The Indians said I was white by law
The White Man always called me "Indian Squaw"
— Cher, "Half Breed"
So, you just happen to be the child of that army guy who went native
and married The Chief's Daughter
? Or perhaps the reverse applies and dear mum left home and joined dad on the ancestral family homestead back in rural Smalltownington. This of course is assuming both your parents are alive
and love each other, (Star-Crossed Lovers
have a tendency to have it rough), or you might be the product of accidental affairs. And then you were born. Congratulations, you are now guaranteed to be despised by one or both sides of your family. Maybe it was that time you wore the ritual face paint to Sunday school...
The Moral Guardians
of the local town have branded you the "Half-Breed." ("Half-caste" is a roughly synonymous term.)
Lucky for you, you (hopefully) have the love and support of your immediate family, and if you had a shaman/witch-doctor/priestess in the family genes
, you can most assuredly tell them where to stick their supremacist ideologies by unleashing the can of mystical whup-ass. Conversely, you may need to give the other side of the family the can of whup-ass if the tribe never accepts you as one of them, but let's not dwell.
Life may be difficult. If you bear a closer resemblance to one parent over the other, you might tend to stick out like a sore thumb. Fortunately, genetics is probably on your side. Not only are you likely to possess an exotic attractiveness, you may even have the ability to pass as either race at any given time.
A word of caution: any revelation of your parentage
might bring down the wrath of a mob wielding Torches and Pitchforks
at any given moment. Always have an escape plan ready, even if it requires mass carnage.
If you happen to live in a fantasy or scifi world, you're probably a Half-Human Hybrid
. Here's to hoping you at least have five fully functioning limbs. More specifically, if one of your parents happens to be an elf, then congratulations you are a half-elf
who will be hated and despised by your "superior" elven family. See also Raised by Natives
Compare Maligned Mixed Marriage
. And possibly, That Thing is Not My Child!
. Contrast But Not Too Black
and But Not Too Foreign
, in which people with mixed ancestry are treated better
than ones who have only minority or foreign ancestry.
Please note that in Real Life
the terms half-breed and half-caste are highly offensive.
Fantasy (or soft Science Fiction) works may include hybrids of different species, mostly Half Human Hybrids
, sometimes Nonhuman Humanoid Hybrids.
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Anime and Manga
- In Mahou Sensei Negima!, both Half-Demons Kotaro and Setsuna mention having problems fitting into either the Human or Demon world. Setsuna doubly so as her demon family considers albinism to be taboo.
- Katekyo Hitman Reborn!: Hayato Gokudera is half Italian, half Japanese, which lead to him being rejected by every mafia family except for the one headed by the almost totally Japanese Tsuna Sawada.
- The main character of Kemono no Souja Erin is a child of a woman of the Mist People and a Tohda breeding man. Results of such unions are usually called "Akun Meh Chai" ("Child of Impossibilities"), because their parents should have never meet, yet alone fall in love.
- In the Devil May Cry: The Animated Series, this is blatantly stated by Bradley to Dante. This is highly uncommon because demons tend to enjoy tormenting and killing humans. However, Dante's father was a demon who rebelled against the demon emperor and sided with humans. Afterwards, he ruled the human world and had twin sons, Dante and Vergil, before disappearing.
- In the Area 88 manga, Josie was an orphan of mixed French and Japanese ethnicity. After her parents' deaths, her Japanese grandparents refused to take her in because they disapproved of her parents' marriage.
- InuYasha. When he was a kid he was shunned by humans and hunted by youkai only for being a Half-Human Hybrid. Even now, humans suspect and fear him while youkai mock him.
- He later meets a little girl named Shiori with similar problems to his own. Her mom is a human, her dad and grandpa are bat youkai, and everyone in her hometown hates her and her mother.
- The gang also meet the hulking half horse-demon Jinenji and his elderly human mother. The village initially hates him and accuses him of being the one responsible for the rash of demon attacks plaguing the village. Jinenji wins them over by defeating the demon really responsible for the killings and providing medicinal herbs to the villagers afterwards. The villagers, acting out of a mix of gratitude and guilt, pitch in to help Jinenji and his mother with their crops.
- Megalomania: Canon struggles with this, she's half human, half-demihuman and she is pretty much hated by both groups.
- Tenzen, the Big Bad of Basilisk was the product of a union between members of feuding Ninja clans hims, and his Iga mother was killed by his Koga father, and Tenzen was cut from his mother's womb to be raised as a Koga. Tenzen later on defected to the Iga as part of a scheme to revenge himself on both groups by playing on their hatred for each other.
