Positive Discrimination

"See, it's not enough for the new black kid on the team to be just as competent as everyone else on the team, oh no. He has to be Super Negro and beat the snot out of everybody else in the entire gymnastics world."
The Agony Booth's recap of the Mister T episode "Mystery of the Golden Medallion".

When the Token Minority can do no wrong. She (this is most often seen with the lone female character; it's practically guaranteed if she's the lone racial minority as well) will never bumble or make a mistake, even in a show where the majority of the team does. She will be much smarter and have more common sense than average, she has more knowledge and skill than she has any reason to possess given her professional background, she will definitely be of superior moral character, and she can probably kick your ass too.

She may not be the star who actually saves the day (or she often will but will simply not get public credit for it, but since she's so selfless she doesn't really care), but she will never hinder the progress of the team. In fact, this trope is far more blatant if she's in a relatively minor role but is consistently better than the non-minority male lead at damn near everything (and yes, the unspoken premise is often precisely that she should be the leader). There doesn't seem to be much middle ground between this and the Faux Action Girl; people go to extremes. The sad irony? The creators usually want the audience to be proud of or in awe of this character; instead, the character is just so perfect that she's hated by the audience (and sometimes in-universe too) with all the fires of Hell.

In particular, you will virtually never see Native Americans in more recent works, without this trope being present in spades. Specifically, it's usually a hybrid of the Magical Native American and Noble Savage tropes; the individual in question will be depicted as having a much stronger/more active connection to God or spirituality than whites are supposedly capable of, and will therefore automatically be morally superior as well (yes, even if the white characters are all dressed very prudishly and he's just in a crotch-concealing loincloth).

Though this trope is more common with racial minorities, women, and sometimes gays and bisexuals, it is sometimes applied to disabled people as well. This often leads to Disability Superpower, Handicapped Badass, Idiot Savant, Inspirationally Disadvantaged, and other tropes that, done wrong, will imply that disability actually makes a person superior to non-disabled people. Unlike with other minorities, it has not yet become generally recognized that disabled people can be portrayed just about any way non-disabled ones can be. In an effort to compensate for a history of stigmatizing the disabled by using them as Morality Pets, objects of pity, or the subjects of miraculous cures, writers will often completely overshoot the mark, going from "inferiority" to "superiority" — and skipping "equality" altogether.

Sometimes the writers are being deliberately Anvilicious about equality and discrimination. Other times, they're just concerned about looking sexist or racist if the only "X" on the show does something wrong, since "X" isn't on the list of Acceptable Targets, and they overcompensate the other direction. Rarely do they come across the solution of simply having more than one "X", which is, of course, half the problem of the Token Minority in the first place. Of course, this trope, just like all tropes by their nature, has its own inertia, and thus adding more X doesn't always solve the problem. Instead, all of X will still be unfailingly more competent and better than the others, essentially making the Unfortunate Implications of "X is superior in every way to Y" explicit.

Speculative Fiction can create a culture where women/"minorities" are in positions of power and no one thinks it's unusual (invoking Fantastic Racism optional), but sometimes they dip into this trope anyway.

You would think stories with all-minority casts would be exempt from this trope, but not even. You'll notice that characters in such stories tend to have upper-class dream jobs. They won't just be a journalist, but the executive editor of their publication; a lawyer will be a partner at their law firm; a teacher will be a college professor and head of their department; and so on. Not only that, but such characters will be inexplicably young in these positions as well; such an achievement would be worthy of a movie in its own right. Rarely will you see a middle-class office drone or tradesman unless their job is central to the story. Needless to say, Wish Fulfillment may be involved.

The issue of Positive Discrimination can lead to a case of Unpleasable Fanbase. On one hand, lack of Positive Discrimination, as stated above, puts the writer in danger of being called racist, sexist, etc. just because they gave the Token Minority something as heinous as a common flaw. On the other hand, it puts the discriminatee in danger of becoming the Creator's Pet, since he/she will often be seen as a Mary Sue or Marty Stu in the eyes of the audience that is blatantly shilled one too many times and it leads to major Unfortunate Implications that someone from X isn't equal, but superior and can do no wrong. Even worse, in Real Life it tends to set the victim up for a dizzying fall: if they are assumed to be so hypercompetent, then their making even the slightest mistake will be seen as disgrace or, worse, hypocrisy. (To quote Bill Cosby: "If a white man falls off a chair drunk, it's just a drunk. But if a black man does it, then it's the whole damned Negro race.")

Some media may be shrewd enough to place the odd token flaw or Not So Above It All moment, but usually dilute it as much as possible (occasionally to the point of near non-existence), or at least emphasise the fact it is rare. In other cases they may actually indeed be just as flawed as the rest of the cast, just designated to be treated as better. In the long run, however, their shortcomings will usually at the very least be far less detrimental than others'.

If a Lady Land is a utopian paradise, it's probably running on this trope.

Contrast with Closer to Earth. Almost all instances of You Go Girl are this, when women are displayed as superior to their male competitors in sports or other traditionally male domains. The Innocent Bigot may display Positive Discrimination, but in this case it will be Lampshaded as a bad thing. You Are a Credit to Your Race is a related trope. Taking the polar opposite tack leads to Mighty Whitey. A very frequent character trait of the Gamer Chick. Almost always leads to a Right Way/Wrong Way Pair.


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  • Used widely in kid-directed commercials. Picture this scenario: Two kids are having a race in an RC car commercial. As their two cars near the finish line, a third comes out of nowhere and beats them to the punch, doing flashy maneuvers the all the way. Mouths gaping, the two boys exchange awestruck glances and the camera panels to the mystery racer. If you hadn't guessed already, yes, it turns out to be some random girl holding the controller.
  • Also works for minorities. Some white kid will be sitting around, wearing bland clothes, with a bland haircut, and looking horribly bored while holding a product. Then, with a burst of hip-hop, in sweeps the black kid, wearing trendy clothes with plenty of bling, and he's got the far superior version of the product! The white kid looks on with resigned, mournful envy as the black kid dances up a storm. No, really, Gogurt did this exact commercial, and slightly milder variations are quite popular, especially for food products.
  • Watch any commercial - be it for beer, cars, or anything else under the sun - where a man is for some reason in conflict with a female. See how many times the man wins versus how many times the woman wins. In the world of commercials, the best a man can do is somehow tie with the woman, unless he's teaming up with another woman. If at any point the man says "Let's show you how the men do it" or any variation thereof, the chance of him even tying becomes zero.
    • Similarly, the number of commercials in which men are portrayed as fools and buffoons when compared to their smarter, wiser female companions is amazingly large. Inevitably, the commercials end with the women blatantly letting the man know just how much of an idiot he's been/is being. Most companies respond with "those commercials tested well" when complaints are made.
      • Even in commercials where there is no conflict, this can occur. A recent shampoo commercial had a guy using his girlfriend's shampoo and, lo, his hair is much improved.
      • See many of the examples on Men Buy from Mars, Women Buy from Venus.
  • Played ridiculously straight in this commercial for some sort of oven cleaning product. From the woman standing in the background with what can only be described as a scowl on her face, to the tagline "So easy...even a man could do it!". It's actually rather disgusting.
    • Said advert received 663 complaints from men and women (men claiming it portrayed them as idiots, women claiming it supported out-of-date stereotypes regarding women and the kitchen). Amazingly, they were not upheld - which sparked backlash from people saying an opposite advert would be shot down immediately. The Daily Mail had a field day.
    • The natural outcome of a reverse example was when DIY chain B&Q jokingly advertised a product as being so simple even a woman could use it. As soon as any controversy flared it had to rewrite.
  • This Butterfinger commercial. It goes just like any other Butterfinger commercial, man tries to steal Butterfinger, and suffers the consequences from his friend. In literally the last three seconds, some random female appears and tells the men, "You guys are idiots." The line offers nothing to the commercial, and could have easily been omitted.
  • The ads for Flash in the UK seem to be aware of this trope such as one had the mother coming home to find the kitchen in a complete mess and storming all over the house looking for her husband. The husband uses this time to quickly clean the kitchen up and then position himself in the living room so that when the wife comes in to scold him about the mess she looks back to see it clean and is left speechless.
  • Used in this Mario Kart 7 ad. The incredible opponents are Japanese girls.
  • Seen in this AT&T commercial, where four businesswomen (two of whom are minorities) and one white business man are looking for a network provider and seek help from a female AT&T employee. Naturally, the women are the ones asking all of the 'smart questions' and displaying any business sense, while the guy is shown to be completely clueless and only going along with what the women are doing.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Motoko Kusanagi of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, the sole female on her team, is the most skilled member of Section 9, being an expert hacker and skilled in both hand-to-hand combat and firearms. She even outdoes some of the other team members at their own specialties; anyone fighting her will lose because the Major is a Genius Bruiser and turns people's advantages against them.
    • Shirow Masamune loves this trope.
    • Deunan from his previous manga Appleseed is much less perfect and relies heavily on her much more level headed partner/boyfriend Briareos. Yet she is still the only woman of the unit and by far the most badass officer on the force.
  • Kirika and Mirielle from Noir are assassins who regularly use bumbling male thugs for target practice. Most male antagonists in this series fall under the "bumbling thug" descriptor. When they go up against more elegant, dangerous, and skilled opponents, the opponents are almost always female. In an aversion, the only character who manages to successfully manipulate them into serving his goals and get away with it (read: live) is male.
  • In Eyeshield 21, Patrick "Panther" Spencer, the only black character in the series, gets this treatment. By the final arc, where a chapter or play doesn't seem to be able to go by without saying he's greater than everyone else due to "his black genes", it really sticks out.
    • Though early on, Panther's main trait was his being a Determinator (he worked hard to impress his racist coach, misinterpreted the racism as his not being good enough, and worked even harder). While his race did come into it as described, it's not like they had the "he's awesome 'cuz he's black!" attitude the whole time.
  • Played awkwardly straight in Soul Eater. Soul is a pervert, and Maka scolds him for it. Black Star is an arrogant asshole, and Tsubaki is often called the truly strong one in their partnership. Thankfully, the Kid-Liz-Patty trio seem avert this trope, as Patty is just as crazy as Kid is obsessive, and Liz, while the Only Sane Man, is very easily disgusted or frightened, and keeps her mind on fashion and beauty.
  • There are two female Espada in Bleach, past and current. note  Apart from Starrk, they're the only nice ones. They're also stronger with only two Espada stronger and Harribel is the last Espada defeated, taken down personally by Aizen. And the two female Espada seem to be the only ones that actually get to live.
  • Nils Nielsen is the only black Gunpla Fighter in Gundam Build Fighters, and one of the precious few black characters in the entire Gundam franchise in general. He's a 13-year old Child Prodigy with several PhDs, as well as the son of a famous detective and a prominent female martial arts champion. On the other hand, he does mix up his Chinese and Japanese cultures when building his "Sengoku" Astray, something Lampshaded by the show's Japanese cast members.

