The Space Jew is an alien, monster, animal, or other nonhuman creature that embodies stereotypical aspects of a real-world racial, ethnic, or religious stereotype, whether Jewish, black, Asian, white or whatever. Sometimes this trope is played intentionally, while other times it might simply be a subconscious or accidental move on the part of the authors.
Compare Fantastic Racism, Have You Tried Not Being a Monster?. See also Unfortunate Implications.
Don't mix this trope up with Fantasy Counterpart Culture, which deals with fantasy/sci-fi cultures that stand in for real life cultures but don't necessarily exhibit the stereotypes of whomever they are standing in for.
Not to be confused with Space Amish, Space Cossacks, Space Romans, Space Elves or actual JEWS IN SPACE!Note: This trope is not about actual Jewish people in or from outer space!
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Gintama has the premise that rather than the Gunboat Diplomacy of history, Edo-era Japan experienced an Alien Invasion. Thus, actual aliens take the place of "nasty gaijin" in wielding disproportionate power over the country.
Pokémon: Jynx was accused of being a caricature of a black woman with its pitch-black skin, huge lips, and name evoking voodoo. The truth is a bit more complicated. It's mostly based on the Yuki-Onna from Japanese folklore, but its appearance is partially inspired by Swarthy Pete, a Moorish servant of Saint Nicholas who is often depicted in European Christmas stuff as a Black Face caricature (claims that is was based on the overly tanned "Ganguro" fashion don't hold water, as it was virtually unknown when the game was in production). In any event, it was eventually made purple to deflect criticism.
Momotaro's Sea Eagles and Momotaro's Divine Sea Warriors are World War II propaganda cartoons in which an army of adorable talking animals stab, shoot, bayonet, and blow up demons, who are basically white people with horns.
The Dominators, in DC Comics' Invasion and subsequent appearances. Yellow skin, huge sharp teeth, bony clawed fingers, they resemble nothing so much as the Golden AgeYellow Claw except they have red circles on their foreheads.
In Fritz the Cat, crows stand in for black or African American people and rats stand in for Chinese people. The former carries over into the two movies.
The five crows from Dumbo portray black people, especially the leader, Jim Crow.
As well as the Siamese cats, we have the pound dogs, Trusty the bloodhound and Jock the Scottish Terrier in Lady and the Tramp, and the other alley cats (Scat Cat, Billy Boss, Peppo, and Hit Cat) in The Aristocats, who also embodied various ethnic, region, and nationality stereotypes.
Sunflower from Fantasia is a centaurette who is a donkey from the waist down and a black girl from the waist up. She's so badly stereotyped that she got Orwellian Retconned out of the 1969 re-release and all subsequent releases. There were also two zebra-based centaurettes who are black from the waist up. The other centaurs and centaurettes are horse-based and white from the waist up. In another segment, there were red-capped mushrooms that represented Chinese people.
There are Goofs who represent ethnically black African people in the cartoon "African Diary." Those Goofs are wearing traditional African garb rather than being Blackface caricatures.
The meerkats in The Lion King 1 ˝ are a group of Animal Jews in both personal relationships and in that they employ gratuitous Yiddish.
In the Beauty and the Beast midquel, the axe talks with a stereotypical Yiddish accent and says "Oy vey!" Presumably he turned into a human after the curse was broken, but we only see him as a talking axe. The Beauty and the Beast movies as a whole takes place in France, but the only enchanted objects who are stereotypically French are Lumiere the candelabra and Fifi/Babette the featherduster.
Watto, from the prequel films, raised concerns about being a Jewish caricature, being a hook-nosed, penny-pinching merchant and slave owner. His raspy accent sounds vaguely Yiddish, but the voice actor was actually going for Italian. It doesn't help that in the second film, Watto even wears a beard and black hat vaguely similar to a style favored by Hasidic (ultra-Orthodox) Jews. Perhaps to dissuade these accusations, in Star Wars: The Clone Wars the king of Watto's species has a vaguely British accent, and despite his small stature is depicted as a proud warrior. Although Toydarians are all grasping and unpleasant, it seems their worst sin is slave-owning.