- Mostrels in Rosario To Vampire are hybrids of different monster races and are generally looked down upon for their mixed pedigree. They in turn despise the pureblooded monsters.
- In The Familiar of Zero, the Elf Council shunned Tiffania and called her "unclean" for having a human father.
- Cheshire (Vietnamese/French), a supervillain in The DCU, basically went insane.
- There was also the character Mongrel, aka Josh Xan, who was half-Vietnamese as well. He died in Infinite Crisis.
- A heroic example is the multi-racial Connor Hawke. His mother is half Korean and half African-American. His father, Ollie Queen, is white. The trouble he had fitting in was what drove him to try and find peace in Buddhism and monkhood.
- Marvel plays with this a bit. Hulkling from Young Avengers is half-Kree, half-Skrull. His Skrull grandfather even ordered his death, though now the Skrull Empire wants him back, as he's the only living member of the Imperial family. And the Kree would rather he join their ranks instead. The kicker? He considers himself more human than either Kree or Skrull due to being raised as one, and doesn't want to join either group.
- The current iteration of Mon-El, the Daxamite hero born as Lar Gand, is the descendant of Bal Gand, a Daxamite explorer and ambassador, and an unnamed Mesoamerican male, before the discovery of America. Bal, fearing the Torches and Pitchforks of doom, made sure to entrust her unnamed son with a spaceship programmed to bring him on Earth at the first sign of xenophobia. While the unnamed Gand was able to subvert the pitchforks and live a fairly happy life, hiding his lineage, his still operative spaceship was later found by his distant nephew Lar, wishing to escape his oppressive homeland and travel in space as his ancestors did, starting the cycle anew.
- Daken, Wolverine's son, is half-Canadian and half-Japanese. His named even means Mongrel. He grew up in Japan right after World War II had just ended. Considering how the culture would be responding to an abandoned child of mixed descent at the time, his Jerkass nature becomes a little more understandable.
- Sam Matonabbe, AKA the superhero Oxbow, was a half-white, half-Native American who faced discrimination from the local Natives and whites. This got into Bullying a Dragon territory, as he was 7 feet tall and had super strength. You'd think hatred wouldn't run deep enough to get you to pick on that guy.
- Lucy Liu (full Chinese) played the half-Chinese American, half-Japanese O-Ren Ishii in Kill Bill. Several of the Yakuza clan leaders had problems with it—but since O-Ren was an assassin since twelve years old, nobody mentions it unless they want to lose their head.
- Spock from the 2009 Star Trek has to deal with racism from Vulcans because of his human mother, including having his human side referred to as a liability by other Vulcans, which leads to a Crowning Moment of Awesome where he tells the Vulcan Science Academy where to shove it in classic Spock manner. He will also promptly beat the crap out of anyone who dares insult his mother or call her a whore, as three Vulcan boys and Kirk found out the hard way (though the latter proved to be a Batman-Gambit to assume command of the ship, albeit in a rather Jerkass fashion).
- Don't forget that the 'original' Spock was one of these too. Star Trek V, as hated as it is, at least shows that reaction to his mixed ancestry started at the tender age of 75 to 90 seconds.
- Arguably Renessmee — Bella and Edward's child in Twilight. The Volturi believe she is a child immortal, which is strictly forbidden by the Volturi, since said children would easily destroy a town with their lack of control over their thirst. And keeping up the Masquerade required the Volturi to kill the rest of the town. When they find that is NOT the case, they still want the child executed — which is this trope.
- Ethan Edwards shows quite a bit of this toward Martin Pawley, who is one-eighth Cherokee, in The Searchers. However, the racist Edwards apparently considers it worse if a white woman sleeps with a Comanche, so eventually writes a will naming Martin his sole heir and cutting out his niece Debbie (abducted by a Comanche war party and now one of Chief Scar's wives). Martin very understandably throws that will in Ethan's face.
- Balto was bullied by the town dogs for being half wolf.
- Dead Man: Nobody the Native American was ostracized for being the child of two tribes, hence how he got his name. He gained a third ethnicity by being taken as a servant for white men, where he became very educated in English culture.
- Tanis of the Dragonlance novels is a half-elf who gets a fair amount of shunning from the humans as well. Many other half-elf characters in the same setting are treated poorly, too.
- Hagrid, a half-giant, introduces us to the Ministry's inclinations towards Fantastic Racism. Professor Umbridge takes this even further, biasing her review against him to make him seem extremely stupid and incapable of teaching a class. She even refers to centaurs as "filthy half-breeds" despite the fact that all of them are born of centaurs, not horses and humans.
