Square Race, Round Class

Of course stealthy minotaur assassins exist... The only reason you never see any is they're just THAT good at hiding!

A character in an otherwise typical fantasy game/story whose profession seems at odds with their nature or appearance as assumed by tradition or the audience, like a dwarven ranger or an ogre engineer. Sometimes this is for sheer game balance and variety, while other times it's lampshaded as being appropriate if seen in the right light. After all, even if Hobbits don't make the best warriors, that doesn't mean Hobbit warriors don't exist. Somebody's gotta protect the Hobbit village, right? Likewise, with the forests you find above and around the Dwarves' mountain halls, it makes sense to have a few guys who know their way around them.

Occasionally this is the reason the Plucky Comic Relief seems so inept; it's just misplaced interest into something inappropriate for them.

Compare Stereotype Flip. May stem from Klingon Scientists Get No Respect.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Prince: There is a reason they are called "Odd Squad".
    Prince: An elven warrior... a troublemaker thief... a monstrous beast as a priest... a little necromancer girl who is scared of skeletons and steals my meatbun...
  • Cyandog in the Medabots anime has a robot body designed for shooting attacks, but his A.I. is derived from a Monkey medal that is intended to use melee attacks. As a result, he suffers from Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy-grade inaccuracy whenever he gets into a fight.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering has a lot of these...
    • Including Rhino Monks and a slightly more probable Ogre Samurai.
    • They also features an Ogre Savant, with the flavor text, "He's an oxymoron."
    • Goblin soldiers, in a setting where goblins are generally characterized by total lack of cooperation.
    • A surprisingly large number of Zombie Clerics. Similarly a couple zombie Druids.
    • Death Charmer and Pit Raptor, the improbable worm and bird mercenaries. Not humanoid worm and bird people, just inexplicably for-hire animals. One pays the trainer, possibly?
    • The Time Spiral block is full of these, by design.
  • The Pokémon Trading Card Game has a year's worth of these in the Delta Species, Holon Phantoms, and Dragon Frontier expansions. These sets featured "Delta" Pokémon, creatures with mutated types (e.g., a Charizard would become Metal and Lightning instead of Fire and Flying).
  • In Munchkin, your class and race are drawn randomly, so might get combinations that don't make much sense, like Orc Wizard.

    Comic Books 
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The original concept owes a lot to this trope. Turtles aren't exactly renowned either for their speed or agility. So what should we do, obviously? Turn four of them into Ninja Martial Artists! Trained by an intensely honorable and noble rat of all things.
  • Rat Queens has Orc Dave, who is a burly brutish-looking orc. He's the healer of the Four Daves.

    Films — Animation 
  • Kung Fu Panda:
    • Po himself is quite a good example of this trope.
      Tai Lung: He's a panda! You're a PANDA! What are you gonna do, big guy? Sit on me?
    • There was also a concept for an Elephant Ninja, though that was not used in the movie. It can be seen in the movie's artbook.
    • In the movie itself, there's also a snake and a preying mantis, who kick all sorts of ass in spite of having no limbs and being three inches tall, respectively.
  • Rémy of Ratatouille. A rat doesn't seem the most obvious choice for becoming a gourmet chef....

  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • The average hobbit is generally not fond of adventuring, burglary, or heroic renown even though their latent abilities imply they'd be especially good at it. Most derivations are based upon the Bagginses (who prefer sneaking and cleverness) or Pippin Took (a more moderate warrior type). Wandering "wild" hobbits are still mentioned in the narration, along with a comment that they may be more common than their civilized Shire cousins might think, but none are actually met throughout the story. They seem to be more like survivalist vagabonds than adventure-seekers, however.
    • The very plotline of The Hobbit is a bunch of dwarves, apparently not much good at anything except fighting or running away, who got in a group to do nothing other than sneakily steal treasure from an effectively unfightable dragon. (In the book, they're not even good fighters — they don't even have weapons until after they recover the troll treasure, and they certainly don't win a lot of fights.)
  • Horton from Horton Hears a Who!. The title elephant character must exercise a great deal of delicacy and gracefulness in order to protect a micro universe which he discovers. Same thing with Horton again in Horton Hatches The Egg.
  • Discworld:
    • It may be easier to list the cases where race matches profession on the Discworld. Through the series we see vampire photographers, troll musicians, orc footballers (and bookworms), goblin savants, policemen of every race under the sun and hiding from it, and even a girl wizard.
    • While Discworld plays with Our Dwarves Are All the Same a lot, they still tend to fall into a lot of the common stereotypes — hard-working, greedy, serious-minded, dangerous when drunk, etc. Casanunda (a Casanova expy) is a dwarven con artist and dashing swordsman who channels his race's single gender into a seducer with hints of Anything That Moves.
    • Dwarfs are almost always miners and smiths, even in Ankh-Morpork, but (aside from the aforementioned Casanunda) there's a dwarf alchemist, a dwarf fashion designer, and a dwarf playwright. (The latter is notable; he's not just any playwright, he's Discworld's equivalent of Shakespeare.)
    • There are notably no male Witches. They have a word for such a thing (Warlock) but no-one has ever met one or knows what they look like or even what sound they make.
    • The implications for employers have even been explored. If you're looking to hire someone for heavy labor you want a Troll or Golem, since both are much stronger and more resilient than the squishier races. On the other hand if you ARE a Troll or Golem you don't have any more reason to want that kind of job than someone of a different species would. (And as Gladys demonstrates, golems make pretty good secretaries/personal assistants too.)
