Planet of Copyhats

Sometimes writers will, for reasons of convenience, extrapolate an entire race's "hat" from the behavior of one or two characters.

Typically, this goes as follows:

  • A character in an Ensemble Cast has exotic, quirky traits.
  • That character is the sole example of their culture seen for a significant period (an entire movie, a season of a series, etc.).
  • When we finally see the character's home culture, their distinctive set of exotic, quirky traits turn out to be their planetary hat.

If the original quirky character manages to stand out from the rest of their people at all, it will often be because they've toned down their culture's hat to bring their behavior more in line with the ensemble, possibly citing that their species doth protest too much and thus turning out to be wearing a lampshade for a hat. Conversely, the trope may be partly psychologically justified when a Fish out of Water wears their hat proudly to uphold their cultural identity while living in a different culture.

If the culture is conceived from the start as having some specific distinguishing trait, and then characters are presented as specific examples of that culture, that's a standard Planet of Hats. See also A Kind of One for cases where there's some ambiguity concerning whether the quirky character is just a character who is quirky or a perfectly average specimen of a quirky species. Bonus points if it isn't even established until later on that an individual is part of some broader "race" as opposed to some unique entity.


Examples:

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    Star Wars Expanded Universe 
Star Wars Legends used this aggressively. With only three movies worth of content to start off with, writers had to create entire races based on minor extras that happened to have unique make-up.
  • The only "appearance" of the Bothans in the movies is Mon Mothma's line in Return of the Jedi: "Many Bothans died to bring us this information." From that single, offhand mention, EU writers whipped up an entire species whose entire society is based around spying and espionage.
  • During the scene in the asteroid field in The Empire Strikes Back, Han says "Never Tell Me the Odds", and from this some EU writer extrapolated that all Corellians hate statistics with a passion.
  • Ben Kenobi wears nondescript desert robes in A New Hope; in the prequels, this becomes the Jedi uniform, explained as simple robes fitting the Jedi lifestyle of few material possessions and practicality.
  • Jabba the Hutt was a crime boss, so the Hutts became an entire species of crime bosses.
  • Female Twi'leks are all Beautiful Slave Girls because of Oola from Return of the Jedi, and males are all criminals because of Bib Fortuna, Jabba's majordomo. Also created the dichotomy that while Female Twi'leks tend to be more seductive and beautiful, male ones tend to be rather ugly, especially if they are evil. And because Bib Fortuna fell victim to Luke's mind trick (nothing to be ashamed of, because at this point Luke is quite powerful) has many things classify Twi'leks as being Weak-Willed, due to Obi-wan's earlier line about it working better on the feeble minded.
  • Sullustans becoming a race of navigator copilots after Lando's Millennium Falcon copilot (also Return of the Jedi).
  • Farmers from Tatooine developing a reputation for improbable piloting skills as a result of Luke and Biggs. Gavin Darklighter is used to illustrate this in the X-Wing Series.
  • Boba Fett's armor and style became the inspiration for Mandalorians being a Proud Warrior Race full of Badasses.
  • Plo Koon, being a Jedi Master, was the inspiration to make his entire race scholarly, with a strong belief in justice and naturally gifted with the force. In short: Jedi-like.
  • The bounty hunter Leia disguised herself as? Turns out he was Ubese. And guess what? Turns out the entire race has a thing for bounty hunting, mercenary work, and wearing helmets all the time. They wear the helmets because their planet got nuked into a post-apocalyptic wasteland and they need a poisonous atmosphere to live.
  • A few Quarren were seen in Jabba's palace. Thus, the Expanded Universe features plenty of Quarren mobsters. As they come from the same planet as the Mon Calamari (Admiral Ackbar's people), their people always tend to come off as the more "evil" of the two. Ackbar is a good guy, so his people will tend towards being the good guys in a story. Take Star Wars Legacy: Mon Cals are at the forefront of the resistance against the Sith (and pay a heavy price for it), while we have seen at least two Quarren Sith Lords.
  • One of the bounty hunters in the line-up on Vader's ship is Bossk. His species, the Trandoshans, got a hat as slavers, mercenaries, bounty hunters, and mortal enemies of the Wookiees. (See, cause he's hunting Chewie, get it?)
  • Wookiees are always enslaved, regardless of how much sense it makes, because Chewbacca was once enslaved.
  • Greedo, the Rodian bounty hunter who let Han get the drop on him. Apparently Rodian society is based around hunting, and Rodians tend to be aggressive and reckless.
  • Dantooine is weirdly a literal planet that conforms to its trope. Its only appearance is in episode 4 and it's said that the rebels have an abandoned base there, so in the expanded universe its history is rife with abandoned colonies and buildings.
  • Exclusive to the EU, a notable inversion. Nom Anor was introduced well before any other Yuuzhan Vong in an obscure comic series as a shadowy political manipulator. When the New Jedi Order saga got underway, the rest of the Vong showed up, and Anor turned out to be highly atypical of his species, a scheming Dirty Coward among Knight Templar Proud Warrior Race Guys, tolerated (barely) because he got results. Anor's conflict with Vong society at large would be the impetus for several plot points across the series.

