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Token Minority
Token Minority is a character designed to get more minority groups into the plot. This serves several purposes:
  • Allows the producers of the show to broaden the appeal of the show by giving more viewers protagonists they can identify with.
  • Is useful for bringing in discussions of racial issues, gender issues or homophobia into the plot.
  • Helps the producers feel a little better about using a Scary Minority Suspect in every other case.
  • Allows the producers to make race jokes related to minority without any shame.
  • Allows the producers to avoid criticism from minority groups.
  • Fulfills the executives' desire for the show to be more ethnically respectful.
  • Depending on the setting, it can merely be an accurate representation of demographics in that region or industry.

In some casts of animal, alien, or monster characters, World of Funny Animals or not, there is a majority species and one or more minority species. Often the majority of the animal cast is made up of mammals and there is a token non-mammal. Usually, the token non-mammal is a bird, but reptiles, amphibians, and even invertebrates are certainly not unheard of. Sometimes, there are token Petting Zoo People in a group of Funny Animal/Civilized Animal tier animals. Sometimes, there are token animals, aliens, or monsters representing ethnic minorities in a group made of supposedly "white" ones.

You might see this term used derisively in most contexts. This isn't out of contempt for minorities; this trope simply causes problems with representation, where, for example, the single black guy is forced to be exemplary of his entire race. This is very likely to lead to Positive Discrimination and make him The Scrappy. If there are instead four minorities (assuming a sizable cast), they can all have different strengths and flaws which round them out and make them generally equal to the rest of the cast. Taking this approach, Unfortunate Implications are unlikely to happen unless you somehow subject them all to the same stereotypes. You can even have one be explicitly antagonistic.

Compare Captain Ethnic, Token Nonhuman, Token Human, Token Enemy Minority, Token Minority Couple, Token White, Twofer Token Minority, Five-Token Band, Informed Judaism, Black Vikings, Black Best Friend, and The Smurfette Principle.


Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • TV Ads in Australia sometimes have this (especially in "hip" young thing products like Coke). May have 1 Asian Woman, 1 African Woman, 1 White Girl, 2 White Guys and 1 Aboriginal or Middle Eastern Male.
    • Target ads are particularly well-known for this. There will always be one blonde white girl, one brunette white girl, one Asian girl and one black girl. Always.
  • University brochures also do this. You'll always see at least one black person and Asian person for every two white people. In brochures for traditionally black schools, there's a token white on every page. Further proof that Covers Always Lie.
    • A controversy erupted after it was revealed that a photograph used to adorn the front of a University of Wisconsin-Madison undergraduate application booklet for the 2001-02 school year was altered to add the image of a black student among a sea of white faces.
  • A Veet ad has this. When they state that eight out of ten women were happy with the product, they showed a lineup of eight women with one of them being black. Curiously, they are all dubbed over with the same voice.

    Anime 
  • Poor Hans, in The Daughter of Twenty Faces, is seemingly the only non-Japanese member of a group of burglars led by Gentleman Thief "Twenty-Faces" that is ostensibly a globe-trotting organization. He often uses Gratuitous German, to boot.
  • Macross/Robotech had Claudia Grant/Claudia LaSalle, apparently the only black woman on the entire ship. Southern Cross had Bowie Emerson, seemingly the only black man on the entire planet Glorie. In Robotech, he was re-written to be Claudia's nephew.
  • Rakshata and Viletta of Code Geass, as they're the only Non-White/Chinese/Japanese characters of any plot importance, and of the two, Rakshata is the one who gets played in a more positive light. Of the others, we have a supposedly elite pilot who dies mere seconds after she first appears on screen, and King. And Nunnally fits in to the paraplegic category.
  • In the first season of Gundam 00, Daryl Dodge has the honor of being the only black person at all. He's also killed off in episode 23.
    • Season 2 does introduce another black man as president of the Earth Sphere Federation, although that might be more to reflect the real world than tokenism. However, he has little impact on the plot.
    • A minor example with Setsuna F Seiei-whilst he does appear to fit this trope both within Celestial Being and in the wider Gundam metaverse in regards to protagonists, his middle eastern homeland forms a two episode story arc in the first season and plays a large role in his interactions with the princess of a neighbouring country. However, the middle eastern aspects of the story only serve to represent the region and 21st century problems to Japanese audiences, and beyond that, has no real importance to the story as the series progresses.
      • Plus, Setsuna doesn't look all that Middle Eastern, his character design is the same features as the other characters only with slightly darker skin, and he looks so different from all the Middle Eastern background characters seen in the show. The same goes for Marina Ismail, who has blue eyes- a rarity for anyone of Middle Eastern origin.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket has Professor Lunland as the sole black character, and Gabriel as the sole Latino.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ has the black Shinta and Ambiguously Brown Qum, but that's about it. Later in the show, Judau ended up befriending a young pilot from Africa, but his time on the show was very brief.
  • Beyblade. There are only 13 females in a cast of... what, fifty? More? A couple of mothers, one evil scientist and the blading girls are strictly rationed to one per team.
  • Simon is the only black character in Durarara!!, though a black gangster is also seen in the episode "Heaven's Vengeance". It's also implied that minor character Tom Tanaka might be part black, though it's never clarified either way.
  • Elza Gray was the only black character in Sailor Moon.
    • There was also the Ambiguously Brown Sailor Pluto, depicted as noticeably dark-skinned in comparison to other Senshi, and moreso in the manga.
  • Indian student Akira is the only non-Japanese member of the main cast of Tsuritama. Kate, the grandmother of one of the other protagonists, is French, while several black and Arabic members appear in the show's villainous Cosmopolitan Council.
  • Bob from Tenjho Tenge would count as this. He's the sole black member of the otherwise Japanese cast.
  • Similarly, Central High's Vice President is the only black character in Daily Lives of High School Boys. Understandable since the series is set in a small Japanese town, and usually it tends to be large cities that take part in student exchange programs with other countries.
  • Yasutora "Chad" Sado in Bleach is half-Japanese, half-Latino in an otherwise manga-typical all-Japanese cast.
  • Jun Hono, the half-black, half-Japanese pilot from Great Mazinger and Mazinkaiser.
  • Jose Rodriguez, the nerdy Afro-Latino doctor from Kyo Kara Maoh!
  • Mikasa from Attack on Titan is one of the very few Asians alive, if not the last one, at the time of the story.
  • In Saki, an inversion happens for Rinkai, whose mahjong team is otherwise composed of transfer students. Satoha, the vanguard player, is the only Japanese member of the team, partly because of the rules requiring a Japanese player as vanguard, and partly because she is the ace. Played straight with Aislinn of Miyamori's team, who is from New Zealand and is on an otherwise entirely Japanese team.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist The Conqueror Of Shamballa takes place in early 20th century Germany. Of the main characters Noah is the only non-White character, being Romani.

    Audio Play 
  • Lampshaded in The Firesign Theatre's "High School Madness" sketch, from the album Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers, where Mexican-American students come out of nowhere just to ask the white protagonist for advice (then promptly disappear).

