Girl-Show Ghetto

The Princess Bride, now Rated M for Manly to ensure everyone's enjoyment.

"The belief that boys shouldn’t be interested in girl things is the main reason there’s hardly anything decent for girls in animation — or almost any media for that matter. It’s a backwards, sexist, outdated attitude."
Lauren Faust, creator and former executive producer of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic

Mainly, the Double Standard most people have regarding media: that women's entertainment should only be enjoyed by women with no crossover alloweddespite it being okay for women to watch shows primarily marketed towards men — keeping in mind most media is male-focused. Not to mention the stigma that media specifically tailored for women is 100% guaranteed to be of inferior quality, no exceptions.

This line of thinking is very clear in most creators and executives' minds. Men and women could watch shows meant for men/starring a man, only women could like a female-centered, never mind "girly", show. Watching a girl show would be unmanly and be subject to ridicule. Just watch any show and the guy who's the more sensitive and caring member of the cast is usually the Butt Monkey.

Unfortunately, women-targeted entertainment has a reputation of being worse than other shows. Common criticisms are that women's media is overly touchy-feely, simplistic, poorly-written, and shallow. This is mostly due to the aesthetics of the media (and not to mention a lot of it is fashion-based). The men can be the badass heroes and problem solvers who go on quests, but women don't do much except entangling themselves in their relationships and wallowing in a soup of hormonal emotions.

Some Merchandise-Driven shows sport a variation, where the show itself doesn't have this problem as much but it's the merchandising that takes a hit. Showing off a Red Ranger figure in the playground is cool, showing off a Pink Ranger figure is an invitation to get beaten up. Or at least that's what toy companies think; even when the girls aren't dressed up in bright pink they'll just assume no boy will be interested in buying their stuff (and they don't even try getting girls to buy said stuff on the assumption that girls don't and won't buy things like Power Ranger figures).

This attitude isn't as prevalent as it once was, but it's still rather pervasive. It's still taught at some film schools and since Most Writers Are Male, they're going to go for what they think is the greatest audience. Despite Rated M for Manly being deeply entrenched in gaming culture, research has show it's actually the opposite: while boys largely don't care about whether the main character of the game is male or female, girls do and would prefer to play as a fellow female; the logical choice in terms of reaching the greatest number of players, then, would be a game about an Action Girl, but such things are the exception rather than the rule. The stigma is still entrenched not only in entertainment, but in Real Life as well.

This may also be in play when women writers are encouraged to adopt a Moustache de Plume, which may be seen as increasing their marketability in a male-oriented genre.

Compare Real Women Don't Wear Dresses, What Do You Mean, It's Not for Little Girls?, The Bechdel Test, Double Standard, The Smurfette Principle, White Male Lead, Race Lift, Animation Age Ghetto, Minority Show Ghetto, Lifetime Movie of the Week, Daytime Drama Queen.

See also Real Men Wear Pink.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Card Captor Sakura is a quintessential girls show, but when it was released for Kids' WB! the dub saw heavy edits to turn one of the male characters into a main protagonist along with Sakura, which included having half the episodes (mainly the ones without him) cut and promoting the show as "Card Captors," removing her name altogether to make it seem more unisex. Broadcasts outside the US aired the remaining episodes (save for two in Canada and the U.K.), thus clearly establishing Sakura as the protagonist.
  • According to DiC's pitch reel for Sailor Moon, attempts to sell the show in America included informing networks that the dub was distributed by the studio that made Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?, a show that earned fans of both genders despite its female leads, and also assuring the networks that, "boys will love the non-stop action!" Whether or not Sailor Moon has stayed in the ghetto after being Vindicated by History is unanswered. The series has its problems (and the North American dub didn't help), but its longevity and influence have taken it out of Acceptable Target territory.
  • Pretty Cure is a notable exception of this, due to not only little girls liking the toys made from it, but the fact that is actually has non-stop action (like what Sailor Moon was initially pitched as) to attract a real male audience. It worked, as it's continuously amongst the top 10 highest rated TV shows in Japan.
  • This was also an issue in Fox TV's ill-fated showing of The Vision of Escaflowne. The first episode focused on Hitomi and her crushing on a schoolmate with all of the action-y stuff (featuring the male main character) at the end. So Fox (wanting the show to appeal to a young male demographic,) just cut out the girly stuff and began the series with the action stuff, forcing them to chop up and rearrange huge sections of the show to fit their viewing format.

    Comic Books 
  • Wonder Woman has had this problem. She's supposed to be one of DC's Big Three superheroes next to Batman and Superman, but she hasn't had a live-action film yet though one has been announced for the upcoming DC Cinematic Universe. She hasn't had an animated series yet. (Batman has had plenty in recent years, and Superman got his own show, too). And the last time she's been out of the comics solo (besides an animated film) is the 70s live action series. The closest she's gotten to another franchise was a failed pilot in 2011 that was rather poorly received outside the industry (though no reason has officially been given for why they dropped it). There are some complications with Wonder Woman's creator's estate and DC Comics that have caused legal headaches when using Wonder Woman or any of her "sister" creations (like Troia and Cassie Sandmark), but even within the comics, she's never been on the same level of sales as Batman and Superman and suffers from slightly less Pop-Cultural Osmosis compared to the others (most people would instantly recognize the name "Wonder Woman" easily enough, but whereas you could casually mention other people and places from either Superman or Batman and still get a reaction, such as Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Gotham City, or The Joker. Mentioning people from Wondy's comics such as Steve Trevor, Etta Candy, Themyscira, or Veronica Cale would likely only result in blank stares.) The sad irony here is that Wonder Woman was created for girls, but for the specific purpose of having a female action hero who was equal to her male counterparts. But, apparently, being a literal Amazon still doesn't make you as "manly" as the most Badass Normal male hero.
  • Black Widow made herself known to moviegoers by becoming the first female member of The Avengers, but has yet to star in her own picture. As of 2015, her only film appearances aside from The Avengers and its sequel, Age of Ultron, consist of playing supporting roles in Iron Man 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, both of which have male leads. A Captain Marvel movie has been announced for Phase Three, though.
  • A prime example of this would be the critically acclaimed and fairly successful pre-New 52 version of Batgirl, written by Bryan Q Miller, who at the time was new to the scene and as such didn't have a following that would help most books start off. The series is still recommended by comic book stores due to being fun and awesome, but its been reported that more than not, the book gets turned down because its 'a girl book'.

