More than just a Token Minority
, this sort of character has been written into a series specifically because the minority group is associated with a group that the country is at war with (to various degrees of hotness or coldness).
Usually, there are two reasons to include such a character: either as a way for the writer to use the enemy in the series without stereotyping all members of the group as enemies, or as a way for the writer to express his opposition to the war or its excesses. As such it's rare before the 1960s. It can be strange if minorities of other
types are conspicuously missing—if the only Asian on your World War II super-team is Japanese, it's pretty obvious what's going on.
Alternatively, works set in the future will use a current enemy as an ally as a way of pointing up how futuristic they are being. ("A Russian serving with an American
? Now I know
we're in the future!")
In Spy Fiction
, this makes a lot of sense
; operatives with a background in the enemy's culture can go undercover much more easily
. Questions will almost certainly arise about whether or not this character is a Double Agent
The character often remains stereotypical in ways other than being an enemy. In cases where this overlaps with Token Non-Human
, this results in Token Heroic Orc
open/close all folders
- In addition to Lelouch/Zero himself, Britannian TV producer Diethard Reid from Code Geass fits this trope for The Black Knights, a Japanese rebel faction. Instead of believing in their cause, Diethard is a Jerkass who joins because he worships Zero and he finds amusement in them.
- Major Miles from Fullmetal Alchemist is part Ishvalan and yet chose to join the military responsible for the genocide of his people.
- Kira from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED was treated as one - being a coordinator piloting a Gundam on an EAF vessel. At least, for as long as the series focused on the Archangel's journey to Earth (and then Alaska.)
- In the X Astray Manga, his "brother" Canard was this as well - a coordinator serving with Eurasia (a member of the Earth Alliance.)
- Hillman's Air Fighters Comics (1941-48) featured two, reformed villainess Valkyrie (Liselotte von Schellendorf) and her Air Maidens in the Airboy feature (she would reappear in later incarnations of that franchise) and The Heap, a proto-Swamp Thing in Skywolf. The Heap was World War 1 German flying ace, Baron Emmelmann, merged with swamp vegetation.
- Pvt. Eric Koenig in Sgt. Fury's Howling Commandos was a defector from the Nazi military.
- Jim Morita as well.
- Dino Manelli.
- Although Sgt. Fury was not created until the 1960s, when West Germany, Japan and Italy were safely allies of the United States.
- Rampart in Chris Claremont's Gen13 (Arab Muslim during the War on Terror). Noble gesture, but unfortunately a bit Captain Ethnic; the guy said "Oh Allah!" so many times you'd think it was his Catch Phrase.
- Golden Girl in The Invaders (Japanese during World War II—note that she's a Retcon hero; real World War II comic books didn't do this).
- Tsunami in All-Star Squadron (Japanese during World War II; likewise).
- Colossus in X-Men (Russian during the Cold War).
- Dust in New X-Men (Afghan Muslim during the War on Terror).
- The Black Widow in The Avengers was a hero, despite being a Russian spy. She started out as a villain, before embracing capitalism.
- Similar stories for Darkstar of the Champions and Red Guardian of the Defenders during the 1970s. This Red Guardian costume-wise modeled herself on the Black Widow's late husband.
- Red Star from the 1960s Teen Titans comics, although he was not a regular character.
- Averted during the time when he WAS a regular (1991-1994), as the USSR ceased to exist around the time.
- Rocket Red #7 in Justice League International. It turned out he was The Mole... for invading aliens, not Russia. His replacement, Rocket Red #4, played the trope straight.
- Contessa DeFontaine for S.H.I.E.L.D.. At least for a while...
- The 1994 action-comedy True Lies had a "good" Arab working with the government agents who are trying to stop a band of Arab terrorists. This didn't stop the movie from being widely tarred as anti-Arab.
- Well, the good Arab was clearly an American of Arab descent, speaking with a fluent American accent, so that might have had something to do with it. In fact his ethnicity isn't brought up once. He might be Arab, but at least he's not foreign.
