In the Future, Humans Will Be One Race
A science fiction trope, most common in Literature
wherein it's discussed that different races have essentially vanished, and everyone is pretty much within a limited range of color, usually a medium tan
so to speak. Contrast with Humans Are White
, which is basically the opposite idea, as well as the related Society Marches On
Essentially, as racism fades and travel becomes easier and easier, more and more multiracial children are born until the entire world's population shares one big gene pool. It's also common for people to have a Multiethnic Name
Tends to imply something of a Utopia
—given how much blood has been shed over race, a world where there has been much interracial coupling is likely to have solved at least that problem. Additionally, humans in this scenario tend to have formed The Federation
or there is a lot of globalization (but framed in a positive way), as this type of future naturally implies a lot of interaction between different peoples.
One particular version
that's popular in anime won't have all races merge, but rather a prominent number of half-European, half-Asian people. This may relate to Japan Takes Over the World
. This particular version is also popular with cyberpunk
, especially the part-Japanese version.
Needless to say, this entire trope is the worst fear of ethnic supremacists/nationalists. In another way it's their dream come true. Only one race. When this doesn't happen in the future, often writers will address it via explaining that cultures or nations have settled their own planets
, thus allowing them to maintain common day ethnicity in the far-flung future.
Bonus points if Everyone Is Bi
and/or an Ambiguous Gender
In actuality, this trope is unlikely to come to pass in the way we think of race; while closely-knit populations will often share traits for both genetic and cultural reasons, the color of one's skin is affected by multiple genes (and environment) allowing for a range of shades and complexions. See the Pashtun or Brazillians for the actual result, which is wildly varied looks often within the same family. However, over a long enough time scale the trope can happen. Even without selection note
, neutral genetic drift will cause alleles in the population to tend towards fixation
. If the light
alleles for some genes fixate, and the dark
alleles for others (or the intermediate
alleles for all of them, if such alleles exist) then you would have a population with a consistently heritable intermediate skin tone. Of course, it's also possible that all of either the dark or light alleles will fixate, but an intermediate result is more likely.
Another unfortunate problem with the Utopian ideal this implies is that race does not always mean 'skin colour' or 'face shape' - For instance, in South Africa, people who would be considered 'just black' in Western cultures, can be/have been split into the 'Black' and 'Brown' races, even though there is no physical way of differentiating between these two populations.
A subtrope of All Genes Are Codominant
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- Mobile Suit Gundam had this in droves, especially the Universal Century timeline. The Zabi family was a mixed bag with all of the family members seemingly a different skin tone. Although the Zeons are frequently compared to Nazis, they are as multiethnic as the Earth Federation. The strangeness of Yoshiyuki Tomino character names adds to the ambiguity of character ethnicities.
- Turn A Gundam, set even further into the future has a good deal of tanned and generally mixed-race people inhabiting North America alongside whites and blacks. Justified as being the result of generations of interbreeding following the Moonlight Butterfly apocalypse.
- The world of Attack on Titan seems to be leaning this way, but with much bleaker implications than usual. Instead mixing through many generations, several races are implied or outright stated to have gone extinct. Mikasa in particular is probably the last Asian person on Earth, which nearly made her very valuable to the human traffickers that planned on selling her into slavery in her childhood.
- In The Savage Dragon, Kid Avenger comes from a future where everyone is Ambiguously Brown.
- In Captain America Corps., the reader is introduced to Commander A, AKA Kiyoshi Morales, the Captain America of the future. He's of mixed African American, Japanese, Hispanic and Native American descent, and owes some ancestry to Luke Cage.
- In the 2002 film adaption of The Time Machine (2002), the Eloi (who are human, rather than being small low-intelligence androgynous creatures as with in the novel) are all played by mixed-race actors, with a kind of medium-brown skin tone. Contrast with the leader of the Morlocks, who is bleach white.
- Hinted at in The Matrix films; while the humans in the Matrix itself are shown to be more or less split along the traditional ethnic lines, the humans in Zion are frequently of mixed race. Makes sense; people in the Matrix would have a much larger pool of same-race partners than the few freed humans in Zion would.
- Alluded to in Planet of the Apes. The apes stuff and display Dodge because they'd never seen a human with dark skin like him.
- In Bulworth, when Senator Bulworth is on TV in brutal-honesty mode, he suggests that the U.S.A. should engage in "a voluntary, free-spirited, open-ended program of procreative racial deconstruction". Seeing the blank look on the interviewer's face, he re-phrases it more bluntly: "Everybody just gotta keep fuckin' everybody 'til they're all the same color".
