and Sugar (claims to have Asperger's.). Former members are Lauren (female wrestler) and Matt (black). New season four members include Marley (poor), Unique (transgender and black), Jake (half-black), and Ryder (dyslexic).
Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers started off with two white guys, a black guy, an Asian girl and a white girl. Later added a Native American. Jason's got a bit of Irish, a bit of Japanese, a bit of Spanish, he's quite the mishmash.
The original series gets a lot of flak because the Black Ranger was African-American and the Yellow Ranger was Asian (specifically, Vietnamese). Word Of God from the producers and Word of Saint Paul from the Black Ranger himself confirm this was unintentional and something they didn't notice until several episodes had been filmed, and the real reason why the Rangers were swapped is due to either budget or popularity issues. Not to mention, the Yellow Ranger was played by a Hispanic actress in the Pilot, only to be recast before the show entered full production.
Jason was originally replaced by Rocky, who was Hispanic. And Kimberly was replaced by Kat, a (Caucasian) Australian.
Zeo had a Native American Red, Asian Green, Hispanic Blue, African Yellow, Caucasian Pink and Caucasian (mixed race) Gold.
The second half of Turbo had African-American Red, Caucasian Blue and Yellow, Hispanic Green, and Asian Pink.
In Space had Caucasians Red, Yellow, and Silver (though Red and Silver were HumanAliens, African-American Blue, Hispanic Black, and Asian Pink.
Lost Galaxy had Caucasian Red, Yellow and Pink (though Yellow was from another planet and played by an Italian-American actress), an African-American Green and an Asian Blue.
Ditto for Lightspeed Rescue.
Time Force had Caucasian Red and Pink, an Asian Blue, an African-American Yellow and a space alien Green (played by an Asian). The Quantum Ranger is also Asian.
Wild Force had Caucasian Red, Yellow and Silver, an African-American Blue, a Latino Black, and Asian (Filipino) White.
Ninja Storm had Samoan Red, Caucasian Blue and Crimson, Latino Yellow, and Asian Navy and Green.
Dino Thunder had Caucasian Red and Yellow, African-American Blue, Native American Black, and Asian (Filipino) White.
SPD had an African-American Red, Caucasian Blue and Pink, Jewish Green, Latina Yellow, and a Dog-alien Shadow Ranger.
Mystic Force had an Arab Red, Latina Blue and Pink, Caucasian Yellow and Green, and a Maori Solaris Knight.
Operation Overdrive had Caucasian Red an android and Yellow, African-Carribean Black, Asian Blue and Pink, and alien Mercury Ranger.
Jungle Fury had Caucasian Red, Yellow, Purple (Wolf), and White (Rhino) and an Asian Blue.
RPM had an African-American Red, Caucasians Blue, Green, Black and Yellow (female) and Asians Gold and Silver (brother and sister).
Samurai had Caucasian Red and Yellow, African-American Blue, Latino Green, Asian Pink, and Spanish Gold.
Megaforce had Caucasian Red, Pink, and Yellow, African-American Blue, and Indian Black.
The casts of every incarnation of Star Trek. Also, there are Loads and Loads of Characters, so you'd expect some variety. And today it's easy to forget how shockingly radical the original series was to do this. Maybe Uhura was a switchboard operator in a go-go dress, but she did it on the bridge of an (essentially) military spaceship; Martin Luther King Jr. personally told Nichelle Nichols how important it was she keep plugging away at the role. Star Trek also famously featured one of the first interracial kisses to be shown on TV (Kirk and Uhura) — but as a sop to the standard 1960s racist Southern audiences made it involuntary, forced to happen by Jerkass aliens. Of course, every later series developed the characters far beyond their ethnicities. Indeed, they were never brought up outside of the occasional time travel story. This makes them more an aversion of Humans Are White than Five-Token Bands... except Star Trek: Enterprise.
Parodied by Stephen Colbert's "friends". When his Black Friend Alan betrayed him by being seen at an anti-war protest, he advertised for a new one. He has an assortment of other ethnic friends, the best known being Jewish Friend Jon Stewart. Many fans who have met him have reported getting him to take a picture with them under the promise that they'll be his ____ best friend: deaf, French, asexual, bipolar. Presumably he's being Crazy-Prepared in case the need should ever arise for any of those. Note that, beginning with Alan, the photos of Stephen with his ____ best friend have always showed him beaming at the camera and pointing at his companion, while the companion has his/her arms folded and a "You've got to be fucking kidding me" facial expression.