    Comic Books 
  • A particularly common theme in comics is to have black scientists as well, especially circa the 1970s or 80s, where it would likely have seemed ironic and well intentioned of the writers- Cyborg's parents (and his love interest at STAR Labs), Bumblebee of the Teen Titans, and more. Marvel examples include Thunderball (the only black member of the universally idiotic thugs in The Wrecking Crew was the brilliant nuclear physicist), Vermin, and streetwise more standard-type geniuses like Hobie Brown, among others. There's also Chemistro (Hood's go to science guy) and Deadly Nightshade from M.O.D.O.K.'s 11.
    • Mister Terrific, who is usually portrayed as the smartest member of the JSA and the team's go-to science whiz. He's generally called the third smartest man on Earth.
  • Arguably the reason that Black Panther's African country of Wakanda should be lifting into the air and hovering far above the backwards, petty influence of all those...well, every other ethnicity there is...any day now.
  • When writing New X-Men, the creators were careful to avoid any African-American stereotypes when it came to Prodigy. Taking that idea to its natural conclusion, the character ended up as a genius with the superpower to absorb the knowledge of those around him. Thankfully, he's a well-rounded character, which kept him from becoming a Creator's Pet.
  • There was a time in the 1980s when Marvel Comics' two flagship ensemble teams, the X-Men and The Avengers, both had black female leaders. However, there's a reason why Storm caught on with readers and became a very popular character and Captain Marvel (yes, that Captain Marvel) did not. The latter was a girl scout who was as close to being The Cape without actually wearing one, whereas the former actually had more than one dimension and is an interesting character in her own right.
    • In addition to Storm of the X-Men and Monica "Formerly Known as Captain Marvel" Rambeau of The Avengers and Nextwave, Slingshot naturally gravitated to the leadership role of Dynamo5, Skyrocket was the field leader of the Power Company, Misty Knight led Heroes for Hire, Vixen briefly gravitated to the leadership role of the Justice League, Jet of the Global Guardians, Vaporlock of Infinity Incorporated, Kid Quantum II of the Legion of Super-Heroes, Amanda Waller of the Suicide Squad ... if you put a black woman on a superhero team, chances are she'll be running the show eventually. Oh, and Bumblebee ended up leading Titans East on the Teen Titans cartoon.
  • Although in theory Simpsons Comics (like The Simpsons itself) is non-discriminatory in its negative stereotypes and everyone was supposed to be a blockhead, the Superior Squad (a superhero team led by Bart Simpson's favorite comic-book character Radioactive Man that fought supervillains between the 1950s and 1990s) mostly adhered to this trope. The team consisted of six men and two women - and guess which two were the most positively portrayed? One of the females, Lure Lass, was a regular Mary Sue, while the other, Weasel Woman, did have some flaws but was braver and more Badass than everyone else on the team, including Radioactive Man himself. (One reader even wrote in to comment that Weasel Woman really should have been named the team leader.) In contrast, the two most profoundly flawed Superior Squad members were male, as well as the two ostensibly most powerful: Purple Heart (who later changed his name to "Bleeding Heart", then to "Heart of Darkness", then to "Bleeding Heart" again, and finally to "Bloody Heart"), who was your standard Ted Baxter type, and RM himself, who was well-meaning but very much a Windmill Crusader and rather stupid.
    • Weasel Woman being a female version of Wolverine (created well before X-23 came along) might explain her popularity, though in the "Simpsons" universe she doesn't seem subject to Weasel Woman publicity.
  • Amy in Sonic the Comic was made into The Lancer with Improbable Aiming Skills due to Executive Meddling. She had few flaws compared to her very flawed male counterparts, and Tekno (another thoroughly competent female character). Ironically her initial persona was surprisingly close to the lovesick Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass Amy of the later games.
    • While Amy herself is a much more abrasive character in the American Sonic comics, it plays this straight with a fair few other characters. Sally and Bunnie are usually more rational and Closer to Earth than many male Freedom Fighters, who are often harbored by significant flaws like arrogance or temper issues, meanwhile the female leads' shortcomings are often more minor or down to circumstance than deep personality issues (eg. Bunnie's robotization, Sally's responsibilities as leader and monarch). Julie Su leans less into this vein, more or less acting as a Distaff Counterpart to Knuckles, though is still slightly more rational than him.
  • Harvey Bullock and Renee Montoya of the Batman universe are both Gotham City police detectives, and Commissioner Gordon always puts them at the forefront of any "major crimes" case. Bullock, who first showed up in the original comics in the mid-1980s, is a large white man (albeit a vaguely "ethnic" one, as he was voiced by an Italian-American actor in the animated series). He was originally a plant installed in the police department by an underworld syndicate, only to perform a Heel-Face Turn and start working for Gordon for real. Despite this, Bullock is still a loudmouthed, hot-tempered, stubborn, self-important Fat Bastard type who eats too many donuts - and, to top it off, is also commonly shown to be a hypocrite, such as when he chides Batman for working outside the law but also regularly flouts police procedure himself (and in the comics, after Bruce Wayne has his back broken by Bane and is replaced by his apprentice Jean-Paul Valley, Bullock actually praises the new Batman for being excessively violent with criminals, even helping him by giving him files on suspects that the police can't finger). Then we have Montoya, a character created for the animated series who subsequently found her way into the original comics. She is a woman, a Latina, and (in the comics at least) a lesbian; she is also a much more pleasant person to be around than Bullock, is athletic and beautiful (although somewhat mannish in the early years of the animated series), always (with a few exceptions) obeys Commissioner Gordon, and has no flaws other than being a little too idealistic about crime-fighting. The discrepancy between Bullock and Montoya was never worse than when the two of them battled the hulking vigilante Lock-Up hand-to-hand: Bullock did most of the work but couldn't quite bring the big guy down, only for Montoya to jump onto Lock-Up's back and easily knock him unconscious by hitting him in the head with her pistol; when the other cops arrived, Montoya got all the credit.
    • This is subverted by the Bullock and Montoya Expies in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, the first two movies of Christopher Nolan's Batman movie trilogy. It's not that the Bullock character here is depicted in a positive light (he's even worse in this version), but the Montoya character, Ana Ramirez, turns out to be a weak, weaselly woman who betrays two of her best friends to The Joker (getting one of them violently killed) for her own purposes. She pays for it by being held at gunpoint and forced to submit to a Reason You Suck Speech from Two-Face of all people - and then, when Two-Face's coin lands with the "good" side up, sparing Ramirez's life, Two-Face just punches her in the mouth, knocking her in a heap.
  • In issue ten of Batman and Robin (New 52 version), a Big Bad gathers together various people that feel like they've been injured or wronged by Batman. Almost all of them were injured through the results of their own actions and stupidity, or in one case were simply embarrassed. The lone female of the group is also the only one whose injuries were purely the result of Batman's actions towards her, thereby making her the only one with some small amount of legitimacy to her anger. Her injuries are also relatively minor and no more disfiguring than many body piercings... that apparently she simply decided to keep rather than have them removed.
  • Black-a-Jack in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. note  Where do we start? His oversized head houses a brain similar in density to a black hole. He has to step lightly so he doesn't crack Earth in half. He disables any humanoid opponents just by raising his voice. He builds himself a language of his own that seems to splice and synthesize English and Dutch at will, because saying just one word at a time is a dullinquent waste of vocablishment; he builds himself a spaceworthy flying ship seemingly powered by the scent of roses; he's the single most interesting, possibly most in depth, inarguably by far the most intelligent, most funny, outrageous, sexy, free-spirited and most phenomenally powerful character encountered in this work of infinite fiction; he doesn't even show up on the page very often as the writer probably realizes nothing could stop him from stealing the show and depriving it of drama. And he has a huge...personality.

  • 90% of all Japanese characters in Fanfiction who live in generally non-Japanese settings are Closer to Earth otakus for the Cacuasian (ususally American) characters to obsess over their "kawaiii-ness."