    Anime and Manga 

    Film 
  • In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the T-800 wields a minigun in one scene because it is most effective in achieving a particular goal (namely, scaring off the police). Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and Terminator Salvation, in contrast, show the T-800s using the minigun as their preferred weapon of choice.
  • In Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird, it turns out that Grouches (like Oscar) are a distinct species of monster that have the same preferences for trash and snarkiness, as seen in the pre-credits "Grouch Anthem" and the Don't Drop Inn sequence. This is reinforced in Elmo in Grouchland, where we also learn that all Grouches have a Hidden Heart of Gold as well.
  • In Madagascar 2, the four main characters arrive to Africa and meet their own species. Apparently, all hippos are sassy like Gloria, all giraffes are neurotic and hypochondria-prone like Melman, and all zebras are laid-back and wise-cracking like Marty (as well as look and sound exactly like him). Averted with Alex, who's an odd one out of his species with his flamboyant mannerisms and love of dancing.

    Literature 
  • The character M3 Green, from Star Trek: The Animated Series, was an overly cautious coward. His race features in the Starfleet Corps of Engineers novels, having been named the Nasat, and their hat is indeed "being overly cautious". However, the lead Nasat character, P8 Blue, is a straight-forward case of My Species Doth Protest Too Much, as she loves shaking things up and taking risks.
  • The first book in the Redwall series is primarily about mice fighting rats, but there's a single goofy, bard-like Hare, a single brewmaster Hedgehog, and a single tough, warrior-like Badger. In later books of the series with more varying races, almost all hares are goofy bards, almost all hedgehogs are defined by making alcoholic beverages, and the badgers are a Proud Warrior Race.

    Toys 
  • BIONICLE had Roodaka, a treacherous and cruel female Vortixx, and possible the only toy whose gender you could guess simply by her looks. When we learn of the Vortixx culture, it turns out that every female of her race is as mean, but not only that, as it's also revealed that the whole species looks exactly like her... including the males.