    Comics 
  • Adam Brashear, the Blue Marvel who featured in the eponymous mini series of 2009, represents a rather awkward representation of this trope. He is for all intents and purposes (in the context of the story) a Black Superman from a time when the adjective was quite emphatically capitalized. And applied as a noun. It doesn't help that even without his powers, Brashear is a super-man - an athlete, military hero and scientific genius who gained ultra-super-powers when the experimental anti-matter reactor he was creating exploded. For about a year, he was the primary hero of the Marvel Universe (perhaps coincidentally around the same time the Sentry was supposedly very successful), but then it was discovered he was black, which immediately led to outrage and uproar among both black and white communities, until the President (JFK) gave the Blue Marvel the Congressional Medal of Honor and told him to quit being a superhero. Which he did until the present day. He is now a member if the Mighty Avengers.
  • Under the "women as minorities" category (which, in superhero comics, they definitely were until relatively recently and in many books still are) every superhero team used to have exactly one female member. The Avengers had The Wasp (later replaced by the Scarlet Witch), the Fantastic Four had the Invisible Girl (later Invisible Woman), the Justice League had Wonder Woman (or the Black Canary, depending on when you asked), the Teen Titans had Wonder Girl, the original X-Men had Marvel Girl, and the second team of X-Men had Storm (who was also, for quite a while, the only black X-Man. She joined the team along with Sunfire, a Japanese man who left almost immediately, and Thunderbird, a Native American man who died almost immediately, making her also the only active non-Caucasian X-Man for a good while). All those teams except the FF tend to have more female members these days (though the JLA goes through periods of focusing on D.C.'s "Big 7" wherein Wonder Woman is the only female member) and some have gone through stretches where the women outnumbered the men.
  • Blindside in the comic series Relative Heroes. Notable in that the series was about a family of superheroes, and Blindside was explained as having been adopted in order to justify having a black kid as part of the main cast.
  • The Justice League goes back in forth on this, with some eras (such as the Meltzer and McDuffie years) having very diverse casts, while others, like the James Robinson run, were criticized for having no minority members whatsoever. During the New 52 relaunch, Cyborg was retconned into being the sole non-white founding member of the original team, presumably to make up for the extended periods of whiteness.
  • Lampshaded in Grant Morrison's JLA run. Plastic Man jokingly states that Steel can't quit the Justice League because then the team would lose its only minority member.
  • Archie Comics:
    • In order to keep up with changing American trends, the comic added some ethnic characters in the 70's: African-Americans Coach Clayton, his son Chuck (who, like many Africans of the day, sported a righteous 'fro) and Chuck's girlfriend Nancy, as well as the Hispanic Frankie Valdez & his girlfriend Maria. As of 2010, the former three continue to appear quite regularly (and Chuck has naturally lost the 'fro). The latter two, not so much.
    • The company later introduced Kevin Keller, the first gay character in the series. Kevin was met with backlash by some conservative Christian groups but his debut issues sold very well and he was even given his own mini-series.
    • Recent Archie comics have also introduced some other minority characters, including Ginger Lopez (who works for a teen fashion magazine) and Raj Patel (an Indian student interested in film). Ginger shows up fairly regularly (moreso than Maria).
  • Debuting in 52, Batwoman managed to provoke a Broken Base even before this due to press releases touting her as DC's first lesbian hero, who would be receiving DC's full support. Then DC promptly didn't do anything with her outside the series for over a year (and even in the series, she received little attention, as she was more supporting cast for her girlfriend, Renee Montoya). In all that time, she had very little storyline, so her characterization was mostly as a closeted lesbian and a Jew. When she did finally get her own series, she abandoned her Lipstick Lesbian lifestyle for tattoos and apparently coming out off-camera.
    • This seems to be the product of a retcon though, that established that Kate had tattoos and her alternative fashion sense YEARS before 52 took place. It also established that she had come out as a teenager, and that Renee was the closeted one in their relationship. So it seems the closeted lipstick lesbian phase more or less never happened in the current continuity.
  • The Falcon was this in-universe. He was added to The Avengers because Gyrich insisted that the team should have more black members; he didn't actually want to join.
    • According to Christopher Priest, Falcon's nickname in the Marvel offices throughout the 70s and early 80s was "Fal-coon". No, Priest wasn't alright with it, though being a lowly intern at the time, he didn't raise a big stink. In his blog, he refuses to name the co-workers who used it for fear of burning his bridges.
    • Years later, Triathlon served the exact same role (again, in-universe) during Kurt Busiek's run. Later iterations of the team were thankfully more diverse.
    • Rage also had bits of this in his debut story. He was given a spot on the Avengers line-up after picking a fight with Captain America over the lack of minority heroes on the team.
  • Empress was the sole minority member of the original Young Justice team, and was added relatively late into the run after some complaints about the Monochromatic makeup of the cast.
  • Lampshaded in Peter Milligan's X-Force run with Anarchist, a black superhero who opposes the decision to add another black member to the team. His reasoning? Since most superhero teams rarely have more than one minority member, another black guy on the team means that one of them will inevitably die.
    • Averted in the X-Statix series that followed, which has an additional black member (Venus), plus a Latino member (El Guapo), and two gay members (Vivisector and Phat).
  • In the 2005 Marvel comic Wha...Huh?, one of the stories reimagines Black Panther as a Caucasian from South America, who is upset when he learns that The Avengers just want a token black superhero in their team and thought he was misrepresenting his race (also, Black Widow is just there to fill the "woman quota".)
  • Though Runaways had a more diverse cast than most other mainstream comics, the team has only ever had two black members, neither of whom stayed until the end of the series, and one of whom was actually a Skrull.

    Fan Works 
  • The "black guy in the corner" from Sherlock Season 4. The author even explicitly states that he added him so his story wouldn't be racist.

    Film 
  • Parodied by Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle with posters advertising the first movie as starring "That Asian guy from American Pie" and "That Indian guy from Van Wilder".
  • In terms of film, equally well parodied/referenced by the "Token Black Guy" in Not Another Teen Movie. Named Malik Token, the Genre Savvy token helpfully explains the joke to the audience by introducing himself as the person that stays out of conversations and says "Damn!", "Shit!", and "That is whack!" At a party later in the film, he sees another black guy, played by Sean Patrick Thomas, Token Minority from Cruel Intentions, and tells him that he was at the party first and the other man apologizes and leaves the party. Malik's Crowning Moment Of Awesome was when he got to say, "Damn, that shit is whack!"
    • Also the musical number
    "I'm only in this song because I'm a black guy"
  • Star Wars
    • After Episode IV became a blockbuster, numerous people noticed that an entire galaxy of humans were all white. (Which was not entirely true; it was just that the main characters were all white.) Episode V introduced Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian, the Token Minority Black.
    • Samuel L. Jackson in the prequels may also be a example of this, as his character serves as little more than a background character until Revenge of the Sith (excluding his excellent use in the Clone Wars shorts).
    • Casting Temuera Morrison, who is a Maori, as Jango Fett and by retroactive consequence, his clone Boba Fett and every single clonetrooper reduces all other characters in the series (black, white or green) to token minorities by sheer weight of numbers.
    • The initial casting announcement for the first episode of the third trilogy included another black actor, but not Billy Dee Williams. Meaning, as of this writing there are now three black guys in the Galaxy Far, Far Away, but in accordance with this trope, only one is allowed to be alive at any one time.
    • Since then, they've also added Lupita Nyong'o to the cast of Episode VII.
  • While the 2006 historical film Flyboys was already heavily criticized for its historical inaccuracies relating to its World War I setting, one of the more amusing ones came from the film's fictional Token Minority, Eugene Skinner, a black boxer who joined the squadron to 'pay back' his adopted homeland. Mainly because the end of the movie showed a picture of the real-life squadron which was composed of exactly zero minorities. A rare moment where a film actually seems proud to reveal when it didn't do its research. The Other Wiki's entry on the film points out that the film confuses the Lafayette Escadrille with the Lafayette Flying Corps with whom Eugene Bullard (the real person Skinner was based on) actually flew.
  • Harvey Weinstein loved using this trope for his productions back in the late 1990's and early 2000's. Starting with Scream 2, nearly all of his teen-aimed productions had at least one token black character (often played by a rapper) solely to bump up the box office. He seemed to stop this after Shall We Dance?, which had an Advertised Extra in the form of Ja Rule (who appeared in one concert scene and had no purpose to the plot).
  • Mercutio is a black Drag Queen in the Baz Luhrmann film of Romeo & Juliet. Also a case of Black Dude Dies First.