    Fan Fiction 
  • Some Fan Fiction writers hypothesize that Most Fanfic Writers Are Girls is the reason why 'fanfiction' is considered to be so viscerally disgusting by so many people. It's worth observing that on this wiki, most of the fanfiction included in tropes lists is either adventure-based stuff often written by boys (Shinji and Warhammer 40k), or relationship-based stuff that's legendarily bad (My Immortal).
  • This opinion has even been documented in academic analysis of Fan Fic by ethnographer Camille Bacon-Smith and MIT's Henry Jenkins. Jenkins goes as far to postulate in Textual Poachers that Fan Fic in general is a reaction on the part of a female audience trying to find their own pleasures in predominantly-male media.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Princess and the Frog did okay at the box office for Disney, but not nearly as well as its reviews and hype suggested that it would. Disney determined that this trope was the reason and was rumored to completely shut down adapting fairy tales into movies. For the marketing of their "Rapunzel" adaptation the following year, they completely downplayed the fairy tale-ness of the movie, changed the title to the somewhat more comedic-sounding Tangled, put the male hero character front and center, and marketed it like a Dreamworks comedy film. The advertising brought a whole lot of backlash but paid off — Tangled went on to become Walt Disney Animation Studios' first movie since The Lion King to break the $200 million mark domestically.
  • At least one Beauty and the Beast ad completely downplayed Belle's role and the romance (this one). However, that's only one of the six trailers included on the DVD and Blu-Ray, and the actual theatrical trailer made no bones about the movie being about a woman and a romance.
  • Lilo & Stitch managed to avoid the ghetto for the most part, despite its female main characters, and was the most profitable Disney film of this period. However, this may be due to the marketing focusing exclusively on Stitch, a presumably-male alien.
  • The Tinker Bell movies are often criticized as Disney's answer to Barbie, though advertising, the toys, and the movie covers can understandably lead people to this conclusion. In fact they were originally set to be a lot more girly than they are before John Lasseter stepped in.
  • The original story treatment of Chicken Little had a female protagonist, but Michael Eisner suggested a movie about a male Chicken Little would appeal to more people. The final film became a black sheep of the Disney Animated Canon, though it seems hard to tell whether or not the original plan would have fared better.
  • Some DVD sets of The Secret Of NIMH that include its direct-to-video sequel, Timmy to the Rescue, have a cover that does not feature Mrs. Brisby, the main character of the older and more beloved of the two movies. Instead, it has her son, Timothy, the central character of the sequel. Not to mention that it's The Film of the Book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Mrs. Frisby was dropped from the title of the film for the same reasons.
  • Brave was an attempt to break out of the ghetto that didn't quite take in hindsight, although its notoriously Troubled Production may have had something to do with that as well. While early fears that the first Pixar film with a female lead would be a Box Office Bomb despite the company's stunning financial track record proved unfounded, it is one of the most weakly-regarded of their films critically (more or less confirming the company was in a Dork Age after Cars 2), and its Best Animated Feature Oscar win over the more popular Wreck-It Ralph was controversial and even accused of being political correctness on the Academy voters' part. And Merida becoming a Disney Princess meant that not only is virtually all of the merchandising aimed only at girls, but misrepresents the character by making her appear more girly and sparkly. The advertising for the film focused nearly as much on Merida's three brothers (comic relief characters with very little screen time) as herself.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • When The Princess Bride received a new 2-Disc DVD, fans could choose between two gender-specific covers: the pink "Buttercup Edition" with a cutesy synopsis on the back, or the aquamarine "Dread Pirate Edition" (seen above) with an action-packed synopsis. Later, the Blu-Ray came with a compromised cover: The bottom half featured Buttercup with Wesley, while the top had Buttercup with the Dread Pirate Roberts.
  • Warner Bros. producer Jeff Robinov declared in 2007 that "we are no longer doing movies with women in the lead." This was after the poor box office reception of The Brave One (starring Jodie Foster) and The Invasion (starring Nicole Kidman). He even reportedly expressed that a male has to be the lead of every script in order to get broader audiences.
  • The combined under-performances off Catwoman and Elektra pretty much killed off female superhero movies, even as superhero movies became a huge, reliable box office draw a few years later. It took a massive push-back from fans (who frequently pointed out that those movies flopped not because the leads were female but because... well, they weren't all that good,) to get the studios to finally throw audiences a bone and announce Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel movies for their respective franchises. Interestingly, the revolt was from both women and men, who simply want good stories adapted to film, regardless of whether the lead is a white man.
  • The first Twilight movie nearly experienced this. The idea that female moviegoers alone could turn a film into a blockbuster hit was considered so unthinkable that, when Paramount was adapting the movie, they tried to make it far more action-heavy (basically, a high school version of Underworld or Blade) in order to attract the male audience that they thought was necessary. This page goes into detail on the changes that would've been made. These plans were vetoed by Stephenie Meyer, leading to Summit's far more faithful adaptation.
  • The ghetto, along with the huge popularity of actor Johnny Depp, is probably why the 2010 Alice in Wonderland 1) turned out to be an Actionized Sequel of sorts to the nonsense stories of its source material, and 2) focused its marketing campaign on Depp's Mad Hatter, although Alice is clearly the protagonist throughout the film.
  • Oz: The Great and Powerful is a prequel to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that focuses on a male character in a universe primarily defined by female protagonists and power-wielders. And the guy, unlike the gals, can't even wield magic!
  • John Carter was originally titled A Princess of Mars, the title of the first John Carter story. But that was seen as too girly.
  • Whiteout lost its second female lead because executives feared men would not go see a movie with two female leads. Carrie herself was turned into a much less dynamic character in order to give her male co-stars adequate supporting actions. This is ironic given the Les Yay subtext in the graphic novel and the Girl-on-Girl Is Hot trope, but perhaps they were worried about losing potential female audience members with too much Les Yay and no handsome male lead.
  • This was proposed with the sequel to Aliens, with Hicks being the hero because it was assumed he'd attract both male and female viewers (also because executives weren't sure Sigourney Weaver would be available for another movie). Fortunately Ripley is so identified with the Alien series that any movie with them in is expected to have an Action Girl as a main character, even if it's not Ripley.
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe is getting hit with this, merchandise-wise. The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy have two prominent female characters (Black Widow and Gamora respectively), they are barely featured in the movie's merchandise. It took four years since Iron Man 2 for Black Widow to get an solo action figure. She's missing in a lot of the group shots for The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron merch and barely present aside from a few toys - a Quinjet toy based on her action scene in Seoul even swapped out her action figure for Captain America's. Gamora is absent in the GotG merch to the point where fans had to start a Twitter hashtag (#wheresgamora) to get Marvel to pay attention.
  • The Intern was panned by a lot of critics. One journalist noted that the majority of negative reviews came from male critics who disliked that the lead was female and worked in fashion. The director Nancy Meyers has frequently suffered this problem, with many of her films being dismissed with the "Chick Flick" label.