    • Chrysoprase, a trollish mob boss is an unusually bright addition to the race.
    • Mr. Thunderbolt is a troll lawyer and a very well-respected one.
  • In Dragaera, Dragons are known as arrogant warriors who are ultra-ambitious and if angered, are direct (and brutal) about it. Kragar, who was booted out of group, has no ambition, preferring to be a Servile Snarker, and is the epitome of stealthy, being an assassin with a Stealth Hi/Bye ability so powerful that it's outside of his control.
  • In The War Gods, the Hradani are akin to Orcs. Even have a Tolkienish history of being a race of High-Men before wizardly twisted them into a race of berserkers. Bazhell, the main character is akin to an Orc Paladin chosen by the god of Justice. His best friend, Brandark, is a Bard and scholar.
  • The Legend of Drizzt started as this. Oh, drow are well-suited to fast, stealthy fighting, but when Drizzt was created, rangers in Dungeons & Dragons had to be good-aligned... and up till then you were as likely to find a good demon as a good drow.
  • Moles in Redwall are stolid, salt-of-the-earth types, specializing in tunneling, cooking and building. As of Sable Quean, we have Axtel Sturnclaw, giant-hammer-wielding Bloodwrath-using mole Badass.
  • Discussed in Counselors and Kings. Akhlaur notes that "they" always said that elves don't make good necromancers... then snarkily observes that "they" obviously never met his very elvish, very necromancer Starscream, Kiva.
  • In the Forgotten Realms novels there is an Ogre Paladin (whose dying moment of awesome manages to impress Ao the Overgod enough to be the only mortal ever get to see It and have his dying prayer that a dead companion be revived answered) and a recurring dwarf created by R. A. Salvadore that is a Druid.
  • There are a few Hutt Jedi in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, which runs rather counter to their reputation as sleazy gangster slugs. At least one of those Hutt Jedi fell to The Dark Side, though. There was also a Hutt Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic...and while "politician" might not seem such an out-of-place occupation for a sleazy gangster slug, Chancellor Blotus was known for being noble and utterly incorruptible, and one of the Republic's finest leaders in its 25,000 year history.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons, and most other fantasy roleplaying games, allow players to create all kinds of characters embodying this trope.
    • An old joke regarding character creation involves an "orc bard", where the player admits he just wanted to be able to hit people with a guitar. The counter to this is that a member of a primitive or outright illiterate race is actually more likely to maintain a strong song and oral storytelling tradition. It's not called an axe for nothing...
    • WOTC had fun with this one April: Humorous PC Portraits, including a Dwarf Ninja.
    • One of the prepackaged miniature sets they released has a Halfling Barbarian... which works brilliantly with a couple of the settings that feature Halfling Barbarians as the central example of the race, just to flip common expectations. Dark Sun has them as cannibals and Eberron has tribes of dinosaur-riding halfling barbarians.
    • Ogre Mages in nearly any setting embody this trope. There's no point in being big and brutish when you can turn most adventurers into human popsicles.
    • Bugbears, despite being the biggest and toughest of the goblinoid races, are also quite stealthy.
    • During one of their web events back in 3rd edition, one of the characters created was a succubus paladin. The backstory they gave her emphasized just how much her life sucked.
    • The early 3rd Edition book "Hero Builder's Guidebook" set aside a section arguing for this trope, providing ideas on how to present odd race/class combinations to make more memorable characters rather than perfectly optimized murder-hobos. The book provided multiple character concepts for every race/class combo except for those expressly forbidden by the base rules. One example was the aforementioned (half-)orc bard, in this case one that specialized in funerary chants and mourning songs to honor the dead and fallen heroes of the tribe.
    • Pre-3rd Edition, meanwhile, forcefully averted this trope. In the earliest games, for non-humans race was class (meaning all elves had the same basic abilities), while in later games like 2nd Edition you had certain classes forbidden from certain races. But for a tiny handful of exceptions that came later, for example, only humans could be paladins. Even some wizard specializations were limited by race, so that while elves could be mages, they couldn't be necromancers (gnomes took it so far that gnome mages could only be illusionists).
    • The reincarnate spell brings a character back from the dead as a random race, so it's possible to die a half-orc barbarian and be reincarnated as an elf, gnome, halfling, or kobold.
    • 3rd edition wasn't as bad about the aversions as 2nd or 1st were, but the racial ability bonus and penalty system certainly gave some (often fairly strong) incentives to avert this trope. For example, half-orcs, with their bonuses to Strength/Constitution and penalties to Intelligence/Charisma, were naturally suited for combat classes but at a notable disadvantage for arcane spellcasting ones.
    • 4th edition fully embraced this trope, going so far as to abandon the traditional Sacred Cow of negative racial ability attributes, under the philosophy it was more fun if a certain race was well-suited for a specific set of classes, but could still be quite adequate at anything else it chose. The only races with any specific negative traits are Small-sized ones, who suffer from restricted melee weapon choices and are thusly slightly sub-par when picked for melee-focused classes.
  • Hackmaster, mostly a parody of AD&D, is a bit of a send-up of fantasy roleplaying in general.