- Being being a "half-blood" wizard, i.e. having one parent be a Muggle and the other a wizard, doesn't have quite as much the stigma around it as being purely Muggleborn, but it's still kept quiet within the prejudiced Slytherin house. Notably, both Voldemort and Snape are half-bloods and yet they've expressed disdain for their own kind.
- Most notably in the Deryni works, Morgan and Duncan come in for a great deal of criticism from the Camberian Council for their mixed parentage. They are frequently denigrated as "rogue half-breeds", and despite showing great promise as mages (including manifesting a Healing talent lost for centuries), they are extended official Counciliar protection only after much acrimonious debate in High Deryni. Even their continued heroism and loyalty does not mitigate the stigma for some elder Deryni High Lords and Ladies. From the human side of things, since there is an absolute taint (socially speaking) from magic, their parentage does not make them any less reviled.
- In the Shadows of the Apt series Half Breeds are treated as an inferiour class by all other races (despite many of the different kinden living in peace with strong interracial friendships and couplings). However all the Mixed Ancestry characters we meet are either already being used for their blend of abilities or eventually rise above their racist superiours: Totho is recruited by the Wasp military engineer Dariandrephos (another Half Breed who outshone his peers)who recognises his talent for designing weapons. Also Tisamon's Half Breed daughter is a mix of the two most rivaled races Spider and Mantis. Unsurprisingly she also becomes grudgingly accepted among the Mantis kinden for her talent as a Weaponsmaster.
- Rayona from A Yellow Raft In Blue Water is half Native American and half African American, and finds that she fits in with neither culture.
- Injun Joe. The bad kind. And he's even referred about as such several times.
- In The Stone Dance of the Chameleon, children of Masters and common people are called Muramaga. As the Masters place a tremendous value on blood purity, the Muramaga are technically slightly higher in the hierarchy than common people, but it doesn't really matter all that much.
- In Warrior Cats, cats who are the result of a forbidden relationship between cats from two different Clans are called half-Clan cats. Some characters are more accepting of them, knowing that it's the cat inside and not their blood that determines who they are, but others mistrust them simply because they share the blood of another Clan. A notable example is Jayfeather in the fourth series - everyone trusted him before, but after his lineage is revealed, when he fails to save a drowning cat, he's accused of trying to murder said cat, even with witnesses. He points out that it's only because he's half-Clan that they don't trust him.
- In Jacqueline Carey's The Sundering, Ushahin Dreamspinner is a half-Ellylon Child by Rape who is completely rejected by the Ellylon and eventually beaten nearly to death by humans.
- In the Dragaera series, it is a taboo for members of different Houses (sort of a combined race/ "hat") to have children with each other, and those who are the product of such unions are pariahs,and the only House immediately open to them is the Jhereg, which will extend membership to anyone for a fee. Crossbreed characters have tended to be villains with a Freudian Excuse:
- The villain of the novel Jhereg, Mellar, had Dzur/Dragon ancestry from his mother and Jhereg ancestry from his father, and in revenge for being treated badly by everyone, planned a (nearly successful) Batman-Gambit for decades to humiliate and/or destroy the Dzur, Dragons, and Jhereg.
- Gritta, a character from the prequel series is the half-breed daughter of a disgraced courtier, and grows up in The City Narrows as a sort of Eponine expy, used in her father's schemes, and with some implication of being pimped by him. Paarfi, the "narrator" gives a probably Fair for Its Day authorial comment in relation to Grita about how dislike of half-breeds is defended by stereotypes that they are immoral/criminal, and how this often becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. Over the course of the series, Grita goes from her lowly origin to become a powerful Evil Sorceress.
- Doctor Maya Witherspoon from The Serpent's Shadow gets a lot of flak for being the child of an English officer and a Brahmin priestess from India. Her maternal aunt tries to kill her for it, and did murder her father once her mother died.
- Honsou of the Iron Warriors Warhammer 40,000 books is descended from a mixture of the Iron Warriors' own geneseed and that of their worst enemies, the Imperial Fists. In the original Storm of Iron, he's the only "captain" in the Warsmith's army to not actually hold that rank, and both the full Captains really enjoy giving him crap about his half-breed status. Even after Honsou's own ascension to Warsmith, bringing up his DNA is a surefire way to press his Berserk Button.