The Star Wars prequel films also feature the Neimoidians - a race of slit-eyed, inscrutable, unscrupulous villain aliens who speak with a vague Asian accent, wear Qing dynasty robes and hats, and threaten the galaxy with their trade routes and mass production technology. Many English-speaking critics saw the race as a collection of Asian stereotypes. Interestingly every localization of the film gives the species new accents. In Germany, for example, they got French accents.
The Jawas are thinly veiled Space Romani, collecting scrap equipment and being chased off by "regular people" who accuse them of theft and peddling inferior goods.
The Sand People/Tusken Raiders in the original films come across as a violent caricature of desert-dwelling Bedouin-like groups, being low-tech, desert-dwelling nomads wearing robes and head coverings. Lucas apparently intended the species to resemble the depiction of American Indians in old Wild West movies through their violent behavior toward the more technologically advanced settlers. The females also wear papoose boards. Whether Lucas realized the Unfortunate Implications or not is anybody's guess.
Many critics accused Jar Jar Binks of resembling black caricatures in minstrel shows and early American cinema, highlighting his broken English, clumsiness, naivety and shuffling gait, all typical traits of minstrel characters. Physically, he has large nostrils and his "lips" make up half of his face, both traits commonly exaggerated in black caricatures. The Gungan accent, which sounds vaguely Caribbean, doesn't help the issue. Jar-Jar's first lines in the series, "Me-sa your humble servant," call slavery and domestic servitude to mind. The character was voiced and motion-captured by black actor Ahmed Best, who denied any attempt to make Jar Jar a black caricature. The Gungan race as a whole, however, does not embody the trope.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars features Jabba's uncle, Ziro the Hutt, who exhibits Camp Gay stereotypes. He's purple, wears feathers and facepaint, owns a nightclub on Coruscant, and talks vaguely like Truman Capote. However, Ziro is as straight as a hermaphrodite can be.
Jabba the Hutt has been accused of embodying Asian and Middle Eastern stereotypes. He has slitted eyes, smokes a hookah and has a harem.
Sy Snootles, the lead singer in Jabba's band, was given many more Sassy Black Woman touches in the 1997 "special edition" of Return of the Jedi, including thick lips and a husky, semi-masculine voice.
The race of banker goblins shown in the Harry Potter movies are squat, long nosed, and run the banks, leading to comparisons with Jews. And they also believe (stated in The Deathly Hallows) that everything ever made by Goblins really belongs to them, even if humans may think they acquired it. In the books the Goblins have hard luck in the wizard world, in the past they were treated as second class citizens, and are not allowed to carry wands. They also made several rebellions against the wizards for all the discrimination they have endured.
The Transformers film series features a few robotic examples:
Jazz is a somewhat Jive Turkey Transformer, possibly in reference to Scatman Crothers, who was the original voice of the character in the cartoons. He's also only Autobot who dies. According to at least one interview, Jazz was killed because he was the only Autobot in the movie who hadn't already died at least once. It's also been claimed that it was because Jazz is the third most popular character after Optimus and Bumblebee.
"The Twins," Skids and Mudflap, drew controversy for embodying a number of black stereotypes in their appearance and behavior. Michael Bay alternately claims they were meant to mock wiggers or claims there was no racial parodying going on at all.
In his review of Predator 2, Roger Ebert accused the alien's design, which includes tentacles that resemble dreadlocks, of encouraging the audience to connect its menace with fear of black males. It's rather interesting to note that the second film's hero is a black male, but it also includes a number of dreadlocked black crooks. The Predator is also played by a black actor and there were two heroic black characters in the first movie.
Played with in The Brother from another Planet, in which an alien who looks like a black man escapes slavery on his own planet and tries to hide out in a black ghetto on Earth. When two of his species track him down, they of course look like white men, but it turns out that they consider the "brother" an inferior race not because of his skin color, but because he's got three toes.
The film adaptation of The Chronicles of Narnia depicts the witch's dwarves (except her bodyguard) as Mongols in their dress, and they are played by Indian actors.
The nebulons in Arena (1989) conform to Yiddish stereotypes.
The Gremlins in Gremlins have been accused of displaying negative stereotypical behavior of African-Americans. In one particular scene, unruly Gremlins take over a bar while wearing sunglasses and "street clothing," smoking, drinking, gambling, fighting, listening to wild music, engaging in prostitution, and breakdancing. Critics accused the film of exploiting white fear of black culture invading white suburbia.