  • Historical Fiction author Nancy Rue said at a workshop that the reason all of her protagonists are male is that girls will read "boy books" but boys won't read "girl books".
  • The same thing was mentioned by John Christopher regarding The Tripods.
  • And so did Diana Wynne Jones but she also said things changed during her career, and started writing books with female protagonists.
  • J. K. Rowling was told to use initials by her publisher, who worried about this trope. In reality, Joane Rowling doesn't have a middle initial or name (the K is for "Kathleen", after her grandmother), and now her gender is common knowledge.
  • The same goes for S.E. Hinton. In one interview, she said that she went by her initials because she thought no one would even want to publish The Outsiders if they knew it had been written by a woman.
  • And Animorphs author K. A. Applegate.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A lot of women watch Spike TV. In fact, one of the creators of Spike TV was FIRED because too many women were watching it. However, their view has softened as they're now actually courting women to watch Spike TV as the channel is shifting from the frat boy demographic.
  • Lifetime and the Lifetime Movie Network are "television for women" that often convince many female and male viewers that female-directed media is lesser.
  • A lot of Disney Channel's programming is aimed at girls, so Disney created a sister network (or should we say, brother network), Disney XD, because they couldn't get boys to watch the main Disney Channel's programming. Ironically, in 2009 it was discovered that more girls were watching Disney XD than boys.
  • Strangely enough when Fox owned Fox Family, they tried the Disney XD strategy first with two different digital cable channels, the "Boyz Channel" and "Girlz Channel' in 2000. They were gone within a year due to pressure from outside groups that segregating networks based on sex was a bad idea, and cable providers didn't want to alienate anybody.
  • Towards the fifth season of Charmed, the producers, in the hopes of drawing in more male viewers, started dressing the female leads in more revealing clothes and coming up with various episodes where the sisters would be transformed into magical creatures that would require a skimpy outfit. Alyssa Milano got the worst of it, becoming a mermaid, a genie, an Egyptian belly dancer, and dressing up as Lady Godiva. Rose McGowan was also turned into a wood nymph, and collectively the sisters became Greek goddesses and Valkyries. Hell, one episode had a witch stealing Phoebe's body and changing into a different skimpy outfit twice just because she wanted to show off. Before the eighth and final season, the actresses went to the producers and protested against the outfits. The sisters' clothing in that season is noticeably more modest, and it's new character Billie who becomes Ms. Fanservice.
  • A combination inversion and example happened with Power Rangers. Originally, the creators tried to get girls to be interested in the show, by adapting some male characters from the Japanese original as females and selling fashion dolls of the female Rangers. Eventually though, it became clear that the show had far more appeal for boys, and the straight example came into play for the toys - since boys were thought to not be interested in playing with toys of the female heroes, said females only get a few basic figures in the toy line while the males get all kinds of special vehicles and power ups. This got to the point where, during the 2010 Re Cut of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, a vehicle clearly designed for the (female) Yellow Ranger was packed in with a figure of the (male) Green Ranger when the usual practice is to have a vehicle and its rider match.
  • This has an interesting effect with shows in syndication. A lot of shows that were very gender-neutral during their original run can be put into reruns on networks that are considered exclusive to women (Network Decay aside, networks like Lifetime, Oxygen, and We have a long reputation of being solely for women.) A lot of shows that were gender neutral and incredibly popular with men and women, like Will and Grace, Frasier, and Roseanne, now have to overcome a stigma that they're shows for women.
  • Stargate Atlantis is a weird example in that it was mostly marketed to young men, but it still attracted a significant Periphery Demographic of women. SyFy has a difficult time accepting that its scripted shows have a tendency to attract viewers in addition to/other than the ones they planned on, and Atlantis ended up getting cancelled to make way for Stargate Universe ... which then got a lot of flak for having significant elements of soap opera IN SPACE!
  • In-universe example:in an episode of Friends Ross makes a comment about going to read a Superman comic and Monica immediately coughs "Wonder Woman" in an attempt to embarrass him.

  • Taylor Swift has been fighting a massive uphill battle to break out of this mold. In many respects, she's succeeded: her music is taken seriously by critics, she sells to a pretty wide audience, and her business savvy has been praised by many. Nonetheless, she still has a pretty sizable Hatedom, largely spurred on by the fact that she writes songs specifically aimed at young women.