    • One subrace for player characters is the gnome titan, a member of a group of gnomes who follow the Gnomish God of War, and are trained from birth to be incredibly bad-ass warriors and battle mages. They still cling to their Cute/Comic Relief origins but in a decidedly twisted sort of way... one racially-specific magic item is the rightly feared +3 Gnomish Boots of Groin Stomping.
    • There's also the terrifyingly powerful Pixie Lich, of all the unlikely combinations.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Ork Kommandos. Orks are, as a rule, the loudest and least subtle species in the galaxy (their word for firepower comes from the sound it makes), so of course them having stealth units is regarded as a joke — in true 40K fashion, a soldier of the Imperial Guard trying to tell his superiors about an encounter with them was executed for making stuff up. Of course, Kommandos are all the more effective at their jobs because no-one thinks they exist. They're considered dangerously deviant even by their fellow Orks. The Kommandos wear camo uniforms, train and even have a conventional chain of command. Exceptionally un-Orky, and only their ability to slaughter their opponents has kept them safe from a preventive set of lobotomies (that said, they're still orks: many a raid has been cut short because one yelled "SURPRISE, 'UMIE!" or decided to blow stuff up before they got the target).
    • The Tau are known in the meta-game as the ultimate ranged army, their pulse weapons beating out all other races in terms of sheer firepower and range. Balance therefore dictates that their ranged units suck pickles at melee; their melee attacks are so pitiful they could just be listed as "lolno" and even if that wasn't the case, they don't have the constitution to go into melee. This is why the Tau's allied races — the Kroot, the Vespid and Human allies called Gue'vesa — have stats that lean towards melee (or at are least supposed to). So a Tau who not only gears himself towards melee combat over ranged, but actually prefers it, sounds like a recipe for disaster. The operative word being "sounds". Hello, Commander Farsight...
  • Warhammer Fantasy has Ogre Maneaters, ogres who've survived mercenary service in various armies around the world and kept the dress. Thus you can have a former Imperial soldier, a pirate captain (with a Gnoblar as the parrot) and a ninja. Yes, an ogre ninja.
  • Pathfinder all but revels in this. This is especially apparent in the "NPC Codex" Sourcebook, which gives examples of every class in just about every race.
    • Their iconic Ranger is in fact a Dwarf.
    • Half-orcs no longer get a penalty to Charisma, and in fact can get a bonus to the stat, so half-orcs can actually make pretty good bards.
    • Their thirteenth Adventure Path, Wrath of the Righteous, has no-doubt resulted in a lot of tiefling paladins and clerics of the setting's good-aligned deities. The coverart of part 1, The Worldwound Incursion, also features a half-orc paladin who is one of the Path's prominent NPCs.
  • In BattleTech units are sorted by weight class and can generally be sorted into the Fragile Speedster light units, Jack-of-All-Stats medium and (possibly Lightning Bruiser) heavy units, and Mighty Glacier Assault units. Most of the time, a light 'Mech is a scout or possibly harasser of some description, and an Assault 'Mech will more often than not carry a weight of weaponry and armor equivalent to the mass of an entire smaller 'Mech. Then there are oddballs like the Urbanmech, a slow-as-molasses light 'Mech with a BFG and as much armor as it can carry...which isn't much. More iconic is the Charger, which is an Assault-weight scout 'Mech. At 80 tons it should be able to carry more than just five tiny lasers and mount more armor than a medium 'Mech's protection, but it moves at the speed of a 'Mech 30 tons lighter and subsequently makes use of what it has.
  • One of the characters in an expansion for Red Dragon Inn is Serena the Pious, an orc paladin who was Raised By Humans. Her inherently aggressive, chaotic nature is constantly at odds with her attempts to stick to her paladin code, represented by giving her a Karma Meter that affects (and is affected by) some of her cards and actions.
  • Bleak World has it so that any class can join any organization, but some organizations were clearly made for a class. Examples include a Natural Mummy (who's racial description states they exist working outside of the Powers That Be) joining the organization, "Agents of the Higher" which works very closely with the Powers That Be. For a more traditional example, it is entirely possible for a Goblin to become a member of the Guardians, which are essentially Paladins.
  • Shadowrun almost seems to take glee in this. While the non-humans vary a bit in stat caps, almost every role can be done by every race with some creativity and use of the right augmentations, and several official adventures and characters break with racial stereotypes. That said, there are limits to everything.
  • The Legend System has a bit of this, although you can avert it with careful use of track switching and the right feats. For example, elves (+2 to Dexterity and one mental stat of your choice, -2 to Constitution) make extremely poor monks and barbarians, because both of those classes depend on Constitution for their Key Defensive Modifier, and barbarians also need it to determine rage duration. However, one track from another class can be taken for free, and there are two Rogue defensive tracks that let you use either Charisma or Wisdom for your KDM (unless Wisdom was already your Key Offensive Modifier - you aren't allowed to double-dip), and there's a feat (which anyone can take as their racial bonus feat) which requires multiclassing and lets you pick any of your tracks and revise every stat mentioned in it to a different one. Meaning that an elf barbarian can put their free-floating mental bonus into Wisdom or Charisma, swap in either "I Am Ten Ninjas" for the former or "Fortune's Friend" for the latter, and take Multiclass Flexibility for their Path of Rage so that rage duration is based on Dexterity rather than Constitution. And so on.