  • In Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Jane Smith is professional and usually the one to be in control of the situation. John Smith makes bumbling mistakes and more than once seems to succeed purely on luck. He is also not as cold-hearted as his wife. It appears she paid for that skill with her charisma and wisdom stats.
  • Occurs in the movie version of Get Smart due to Values Dissonance. Agent 99 being the competent and experienced professional while Maxwell Smart was a blundering incompetent was originally a surprising and subversive twist.note  Today it just seems like this trope. In fact they seem to have made Maxwell more competent in order to compensate. This may be to rectify the fact that in the original, 99 admires Smart, likes him being in charge, and is prepared to completely ignore his lack of ability in favor of his experience, character, and tendency towards dumb luck. The modern 99 is clearly aware of Max's inexperience, so they had to give him at least some capabilities.
    • The funny thing is that the experienced character is younger than the inexperienced one in real life - Anne Hathaway is twenty years younger than Steve Carell.
      • This is actually referenced in the film. 99 reveals that she recently underwent plastic surgery after botching a mission and had the surgeons make her look younger.
  • Much hoo-ha was made over Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle starring non-white main characters as stoned slackers, but the writers still went out of their way to mention how both are brilliant students with near genius-level IQs who simply have a problem with staying motivated, whereas various white characters are uniformly portrayed as total idiots and/or Jerkasses. Protagonists in other stoner comedies —including the non-white Cheech And Chong— are freely made to be as stupid as possible without any "No, really, they're super smart!" qualifications.
  • A scene in the film Dogma depicts two angels condemning a room full of businessmen for their (many, many) sins such as child molestation, squandering family inheritance money, extramarital affairs, disowning gay kids, incest, among other things. Every one of them are male, and the only female in the room is a secretary, whose worst sin was not saying "God bless you" when one of the angels sneezed.
    • Well, that, and the golden calf.
  • Pick any kids' sports movie, and there will be one female player on the team. This girl will never miss a shot or strike out on camera. (Arguably, this implementation began with the original Bad News Bears movie in the 1970s.)
    • For example, Space Jam's Lola Bunny.
    • Little Giants revolves around such a character. It is slightly Deconstructed as the whole plot of the movie revolves around her not being picked for the city Pee-Wee football team, despite being as good as the guys, as well as a 10-Minute Retirement to become a cheerleader just to get a boy to like her...until the other team deliberately tries to injure him.
  • The Bourne Series. All the important female characters are pretty unambiguously good; except for Bourne himself nearly all the important male characters are corrupt and/or outright sociopaths (except for Simon in Ultimatum, but he ends up being Too Dumb to Live). Julia Stiles's character does spend the first two films trying to kill Bourne, but only because she was given false information.
    • No longer true as of The Bourne Legacy. The main villain has a henchwoman and one of the soldiers sent to kill Marta, and apparently the boss of the mission, is a woman.
  • This is one of the rules set down for The Lone Ranger: all villains had to be white to avoid accusations of racism.
  • Sidney Poitier's most famous starring roles in Lilies of the Field, To Sir With Love, In the Heat of the Night and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. For the most part, all these roles have Poitier playing men who are nearly perfect specimens of humanity except for a bit of righteous anger at injustice. Dinner is the most blatant with character being less a man than an demigod of perfection.
    • Stanley Kramer, the director/producer of Dinner argued that Poitier's character had to be perfect because the only objection to his marrying Spencer Tracy's daughter was his race.
    • Lampshaded by Matt after he has someone check up on John. "I can certainly understand why he didn't have much to say about himself. Who would believe him?!"
    • This is a bit of Type Casting as Poitier is a demigod of perfection IRL.
    • Hilariously Subverted in Sneakers. For most of the film, Poitier's character is his typical eloquent, composed, genteel family man. During the film's climactic confrontation, however, he and Dan Aykroyd's character are kidnapped by a pair of mooks. Poitier turns to Aykroyd, says "Hey, you know why they kicked me out of the CIA? My temper." and proceeds to beat the crap out of one of the mooks, as he screams, "Motherfucker, mess with me and I split ya head!".
  • In the new Charlie's Angels films, all the men are either buffoons, evil, secretly evil, a disembodied voice on a speaker phone, or Bill Murray. Then again, all the women other than the Angels are also secretly evil.
    • And the Angels get to be buffoons.
  • Lampshaded in The Animal: Miles, the only black man employed at the airport, is constantly complaining that, because he's black, the others treat him as if he could do no wrong, and ignore anything he does - such as smoking in a federal building - that would prove otherwise. This becomes a Chekhov's Gun when Miles claims to be the monster to keep the mob from killing the main character. The mob immediately disbands to avoid getting charged with a hate crime, and Miles stands there as they walk off, screaming about 'reverse uracism'.
  • Cleverly Averted in the otherwise forgettable Paul Hogan comedy Almost an Angel. A wheelchair-bound man is being a Jerk Ass in a bar and Hogan calls him on it. When the other bar patrons get angry over Hogan coming down on a guy in a wheelchair, Hogan pulls a chair out, sits down in it, and then challenges the guy to a fist-fight since they were now on equal terms. And wins. This earns the respect of the Jerk Ass, who stops being such a Jerk Ass for the rest of the film.
    • If you care to be technical about it, they still weren't on equal terms, because Hogan still had the physical capacity to cheat if it had to come to that.
  • In the future of Virtuosity, the prisons are filled to overflowing with white people (who are all white supremacists). In fact, Denzel Washington's character may be the only black guy in prison in the future. And he's a cop. And it was a bogus rap.
    • Not bogus. He did mow down the camera crew after his wife and daughter were killed by a maniac. While they were Too Dumb to Live, it doesn't justify not checking your targets before firing on full auto. It's not clear why he was put in prison instead of a mental asylum, though (YMMV on which is worse).
  • In The Gamers: Dorkness Rising a female joins the group and two of the guys flip out (the other two being the ex boyfriend and the DM who knew ahead of time.) And:
    • In spite of being completely new to gaming, she's able to build a monster 9th level fighter using only the Players Handbook and a combination of feats that only exist in this movie that the Munchkin Powergamer Rules Lawyer somehow missed. She's far more mature than the other players and after only one game session is able to give the Game Master all the insight he needs to run his group correctly. The guys are a milquetoast, a Jerkass, and two emotionally stunted clowns.
    • Circumstances are contrived to make sure her character is the most effective. She excels against several weak opponents, but her low hit points make her weak against a tougher foe and the group has no real tank due to this.
  • Done in the Harry Potter films with Hermione Granger (much less so in the books). The film version of Ron is rather Flanderized, being much more cowardly and incompetent than he is in the books, with most of his good material being given to Hermione. One major example is in the first film, when the Power Trio is caught by a man eating plant. Ron panics and is nearly crushed by the plant, while Hermione is the first to figure out how to escape, and subsequently saves Ron. In the book, while it is still Ron being crushed, Hermione is the one who panics and Ron has to yell at her to snap her back to her senses. She is still the one to save him, but if Ron hadn't kept a cool head (while being crushed to death), he might not have survived.
    • Averted from the fifth film onwards. Notably when the kids are being restrained by the Death Eaters, Ron struggles against his captor while Hermione just cowers in fear. And Ron is given a few CMOA in the seventh film to balance things out a bit.
  • In How to Train Your Dragon, Astrid has established that she is not only the most competent trainee but the only competent trainee. The others (who are mostly boys) barely do anything to the dragons. This is justified, though, by the amount of work she has put into not being seen as "just a girl". She spends a much larger amount of time training because she actually wants to be the best, she isn't just written as a perfect character.
  • In Iron Man 2, Black Widow arguably causes the very problem she later blames Tony for on his evaluation (she gets close to him and then, aware that he's dying even though he doesn't know she is, tells him he should go out and do whatever he wants... and then slams him in the report for his irresponsible and impulsive actions) but is still held up as an insightful, intelligent agent. And when it comes time for her to fight, she defeats something like two dozen trained security personnel (all male) not only without any of them actually managing to challenge her, but without her even looking like she's trying. Just to drive it home, they include a male character who struggles with defeating one of these bad guys in the time she knocks out twenty.
    • The former problem is often considered as a Secret Test of Character by fans, with the hopes that would drive Tony to be a better person to people before he died.
    • Also, while Pepper Potts is not portrayed as an Action Girl, the second and third movies especially try to drive home that she's much more sensible than Tony (even as she spends the entire movie being passive-aggressive and rude) and morally superior as well. In the second movie, she becomes the company's CEO despite spending most of her career as a secretary.
    • The lead's buddy James Rhodes is also much more responsible, level-headed, and reasonable than Tony, to the point that he really does seem to be a much better choice for keeping the Iron Man suit. Although in fairness, these three characters being more mature than Tony might have less to do with the fact that they're all minorities, and more with it being a very low bar.
  • The early movies starring Adam Sandler would often show not just Adam's character but practically everyone else to be annoying, bizarre, or just plain unpleasant (due to Rule of Funny). The one exception would be the pretty young woman whom the Sandler character lusts after, who was always about as Mary Sue as it could get: always did the right thing, never disgraced or embarrassed, and without any but the smallest flaws that could be easily ignored by the story. The implication was that Sandler didn't deserve such a perfect creature and had to spend the entire movie reforming his behavior to be worthy of her. As time went on, the usual Sandler formula began to be subverted. In Big Daddy, for instance, the girl Sandler is with at the start of the film is even more morally flawed than he is, and receives her comeuppance in the final scene as most of the movie's characters (both male and female) laugh at her. And the remake of Mr. Deeds turns the trope completely inside-out: the heroine of the story is actually a villain at the start of it (well, more of a Defector from Decadence) while Deeds (Sandler) is Incorruptible Pure Pureness personified. The girl ends up having to suffer quite a few indignities (including a brutal "The Reason You Suck" Speech) as part of her Heel-Face Turn and to prove to Deeds that she's worthy of him - and, just to add insult to injury, also discovers that in this film, Slapstick Knows No Gender.
    • The Waterboy subverts this, too: Sandler's love interest is good-hearted, but also somewhat trashy and a petty criminal to boot.
      • Inverted with Adam's black best friend, however. He is the first person on the team to warm up to Sandler's character, and is oddly the only normal character in the film.
  • The Final Girl in horror movies is usually this, driven Up to Eleven in insufferability when she's the only woman in an otherwise all-male cast.
  • Saw VI both plays it straight in the first trap and lightly lampshades it in two later scenes; the hanging trap, where the main character has to choose between two employees; an elderly woman with failing health but a family and a young man who's perfectly healthy but has no-one he chooses the woman and the carousel trap, in which he has to choose two out of his six employees for survival he chooses two women; one because she's a single mother (playing it straight) and the other who's suggested to have been written out of her parents' will chosen at random (lampshading it).
  • George Lucas's Red Tails does this with the African-American Tuskegee Airmen, not by making them unusually good but by making their white counterparts incredibly incompetent.
    • It's not that they're incompetent but that they're reckless and glory hungry and leave the bombers they're supposed to be escorting unprotected to go after shoot down German fighters. The Tuskegee pilots are not above this, especially Lightning, but their commanding officer Col. Bullard orders them to stay with their bombers at all costs. There's also more of a risk for the Tuskegee pilots compared to the white pilots; if they don't do their jobs correctly, they'll be sent back to doing reconnaissance missions in rural areas so they need to be more competent and careful than the white pilots, to prove they deserve their jobs escorting the bombers.
  • Lampshaded in Miss Congeniality. Victor the beauty-pageant coach is explaining to Gracie how he had a near-perfect record of the girls he coached winning the pageant. The one year his girl lost? The winner was a deaf-mute. You can't beat that.
  • This trope is everywhere in Disney's 1964 Academy Award-winning version of Mary Poppins. The title character outright describes herself as "practically perfect in every way", and is similarly constantly spoken of as wonderful by various other (male) characters - even though most of the feats Mary can perform are thanks to magical powers she apparently was born with (the film implies she's some sort of angel, or even a goddess), and aside from that she doesn't seem to have any special talents besides being pretty and kind-hearted. Her male counterpart, the vagabond Bert, is a mere mortal who lives on the street and is covered with black ash from sweeping chimneys much of the time, and also provides most of the film's slapstick. The trope extends to the Banks family: the father, George, is well-meaning but constantly comes across as grumpy, pompous, and insensitive to his children (and naturally, he's learned to be a better father by the film's end); his wife Winifred, meanwhile, is an activist in the women's suffrage movement (the story taking place in 1910, when the idea of women being able to vote was still seen as radical), but mostly avoids becoming a Straw Feminist and is portrayed much more positively. Their children are Jane and Michael: Jane is apparently the older of the two and seems to be morally and intellectually superior to her brother; Michael mostly follows his sister's lead and has a problem with constantly saying stupid things or acting rudely. To top it all off, when Mary, Jane, Michael, and Bert take part in a merry-go-round horse race in the countryside, Mary and Jane easily leave Michael and Bert in the dust (although Bert at least has the excuse of slowing down to rescue an Irish fox being hunted by bloodhounds). And of course, the most morally pure character in the film - and arguably the film's conscience - is "the little old bird-woman" who sits on the steps of the cathedral.
    • There is one instance in which the trope is subverted, if only for a moment: When Mary is first meeting the children - this being the same scene where she says she's "practically perfect in every way" - she tells Michael he's "extremely stubborn and suspicious." Jane giggles gleefully at this - until Mary silences her by telling her she giggles too much.
  • In a World...: In-universe, Lake Bell's Carol is straight-up told that she was given the part of voice-over in the Amazon Games trailer for this reason.

  • Of the four protagonists of Patrick Tilley's The Amtrak Wars, the two guys are pretty deeply flawed, get slightly better or a lot worse, and die. The two girls wind up more or less saints by the end, and live.
  • Subverted in the Discworld book Jingo, where 71-Hour Achmed tells Vimes "Truly treat all men equally. Allow Klatchians the right to be scheming bastards."
    • The Watch series has this as a running theme, especially in Men at Arms. Due to the speciesism that pervades Ankh-Morpork, Lord Vetinari's demand that the Watch better represent the city's "ethnic" makeup means including a dwarf, a troll, and a werewolf on the Watch.
    • Snuff plays this trope absolutely straight with goblins.
  • Dean Koontz often does this with his disabled characters. Needless to say, this annoys actual disabled people.
  • The saintly Uncle Tom in Uncle Tom's Cabin: Harriet Beecher Stowe intended him to be a model of a perfect Christian; he was portrayed in the novel as being young and strong but still aspiring to be nonviolent. It eventually backfired when later readers began to interpret Tom's goodness as weakness, and a different version of the character emerged in minstrel show adaptations (which Stowe neither approved nor profited from): an older, weaker man who groveled and kowtowed before whites and was essentially a slavery apologist. Thus we have Uncle Tomfoolery.
  • Referred to in the children's book Bill's New Frock, about a boy who wakes up to find that everyone else believes he is (and has always been) a girl. While taking part in sports at school, he is told to allow a disabled classmate to win a race; but because Bill still has the competitive instincts of a young boy, he can't bring himself to do it. Everything works out in the end since the disabled boy came second, thus is pleased that he's improved his sporting performance.