An arguable example of a villainous version is in the series Sleeper Cell. The terrorists in both seasons are from several nations and ethnicities as a deliberate counterpoint to the stereotype of all terrorists being Arabs. Of course, this is probably Truth in Television as well.
The Knights of Prosperity. Obviously, the only American one is the leader.
Ghostwriter, which had the black male leader, rich white girl, Hispanic brother and sister, and Vietnamese girl as the original Five-Man Band, and a white boy as the Sixth Ranger. In one episode, a music company decided to sign cast member Lenny, and the record executive actually said out loud that her multi-ethnic friends would be demographically perfect for the music video.
The Swedish kids show Vintergatan 5A (Milky Way 5A) had a cast consisting of a Spanish-Swedish youngster, an African-American-Swedish youngster, a Swedish youngster, and a Swedish oldster. In the sequel, Vintergatan 5B, a Russian youngster was added.
Lampshaded when the dean sees the main cast assembled:
"Well, look at this group, having some kind of meeting and being so diverse. There's is just — boy! — there is just one of every kind of you, isn't there?"
The trope is played straight up until this point, as the Spanish 101 study group has two blacks, one guy of Middle Eastern descent, an array of socioeconomic backgrounds, and a massive age range, from 18 to sixtysomething. Justified in that the only factor that unites them originally is their common desire to fulfill their language requirement with the minimum of effort, and they were assembled by Abed, who was raised by TV and hassomeeccentricities.
Gag is extended later in the same episode when designing the mascot for the new school team, The Human Beings. Wanting to represent every ethnicity and background without explicitly mentioning any of them, the Dean eventually creates a powder-white, amorphous blob man with a slit for a mouth as the new mascot.
It's taken even further in the Holiday episode where it's revealed they all have different religions as well. We have Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Jehovah's Witness, Athiest, Agnostic and "Buddhist" (Pierce thinks he's Buddhist, but he's actually in a cult without knowing it).
In "Documentary Filmmaking Redux", they're described as "Greendale's brightest, most coincidentally diverse — Hispanics notwithstanding — study group."
Lampshaded on Doctor Who. The Master congratulates the Doctor's team on "ticking every demographic box". His posse at that point consists of himself (could pass for white British despite being an alien), Martha (black British and female) and Jack (white, bisexual and apparently American).
Ironically (or not) The Beeb itself does this, or at least looks like it. Some children's shows which invite viewers onto the show as one-episode characters appear to use carefully-selected representatives of almost every conceivable ethnic and religious demographic, or as many as a small cast makes available.
Joked about on Scrubs, which also somewhat uses the trope (four white main characters one of whom is female, a black doctor, a Hispanic nurse and plenty of variety for the supporting characters). Turk mentions that he always got special treatment because he was black, and schools always wanted to seem like they are ethnically diverse. When J.D. mentioned that everyone was put on the cover of their college newsletter, Turk retorts that he was put in there twice... in the same picture.
Look Around You spoofs the tendency for maths textbooks to go for an unlikely level of diversity in the characters in their problems, as well as the general nature of such problems themselves:
"Jean is shorter than Brutus but taller than Imhotep. Imhotep is taller than Jean, but shorter than Lord Scotland. Lord Scotland is twice the height of Jean and Brutus combined but only one-tenth of the height of Millsy. Millsy is at a constant height of (x − y). If Jean stands exactly one nautical mile away from Lord Scotland, how tall is Imhotep?" (Answer: Imhotep is invisible.)
The kids in Space Cases were each from a different planet, and one was from a different galaxy. Harlan Band, the token human, is an interesting case in that he very much played the role the white guy usually plays in this trope as both the leader and the complainer, but he was played by a black actor. Also, he had a strong case of Fantastic Racism.
Victorious pulls one of these together, without making it feel forced. The main character and her sister are half-latina, Andre is a Black Best Friend, Robbie is Jewish, Beck is Indian but not a Bollywood Nerd. The last 2 characters are Cat, who is a white redheaded Genki Girl, and Jade, a white Goth, for whom the fandom believes might be bisexual.
House: Our Five-Token Band is missing Brown and Bi.
Both versions of Zoom revolve around this concept. The cast was always supposed to be ethnically diverse.