    Video Games 
  • The Baldur's Gate games, being based on 2nd edition Dungeons & Dragons, averts this as explained above. The player's race restricts what class they can choose (gnomes can only be illusionists if they practice magic, only humans can be The Paladin, etc).
    • One of the more popular party members from the second game is Mazzy Fentan, who basically exists to poke a somewhat bitter tongue at this by being as close to a paladin as it's possible for a Halfling to get without actually being a paladin.
    • In the first game Ardenor Crush, the leader of the hobgoblin mercenary group Chill, is mentioned to be unusually well-spoken and civil for a hobgoblin. It doesn't come up in the game, but actually he was an evil human fighter, who got killed and magically reincarnated into a hobgoblin.
    • There may not be any half-orc paladins in this series — but in the Enhanced Edition re-release, there is a half-orc blackguard, Dorn Il-Khan, in an edition of the game where the blackguard was implemented as a class kit (basically, a variant on the vanilla class) of the paladin. And No, this doesn't allow the PLAYER to select this combo. He's such a good example even the game refuses to let you copy it.
  • Most RPGs allow players to choose any class/race combination, so it's not really a notable trope for player characters unless there are restrictions that don't make sense. In many cases, the player can create a character who is unplayable or extremely challenging because of conflicting ability bonuses and penalties.
  • World of Warcraft has several class/race combinations that invoke a Willing Suspension of Disbelief.
    • Gnome and goblin characters can be the Warrior class, though the game ignores the problem of how smaller characters can hit and tank just as well as their larger counterparts. This is mostly for game balance, to give these otherwise intellectually-oriented races some class variety. Somewhat mellowed down by the fact that many bosses are humongous enough that every other race also looks positively tiny in comparison.
    • Dwarf Rogues are notoriously rare among players, as dwarves might be crafty and industrious, but they're honest people in general, they're too stocky to look convincing while sneaking, and dwarven racial bonus are of little to no benefit to a rogue. Nevertheless, the possibility exists. Note that the rogue class in Warcraft encompasses a lot of professions that exist in-lore — while sneaking and assassination are definitely "rogue-like", so is brawling and dirty, stand up, knock-down fighting. This is probably why the dwarves, a race of habitual, Boisterous Bruiser drunks, can be rogues, and this logic also probably applies to the pandaren and orcs below (removing the boisterous nature for the latter).
    • Averted with the Draenei and the Tauren, neither of whom have access to the rogue class. Both races have rigid morality which makes criminally inclined individuals among them very rare (except non-playable splinter factions like the Grimtotem tribe). Additionally, fanon has it that they're too big to be stealth-based combatants and can't sneak very well due to having hooves for feet. There are in-game jokes regarding this:
      Male Draenei: You know, our tails add to our natural balance and agility, ha! (offscreen crash)

      Male Human: How does a Tauren hide in a cherry tree? He paints his hooves red!
    • And there are NPC Draenei Rogues (in Warlords of Draenor, you can even have one as a follower in your Garrison. As well as an ogre rogue, who are normally even bigger than draenei and tauren), likely because of Blizzard being a Trolling Creator.
    • A common joke is that there are tauren and draenei rogues; they're simply so good that they've stealthed the class selection button.
    • And now, tauren and draenei hunters can actually go into stealth with Camouflage. Fear the invisible cows! Sneaking animations actually exist for all playable races, as certain items may temporarily change a player's appearance into another race, thus allowing for rogues which look like tauren and draenei.
    • Considering how tall orcs are, and how big and burly the male model is, orc rogues have not escaped fan criticism. Story-wise, however, it makes plenty of sense that they'd engage in subterfuge and assassination, and all that muscle means extra stabbing power. One of the earliest iconic lore characters was a female Half-Orc rogue, Garona Halforcen.
    • The ursine pandaren have the rogue class. They're as tall as orcs, quite a bit heftier, and nearly as painfully honorable as draenei or tauren. Interestingly enough, one of the pandaren rogue NPCs you meet, Lao Softfoot (a scout for the Golden Lotus), is said to be such a laosy rogue by one of his comrades (although this has to do with him trying to do things like steal a cannon) that rescuing him is a daily quest. (Conversly, however, there is He Softfoot, who is such a good rogue that despite giving you several quests he has yet to say a word in-game.)
    • For the most part, Priests are victims of Gameplay and Story Segregation, as priesthood is defined by the lore as being a spiritual leader for their race, but mechanically and visually their abilities are the same as the Light worshipped by most of the Alliance and Blood Elves, which someone taking a cursory glance wouldn't be able to make sense of why said race can be priests. Night Elves worship the goddess Elune, Forsaken either worship the forsaken shadow or stay with the light (at the cost of harming themselves with their own spells), Tauren worship the Sun God, Trolls are Voodoo priests, and Pandaren follow the teachings of Chi-Ji, the avatar of hope, and Goblins... seem to follow the light, but most we see from them are greedy televangelists, so it's hard to say if it's the light or something else (Faith in money?). This is also why Orcs are the only playable race that don't have priests, as their spiritual leaders are and always have been Shaman, priests would be redundant.
    • This also applies to professions, since there are no restrictions to what races or classes can have professions, although some may get a bonus. For example, it's entirely possible to make your Tauren Druid a miner and engineer. (Note that the Tauren and Dwarves do not get along mainly because the dwarves tend to dig up the wilderness, if not for mining, then for archaeology, then add druidism onto that...)