     Professional Wrestling 
  • The Ladies Professional Wrestling Association's one PPV, LPWA Super Ladies Showdown on February 23, 1992, was held at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, MN. The sports facility, the Taylor Arena, has a capacity of 7200. The PPV only drew 400. This event, which featured Terri Power (Terri "Tori" Poch) winning the LPWA Title in the main event, was the LPWA's final show, as the company shut down soon after.
  • The Puerto Rican versions of the World Wrestling Council and (later) International Wrestling Association are bizarre examples, as they had collectively had one of the most badass women's divisions in the world. One of WWC's top baby faces hitting La Tigresa with the trademark weapon of WWC's other top baby face only slowed her down for a few seconds before she choke slammed him, initiating a group beating that another woman had to save him from. IWA's first champion Amazona meanwhile had already knocked off the violently insane Moxley Mox for their hardcore title. Neither had any problem portraying it's woman as threats to their top stars and yet, even that unbiased other wiki basically said they had one division, as the two rivals seemed to arbitrarily shuffle most of the female wrestlers between themselves. By the 2010s, women's wrestling was only regularly seen in indy companies like EWO. The World Wrestling League introduced a Goddess title won by La Morena but it and she were not featured when WWL made the transition to Mega TV.
  • On WWE Tough Enough Season 5, Ariane was eliminated after she said her favourite match was Melina vs Alicia Fox. Her fellow contestants up for elimination were Eric, a guy who hadn't shown up in shape and Michelle, a girl who had claimed to have eleven years of experience but not demonstrated any flair at all. Apparently liking a Divas match is a much worse crime. Even other contestants later noted the Unfortunate Implications behind this, especially with consideration that Michelle had admitted to auditioning for four other reality shows around this time too (and ended up quitting the contest two weeks later).
  • After two seasons of WWE's NXT - a show where a series of rookies would compete for a potential contract - the third season was all females. Ratings declined immediately and the show went to with many critics panning it. Likewise WWE gave the whole brand a Girliness Upgrade for the season, featuring challenges such as dance-offs, bull riding, Halloween costume contests and other girly things.

  • My Little Pony was meant to be aimed at both boys and girls but quickly lost its neutrality. For well over 20 years it was strictly seen as only for girls between 5 and 12, and the decent sized mostly female collectors fanbase. G4 broke out of the ghetto, but it's unknown how future gens will fare.
  • LEGO was originally envisioned as a gender neutral toy, based solely around the love of building and creativity - with a lot of its early marketing featuring girls and boys. Around the 1980s, it became increasingly targeted towards boys - emphasising adventure and combat possibilities, as well as releasing packs themed around boy-oriented franchises. One marketing campaign focused on LEGO as a father/son bonding experience, while excluding girls completely. They eventually released a female-oriented spin-off titled 'LEGO Friends' - which was routinely criticised for being a Barbie knock-off. This set featured female LEGO characters with curvier bodies engaging in traditionally feminine activities such as cooking, hairdressing and nursing - complete with pastel colours.

    Video Games 
  • This trope is the reason Panel de Pon was brought over to the West as Dolled-Up Installment Tetris Attack - Nintendo assumed male gamers wouldn't want to play a cutesy game with a primarily female cast of mainly fairies. They seem to have changed their minds on this recently, however, as characters from PDP have appeared in Super Smash Bros. Brawl in sticker form even in the American and European releases. They have not, however, broken out of this trope enough to give the fairy characters any more widespread exposure.
  • When Faria was localized for American gamers, the box art was reworked so that nobody would recognize the hero as female. Even the manual went out of its way to hide this fact, despite still telling in-depth the actual plot of the game. However, not only does this make a nice plot twist out of the reveal of the hero's gender, but a later twist proves she's really a man after all.
  • Activision infamously told a studio pitching a game set in Hong Kong with an Asian female lead to "lose the chick, they don't sell." A.J. Glasser once noted in an editorial for Kotaku that the only role presented for women in Modern Warfare 2 were NPCs who are all immediately gunned down. There were no speaking parts for women in the entire game, despite earlier Call of Duty games actually remembering once in a while that there are in fact women who serve in the military. She also pointed out a culture gap between Japanese games, which tend to frequently have female leads or supporting casts but also greatly objectify them as a trade-off, and Western games, which frequently just leave women out entirely.
  • Averted in Call of Duty: Ghosts where you fight female soldiers during the campaign and can even choose between the genders on multiplayer. This was largely thanks to the fact that many top Call Of Duty pro-gamers are actually female.
  • This story made the rounds in late 2011, in which a young boy was threatened with actual violence by his father for wanting to buy Mirror's Edge. Entirely because, well, it must be a girl's game, it has a woman on the cover!
  • 2K took a lot of flak for not featuring Elizabeth on the cover of Bioshock Infinite, when Ken Levine implied that this trope was the reason why.
  • Naughty Dog was pressured to move Ellie to the background or completely off the cover of The Last of Us due to this trope, but the dev team held firm.
  • This is a proposed reason for why UmJammer Lammy sold poorly when its prequel Parappa The Rapper sold well, despite UmJammer Lammy generally being considered the superior game: it has a female main character, and the cover showed only female characters (despite Parappa also being a playable character after clearing the story as Lammy).
  • The Casio Loopy can be seen as a testament to this trope, as it was completely marketed towards female gamers and never went on to target actual male audiences. It also shows the trope in full-effect as people believe that the console flopped because it was targeted towards girls instead of being marketed towards boys (you know, like any other console).
  • Humongous Entertainment almost made a series of games starring a character named Miss Hap, but Executive Meddling from Infogrames caused the project to get shelved due to their lack of faith in a female protagonist. Especially ridiculous when you remember the fact that the very same company had another series with a female protagonist that was doing just fine.
  • This trope is why the creators of Kameo: Elements Of Power went to great pains to hide the fact that you are essentially a fairy princess defending her kingdom from her sorceress sister, hiding her wings as much as humanly possible (and her actual body when you start delving into gameplay) and muting the colors of her clothes, among other things.
  • Now, of course, everyone knows that Samus Is a Girl, but back in the late '80s the manual for the original Metroid deliberately tricks the reader into thinking she is male, even going so far as to refer to her with "he" and "him"; the reveal of her actual sex was supposed to be a Twist Ending. Apparently, it was assumed no one would buy the game about the badass running around a distant planet in super-powered armor, gunning down aliens right and left, if they knew the protagonist was a woman. However, it's been averted since then, as even with the knowledge of her gender the games generally don't treat her any differently and she's still popular as a power-armored, alien-gunning badass and spawned Japanese sci-fi games with a playable female character (even if in the end the trend only lasted like a month or three).
  • This trope is one of the reasons why Final Fantasy X-2 has such a vocal hatedom. The game not only focuses mainly on two of FFX's three female leads (plus a new girl named "Paine") but also has a decidedly lighter and more bubblegummy tone than the rather dark and somber X, which many perceive as a blatant attempt to draw more women to the Final Fantasy seriesnote .
  • Gun Nac got hit with this hard in its US localization. The opening and ending cutscenes of the Japanese version revealed that the Player Character was a woman (a miko, to be precise). The opening cutscene was abridged and rewritten to imply a generic male protagonist and all images of the female pilot were Dummied Out.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Compared to the show, which was basically He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) with female main characters, the original She-Ra: Princess of Power toyline was far more Barbie-esque. Catra was portrayed as the Big Bad in the toyline while in the show, she was a subordinate to Hordak, who had previously been sold as a Masters of the Universe toy, and was portrayed as the show's Big Bad. This was all supposedly because Mattel didn't think girls would play with a Hordak toy, nor would boys play with a toy of a female She-Ra character.
  • Even though The Powerpuff Girls earned fans both male and female, creator Craig McCracken noticed that by the time the show reached its third season, it had spawned a disconcerting amount of girls-only merchandise. When Cartoon Network asked him to helm a Film Of The Series, he decided to bring Powerpuff Girls back to its action-packed, "whoopass" roots. The Darker and Edgier product received mixed reviews and made less money than any other movie of its year.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender got hit with the merchandising version, with no female action figures even though girls made up a good half of the cast. What made this even more jarring was that male characters who only appeared in a few episodes, like Jet, got action figures, but Katara, an Action Girl and a member of the MAIN CAST (appearing in all episodes except "Zuko Alone") never got one, nor did Toph, (also a main character from the second season onward) despite being more of a tomboy, nor the hero killing villainess Azula, even though her brother Zuko and his less Bad Ass rival Zhao did get figures. The Sequel Series The Legend of Korra, with its female lead, completely lacks any sort of toyline.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Bart's Friend Falls In Love", Milhouse takes his girlfriend to the treehouse. When she asks if Bart has any girl comics for her to read, Bart says he doesn't but his sister has a wide collection of crappy comics.
  • Disney Channel commissioned Phineas and Ferb, despite various worries about it, because they needed a show to attract young boys. Considering Disney's female-targeted fare currently doesn't seem to be doing nearly as well, it's just another example of this trope in action.
  • In-universe, one episode of Family Guy features Lois dragging Peter to a Chick Flick, which he thinks might turn him gay.
  • It took decades for Transformers to get an action figure for Arcee, one of the most prevalent characters in the long-running franchise. Likewise, she was hardly in the Michael Bay movies at all. Ironically, her limited screen time didn't stop a whole bunch of toys being released during the course of both sequels, despite her being in only the second. She even got one for the first movie, which she wasn't in! This seems to have put an end to the stigma of female character figures, at least for Transformers.
  • DC Super Friends: made to advertise a new toyline, and featured the rather bizarre omission of Wonder Woman... and any trace of any female DC comics member. Since it was made to advertise a toy line, it was assumed that no boy would play with (or purchase) a female action figure.
  • In the wake of the cancellations of Young Justice and other shows, Paul Dini was on Kevin Smith's podcast and revealed that Cartoon Network cancelled them since too many girls watched and girls don't buy action figures. During the interview Smith brings up the Fridge Logic of "why don't they figure out something else to sell girls?" Summary here and full podcast here.
  • Holly Hobbie and Friends is a pretty normal Slice of Life show aimed at girls but it's never really escaped the stigma of being exclusively for them.
  • Rainbow Brite is cute and feminine. It comes to a surprise to many men who were adverse to it as kids how dark it can be.