    Live Action TV 
  • The seventh season of Red Dwarf introduced a female crewmember who quickly proved the most competent of any of them (not a challenge given the competition, granted...) They thankfully backed off this some in later episodes. It should be pointed out, however, that she came from an alternate universe where the Red Dwarf crew were all more competent than their "regular" universe counterparts. A recurring theme had Kochanski berating Lister for not being as competent as her Dave. However, there was a lot of implication that they were more competent because of her, so it still stands.
    • A subversion was Holly from Series 3-5, played by Hattie Hayridge. The character admitted in one episode to being a "deranged, half-witted computer" and in another couldn't even count without banging her head on the screen.
      • That being said, Holly still seemed smarter as a female, especially in episodes like "Backwards" with her theory on "The Big Crunch" and in "Polymorph" she was actually able to recognize the creature (a shapeshifter) when even Rimmer (who is always insulting Holly's intelligence) was too distracted by its current shape (his mother).
  • In the comedy Chalk, Suzy Travis is the sarcastic, intelligent straight man to the rest of the teaching department's idiotic fools - especially deputy headmaster Eric Slatt. However, this is subverted in the second season as she slowly turns into Slatt herself.
    • Likewise, Eric's wife Janet is a typical Closer to Earth sitcom wife. However, it's averted entirely with Ms Trippley, a complete mess of a woman who sacked all the students at Galfast High School. Twice. There's still something to be said for the fact that while there are Straight Men amongst the female staff, all the male staff have individual quirks and flaws.
  • NewsRadio — the sole black character, Bill's co-anchor Catherine Duke, was by far the least ridiculous person at the station. Also the dullest, which is why few noticed her departure in the middle of the fourth season. Dave and Lisa were also more or less normal, as well as more successful. Still, in one episode when Bill is listing the positive traits of all his coworkers, for Catherine he simply says, "You're a woman, and you're black, oh what I wouldn't give!"
  • The US The Office: Even though Stanley and Darryl have clearly been obnoxious or inappropriately insubordinate, Michael constantly ignores it for the cameras, fearing accusations of racism. The show is also pretty impressive when it comes to gender: the female characters are exactly as flawed as the male ones.
  • Spin City averted this cleverly with gay black guy Carter. Carter was highly intelligent, extremely good at his job and often acted as the voice of reason, but he was a flawed character in other ways such as his neuroses and hyper-sensitivity to racial and sexual discrimination.
  • In the BBC version of Robin Hood, the character of Djaq is a double token minority- the one non-white outlaw and the only female member of the group. She is frequently shown to be more intelligent than the other characters and is usually the one to tell them off for being idiots, kicks butt while fighting, has incredible healing powers, and can always get herself out of a fix with her Saracen know-how.
    • It got worse in S3, in which Djaq (whose Twofer Token Minority status was at least alleviated by a likeable personality and a plausible backstory for her assortment of skills) is written out and replaced by Kate, whose characterization was a mess of Double Standards. Essentially, the portrayal was an strange blend of blatant sexism and wannabe feminism: on the one hand, the only female of the gang was invariably the one that was constantly getting arrested, kidnapped or injured (usually due to her inability to keep a lid on her emotions), her only objective on the show was to become Robin's girlfriend (with a Love Triangle with two other outlaws on the side), and she was an otherwise completely useless member of the gang who contributed nothing and was in need of constant supervision. At the same time, Positive Discrimination played its part considering none of the male outlaws ever seemed to notice just how much of a liability she really was. Instead she was allowed to abuse and criticize them constantly, was never required to take responsibility for her actions, and had all the outlaws fall inexplicably in love with her despite her serious attitude problem. Too useless to be an Action Girl and too obnoxious to be a worthy Damsel in Distress, no one really know what the writers were trying to achieve with her.
  • Any family sitcom involves a wife who is far more intelligent and level-headed than her spouse. This usually leads to one or two episodes where the trend is reversed so the husband can be right at least once. This one goes back to The Honeymooners. Although sometimes they make it so the wife is still right anyway because the husband starts flaunting the fact he was right and messes up again. If you are a man on one of these shows, you simply cannot win.
  • Lampshaded and then massively subverted in the Inspector Morse episode "Twilight of the Gods." Nobody, including Morse, wants to believe anything too bad about Andrew Baydon—despite how unpleasantly he treats other people—because he has a Nazi concentration camp tattoo on one arm. In fact, the tattoo is a fake, designed to cover up what Baydon was really doing during WWII.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia had Sweet Dee, who started out in this trope but was quickly averted when the writers realized there was no reason Dee would hang out with such a horrible group of people if she wasn't just like them.
  • It's been noted (half-jokingly) that the only people to get a definitively happy ending at the end of series four of Skins are the lesbians and the black guy.
  • Parodied in My Name Is Earl:
    Joy: We're gonna require a second opinion from a real doctor. You know, a Jewish one.
    Doctor: I'm Indian. We're the new Jews.
    Darnell: I thought that was Koreans.
    Doctor: They wish!
  • Scrubs occasionally mocked this with Turk's history. Including the time he got 3rd place in the science fair without entering, and how he's photoshopped multiple times in his college brochure to make it more diverse. Then he's put as the face for an outreach project for the hospital.
    • Turk himself really disliked this, saying that if he wanted to be portrayed as a role model for being just a good medic, fine, but being singled out as the token and being used for positive discrimination annoyed him.
  • In the short-lived series The Lone Gunmen, Yves Adele Harlow was the lone female on the primary cast, and also the only fully competent one. The individual characters all got their moments to shine, but Yves owned almost every single time she was on-screen (and off-screen). Only exceptions: in the pilot, Frohike managed to outwit Yves, and Jimmy manages to save the day often as well. (Yves was also dark-skinned and a foreigner, making her a threefer.)
  • Coronation Street. Any male character that isn't a gormless twat or a henpecked husband, or has any type of backbone, is some kind of villain. Be it a wife beater, serial killer, con artist, womanizer or just your average Jerk Ass. In affair storylines the woman will almost always be the sympathetic one.
    • Sean Tully, full stop. He's the Token Gay and more importantly a Karma Houdini and Jerk Sue. He gets away with everything and is always portrayed as the victim if things get serious.
  • In any show involving an Action Girl in hand-to-hand combat with a man, she effortlessly defeats her opponent, usually without him landing a single blow in return. Examples are numerous, but they include:
    • Alias: The show was built on this.
    • Walker, Texas Ranger: The bad guys never laid a finger on Sydney Cooke in the show's frequent martial-arts fights. Even Chuck Norris took a few hits from bad guys on the show.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In one episode, Kira kicked the ass of Gul Damar, a Cardassian, with him never landing one blow in return. The Cardassians are portrayed as very large, well-muscled aliens and this particular one had been in the military for most of his life. Though Kira has also been fighting Cardassians almost her entire life, was a very effective resistance fighter when she was, and is not above fighting dirty, while Damar was more of a shipman and as such had less experience with close combat.
      • Kira's background as a Hot-Blooded fighter in La Résistance also put her at a disadvantage in diplomatic situations and forced her to adapt to life as Sisko's second in command.
      • Jadzia could also come off this way at times... but at the same time, it was noted that as a Trill, she had multiple lifetimes worth of experience (justifying some of it), and that not all of them were good lives, like the one where Dax was bonded to a Serial Killer.
  • In-universe Fantastic Racism version here: In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Dr. Pulaski is well-known for her casual dismissal of Data as anything other than a mere machine. However, she is shocked—shocked— when Data is defeated in a chess-like game by a flesh-and-blood man, fully expecting him to ace the challenge. Pulaski may count as an aversion here since her Fantastic Racism was a much bigger flaw than those of any of the rest of the main cast..... Only she was never called out on it and instead everyone pays lip service to what a loving and caring doctor she is (at least partially because some scripts were written for Gates McFadden's Dr. Crusher, who actually was).
    • In-universe: in "Hollow Pursuits", during Reg Barclay's Three Musketeers holoprogram, the male main crewmembers, especially Commander Riker, are portrayed as arrogant idiots, whereas the female main crewmembers, Dr. Crusher and Counselor Troi, are portrayed as loving maternal figures (though Troi's not very happy to see her holographic alter-ego). Justified as Barclay works alongside the male crewmembers and interprets their annoyance over his bumbling nature and business-oriented attitudes as bullying and belittling. But he only sees Counselor Troi and Dr. Crusher when he needs support or medical attention, which they're all too happy to give, so he sees them as friendly and loving.
  • iCarly has the episode "iHireAnIdiot" where Carly and Sam hire a male intern based on the fact that he's handsome, despite him being an idiot. For revenge, Freddie hires an attractive female intern who is also an idiot. At the end of the episode, it turned out that she was actually a brilliant college student pretending to be stupid.
  • Parodied in How I Met Your Mother, where Marshall's father suggests he borrow an umbrella from the Koreans down the hall, since Koreans are apparently all wise enough to be prepared for any situation and compassionate enough to lend their things out to neighbors. Marshall is just as confused as everyone else. The Koreans did lend him an umbrella.
    • Lily even lampshades it later by calling it "positive racism" in an attempt to cheer Marshall up.
  • The Vampire Diaries does this with Bonnie, who is always lauded, never judged. She betrays Elena by pretending to de-curse the vampire weapon, knowing it will affect Stefan and Damon, and no one pulls her up on it. Season two, when Caroline becomes a vampire, Bonnie immediately snubs/judges her instead of being a friend - again, this is never addressed. She also Mind Rapes a sorta friend and no one who matters in the show bats an eye.
    • The creators always try to force The Woobie card, too. When something bad happens to Bonnie, she's treated like her life is a cesspool. Most notably in season three when her Mum - who she doesn't really know or like - is vamped up:
    Caroline: Bonnie's always the one who gets hurt.
    • This quoted by a character who had been murdered and turned into a vampire, tortured twice (once by her own father), and whose boyfriend is magically bound to the enemy.
  • On Glee, some of the more well rounded characters are minorities, like Kurt (gay) and Mercedes (black), as well as Santana (a latina lesbian) often being the voice of reason in later seasons.
  • The 1980s Disney children's series Dumbo's Circus had a subtle example in that, even though she wasn't the lead character and wasn't particularly skilled at anything other than acrobatics, Lilly the trapeze artist was the most admirable and sensible of all the circus people, generally playing the Team Mom role, while every other (almost exclusively male) cast member was burdened with flaws he couldn't solve on his own; and occasionally, as in the case of Sebastian's laziness or Barnaby's foolishness, this flaw became the character's primary personality trait. Even Dumbo himself was made to feel ashamed of his weight problem (despite being, you know, an elephant). The only time this was ever subverted was when Lilly was revealed to be too vain to wear eyeglasses and thus too stubborn to admit she was near-sighted - and even that "flaw" just ended up emphasizing Lilly's great physical beauty (she was even offered a job as a fashion model, but chose to stay with the circus).
  • Played Within the "Racist Zombie" sketch from Key And Peele, where the planet is hit by a full-on Zombie Apocalypse, with the narrative following two black guys and a white guy. In a subversion of the Black Dude Dies First trope, the white guy is violently killed and eaten while the zombies ignore the two black guys, who eventually realize that the zombies are racist and refuse to eat black people. The sketch ends with a group of black survivors having a massive, jovial barbecue while the rest of the world goes to hell around them.
  • This has been a criticism of Game of Thrones depiction of Brienne of Tarth. While she is still a credible Badass in the books, the show drives this home by giving her extra fight scenes where she goes up against some of the best swordsmen in Westeros like Jaime Lannister and Sandor Clegane and wins. These scenes are not in the books, and generally serve little narrative purpose beyond the fanservice of the fight and reinforcing how awesome she is when she inevitably wins. From the other side, it's been pointed out that the men she beats in these fights are never at full strength.
  • Orange Is The New Black has a relatively minor example. While the show is filled with well-rounded characters of almost every imaginable race, gender and sexual orientation, it's somewhat noticeable that the most good-natured prisoner at Litchfield—by a pretty wide margin—is the sole transgender character, Sofia Burset. Tellingly, her closest competition in the niceness department is probably Sister Ingalls, the former nun. While Sofia has her share of personal drama, she's one of the only prisoners who's consistently friendly to Piper from the beginning, she had one of the most stable pre-Litchfield lives of any of the prisoners, and her crime (stealing credit cards) is one of the most minor of any of them.