      • Of course, if you want to be really good at mining or archaeology - or do the job more cleanly - a connection to the earth would be useful, and if you care about the condition of the earth you might choose to directly work for the miners and archaeologists (again, doing the job with less mess) instead of tracking down and whacking their agents.
  • Warcraft II has Ogre Magi, who while inferior to the dedicated spellcasters (the Magi and the Death Knight) are capable of the same supporting spellcaster role as the Paladin, while also being an equal in combat.
  • Mass Effect 2: There aren't really any surprises in your party: a quarian mechanic, a krogan berserker, an asari biotic... The real surprise is Thane, not in that he is a drell assassin, but in that he was trained by a group of hanar. The hanar train drell as assassins specifically because they know how ill-suited they are to the job (poison tentacles notwithstanding).
    • There's also the In-Universe fictional character of Blasto, a Hanar Spectre who speaks in parodies of action movie quotes ("Enkindle THIS!"). The Elcor have also put on a production of Hamlet, which seems unintuitive as Elcor communicate by speaking in monotone and simply announcing their emotion at the begining of each sentence. No wonder it ended up running 14-hours.
  • Moria prevented this trope. Angband permits it, but says they aren't recommended.
  • NetHack allows you to play as an orc wizard, apparently because the race is a bit of a Scrappy among players due to its poor starting equipment. Dwarves in NetHack will always fall in this trope. A proper dwarvish role like miner or blacksmith doesn't exist. The only roles dwarves can play are Archeologist, Caveman and Valkyrie. None of these is very dwarvish. Other role/race combinations like elven Ranger or orcish Rogue are more appropriate.
  • Ancient Domains of Mystery lets the player mix and match races and classes freely. Note that some combinations (like a Troll Wizard) will be MUCH harder than others. On the other hand, a Troll Healer is considered a very good build for beginners, due to the racial healing rate boost stacking with the Healing skill, as well as obligatory Literacy (most Trolls are too dumb to have this skill and must obtain it through a quest). It helps that Healers are usually pitifully weak, while Trolls are anything but. The only problem with this combination is the enormous food intake (luckily, all Trolls start with the Food Preservation skill to slightly mitigate their monstrous appetite).
  • Dungeon Crawl also allows any combination of race and class. One notable enemy example is Deep Elf Blademasters, as player character Deep Elves are a Squishy Wizard race; frail, weak, and horrible at learning combat skills.
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura has Jormund the dwarf wizard, who, due to being a dwarf, has a natural penalty to his magical aptitude and must expend twice as much energy when casting a spell. There's also Jayna Stiles, a half-elf who has none of her races' natural talent for magic and decided to pursue a career as a technologist healer instead.
    • The player character can specialize in magic or technology regardless of race. An elf technologist may actually be a decent build depending on which tech schools you specialize in (you can rely on skills elves don't get penalties in), but the doubled mana cost of spells makes it hard to play your dwarf as a pure wizard.
  • The RPG/RTS hybrid series Warlords Battlecry allow the player to combine any race with any class, creating Orcish Tinkers or insectoid Bards.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
    • Brodras, a Wood Elf member of the Leyawiin Fighters Guild wears a suit of heavy armor and also offers basic training in the Heavy Armor skill. He even lampshades this trope by saying: "No jokes about the Heavy Armor, eh? Not every Bosmer sneaks around with bows and arrows. I'm as tough and beefy as any Orc. Got it?"
    • There's an Orc assassin in the Dark Brotherhood. He is hardly sneaky, though: if you ask him to advise on your current target it tends to be "walk up to them and hit them with an axe!"
    • Trayvond the Redguard, who, when you first speak to him, lampshades that there aren't many Redguards in the Mage's Guild.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
    • Urag gro-Shub, the Orc librarian at the Mages' College.
    • Also to lesser extent, Nord mages, such as Onmund, Tolfdir, Farengar Secret-Fire, Wuunferth the Unliving and, possibly, a Nord Dragonborn who would happen to choose a Magic-oriented class. Like Orcs and Redguards, most Nords are Proud Warrior Race Guy and think that magic is for the weak.
    • However, many of the (ancient Nordic) draugr use magic, and indeed, another Nord character states that the ancient Nords had absolutely no problems using magic— the disdain and suspicion many Nords have of magic-users is a more recent development. Heck, if you decide you want to go on a crime spree in Whiterun, one of the (Nord!) guards will shoot icicles at you, while all the rest shoot arrows or simply chase you and try to stab you.
    • A lesser example would be Legates Fasendil and Sevan Telendas, a High Elf and Dark Elf who wear heavy Legion armor and belong to the "Soldier" class. High Elves are almost always mages, and while Dark Elves are more versatile, they also tend to be mages or thieves/rogues.
    • There's a (terrible) Orcish bard and a (not terrible) Orcish master chef as targets in the Dark Brotherhood questline and Arnbjorn carries on the legacy of the Orc assassin from Oblivion. He's a Nord as well as a Werewolf.
    • Falion, the wizard in Morthal whom nobody trusts, is a Redguard conjurer. Redguards in Skyrim now start with small bonuses to Destruction and Alteration, but Conjuration is still seen as a wicked art for daedra-worshippers and necromancers. Falion is, inarguably, a necromancer who has dealings with the daedra, but he doesn't seem to be a bad person and will even cure you of vampirism if you ask him to.
