Non-Specifically Foreign

Fez: That Tomas is shady. But have you noticed he never says what country he's from?
Hyde: (beat) What country are you from?

A character is obviously "not from around here", but where they actually are from is kept a mystery. They don't even name a No Communities Were Harmed pretend country like Qurac or Bulungi.

It's possible that it's All There in the Manual, but you won't get any hints in the show itself. Their name doesn't give any hints, it just Sounds Foreign, and their accent doesn't sound like that of any real country.

They're likely to talk about The Old Country a lot without ever telling you what it is. Can be played for drama to hint at a character having a Mysterious Past, but more common as a way to create the ultimate Funny Foreigner - you can use all the best stereotypes without offending anyone! Of course, if a home country is ever revealed or deduced, all of this becomes Misaimed Stereotyping and will probably continue to happen because of how it's still funny.

Other characters may have their own assumptions, but these will be met by conflicting evidence, disagreement from others and offended denials by the foreigner himself ("Hungarian!? The Hungarians are our mortal enemies!"). The author, if pressed, will probably respond with a Shrug of God.

A popular variant in the UK is the "Eurotrash" character, someone whose origin can be loosely classed as Central/Western Europe but no narrower than that, speaking fluent English with an accent that hopscotches between Swedish, French, German, Italian...

Their reticence to talk about where they come from may be an early hint that they're a Fauxreigner.

Compare Ambiguously Brown, which can overlap with this trope. Contrast But Not Too Foreign. See also Where the Hell Is Springfield?, for when it's the setting of the show that's ambiguously located. The real life version as applied to versatile actors is Plays Great Ethnics.


  • Lampshaded with the GEICO Gecko, a tropical lizard with a Cockney accent — one ad centers on people asking where he's from, and it deliberately cuts off before he answers. To add to the confusion he was originally voiced by Kelsey Grammer in a very twee Northeastern American accent.
  • The UK mascot of the "Euromillions" European lottery, absurdly wealthy jet-setting millionaire "Hector Riva".

Anime and Manga
  • Trowa Barton in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing. Of the members of his Multinational Team, he's the only one without a listed ethnicity. The fandom presumes he's Latino, but even that is pretty broad. Even his real name isn't confirmed (and the most common guess is... decidedly fictional and non-specific).
  • Kaere/Kaede Kimura from Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei went on an exchange program overseas and then back to Japan. To which country is anyone's guess. At first it seemed it was to America, until she started talking about some... unusual customs in whichever country it was.
  • Yotsuba&! has only ever referred to her birthplace as "an island to the left". Nobody has a clue what that means, and her appearance gives no hint.
  • The DWMA in Soul Eater has students and staff from all over the world, but the series' cast is pretty much either explicitly Japanese (Black Star, Tsubaki, Mifune, Azusa, Maka's mother) or potentially anything but Japanese. The Thompson Sister are American and two meister/weapon pairs (one of which is a Death Scythe) are Russian, but you can't really nail anyone else to a region more specific than a continent. Their names, mannerisms, and faces don't really give many hints. Witches especially seem to be ethnically ambiguous in-universe and supplant the culture of their birth nation with that of their Witch Species: one conversation in Soul Eater Not! has people assuming Kim is from everywhere from Korea to Spain.

Fan Fiction

  • Serge in the Beverly Hills Cop franchise. What the heck was that accent supposed to be?
  • Janosz Poha in Ghostbusters II spoke with a non-specific (Eastern European?) foreign accent. When asked where he's "from," he admits only to living in "zee upper-vest side" of Manhattan.
  • Raoul Silva in Skyfall. Played by a Spanish actor who applies English "received pronunciation" vowels over his own accent, using a Portuguese name. His real name, Thiago Rodriguez, doesn't narrow the field any more.
  • Adrian Veidt in the film version of Watchmen, though he successfully hides it in public. This technically applies to the comic version as well, given a vague reference to "the year [his] parents arrived in America", though in that one he has no stated accent and never presents as anything but wholesomely all-American.
  • The Warrior's Way: Yang's country of origin is never clear and seems to be a general mish-mash of Asian cultures.
  • Nazo in Big Daddy. All we ever learn about him is that he's illegal, semi-literate, and is fond of "lamb and tuna fish" (yes, together). He's played by the half-Jewish, half-Filipino Rob Schneider.
  • The villains in The Dark Knight Rises are connected to some vaguely Middle Eastern country, but their ultimate origins are deliberately left a mystery.
  • In The Room, Johnny has some sort of foreign accent and makes a single reference to arriving in the country years back, but never reveals where he's from. The actor, Tommy Wiseau, is using his normal accent, and he refuses to reveal his nation of origin.