  • Beyonce Knowles in general; every song of hers is based on how she was jilted by some man in the past; "Single Ladies", "Diva", "Irreplaceable," and many more.
    • Todd in the Shadows has this as a Berserk Button, and called her out on the general misandry in the lyrics of "If I Were a Boy", saying that men are perfectly capable of doing (and indeed have done) everything she portrays in the song as only being possible if she were a boy, and women are capable of doing all of the malevolent things that she portrays in the song as only capable of being done by men.
      • Malevolent things aside, the first verse seems to claim that only men are capable of doing things like choosing clothes freely or drinking beer with friends. While some may argue whether this is a positive portrayal of women for a song released in 2008, the message is still that women are morally superior to men.
  • Virtually every mainstream Kelly Clarkson single since "Since U Been Gone" is about how her boyfriend sucks. Even "Because of You," which is initially about a broken family, was remade to be about a bad boyfriend in a duet with Reba McEntire.
    • Averted with "My Life Would Suck Without You," which is about how she and her boyfriend are equally messed up and are therefore perfect for each other.
  • It's a trope of R&B in and of itself. Male R&B singers usually serenade women. Female R&B singers usually sing about bad relationships. Comedian Pablo Francisco even makes a joke about this.
  • The Distaff Counterpart flipside of the above trope, is the many love songs are sung by men, who see women not just as regular people, but as GODDESSES. Or at least the male singer can't stand to be without them.
    • In the most extreme cases, men think that they're not GOOD ENOUGH for women. Case in point: Tal Bachman "She's So High" (She's perfect as she can be/Why should I even bother?)
    • Men don't just treat their girlfriends with respect, they SPOIL them with love. Like every Justin Bieber song. Even in the breakup song "Baby" he promises to do anything for his girl if she stays with him.
  • All American Reject's song "Gives You Hell" is initially about an ex-girlfriend, but due to this trope, the video is about opposite neighbors...
  • "Broken Heels" by Alexandra Burke is about how much better at everything women are than men.
  • Theory of a Deadman's album The Truth Is... subverts this with two of its tracks. "Bitch Came Back" - that says it all, doesn't it? Even "Gentleman", which has the narrator admitting he's a "loser" and an "asshole", turns it around and mocks women for claiming that they can't stand ne'er-do-well men but end up staying with them anyway.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Scott Adams, the writer/artist of the comic strip Dilbert, has trouble including minorities in his central cast because he loves deeply-flawed characters, and doesn't want get angry letters by creating dumb, criminal or lazy minority characters. So he created Asok, an intern from India who's a foil to the rest of the cast. He's technically brilliant, hardworking, honest and nice. His only flaws are inexperience and wide-eyed naivete. He's TOO nice and TOO trusting. Adams still got letters.
  • Delta, the only black cast member of Luann, is the smartest and most level-headed of the entire group. Unless you count "being a workaholic" as an actual flaw, she's about as Mary Sue as they get.
  • Dr. Liz Wilson, the female veterinarian of Garfield, has it all. She's a hot babe, a caring doctor, and she's smart. Back when the strip played up the romantic antagonism between her and Jon Arbuckle (before she and Jon finally became a couple), Liz was consistently portrayed as a goddess whom Jon could never measure up to, and he was lucky to be even breathing the same oxygen as she. Really, her only perceptible flaw was her Deadpan Snarker behavior toward Jon (which Jon never seemed to notice). Just to make things even, though, she did shoot down Jon so many times, and so coldly, that after a while you stopped laughing at Jon being an idiot and started to resent Liz for being so mean to him.
    • Played more straight in The Garfield Show where Liz is far less snarky and irritable and willingly dates Jon from the get go. Jon, while not quite as brainless as his comic counterpart, is still pretty pathetic.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Pro wrestling had this problem from the very beginning.
    • When wrestling shows first began to appear on TV, Westerns were popular, so it was perhaps inevitable that "Indian chief" characters would appear. The promoters were aware that depicting a member of America's smallest minority group as a cheating, savage, murderous heel would be, to put it lightly, kind of mean - so they set out to subvert the negative stereotype and overdid it. Every Native American character between the 1940s and the 1990s - Chief Jay Strongbow most famously - was the Noble Savage incarnate and always a hero. Not until 1994 would Tatanka (a real-life Lumbee from North Carolina, although he depicted a Lakota) turn spectacularly heel, joining Ted DiBiase's Million Dollar Corporation. (Later, when he returned to WWE in the mid-2000s, Tatanka would turn heel in a different way, this time painting his face with creepy makeup and claiming to be a "vengeful ghost warrior" - and his new gimmick was so Badass that it just resulted in Draco In A Leather Loincloth. Worse, he got only two matches with the new gimmick before mysteriously disappearing.)
    • Black wrestlers also faced this problem. Perhaps due to outbreaks of racially charged violence that tended to erupt in wrestling arenas in some parts of the country, promoters had to be very careful never to A) feature black athletes too prominently; or B) have them engage in behavior, even in Kayfabe, that could lead to race riots. The result was that guys like Art Thomas and Bobo Brazil never got to depict anything more interesting than the standard boring good guy who didn't do anything extraordinary, at least at first. Ernie "Big Cat" Ladd was the first to defy the tradition in the 1960s, transforming himself into one of the most obnoxious and bullying heels of his era.
  • In all eras, female wrestlers almost never have the moral or psychological depth of their male counterparts. WWE's Divas and TNA's Knockouts can be heels but they're more likely to commit petty or annoying misdeeds than to act truly evil. (This may now be changing, with Katarina "Winter" Waters in TNA portraying a character who has clearly crossed the Moral Event Horizon.)
    • Beth Phoenix and Natalya Neidhart liked trapping the other divas in painful looking submission holds and holding the house microphone up to their face so the entire arena can hear them scream. Then there's Kharma.
  • In intergender situations, it's almost always the man as the heel and the woman as the face, even if the woman is a heel as well (see Beth Phoenix). Chyna debuted in WWE in February 1997 as Heel Triple H's bodyguard, whose role was to beat up Marlena [Terri Runnels] during HHH's feud with Goldust, and, later, anyone else who got in HHH's way. She became a Face after DGenerationX's collective face turn in Spring-Summer 1998, not because of anything she herself did, and remained one for the rest of her run with the company. Ivelisse Vélez of WWE Tough Enough fame successfully averted this as she competed in several intergender matches as a heel.
    • In perhaps her most notable appearance, Beth was more of a Wild Card than a straight face or heel. Still officially a heel at the time, she entered the 2010 Royal Rumble Match (which only two other Divas, Chyna and Kharma, have ever done) and foreshadowed her Heel-Face Turn by easily eliminating the Great Khali (who was a face at the time, albeit not a very sympathetic one). She then attempted to eliminate then-heel (and her Real Life boyfriend) CM Punk, but he got the best of her. It's doubtful she would have won in any case, since one of the last entrants in that match (and the eventual winner) was Edge, who has demonstrated in the past that he Would Hit a Girl.
    • A special case occurred early in 2004, when Trish Stratus was a face and Christian was a heel, and Christian brutalized Trish with a submission hold after promising to throw the match. But when Chris Jericho (Trish's boyfriend at the time) tried to come to her rescue, she inexplicably sided with Christian and became a heel herself (and yes, the Unfortunate Implications were thick).
  • Look at how the backstage interviewers are treated (in story) by the wrestlers. "Mean" Gene Okerlund was (usually) portrayed in a neutral manner back in the day, but today the male reporters will regularly be insulted, made the butt of jokes, or just wind up being in the wrong place at the wrong time and get their heads bashed. Worse, it's not unheard of for the Divas to hit on visibly uncomfortable male interviewers or even touch them inapprporiately, just to humiliate them; that would never happen if the sexes were reversed. Female reporters, while they are often not respected by the heels - and sometimes the faces! - will usually not be verbally humiliated, and certainly not physically attacked. If a heel does verbally trash a female interviewer, he'll wind up looking stupid or a Jerkass more often than she will (e.g., when Paul Heyman tried to embarrass Renee Young by discussing her sexual history on camera).

  • While it almost certainly was Fair for Its Day when the play was written in 1957, it's hard not to notice the discrepancy between how the two New York City street gangs - the Jets and the Sharks - are portrayed in West Side Story. It's insinuated about the Sharks - the Puerto Rican gang - that, well, it's kind of excusable that they're a little violent, since they're homesick immigrants and victims of discrimination. The Jets, by contrast, are all from various white ethnicities and are never shown as anything more than Jerkass blowhards who feel entitled to a non-Puerto Rican neighborhood and lash out when things don't go their way. (True, in "Gee, Officer Krupke" they do make the case that they deserve to be pitied because they've been psychologically and sociologically scarred by big-city life, but it's all just a satire.) After it's all said and done, the Jets serve as Acceptable Target Politically Incorrect Villains, even though the Sharks kill exactly twice as many people as the Jets do (and the one Jet-on-Shark killing in the entire play could be rationalized as self-defense). Ultimately subverted, however, when the worst villain of the piece turns out to be a Shark: Chino, who shoots Tony In the Back.
  • Lampshaded and discussed in Max Frisch's play Andorra, where, in a small Catholic town full of raving antisemites who despise and eventually cause the death of the Jewish protagonist Andre, the priest seems to be the only decent person. He admires Jews and at one point even lists all the things that Jews can do so much better than Christians, just to show him that he bears no grudge against Judaism. He doesn't even notice that he begins playing this trope 100% straight as he still refers to Jews as "them" and generally describes them as 'different'. He is committing just a reverse kind of discrimination.

    Video Games 
  • Coco Bandicoot of the Crash Bandicoot series is significantly more intelligent and Closer to Earth than her brother (though that's not much of a challenge) and not far off in terms of physical power either. Interestingly, as more female characters were introduced in later titles, Coco seemed to gain more prominent obnoxious and idiotic tendencies (in addition to getting kidnapped frequently), though still seems somewhat saner than her male comrades.
  • In Fire Emblem Tellius, Fantastic Racism between humans and the shapeshifting beast-men races called the Laguz is a major theme. While there are many senselessly evil or stupid human characters, in the first installment of the 'verse there was not a single evil Laguz. They were either outright heroic, brutally tortured and crazily brainwashed into attacking the heroes, or had a very good reason for opposing the good guysnote . It got a bit better in the sequel, with a few Laguz bandits, some Laguz too big on the whole Blood Knight thing, references to the days when they would burn the branded at the stake etc., but not exceptionally either.
  • According to an official Epic Mickey profile, "whether she's busy fending off unwelcome advances from the notorious Pete or wishing that Oswald would spend more time with her and their copious children, Ortensia is - in every way - Oswald's better half".

    Web Original 
  • Inverted in this video by Macho Sauce Productions where the only black guy of the team are dense and considerably less intelligent as the other 3 members (who are white).
  • In the Reincarnation series of games, the Reincarnys (sinners who have escaped from Hell) have all been male up until the most recent mini-release. While the male Reincarnys have typically been serial killers, child rapists, and so on, the first female is simply a drug dealer. And unlike most of the other Reincarnys you recapture, her death occurs offscreen (though the bloody aftermath is shown) and there's no scene of "Luke" torturing her afterwards.
  • On the blog Regretsy (which mocks pretentious or ridiculous items on the craft site Etsy), people who leave honest criticism in threads full of fawning approval have their own name and avatar replaced by a default one made up by Regretsy and the name "The Only Sane Person in the World". The icon is of a black woman.
  • Red vs. Blue used to have this issue, when the only female characters were Tex and Shiela, one of whom is canonically the biggest Badass in the series and the other is a tank's AI. Later seasons grew out of this to some extent, after introducing a female character who is just as laughably incompetent as the main cast (Sister), and giving real flaws to the more hypercompetent ladies (Tex).
  • Deconstructed in this blog post. The author argues that having a single highly-competent black person in the company of many white people of varying competence only shows that black people have to work harder than white people for the same rewards. According to an article she quotes “...one of the ways in which we will know when black people in the United States are truly liberated and equal to their fellow white citizens will be when there are as many mediocre blacks in academia as there are currently mediocre whites.”