Though Hubbard probably wouldn't have known it, chinko is also the Japanese word for "(small) penis."
That Scientology uses the word "wog", dated but still offensive British slang for someone from the Indian subcontinent, to refer to an unbeliever might be another reflection of Hubbard's views on race.
Later in the novel Hubbard introduces a race of interuniversal bankers that are apparently descended from sharks (or local equivalents). They were short, big-nosed, and thought of nothing but cash, going so far as to attempt to foreclose on the Earth after the humans free it from the Psychlos.
Deconstructed in Norman Spinrad's The Iron Dream, a book presented as a work by a science fiction writer named Adolf Hitler, where the Always Chaotic Evil mutants are obvious stand-ins for Russians and/or other ethnic groups, with the worst of the lot clearly stand-ins for Jews. At the end of the book a reviewer rubbishes the idea that Hitler was writing about Jews — after all, no-one would seriously believe that the notoriously anti-Semitic Russian Communists are being controlled by Jews, right?
In Robert Asprin's Myth Adventure fantasy novels, the race of "deveels" are hard-bargaining master traders and look like traditional red-skinned hoofed devils. When Phil Foglio adapted the first tome in the series as a comic book, he tossed in a lot of Jewish references and got hit with enough complaints that he (sort of) apologized in a later issue.
"Submicroscopic" by S.P. Meek and its sequel have three factions of aliens differentiated by skin color. One forms the heroes, one's a group of giant but stupid savages that constantly attack them, and one is technologically advanced but ethically stunted. Guess which correspond to which colors? (Admittedly, one of the technologically advanced folk who had a grandparent from the heroic faction is portrayed as a Worthy Opponent, but the protagonist doesn't hesitate to kill him, saying that his death was saddening but necessary.
H. Beam Piper's Space Viking has the Gilgameshers, a mercantile people for whom haggling appears to be the planetary sport (one reviewer noted, "sadly, we are not given glimpses of the Gilgameshers accusing Trask of wanting to starve their wives and children"). It's specifically stated that they deserve admiration for having rebuilt a space-going civilization from the ground up, and "they had religious objections to violence, though they kept these within sensible limits, and were able and willing to fight with fanatical ferocity in defense." They are also noted for their "maze of dietary and other taboos in which they hid from others," which makes them generally disliked. Lampshaded when the remarks that "everyone was in favor of running out the Gilgameshers" reminds Trask of Hitler, who got into power in the First Century Pre-Atomic "because everyone was in favor of running out the Christians or the Moslems or the Albigensians or something."
Martian Time-Slip by Philip K. Dick has Martian Bleekmen, who resemble and are thought to be genetically similar to Earth's African Aboriginals.
In the Twilight series, the Volturi are a group of vampires who live in a city in Italy, are considered the undisputed authority figures in the vampire world, and apparently keep the other vampires so well-oppressed that few realize they're doing it. They were canonized years ago by humans who they tricked into thinking they were holy people who kept vampires for attacking. In Breaking Dawn, one of the vampires even says of the Volturi leader that he put on a "white hat◊" and "called himself a saint". The film of New Moon makes it even more blatant, modeling the headquarters of the Volturi after the Palace of the Vatican◊.
Tolkien's Legendarium: J. R. R. Tolkien stated that he used Jews as an inspiration for his Dwarves, such as them being dispossessed of their ancestral homeland, their warlike skills stemming from the Bible, them being skilled artisans, speaking their own language in lands not their own. Dwarven greed may also be part of it, but Tolkien didn't make it their sole feature.
Some readers have identified H.P. Lovecraft's Deep Ones as "water negroes," and their interbreeding with humans is often seen as an allegory for miscegenation. This is one of many examples of racism in Lovecraft's earlier works, who was often pretty outspoken in his beliefs.