- Blind Uncle Rob in The Learning Tree wasn't born blind, but was blinded in an explosion. After his nephew Newt asks him if he remembers colors, Uncle Rob says yes, and talks about the colors he can see dancing in his head. Then he grows philosophical and wonders if people will get along better in the future, when their colors mix together.
- The Clone Republic. Most people are of mixed ethnicity, though most of the main characters don't follow this trope. For example, Freeman is described as "coffee without a hint of cream." Also, Japan's descendants have separated from the main empire, and they are said to be unique in their isolationism. The clones are also designed to be white.
- In The Polity series, the protagonist, super-spy Ian Cormac, is described as having the golden-brown skin tone which dominates in the Polity. The Polity isn't quite a Utopia though, more like The Federation as a benevolent dictatorship. Even then the other characters in the series come in a rather wide variety of colors.
- Ursula K. Le Guin:
- Possibly intended with dark-skinned ambassador Genly Ai in The Left Hand of Darkness. Possibly, in that while Le Guin later placed the novel within a universe where humanoid aliens colonized a number of planets including Earth, it fits the general idea of "future with The Federation and many dark-skinned people".
- Also subverted by the author in The Lathe of Heaven where an attempt to create this results in a drastic assimilation event after which everyone has grayish skin.
- Implied to be the case in The Dispossessed by a Terran ambassador.
- In one time travel story by Philip K Dick, the future was populated entirely by brown people. Part of this is due to the fact that they reproduce through a soft form of cloning, part of it is due to inferior members of families being pressured to kill themselves, and part of this is due to race wars.
- In Ira Levin's This Perfect Day, the "Family" is genetically engineered for perfection—which in this world is an almost stereotypically Asian appearence.
- The 70s B-Grade sci-fi series, Space Ways, which is set in the far future, has almost all humans with tan to dark skin and brown eyes where natural features like red hair or blonde and blue eyes only exist as rare genetic throwbacks.
- In The Forever War, the hero leaves Earth to fight in an interstellar war using a starship drive that causes time dilation. When he returns to Earth it's thousands of years after he left, and everyone on Earth is a nice even tan, with dark hair and eyes. Oh, and they're all gay.
- Later taken to its logical extreme, with the entire human race becoming all clones that look completely identical, who also are part of a hive mind.
- Although partly averted as well - the clone hive mind recognises the potential problems with the lack of variation, so it protects at least one colony of "original" humans just in case. This is where people like the protagonist, who missed the gradual evolution to a hive mind, end up living.
- The Foundation Series is like this. In The Currents of Space, it's mentioned that people from the two main planets look slightly different, though not different enough to be able to tell for certain which a person is from. Everywhere else is pretty much homogeneous.
- Averted in the case of Trantor, the galactic capital, for example the citizens of the Dahl district all seem to be vaguely Indian (possibly as a pun of Dalit, the untouchables of Indian society who do all the unpleasant jobs), and people from the Imperial district are mostly blond. Humans in general can still be distinguished as Northerners, Easterners, Southerners (i.e. Caucasians, Asians, Blacks) by physical appearance, but no one at that point knows why physical features are matched with a seemingly arbitrary cardinal direction.
- Possibly played for laughs in Isaac Asimov's The Currents of Space, in which one character notes that, since he has very dark skin, and a group of people he is attempting to aid have fair skin, the two must have been equally discriminated against at one time.
- He's not too far off the mark, either. The Florinians (the light-skinned ones) are described a few times as having ginger hair. As the Acceptable Targets page points out, "Gingers" face a lot of discrimination in some places.
- The difference is simply not emphasized in the earlier books, but according to the later ones, there is plenty of difference - though the different races prefer to live with their own.
- Larry Niven's Known Space continuity has this happen.
- Partly because improvements in cosmetics make it cheap and easy to change your skin color (and features) to more or less whatever you like, so you can appear to be a member of any race you want — or like a member of no known actual race. Louis Wu in Ringworld is sporting a chrome-yellow dye job at the start of the book and is described as looking like a comic-book version of Fu Manchu, but without makeup, he looks like a typical Flatlander: "His features were neither Caucasian nor Mongoloid nor Negroid, though there were traces of all three: a uniform blend which must have required centuries."
- In the Uplift series, humanity was gradually moving toward this.
