'Cuz blacks belong together.note
"Hey there, other black person in the room. Wanna engage in a little... desegregation?"
When the writers want to give the token minority a love life, but are in a bind because either A) most of his options are already taken, or B) the writers (or producers
) would rather avoid the controversy of interracial romance. Thankfully, the latter isn't much of an issue anymore, although it hasn't entirely gone away
, but there remains some instances of "Like Goes with Like
" in fiction.
This comes in two varieties:
- Tailor-Made Partner: The writers attempt to remove the label of tokenism by adding a similar character later, like a black female after a black male. Would be hypothetically successful, except she is usually a Distaff Counterpart who is quite clearly going to be paired off with the token at some point and will not be fully integrated with the rest of the cast.
- Independently-Made Partner: Two minority characters are established independently of each other. If they have any interactions at all, it's as friends and nothing more. But then later seasons find them getting...friendlier, even though they have nothing in common beyond their race. It is Not a Subversion if the lovebirds are different minority races. If everyone else on the show is white except for a black and an Asian, and they fall in love with no subtlety or natural buildup, it's as straight an example as any other. This is because only two races matter in Hollywood: white and not white.
Homo/bisexuality is the most common non-racial variant. This can be tricky, since a same-gender love interest must by necessity be sexually compatible, so the key thing to look for is if their relationship develops at a realistic pace and the character is subtly introduced, or if Billy Queer just pops up and is clearly going to get in the token gay's pants. But if the show features two gay/bi characters with no real connection to each other and no reason to start dating, it's another straight example if they get in bed.
Another variant happens in the World of Funny Animals
, where everybody is a different anthropomorphic animal, but no matter how anthropomorphic they are
, only those of the same exact species will truly hook up. For example, Bob Kitty is the only cat in the show and has no love interests until Alice the cat shows up. This is less Fantastic Racism
and more to avoid the potential Squick
of an Interspecies Romance
It is unnecessary to list aversions, since that tends to mean rattling off the character's entire dating history.
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- In the Twilight film this overlaps with Pair the Spares as some of Bella's friends are given a Race Lift, pairing minorities Eric and Angela (Asian and Hispanic respectively) and white Mike and Jessica.
- Every time The Love Boat guest-starred a black female and not a black male, said black female would be after Isaac and/or vice-versa.
- This is done in Hogan's Heroes. When a black woman turns out to have access to secret Nazi plans, she also turns out to have been the high school girlfriend of Kinchloe (the only black member of the group). They make out at the end of the episode.
- Subverted on Flash Forward. Stan Wedeck, who is black, is accused by one of his adversaries of having had an extramarital affair. Later, we meet the woman in question, who is also black. This, along with the friendly way they greet each other when he visits her apartment, implies the accusation is true. But it turns out the actual affair took place between the woman and the President of the United States, who is white. Stan merely helped cover it up.
- Mocked by quite a few watchers and reviewers of Vampire Diaries - at the start of Season 2, a hot black guy appears, and everyone immediately goes "Riiight, he's so it looks like Bonnie has a love life as well as the others." Of course, he died.
- Star Trek:
- On the Deep Space Nine episode "The Visitor", the alternate future version of Jake Sisko marries a black Bajoran woman, probably the first to be seen on the show outside of blink-and-you'll-miss-it actors in the background.
- And what about Jake's father? His first and his second wife are black. And most of his love interests. (Even the alien he crushed on in "Second Sight" was black.)
- Geordi LaForge also once had a black alien love interest. Subverted with his crush in white Leah Brahms, though the writers had intended her to also be black (and a descendent of Dr. Richard Daystrom of TOS), they just neglected to make that clear to the casting department.
- Tuvok's wife also had a rather dark complexion. This could be a result of the show's creators realizing that the notoriously sunny, arid planet Vulcan would favor a darker skin tone - most times you see a Vulcan in Voyager or Enterprise, they at least have a decent tan.
- Happens in Stargate Atlantis with Teyla. From second season she isn't the only alien or the only non-white of the main characters, but when Rachel Luttrell got pregnant, the character they revealed she was having an offscreen relationship with was shown to have a very similar skin tone to hers, despite the fact that her people are shown to be of various races.