On Jessie about a famous (white) couple who adopted 3 foreign-born children, they have the white Jessie (their nanny), Emma (their only biological daughter), Luke (Ambiguously Brown), Ravi (Indian), and Zuri (black).
Season 3 of New York Undercover, there was Williams (a black man), Torres (a latino man), Lt. Cooper (a white woman), Moreno (a latino woman) and McNamara (a white man).
The Smashing Pumpkins started out this way, with a dark-haired white man, a redhead (before he went bald), a blonde woman and an Asian.
Girl Authority is a nine-token music band consisting of both racial and social/hobby tokens.
The Pussycat Dolls
Casted girlgroups come to mind; just think Sugababes (they eventually replaced a white redhead with a white blonde, Filipina girl with a Moroccan girl, and the black one with a biracial girl [black and white parents]).
The Black Eyed Peas have a black guy, a Mexican/Native American guy, another black guy who's half-Filipino, and a white chick who's also Mexican and Native American.
The de-fictionalized band The Cheetah Girls has a black member, a mixed race member, and a Latina member. In the book series, though, all of the girls were black except for Chanel, who was Cuban and Dominican.
Pentatonix, the winner of season 3 of NBC's a cappella competition "The Sing Off" came to be an organic literal example of this. The group consists of a square-jawed blonde white guy, a black dude, a Jewish fella, a gay guy and a Latina girl.
The five-piece Girl Group the Beach Girl 5 (BG 5), whose members include dark-haired dancer/singer Mandy Jiroux (of The Miley And Mandy Show fame), consists of black Dominique Domingo, white Austrailan blonde Laura New, American white blonde Brooke Adams and Asian Noreen Juliano.
All of the NXT seasons with the possible exception of season 4 have a pretty diverse set of wrestlers:
Season 1 had Wade Barrett (white and English), Justin Gabriel (South African), David Otunga (black), Michael Tarver (black), Skip Sheffield (white), Daniel Bryan (white), Darren Young (black) and Heath Slater (white and ginger).
Season 2 had Kaval (white), Michael McGillicutty (white), Husky Harris (Samoan), Titus O'Neill (black), Eli Cottonwood (Jewish), Percy Watson (black), Alex Riley (white) and Lucky Cannon (white).
Season 3 had AJ Lee (half Italian, half white), Naomi Night (black), Kaitlyn (white), Jamie Keyes (white), Maxine (mixed race - Cuban, Chinese, Mexican and Lebanese to be specific) and Aksana (white and Lithuanian).
The cover of every textbook (especially ones about health or social psychology) will have the Five-Token Band laughing together at something.
Math textbooks are also prone to having word problems with non-Caucasian names.
This is a common theme in pamphlets and brochures, especially those extolling the virtues of an organization.
The Jehovah's Witnesses, in New Zealand at least, often brought pamphlets showing children of all races happily playing together... as well as a Five-Token Band of animals as well.
Possibly the example to beat all others: the cast of the PBS KidsPuppet ShowThe Puzzle Place consisted of a Chinese, a Lithuanian-Jewish, German/Norwegian to substitute for the white, a Mexican, a handicapped Irish-American, a black, and an Apache boy from an Indian reservation in Arizona. Whew. And oh yeah, the cat and the dog. The show was created in response to the 1992 LA riots as a way to teach kids about racial harmony.
The Young Turks. Let's see, a Turkish host, an Armenian-American female co-host, a black producer, a Mexican director, and a white guy. And occasionally Ben Mankiewicz shows up, who's Jewish.
Team Fortress 2 takes this to ridiculous lengths — the classes consist of a crass teenager from Boston, an older and severely unhinged man from elsewhere in the US, a black Scottish cyclops, a burly Russian, a guitar-playing Texan, a German doctor, an Australian bushwhacker, a French secret serviceman, and... someone (or... something) in a hazard suit that's anyone's guess. This is deliberate, and there's a reason for it — the wildly differing appearance and voices make it instantly possible to identify which class a player is using.
The 3rd Street Saints in Saints Row 2 is one of the aforementioned inexplicably diverse gangs. Their most prominent members include the Asian Johnny Gat, the Caucasian female Shaundi, the black (and Ambiguously Gay) Pierce, the Latino Carlos, and whomever you decide to be. Later added the Russian Oleg Kirrlov.