    Western Animation 
  • The major reason for the general fandom rejection of Lola Bunny in Space Jam, who aside from being the only new character didn't follow any of the usual humorous slapstick conventions. For instance, late in the film, Bugs pushes her out the way when one of the Monstars is about to squash her, as though she, unlike all the other toons and Bugs himself afterwards, will not just get flattened like a pancake or some other temporary cartoon injury that is easy to recover from. Even a human character in the movie gets flattened and does not receive permanent damage.
  • Illustrated quite well in The Fairly OddParents. Although (much like The Simpsons) the emphasis on humor quickly turned the entire cast into idiots, viewers were constantly reminded that Cosmo and Timmy's dad were far stupider than their female counterparts Wanda and Mrs. Turner.
    • However, that's not to say Wanda and Mrs. Turner are perfect (or even close). Wanda borders on being a complete bitch more often than not, while Mrs. Turner is still (usually) neglectful and not exactly a genius, even if she seems so in comparison to Mr. Turner. As for other female characters, Vicky is the embodiment of evil, Tootie and Veronica are borderline-psychotic stalkers, and Trixie is a bit bitchy and airheaded. In fact, the guys on average, sans Cosmo and Mr. Turner, probably have it better off. Despite some of their flaws (Timmy being a bit of a slow minded Jerk Ass, AJ being a bit of an Insufferable Genius, Chester being poorer than dirt), they're all otherwise relatively normal kids who are (usually) able to handle themselves.
    • AJ starts off as Timmy and Chester's Black Best Friend who happens to be a Straight Man to Timmy. Now he's an Insufferable Genius who (very rarely though) rubs his brain power in Timmy's face.
  • With Danny Phantom, Butch Hartman was able to do it all over again with Danny's parents. In the early episodes, though goofy, Jack was portrayed as a visionary ghost-hunter whose over-enthusiasm often got in the way of common sense, while Maddie was soft-spoken and more of his assistant. By halfway into the first season, it completely flipped: Maddie became the bold action-oriented commanding ghost hunter, while Jack could barely even point a rifle in the right direction.
    • Positive Discrimination was also regularly expressed by Sam, constantly the voice of reason to the perpetually Idiot Ball-holding Danny and Tucker, and Jazz, the perfect student in contrast to her Book Dumb little brother.
    • Danny eventually averts this for the most part come Season Three through Character Development. If anything, his only Book Dumb moments occur as an excuse to give Sam a reason to nag, an act that is all but pointless by that point.
  • In Yin Yang Yo, the two main leads are girl and boy versions of each other. Yin is the overly girlish girl who likes ponies and anything pink and naturally is the more studious, mature, and level-headed of the two. Yang is a crass, crude-humor spouting blue bunny who likes boyish things like monster trucks, mindless video games, fighting anything that moves, and not studying. Also the more likely to receive physical slapstick. Once again, the three shows share writers and directors, so not much of a surprise.
  • In Atomic Betty, Paloma is a Token Minority with more powers than the rest of the cast (good guys and villains alike), no flaws whatsoever, genius IQ, probably enough psychic powers to take over the world, but since her role is to be a token minority she's like 1% of the show, and never gets to beat up any bad guys, save the world, gets any substantial adventures of her own, or even get to do some comment on Betty's adventures.
  • Gwen of Ben 10 was The Load in the first season. Perhaps to overcompensate, later seasons generally portrayed her as smarter, more competent, and all around better than Ben, despite Ben being the main character. Culminates in the TV Movie, in which Gwen is portrayed as selfless and Ben as selfish respectively.
    • And when it's time to hand out An Aesop, Ben's always the one it's handed to (or beat over the head with). Despite Gwen almost always having just as big a part in her arguments with Ben as he did (being insulting, condescending, shrill, and, well, argumentative), no one ever seemed to express that this might be a bad thing, not even with a "catch more flies with honey" type thing.
    • The sequels didn't help matters, as she's given the most reliable and versatile powers on the show, while Ben has to deal with the still occasionally unruly Omnitrix (and has it futz with his mind repeatedly), and Kevin's powers are only good for hitting things (and he's constantly getting Worfed anyway). The only two times her powers were a drawback were when she had to deal with her grandmother, and when they threatened to make her even more powerful than before.
  • In Daria, the two major African-American kid characters at Lawndale High, Jodie and Mack, seem to be the only ones outside a handful of others who have intelligence and integrity enough to earn Daria's respect. However, Jodie's parents are portrayed as horrifically mean-spirited snobs, and Jodie can have a bit of their high-handedness when she's pimping the latest extracurricular school activity that no one else cares about.
    • Of course this is lampshaded frequently with them. In one episode they're voted King and Queen in a parade, and they point out that they win every year just because the school wants to look diverse. Jodie frequently points out that she feels pressured to be the perfect "queen of the negroes" as she puts it, because she and Mack are the only black people in their entire grade. In the series finale she ends up wanting to go to a traditionally black college just so that she can act like a normal person for once.
    • Averted with the show's two Asian characters. Ms. Li is power-hungry and corrupt and Asian Airhead Tiffany is Too Dumb to Live.
    • The show itself does this massively with it's female characters, notably Daria herself. In the series finale, both Daria and Tom are getting into Bromwell University, and Tom is accepted with Daria rejected. Daria (and the writers) immediately blamed this on the fact that Tom is a legacy student, and the fact that Daria had an utterly terrible interview is no longer brought up.
  • In The Proud Family, Penny dates Johnny, a wheelchair bound boy, out of pity. However, it turns out that Johnny is a very rude and horrible person who uses his disability to his advantage to make people do things for him. Eventually, Penny has enough and tells him to take a hike.
    • Another subversion is when Penny joins the football team. The coach reluctantly puts her in the game after attempting to put in everyone else, like his waterboy son. Everything seems to follow the aforementioned case of the single girl in a team, including Penny being single-handedly responsible for her team's comeback...and then she fails to catch what would have be the game winning touchdown and cries. She still convinces the boys that she can play, though.
  • Foxxy Love of Drawn Together is consistently portrayed as the smartest, most moral character on the show (though that isn't saying much). She is even referred to in one episode as being "the only person in the house who isn't completely retarded". In contrast, the show's white characters (Hero, Clara, and Toot) are fair game for all kinds of abuse. (Xandir, who is Ambiguously Brown, vacillates between being a Butt Monkey and The Woobie.)
  • Sealab 2021 invokes this trope with Dr. Quinn, in order to mock it.
  • An Animated Adaptation of The Little Rascals in the early 1980's has Buckwheat going from Bad Stereotype to an example of this trope. He is now the group's resident Gadgeteer Genius who can build anything from junkyard parts. His speech impediment, of course, is no more.
  • In Wolverine and the X-Men, when Wolverine is unconscious after braving a fire to save a little girl, the little girl's parents want to help him (risking their whole family), but another member of the group wants to turn him in to the mutant registration forces. Fair enough. The little girl's parents are also a mixed race couple and the other guy is white. Okay, fine. Except the mixed-race couple are toned, young, attractive, and wearing fashionable clothes, while the white guy is fat, middle-aged, balding, and wears Bermuda shorts and Hawaiian shirts. Again an over the top mix of Positive Discrimination and an Acceptable Target.
    • Also happens in X-Men: Evolution. Humans in their area (who seem less ethnically diverse than the mutants) find out about the mutants and freak out. So the X-Men take a Caribbean cruise to 'take a break' from the bigotry. They are exposed as mutants and treated as freaks/outcasts by the other passengers (almost all of whom are white) when Jean uses her powers to put out a fire. They visit an island where they are again revealed to be mutants, though the dark skinned islanders are shown to be extremely friendly and actually admire them for their abilities.
      • Boom Boom was the one who caused the fire by blowing up someone's plate out of annoyance, so yeah. And the islanders are welcoming to the mutants after Amara saves them from a volcano (yes, she accidentally triggers a second eruption, but they don't really see the connection).
      • There's also the fact on how they first met mutants. The general populace of America, including there school and those on the boat, discovered mutants when they were fighting a robot and causing lots of property damage. Sure, it wasn't their fault and they were acquitted, but the damage was done, and most had made up their mind that Mutants are evil, evil abominations who all have some ulterior motive. The islanders apparently had never heard of a mutant (Did they look like they had a TV, or even electricity?) and their first introduction to them was, them selflessly saving their lives (Ironically, from something they caused) and had only the good ones to see. It wasn't so much as positive discrimination, just a matter of first impression. Plus, there's been other ethnicities at their school.
      • This is played straight with Amanda, a black(?) girl, but completely averted with her (also black) parents. She dates Kurt/Nightcrawler despite knowing his true appearance (and was actually initially more interested in him because of it) but when her parents find out, they want her to stop seeing him, though she doesn't listen to them.
  • Barbie in A Christmas Carol has Barbie's Black Best Friend Christi playing a living saint while Barbie is in the role of The Grinch.
  • Played with and then mocked in a Robot Chicken sketch where they play a skit once, then play it with the races reversed. Then they do something completely unrelated to the previous two skits. Each is bookended by a scientist asking what the audience feels about the skits, then concluding something completely nonsensical.
    • Subverted in the Robot Chicken short 12 Angry Little People in which the only black juror starts to loudly complain about how the police once took his shoe-shine box and beat him with it while using a stereotypically ignorant inflection. When the others stare at him in disgust he says, "What? Every black man on the TV gots to be a posi-a-tive role model?"
    • Done again immediately afterwards when the other minority juror (a dog) gives a technical explanation and another juror interrupts him with, "Uh, you're a f**king dog."
  • Abby from The Replacements. In addition to being rich, she also seems to be the Straight Man in her Girl Posse, and is rarely the butt of anyone's joke.
    • Subverted in one episode with Terrance, a blind kid who bullies Todd and uses his disability to play the victim and make it look like Todd is bullying him.
  • Played straight in Family Guy. Lois and Meg have their flaws, certainly, but they're certainly far more clever and competent than Peter or Chris. Also with Joe, who is by far the most competent male character in the show, despite being confined to a wheelchair. You could arguably claim this for Cleveland as well; despite his rather boring nature he's also way more competent than Peter, and saner than Quagmire. Originally averted with Stewie, but now played straight due to his rather obvious gay (or bisexual, depending on the episode) nature.
    • Subverted in one episode where Chris dates a girl with Down's Syndrome who turns out to be a total bitch.
    • Furthermore, in later seasons, Lois is increasingly portrayed as a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing only slightly less callous than Peter, and Meg is increasingly going insane from the abuse.
    • In Joe's case, his competence in the earlier seasons is at least in part a result of the relatively two-dimensional role he fulfilled in his initial one-off appearance. When he became a permanent cast member, he developed a string of personality flaws and behavioral defects just as deep, if not always as obvious, as most of his neighbors.
    • Interestingly, upon getting his own moment in the spotlight, Cleveland became a much zanier and obnoxious character (if not nearly to the same callous extent as Peter) with his wife Donna generally portrayed as having more common sense. Played with for the kids, Cleveland Jr is a Kindhearted Simpleton, meaning he is dopier but less selfish and obnoxious than Roberta.
  • Used to a similar extent in American Dad!. While Francine and Hayley are still very flawed human beings, they look far more stable and competent compared to Stan (and the other Smith males to a lesser extent). This is even more evident in later episodes where Stan, originally an experienced CIA agent, has suffered heavy Badass Decay and devolved into a brainless Man Child identical to Seth Mcfarlene's other Bumbling Dads. Meanwhile Francine's experiences include becoming a fully fledged Action Survivor in a hurricane and proving pure enough to become the girlfriend of Jesus Christ.
  • In The Goode Family this was lampshaded with the quote "We can't hire minorities! That's racist! It's whites only at the Goode house."
  • Justice League Unlimited: The most glaring use of this trope was when Superman and Wonder Woman were tricked into fighting each other and Diana beat him half to death. Though this might be justified in that Superman caught onto the illusion first and spent the majority of the fight trying to be as inoffensive as possible to try and find a way to snap Wonder Woman out of it. Wonder Woman (in the comics at least) is typically portrayed as being perfectly willing to kill a sufficiently dangerous enemy, in contrast to Superman's Thou Shalt Not Kill, meaning that she could well have been fighting lethally. Depending on how you feel about superheroes killing, this characterization in itself could be either a subversion or a straight example.
  • Downplayed in Cats Don't Dance, as Sawyer is subjected to quite a bit of humiliating slapstick in the opening. Played straighter in that her dance scenes lack the more comedic takes that Danny employs.
  • In Rugrats, and sequel series All Grown Up!:
    • African-American Susie is the smartest of all the babies, her dad is the creator of a widely successful TV show and her mom is a doctor. Susie was a late addition to the original cast who quickly was utilized as a counter/foil to Angelica and to play a good 'big sister' role for the younger babies. It is likely that the intent was to add a an older character that the babies could look up, so she would have had the same positive traits no matter what race she was given. She may very well be an example of an intentionally good character who just happened to also be black for diversity sake. Her earliest role, "Meet the Carmichaels", has her introduced as a fickle crybaby. "Tricycle Thief" also greatly subverts her Canon Sue role. All Grown Up! tries to undo some of the effects by adding realistic flaws to an older child. In the first episode she is easily conned by a woman into giving her $1000 thinking it's for a record deal, in another she completely buckles under pressure when she has to juggle an audition and a spot on her language team, she's shown to resent how the others look on her as perfect as well as sometimes acting rudely towards Angelica.
    • In the first movie, the black female rookie park ranger is much more competent than the experienced white male park ranger.
    • Susie's mother Lucy is an even more glaring example of the trope. From her very first episode, she's shown to be an incredibly talented artist and chef who studied in France and that's in addition to being a fully qualified doctor. All Grown Up also reveals that she was a successful blues singer at the age of eighteen.
  • While it's slightly more nuanced than her comics counterpart, Princess Sally Acorn of Sonic Sat AM was frequently emphasized as the most well rounded and competent Freedom Fighter, frequently having to keep Sonic in line or bail him out when his arrogance got the best of him. She is still a frequent Distressed Damsel and has occasional ego trips and neuroses, but her strengths outweigh it and she is primarily The Straight Man of the team, to the point that by the Second Season she even begins to render other characters like Rotor redundant in her abilities. Bunnie and Dulcy are played more as comic relief, but still have less Idiot Ball moments than Sonic or Antoine.
  • Sandy Cheeks of Spongebob Squarepants played this to such extremes early on she almost comes off as a parody of the trope. Compared to the more flawed males cast, Sandy was much Closer to Earth and often acted as the unfallable voice of reason as well as being extremely talented in both intellectual and brawn levels, suggested to be both the strongest and smartest member of Bikini Bottom. Following the second season, Sandy was arguably swayed from this trope, being granted her own set of flaws and often having her overboard positive aspects parodied or Lampshaded. However this came to be played straight again in later post-movie episodes, where the rest of the cast were Flanderized to extreme levels and Sandy arguably ending up the only main character not to have her callous or idiotic traits exaggerated.
  • Subverted in T.U.F.F. Puppy, which has Action Girl Kitty Katswell as The Chew Toy.
  • Though she does have her flaws, Piper of Storm Hawks is the most competent member of the Five-Man Band... she's also the token female, Ambiguously Brown...may or may not be a lesbian, or at least bisexual.
  • Kanga of Disney's The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh adaptations is presented as being much more logical and mature than the rest of the Hundred Acre Wood for the most part, albeit largely due to taking on a Team Mom role. This is why Kanga is often left Out of Focus. The majority of Disney's attempts to bring in other female additions are similarly far less zany and have less distinct personality flaws than the male leads. This is interestingly subverted in the original novels, where Kanga is more equally idiot-prone as the rest of the cast while the unofficial sequel Return To The Hundred Acre Wood introduces Lottie the otter, who is actually one of the more obnoxious and scatter brained characters. Winnie-the-Pooh, the 2011 movie, returns Kanga to her original book portrayal.
  • June is the only main girl in the wraparound shorts on KaBlam!. She's also (at least from season two onwards) the most competent of everyone. But has her moments of being wrong, and being a jerk.
  • Villain example; Jinx is the only female member of the HIVE Five on Teen Titans, and is also the only one of them to both largely escape Villain Decay and get to do a Heel-Face Turn.
  • South Park:
    • In one episode, the boys are forced to attend the Museum of Tolerance. One display shows a stereotyped young Asian with a calculator, to show that even positive stereotypes — such as the stereotype that all Asians are good at math — can have an overall negative effect on the stereotyped group in question.
    • While usually known for it's "equal target" rule, it has leaned slightly into this vein concerning recurring characters. Previously shrill and idiot prone female characters like Wendy, Sharon or Sheila are now Closer to Earth, with the majority of their now toned down overreacting or protesting proved to be justified. Any non white male celebrity is still free game.
    • The blatantly named Token Black has few distinguishing flaws and is one of the more normal acting kids. One of the positive stereotypes that Token hates is that all black people can play the bass guitar. He's offended and reluctant when Cartman first states this but, after trying and succeeding (even though he's never played before), just says "Goddamn it!" and continues playing.
  • An odd subversion occurs in Adventure Time. One episode deals with an Alternate Universe populated by gender-flipped versions of the cast. While most of the gender-flipped characters are on par with their counterparts in competence, the Ice Queen is noticeably more dangerous and competent then her Spear Counterpart Ice King. Then it's revealed that the whole episode was a fanfic written by the Ice King, with the Ice Queen as an unconventional self-insert. The gender-flipped characters are aware of the Ice King's existence, and everyone sings his praises and all the girls want to marry him.
  • Penny of Inspector Gadget, the most down to earth character on the show and several times more competent than her Uncle Gadget and the entire police department combined, it is not rare for her to save the day almost single-handedly while the latter completely screw things up (she is a 10 year old girl). Granted Brain is near equally skilled, if far more blundering and neurotic in execution. Other female characters such as bumbling MAD agents appear but are rare. This probably has less to do with her gender than her age and status as an Audience Surrogate character.
  • In the eighties cartoon Bionic Six, the family started out with three children, two of their own (a boy and a girl) and an adopted child who was black. The male son was a jock, and go-to guy for saying or doing anything stupid. The adopted black son was not only just as big of a school hero jock as the white son, but was a supergenius on top of that.
  • Black Panther of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes is part of an 80% white team of superheores, and he still manages to be one of the most impressive ones. He is athletic and strong enough to fight the rest of the team to a standstill, a genius comparable to Tony Stark except Genre Savvy enough to accept magic and the supernatural, the king of a super-advanced country, and has a Morph Weapon made out of the rare and powerful Vibranium (which is almost exclusively found in the country he is king of anyway). He especially stands out because everyone has huge personal problems that they deal with every day, but Panther didn't get one until season 2. Nick Fury lets the team know that Panther's friend Hawkeye might actually be an alien spy. After Hawkeye denies this, the possibility that any Avenger could actually be an alien spy gives Panther paranoia that doesn't let up until the real Avengers twice save Wakanda.
  • The Simpsons is renowned for using this at it's most intense form, with Marge and Lisa often established as gifted, intelligent and sensible characters, while Homer and Bart usually play immoral idiots who instigate the dilemma of each episode. The show's long run (along with Flanderization taking it's toll) has led to numerous reversals and deconstructions (Lisa has gained an ego complex due to this trope, sometimes condescending and underestimating Bart and Homer, while Marge's sensible demeanor was exaggerated to the point she needs Homer for any impulsive drive), but the trope's formula is still easily the most consistent.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Azula is a villain more competent than Zuko, apparently quicker, smarter, and much better at firebending. Justified because Zuko is Noble Demon, while Azula is straight villain.
    • Then again, she seems to be more competent than most other straight-up villains are, the possible exceptions being Fire Lord Ozai (who isn't seen employing very much strategy) and Combustion Man (who didn't have an army under his command). Note that Azula is 14. In particular, fans have noticed that aside from a temporary defeat by Aang (who she later not only gains victory over but almost kills), no one in the series ever beats Azula in a straight fight. Her defeat has just as much to do with her own decaying mental state as the heroes' capabilities, if not more.
    • Averted with the members of the Gaang, particularly Toph, who's smug, rude, and occasionally quite selfish (not to mention has lower standards of living than anyone else). Katara comes off as the least flawed member of the group, being kind, brave, mature, wise, and a competent fighter, but there have been episodes showing she can be jealous, vindictive, and a stick-in-the-mud.
  • African-American woman Lana Kane and openly homosexual Ray Gillette from the series Archer are the only consistently competent agents in the show. Russian rogue Katya Kazanova is another straight example. She's seemingly the only female operative in the entire KGB, yet is skilled enough to take out an entire hit-squad and later on rises to the top, only because her male predecessors weren't focused enough to be leaders.
  • In the Teen Titans Go! episode "Boys vs. Girls", while battle of the sexes episodes usually at least try to teach the message that the genders are equal, Raven and Starfire beat Robin, Beast Boy and Cyborg by a landslide, 3 to 0.