- Lampshaded on Glee when Kurt tries to set up Mercedes on a date. She notices that he's "One of five black guys in the school" (even though Lima's over a quarter black in real life) and is not impressed.
- Shane, Mercedes' jock boyfriend she met between seasons two and three, though things got complicated once her first boyfriend Sam came back to McKinley.
- Played straight with Kurt and Blaine. When we first meet Blaine, even if you weren't following all the online rumors and whatnot, it was clear that he would inevitably end up as Kurt's boyfriend. And when Mercedes hangs out with them, she pictures them both saying "gaygaygaygaylittlepursegay", complete with mentions of favorite Vogue magazine covers and discussing Patti LuPone's new book. Thankfully, Blaine has since developed beyond just being Kurt's boyfriend, to the point that he has better chemistry with the rest of New Directions than Kurt ever did.
- The writing staff tried to give a red herring by saying Kurt was going to get a boyfriend who was a new character but implying that it was Sam. Then his intro episode happened. Hilarity ensued.
- In Season 4, Artie starts dating Emma's niece Betty, who's also in a wheelchair, even though he was already dating Sugar in a relationship that didn't reek of this trope.
- Pretty Little Liars are more and more clearly following this trope. Every single lesbian that shows up on the show turns into a love interest for Emily, including one who at first bullied Emily and held her head under water. The patterns seems so far to be unaffected by her whether or not she even is single at the moment.
- In Combat Hospital, Suzy Chao seems to have been introduced only to give Bobby Trang a love interest.
- Parodied on Little Britain where Lou sets up Andy on a date with a disabled woman, believing they will get on wonderfully since they both use wheelchairs. Andy dislikes her, and when Lou leaves them alone, Andy gets up and pushes her wheelchair down a slope.
- In 7th Heaven Simon's friend Nigel says that there's a desirable girl in his class who could have picked anyone to be her boyfriend and she picked him. Comes to find out that she's black like him.
- Season 8 of Degrassi has an episode where Connor, who's black, helps get KC and Clare, who are white, together. In gratitude the writers give him a black girl as admirer. It's like when Liberty (non-token black) is rejected by Sean but in the end she finds out that his black friend likes her.
- Criminal Minds seemed to be setting Derek Morgan up with a black woman who was involved in one of the cases, even though they didn't seem to have much chemistry, but she hasn't been seen for a while. It would be nice if the show would stop tiptoeing around things and just set him up with Garcia - they've been flirting pretty much since the show began.
- On ER, Peter Benton's relationship with fellow surgeon Elizabeth Corday fizzled because actor Eriq LaSalle didn't like what he felt were Unfortunate Implications—that his character had previously had lousy relationships with two other black women, yet now had a functional one with the white Elizabeth. Sure enough, the following season, a black female doctor was brought on to be his love interest, despite them having zero chemistry (but very similar personalities).
- Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Robert E. was the town's sole black resident. . .until Grace came to town and they fell in Love at First Sight.
- Soaps often do this as well.
- In As the World Turns: Bonnie and Derek (the only two black characters) were paired up.
- If a gay character showed up, chances are they would be introduced as a love interest for Luke (and always male, of course) or his boyfriend Noah to cause tension in their relationship, though sometimes they were just introduced as a friend.
- Pair Of Kings was setting up Brady with Mikayla in the first series, but there was no one for Boomer ... until the prom episode brought in another black character as a love interest for him.
- On The Big Bang Theory, when Penny sees Raj's(Indian) ex-girlfriend Lucy(White), she comments to the other girls "For some reason, I always pictured her as Indian." Bernadette tells her flat out "That reason's called racism." At the end of the episode, Penny agrees to set Raj up with one of her coworkers, who's Indian. (They end up not dating, because Raj was a little messed up at the time, but Penny was definitely and admittedly trying to invoke this trope.)
- This trope is Lampshaded again in another episode, where the guys are trying to find a girl to distract Sheldon's rival Dennis Kim.
Howard: We need a hot fifteen year-old Asian girl with a thing for smart guys.