  • Androids in Phantasy Star Online cannot use Techniques (PSO's version of magic). However, bored players have made FOcasts (magic-using Androids) using rare weapons that have Techniques as their special attack. By no means viable on higher difficulties, but when helping out a friend in lower difficulties it can be a fun Self-Imposed Challenge.
  • Rift, which lacks race/class limitations, has a rogue trainer NPC snarkily lampshade the trope:
    Djinaen Donox: Some claim that bahmi are too large for proper rogues, but then I stab them.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, there's a Dwarf you can meet in Orzammar who desperately wants to study at the Circle of Magic. In the setting, Dwarves are physically incapable of using any magic, and this is pointed out to her repeatedly, but she is still dead set on studying there even if she can't sling a spell. If you help her the epilogue reveals that her purely academic approach actually advanced knowledge of magic and Lyrium considerably. And in Dragon Age: Inquisition, this dwarf returns as your arcanist!
  • One of the companions in Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide is Xanos Messarmos, a half-orc barbarian/sorcerer. Which is actually not that strange as these are both brute-ish classes, although his spellcasting is slightly hindered by half-orcs taking a charisma penalty.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2
    • Storm of Zehir does it twice with cohorts. Belueth the Calm is a Neutral Evil aasimar rogue. Aasimar are humans with a good-aligned outsider for an ancestor; they have +2 Wis and Cha, and their favored class is paladin.
    • Then there's Grykk Bannersworn, a half-orc paladin.
    • And of course there's Gann in Mask of the Betrayer, a hagspawn spirit shaman.
  • Team Fortress 2 has nine classes, all with specific purposes, so there tends to be a certain way to play, i.e. the Sniper stays at the back and hidden, the Medic hides behind team-mates and corners, the Heavy barges in, etc. But with a little bit of cleverness and the right weapon loadout, you can play them vastly differently.
    • Combat Medic: You'll want the Blutsauger or Crusader's Crossbow, the medigun, and the Ubersaw. Don't heal team-mates; just charge right at the enemy, and use another medic in tandem and the build-charge-on-hit Ubersaw to create an infinite chain of invulnerability.
    • Combat Engie: You'll want the Frontier Justice and/or Widowmaker, and the gunslinger mini-sentry. Instead of turtling behind a sentry nest you'll quickly deposit weak but fast and annoying mini-sentries to distract the enemies and get in their faces. With good aim the widow-maker will give you infinite ammo and no need to re-load, and the Frontier Justice will give you certain crits for every person your mini-sentry kills.
    • Forward Sniper: Really, anything, though the Huntsman and Jarate are favored, since they are short-to-mid range weapons which are devastating in the right hands. If the Jarate is being used, the Bushwhacka is also popular for its combo crit.
    • Ninja-Heavy: You'll probably want to equip the Tomislav, Sandvich and Gloves of Running Urgently. The GRU will allow you to flank and quickly show up in places the enemy doesn't expect. The Sandvich will keep you healed when you don't have a medic nearby. And the Tomislav, with its silent spin up, will allow you to pounce on unsuspecting victims when they turn corners.
    • Support Soldier: The Cow Mangler 6000, Concheror, and Disciplinary Action. The Cow Mangler is both ammo-independent and capable of shutting down engineer buildings, the Concheror allows the soldier to regenerate, and allows him to give his allies a speed boost and heal on attack, while the Disciplinary Action helps others move faster.
    • Demo-Knight: Give the Demoman the Charge'n Targe and a Sword (the Eyelander is a favorite) and you'll leave him with only his basic grenade launcher, but turn him into a melee force that can close the gap with any other class ridiculously fast, and with the Eyelander giving more speed and health for every enemy he decapitates, a well-played demoknight can become an unholy terror that will One-Hit Kill anything weaker than a heavy. (In fact, the Charge'n Targe and Eyelander took a lot of criticism for basically redefining the class when they came out among the very first alternate weapons.)
  • Guild Wars 2 has no class restrictions between any of its five races, so this tends to happen a lot.
    • It's possible for the hulking Charr and Norn to be stealthy thieves. Charr can also be spellcasters, despite that Elementalists led a Path of Inspiration that nearly damned Charr society in the backstory.
    • The knee-high Asura can be just as capable as warriors and guardians as the taller races.
    • Anyone can be an engineer, who utilize a variety of guns and steampunk devices... including the Sylvari and the otherwise technologically-backwards Norn. Nor is it just Gameplay and Story Segregation: Scarlet Briar, the antagonist of living story season 1, is a sylvari engineer lore-wise.
  • EverQuest only lets certain races play as certain classes. Only the more intelligent races could be Clerics or spellcasters. Only the Evil or Neutral races could be Necromancers and Shadowknights. Only Humans could be monks (until the first expansion, when the Iksar were introduced.) Only the more primitive races could be shaman (in fact, this was the only class Humans could NOT be.) Despite there being some race/class balance issues (Ogres were physically unstunnable from the front, as well as the strongest race, making them the best Warrior period,) the game worked all the classes well into each race's lore and culture quite nicely. EverQuest II did away with these restrictions, allowing any race to be any class. This lead to class/race combos like Ogre Assassins, Ogre Troubadors, Ogre Wizards, Dwarven Illusionists, Troll mages (in general,) Troll healers in general, Gnome Monks, Dwarf Monks, Halfling Monks, Ratonga Monks, Froglok Monks, Erudite Shaman, Erudite Berserkers, Erudite druids, and High Elf necromancers (after betraying Qeynos) with very little justification in the lore for them to ever be such classes other than the fact that the cataclysms and wars that happened over the last 500 years forced all the other races to flock to the Human cities of Qeynos and Freeport for refuge allowed them to explore new options. Even from a game mechanic standpoint, certain races are certainly better at specific classes than others, but at the end game it becomes a moot point, since stats rewarded from gear allow most players to hit the stat cap and pretty much be on equal footing with everyone else. All the races no longer had inherent traits that made some of them superior as certain classes either.