- The second Mass Effect novel has a human character looking at the quarians and thinking about how not only quarians but also the various other species tend to look homogeneous. She knows that part of that has to be just that she's unused to those other species and can't pick up on the differences, but even so there aren't serious variations in body size or coloration or anything. Then she realizes that, well, these other species have each become one race, and it's happening to humans too; humans who are purely of any one race are extremely rare.
- This is also mentioned in the first novel about Anderson, who has half-a-dozen ethnical groups as his ancestors, including Caucasian, Indian, African, and East Asian.
- In the John Carter of Mars series, John Carter says at least twice that he expects this to happen. Considering when the books were written, Edgar Rice Burroughs must have freaked people out with that one.
- The "Red Martians" are a genetic admixture of the progenitor races. There are still White Martians in some places, along with Black Martians and Yellow Martians, but they're mostly confined to certain specific areographic regions. (There are also Green Martians, but they're probably a different species. Probably. "Species" seems to have been a concept Burroughs wasn't familiar with, given that the human Carter mates with ... and has children by ... the oviparous, albeit with distinctive mammalian characteristics, Dejah Thoris, who is a Red Martian.)
- Race Against Time by Piers Anthony starts out in a 20th-century setting, but later shows the 24th century, where everyone is a muddled brown color and genetic throwbacks with distinct racial features are kept in cultural preserves with a zooish quality to them. (The protagonist is one such throwback, living in preserve modeled on the 20th century; he starts out believing that he really lives in the 20th century, and learns the truth over the course of the novel.)
- Part of the background in the Council Wars series, by John Ringo. The sheer homogenity of humanity by the 40th century led to Change (a medical procedure, similar in use to modern-day plastic surgery. But involving the changing of your genetic code, with nanites) which allows people to turn themselves into mermaids. Or unicorns. Or anything else they can imagine. This eventually leads to the Council Wars proper.
- A variant occurs in the Antares novels. Apparently, most settled planets are homogenous - either they all came from one region on Earth, or they blended after a while. The only planet that is not homogenous is Earth itself. That said, different planets will have different dominant racial types. Altans and Sandarians are white, because their ancestors were mostly European, but other worlds have different ancestries. There is almost certainly one planet that is all black.
- Implied in the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel The Year of Intelligent Tigers, which takes place on a future Earth colony called Hitchemus (which borders on Mary Suetopia, except for the disgruntled tigers) where almost everybody appears to be mixed race. The main One-Shot Character has a European first name, an Iranian surname, implicitly dark skin, and grey eyes. However, there are two characters described as "Black", and pale-skinned people are "exotic" but aren't considered particularly strange.
- Alluded to in an early description of 30th century companion Chris Cwej, from the Doctor Who New Adventures novels, which says that he is, by 20th century standards "the superman" ... and that this was the result of the exact opposite of how certain 20th century politicians thought it could be achieved. On the other hand, he certainly looks white, and his police partner is not only black but comes from a family very proud of their pure African heritage. But it appears that society is on its way to this, more or less.
- Invoked in Arthur C. Clarke's Imperial Earth by an Earthman who remarks wistfully that it'll be kind of monotonous "when" everyone on Earth has bred to "the same shade of beige." He's a touch envious of the main character's darker skin.
- Clarke is something of a fan of this trope, it seems, since in 3001: The Final Odyssey virtually everyone is described as having very mixed features, being some shade of brown, with names often not matching their appearance.
- Variation: In The Turner Diaries, it's implied via footnotes in 2099 everyone on the planet is the same race, that race being white. And yes, it's exactly what it sounds like.
- Invoked to a degree in Nancy Farmer's The Ear, the Eye and the Arm; modern races still exist, but there is a new minority of mixed ancestry known as (naturally) the Browns. One of the titular detectives is this ethnicity.
- In Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, the Loonies ancestors are from all parts of the earth, and everyone is of (very) mixed race.
- Though it's not mentioned in detail, it seems to mostly be the case in Luna City, where the main character lives. Hong Kong Luna, for instance, is noted for its ethnic Chinese community, among others.