Leonard: Howard, that's racist. Any fifteen year-old girl will do the trick.
- The 1939 Broadway musical Too Many Girls paired up its two Hispanic characters, Pepe and Manuelito. Interestingly, the movie cast had the non-Hispanic Ann Miller opposite Desi Arnaz (making his screen debut).
- Bumblebee from the Teen Titans cartoon basically flirts with Cyborg in every episode she's in, despite the fact that the two never shared a romance in the comics.
- Notably subverted in the comic book continuation, where Cyborg has a steady girlfriend, Sarah Simms, who was Caucasian. Yet, Bumblebee and Herald (also black) are implied to be going out later on as a nod toward their being married in mainstream DC comics.
- Jem and the Holograms had a bad one when Shana met a black guy at a party. No sooner did the gang see him, that the other girls basically shoved Shana into his path. They of course became the only permanent recurring couple of the show.
- Winx Club's Layla and her Ambiguously Brown fiancé Nabu. Layla was introduced in season two and Nabu late in season three, and it was established at their first meeting that they had a lot in common. But while Layla was an obvious fit into The Winx Club, Nabu didn't fit as easily into the boys' group, especially since he was the only non-Specialist. He wasn't even seen hanging out with them until season four, where he became the first main character of the series to die for real.
- On Total Drama, Alejandro (Hispanic) and Heather (Asian) have a strong case of Belligerent Sexual Tension. (Despite being different races, it counts best as Tailor-Made Partner—Alejandro was introduced after Heather and is repeatedly played up as her Spear Counterpart.)
- South Park parodies and then reconstructs this trope—a black girl named Nicole moves to town, and racist Cartman immediately decides that she has to get together with Token, previously the only black kid in school. At first Token won't even speak with her to avoid this trope, but eventually Cartman manipulates them to get together, only for Nicole to break up with Token when she misinterprets evidence of Cartman's plan to mean that Token was invoking this trope. Eventually Cartman manages to manipulate them back together, and the two decide that not dating over their shared race was just as bad as dating only because of their race.
- Discussed on The Cleveland Show—Junior meets a couple who says that he's be perfect for their neighbor's granddaughter, and he wonders if that means she's also black or also fat. Roberta suggests both, which is fine with him. ("I like fat black girls!")
- Ryu and Chun-Li from Malibu's Street Fighter comic, due to Chun-Li being the only prominent female character in the series (this was way before Cammy, Sakura, and Rose were introduced in the games).
- The infamous pairing of Storm and the Black Panther. Hell, it's been outright stated by Reginald Hudlin, the writer of BP at the time that he married them because they were the "two most prominent black characters in Marvel." Granted, her wedding dress was gorgeous. Prior to this, they'd met briefly, once, ages ago. Suddenly they'd been the love of each other's lives since forever.
- Storm and Bishop have never been more than just friends, but this has not stopped fanfiction pairings of the two.
- Storm broke up with Forge (a Cheyenne) not that long after Bishop joined the team, prompting speculation that Storm would become involved with Bishop.
- Generation X was just as bad with this. It's as if someone was forcing the kids to date along color lines. Synch and Monet were arbitrarily paired off despite hints of romance with Asian Jubilee (though it did add fire to the girls' rivalry), and there's no plausible reason why Husk put up with Chamber's emo crap for so long when she had a much healthier friendship with Latino Skin, other than the fact that they're both white.
- Reptil got hit with both categories of this trope in Avengers Academy. He was initially paired up with Anya Corazon aka Spider-Girl (this was dropped rather quickly, however), and later ended up with the newly-introduced White Tiger. Through the most of the series however, he's pursuing a white girl, Finesse, and only starts getting together with White Tiger after accepting everything between them is over.
- The series had also paired former Power Pack member, Julie Power (bisexual) with Runaways member Karolina Dean (lesbian) in a very rushed way - the two start getting it on the moment they find they're sexually compatible and most of their relationship develops off-panel.
- Lampshaded in an issue of Justice League of America, where Congorilla tries to pair his friend Starman up with Tasmanian Devil. He later admits that as far as he knows, the two men have absolutely nothing in common other than both being gay.