The Winged Humanoids Je'arre in Wind And Sparks cycle. Many centuries ago they lived far south in a desert. Then some of them angered their god and were turned into soulless bloodthirsty Snake People, who drove the unmutated Je'arre away. They are excellent artisans and every ruler would like to have them as his subjects for a share of income. They are also obnoxious greedy merchants, which provoked many clashes. When the emperor offered them a disputed chunk of land for good and all, they gladly agreed, called it "The Promised Region" and quickly cleansed it of the Empire's enemies. By the end of the first novel there's a strong chance of pogroms, because some Je'arre clans supported the invaders.note They were afraid the Empire would try to take away their land and allied with Empire's enemies, despite the other invaders' allies being Snake People and the former owners of the Promised Region. This has caused infightings among Je'arre, in spite of previously unbroken law to never fight feathered brothers. Oh, and their noses are huge.
The lumpen-nosed, big-eared, insatiably greedy Ferengi are seen by some as antisemitic characters, and their earliest appearances were criticized as being Japanese stereotypes. In reality, the Ferengi were meant to be strawmen for American capitalists in general, and were compared to "Yankee Traders" in their first appearance. The name 'Ferengi' is derived from an Arabic and Hindi slur for white people. The comparisons to Jewish stereotypes came in after they were ditched as villains and became comic relief. The staff writer who most enjoyed writing Ferengi episodes was Ira Steven Behr, a Jew, and all four major Ferengi characters are played by Jews.
The Klingons started out as obviously based upon Cold War stereotypes of Russians or Chinese. The original description for them in the script for their debut episode, "Errand of Mercy", describes them as "Oriental, hard-faced". Their original appearance includes pencil mustaches and a dark complexion. Roddenberry having been a police sergeant in Los Angeles during the 1950s may have something to do with it.
Kivas Fajo, from the Next Generation episode "The Most Toys," is a greedy, amoral trader who specializes in collecting—by whatever means necessary—especially rare and precious items. Fajo was played by the very Jewish Saul Rubinek. This was the result of a last-minute recast after the original Jewish actor, David Rappaport, committed suicide.
Vulcans are logical, inscrutable, slant-eyed mathematicians and scientists, referencing Asian stereotypes.
Romulans are inscrutable, warlike slant-eyed imperialists, referencing Asian stereotypes.
Cardassians are amoral, devoted to a big brother-esque government, and the Federation appeases them because they'd prefer a Cold War to an Open War, referencing Russian stereotypes.
Bajorans are oppressed, deeply-religious terrorists, referencing Jewish and Muslim stereotypes.
The Borg are white-skinned and constantly force all other races into adopting their culture and technology, referencing stereotypes of white people.
The Maquis are a pastiche of deposed Native Americans and Palestinians.
In the episode "The Long Game", we learn that a consortium of bankers has been covertly manipulating the mass media to control Earth. This is more or less the plot of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. What makes this extra-strange (or something) is that we eventually learn that the Daleks were behind it the whole time. However, villains from pretty much every other profession in Britain have also been shown manipulating Earth folks' perceptions and/or trying to covertly take over. Bankers were just one among many, for a very, very, veryLong Runner.
Sabalom Glitz who, aside from having the Jewest name imaginable, will do pretty much anything for money.
Richard Wagner is often accused of this, with entire books dedicated to finding anti-Semitic stereotypes in his operas. Most Wagner scholars today would agree that Klingsor from Parsifal was intended as this trope. Other Wagner villains considered to be Space Jews are the Nibelungs (dwarfs who mine gold underground and are led by the Big Bad), specifically Alberich and Mime, from Der Ring des Nibelungen, though the evidence there is considerably weaker and it's less widely-accepted. The nazis considered Alberich's son, Hagen, who impales Siegfried in the back to retrieve the ring in Götterdämmerung, as a personification of Jews, while they considered Siegfried as a pure Aryan-blooded hero. They also loved his music.
The Ferrets are a disgusting culture who look like chimpanzees made up as Prince Charles. They dress in scarves, gold jewelry, vests, and caftans, and often act as travelling thieves, peddlers, or money-lenders. The PR department of the Ferret Corporation is quick to point out that they have no connection with any possible stereotypes of any ancient Earth cultures. None whatsoever. The very idea is insulting. Then they will try to cheat you out of your money, the little bastards.