  • Dwarf Fortress plays with the stereotypical dwarf by putting the player in the position of running a self-sufficient medieval city with nothing but dwarves. Dwarven farmers, dwarven lumberjacks, dwarven cooks and even dwarven tailors and seamstresses inevitably show up.
    • Probably a bug, but very very rarely one of the other civilizations may send you a demon. As a diplomat.note  Yeah.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic:
    • This was originally averted for player characters, which only allowed a few species per class. However, the legacy system and cartel market have allowed unlocking species to be played with any class, so you could make a Sith Pureblood Jedi Knight or even a Miraluka Bounty Hunter.
    • NPC companions originally had assigned roles; among the tank companions were a Jawa, an astromech droid, and an Ewok. The Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion'' changed things so any companion could have any role, so you could assign an HK assassin droid to serve as a healer.
  • Wizardry 8 has no class/race restrictions, just stats discouraging certain combinations; sure, Lizardmen have lowered mana regeneration and stats focused on physical fighting, but that doesn't keep one from making one a spellcaster. There's even a unique item in-game that can only be wielded by a fairy ninja.
  • The queen of this trope may be Fall-from-Grace from Planescape: Torment. She is a succubus priestess of Experience and one of the nicest, most reasonable individuals in the game. Her race are Axe Crazy demons who engage in slaughter For the Evulz. Her subtype are Horny Devils who rip the souls out of those they tempt and drag them to the Abyss. Grace? She runs the Brothel of Slaking Intellectual Lust where she houses and educates beautiful women who will spend time with you for a price. The services on hand are esoteric, such as word play, debate, games, and philosophy. None of her girls' bodies are for sale. Finally, she belongs to the Society of Sensation, a group usually stereotyped as vapid hedonists, but Grace is a refined, chaste epicurean who seriously tries to sample all existence so she can learn from it.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has no racial restriction on its classes, meaning that the massive Roegadyn can be casters, and the barely two-foot (if that) tall Lalafell can be Warriors. This isn't just in gameplay either, while there's a predisposition for certain races to be certain classes (Lalafell thaumaturges, Miqo'te archers, Roegadyn marauders), a Lalafell marauder is the Scholar's class partner, and the Marauder's guild's partner is a Roegadyn conjurer.
  • The Heroes of Might and Magic series has Yog, who, despite having a natural talent for magic as a half-genie, abandoned his wizard training at the academies of Bracada in favor of becoming a Barbarian Hero.
  • Age of Wonders 3 introduces a class system in addition to elemental preferences, and each race can be every class. And even the campaign does not shy away from some surprises, such as a Goblin Theocrat, an Elven Rogue, a Draconian Archdruid... and in the DLC we get a Halfling Dreadnaught who comes with her own type of Golem called a Party Robot.
  • Holly Whyte holds the White Mage asterisk in Bravely Default and is as far from the classical depiction of a female that uses white magic as possible, having the personality of a particularly sadistic and capricious Dominatrix. Even more jarring, if we take into account that her team (Argent Heinkel the Knight in Shining Armor, Barras Lehr the all-brawn-no-brains Bare-Fisted Monk and Ominas Crowe the deranged, stuttering pyromaniac of a Black Mage) are practically stereotypical depictions of their respective jobs.
  • Dragon Quest VI allows every party member to take ranks in every vocation, in any order they choose, and more importantly lets them keep all the spells they learned in that vocation. While it's funny enough to imagine the hulking Carver in mage robes (or healing someone) or the diminutive Nevan as a gladiator, the combat potential is awe-inspiring, allowing for teams of Glass Cannon that can revive each other at will, or Stone Walls that take forever to bring to low health only to fully heal themselves in one go...

    Visual Novels 
  • In Fate/stay night, Archer is a Servant who focuses on swordfighting in spite of his class abilities. Lancer notes the absurdity of this, and wonders what legendary hero Archer is supposed to be, given his strange mish-mash of powers unrelated to archery. Word of God states he could have been the Saber for that Grail War, but King Arthur/Arturia fits the role so well that any other class would fit her even worse.
    • Not that that stops Saber from showing up Fate: Grand Order as a Lancer and Rider, which both make sense thematically, but both are Saber ALTER. And the latter is her acting as Santa! Also as an Assassin under the name Mysterious Heroine X/Z where she is dedicated to wiping out all the Saber look-alikes.

    Web Comics 
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Belkar Bitterleaf of the Order of the Stick — a Chaotic Evil halfling ranger with a level or two of barbarian, making him the deadliest three-foot-tall dagger-wielding Sexy Shoeless God of War in the world. He also has fairly poor stats as a ranger, not even having enough Wisdom to cast spells.
    • A lesser example would be the half-orc ninja Therkla.