- The Young Avengers' Hulkling and Wiccan might be immensely popular, especially among GLBT readers, but there's no shortage of fans of any persuasion who would like to know how they fell in love, instead of taking for granted that the two gay boys on the team would automatically get it on.
- Though to be fair the boys are shown to have a lot in common, such as their similar taste in comics, movies, and television, similar moral values and senses of humor. Basically, they're both huge nerds who value family, friendship, and crime fighting so it makes sense that they would like each other.
- One of the reasons why Kieron Gillen, writer of Young Avengers vol.2, made the team's Sixth Ranger (former member of New X-Men, Prodigy) come out as bisexual was his dislike for this trope. As he put it:
"Seeing a gay character in a book is one thing, but if there’s only one gay character on the team, you don’t get to do any stories based around active pursuit of their sexuality. You have two characters? Your romance is limited to do they do it or do they not? Add at least one more, and the matrix becomes more complicated. There’s a different sort of dramatic potential there, from the classic love triangle to something a little more subtle and everything in between."
- It's later implied by Loki that Wiccan may have subconsciously used his powers to make Hulkling fall in love with him, though this is never confirmed. And of course, it's Loki.
- The situation in Silver Age superhero teams with just one female member was often somewhat comparable, although here at least the token female had a choice. But what really were the odds that e. g. Cyclops would fall in love with Marvel Girl, who was not only the only female X-Man, but also the only woman with whom he had any social contact at all due to the responsibilities of being the team leader?
- In X-Statix, the writers of the X-Statix movie felt it was more "appropriate" for the Anarchist to get together with Venus Dee Milo in the movie. While this is mainly so they can hold the Conflict Ball with her boyfriend the Orphan, it's implied that they got pushed together by Executive Meddling because they're both black.
- In The Matrix films, there's a lot of this. Neo (white) ends up with Trinity (white), while Morpheus (black) only has one strongly implied relationship- Niobe (black), whose implied former love interest was Jason Locke (black). Link (black) is married to a black woman too, and Dozer's (black) widow is also black. Switch (white) with Apoch (white) in the first film too, and Mouse's (white) attraction attraction to his own fictional "ideal woman", the Woman in Red (white).
- Subverted in the 2000 adaptation of Love's Labour's Lost. While Maria and Dumaine are both played by black actors, they instead fall in love with Longaville and Katherine respectively (as the play has it), both of whom are played by white actors.
- Lampshaded by Danny Glover and Alfre Woodard's characters in Grand Canyon after Kevin Kline acts as matchmaker for both of them. On their first date they realize that they're probably the only two black people he knows and laugh about it.
- On Glee, The fandom has a tendency to ship Matt/Mercedes—the two black characters in the first season—before Matt was Put on a Bus, and Tina/Mike, the two Asians.
- Tina/Artie begin as this, shipping the two "disabled" members of the Glee Club together. In fact, Artie is explicitly attracted to Tina for her disability (stuttering), thinking they had a shared empathy. Subverted when she reveals she had been faking the stutter all along.
- In the second season, Tina officially dumped Artie for Mike over the summer when they both worked at "Asian Camp". This was the beginning of both characters going from their race being incidental to it being all they ever talk about.
- Degrassi The Next Generation: Jimmy and Hazel. It doesn't help much that Hazel really doesn't do anything.
- It's unfortunate that their relationship was treated as such because, despite the fact that they were both black, they actually came from very different backgrounds. Jimmy was rich and very Canadianized. Hazel was a Muslim from Somalia.
- Mickey and Martha in Doctor Who were revealed out of nowhere to have gotten married in their final appearance. While their personalities do in fact make a good match for each other, the facts that they had a neglible amount of screentime together, both of them are black, and Martha dumped her white fiancé Tom offscreen make it look like this trope. Unintended, Unfortunate Implications.
- That Mickey was Rose's boyfriend, but she chose the Doctor over him, and Martha pined after the Doctor, who didn't notice and was hung up on Rose, makes this Pair the Spares, while Rose and the Doctor being white adds to the unintended, Unfortunate Implications.