- The Dragonriders Of Pern. It's never flat-out said in the series, but supplemental material notes that the humans living on Pern are more or less homogenous. Pernese are all somewhat tan in color, and the men have very little facial hair. Apparently, some extremes exist in eye and hair color. F'Lar is mentioned to have amber-colored eyes, while Lessa's are grey (which is something of a family trait in Ruatha Hold), and Kylara has blonde hair, to name three examples. This wasn't the case before they landed on Pern, though it seems that just about every major racial grouping was part of the Pern Expedition, and though there wasn't any kind of racism, people still tended to marry within their own nationality (Sallah Telgar and Tarvi Andiyar being a notable exception). Presumably that practice ended under the threat of Thread.
- Deliberately used in Across the Universe. Thanks to a combination of genetic engineering and a small gene pool, everyone on the ship Godspeed is Ambiguously Brown and has very similar facial features. In the first book, Eldest explains to elder that everyone was made one race to remove a potential source of discord. This means that when Amy (who is white and has red hair and green eyes) goes to live amongst the population, no one has any idea what to make of her.
- An attempt to invoke this occurs in Harry Harrison's "A Brave Newer World", where natural childbirth is on the downtrend and bottled babies are at the first stages of becoming the norm. The government program apparently figures that since they'll be growing the next generations, they can see about removing troublesome genes while they're at it. Unfortunately, their definitions of 'troublesome' includes many involving skin tone and eye shape. The doctor in charge of the project goes to great lengths to expose this bias towards Nordic and Anglo-Saxon ancestry.
- Averted in Iain M. Banks' Culture novels. Humans (or at least Human Aliens, since they're not actually from Earth), have almost complete control over their bodies to the extent of being able to change gender and indefinitely postpone the development of a foetus they're carrying, and even changing species entirely is possible with some help. Skin colour is little more than a matter of fashion, and changing skin, eye and hair colour are some of the smallest changes people make as a matter of routine - in one book it's mentioned that a recent fashion was to have wings.
- In the Great Ship series, only one character on the Great Ship is described as having distinct racial characteristics - Quee Lee - who is also the only character who was born on Earth before the emergency genes and ceramic brains became available; the rest of humanity spent the next hundred thousand years homogenizing.
- In The Giver, all humans in the Community are bred to more or less the same physical features. Differences such as Fiona's red hair and Jonas's blue eyes are regarded as a fault.
Live Action TV
- It's not quite this trope, but Jessica Alba was chosen to represent a "perfect human" in Dark Angel because James Cameron commented that he was tired of the representation of an ideal human as one with "Aryan" features and that there would likely be evolutionary benefits in someone who was a mixture of ancestries.
- In Star Trek: The Original Series, Khan Noonien Singh has an Indian name and a Mexican accent/appearance, and is the result of an attempt to create genetically superior humans.
- In Firefly, two main characters are white siblings with the Chinese-sounding last name Tam. Since Firefly takes place in a future that is heavily influenced by Chinese culture, it is implied that they are part Chinese.
- Subverted overall, which has led to some criticism: the series takes place in a future where the United States and China both achieved interstellar travel, giving the Alliance a blended society. However, you rarely actually see any Asian people; the protagonists are five whites, two blacks and a Brazilian. They occasionally pepper their language with Chinese phrases, but even then it's mostly just curse words.
- Of course, given the fact they are trying to stay as far from the Alliance as they can get, it's possible that most of the Asian population of the Alliance are located in the more prosperous Core Worlds.
- And the various world they visit seem pretty much a mishmash of lots of human cultures/ethnicities.
- If, by some caprice, China and the United States did come to dominate the world in equal measures and began to exchange cultures, many non-Asian Americans could end up with names like "Tam" without having to genetically mix. Since the Chinese language is pictograph-based and thus not very useful in transliterating foreign names, all people who go to live in China or who assume a Chinese identity usually have to adopt a Chinese name, no matter what they look like. There are tribespeople in western China who have blue eyes (the result of intermarriage between locals and a reputed long-lost Roman legion from late antiquity) who have fully Chinese names.
- Garth Brooks sings about it: "When there's only one race, and that's mankind. Then we shall be free."
- The British pop group Blue Mink’s 1969 song “Melting Pot”.
- Averted in Traveller though cultural groupings are different. Most present cultures seem to have assimilated though some are artificially preserved but they are recombined into new cultures. Adding to that mix are tons of races of Transplanted Humans.
- In the BattleTech games, the major nations are highly multiracial and multicultural. In an Expanded Universe novel, a greeneyed redhead uses the alias "Rabbi Martinez" without arousing suspicion.