Mass Effect: Commander Shepard's team could be seen as an in-universe version, especially in the sequel. There's only one of any species per game: Garrus, Mordin and Liara/Samara/Morinth, representing the three most powerful non-human species. The equivalent of token Black/Asian/Hispanic. Tali, whose species has a weak immune system is are sort of a dispossessed race of Space Jews, and Thane, who is suffering from a debilitating lung disease and is polytheistic, could both qualify as either the religious minority or the handicapped member. And Wrex/Grunt and Legion are both different kinds of Token Enemy Minority: the Krograns are the old enemy now at an uneasy peace (Like, say, Russia or Germany) and Legion is of the same species as the current enemy, but ideologically opposed to them (Such as an Iraqi member). Just the human squadmates are this. The first game had Spanish-American and Malaysian, the second game had African-American, British, Australian, Japanese and crazy biotic test subject. Okay, maybe not that last one...
No One Lives Forever had a trio of multiracial go-go girls who were actually a Quirky Miniboss Squad with sniper rifles. Before you encountered them, they lounged around their dressing room moaning about how so very bored they were.
Shin Megami Tensei Strange Journey's four major (human) characters are a Japanese man (who became American in the localization, but hey, he could still be Asian), a black man, a Hispanic man, and a white Russian woman.
Backyard Sports featured 30 characters and lot of them were ethnic, so most of the time you could make your team like this trope.
Lara's supporting cast in the Tomb Raider reboot. Samantha is Japanese, Joslin is Afro-Latina, and Jonah is Māori.
Parodied in The Noob, when the incompetent design team for the MMORPG "Cliche Quest" decides to show they embrace ethnic diversity in a commercial for their video game, to emphasize to the viewer that they don't follow "the old Fantasy stereotype where everyone is white" ("...or a squid"). Of course, after casting actors for the roles of "a Jewish-American, an Irish-American, an Italian-American, a Latino, an Asian and an African-American", the lead developer is furious because "no one will recognize them": His "solution" leads to even worse racial/cultural/ethnic stereotypes. Oh, and because they forgot to cast the "Caucasian with the rural or Southern accent", they come up with a last-minute alternative. Not to mention all those Scottish-accented dwarves sprouting Communist propaganda and Euro Nerd Techno...
While Homestuck's trolls, being aliens, do not have the same concept of race as humans, they're diverse as their hemospectralcaste system allows (all the way from the future Empress to a mutant who would be hunted down and summarily executed should his mutation become known, and their group includes a blind girl, a wheelchair boy, a monosexual, and a religious minority.
At the Super Hero School Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe, the main characters are in Team Kimba and form a pretty good Five-Token Band. The trope is slightly averted and somewhat reinforced in the reason they come together and stay together: they're the transgendered mutants in their high school grade. Chaka, the nominal leader, is black, but comes from an upper-middle-class family. Generator is Japanese-American. Shroud? Not even really alive. Phase is a WASP and the disinherited scion of one of the richest families on the planet. Lancer is an Army brat. Tennyo? Her mutation has made her look like an anime character. Fey not only looks like one of the Sidhe, she literally is. Other characters around them include a hermaphrodite who is Lakota (American Indian), a half-demon, a Hispanic... You get the idea.
College Humor parodies this in their honest college ad (at about 1:00). It shows a group with a black man in a wheelchair, an Asian girl, a white guy, an Ambigously Brown girl and an Indian guy, who says, "We're actors. This literally never happens."
The cast of Bravest Warriors. Of the four leads, Beth is Japanese, Wallow is African American, and Danny is Latino. Chris is the only white person in the main cast.
Parodied with the Rubberbandits song "Black Man" where one of the Bandits starts singing about needing a black man to complete his gang. The list he has already is a Puerto Rican, Orthodox Jew, a Russian thug, a well-endowed blonde girl, a dumb guy, a Tag Along Kid, a Mafioso, guy in wheelchair, Asian who's "good with knives", Butch Lesbian, "both types of Indians", a fat guy and an Ambigously Brown guy who apparently isn't dark enough to qualify.
The cast of Captain Planet And The Planeteers takes this to its most logical extreme — every member of the band is from a different continent. But no Aussies. Or penguins, for that matter. Also, subtle Fridge Brilliance. For Europe, they had a large portion of the continent that was on good terms with America to choose from. Instead, they went with the Soviet Union (tagline later changed to "Former Soviet Union" and then simply to "Eastern Europe").