  • In the LEGO series BIONICLE, each Toa team has only one female on it, the main three so far being Gali, Nokama and Hahli. In the latter two cases, they are the least flawed and the wisest members of their teams. Particularly noticeable in Legends of Metru Nui in which each Toa Metru is given a major character flaw which they must overcome to unlock their individual mask powers, such as Vakama's lack of confidence and Matau's inability to stop and think before rushing in. Not only is Nokama's flaw relatively small (not admitting when she's wrong), it is only referenced once and she overcomes it very early on, extremely quickly. Note that this stopped applying to her after her team's transformation into Turaga elders.

    As for Gali, this is kind of zigzagged depending on the story, as Onua, a male, was just as wise and never argued with the others, whereas Gali frequently argued with Tahu and Kopaka, although that was mainly trying to get the two to stop their own fights. Notably, Gali was also the only Toa who properly heard the vision about the Toa Kaita (the others tried to fight it) and the only one to protest the Toa Nuva going solo before all went wrong (proving to be wiser than Onua), however in The Movie, Gali became just as arrogant to Tahu as he was to her.
    • It gets better after a Re Tool that switches settings to focus on a world with Gladiator Games. The one girl there, Kiina, is brash, aggressive, and blunt; traits that help her in the arena but make her a pain to deal with outside of it. Though, The Movie actually shows her as a Genki Girl with a little Tsundere thrown in the mix.
    • Partially justified with Hahli in the Mahri Nui Arc; she is stronger, faster, and more aggressive ("Hahli the barbarian") because she is literally in her element, while the team leader Jaller is severely weakened by being constantly submerged in water.
  • Natalie Breez of Hero Factory, the only female Hero ever to be featured prominently, was for the most part a minor character who didn't have much to her. Suddenly, in the animated special Invasion from Below, she becomes the most competent of the bunch: She defeats a giant beast all by herself when the rest of the Heroes can't deal with them even in their mechs, learns that the beasts can communicate, finds out why they are attacking by reading ancient carvings (the others dismiss her), and at the end saved the day by offering peace to the beast queen. After that, the beasts attack again and the Heroes kill them, but that wasn't her fault.