Aside from being the "Predators of the 40k Universe", the Kroot are heavily based on stereotypical Native Americans in looks, to the point that one of their legendary chief's name translates to "Sitting Krootox". Being of a lower-than-average technology level (albeit still possessing technology from firearms to FTL travel) doesn't make things better. They also play on the belief once prevalent in many tribal cultures (most famously the Iroquois) that eating a defeated enemy allows you to absorb their strength. Their Bizarre Alien Biology lets the Kroot absorb DNA from their meals into their own genetic code.
"Together, we will eat them all!"
The Death Korps of Krieg is a World War I-themed Imperial Guard army. They are ruthless, dehumanised soldiers specialised in trench warfare who are absolutely disciplined, will always follow orders to the letter, and have little regard for human life, similar to how the Germans were depicted in British propaganda.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse features a variety of werewolf tribes that players had to select from, relating to the ethnic stereotypes of their homelands. Just to drive the point totally home, they have powers relating to those stereotypes. So the Irish Fianna have powers relating to drinking, the Shadow Lords (both Japanese and Eastern European, somehow) are ruthless, deceptive and power-hungry, and the Bone Gnawers (ghetto-dwellers, including African-Americans) are poor and despised. Bonus points for the Bone Gnawers, because their tribal weakness is that they can't accumulate wealth or resources, leading to Unfortunate Implications. The World of Darkness explains this by asserting that mythological creatures are the origin of various racial and ethnic stereotypes.
In Mass Effect, the volus are a race of short, weak, and nasally speaking people who live as a "client race" amongst the taller, more militaristic turians. The turians allow the volus to run their finances and commerce in exchange for protection. This is all pretty analogous to the way Jews were viewed in early Christian and Muslim cultures. Several volus are quite shady, feeding into the stereotype of greedy Jewish bankers and crooked merchants. The quarians also seem to be a Fantasy Counterpart Culture blend of Jews (with their almost religious yearning for their lost homeland) and Roma, but (despite enduring more in-universe Fantastic Racism) without the Unfortunate Implications. The Hanar, with their mysteriousness and their insistence on elaborate rules of etiquette are at least reminiscent of Space Japanese.
Master of Orion II features the Gnolams, a race of spacefaring traders whose insidiousness, obsession with money, visage and gesturing all hit way too close to home... They were also short of stature with big noses and wore little skullcaps. Moreover, of the various species' "hero lieutenants" the player can hire, the Gnolam example was named "ZOG", which may or may not have been intended as a reference to a delusional Anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. The name was changed in a patch. Even their racial music theme is based on Chassidic dance.
Escape Velocity Nova has a side quest about mercenaries from New Ireland, a planet full of Irish colonists, that includes every Oireland stereotype imaginable, as well as some severe Unfortunate Implications when the mercenaries explain why they're so good at guerrilla warfare. The game's creators seem not to have intended any of this to be offensive, as the player's character goes on at length about how much he admires Irish culture.
World of Warcraft has a lot of Fantasy Counterpart Cultures, and applies this trope to the more Acceptable Targets now and then. Namely, goblins are New Yorkers with New York accents. Their dialogue includes cliches from a variety of common New York ethnicities. They're also short, big-eared, obnoxious voiced, shrewd businessmen. In the Cataclysm expansion, the newly-introduced Bilgewater Cartel resembles the Mafia.
In Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, gnomes have large noses, tend to be wealthy bankers and statesmen, and were involved in a giant morally depraved conspiracy for personal gain. This might even be intentional: it's set in the 19th century, and reads rather like a novel from that time, when pinning such things on the Jews would have been perfectly acceptable.
The Cetra from Final Fantasy VII. Not only are they a nearly-extinct tribe of wandering chosen ones searching for a 'Promised Land', the main villain's name is lifted directly from a Hebrew concept, the 'Sephirot', which deals with how God manifests in the material world.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Selkies, despite their Celtic name, are clearly a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to the Gypsies. They're also portrayed by the other races as completely untrustworthy thieves, and when you visit a Selkie town at one point the locals will quietly pickpocket you if you're not a fellow Selkie. If you play as one you can get a letter from your mother urging you to steal everything that's not nailed down.
Minecraft features the Testificates, large-nosed merchants protected by Golems.
Freeza: I can't quite be a racist against a race that doesn't exist. Like the Clorfors. Dirty money-grubbing Clorfors. Tried to clorf me right out of my money. Blew those little bastards up is what I did.