    Literature 
  • The Animorphs series was actually pretty groundbreaking in its handling of minorities. In the '90's, it was extremely unusual for a middle-grade novel to have a minority protagonist at all, let alone four of them. (Rachel and Jake were Jewish, Cassie was black, and Marco was hispanic). It also got away with discussing prejudice a few times, a biracial relationship (and it was even acknowledged a couple times), and a little racism portrayed when the ultimate message wasn't about the evils or racism (specifically, the society at the beginning of the third Megamorphs, and the racist guy Cassie meets when she travels through time). They even acknowledged the existence of gay people, which was almost never done. Oh, and there were two female protagonists, and they weren't treated any differently than the males in terms of their ability to kick ass, making the series one of the first middle-grade series to have a cross-gender appeal. All in all, it was one of the most inclusive series of its day. And in later books, K. A. Applegate proved even more that she was dedicated to diversity without stereotypes.
    • One of those later books was the Remnants series, which had several black, Hispanic, and Asian characters, a character who had a messed up face because it was burned in a fire (2Face), and Noyze, who grew up deaf. They even tried to put a lesbian in this kids series from 2001, but sadly, it didn't quite work as planned.
  • Invoked in a short story "Papanin's Mauser" by Michael Veller. It depicts a drift-ice research unit of four people. Three of them are Russians and Communists and the last one is a nonpartisan German. According to the Soviet laws three Communists is enough to constitute a Party cell, so every day they have to conduct a Party meeting, for members only. During these meetings the German has to leave the "meeting room", that is the tent where they all live and spend time tramping around it in the bone-chilling cold. Eventually he applies for membership in the Party to end this nightmare but is rejected on the following ground: as he is he symbolizes the international nature of the Soviet people and the unbreakable ties between partisans and nonpartisans.
  • Jessi in The Baby-Sitters Club.
  • In How To Build A Skydeck, fish-out-of-water protagonist Stan realizes that all his co-workers avoid him for being a Token Minority. Specifically, being the only white guy on the construction crew.
  • Lord Wulfston in The Savage Empire books by Jean Lorrah is the only black person we see in the first five books or so. On the other hand, nobody makes a big deal about it; he just has a hard time being anonymous.
  • Harry Potter's school Hogwarts has a few, including the very Irish Seamus Finnegan (although there may be others who are less obvious), the Indian Patil twins, the Jewish Anthony Goldstein, the Chinese Cho Chang, and the black Dean Thomas, Lee Jordan, Angelina Johnson, and Blaise Zabini. To Mrs. Rowling's credit, no ado is made of any of these characters' ethnicities, nor are they ever described as such. In fact, Word of God has been needed to identify some of the black characters in the series.
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: Yoko Akia is the Token Asian, and Alexis Thorne is the Token Black of the Sisterhood or the Vigilantes. The other women are white. The two characters' nationalities definitely play a role in the series. Oddly, Alexis reveals in her thoughts that she knows that she was framed for crimes she did not commit because she was a poor black woman, but in the book starring her called Lethal Justice, that was not brought up at all!
  • Gone has a very large and very diverse cast, with multiple black, Asian, Latin, and gay characters, and even one character with severe autism.
  • The Mortal Instruments: Simon is Jewish, Maia is biracial, and Magnus is part Asian.
  • Shaunee and Kramisha from The House of Night. Also bonus points that Kramisha is the only black Red Fledgling. She is portrayed as a Soul Sister who speaks mostly in jive.
  • In the book "Come a Stranger" by Cynthia Voigt, the main character gets to be the only black girl at an exclusive summer camp. After the camp gives her a lame reason for kicking her out, she gets asked "How does it feel to be an ex-token minority?"
  • Both Jem Carstairs and Magnus Bane from The Infernal Devices are part Asian.