  • Yamara Tooke became a barbarian before Belkar. Also, the strip contains Too Much Information on halflings:
    Arcalula Tooke, cyborg halfling: And of course, who hasn't heard of the legendary Chibi — the halfling Jester/Samurai of Japan?
  • Hereville: The Webcomic. Mirka is yet another troll-fighting 11-year-old orthodox Jewish schoolgirl.
  • The furry fantasy comic Fight, Cast, or Evade has Stillwell, a surprisingly light-on-his-feet elephant thief. Also, the trunk comes in handy with pick-pocketing.
  • anti-HEROES features a female bugbear with a Maid Prestige Class (and some levels of rogue, too). As in, a big, hairy goblinoid in a French Maid Outfit.
  • Goblins is about a squad of non-evil goblin adventurers. Dellyn Goblinslayer, when realizing Thaco has an adventurer class, clearly didn't expect the race known for being "Usually Chaotic Evil" to be a lawful Monk, to say nothing of Big Ears the Lawful Good Paladin.
  • In this strip from Manly Guys Doing Manly Things, Jared desperately wants to play an elephant centaur rogue. The next strip has him refusing to do anything other than steal chickens, despite the GMs many objections, with a nice image of said elephant centaur rogue in action in the first panel. Coelasquid notes in her notes that she had tried the very thing Jared did (except it was a bison centaur). While her DM talked her into becoming a ranger instead, she figured Jared would stick to his guns.
  • In By the Book the original main characters are a goblin, an orc, and a kobold who find a Player's Handbook and decide to become adventurers. The goblin wants to be a fighter and the orc wants to be a social rogue, despite their racial penalties to strength and charisma respectively. While the kobold picks wizard, no advantage or disadvantage there, just unusual as his favored class is sorcerer.
  • In Prequel, a Webcomic set in the world of (and a week before) Oblivion, the main character Katia is a Khajiit born under the sign of the Atronach who is trying to become a mage. Being an Atronach means that she doesn't naturally regenerate magicka, but has to absorb it from places like enemy attacks, healing spells or potions, and being a Khajiit puts a -10 Willpower penalty on her stats.
  • In one strip of Awkward Zombie, Katie-as-Robin gets a kick out of reclassing every unit who could possibly be a War Cleric into one, including Miriel, who has no physical prowess and can't even lift the axe she's been given as her new weapon. Also featured: mage!Virion, (no magic prowess), and Wyvern Rider!Nowi (her also being a dragon makes her extra weak to wind attacks)

    Web Original 
  • The French MP3 saga Le Donjon de Naheulbeuk gives us a banjo-playing orc and a guitar-playing ogre. But then, this is a fantasy setting which runs on the Power of World Music with wacky lyrics, so....
  • In one of his Counter Monkey segments, Spoony talks about a character that had this phenomenon: a half-orc thief. When asked the obvious question of how a half-orc, a notoriously unstealthy race, could steal anything from anyone... the half-orc bonks the offender in the head with a club and loots him while he's knocked out. Spoony cracks he's not that kind of thief — he may be of the thief class, but he's roleplaying it more as a brute thug.
  • JourneyQuest features an orc archeologist... who proves to be rather brillant. Then again, the orcs of this world seem to be a bit more civilized than average. (Notably, they respect the rule that bards have immunity, since humans are expected to reciprocate for orcish bards.)
  • Played with by the race/class combinations in Critical Role, which seem a little odd for 5th Edition D&D. Most notably, Keyleth and Scanlan. Keyleth is a half-elf druid; half-elves get a +2 to Charisma, but druids cast with Wisdom, and Keyleth's total Charisma modifier is actually negative for most of the show. Scanlan the gnome bard also counts for the same reason, as gnomes get an Intelligence boost, but bards cast with Charisma. However, the group was originally playing in Pathfinder, where those race/class combos make a lot more sense (half-elves get no bonuses or penalties to their stats, and gnomes get a Charisma boost). They only seem like odd choices if you don't know that the group played in Pathfinder first.

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Fluttershy, whose special talent is being a Friend to All Living Things. This is very unusual because Fluttershy is a pegasus pony. Earth ponies have a stronger connection with nature than unicorn ponies (who are spellcasters) or pegasus ponies (who can fly and control the weather) so it would make more sense for a pony talented with handling animals to be an earth pony.
    • Also happens in the episode "Magical Mystery Cure" where five of the Mane Six get their cutie marks switch around, causing them to each think that their special talent is something they are unsuited for. Rainbow Dash, who is also a pegasus pony, gets Fluttershy's cutie mark and fails horribly trying to handle animals. Meanwhile Rarity, who is a unicorn, gets Rainbow Dash's cutie mark and attempts weather control using magic. Note that unicorns can control the weather and do it just fine, but the problem is Rarity's obsession with style and appearance over functionality — it is a character-specific problem and not a species one.
    • Another thing to note is that Rarity seems to be a physical fighter despite being a unicorn. Although she does not do combat very often, when she does she seems to favor attacking physically rather than with magic, though she does frequently use magic for non-combat tasks. Judging by the flying kick she does in one episode, she must know some martial arts. This possibly can be explained by the fact that most unicorns are limited to only a few types of spells for mundane tasks related to their special talent (and Rarity's special talent isn't combat), though it is not clear how strict this limit is.

Alternative Title(s): Elephant Rogue, Rogue Elephant