The cast of Recess. Chunky, smart-aleck white boy (who's supposedly Jewish), nerdy white girl with glasses, Italian tough girl, athletic black boy, big-bodied, over-dramatic white boy, and nebbishy white boy with glasses. Studio exec: "We missing anyone? Cool, let's make this thing." Actually lampshaded in a Christmas special episode in which the principal tries to put together a culturally diverse Christmas show while complaining about "political correctoids"
The Ashleys as well. Ashley A. is the stuck-up white leader, Ashley B. is the prissy, sarcastic second-in-command black girl, Ashley Q. is the tough, Jerkass white girl, and Ashley T. is the quiet Hispanic girl.
Spoofed for all it's worth in Minoriteam, which is about team comprised entirely of Captain Ethnic minority superheroes. For reference, it's Dr. Wang (Chinese), Nonstop (Indian), Fasto (black), El Jefe (Mexican), and Jewcano (Jewish).
The PBS show Maya And Miguel. The main characters are Hispanic, but the show painfully attempts to include just about every other race too. There's the Black Best Friend, the Afro-Dominican girl, the Asian girl and a disabled white guy. The fat, stupid, forgetful soccer coach is Polish.
In Extreme Ghostbusters, there was a black, a Goth girl, a guy in a wheelchair, and a Latino slacker. Oh, and Egon, the white (and Ambiguously Jewish) nerd. But the Goth girl's (stereotypical) interest in the paranormal came in handy; the African-American was a rather uncool smart guy; the Latino, while a slacker, had a brother who was a cop; and the paraplegic was the team jock.
The show could be pretty honest about that. In the episode "The True Face of a Monster", the paraplegic was thrown out of his wheelchair (amazingly, by somebody he thought was his friend) and there was really nothing he could do until he got back in. Most shows are far too kid-friendly to show the wheelchair kid being actually helpless. And the Ecto-1 needed a ramp. That's not the only episode where Garrett is somehow forced out of his wheelchair. They actually have quite a few. Two that come to mind immediately are the gremlin episode (although he holds his own) and the one with the demon that turns metal into rust (where he has to sit out of a minor fight and then uses an old-fashioned wicker chair for the duration of the episode). Eh, well, as the said paraplegic is a Boisterous Bruiser, there's nothing wrong to balance that a bit by some realistic helplessness.
The four main characters of the Bratz cartoons (and doll line). There's the white girl Cloe, the sassy black girl Sasha, the super smart Asian Jade, and vaguely GranolaGirlish Latina Yasmin. The fifth ethnicity is usually covered by whatever one-shot character is hanging out with them in that particular episode/movie.
Codename Kids Next Door: While the worldwide KND is logically diverse, the main characters (all living in the same town) include a white Jewish American, a white Australian, a Japanese-American girl, a black girl whose mother is French and a Brit with a Spanish surname. And a Scottish operative lives in the same town. While it requires a healthy suspension of disbelief to accept the Australian, Scottish, and English kids, the idea of the other three leads being friends and living in the same area isn't far-fetched in the slightest. Many areas, particularly cities, have very diverse populations.
The East Coast spin-off team features Bumblebee (black female), Speedy (white male raised on a Navajo reservation), Mas and Menos (both Hispanic males) and Aqualad (white Atlantean male). Justified in that with the exceptions of Mas and Menos, the Titans East was made up entirely of teen heroes who had met and teamed up with the original Titans in earlier seasons.
Jem, where the Holograms were made up of redhead keyboardist Kimber, the Asian guitarist Aja, the Black drummer/guitarist Shana, and later, the Latino drummer Raya.
The Histeria! Kid Chorus consists of one brunette boy, three blonde boys (one short, one dumb, and one from California with a permanent sunburn), a blonde girl, an African-American girl, a teenaged red-haired girl, an Asian girl, a German boy without an accent, and a Native American girl. Oh, and an Asian boy and two more kids with tan skin, but they're only in crowd shots or songs.
A villainous example in the Samurai Jack episode "The Princess and the Bounty Hunters". A team of bounty hunters includes a white female leader, a Russian, a Southern American, an Aboriginal Australian and two asian-ish cat aliens.
When it came time to expand the Super Friends from the original Batman-Superman-Wonder Woman-Aquaman cadre to the 11-member Justice League (for Challenge of the Super Friends), they added a token black (Black Vulcan), a token native American (Apache Chief), and a token Asian (Samurai). The following season added a token Hispanic (El Dorado).