    Live Action TV 
  • Teen Wolf seems to maintain a slot for a recurring gay extra (Danny in seasons 1-3, Mason in season 4). These characters are usually only in about half the episodes in any given season, onscreen for less than two minutes if they do appear and may not have any actual dialogue. They occupy the roles of best friends of secondary characters. If they have dialogue, it almost invariably contains some reminder that they are gay. The tokenism appeared to be broken in Season 3 with the introduction of gay werewolf Ethan. But he also occupied a minor role, did not always have lines and was only present for the one season.
  • 30 Rock
    • Lampshaded when, to call attention during a GE exclusive lunch, Jack calls out, "Gentlemen... token ladies."
    • The character Toofer is named for the Twofer Token Minority trope.
  • In a transparent attempt to say "we had a gay regular on the show," Law & Order had Serena Southerlyn come out as lesbian to the audience in the last minute of her final episode.
    • Worth noting that actress attended the same school of Mona Lisa Smile as listed above.
    • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit lampshades it when Detective Fin replaces Detective Jeffries (both are black). The show also averted it in later seasons with the addition of M.E. Warner and Dr. Huang to the regular cast. As of Season 15 this trope is entirely averted, as of the five members of the main cast two are Latino and one is black.
  • Averted in Grey's Anatomy, in which almost half the regular cast is non-Caucasian. The production team is, however, very aware and tellingly proud of the fact.
    • The GA staff used racial-blind casting, when you start auditions without picking the ethnic background of the characters.
    • However as the show continued and a load of new cast members were added, the majority of them were white.
  • Subverted on The Red Green Show, with the character of Edgar K.B. Montrose, played by First Nations actor Graham Greene. Greene himself approached producer Steve Smith, asking to be on the show after enjoying it on TV. The role they gave him was essentially colour-blind - that of an explosives "enthusiast" who can't really call himself an expert, since experts have the proper license and permits, and more training in handling dynamite than just watching a lot of Road Runner cartoons. Edgar was Too Dumb to Live, but that also described everybody else on the show. The only reference to Greene's ethnicity in his time on the show was a humorous Shout-Out in his first appearance, when Edgar commented about the film Dances with Wolves, and stated that the "Native guy" (Greene himself), should have gotten the Oscar.
  • Similarly, the only non-white main character on Corner Gas is Davis Quinton, the Sergeant of Dog River's two-member police force. He (and the actor who plays him, Lorne Cardinal) is a member of the Cree Nation, hardly a rarity in Rural Saskatchewan. However, this is incidental to his character; it's only brought up once, at the end of the first season, when Karen suggests going to a ticket scalper and he acts offended. Also, both bartenders (Phil and Paul) appear Cree. One of them speaks some Cree, enough to know the original name of Dog River.
  • Referenced in Star Trek: Voyager (itself a very racially diverse show) where Janeway and Chakotay discuss the issues involved in a ship crewed by both Federation members and Maquis separatists. Janeway notes that by making the Maquis Chakotay her second in command she hopes she has already shown that she can be tolerant of them, and Chokatay responds "I have no intention of being your token Maquis."
    • Back in the original series, the creators had to fight Executive Meddling to get two Token Minorities, Sulu and Uhura, on the bridge, and some nonwhites among the extras. The original pilot pushed further with a female second in command, and Spock was considered to be radical at the time as an Alien, especially with the original plans being for Spock to have either green or red skin. Also notable that both lead characters of Spock and Kirk were played by Jews. Then there's the gutsy move of creating a Russian main character at the height of the Cold War.
    • Deep Space Nine, with a somewhat varied cast itself, has an odd class example. Miles O'Brien is heavily played up as a Closer to Earth blue-collar NCO in a staff of implicitly elite Officer and a Gentleman types, complete with a labour-movement martyr in his ancestry. (Granted, one can call Captain Sisko upwardly-mobile, as the son of a restaurateur, but this was revealed much later and never emphasised.)
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation of course had Worf as an in-universe example, the only Klingon in all of Starfleet, having been adopted by humans in his youth. Quite a bit of Character Development resulted from his dealings with born-and-raised Klingons who variously failed to live up to his idealized image of Klingon honor or disapproved of his choice to stay with the humans instead of returning to his people (where his family was disgraced anyways).
  • In The Class Kyle's boyfriend Aaron is introduced as a secondary character to counteract the Monochrome Casting.
  • Averted in the original Battlestar Galactica, especially in the episode "Fire In Space" which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Boomer and Tigh's extensive roles.
  • Pete Ross from Smallville is an especially funny example, as his comic book counterpart is white.
  • Both radio experts on Hogan's Heroes were token black characters. Given that they were all prisoners and obviously not all from the same unit, WWII segregation wasn't really an issue.
    • Sgt. Kinchloe (played by Ivan Dixon) was more than the radio expert - he was second-in-command. He also had at least three episodes showcasing him. And his role was prominent enough that the practice of cutting out the black characters for the "Southern Version" (practiced up to the late 1960's) wasn't usually possible. Sgt. Baker (played by Kenneth Washington) was a better fit when he took Kinchloe's place, having previously been the one black guy in the mob of line-less background prisoners.
    • It is still notable that most of Kinchloe's spotlight episodes were the only ones to feature a black Girl of the Week (an African princess and an old high school girlfriend respectively).
  • Saturday Night Live has been guilty of this at multiple points in its run.
    • Garrett Morris in the 70s.
    • Eddie Murphy in the early 80s. While certainly nobody would question Murphy's right to be there, the fact remained that the show felt no obligation to have another black in the cast as long as Murphy was there. (In fact, Robert Townsend, who was originally hired to be the token black guy, was let go once Murphy showed up.)
    • In the early 90s, the show for a change had multiple blacks in the cast. However, when SNL turned over most of its cast in 1995, they kept Tim Meadows on primarily to avoid giving the impression that the show was trying to rid itself of all its black performers.
    • For the past few years it's been just Kenan Thompson.
    • Season 35 introduces Jay Pharoah alongside Kenan. As a matter of fact, he's beginning to take some precedence over Kenan, especially to play the skinnier, more handsome African-American celebrities such as Denzel Washington. But it helps that his impressions are spot-on for nearly anyone. However there's also the non-black but non-white characters, like Nasim Pedrad, who is Iranian (notwithstanding the controversy over whether Iranians should be lumped in with Arabs and other Semitic peoples, or whether they are "dark whites"), or Fred Armisen who is part German, Japanese and Venezuelan. He is both the second Asian and second Hispanic cast member of SNL.
      • The first Hispanic cast member was Horatio Sanz, a white Hispanic from the looks of him. He was often cast as Italian characters.
    • In late 2013, SNL received a lot of criticism for their relative lack of black female cast members throughout their almost 40 year history. They held a casting call and ended up casting Sasheer Zamata, who is only the fifth black female cast member in the history of the show and the only one on the show since Maya Rudolph's departure in 2007.
  • Benson from Soap (made in the 70s, mind) was the only black character in the show for the first three seasons and he was the butler. He was never used to put across any racial message and if anything he was the Only Sane Man in the entire show.
    • When Benson got replaced in season three, there was Saunders the Expy, also black.
    • In season three only there was Polly Dawson, a black woman who dates Danny who was there to try and push a racial message around. They do get some racial attacks and eventually Danny gets paranoid about everybody staring at the two of them in public.
  • MADtv was guilty of this with Bobby Lee, the only Asian on the show. He even played a stereotypically Asian recurring character.
  • Ricky and later Junito (Latino) of Noah's Arc, which has a predominantly African-American cast. In fact, they are the only non-African-Americans of the cast.
  • A sketch on Dead Ringers lampshaded this with the Schwarzenegger film Shooting Lots and Lots of Bad Guys with my Very Big Gun- Arnie shouts "Noooooo! Token Black Buddy!" after his sidekick is killed by Token British Bad Guy.
  • Dreama (black) in Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • Both subverted and played straight. Instead of bringing a token gay character onto the show, the writers had one of the three central characters turn out to be a lesbian. On the other hand, it wasn't until the seventh season that there was an important character who was black, and when he did show up he was the token black guy.
    • Season 3 had the Genre Savvy (and sadly under-used) villain Mr. Trick, a modern black vampire who commented on the fact that there were very few people of color in Sunnydale.
      • There were also a few other black characters, like Absalom and Olivia, as well as Rona in season seven.
  • The U.S. black music program Soul Train had some token white dancers in the audience.
  • The character of Charlie Young was added to The West Wing just because the NAACP was criticizing the show for not having a Token Minority. Charlie's "token minority" status is particularly interesting in this case, as the only two of the shows main characters are white and Protestant (and that is if one guesses on Sam, whose religion is not mentioned but can be presumed not to be Catholic or Jewish). Two of the main characters are Jewish, four are Catholic, making the show's main cast far more diverse than the actual US population, even without Charlie in the mix.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise, unlike the previous shows (which were such aversions of Humans Are White they were often accused of being Five Token Bands by some), has a black guy, a Asian woman, and everyone else is white. And also note that, in order to make it obvious to the audience he was only on the show so they could say they had a Token Minority, the black guy was a glorified extra...
  • Subverted on ''Sue Thomas F. B. Eye" where the main character is a deaf female FBI agent.
  • Scrubs had the great feature of JD and Turk's College Brochure. Turk is photoshopped in twice to make it appear more diverse. Lampshaded in the episode My Long Goodbye when Turk struggles to think of other black members of staff. He gets himself and Nurse Roberts (whom he is speaking to), Snoop Dog Attending, and Leonard the Security Guard...
    Turk:This is a white-ass hospital.
    He then adds that if this were a horror movie, he'd be getting nervous.
  • Venus Flytrap on WKRP in Cincinnati, although the show made a strong effort to depict him as a well-rounded individual.
  • Parodied in an episode of The Real Husbands Of Hollywood where George Lopez guest-stars as himself, with his introduction caption stating "Helping attract Latino audience."
  • On House, Omar Epps was the only series regular of color for three seasons, until House hired three new underlings, at which point Kal Penn became the token South Asian guy. Having said that, Wilson, Cuddy and Taub are all Jewish to varying degrees of obviousness. And Thirteen is bisexual, and House is an atheist. And his atheism is portrayed... well, not negatively, at any rate. They do okay.
  • Robin Hood has David Harewood as a black Friar Tuck in 12th century England.
  • Van Pires had Snap, who is really blatantly this (just look at that nickname!)
  • Bonnie Bennett in The Vampire Diaries TV show. She has her own storyline for a bit, but it turns out to exist only to facilitate the (white, male) lead vampire's storyline. She was white in the books - but they completely erased the existence another extremely prominent female character who was Latina and definitely minimized Bonnie's personality and agency.
  • Joss Whedon's Firefly
  • Showtime's Dexter manages to avert this. In adapting from the book, the producers were given the liberty to change the ethnicity of any character based on the actors they wanted to hire. Instead, they hired a genuinely racially diverse cast and nobody got a Race Lift. However, the issue of tokenism is addressed; LaGuerta got her position based on her ability to spin things to her advantage and her Twofer Token Minority status (black Hispanic woman), and when she pisses off her boss, he very carefully replaces her with a second twofer-token (a black, Haitian woman) who got her rank as an officer the hard way.
    Captain Matthews: (referring to LaGuerta's replacement) Turns out she's an actual hero.
  • Khaleel "Kenny" Al-Bahir is the Token Middle Eastern in The War At Home.
    • Also token gay.
  • In Flashpoint, we have Lewis Young, Winnie the dispatcher and after Lewis's death Leah Kerns as the Token Minorities.
  • Spin City had Carter Heywood, a Twofer Token Minority who averted both Positive Discrimination and plain old discrimination by being a well-rounded character. Michael Boatman was the only regular black cast member.
  • LOST, despite having a huge cast from a diverse range of backgrounds, only ever had one gay character, Tom Friendly. And his sexuality wasn't even confirmed until after he'd been killed off.
  • Some Disney Channel shows include a rich, intelligent, yet conniving and selfish Latino as a token minority character. Some examples: That's So Raven, The Proud Family and Hannah Montana.
  • Earth 2 had a token black character who was a violent criminal whose "reform" consisted of a chip in his brain— when the chip malfunctioned, he tries to kill everybody.
  • Carrusel has a few. Cirilo is Black. David is Ashkenazi Jewish. Kokimoto is Japanese. Bibi is North American of English Ancestry.
  • Jim Carrey launched his career being the only white guy (most of the time) on the predominantly black In Living Color!.
  • Modern Family has Gloria and her son Manny, who fit Hispanic stereotypes perfectly. They are also used as an excuse to use Hispanic jokes shamelessly. There are also two gay men who are raising an adopted Vietnamese child.
  • Boy Meets World had two separate token blacks a different points: Eli Williams in season 3 and Angela in seasons 5-7. Angela lampshades this a few times: "Gosh I got to get some black friends."
  • Transparently present every single time a British channel is presenting Association Football. The usual line up is "old white managernote ", "middle-aged white recently retired ex midfielder/defender/goalie", "just-retired black forward/midfielder". Sometimes they even try to claim "Scottish" as equivalent to "black." Infrequently but annoyingly, the channel ends up with someone from Francophone Africa whose grasp of the English language simply isn't up to the job, making the tokenism at play especially obvious (and presumably depriving Francophone viewers of the much better standard of commentary he could offer in his native tongue).
  • The modern Charlie's Angels revamp adds a black Angel in order to appeal to modern audiences.
  • Stockinger, the spinoff of the Austrian show Inspector Rex, has Antonella Simoni, a cheerful Italian-Austrian cop and the first female cop to appear in the Inspector Rex franchise.
  • A few Australian cop shows have had a single token Polynesian cop - Water Rats, Rush, and East West 101 are good examples, although East West 101 had a Muslim Arab-Australian cop as the main character, so in that case 'token' would be stretching it. Regardless, whether this represents a trend in the Real Life Aussie police force, or just actor availability, is unknown.
  • All 3 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation series had one black character each. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation had Warrick first and then Ray Langston, though with his departure, there aren't any. CSI NY has Sheldon Hawkes, although he will shift to recurring character if a 10th season happens. CSI: Miami had Alexx until she left.
  • There are quite a few black characters on Supernatural, but somehow none of them come even as close to being core cast as the women. In fact, the only one who managed to be seriously recurring was the psychotic Vampire Hunter who eventually became a vampire. His Scary Black Man traits were played with initially in that Dean thought he and his badass attitude toward decapitation was awesome, and then the guy turned out to be a hateful extremist who'd offed his own little sister after she was vamped, which pushed Dean's Berserk Button, and who didn't make any distinction between Friendly Neighborhood Vampires and the dangerous kind.
    • The archangel Raphael, the one who never really does anything or gets much characterization, is the one linked to a bloodline of black people. He never even wears the same black person for more than a couple of appearances, because after he burns them out and dumps them they're in no condition to consent again. That poor family. Also, those poor actors. The guy who he wore in 'Free to be You and Me' was pretty impressively creepy.
    • There was a married black couple of hunters, one of whom was British, who were rude and overconfident. The husband died in their first appearance, and the wife was not very useful and never came back. First-season psychic character Missouri Moseley could have been useful on a number of occasions since when they've been desperate for allies, including on a couple of occasions specifically a psychic, but has never even been referenced, even when they went back to her town, although it was too late for help by that point.
    • In seasons two and three there were a few appearances by hard-assed Cowboy Cop Victor Hendriksen, the black FBI agent assigned to the Dean Winchester case. He had an Enemy Mine when the station in which he was holding the boys fell under demonic siege, and after they left he was killed. He reappeared as an angry ghost at the beginning of season four.
    • There's also Bobby's old partner Rufus Turner, gruff old bastard with a taste for fine scotch.
    • Minorities other than black generally don't even get token appearances, though there were some hot Asian fanservice girls, at least one with a small speaking part.
    • The longest running non-white character is probably Kevin Tran, who showed up at the very end of season 7 and made sporadic appearances throughout seasons 8 and 9. His mother, Linda, also premiered around the same time, but has been in even fewer episodes than him. And as of the mid-season 9 finale, Kevin has been killed off. He showed up as a ghost a few episodes after that, and left with Linda. Neither have been back since.
    • This is a show about two white guys, with the addition of up to two other white guys, where a supermajority of women with speaking roles are blondes. Everything but white males appear only as token, although a couple of white women have gotten to the level of supporting cast before dying. (Or, in one recent case, being given Laser-Guided Amnesia so they wouldn't be traumatized by their kidnapping, or miss Dean after he left them for their own good.)
  • Played painfully straight in The Walking Dead with T-Dog, who is the only major character in the series not to have any sub-plots and little dialog. Extremely apparent in Season 2 episode "Judge, Jury, Executioner" in which the group deliberates whether or not to kill Randall, the episode focuses on the opinions of every member of the group except T-Dog whose one line of dialog is cut off by Dale.
    • Played even more painfully straight in Season 3. T-Dog is killed off, shortly after they gain a new black cast member. The new black guy is then killed off later, just as Tyreese, another black guy, shows up.
  • Angel had Charles Gunn as the only black guy, though Doyle and Lorne might count as token demons.
  • In Chuck, it's lampshaded that Morgan only manages to keep his job at the Buy-More because of his Hispanic descent, fulfilling the ethnic diversity quota set forth by company policy. Big Mike makes it clear the moment he finds another Hispanic nerd to do his job, Morgan is gone.
  • Mixed-race Angel Coulby was the result of Ability over Appearance when it came to casting her as Guinevere on Merlin, and to their credit, the producers have never once defended or explained this decision beyond saying that she was the best for the role. However, one can't help but feel that the later inclusion of Gwen's brother Elyan was the result of this trope: he's the only black knight of the Round Table and doesn't really get to do much.
    • His death, which seemed to only serve as an excuse for people to brush off Gwen's post-brainwashing strangeness, was far from encouraging. After Gwen returned to normal, he was forgotten.
  • JAG had a few minorities represented in lead and recurring characters: Major/Lieutenant Colonel Sarah 'Mac' Mackenzie is multiracial (Caucasian-Iranian-Cherokee), Commander Sturgis Turner and Congresswoman Bobbi Latham are African-Americans, Gunnery Sergeant Victor Galindez is Latino and Harmon Rabb has a Russian half-brother.
  • Leon from NCIS was one of the first recurring black characters - introduced in season five - though his race is rarely ever mentioned, and Agent Dorneget (a minor character introduced in season nine) is the only recurring gay character.
  • Australian soaps tend to be about middle-class white people, and usually don't even bother to include a significant Token Minority character - Home And Away did have the Samoan Australian actor Jai Laga'aia's character, although the moment another non-white actor got a part Lagai'a was fired. Neighbours is a little less closed-off, having allowed an Indian Australian family, the Kapoors, to join the main cast.
  • Invoked in-universe on Suits where Jessica Pearson's backstory reveals that she was originally hired by the law firm because she was a black woman and the firm decided it needed "diversity". She was initially told that she was hired strictly on merit but later saw a working memo which specifically had "diversity" written next to her name. What really pissed her off was the fact that the memo did not mention her being a top-of-her-class Harvard graduate or her work at the Harvard Law Review, which should have made her one of the top candidates for the job no matter what her race or gender is. She got even by rising through the firms ranks and then ousting the managing partner who wrote the memo.
  • Habib (Asian and Muslim) and Gladstone (black Caribbean) on The Thin Blue Line. Of course, this is modern day London, so an ethnically diverse workplace makes sense.
  • Fresh Off The Boat: Invoked; at one point Eddie Huang (the new kid) gets into a scuffle with an African-American kid who says that Eddie's the new token minority.
  • On The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, every season will typically have one or two minority contestants who never win and rarely even get close to winning. These contestants also frequently fall into But Not Too Black.