- Emma, the heroine of Catherine Cookson's novel "The Whip" was utterly rejected by her mother's side of the family and everyone connected to them, because her father had been a Spaniard. Her maternal grandmother with whom she was sent to live after her parents died forbade her to continue using her father's last name because it was "foreign." Dilly and Luke abused her physically while lampshading her halfbreed ethnicity. Even kind-hearted, non-abusing Barney who went on to marry her affectionately called her "a funny little Spanish onion."
- The "tragic mulatto" was an old trope of period literature, and involved a character of mixed white and black or other ethnic ancestry who was not accepted by his or her community, often with tragic results.
Live Action TV
- Mash had an episode featuring a Chinese-American who ended up being the special patient: the inner conflict of killing other Chinese guys got him to subconsciously want to do himself in for it.
- Another episode involved a half-Korean, half-white baby being left at the camp (presumably the off-spring of an American soldier). They are told that her life would be in danger in a Korean orphanage, because she represents a threat to racial purity. Since her father won't identify himself and callous American officials refuse to allow her to be sent the US, the only option to protect her is to send her to a monastery to be raised by the monks.
- In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Amok Time," we get a verbal version. When Spock pleads with T'Pau to block Kirk from the kal-i-fee, she insults him for being so "human".
- In the miniseries Centennial, Jacques and Marcel Pasquinel are sons of a French trapper father and Arapaho mother. They have a hard time fitting in, and it doesn't turn out well.
- Farscape plays the trope straight with Jothee, D'Argo's half Luxan-half Sebacean son, given the extreme adherence Peacekeepers have to keeping the Sebacean bloodlines pure. The trope is subverted with Scorpius, as he manages to become a very high-ranking Peacekeeper despite the fact that he's A) a half-breed and B) the other half is Scarran, the Peacekeepers' biggest enemies. Played straight with Scorpius' upbringing amongst the Scarrans, though; most of his childhood was spent being forced to cleanse himself of "Sebacean weakness" and prove himself worthy of being considered a Scarran- up until he stabbed his caretaker's eyes out with a coolant rod. He is also later revealed to be faux-spy for the Scarran leader, so he somehow managed to insinuate himself into the ranks of both halves despite their hatred of each other.
- In Power Rangers Mystic Force, the Troblin (half Troll, half Goblin) Phineas is despised by both Trolls and Goblins.
- The half demons in Angel 'Hero' had this. The pureblood Scourge (who really weren't pure if you consider what Buffy the Vampire Slayer established) hated them and humans feared them because they looked so strange. The kids only went out on Halloween.
- Highlander had Charlie Desalvo,half black and half Italian,who told Macleod that both groups bullied him.
- Cher's hit single "Half Breed" is about the tumultuous life of a half-white, half-Cherokee woman rejected by both races.
- "Yaller" by Cab Calloway:
Ain't even bad, I ain't even good,
I don't understand and I ain't understood,
Not a friend sticks to the end when you're yaller.
- Inverted in Mass Effect with the Asari, where being a pureblood is considered offensive as it indicates that neither parent Asari was interested in expanding the Asari genetic memory by mating with another species. It's an indication of extreme selfishness according to Liara. Plus pure breeds tend to have a higher tendency to produce Ardat-Yakshi, their psycho space sex vampires.
- Played with in Dragon Age. When a human and an elf conceive, the child is considered basically human in almost all cases (no Pointy Ears, for a start). Dragon Age II tried to give elves a more distinct look, and introduced a "half-breed" NPC who was taller than the average elf but lither and with sharper features than a human. He feels like a Fish out of Water almost anywhere he goes.
- In The Elder Scrolls, a book called "Notes on Racial Phylogeny" states that children of interracial unions typically resemble the mother more, with some traits from the father still persisting. In Oblivion, the Gray Prince, a champion gladiator is part human, part orcnote . The entire race of Bretons descend from half-breeds between nedes (ancestral race of men) and Aldmer (ancestral race of elves), when the Elves took concubines. The Bretons are considered a race of men, but their elven ancestry manifests as having the highest racial aptitude for magic of all men races. A few aristocratic Breton lineages still retain a slight point to their ears.
- The protagonist of Assassins Creed III is Connor Kenway (born Ratohnhaké:ton), son of a Native American and a British colonist. A core premise of his character is that he's unable to truly fit in with either society, and falls in with the Assassins as they are the only ones who welcome him for what he is. Although he fights alongside the Continental forces in the American Revolutionary War, he is not in it for their freedom, because he knows they aren't in it for his.
- Tales of Symphonia features a lot of discrimination against half-elves.