Their version of Jeice is from Space Australia, which appears to have everything Earth Australia has, only more... spacey, such as Space Dingos.
Ultra Fast Pony portrays Fluttershy as a former slave with the vocal mannerisms of a Stepin Fetchit. She only listens to blues music, and insists that only other pegasi have P-word privileges. Oddly, the "pegasi as African Americans" metaphor isn't consistently applied to the rest of the cast: the other pegasus in the main cast, Rainbow Dash, is a Valley Girl instead.
The web video, found on Newgrounds, is called We Are Native American Cats, which has domestic cats represent Native Americans.
The Journal of Cartoon Overanalyzations blogpost, African-American Crows talks about the portrayal of crows as African Americans.
The South Park episode "Cancelled" features a literal version in a race of aliens known as the Joozians, a Planet of Hats people characterized by their gigantic noses, wealth, and control of the intergalactic entertainment business. Kyle, the Jewish kid, is implied to be related to Joozians after discovering that he's the only human in the group who likes their cuisine.
Squidbillies, rather obviously, is about squids who display hillbilly stereotypes.
Futurama has a few intentional examples, played for comedy:
The Native Martians are obvious analogues to Native Americans. They sold their home planet for a bead (which, it turns out, is a giant diamond) and are forced into small reservations; Their clothing and speech are based on old Western film cliches.
Zoidberg and his Decapoidian species are based on Ashkenazi American Jews. They speak with a thick Yiddish accent, use many Yiddishisms in their speech, and display a number of Jewish stereotypes, such as complaining and being fussy over money. Zoidberg's name is a play on common Jewish names ending in -berg. His profession is also stereotypically Jewish. Likewise, his uncle is an old Borscht Belt-style performer who removed the -berg, just as many Jewish actors hide their heritage when taking stage names. Zoidberg himself is a play on the classic Yiddish concept of the mooching "schnorrer."
The Cygnoids are Space Italian-Americans and display some stereotypical Italian-American behavior. Things get a little ironic when a family of Cygnoids open a pizza shop and show a comical level of ignorance about human cuisine and physiology.
The mer-people in "The Deep South" are based on stereotypes of people in the southeastern U.S. (they live in "The Lost City of Atlanta"), mainly shown in their exaggerated accents and standard redneck-style behavior. Though justified as they're descended from such people (the Coca-cola bottling plant sped up evolution a lot).
Tripping the Rift pretty much runs on Refuge in Audacity and this is pretty much the least offensive thing about the show, but there's at least two species of purple-skinned alien (or possibly sub-species of the same species) that have a lot in common with humans of African ancestry. One is for all intents and purposes basically a typical basketball player (only with chainsaws) and the other looks like 1940s cartoons of black people. Especially "Natives" as opposed to black characters who were born in America.
Fantastic Max had an episode were the characters runs into a group of thieving, flamboyant, swarthy (but in the end, helpful) alien con artists that literally refer to themselves as "Space Gypsies".
In some Golden Age cartoons, crows are portrayed as being African American, punning on the term "Jim Crow." Interestingly, ravens aren't portrayed this way despite having all-black plumage rather like crows.
For the Star Wars special Blue Harvest, the creators wanted to make all the Jawas into Jewas, hence the only speaking jawa being Neil Goldman, but were prevented from doing so.
The ethnically Japanese version of Brian Griffin the dog in the "Road to the Multiverse" episode of Family Guy, who has almond-shaped eyes rather than round eyes like the normal version of him.
Lots of VeggieTales characters, though they're not offensive. For example, the French Peas, Archibald the British asparagus, the hillbilly grapes (though their Pa has a New York Jewish accent), and the Hispanic or Italian Mr. Lunt.
The An American Tail movie has mice and cats - across many different countries - representing, respectively, the poor and their oppressors. Fievel and his family are Russian Jewish mice fleeing from Cossack cats, for instance. We also meet Italian mice fleeing the cat mafia, and Irish mice, for whom cats seem to represent British colonialism.
Fievel Goes West throws in some culturally-insensitive Native American mice.
Yo-Yo Bear from the Yogi Bear episode, "Yogi's Pest Guest" is Okinawan and embodies Japanese stereotypes, like being a martial artist.