Breaking Out of the Ghetto:

    Anime and Manga 
  • Hayao Miyazaki's frequent use of female protagonists hasn't stopped his movies from earning critical acclaim.
  • The Chis Sweet Home and Chi's New Address manga and anime feature a female kitten as its the main protagonist, but the series appeals to both male and female viewers as opposed to coming off across as a "girls' show". In fact, it was originally a Seinen manga/anime targeted at men ages 18-40.
  • Sailor Moon, even though the show is sometimes thought of as the female answer to Dragon Ball Z, does maintain a fairly large male fan following, including male fans who don't watch it for the short skirts. As a Swedish fan-site puts it: "Saying people only watch Sailor Moon for the short skirts is like saying people watch Pippi Longstocking for the violence."
  • Pretty Cure is set on averting this despite occasionally throwing in girly stuff like characters who like fashion, being balanced out by the action and the solid Character Development. The fact that older guys like it and appreciate the shows' merits certainly helps.
  • Ghost in the Shell is one of the most influential anime on the Western market, and features a female main character kicking ass in a noir future.

    Comic Books 
  • The 2015 Jem and The Holograms reboot became a hit with men and women despite being incredibly female geared. It has a female writer, female artists, lots of pink and 'feminine' colors, only a handful of major male characters, and an emphasis on romance, friendship, and family. Just like the 80s cartoon it's based on it broke out of the ghetto.
  • Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is quite popular with comic book fans and has a female lead. It's a horror take on Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