    Mythology 
  • Balthasar, one of the threenote  Wise Men, has been depicted as black since Medieval times. Melchior is sometimes depicted as Asian as well, so the Wise Men represent the three continents of the Medieval world: Europe, Asia, and Africa. One researcher has found references in an ancient manuscript saying that the Magi came from a country called Shir, which was in the far east, bordered an ocean, and produced silk. The Magi might have actually been Chinese, or perhaps Persian.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Even Peanuts wasn't immune. Franklin joined the cast in a nod to the court-ordered busing that was going on at the time. As Chris Rock points out, he was the only one in the cast without any distinct personality.
    • In one interview, Schulz admitted that he really didn't know what to do with Franklin, since he had no experience with black children. Ironically, the producers of one of the Peanuts animated specials found a role for Franklin here.
    • Amusingly, cartoonists of Schulz's generation were not taught how to draw black characters without making them look like grotesque stereotypes, so for Franklin, Schulz just drew a "white" kid and then gave him curly black hair and lines across his face to symbolize dark skin.
    • Snoopy's Beagle Scouts are a group of birds consisting of Woodstock and birds who are identical to Woodstock... except for the one called Raymond, who is noticeably darker than his peers.
  • Monica's Gang had a few. The main gang had a black and a mute (who in recent years has been described as deaf as well), then added one that due to his inspiration (the creator's son) is ambiguously Asian, and both a blind girl and a wheelchair bound boy as well. The gang in a country setting has among its hillbillies an Asian (a nod to the the huge Japanese-descent community).

    Print Media 
  • MAD magazine referenced the trope back in 1966 (issue 101). In a parody of the movie The Sandpiper, a character refers to himself as the film's "token Negro". It was a long time ago indeed.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Around 2010, the WWE Divas were sadly falling into this. Each brand had one (and in many cases, ONLY one) member of each minority group amidst the sea of blond hair on the rest of the roster.
  • However, after the "Brand Extension" was ditched in 2011, the "one diva per group" rule has been gradually averted. As of the end of 2013, here is the list of divas and their ethnicities:
    • Caucasian - Natalya, Kaitlyn, Summer Rae (all blonde), Aksana (brunette).
    • Black - Alicia Fox, Naomi
    • Latina - Rosa Mendes, The Bella Twins (half-Mexican, half-Italian), Eva Marie, JoJo, AJ Lee (Puerto Rican)
      • Eve Torres left WWE to focus on her side business of self-defense training.
      • Vickie Guerrero was officially listed as a Diva in August 2013, but by the end of the year, she was removed from that list. She's more of an authority figure anyway, and is also considerably older than the rest of the group, many of whom are young enough to be her daughters.note 
    • Asian - None in WWE, at least not full-blooded. (Gail Kim left for TNA.)
    • Fijian/Samoan - Tamina Snukanote 
    • Mixed Race - Layla (Moroccan/British), Cameron (Afro-Asian)

    Puppet Shows 

    Sport 
  • Manchester United have a large Asian fanbase and seem to ensure that they always have at least one Asian player in the squad, presumably to appeal to Asian fans. **Park Ji-Sung (Korean, 2005-12)
    • Shinji Kagawa (Japanese, 2012 - )

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Privateer Press' tabletop war game WARMACHINE, Major Markus 'Siege' Brisbane is the game's only black warcaster.
    • Before the release of the expansion book Pirates of the Broken Coast, he was the only black model in the game.
    • And Siege came out in Apotheosis, the third expansion of the game.