- Allegedly the relationship between the two of them was going to be developed in Children of Earth, but then neither of the actors were able to appear in it.
- Castle: The only two minorities in the main cast (aside from the much-older and already-married Montgomery) are suddenly together one episode, with no mention of prior attraction. In fact, this is the first time we see them interacting one-on-one. It's then revealed that everyone else knows about it... despite no one ever referencing it before. Seeing as how everyone else is in some sort of relationship at the time, it's also a case of Pair the Spares.
- Chad and Taylor from Disney's High School Musical, both the respective Black Best Friend of the main couple.
- Parodied in a Saturday Night Live sketch, where a couple tries to hook up their wheelchair-bound friend with a woman they think will be perfect for him, who just so happens to also be in a wheelchair. Naturally this leads to a lot of awkwardness, but the two actually end up getting along wonderfully (once they start discussing their wheelchairs).
- Turk (black) and Carla (Hispanic) on Scrubs. Significant in that both are the only minority characters in the main cast.
- It's a lot more... blatant... in the first episode, where Turk hits on Carla (and only Carla) the moment they meet.
- Spoofed in The Office when Pam becomes obsessed with hooking up her gay workmate Oscar to the handyman who comes to the office, after she finds out he's also gay. "Yes, they're the only two gay people I know. But I think they belong together."
- In a later episode, Pam sets up her Indian American pediatrician with her Indian American co-worker Kelly. She insists she paired them up not because they were the same race but because she wants to get Kelly out of her destructive relationship with Ryan.
- Sesame Street: Luis and Maria. Susan and Gordon (though they were already married when the show began). Averting this trope was one of the reasons Gina and Savion were paired up in a semi-romantic friendship, and an episode specifically dealt with the problems it might cause.
- Tom (Indian American) and Ann (Ambiguously Brown) on Parks and Recreation, though only for a brief time and overshadowed by the What Does She See in Him? factor. Ann is a Straight Man and considered hugely attractive by everyone while Tom is a sleazy Casanova Wannabe. Their relationship mostly consisted of Ann trying to convince Tom to cut out his usual antics and gimmicks with Tom completely failing to get the message. Fans pretty much spent the entire arc waiting and hoping for the inevitable breakup.
- Shirley (who is black) actually Plays With this trope in one of the early episodes of Community.
Shirley: I don't see why you and Britta aren't together. Two cute white people going to school together just seems right.
Jeff: Shirley, we're not pandas in a zoo.
- Nothing to do with Shipping, but this principle also appears in Professional Wrestling: there is a maxim that, if a promotion features two black wrestlers, they will always either be in a tag team together or feuding against one another. Even in 2008, the (black) Shelton Benjamin was the man chosen to feud against the debuting (and so black he rapped his way to the ring) R-Truth.
- Some fag hags have an annoying habit of playing matchmaker to their gay and bisexual friends ("My cousin's gay, you guys should hang out!"), giving no regard to their personalities, interests, or physical tastes. A Perfectly Arranged Marriage is theoretically possible, but such attempts are usually awkward at best and insensitive at worst.
- In a similar vein, if you're out at work or school, and there's one other openly gay or bi coworker/classmate of the same sex and close to your age, everyone will ask if you considered dating that person, and will be genuinely shocked if you explain that they're not your type or that you dislike them.
- Also happens with people in certain groups (Goths, Bikers, Gamers, Anime fans, etc.), which could be about friends or pairings, in which people don't seem to realize that not all, say, Goths get along with each other. Having similar interests, taste in music, and/or clothing are not the only thing that attracts people to each other.
- It happens with race too. If there are two people of the same race in a group of friends (especially if they're the only ones of that race in the group) and they are the opposite gender, guess how often people on the outside looking in will assume that they're dating each other, and not someone else in the group who's a different race and/or the same sex. If it comes out that they aren't dating, guess how many people will start Shipping them anyway.
- The Lad Ette falls victim to this as well. Whenever there is a lone girl with a group of guys, outsiders will instantly assume she's dating one of them instead of just being part of the group. Ironically, the opposite is true if it's one guy with a group of girls, since everyone will assume he's gay.