    Films — Animated 
  • Chicken Run appeals to male and female viewers equally despite its female protagonist, the hen, Ginger. That said, Rocky took up a lot of the advertising — guess who's most prominent on the DVD cover — in part because he was voiced by Mel Gibson, the one "name" actor in the film for North American audiences.
  • Coraline received an exorbitant amount of critical praise. It also managed to make more money than some people probably expected-not only did it star a girl, but it also seemed rather surreal, and came out during the Dump Months. The advertisers didn't even need to make any of the male characters overshadow Coraline to attract people.
  • Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure has become a cult hit for Generation X-ers and Generation Y-ers of both sexes, despite roughly half the protagonist characters being female (with the male lead mostly reduced to a condescending "sidekick" role) and almost all of the antagonist characters being male. And of course, the basic story is more than a little indebted to Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz - two other tales that have always been popular with both female and male audiences despite having a female lead.
  • It seems that the Disney marketing team was nervous about Frozen, judging by the fact that the advertisements seemed to focus almost entirely on the two male Plucky Comic Relief side-kicks, and not the sisters the film was actually about. However the film was hugely successful at the box office, well received by critics, and earned many awards including Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song at the Oscars.
  • After the middling reception of Brave, many were worried Pixar would no longer make a film with female protagonists. These people were proven wrong when Inside Out was released, which became one of Pixar's most successful (both critically and financially) films of all time despite having no less than three female leads (four if you count Riley, whose mind the film takes place inside).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Bridesmaids' aversion of this trope was a major factor in its success. A lot of the reviews praised it for being a female-centric comedy that wasn't a Strictly Formula rom-com, and apparently, a lot of moviegoers of both genders agreed. Female writers at and other sites practically begged readers to buy tickets to convince studio execs to greenlight more female-driven scripts.
  • The Hunger Games received good reviews and hefty box office returns. In what the business calls a "four-quadrant" success (meaning it's popular with teen girls, teen boys, adult men and adult women), some 40% of opening-weekend viewers were guys. Its sequel, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, became the #1 highest-grossing movie of its year, in terms of the North American box office.note 
  • Similarly, while Snow White and the Huntsman didn't get the good reviews, it did rake in the box office for a female-led action film and it demonstrated a larger crossover potential in its audience. Notably, however, much of the advertising campaign downplayed Snow White in favor of the Huntsman to try and attract an audience outside the Twilight crowd. Even so, the one-two punch of these two films have been reported to have Hollywood genuinely considering female-starring action films again.
  • Mean Girls got good reviews and a sizable male fandom. The Fanservice didn't hurt, including the acreage of leg shown in marketing. Nor did casting teenage Lindsay Lohan as the protagonist hurt.
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe narrowly averts the ghetto. The ensemble films still play to the Smurfette Principle, but the women are strong enough characters to stand out on their own. The Thor franchise in particular actually really depends on female audiences. And Marvel has announced a Captain Marvel film with Carol Danvers as the lead character. On the television side, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has three breakout female characters as part of the cast and Agent Carter was the Smurfette Breakout of Captain America: The First Avenger and headlines her own series.