  • Goran from Damned. Madison describes him as having thick, dark hair and a Transylvanian accent, but admits that she does not know where he's from. To her Horrible Hollywood parents who adopted him as a publicity stunt, it probably didn't matter.
  • Ax in Animorphs comes off as this in-universe in his human morph. As it contains DNA from four different people (two of them white, one Latino and one African-American), and he introduced himself as being from various countries, culminating in Canada ("I am from Canada. I am Canadese.")
  • The Doctor Who Expanded Universe novel Harvest of Time says the Delgado incarnation of the Master "looked foreign, but his accent was impeccably British", without explaining how someone can just look "foreign". Of course, he's actually really not from around here.

Live-Action Television
  • Fez from That 70's Show is from some ambiguous foreign country (probably from somewhere in South or Central America). His real name isn't even available as a clue to his origins. His nickname is actually a (quasi-)acronym, short for "Foreign Exchange Student."
  • The "Channel 9" broadcasters on The Fast Show were vaguely Mediterranean, but their language was a mixture of pure gibberish and British cultural references. Wherever country they were from, all we know is that the weather is consistently "scorchio".
  • In Game of Thrones, Tyrion asks what kind of accent Shae (played by German actress Sibel Kekilli) has, and she simply replies, "Foreign." Cersei suspects she's from the Free City of Lorath, but Shae doesn't directly confirm or deny this. (The fact that a different character with a German accent claims to be from Lorath does add some credibility to Cersei's deduction, however.)
  • Andy Kaufman's "Foreign Man" was like this originally. Then he became a regular on Taxi and got a name and backstory. He was from "Caspiar," an island in the Caspian Sea. It sunk.
  • Eric Kleig and Kaftan in the Doctor Who story "Tomb of the Cybermen". Non-specific accents, various ambiguous foreign cultural signifiers, a touch of Brownface and general shiftiness.
  • In one episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Dennis decides he needs to meet some Europeans to improve his sex life, because Europeans Are Kinky. He meets a guy named Jan with a vaguely German/Dutch accent who is only ever described, by himself or others, as "European".
  • Ishboo was a recurring foreign exchange student on All That with an abundance of bizarre cultural traditions that he'd insist others join in. Whenever someone asked where he was from, he'd brush off the question. It was sometimes implied that he wasn't a foreigner, and was just messing with everyone.
  • The host characters of Viva Variety were originally supposed to be generically European; however, most viewers perceived Mr. and the former Mrs. Lapin to be French, and eventually it was implied that they were. Johnny Bluejeans' origins were left vague.


Western Animation
  • Dr. Nick Riviera in The Simpsons. He also has a case of What the Hell Is That Accent?. Word of God note  states that his design is based on Gabor Csupo while his accent is a bad imitation of Desi Arnaz. "Vieira" is also a fairly common ethnic Portuguese name, while "Rivera" is common in Spanish.
  • Rolf in Ed, Edd n Eddy. It's implied, though never outright stated, that he's from somewhere in Europe.
  • Family Guy made a Cutaway Gag about two guys who don't really have much of an accent, but speak in a way that you can tell that they're not from the US. They've become occasional Recurring Characters
  • Parodied in the Futurama episode "Raging Bender" with the Foreign Wrestling Heel bit character, whose stage name is simply "The Foreigner".
    The Foreigner: I'm not from here! I have my own customs! Look at my CRAAAAAAZY passport!