    Video Games 
  • You know how long it took Pokmon to include a character with black skin? Or for that matter, a character of any non-Japanese, non-White descent? In any shape, form, or continuity? 12 years. And no, Jynx doesn't count. Yes, it's a Japanese-produced series set in (Before Black and White) thinly veiled copies of the relatively un-diverse Japan, but they have international characters and travel as the focus on the franchise. He's the boss of the main character in Pokmon Ranger 2, and a Boisterous Bruiser as well as Da Chief.
    • That is if you don't count the non-Japanese version of Pokemon Battle Revolution (and that came out only a few years earlier) where the player's avatar has a customizable skin tone (again, added in international releases)
    • There was a young dark-skinned girl standing in the player's hometown in FireRed/LeafGreen. But the sprite for this girl doesn't appear anywhere else in the entire game.
    • One could also count Pheobe, who showed up earlier. But only in the games: she was Demoted to Extra.
    • Brock consistently has light-skin and brown hair in the games, (Except Gen. I where his art showed RED hair.) but he's tanned in the cartoon. As for Phoebe, she seems more Pacific Islander/Hawaiian influenced, really.
    • In the fourth generation games, they did add another token minority, a Frontier Brain named Dahlia.
    • Gen V, being set in Not!New York instead of Not!Various parts of Japan, averts this. Minor NPC of varying skin tone are common, and 2 note  Gym Leaders are black. Granted, one can't help but slightly cringe that in Black/White 2, the basketball team are the first black people you come across. At the very least, they provide the first truly challenging duels for the player.
    • Averted in Gen VI - Not only do you have the option to customize the character's skin tone, but the player encounters a fair number of Ambiguously Brown and even black trainers. Nobody treats them any differently.
  • Grand Theft Auto IV had an ad for Weazel News, an Expy of the Fox News Channel, that parodied the use of token minorities on TV news programs. The voiceover for the ad explicitly mentioned the "diverse" news team as proof that they weren't racist, and when the Asian reporter was listed, an oriental gong sound was clearly audible.
  • Louis in Left 4 Dead is considered the game's token black guy. Veteran Bill is the token old guy, and Zoey is the token girl. Young white male biker Francis is the least mentally stable of the four, and some Fanon says he's gay.
  • In Team Fortress 2, several of the classes are represented as clearly being of a certain nationality. The Demoman represents Scotland, however he is also the only black man in the game. He is also a drunk and a "cyclops", making him a "Threefer."
    • The Team Fortress 2 team stated in their blog (providing some early concept art) that the Demoman was going to be a redheaded white guy, making him look more like the stereotypical Scot. Instead, they decided that he looked too much like Groundskeeper Willie, so they made him black. So this probably isn't a case of tokenism, but an attempt to break a stereotype. A better example might be the continuous hints of Pyro being the lone female class.
    • The 'aggressive black Scotsman' with an absurdly broad accent is a stereotype of its own in the UK.
      • Lampshaded in his intro video on the official site:
    Demoman: I'm a black Scottish cyclops! They've got more f-[extended censorship bleep] than thy do the likes of me!
    • Ironically, it appears that in the world of Team Fortress 2, there is in fact a clan of black Scottish demolitions experts... but the Demoman is unusual in that he still has an eye.
  • In Prototype, Dr. Ragland is the only black character of plot significance. Particularly egregious considering the game takes place in New York City.
  • Fire Emblem has Devdan, a rather simple halberdier that is ripe with some Unfortunate Implications. The next game does have Fiona, but she has about as much character as an old boot.
  • The Final Fantasy series has two examples. General Leo Christophe from Final Fantasy VI and Barret Wallace from Final Fantasy VII. The latter was played perfectly straight amongst the heroes. Paradoxically, it wasn't done for the feelings of the fans, or for racial diversit. General Leo, however, is a slight inversion because the sprite has the same skin tone as the rest of the characters, while his art has a notably darker skin tone.
  • In Romancing Saga 3, Harid "El Nool" Tornado is the lone black character you can choose. He's a mercenary
  • Averted in the PC FPS Ethnic Cleansing, where almost all characters are of non-Caucasian race, save for the protagonist and few NPCs.
    • The reason for this, as the name implies, is quite nefarious.
  • Of the four player characters in the Konami arcade shoot-'em-up Sunset Riders, Cormano is the only Mexican. The other three are blond white cowboys.
  • Sig in Jak and Daxter is apparently the only black guy on the entire freakin' planet, including the NPCs that just wander around.
  • Bully each clique will have a girl, a black boy and a bisexual boy. The nerds clique have a Twofer Minority Black Bisexual Nerdy boy.
  • Mass Effect 1 has an interesting take on this. While the crew of the Normandy consists mainly of humans with only one member of various other species present (one asari, one turian, etc.), those species are so common throughout the galaxy that most of your NPC interactions involve them. Tali'Zorah Nar Rayya, on the other hand, is the only quarian in the entire game, making her your token minority team member. She's also a Space Gypsy, making her and anyone of her race a barely tolerated outcast everywhere outside their fleet.
  • Mass Effect 2 gives a double subversion, since Shepard's field mission squad consist of only three humans and seven aliens of different races, but when it comes to the human crew on Normandy SR-2, Jacob Taylor is the only black man on the whole ship, until you download the DLC and thus you have Token Minorities within token minorities. In the humans, you have an Australian (Miranda), a Canadian (Shepard, both sexes), an American (Jacob), a Brit (Zaeed), and a Japanese Genki Girl (Kasumi).
  • Anthony Higgs of Metroid: Other M; he's the first major black character; there were a few black people on the Valhalla (key word being "few"). He's also the only supporting character who survives to the end of the game.
  • In Night Trap, SCAT has both a token black guy and a token woman (if you don't count Kelly).
  • In Persona 2: Innocent Sin, Lisa Silverman is the token white girl of a Japanese high school, much to her annoyance.
  • In Silent Hill 4: The Room, Cynthia Velasquez, a Latina, is the only minority character, and also the first to die.
  • Snake's Revenge has Nick Meyer, the only African-American in Snake's crew.
  • The Persona series is pretty bad about this, given that whatever motley crew of Persona users that you play as are usually saving the entire planet. The only two games with foreign characters (both walking Phenotype Stereotype in appearance) are the second and third games. The third game has Bebe, a French foreign exchange student and Japanophile, as a Social Link, and while a Caucasian girl (Lisa Silverman) is a major playable character in the second game, there's also a minor character named Tony, also a foreigner, who goes around and takes lewd photos of women. Lisa is also interesting insofar as she's been raised in Japan her entire life, cannot speak English, and her parents are among the most extreme Japanophiles ever, as they desire her to behave like a traditional Japanese girl. Noticing a trend here?
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion there are exactly three non-Imperials among the nobles of Cyrodiil: Count Andel Indarys of Cheydinhal, a dark elf who is accused of having gotten his position via nepotism (he's supposedly friends with King Helseth of Morrowind); Andel's son Farwil, who is an idiot; and Imperial Battlemage Ocato, a high elf who only even appears twice. Note that it is made quite clear in books and dialogue (before, during and after Oblivion) and in a later game with an appearance that there are more non-Imperial nobles in Cyrodiil. It's just that the Elder Council is conspicuously missing from their meeting hall every time we go there in Oblivion.
    • The "Hearthfire" DLC for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim adds a Redguard housecarl, Rayya. The rest of the housecarls are Nords.
  • The story of Temple Run seems to be taking place in Asia (judging from the architecture and rainforest), but all characters but one is western. The one non-western character is Asian. Her name? "Karma Lee".
    • The western characters are either white or afro-american. The white characters are explorers and escape artists and similar stuff that fit the setting, while the black characters have concepts such as football star - making one wonder how he ended up in an ancient Asian temple in the first place.
  • The Rehda in Ys: The Ark of Napishtim are culturally reminiscent of Native Americans, although their chief, Ord, talks like an Afro-American in the English dub.
  • Played straight and averted with Neverwinter Nights 1. Played straight with the Original Campaign and the NPC, Aarin Gend, but can be averted by module builders and players since both NPCs and player characters can have skin color matching anything in the game palette (including but not limited to green, blue, purple, yellow, gold, orange, red, mirror(!) and either solid flat white or solid flat black).