  • Little House on the Prairie. It doesn't hurt that Laura is the most tomboyish of the three Ingalls daughters.
  • The Wizard of Oz not only has a female lead, but also has many female strong characters and remains as one of the most popular and beloved fantasy books ever written, having a very succesful film adaptation which is still well liked by modern viewers, disregard of their gender.
  • The Hunger Games is a young adult series with a female lead that sold well and got very positive reviews.
  • Honor Harrington is a sci-fi military series centering on a female starship commander. Of course, Honor is very tomboyish, particularly in the early books, and learning to embrace her femininity is a major part of her character arc in the first three books. The major story arc of the books would arguably play out the same except for a few key points (particularly the plotlines involving the male-dominated Protectorate of Grayson) if Honor were a male character.
  • The works of Tamora Pierce (The Tortall Universe and Circle of Magic) are both popular young adult fantasy novels with predominantly female main characters (only one of the ten main characters is a boy), and a heavy emphasis on gender issues.
  • While her female characters have never been much of an issue, J.K. Rowling was infamously told by her publisher that she had to use her initials because no one would buy books by a female author. Oh, how wrong they were.
  • Shana Festa, author of the Time Of Death and At Hell's Gates series, runs the The Bookie Monster website. The Bookie Monster has reviewed hundreds of independent horror novels, many by women, which lack typical romantic content. Due to the website's expansive following, she's been credited with helping break women horror authors out of the "paranormal romance ghetto" so to speak.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Clarissa Explains It All was groundbreaking not only in its content, but because it finally disproved the common (at the time) thinking for children's television — that boys would NOT watch a show starring a girl. Nickelodeon proved everyone wrong by making Clarissa — a smart, funny, free-thinking girl, who wasn't very tomboyish — the lead character and one of the most recognizable characters in that time period. Much of Nickelodeon's future programming, from The Secret World of Alex Mack to iCarly, has had similar "girly girls" in the lead roles, and also pushed tons of girls' merchandise in the pink aisles of toy stores — all without sacrificing boy viewers.
  • Melissa Joan Hart's follow-up series, Sabrina the Teenage Witch was even more successful in that regard, having smart and funny female leads, running for 7 years and having almost equal popularity in both male and female demographics.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a successful, well-regarded TV show that had a female lead and, for a time, a majority female cast. Its fanbase includes a good mix of males and females.
  • Austin & Ally averted the ghetto by using an equal cast of two guys and two girls, giving both the male and female lead important roles and singing time, making Ally an Adorkable nerdy girly girl and Austin a cute Power blonde to attract both male and female viewers with eye candy. You can take the viewpoint that the show is slightly shifted towards girls because Ally is just slightly more of the lead character due to Ally's music store being where the majority of the plot takes place and that it was Ally the audience was introduced to first. Not to mention, the show is more a vehicle for Ross Lynch than Laura Marano, thus why the Double Billing is not used in the opening credits.
  • PBS Kids Sprout hasn't suffered for having female hosts for its "Super Sproutlet Show" and "Good Night Show" programming blocks, and the channel's mascot is Chica the (puppet) chicken, who interacts with both male and female emcees in the channel's signature "Sunny Side Up Show" live block. Her own series, The Chica Show, launched in 2012; her dress-up adventures therein have her in roles varying from princess to ringmaster to pirate to Wild West sheriff. (The secondary lead, Kelly, is also female.)
  • That's So Raven always managed to attract a decent male audience, although a lot of its supporting cast was male.
  • Orange Is the New Black is a shining aversion. It's set in a women's prison, and has an almost entirely female cast, but it's currently the most popular original show in Netflix's history; alongside House of Cards (US), it essentially built the streaming service's reputation for exemplary original programming.
  • Punky Brewster was another show whose female lead attracted a healthy audience of children from both genders.
  • Agent Carter was the result of a massive Smurfette Breakout, taking Captain America's WWII Love Interest and giving her her own miniseries. It has so far done well enough to earn a second season.
  • Wonder Woman has a female lead and is a comic book adaptation made at a time when they had a mediocre reputation but is a fondly remembered American 70s show and one of the few pre-1980s adaptations still widely discussed by DC fans.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess has two female leads but managed to eclipse its male counterpart series (Hercules) and is one of the most popular shows with a female protagonist.
  • Ugly Betty is a sitcom with an emphasis on fashion and a woman as the lead but was quite successful.
  • Charlie's Angels is an iconic 1970s show and even received reboot movies decades later.
  • Charmed may have had problems with this (as noted above) but it still managed to last eight seasons and was the longest running television show with female leads - until Desperate Housewives surpassed it. Although some seasons had a Gender-Equal Ensemble, female cast members frequently outnumbered the malesnote  and the show attracted plenty of male fans too.
  • Once Upon a Time's main cast features five women with about three or four males (depending on the season) and is very female-centered - where the two leads are female and seasons will usually feature prominent female villains. The show has an incredibly high amount of fans and has lasted for five seasons.
  • The Worst Witch was a TV show based off the popular series of children's books by Jill Murphy. The cast was almost entirely female - with males only appearing in recurring roles - and the show managed to last three seasons. Notably its spin-off, which featured more males in the main cast, did not do so well.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • TNA Impact Wrestling's women's division typically drew stronger ratings than most other quarter hours on the show, despite most of the women being amongst the lowest paid talent, though TNA eventually allowed the contracts of many members of its female roster to expire. Even after this, TNA was still the only national promotion in the USA since GLOW to run all women shows.
  • Wendi Richter's partnership with Cyndi Lauper helped kickstart the "Rock N Wrestling Connection" and brought wrestling to mainstream success. This helped draw in both male and female viewers, judging from the crowd reaction to the match at the first WrestleMania.
  • In 2003 while critics were slating the WWE product as a whole, the women's division was arguably at its peak and nearly all the women's matches on PPV that year were praised as being the high points of disappointing shows. Both male and female fans have spoken up about how much they enjoyed the feud between Trish Stratus and Victoria which involved various hardcore matches. Also, Lita and Trish Stratus's match in the main event of Raw earned a 3.4 in the ratings department, falling in line with the show's average. Trish Stratus's retirement match at Unforgiven 2006 was also highly received by fans and critics being called match of the night.
  • WWE has attempted to break the 'Diva' mold with some talent signings in the past year or so, signing the former TNA Knockouts Champion Awesome Kong, aka Kharma and the highly regarded Sara Del Rey. However, Kharma debuted, destroyed half the existing female roster outside of wrestling any actual matches, got pregnant, reappeared as a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble but then left the company after it transpired that she had miscarried her child. Additionally, Del Rey has yet to debut with the company, being signed as a trainer.
  • The reality show Total Divas. Despite centering around the female WWE employees, the show has been a hit with high ratings for its debut episode and re-runs. It appears to have plenty of male viewers too, maybe due to also featuring top WWE stars John Cena and Daniel Bryan.
    • In fact, the success of Total Divas has had an incredible effect on the main show. In an act of corporate synergy (and something of an Author's Saving Throw to avoid alienating people who come to Raw through Total Divas,) they decided to fold the story-lines of the show over onto Raw, thereby giving a large numbers of their Divas a level of depth and dimension they didn't have before. Normally, there's usually only one Divas match and storyline per show, if that (usually some type of multi-Diva tag match with little buildup to simply use as many of them as possible.) However, the Divas are now threaded through the show all up and down the card. Alongside the standard Divas Championship between AJ and Paige, there's also the storyline of the Funkadactyls imploding (seemingly pulling Natalya and Alicia Fox into its orbit,) Summer Rae and Layla being hilarious villains to Fandango (especially after the Unfortunate Implications of both of them fighting over him as Women Scorned was ditched and they instead team up to be a permanent Spanner in the Works, ) and the feud between Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella even closed out an episode of RAW. The women's wrestling blog Diva Dirt believes women in WWE have finally hit the promised land.
  • The NXT Women's division has really broken out of it. Due to proper investment by the writers and getting actual time for matches, most of the NXT Divas have been very well received. The likes of Paige, Emma and Bayley have become very popular with fans - male and female. The women's division is consistently praised as one of the highlights of NXT. The live specials eventually went ahead and began treating the women's matches as high profile must-see encounters. And a match between Sasha Banks and Bayley was announced as the main event of one - the first time a women's match had ever main evented a WWE PPV.

