Genre Refugee

A Genre Refugee is a Stock Character from some genre who appears in a story that is in no other way part of that genre. The character is probably Wrong Genre Savvy, or may be the cause of wrong genre savviness in others. Since genres often have different tones, the character may be a Knight of Cerebus or the inverse.


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    Anime & Manga 

  • The superhero genre is an eclectic mix of various genres like science-fiction, detective fiction, mythology etc., but there are some characters that stick out. In the Marvel Universe for instance, heroes may encounter:
    • Patsy Walker, the heroine of a girl comedy series from the 1950s and 1960s, who eventually became the superheroine Hellcat;
    • Millie the Model, the heroine of a girl comedy series that last from the 1950s to the 1970s, who never became a superhero like Patsy;
    • Nick Fury, a superspy in the mold of James Bond and The Man From UNCLE, who is also one of the few surviving characters from Marvel's long-defunct war comics;
    • Characters from Marvel's take on classic horror stories like Dracula and the related cast (Blade, Lilith, the Harkers);
    • The Punisher, expy of Mack Bolan, the main character from a series of thrillers, who at the outset was so out of tune with the rest of the Marvel Universe that he appeared primarily as an antagonist to people like Spider-Man before coming into his own during The Dark Age of Comic Books;
    • Shang Chi, Master of Kung Fu, a character created to cash in on the success of the martial arts films of the 1970s who also happens to be related to old Yellow Peril villain Fu Manchu; and
    • Howard, a walking, talking anthropomorphic duck "Trapped in a World He Never Made".

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Quincey P. Morris from Dracula. Nothing like the presence of an American cowboy in a Gothic Horror story set in Britain to make you go "Say again?"

    Live-Action TV 
  • The trio of mad scientist supervillains in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. After they disable the museum guards with an ice ray and steal a precious diamond, our heroes start searching the ancient tomes for a "frost monster that eats diamonds."
  • Gwen Raiden in Angel. A character with electrical powers out of a super hero show, in a Vampire Detective series. She was completely unaware of the existence of magic, vampires, and demons before she met Angel.
  • This is basically the point of the BBC TV film Reichenbach Falls — the central character is a Defective Detective placed into a much less noir-ish setting. A Mind Screw plot with much Leaning on the Fourth Wall ensues in which he gradually escapes from his Wrong Genre Savvy.
  • This is done in The Twilight Zone episode "Execution", which mixed two of the series' most frequently-used genres: in it, an outlaw from a Western-themed Twilight Zone episode is pulled into a Science-Fiction-themed Twilight Zone episode by a scientist with a time machine.
  • A frequent theme in Doctor Who, as a stock premise of stories right from the early days is 'just drop the Doctor into [Genre] and see how he responds'. A handful of examples:
    • The Doctor himself is often this, due to his slipping-between-worlds nature. He tends to fit in quite well in most sorts of stories, but it's not rare (especially in the Classic series) for him to be the only Science In Genre Only element in a hard SF, a Gothic Horror, a Fairy Tale, a Whole Plot Reference or even a Period Drama. "An Unearthly Child", "The Highlanders" and "Rose" are three stories about what happens when you drop a ridiculous fantasy alien into a normal-world setting.
    • "Enemy of the World" features Astrid and Fariah, both of whom are obviously "Bond girls", and Salamander who is a Bond-style Diabolical Mastermind. The Doctor is charmed by Astrid but does not seem to enjoy being in the company of this setting at all - he constantly tries to dodge espionage and only agrees to go undercover when absolutely forced. Young, handsome and resourceful Jamie is a bit more at home.
    • The Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart is a pastiche of the Stiff Upper Lip Officer and a Gentleman Stock Character who appeared in every classic British war movie the children watching would have grown up with.
    • Milo Clancey in "The Space Pirates" is a Gold Rush prospector in a hard sci-fi story. This was done mostly for Twilight of the Old West symbolism.
    • Harry Sullivan, according to his creator Terrance Dicks, was supposed to be a ridiculous, over-the-top Boy's Own adventure hero who had somehow found himself in a Doctor Who story, being narratively upstaged by the Doctor and not quite able to realise why this is happening to him. He doesn't really scan as this after "Robot", due to other writers taking his genre quirks more seriously.
    • Leela is a character from an Edwardian Jungle Opera novel, to go with her Gothic Literature-themed Doctor. She's from a Cargo Cult worshipping Ancient Astronauts (albeit with a twist), uses all of the Noble Savage and Nubile Savage tropes and her name is a play on 'Leila', the stereotypical name of foreign Femme Fatale characters of Two-Fisted Tales of this era. She also takes influence from the Pygmalion Plot, to the point where she was originally conceived as a Victorian Cockney flower girl.
    • "The Talons of Weng-Chiang" is about putting the Doctor and Leela into the roles of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson and pitting them against characters lifted from Fu Manchu stories.
    • Rose Tyler is clearly a character from a 00s Soap Opera who gets sucked into the Doctor's universe. This helped the revival serve as a Gateway Series to TV family science fiction at a time when the genre was said to be Dead - and had something of a meta concept to it, seeing as the popular family viewing of that era was Soap Opera, Game Shows and Reality Shows (which later Ninth Doctor episodes also explore).
    • Donna is the kind of shouty comic grotesque who'd be played in a sketch show by Catherine Tate, although with plenty of Hidden Depths and much better acted than you'd expect.
  • In The IT Crowd, the concept is that Douglas Reynholm is a character from a (apparently, shitty) telenovela who happens to have ended up in a Britcom somehow. Lots of jokes are had at the expense of his overwrought personality, which derives from the standard acting style of telenovela, but turns him into a batshit insane Mood-Swinger amongst the characters doing sitcom-acting.
  • An episode of The Young Ones had a mailman who acted like he was in a Shakespeare play.


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    Western Animation 
  • An episode of Johnny Bravo involving all sorts of Halloween creatures also has a random gnome (of the lawn variety) mingling with them.
  • A newer episode of The Amazing World of Gumball called "The Other" has Gumball and Darwin meet Anais' classmates, who come from a teen movie with a Downer Ending. Unable to comprehend this, Gumball and Darwin go out of their way to force them into a Happy Ending.
    • An earlier episode had them meet the bully antagonists from a typical sports movie.
    • Word of God confirms the original idea for the show would be Elmore acting as an insane asylum for characters from various different cartoons.
  • The recurring Creepy Old Guy from South Park acts like the Mr. Exposition from a macabre story.
    • Many episodes were basically "drag the boys into a (insert movie genre) movie and make the characters from it as cliché as possible".