- In The Siege, Tony Shaloub's character is this as an Arab-American FBI agent. This is of course a central conflict to the movie as racism against Arab-Americans increases after several terrorist attacks.
- Interestingly, in reality, there is a similar FBI agent that was heavily involved in the investigations before and after 9/11 named Ali Soufan. He was a major critic of CIA Enhanced Interrogation Techniques. His own method of getting terror suspects to talk was much more effective, he would enter into hours of philosophical debates with the suspects in Arabic and often in the process they would leak useful information.
- General Gogol from several James Bond films — he was a Russian General, but was usually an ally to Bond. Even as the Bigger Bad in For Your Eyes Only he was a Friendly Enemy at worst, and is back to ally in the following movies.
- Hammer Films' Space Western Moon Zero Two had an American pilot hero with a Russian engineer sidekick (and a British everything else, but that's another trope entirely) as part of its philosophy that space exploration would dissolve all the old Earth prejudices.
Captain Kemp: He's a foreigner.
Hubbard: That's not quite what I meant...
Kemp: We're all foreigners up here.
- The remake of Red Dawn (2012), in which the North Koreans are the enemy, will have an Asian-American Marine played by Kenneth Choi working with Colonel Tanner.
- In Captain America: The First Avenger, one of the Howling Commandoes is Jim Morita, a Japanese-American man played, again, by Kenneth Choi. When another soldier comments on his race, Morita indignantly says "I'm from Fresno, Ace". And indeed, there were a number of Japanese-Americans soldiers in World War 2.
- Earlier, the scientist who creates the super serum that gives Captain America his strength is a German defector portrayed very sympathetically. When Steve asks where he's from he replies with his american street address then the place in Germany. He also comments that the first country that the Nazis conquered was Germany, though political rather than military due to the conditions after WWI.
- Aces Iron Eagle III has an old British World War II pilot working alongside old World War II pilots...who are German and Japanese.
- Inglourious Basterds has Hugo Stiglitz, the only non-Jewish German in a Nazi-killing unit(Aldo Rayne is of course not Jewish, but he isn't German, either). In Stiglitz's case, it's unclear as to why he kills Nazis, aside from a flashback of him being lynched.
- The Boondock Saints: The main villain is the Mafia; one of the heroes is Italian.
- Black Hawk Down is about 120 American soldiers going into Somalia and fighting Somalis. Nearly every American soldier is white but there is literally just one black guy named SPC Mike Kurth (Gabriel Casseus). The fact that he's the only black soldier is never mentioned by any character in the film.
- The Untouchables is about prohibition agents fighting Italian mobsters run by Al Capone. One of the agents, George Stone (birth name Giuseppe Petri) is also Italian. This leads to bigotry from Irish-American cop Jim Malone (Sean Connery) who calls him a "thieving wop" upon discovering that he is Italian. Interestingly enough, Stone is played by Andy Garcia who is actually Cuban, not Italian, but is famous for playing Italian characters.
- Herald Alberich of Karse in Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar series was the Token Enemy Minority Herald, until he got two entire books as the protagonist and stopped being just a token. Then there're three other books (published earlier, taking place chronologically later) with a Karsite priest as one of the protagonists. As of the chronolocially latest books in the series, Karse is now allied to Valdemar, but for centuries they were very bitter enemies fighting a perpetual war.
- Robert A. Heinlein's story Sixth Column was a reworking of a John W. Campbell story where the Yellow Peril invades America. Heinlein wrote that he had to remove racist elements from the original story, and the final story has a Japanese-American as one of the good guys. Assuming this was an addition by Heinlein (which seems likely), it may be unique as an example of the trope used during World War II.
- None of the Enemy race joins the "good" side, however. Also, in a racist part, a white man gets plastic surgery and tattooing to infiltrate the bad guys...because the idea that any of that race could be recruited (or, being America, actually be born in America) is impossible. All in all, one of the stories that Heinlein must wish he had never written. One version of the introduction explicitly states that he only wrote it because he was needed the money and goodwill from an editor that requested it.