    Video Games 
  • After the Trope Naming reveal at the end of the first game, the Metroid series left the ghetto behind and its protagonist Samus Aran has become famous for being a badass bounty hunter for whom her gender is largely a nonissue.
  • The Nancy Drew PC Games run into the same problems of most "girl games," namely a lack of recognition from gaming journalism. However, that hasn't stopped them from being incredibly successful with male and female audiences (being one of the only surviving point-and-click adventures games still around probably helps), winning lots of praise for being just plain good and for getting girls interested in gaming and technology.
  • The Tomb Raider franchise has always been popular with both men and women. The first game is considered one of the seminal third-person action games of the 32-bit era.
  • Ms. Pac-Man is the most successful arcade game ever made, and is universally recognized as an Even Better Sequel to the original Pac-Man (which is a classic in its own right). The fact that it has a female protagonist doesn't seem to bother male gamers; like the original, it's made to appeal to gamers of all ages and genders.
  • You'd be forgiven for thinking that Touhou is a girly variant of old-school 2d shooters which usually feature tanks, airplanes or space ships because instead of these it features little girls and lasers. However the games are improbably popular with both females and males because almost much all characters are some form of Badass.
  • The entire character of Sarah Kerrigan aka "The Queen of Blades" from the Starcraft franchise is kept focused on the character herself and less on her gender being relevant, leading to most of the scenes involving her during her own campaign focusing on her power and inner struggle with becoming a Zerg along with her drive for revenge to kill Arcturus Mengsk. Even her body design was given less attention to female form and more to an athletic build to attribute the fact that she is indeed skilled.
  • Splatoon advertising puts an emphasis on the female inkling, the female inkling was created first, the world seems matriarchal, a majority of fans use the female inkling (even males), and two of the main NPCs (Callie and Marie) are women. There were even thoughts to only use female inklings due to the lack of strong female protagonists in gaming. Despite this the game became a huge Sleeper Hit for Nintendo.
  • While Shepard of Mass Effect can be either male or female, the female Shepard has a much larger and more vocal fanbase, thanks in part to being voiced by the excellent Jennifer Hale as opposed to the bland and wooden male Shepard voice.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Original 
  • The phenomenon of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic breaking out of the ghetto is referenced in the "Pony Time" episode of commodoreHUSTLE. Matt is already a fan, and is trying to convince the rest of the crew (four late-20s men and one late-20s Tom Boy) to give it a shot.
    Matt: Lauren Faust is a straight-up genius of our modern age.
    Graham: OK, I grant you the show looks very cute, but... it is a kids' show. You know that, right?
    James: Yeah, a girly kids' show, for girls and kids and kid girls.
    • Then, when they find out many of their fans are Bronies, they decide to do some research into the show to see what makes it popular. When Kathleen joins, she is not initially impressed, and comes up with "My Little Bear: Mauling is Magic"
    Kathleen: It's way better than My Little Pony. That's for girls.
    Paul: You're a girl.
    Kathleen: Other girls.
    • After watching the whole thing, it turns out that they all like it. However, they refuse to let Matt have the satisfaction of being right, even when he comes in and almost catches them watching it.
    James: We will keep this our dark little secret.
    Matt: What dark little secret?
    Everyone else: *stammering* Nothing, nothing, nothing at all.
    Matt: *incredulous* Whatcha guys watching?
    Everyone else: *stammers frantically, trying to hide the screen* Oh, uh...
    Kathleen: PORN!
    Everyone else: Yeah, porn!
    Kathleen: Dirty, dirty, filthy porn.
    Matt: Again? Jesus Christ, guys! *leaves*
    Everyone else: *breathes sigh of relief*
  • Almost all Barbie media is stuck firmly in the ghetto however Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse is an exception. Despite it's very pink, very feminine look with the only human males being Camp Straight and a majority female cast it gained quite a bit of popularity due to being a witty Affectionate Self-Parody.
  • RWBY focuses on female characters than male ones but one of the most success animated web series and it's created by a late male animator.

    Western Animation 
  • The Powerpuff Girls was able to avoid the Girl Show Ghetto and attract an audience of both genders. The show stars three girls with a bright pastel color palette, but the main reason why it averts the ghetto is, well, they whoop ass.
  • Lisa Simpson. She managed to be both quirky and vaguely nerdy (jazz music, Beat poetry, etc.) and unabashedly "girly" (her love of ponies and "Malibu Stacy" dolls). A very good example of an animated female character whom boys could not only like, but identify with. Notably, the show never found an audience in Japan until Japanese stations hit on the idea of rerunning Lisa-centric episodes far more often and focusing on her in the advertising.
  • She-Ra: Princess of Power is an interesting case. She-Ra was meant to basically be the Distaff Counterpart of He-Man, but despite having a female lead and a brighter color palette the tone wasn't all that different from its predecessor, especially since the series has Hordak (technically a MOTU character) as the lead villain, whereas the toyline has Catra as the Big Bad. So it basically attracted most of the same audience that He-Man did, despite trying to be a girl's show. A girl who wasn't into He-Man probably wouldn't be into She-Ra either, but a boy who liked He-Man would usually like She-Ra too (unless scared off by the fact that it was supposed to be for girls).
  • Jem was also popular with male viewers but aimed at females. This is probably due to a mix of action-packed plotlines, mild fanservice...and initially debuting on the same show as Inhumanoids, ROBOTIX, and Bigfoot and the Muscle Machines.
  • Even though one of the two main protagonists is female, Cow and Chicken avoids the Girl Show Ghetto nicely and attract an audience of both genders. Though Cow's gender is a bit of a different example, since she's voiced by a male.
  • The two breakout characters of Bob's Burgers, Louise and Tina, are both female, yet if anything the show is much more popular with men than women.
  • Daria has a tendency to focus on its female characters more often than the male ones, but quite a few boys and men like it, too.
  • Kim Possible stars a well-renowned Action Girl with an incompetent male sidekick, yet managed to gain a rather large fanbase. This included male viewers.
  • Although Avatar: The Last Airbender had a problem with the merchandising (noted above), the show itself was an aversion, as the cast's gender ratio became weighted in favor of females during the second season without losing its male audience - in fact, most of the girls became fan favorites. This encouraged the creators to go ahead and put a girl as the main character of the Sequel Series, The Legend of Korra, which absolutely nobody in the fanbase has a problem with. The creators admit that when first selling Korra Nick execs didn't want to greenlight it for this very reason. An interview said that when brought before a test audience of boys they "didn't care that Korra was a girl. They just thought she was awesome."
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has a huge male following (who call themselves "Bronies"), most of whom had to be cajoled to watch it first because of this very reason, but eventually became hooked. Not only is it a show about magical ponies, but there are six female main characters and one male character. In fact, the Girl Show Ghetto trope was defied by Lauren Faust, as shown in the page quote, who purposefully had the goal of making it appealing to not just little girls, but older viewers as well, including older males. Judging by the massive male fanbase, it would seem she succeeded.
    • The utter ridiculousness of the ghetto is brilliantly lampshaded here.
  • Pepper Ann had more focus given to the female characters than the male ones (though they had plenty of focus, too), but there are several male fans of the series.
  • Although merchandising for Dora the Explorer is almost completely aimed toward girls, the show is liked by young girls and boys alike, the spin off Go, Diego, Go! was created to sell toys for boys, but both shows are edutainment adventure cartoons where the protagonists' genders are downplayed or even hardly acknowledged. In recent years the series has had a sum of Girliness Upgrade but is still popular with boys.
  • Steven Universe not only has three female main characters with the title character being the only male, but Steven subverts many tropes associates with male heroes, such as having purely healing/defensive powers (also having a shield for a weapon, while his female teammates have purely offensive powers), disliking fights and preferring talking things out, being very emotional, sensitive and prone to cry, as well as showing interest in things that some would consider un-manly like cooking or romances. Still, the show has as many male fans as female ones.

Alternative Title(s):

Girls Show Ghetto