- Averted in Chris Rock's case when he went to grade school in a white neighborhood where he was the only black boy in his grade and there three black girls but he "wasn't cute to them." Rock: "You would think, 'Hey! It's just me! Come on ladies!'"
- In the One Direction fandom, Unfortunate Implications started to arise since if you're any ethnicity other than white, fellow fans will "ship" you with the Token Minority member Zayn Malik (who is middle-eastern).
- Mass Effect, surprisingly. In true Pair the Spares manner, if the player neither romanced Tali nor Garrus, they hook up with each other at the end of Part III. Justified insofar as they're both not just the only constant non-human members of Shepard's crew, but the only ones in general (apart from Joker) who are with you for the entire franchise; so it's logical they would have had enough time to get to know each other. (Also, they have the same amino acids as each other; coming into contact with proteins from any of the other species would result in allergic reactions)
- Wade + Monique in the Kim Possible episode "The Cupid Effect," though it was played entirely for laughs. They were, at the time, sixteen and eleven, but it was a one-sided schoolboy crush on an older woman. Wade picks up a girl-of-the-week his own age at the end of the episode, who's white.
- Some episodes of Hey Arnold! had the title character's Black Best Friend, Gerald, paired off with another major minority character Phoebe, who's half-Japanese and half-white.
- Like Hey Arnold, on Phineas and Ferb Candace's Asian friend Stacy is paired with Jeremy's Black Best Friend Coltrane. He later turns out to be a Boy of the Week, but then her next Love Interest is also black...
- Likewise Baljeet (Indian) has had romantic interests in the form of his old childhood friend Mishti (also Indian) and Ginger (unspecified Asian}. He also seems to have a crush on Isabella, who is Jewish and Hispanic (not that you can tell either very easily). Apparently averted with Wendy, his love interest in the Christmas special, who seems to just be white. (And yes, he's quite the Kidanova, isn't he?)
- Wheeler and Linka, the only white Planeteers on Captain Planet.
- This pairing was incredibly subversive, but not for racial reasons. Linka came from the Soviet Union, Wheeler from the United States, and the show started a little before the end of the Cold War...
- For Daria's classmates Mack and Jodie, this seems to be the only thing keeping them together. Mack often feels neglected by Jodie due to her mountain of responsibilities, but not once does he ever explore other options, nor do any of his female classmates make those options known. Are we sure these are teenagers? But then again, there's a reason why his fanfic nickname is St. Mack.
- Possibly also keeping with the intentional Positive Discrimination both were stuck in being nearly the only black people in Lawndale. It's not much of a stretch to consider that while they genuinely like each other, their PD cred would be gone and become labeled as sellouts if either dated interracially.
- Green Lantern (John Stewart) and Vixen in Justice League Unlimited might have counted, had Stewart not already been involved with, then had a mutual breakup with, Hawkgirl. (Which doubled as an Interspecies Romance.)
- In Braceface, Brock (black) and Maria (half Asian, half Italian) hooks up in the second season.
- Young Justice:
- A subtle, sci-fi example when Superboy and Miss Martian, the two alien team members, hook up.
- In season two they've had an Offscreen Breakup, and now M'Gann is together with Lagoon Boy. Possibly unintentional, but they're both green.
- For a whole season, no one was attracted to Aqualad, a black guy. Then Rocket, a black girl, joins the team near the end of season one and shows interest in him. However, the trope was averted since the relationship never went beyond a one-sided crush on Rocket's part.
- Though prior to this, Aqualad was attracted to Tula, who was white. She ended up with Garth, Aqualad's white best friend, creating much angst for poor Aqualad.
- The trope is averted at least twice: After a season's worth of UST, Kid Flash (white) winds up with Artemis (half-white, half-Vietnamese). Her sister Cheshire is shown to be still married to, but separated from, Red Arrow post-time-skip. Their parents, Paula and Sportsmaster, also avert this, though they are broken up now.
- Ramone (Latino) and Flo (black) from Cars.
- Jacobo (Hispanic) and Tasumi (Asian) on The Replacements.