Explicitly parodied with the Ultimen in Justice League Unlimited. The team contains Wind Dragon (Asian American), Long Shadow (Native American) and Juice (African American), with Shifter and Downpour (Albino alien teenagers) rounding out the team. Justified in-story because the Ultimen are explicitly formed as a marketable, publicity-friendly alternative to the Justice League. It makes sense that the team would need to be as diverse as possible in order to hit all the key demographics.
Defied with the actual titular team of superheroes. It's very diverse, but the characters themselves aren't tokens. Blue Beetle (Latino), Aqualad, (African-Atlantean), and Artemis (half-Vietnamese) have large roles in the plot, and that's not even counting Guardian, Bumblebee, or Rocket (all black).
In The Replacements, Riley and Todd's circle of friends (and Shelton) includes the Japanese Tasumi, the African-American Abby, the Hispanic Jacobo and the Jewish Shelton.
Handy Manny. School principal-Asian. School's coach-black. Town handyman-Hispanic. Lazy Hispanic-Manny's grandfather. Camp gay-Mr. Lopart. Seriously, could a children's show be any more stereotyping?
One more example of a fantasy token band; Thunder Cats, but especially Thunder Cats 2011. The members belong to clans based on real life cat species, though Panthro is the only one whom most obviously looks and sounds black.
This is expanded upon in the reboot, where it's made much clearer the divide between the various clans as well as the introduction of tailed Thunderians, who are considered lower class. Kit and Kat have tails, as did Panthro once, who is still obviously the black guy of the group. Then there's Tygra, whose race has it's own separate culture and society, and could be seen as being vaguely Asian. Cheetara's comparatively fair coloring would almost make her look Scandinavian, and Pumyra could count as Ambiguously Brown due to her unique appearance and brown hair.
Ironically, it's the bad guys who outdo the Thundercats by having Equal-Opportunity Eviland a Multinational Team. There is Slithe (Lizard), Grune (Cat), and later Kaynar (Dog/Jackal), and Addicus (Primate). Except for Slithe though, they're considered traitors and criminals to their own kind.
The Safety Patrol on Fillmore. The protagonist is a black guy partnered with a white girl, the forensics expert comes from a Japanese family, Da Chief is Mexican-American, the main Mauve Shirt is Italian-American, and the photographer is a loony white guy who does the comic relief, if "Cloud Cuckoolander" can be considered a token role. A similar effect was shown in "A Cold Day At X", with the team of villains featuring a girl in a wheelchair and a very well-spoken, extremely English black guy.
The ill-fated Toon Makers Sailor Moon, which diversified the cast of all-Asians girls into two white girls (one of which is in a wheelchair), a black girl, and a Hispanic girl. Curiously, only one of them was kept Asian, and the leader is one of the white girls.
When reading books about the space program, after three decades of white males, the crew portraits in the early space shuttle era look like this.
After their performance at the 2013 Super Bowl, several news outlets noted the diversity of Beyoncé Knowles' band, The Sugar Mamas. There's guitarist Bibi Mcgill (African American), keyboardist Rie Tsuji (Japanese), saxophonist Kat Rodriguez (Afro-Latina), and trumpeter Crystal Torres (Hispanic).
The US federal government at the beginning of the Barack Obama Administration had: a Black-looking Biracial president with a Black first family and a half-Asian half-sister, Jewish Chief of Staff, Irish-Catholic vice president, blonde Secretary of State, three Asian secretaries, (rumored) lesbian Homeland Security Secretary, black UN Ambassador, and first female Speaker of the House (also an Italian-Catholic grandma, nonetheless representing the gayest city in America). Add in Dick Cheney in a wheelchair and Sarah Palin's family and you've got a full house. Since then, the Chief of Staff has been replaced by an Irish-Catholic and then again by a different Jew, and the Speaker had been relegated to Minority Leader status and replaced as Speaker by a German-Catholic with a really bizarre tan.
Australia's government was very much this in the early 2010s - female atheist Welsh-born Prime Minister, male Anglo-Australian Treasurer, lesbian Malaysia-born Asian-Australian Finance Minister, ethnically Polish female Attorney General, and Arab-Italian-Australian Sports Minister. (Mark Arbib has since resigned as Minister of Sport.) The government also has Australia's first Muslim MP.
Truth in Television if you live in a racially diverse area. Your circle of friends will probably look like this.
Every presidential cabinet since the Clinton administration. Diversity of opinion, however, may be less favored.