This trope is when a minority character is automatically assumed to be from the country of their ethnic origin (or someplace vaguely close to it), even though their accent, dress, and all other mannerisms reflect the country they call home, which makes sense because they were born and raised there. A common example would be an Asian-American being asked where they're from, or asked about an aspect of Asian culture, only for them to respond, "I'm from Pittsburgh
Subtrope of Mistaken Nationality
. Not to be confused with Fake Nationality
, which is when the actor is a different nationality than the character they're portraying. Two inversions would be Fauxreigner
, when a character is not foreign but plays up their ethnic background as a gimmick, and But Not Too Foreign
, when the character really is from a different country, but the story goes out of its way to prove that they're "just like us."
- In Modern Family, Mitch and Cam take Lily to the doctor after she gets injured. The doctor is Asian, and Cam makes several clumsy (if harmless) remarks and gestures, only for her to repeatedly remind him that she's from Denver.
- The Big Bang Theory: While the gang eats at a Chinese restaurant, the owner Mr. Chen asks where Howard is. Sheldon replies that "he's putting his needs above the common good", then turns to the others and adds "Where he comes from that's punishable by death." Mr. Chen responds, "I come from Sacramento."
- In the Father Ted episode "Grant Unto Him Eternal Rest", a group of priests and nuns are gathered at Father Jack's funeral when a nun approaches a black priest and begins gushing about the good work done by the church in Africa, and how is that going? He replies "Sure and I wouldn't know, I'm from Donegal."
- In It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Mac and Charlie were trying to write a movie to get to M. Night Shyamalan. When in the library, they decide they need a new writer, so they turn to the nearest Ambiguously Brown kid and ask him where he's from. When he just lists a US state, they say they mean where his parents are from...and he lists another US state. Eventually they suss it out that he's of Pakistani descent, which is close enough to Indian for them.
- Parks and Recreation: Season 2's "The Stakeout" has Leslie trying to pin down Tom's origins.
Leslie: You're not from here, right?
Tom: No, I'm from South Carolina.
Leslie: Right, but you moved to South Carolina from where?
Tom: From my mother's uterus.
Leslie: But you were conceived in Libya, right?
- Friends had Rachel meeting Ross on his return from a archaeology dig in China, with his new girlfriend, Julie. When Rachel sees them together, she tries to give the bouquet of flowers to Julie:
Ross: Oh, are these for me?
Rachel: Uh, no...these are for you [[gives them to Julie]] (very pronounced English) Welcome to our country!
Julie: (responding in the same way) Thank you! I'm from New York!
- Played with in Martial Law in regards to Grace. She was born in China but raised in the United States before returning to live in China for sometime as a cop and came back to the United States.
- Rey Mysterio has worked in Mexico, but is from Los Angels. That has not stopped him from being the target of Jack Swagger and the xenophobic Real Americans. The same can be said of Eddie Guerrero, who was from El Paso Texas but was targeted by anti-Mexican JBL.
- Margaret Cho addresses this in her comedy routines all the time, such as hatemail telling her to go back to her "home country", or TV personalities asking her to address the camera in her "native language", even though she was born and raised in San Francisco and is only fluent in English.
- Henry Cho (no relation) is of Korean descent, but was born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee and speaks with a southern US accent. Much of his comedy involves the difference between how people expect him to act/speak, and how he really is.
- Lisa Silverman from Persona 2 is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl of wholly Caucasian ancestry. However, she was born and raised in Japan. This doesn't stop her classmates from thinking she must know English or is a transfer student from America.