    Live Action Television 
  • Star Trek:
    • Inverted by the Vulcans of the original series. Vulcans were defined as a logical species early on, and that gave the writers a hook to develop Spock's personality. (Watch "The Cage", "Where No Man Has Gone Before", and "The Man Trap"; Spock is a very different character before he dons the Vulcan logic hat.)
    • While not the first Bajoran seen on screen, Ro Laren was the first with any real amount of screen time. In an episode she shows a more religious side (compared to Geordi). Come Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, religion became the Bajorans' hat. A rather mild example, though, but conspicuous because of Star Trek: The Next Generation's atheist tenor. They also acquired the hat that the Bajorans who weren't saintly calm spiritual leaders were generally short-tempered ex-terrorists (it didn't help that the main Bajoran character in DS9 was a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for Ensign Ro when Michelle Forbes wouldn't commit to being a regular character). Ironically, when Ro Laren became a main character in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Relaunch novels they distinguished her from Kira by saying she wasn't religious, and thought the Sufficiently Advanced Aliens in the wormhole were simply that.
    • The Klingons in TNG famously follow this trope— but only to a point. In the Original Series, they were conniving bastards and Soviet standins. Enter Proud Warrior Race Guy Worf, and ever after Klingon culture is all about honor and the warrior tradition. However, there's a degree of subversion to it. In one episode, Riker serves on a Klingon ship as part of an exchange program. He assumes that they'll all be stoic Proud Warrior Race Guys just like Worf, but instead he sees them telling jokes and being casual around each-other. Then in later episodes, it turns out that their warrior code is something they often don't live up to, with a lot of conniving and even craven bastardry still going on. It turns out that Worf, because he was raised apart from Klingon society by human parents, was representing his own very highly idealized, even downright inaccurate, vision of his race with lines like "A Klingon does not laugh."
    • In Star Trek: The Next Generation there is Guinan the Barkeep, who was always eager to listen to people and offer advice. We later learn she is not human, and even later that she is from the El-Aurians, a race whose hat is "listening".
  • On the Lois and Clark show, Clark decided to wait for marriage. A cute gesture? When the New Kryptonians show up, they tell him it's a racial quirk.
  • In Stargate, Ra is an evil alien overlord (and sole member of his race seen on screen). Come Stargate SG-1, Ra's race, the Goa'uld, has a Hat of being evil overlords posing as deities (with some exceptions like the Tok'Ra).
  • Doctor Who:
    • Zig-zagged with the Doctor. The show first introduced the Doctor as an alien time traveller scientist, with strange non-human characteristics, a lack of concern for social norms, and no reason given for his weirdness apart from some vague hints. The first members of his species we see are his granddaughter and the Monk, both of whom are quite like him - his granddaughter is a scientific genius, and the Monk's gimmick is time travel and meddling childishly with the past (in much the same way as the Doctor). However, when the Time Lords are introduced as an actual species starting with "The War Games", they turn out to be very, very different to the Doctor in personality and cultural outlook, with the Doctor fitting in much better amongst humans than with them, although taking on some of his traits like having time travel and science as their Hats and being able to transform into different actors.
    • A weird example in the revival series, after a certain point the regeneration effect for the Doctor and all other Time Lords is modeled consistently after the streaming golden energy effect used by the Ninth Doctor in "The Parting of the Ways", even though that was supposed to show the time vortex radiation leaving his body. The Doctor's regenerations in the classic series had used various effects, with the only other Time Lord seen regenerating (Romana) doing so in a totally different way. Though it did serve a purpose: sometimes you didn't know a character was a Time Lord until you saw the regen effect; there being such a thing as What A Regeneration Looks Like that is unmistakable was a very good thing.
    • "The Dominators" features two Dominators who have dark hair and sideburns. All other Dominators who have appeared in the Expanded Universe have dark hair and sideburns, to the point of being a Rubber Forehead, and travel around in groups of two (despite this situation being explained to be unusual in the original story).
    • We only encounter two Lurmans in the show - Vorg and Shirna, showbusiness Vagabond Buddies in Impossibly Tacky Clothes who are implied to be a bit bohemian and peculiar even by their own species' standards (their lifestyle involves regularly breaking the law, Vorg was in the Army before he ran away to become a carnie, Vorg has worked on Earth and speaks fluent Polari but apparently there was no official interplanetary contact, Shirna moans about how she could be in a dance troupe at home instead of travelling with Vorg). The Expanded Universe has it that all Lurmans wear loud clothing, work in showbusiness and have a bohemian, nomadic carnie lifestyle.
    • The Sontarans were introduced in "The Time Warrior" with a Hat based on an exaggeration of the the historical setting of the story, which was the Medieval period - a Blood Knight race which focused strongly on Blue and Orange Morality and conquest. They quickly derailed into general time-travelling soldiers to use when Daleks wouldn't be appropriate (described by some as "poor man's Daleks"). The revival series attempted to Retool them to use their cloning as their Hat, but then Strax, a Sontaran written as The Ditz, was introduced. Future appearances of the Sontarans in both the show and the spinoff media inherit a lot of Strax's traits, such as outrageous Card-Carrying Villain elements, bumbling mannerisms and inability to understand the concept of gender. (This despite Strax being established as a bit cracked due to Came Back Wrong. Compare him in "A Good Man Goes To War" to everything else.) When last seen as the villains of the episode, they were basically Klingons by another name.

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    Western Animation 
  • In the Ronald McDonald cartoon movies, Grimace travels to the island of his people, the Grimaces.
  • Futurama:
    • Dr. Zoidberg's Yiddish accent became the standard one of his entire race.
    • The Nibblonians take Nibbler's defining characteristic (that he's an Extreme Omnivore who consumes things much larger than him) and make it one of the fundemental concepts of their culture. Let the Feast of a Thousand Hams begin!
  • One episode of Wakfu has Sadlygrove, the "lovable goof" of the series, doing a butt-slapping dance to playfully mock the other team during a sporting event. It's fairly typical conduct for an athlete in the middle of a game, and it lasts for about second and a half. Later on, we meet Sadlygrove's people, the Iops, and they have an entire butt-slapping dance ceremony.
  • In American Dad!, when other aliens of Roger's race appear, they share his campiness and snarky sense of humor, though this was at least alluded to in an earlier episode where Roger explained that his people are naturally bitchy, and will become sick and die if they hold their tongues and be nice for too long.
  • Subverted in the Spongebob Squarepants episode "Plankton's Army": Plankton calls in his entire extend family for aid, expecting each to be an Evil Genius like him. Instead he walks out to an endless mass of Country Cousins.