    Web Comics 
  • Alice in the Loserz strip. As she says in one strip, one of the few black kids in school.
  • The character of Kay Wheeler in Misfile exists solely to try and crack open Emily's Transparent Closet. Missi Fuller's ethnicity, while lampshaded in her intro comic, serves no plot purpose other than to bring a bit of variety to the cast and the sole black character who's particularly recurring, Eponine, has only recently been getting attention.
  • Grace and Nanase in El Goonish Shive. Sort of. Sensei Greg too, but he's become a Brother Chuck. And Nanase doesn't even look very Japanese.
  • Clark is probably this in Shape Quest.
  • Subnormality: Lets not forget to always give them One Award.
  • The Webcomic within the MS Paint Adventure Homestuck, Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff has the most pointless of Token Minority characters with Geromy. Introduced as "The new friend", he has never moved, spoken, or been aknowledged by another character. He's even called the token black friend in the theme song! Amusingly enough, he is actually the third black character introduced after Barack Obana and The Big Man, with both actually having at least a minimum of a role in the comics.
  • Hilariously subverted in Errant Story by Bani, who's well aware of her status and doesn't want to become the black dude who dies first.
  • Axe Cop does it with as crazy a twist as everything else: When asked whether there will be "members of other races" in Axe Cop's team, they introduce a merman team member.
  • Parodied in a Shortpacked! strip dealing with the controversy around Michael B. Jordan being approached to play the Human Torch. An irate comic fan complains to Jacob about this development and states that this would likely make the Invisible Woman (Torch's sister) black as well, and when Jacob doesn't see a problem with this, the fanboy responds by claiming that having two black people in the cast would be "unrealistic". The fanboy then runs off screaming when Lucy, the strip's other major black character, shows up.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in Token Black (formerly named Token Williams), the only black kid in South Park, who is actually considered the token rich kid in-universe (only Cartman seems to call attention to Token's blackness; of course, Cartman has been shown to be quite racist). And his parents own the Hooters expy restaurant Raisins. Which is done as a deliberate subversion of this trope.
  • Super Friends was notorious for that kind of character, with a bunch of obviously non-white superheroes; Apache Chief (Native North America), Black Vulcan (Black), Samurai (Asian) and El Dorado (Latin American). The final season tried to address the black issue by replacing Black Vulcan with Cyborg of the Teen Titans, a character that Marv Wolfman and George Perez worked hard to create as a legitimate original character.
  • John Stewart, the black Green Lantern on Justice League. Less "token" because not only does he have the same nom de guerre as a major member of the original team, but he has worked with the League in a number of stories in the comics when he was Hal Jordan's backup, thus giving the character's inclusion some credibility. Furthermore, in the Unlimited phase of the series, the producers strove to dilute the issue by bringing in many of DC's other minority superheroes like Mr. Terrific, Vixen, Steel and Doctor Light.
    • It should be noted that, save for Batman and Superman, both of whom had a previous series unto themselves in the DCAU, John Stewart is the most featured character in the DCAU, having the most Limelight episodes on Justice League and getting a good amount of plot in Justice League Unlimited. Since his inclusion, other media featuring a member of the GL corp. have been criticized for not using a strong character like Stewart (who prior to this served as a secondary character in the comics) and he is generally the fan pick for the featured character in a potential Green Lantern movie. His original inclusion in the series was brought about more to avoid an Unpleasable Fanbase of Kyle Rayner and Hal Jordan fans fighting. As Stewart had little fan base at the time and would be a nice compromise for GLC fans in general, he was given the role.
    • In addition, the second season of Unlimited featured the Ultimen, straight (and far better done) versions of many of the Superfriends token characters.
    • Shayera Hol (Hawkgirl), from the planet Thanagar, was deliberately given a Hispanic voice actor as well.
    • Out of the Original Seven, Batman is the only one without super powers. But who needs that when he's Batman?
    • Superman is Kryptonian, Martian Manhunter is Martian, Hawkgirl is Thanagarian, Wonder Woman is probably Greek (she believes in the Greek gods). The only people who aren't minorities on the team are Batman and Flash.
  • Superman: The Animated Series had Angela Chen, who was essentially a race-swapped version of Cat Grant from the comics, right down to being a catty gossip columnist and Lois Lane's rival at the Daily Planet.
  • Beware the Batman looks to be doing this by using Katana as Batman's sidekick instead of Robin or Batgirl. Noticeable in that she was explicitly touted as "the new Robin" in press releases.
  • Clerks: The Animated Series also added a token minority, Lando (named for the only person of color in the original Star Wars trilogy), who rarely did anything other than show up to showcase his non-whiteness. This was expressly parodying this trope, however.
  • In order to have some racial diversity in the cast of Bionic Six (despite the main characters all being related), the Bennetts were given two adopted sons who were African American and Japanese respectively.
  • The Extreme Ghostbusters team was compiled of all minorities. Roland a black man, Eduardo a Hispanic, Garrett a white guy in a wheel chair and Kylie a "Goth" chick. Egon was the only non-minority but he didn't always go out with the team, but held a figure head position. Their receptionist, Janine Melnitz is Ambiguously Jewish (considering her last name). The original animated series, The Real Ghostbusters, had the movie version of the team so there is only a token black guy instead of a whole token team.
  • Also parodied in Family Guy, in which the TV newscast's (a Show Within a Show) on-site reporter is consistently referred to by the anchors as "Asian Reporter Trisha Takanawa."
    • One episode also introduced us to "Hispanic Reporter Renee Jimenez." Interestingly, though, she's depicted as an otherwise baseline white woman who speaks with a slight Spanish accent. Talk about having your cake and eating it too....
    • And then there's Cleveland Brown, the token black guy who in the later seasons becomes a portmanteau for black stereotypes that had nothing to do with his established personality. And you can't bring up minorities on the newscast team without talking about "Blackuweather forecaster Ollie Williams."
      • "How's the weather looking today, Ollie?" "IT GON' RAIN." "Thanks Ollie."
    • Another episode, perhaps unintentionally, provided an explanation: most black residents of Quahog are disguised as whites to avoid police harassment.
      • Which was actually a double joke: it was a parody of The Wiz (a Wizard of Oz) musical as well as referencing the harassment.
      • One example when Cleveland is in the golf course the second time with a Richard Nixon mask.
  • Another parody in Futurama, where the characters sometimes watch the soap "All My Circuits", which features a cast of robots and a single token human.
    Fry: What's he do?
    Bender: Eh, the usual human stuff. He laughs, he learns, he loves.
    Fry: Boring!
  • In Daria, Jodie Landon and Mack Mackenzie seem to be the only black students at Lawndale High, and they are apparently the only people (other than possibly Andrea) who Daria and Jane respect in that school. Jodie and Mack are painfully aware of their status and are uncomfortable being effectively examples of their race; for instance, Jodie complains how she has to be "Queen of the Negroes" at school. This includes when they were dubbed school parade King and Queen consecutively over multiple years, which they suspect is possibly in part because it disguise how little real diversity there is at the school. However, Jodie notices a little black girl looking awestruck at her being so honored, and decides she can put up with it for the greater good of inspiring other minority kids to dream. On the other hand, Jodie's parents are a pair of jerks, Tiffany of the Fashion Club is an Asian Airhead, and the school's principal, Angela Li (also Asian ethnicity) is a strutting self-important dictator.
  • Spyke in X-Men: Evolution is not only the token black of the team, he's related to the only other black in the cast. Spyke was so unpopular that he was written out of the series and made to live in the sewer (no, really). His eventual guest-star role as a vigilante was more well-received by the show's fans than his entire run as a cast member.
    • By that time they had balanced things out a bit by adding a few other minority kids to the cast, notably Sunspot (Afro-Brazilian), Magma (Race Lifted into a dark-skinned Brazilian) and Jubilee (Chinese-American). Though of course Jubilee herself was also Put on a Bus until the finale.
  • Transformers Armada had token Hispanic Carlos. The fact that his catchphrase was "holy frijoles" should tell you how badly that turned out.
  • Mostly subverted in Transformers Animated, where there are a number of prominent nonwhite characters. However, it's notable that when the Autobots turn human in "Human Error", there's one black kid - and it's Bumblebee. This is because of the voice actors - Bumblebee is the only main-cast Autobot with a black voice actor (Bumper Robinson).
  • The children's television series Dragon Tales has a dragon in a wheelchair, he can't fly either. Most of the plot of the episode where Lorca is introduced, "A New Friend", hinges on this.
  • John Thunder, the Native American member of the Centurions . Maybe one of the best out there.
  • The Holograms of Jem has three Token Minorities: Aja Leith (Chinese Ethnicity), Shana Elmsford (African Ethnicity), & Raya "Carmen' Alsono (Mexican Ethnicity).
  • Orange Blossom and Ginger Snap of Strawberry Shortcake.
  • Doozy Bots, the attempt to adapt Gundam to American audiences in the early 90s (That thankfully never got past a short 5 minute preview video) featured the Black Kid of the gang who also happened to be in a wheelchair. To make matters worse (or funnier, depending on how you see it) when the main characters all transform into the eponymous super-deformed chibi Gundams/Mobile Suits, he gets stuck being the Guntank - which is the top half of a Mobile Suit attached to a set of tank treads.
  • In Teen Titans, Cyborg is the only African-American in the team, though there are also only two white team members; the rest have skin colors like orange and green.
  • The Simpsons episode "A Streetcar Named Marge" mentions "Token black panelist, Drederick Tatum!"
  • Subverted in Mucha Lucha!, where the whole main trio is non-Caucasian. Rikochet is somewhat dark-skinned, and Buena Girl and Flea's skin looks sort of Indian. However, many secondary characters are white. The show is set in Mexico (or at least a Mexican-American community), where everyone is perceived to be "foreign" and "exotic" in some way.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • Baljeet is Indian, the Fireside Girl Holly is African-American, Stacy and, by the looks of it, the Fireside Girl Ginger are Asian and Buford seems to have some kind of Dutch heritage. The show in general obviously tries to be very cosmopolitic.
    • Isabella Garcia-Shapiro is Mexican (ethnic minority) and Jewish (religious minority) so she's both this trope and Twofer Token Minority. Though one episode has the cast visiting the "Mexican Jewish Cultural Festival" so Danville might just have a particularly large population of Mexican-Jews...
  • The Famous Five were reimagined for a Disney cartoon series, starring the children of the original Five. George's daughter Jo (Jyoti) is half-Indian. Compare the extremely white originals with the next generation.
  • Mostly averted in Challenge Of The Go Bots, where A.J. and General Newcastle are both black, and Anya Turgonova is Russo-Chinese. Anya didn't show up as often after the Five-Episode Pilot, but A.J. was a main character and Newcastle was the most important human supporting character.
  • Spoofed in the Robot Chicken sketch 12 Angry Little People, when the lone black juror points out that not every black person needs to be a positive role model.
  • The whole Weekenders group fits all. Though Tino's race isn't mentioned, Word of God states hes Italian American. Lor's Scottish American, Carvers African American and Tish is an Eastern European Jew.
  • Averted in Young Justice. As of the end of season one, three of the core cast members are people of color (Aqualad and Rocket are both black while Artemis is half-white and half-Vietnamese). In season two, Blue Beetle (Mexican American), Bumblebee and Mal Duncan (both African American) join the team as well. While they don't join the team, that season also adds recurring characters Virgil Hawkins (African American), Ed Dorado (Latino), Asami Koizumi (Japanese), and Tye Longshadow (Apache).
  • Valerie from Josie and the Pussycats. Of course, she was this in the comic book beforehand.
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes has Black Panther, an African king who's proven himself a very competent fighter and quite knowledgeable about science and magic. However, he sometimes goes whole episodes without saying anything. Some unused production art shows that at some point before the series finally aired, Black Goliath was apparently supposed to take Giant-Man's spot on the team.
  • The short-lived The Avengers: United They Stand had Falcon as the sole minority member of the team. Somewhat funny since in the comics, Falcon was added to the team to fill a diversity quota and quit when he decided he didn't want to be included simply for being black.
  • Perhaps in response some of the complaints about the racial and gender disparity in the live-action movie, Avengers Assemble has The Falcon added to the film's Avengers roster, making him the sole person of color. However, he has a very large role in the show, and is the Audience Surrogate of the team.
  • Apparently Kimono from My Little Pony G3 is Japanese, as shown by her name and occasional kimono wearing.
  • Jonny from Ed, Edd n Eddy is implied to be Black. Rolf may count, as he's Ambiguously Brown.
  • Mee Mee and Lee Lee (Dee Dee's friends) in Dexter's Laboratory are black and Asian respectively. They might even be a light parody of this trope.
  • Freight Train from Where's Huddles?.