- Both averted and played straight in Warhammer 40,000. Many planets in the Imperium of Man have reached racial and cultural homogeneity, but the Imperium as a whole is highly diverse (however, non-Caucasian or even part-Caucasian multiracial people ''very'' rarely show up in art for the setting or photography of models). On top of baseline humans there are evolutionary offshoots like the Ratlings and Ogryn, as well as straight up mutant strains running around in the sewers.
- According to some versions of the Back Story, this actually did happen to humanity for a while during the Dark Age of Technology, but during the Age of Strife various populations became isolated from each other for long enough that natural selection caused them to develop into different ethnic groups again. People who expressed more genes from their black African ancestors survived better on the hot planet of Nocturne, home of the Salamanders chapter, while on ice worlds like Valhalla or Fenris, selective pressures favored people who more closely resembled ancestors who came from colder parts of Earth like Russia or Scandinavia. Meanwhile, high gravity planets and other environments that didn't exist on old Earth gave rise to new peoples like the Squats.
- The protagonist of Beyond Good & Evil, Jade, is infamously racially ambiguous, but she's far from the only one on her futuristic planet. Quite a number of human characters are tan-skinned and dark haired in an undefinable manner (and one bald guy who looks like he might be part black and part Asian). Even her AI companion is a weird Spanish/Italian/French mush, and he's a computer program. And then there's Yoa. Going against the usual nature of this trope, though, humanity hasn't become a species of Ditto Aliens; skin tones and hair colors of all sorts can be found on Hylia. And loads of Petting Zoo People with Canis Latinicus species names. It's just that nobody maps to any contemporary race. It also doesn't help that there's the added filter of cartoon exaggeration and stylization on top of everything else.
- Played mostly straight in Mass Effect in that it is confirmed that humanity — at least in North America — is certainly heading this way, with most human characters you'd define as "white" actually having light brown skin tones, noticeably. This is apparently similar to how years of living as a galactic-scale society has done this to the individual ethnicities of all the other species, and humanity is slowly starting to homogenise as well. May be lampshading how aliens often seem to lack ethnicity in the sort of genre Mass Effect is in.
- In Mass Effect 2, the lack of genetic homogenisation in humans is one of the reasons why the Reapers have targeted humanity as the first (or perhaps only) Reaper to be built out of the current galactic races.
- Though you frequently meet humans of widely varying skin tones (contrast Miranda's pale complexion with Jacob's dark skin, for instance). This shows up even in random extras and NPCs with five lines or so, such as Fist and Dr. Michel.
- Human characters also frequently speak with various accents and the Codex says instantaneous machine translation is available, so human beings have united politically without surrendering their own cultural identity, language, and certainly not without becoming a race of Ditto Aliens. Likewise, the codex states outright that Turians, Asari, and Salarians at least all identify with their colony, world, clan, and religion even while still falling giving their allegiance to their species and the Citadel Council. Apparently they are able to spot visual differences and Turians even paint their faces to show their allegiances. More than once an alien comments that "all humans look the same to me," suggesting they cannot spot our racial differences easily.
- The only racism within a species is the Asari disdain for "purebloods" of their own species. Human racists are "speciests" in the game and only dislike aliens. "Human first" characters are generally shown to be sympathetic but in the wrong, as seen in Navigator Pressly's changing attitude in his journals from ME2 and how rebuking Terra Firma, Ashley Williams, and Pressly for these attitudes is a Paragon act. Human sexism, however, is still present, but every person who displays it is a complete scumbag. Most species heavily stereotype other species, however. Humanity's hat is ambition and how they cannot be stereotyped easily, as pointed out by Moridin, Liara, and others.
- Real Life Comics referenced this trope, as main character Tony claims that this is his race.
- Sunset Grill averts this trope by having a huge and equally diverse cast... and not just aliens diverse either. Humans have messed with genetic engineering and there is at least two races that are/were genetically engineered humans.
- In Orion's Arm it is stated that modern-day races only exist on certain baseline reservations, and most are genetic recreations. Of course, humanity isn't even one species anymore.
- This premise was behind a favourite dire prediction of futurists — not nuclear war or mass starvation, but that there would be no blondes in the future! Imagine mankind deprived of Marilyn Monroes! The Horror!
- The future people, or "Goobacks", from South Park are an example of this trope. The blending is so unrecognizable by present-day standards that they're considered a different race from all the natives. Understandable, since they are all bald (even the women) and their language (described as a mish-mash of many different real-world cultures, much like their genetics) literally sounds like an alien language (some of them learned to speak English, but very poorly).