- The trope is Invoked by Jacobson in Jo Walton's Half a Crown, who is prominently the only Jewish member of The Watch, a sinister State Sec organization that is more-or-less a British gestapo. The remaining British Jewish population perceive him as a Collaborator Figurehead, not knowing Jacobson is running a Zero Approval Gambit and is using his resources within The Watch to help run a large-scale Underground Railroad.
- Song at Dawn: Al-hisba is a muslim in France during the time of the Crusades. There is much culture clash.
Live Action TV
- Chekov on the original Star Trek (Russian during the Cold War). The producers spread a fake rumor that Pravda complained about the absence of a Russian on the show. Although you'll notice that the multi-ethnic cast is subordinate to the guy from Montreal.
- Worf in Star Trek: The Next Generation is a fantastic variant of same, as a member of what was the main Big Bad alien race in the original Star Trek, though by the time of the new series relations are tense, but no longer hostile, and they improve over the course of the franchise due in no small part to Worf himself.
- Before TNG, the Star Trek comics had Konom, a Klingon defector serving on Kirk's Enterprise.
- Seven of Nine, being a de-assimilated Borg serving on a Federation ship, is arguably an example too, though she was human before assimilation.
- Odo from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a Changeling raised by Bajorans, is another example. His native people are leaders of the Dominion, which ends up waging a war against the Federation.
- Garak, also on DS9, is a Cardassian who, despite officially being a spy working for the enemy, typically sides with the Federation where it really counts.
- Illya Kuryakin in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., who turned out to be a friendly Russian spy. Justified because the agency they worked against was hated by both the free world and the communist bloc. Quickly promoted to joint protagonist after positive fan reaction, so ceased to be 'token'.
- He later moved to Scotland, went to medical school, became a medical examiner and works for NCIS.
- A rare modern example is Djaq from the BBC's recent Robin Hood, a friendly Arab woman who's as good a fighter as the rest of the crew and gets to bag her chosen Merry Man at the end of Series 2.
- Sayid Jarrah from LOST. He served in the Gulf War. For the Republican Guard. Dude.
- Danny Galvez from Homeland is a Muslim-American and a CIA operative working to take down Al-Qaeda terrorists.
- Though some fans theorize that he is The Mole
- Leonard on Community is this trope played for laughs: despite appearing in every way to be an elderly American male and Korean War veteran, it is later revealed that he fought on the North Korean side.
- If it wasn't for the presence of Steven Gomez, one might think the writers of Breaking Bad are bigoted against Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, and Hispanics in general.
- Older Than Steam: In Shakespeare's Henry V, Henry is accompanied in his French war by (fictional) Scottish, Welsh, and Irish soldiers. It is Macmorris the Irish captain who really fits this trope, as Henry V was written in 1599 in the middle of a very bloody English war against Irish rebels.
- In 1776, George Read is the only anti-independence member of the Delaware delegation, which leads to a critical deadlock during the independence vote that can only be broken by bringing back the absent Caesar Rodney on an eighty-mile ride during a thunderstorm. (Which was Truth in Television, albeit a little more dramatic in the show. The feat is depicted on the back of the Delaware quarter.)
- In Home Front, Resistance member Hopper Lee is Korean-American. He mentions that anyone who looked even slightly Asian had been getting lynched when he left Oakland, and he was "lucky" to only have his home burnt down.
- Oddly, its a better example than most because Hopper is surprisingly understated about the horrific treatment he's received. The Resistance Fighters are pretty stunned about it when he does mention it.
- The Medalof Honor game Rising Sun has the heroes fighting Japanese soldiers in WWII. The main villain is Masataka Shima (Mako Iwamatsu), a high ranking officer for the Imperial Japanese Army. The protagonist works with Ichiro Tanaka, a brave and loyal Japanese-American OSS agent.