    Other 
  • In the Gears of War fanfic Necaberint's Phalanx, we have a aversion of this trope. Gordon is very east asian looking, Priscilla is about as dark as they come, and Carmine is Hispanic. Noel is a white girl-girl and Irene is a big, pale white Nice Girl with the Face of a Thug.

    Real Life 
  • Take any textbook made in the 1990s (or some made after 2000). Turn to a random page depicting a group of kids (especially teens). 90% chance that there is a Token Minority in the picture. If you want something unusual, look at a textbook written in the 70s. Always one Token Minority, always black. Apparently Asians, First Nations, and Hispanic people didn't exist before 1990.
    • Math textbooks are particularly egregious when the word problems require you to solve a teenager's problem for him. There's a 75% chance that the randomly selected name will be an ethnic one, especially Hispanic. In the UK, the character's name is usually Indian or Arabic, a fact that has not helped the stereotype that minorities are obsessed with academic subjects.
  • This will show up in college recruitment material, since a lot of colleges like to play up the diversity of their campus.
  • Invoked with the Burger King Kids Club Gang, who were specifically a stylized group of kids most kids could identify with somehow. The white kid is still The Leader.
  • Take any stock photo image used for marketing software or business applications. A group of racially diverse, smiling corporate types in a meeting, watching a presentation or poring over a report. Infamously led to backlash when Microsoft's Polish division whitewashed the black man in the original American ad.
  • A very mild example, but BBC Radio 1 has B.Traits as one of their air personalities. What makes her unique is the fact that she's originally from British Columbia in Canada, so she's the only one on air without a distinctly British or Irish accent. It can be a bit confusing to new listeners to hear someone who's very obviously not British on the BBC.

Token Non-Mammal Examples:

    Animated Film 

    Literature 

    Toys 
  • The Fabuland toy line by LEGO only had one crocodile and three birds among an otherwise all-mammal cast.

    Western Animation 
  • From the core Looney Tunes cast, Daffy Duck, Tweety, The Roadrunner, Foghorn Leghorn and Henery Hawk.
  • Inverted in Sponge Bob Square Pants. Sandy Cheeks (a squirrel) and Pearl Krabs (a sperm whale) are the token mammals among the main, major, and supporting characters.
  • Donald Duck started out like this, though his love interest and many family members were introduced later on.
  • Spike of the My Little Pony franchise: a dragon amongst ponies.
  • Inverted with Sleepy Bat in Birdz, the only reoccurring non-avian.
  • Also inverted in Rango, where most of the inhabitants of Dirt seem to be anything but mammals.
  • Care Bears: Cozy Heart Penguin is the only avian member of the Care Bear Cousins.
  • Arthur: This unnamed crocodile/alligator. There were also anthropomorphic ducks in "Arthur's Almost Boring Day".

Token Minority Species Examples:

    Animated Film 

    Comics 
  • In Paperinik New Adventures, Angus is clearly meant to be a Funny Animal kiwi bird, the only one in Duckburg. He is not only explicitly said to be from New Zealand but also a Maori.

    Western Animation 
  • Pete and P.J. are this in Goof Troop, A Goofy Movie, and An Extremely Goofy Movie are token cats, despite being treated like Dogfaces in those worlds.
    • Also, Waffles and Chainsaw from Goof Troop are a token cat and dog in a world of Dogfaces.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, the majority of the population as well as the main six characters seem to be evenly distributed among unicorns, pegasi and earth ponies. However, there are several other intelligent species in the world. Cattle, sheep, donkeys, mules, buffalo, zebra and possibly goats are all people just as much as ponies, and the same goes for some mythological beings like minotaurs and griffons. However, these beings only have short gag cameos or one-shot appearances. The only exception is Zecora the Zebra.

Token Petting Zoo People Examples:

    Film 
  • Beans the lizard and Angelique the fox from Rango

    Literature 
  • Stuart Little is far more anthropomorphic than the other animals in all his book and movie appearances and in the TV series.
    • Note that in the original book he's human by heritage; his parents are his actual parents. He just happens to have been born with the approximate form of a mouse. How anyone worked out he was a viable life-form, let alone that he had the potential to grow up intelligent, when he was born so mutated and looking like a miscarriage is left to the imagination, because it is a children's book.

    Video Games 

    Western Animation 

Token Mini MoeToken IndexToken Minority Couple
Suddenly EthnicityRace TropesToken Index
Spy FictionCyclic TropeThe Vamp
Token Mini-MoeCharacters as DeviceToken Non-Human
Three-Way SexDouble StandardTwofer Token Minority

alternative title(s): The Other White Religion; Token Black; Token Minorities; Token Non Mammal
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