- Hagspawn in Mask of the Betrayer tend to get a poor welcome from both sides of their heritage; humans shun them for being ugly brutes spawned from monsters, while hags are just evil and general and don't grant exceptions to their offspring (especially offspring with none of their magical talent). Gannayev, your hagspawn, gets the extra bonus of being disliked even by other hagspawn, as he has little in common with them both in appearance and demeanor. Human girls like him though. Much to the ire of their fathers.
- Played straight in Arcanum by half-orcs, who are looked down upon because everyone assumes they only exist because male orcs rape human women, and half-ogres, who have a reputation for being Dumb Muscle (but don't let one hear you say that). Averted by half-elves, who are generally well-liked despite pureblooded elves having a reputation for being haughty snobs.
- In Xenoblade, a few High Entia tend to look down on their half Homs namesakes, especially those who belong to the Biotic Order. Even considering the many that have no qualms with them, there's still a general stigma when it comes to their involvement on royal affairs which forces the party member Melia, the crown princess of the High Entia, into a dangerous trial to prove herself to her ancestors.
- Rexxar of Warcraft III is a Mok'nathal (half orc, half ogre). When he first meets the orcs, they grudgingly let him in with "You've got the look of an ogre, half-breed". By the end of the campaign, he's Thrall's Number Two and general, leading the Horde to victory over the humans.
- In Final Fantasy X, Seymour Guado had to put up with this crap as a child. The Guado had trouble accepting someone with a Guado father and a human mother. His father was too useless to protect his family, so Seymour and his mother were exiled. Then mom sacrificed herself to become an aeon so Seymour would have the power needed to become a savior that everyone would accept. The Guado do eventually accept Seymour as their new leader, and the rest of Spira comes to love him as a maester of Yevon. Too little, too late.
- In the Fire Emblem Tellius games, the Branded, those with both laguz and beorc blood, are subject to discrimination by both races, consummation of such an Interspecies Romance being a "crime against the goddess". It is revealed late in Radiant Dawn that when a child is born to such parents, the laguz parent loses the ability to transform, and becomes something belonging to neither species.
- In Drowtales Drowolath/Drowussu hybrids have it particularly rough in the Crapsack World of the setting, since the two cultures are not supposed to mix. They have a few places they can go and be respected, but one of the major clans that accepted them fell apart and sent many to the streets or to other clans. Chiri'nide also experiences some of this since her father was a Light Elf, until it turns out that Drowussu are descended from Light Elves anyway, so she doesn't really count.
- And let's not forget the Fantastic Racism version prevalent in the world of Kevin & Kell, where most of the 'race' definition is based on diet (thus, Rudy is generally not subject to this despite being mixed species).
- Though Lindesfarne did note in a plotline where lawmakers tried to ban marriages between herbivores and carnivores that it was a slippery slope, and that banning herbivore/carnivore marriages now could lead in the future to banning mixed marriages of any sort-say, a wolf (Rudy) and a fox (Fiona).
- There seems to be widespread prejudice against herbivore-carnivore relationships held by many people in Kevin & Kell. Those who are prejudiced against any mixed breeding are portrayed as a group of small extremists and this is much less accepted.
- In The Gamers Alliance, many people with Mixed Ancestry end up being frowned upon or worse. Suffering from her half-elf heritage at the hands of elven bullies eventually drives Shyralis into villainy, and Refan's half-demon bloodline comes back to haunt him and causes all sorts of trouble.
- Racebending discusses this trope here. They argue that the film industry prefers to use this trope in order to make white-looking characters the victims of Asian racism while ignoring stories about white racism against Asians.
- A television film of Sabrina: The Animated Series had the young witch conceal her half-witch status from her friends in the Witch Academy. When her new friend's half-witch status is discovered, she's ridiculed by the rest of her classmates until she and Sabrina decide to journey to the Witch's realm so they can both become full witches.
- Kaijudo: Ray is half-Japanese/half-white, and regularly has to deal with bullies at school because of it. His Mon Tatsurion (Bob) is Armored Dragon/Beast Kin and is wanted by the former race for siding with the latter.
- Actress Jennifer Beals is biracial and was bullied in her black neighborhood. She also says that she has trouble finding roles because she is either not white enough or not black enough.
- According to some sources, Bruce Lee faced discrimination from his martial arts classmates due to a rumor that he was part white.
- Was apparently often faced by the children born of US servicemen to Vietnamese women after the war. Many were sent to the US to be adopted because of it.
- Real life is quite schizophrenic with this trope. In one place, those of mixed-race descent are of higher status than those who are purely one race, i.e. the Colorist system of the Caribbean, where those who look "whiter" (or have a larger percentage of white ancestry) have higher social standing.