    Notable Aversions 
  • It goes without saying that any work shot through with a racially or culturally supremacist viewpoint is going to avoid this trope like the plague (like The Birth of a Nation and The Eternal Jew).
  • Unless they're the protagonists, Jewish characters in many stories (where most of the characters are not Jewish and the one character's Jewishness is made explicit) will often be arrogant and obnoxious, talking down to Gentile characters with a "know-it-all" attitude. Almost any character portrayed by Jon Lovitz will come off this way. A well-known example is his portrayal of Artie Ziff, Marge Simpson's creepy former boyfriend on The Simpsons who acted snooty toward Homer back in high school. Marge once asked Artie if he knew why everyone disliked him, and his answer was "Anti-Semitism?" Marge then had to inform Artie that he was so hated because he was an insensitive Jerkass.
  • Asians (the Chinese in particular) are also often depicted acting superciliously - sometimes even cruelly - toward other characters, especially if the topic in question is something that Asians are "naturally" better at (martial arts, philosophy, etc.). This trend has inspired the Cracked website to identify a common negative stereotype: "The Wise Old Asian Asshole." Pai Mei in the Kill Bill movies probably took this character type about as far as it could go - so far, in fact, that Pai Mei's extreme sadism drove one of his victims to murder him in revenge.
  • Subverted - shockingly - in Batman Returns with Batman and Catwoman. At first it's set up to look like Selina Kyle is a female Bruce Wayne and more or less his equal, but then it's revealed that Selina has far more character flaws than Bruce, and is depicted as more bumbling and more of a Butt Monkey than Bruce is, even after her transformation into Catwoman. (She's still Badass; it's just that she comes off as an amateur compared to Batman.) This serves to make Selina even more of a Woobie than before, and the trope actually feeds itself in that Selina's repeated humiliations drive her deeper and deeper into emotional turmoil until she's completely insane. The filmmakers' point, apparently, is that it sucks to be a woman in a callous, male-dominated, pseudo-1940s Gotham City, and trying to transcend that status is futile. Condescending Compassion or Stay in the Kitchen - you tell me. Though, since this version of Selina doesn't seem to have any training (her speed and agility come from paranormal source), she is an amauter compared to Batman, so it might be just basic logic. On the other hand, it is suggested that Selina is morally superior to Bruce, if only because he claims to be upholding law and order in Gotham City while actually breaking it, while Selina never acts as if her actions are within the law. ("The law doesn't apply to people...like us!")
    • Similarly subverted in the animated Batman film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. Andrea Beaumont is the vigilante murderer known as The Phantasm, and in contrast to the heroic Bruce Wayne/Batman, she is psychotic, self-loathing, and ultimately beyond hope. Alfred even tells Bruce near the end of the film that Bruce has managed to avoid "falling into the pit", while Andrea is damned.
    • Another similar subversion is in The Dark Knight Rises. Catwoman is shown to be extremely cynical, sarcastic and flawed but still a good person at heart and an Anti-Villain, who becomes an Anti-Hero by the end of the film. Bruce's compassion and ability to forgive helps her gain some optimism, and from there, she begins to show her more positive traits more often. Then there is Miranda Tate, who seems to almost be a Purity Sue in comparison to the other characters. Miranda is smart, nice, beautiful, has a plan to help solve the energy crisis and helps Bruce learn to want to be happy again after Rachel Dawes's death and Batman's Zero-Approval Gambit in The Dark Knight. The subversion comes when it is revealed Miranda is actually Talia, daughter of the Big Bad of Batman Begins, Ra's al Ghul. Everything "Miranda" did in the movie was a part of her plan to make Bruce lose hope and then take revenge on him for leaving Ra's to die...by torturing and nuking Gotham.
  • The Man Show, as its name suggests, takes a (jokingly) male-supremacist attitude toward the world, even going so far in the very first episode to start up a petition to repeal women's suffrage. Somewhat softened in that most of the male characters - including the two hosts themselves - are hardly paragons of virtue, and also in that the treatment of the pretty girls on the show was generally with the relatively harmless "sex object" stereotype (although occasionally the gags would get crueller than that). One spoof episode even had the hosts get in touch with their "feminine" sides: while continuing to wear male clothing, they acted much less raucous and talked in gentle tones and cuddled some kittens in the finale. (However, recent radio-show remarks by Adam Carolla suggest that his chauvinistic attitude on the show may not have been just an act.)
  • The 2000 stoner comedy Dude, Where's My Car? has two white, Anglo-Saxon (though admittedly drug-addled) young men as its protagonists, and many of the butts of the movie's jokes are women, ethnic minorities, or other generally exotic or eccentric characters. There's the sassy black female cop who is mean to our heroes when they get arrested, as well as the obnoxious, screeching, barely articulate Asian immigrant who works the drive-thru speaker at the "Chinese Fooood" restaurant. The one French character in the movie is a sadistic pervert. Blonde beauty Christie Boner is an idiotic slut, while the protagonists' twin girlfriends are harpy-like and generally bitchy. On the other hand, Christie's boyfriend and his gang of (mostly) white bullies who torment our heroes certainly fall under the Jerk Jock stereotype.
  • Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson) in As Good As It Gets is a lonely romance novelist afflicted with a serious case of obsessive-compulsive disorder (which, granted, isn't a "traditional" disability but still can - and often does - wreak quite a bit of havoc with its victims' daily lives). In a more trite or inoffensive film he'd come off as The Woobie due to this trope. But director James L. Brooks turns him into more of a Jerkass Woobie whose extreme shortage of social skills has made him unbearably rude and misanthropic. (He's been prescribed pills for his disorder, but never takes them because he's too ashamed to.) Much of the movie is concerned with Melvin slowly becoming friendlier and more sensitive, especially to a gay neighbor whom he had mocked earlier in the film. Especially shocking is a scene in which Melvin, irritated that his daily breakfast at the diner just down the street from his apartment is not going as planned, offhandedly mocks a waitress for being "fat." The restaurant owner immediately flies into a rage and forces Melvin to leave the building, prompting everyone else in the diner to burst into wild applause - a humiliating punishment that would never be administered to any disabled character suffering from any ailment more serious than OCD, unless said character blatantly crossed the Moral Event Horizon.
    • But it can also be seen as a straight white guy needing a gay man and a woman to make him less of a jerk so he can be happy.
  • Danish short film Election Night completely obliterates this. The entire movie is about a guy who, in his constant quest to be as politically correct as possible and thus has an Everything Is Racist attitude to everything, is trying to go vote on time and has to take several different taxis - two of the three are driven by deplorable white men (one is heavily hinted to be a neo-nazi) - but one is driven by a sterotypical immigrant cab driver who suddenly asks him to vote to 'make sure those Yellow bastards get out of the country' because they keep closing down kebab bars and opening Chinese restaurants instead.
  • The disabled protagonists of Rory O Shea Was Here are as flawed and human as everyone else in the film.
  • Averted with Genki Girl Frida Suez of El Tigre. She is just as mischievous and misguided as Manny, if not more so. She also suffers double the amount of painful-looking slapstick than her male co-star.
  • Also most averted in TaleSpin, Baloo is portrayed with little business sense and his air company is shown as a mess until Rebecca buys and reinnovates it. However, Rebecca contrasts Baloo both in strengths and flaws, being far more naive and less streetwise and making occasionally awful business assumptions, meaning both often need the other to run the company. Episodes tend to rotate rather evenly as to whether Baloo or Rebecca are the instigator in a problem or the one solving it.
  • Generally averted in Axis Powers Hetalia. The men are all nutty and pass the Idiot Ball and Sanity Ball amongst them, but the women are just as insane. Like Hungary (didn't even realize she was a woman until well into adulthood, has a Hot-Blooded temper, and has been willing to let France molest her husband just to get compromising pictures) and Seychelles (a Cloudcuckoolander who tries to pester people into visiting her house). Even Liechtenstein, a sweet, quiet young girl, has done goofy things like insisted her brother wear her pajamas as a gift (It Makes Sense in Context) and was distracted from her self-defense lessons when she saw how cute Switzerland's drawings were.
  • Brazilian comedian Rafinha Bastos has played with this one in one episode of his TV series 'A Vida de Rafinha Bastos', in which he tells a handicapped joke on a stand-up comedy show, while a paraplegic TV critic is offended by the joke... except instead of being the 'better man', the TV critic decides to engage in Disproportionate Retribution by moving to Rafinha's apartment complex, being elected building superintendent and repeatedly approving regulations specifically crafted to make Rafinha's life hell.
  • Averted in Thomas the Tank Engine, most of the female engines are just as flawed as the male ones and cause a similar number of accidents and confusions. This actually led to Unfortunate Implications early on, where the handful of female characters were either fussy coaches that couldn't be moved on their own, or arrogant rookie engines such as Daisy or Mavis.
    • Those coaches tend to be more sensible compared to the engines, especially Thomas' coaches Annie and Clarabel. Both Mavis and Daisy were softened in their later portrayals, the former becoming a semi-regular character in the TV series and the latter becoming rather prominent in the books that focus on Thomas' branchline.
  • Lampshaded and averted in King of the Hill, where Peggy envisions herself as the suffering smart one, but is actually far less sensible than Hank.
    • Averted with Kahn, Hank's Laotian neighbor, who from day one has been portrayed as a racist Jerk Ass. In the first episode they meet, Hank doesn't want to associate with him and Peggy accuses Hank of being a racist, causing Hank to remark, "What kind of country is this where you can only hate a man if he's white?"
      • Lampshaded in one episode. Kahn attempts to get Connie into a prestigious summer school, and though she's more than qualified they turn it down because most of the school's student body is Asian and it's starting to make them look racist.
      Kahn: That's discrimination!
      Headmistress: In a way it's kind of flattering though, isn't it?
      • Also inverted when the exclusive, all-Asian Nine-Rivers country club courts Hank to join simply because they need a non-Asian member to improve their image, while rejecting Kahn, who desperately wanted to join. When Hank's membership was voted on, one of the ballots simply said "the white guy."
    • Zig-zagged with John Redcorn. He clearly uses the Magical Native American stereotype to give credibility to his (actually quite effective) alternative medicine service.... but he also does know a fair amount about Native American cultures, rituals, and symbolism when it's needed to be brought up. He's also established to want to be a good, loving father to his son.... but said son's mother is the wife of another man, who he slept with unrepentantly for over a decade without her husband's knowledge. Early episodes sometimes had gags of Redcorn and his adulterous lover hypocritically casting judgmental looks on someone for doing much, much lesser offenses while on their way to have sex.
  • Subverted in The Color Of Friendship. It is Based on a True Story of a young Afrikaans girl who lives for a school semester in America and ends up living with an African American family-specifically the family of the anti-apartheid Congressman Ron Dellums- during The Apartheid Era. The film does showcase Dellums' battle against apartheid, but he is no more tolerant of the Afrikaans girl in her home than she is scared of the black family that takes her in and Dellum's daughter Piper and her mother are also shocked, and neither party's behavior is condoned. Ultimately, the story is about each side overcoming their own prejudices, and finding they had more in common with each other.