Hi, Princess! Princess Fiona:
It talks! Shrek:
Yeah, it's getting him to shut up that's the trick!
When a work has an ordinary setting, your cast is going to be... well, ordinary. Your basic Five-Man Band
, maybe with a Token Minority
, or a Token Girl
But when you're the author of Speculative Fiction
, authors can make the cast as interesting as they want. Enter the Token Nonhuman
to spice things up. He (or she; this is a Unisex Trope
) could be a Rubber Forehead Alien
, a Robot Buddy
, a Funny Animal
, a Civilized Animal
, a Partially Civilized Animal
, or all of the above at once
, but one thing is for sure. They aren't human.
Even Demi Humans
can count as examples of this trope.
A Token Nonhuman
the Team Pet
— the team pet is, well, a pet
that belongs to the team, but the Token Nonhuman
is a sapient
being who stands on more-or-less equal footing with the humans.
Unlike other token what-have-yous, a token nonhuman is not there to attract
a Periphery Demographic
. A Token Nonhuman
instead serves the purpose of exploring the possibility of other species with radically different natures than our own, incorporating beings with cool superhuman
abilities, showing that the main cast is not practicing Fantastic Racism
, and exploring the question What Measure Is A Nonhuman
. If nothing else, the Token Non-Human
can serve as the Amusing Alien
for comic relief.
Because Most Writers Are Human
(to our knowledge), you'll likely not see more than one Main Character
who isn't human, hence the "token
" part of "Token Nonhuman
". If there is
more than one nonhuman character, you'll most likely see a cast full of nonhumans, with a Token Human
Token Heroic Orc
is this trope meeting Token Enemy Minority
. See also Fantastic Sapient Species Tropes
, and Not Quite Human
. Compare and contrast Team Pet
. Contrast Not Even Human
. Inverse of Token Human
and Unfazed Everyman
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Chewbacca in the Star Wars original trilogy, the droids aside.
Live Action TV
- Spock half qualifies, as he is half-human.
- In The Next Generation, three out of the starring cast of seven or eight were non-human. While human-looking Troi was less obvious, both Worf and Data qualify as Token Nonhumans.
- Averted by Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which is set on a space station that's mainly made up of non-humans, and there are multiple aliens in the starring (Kira, Odo, Quark, Worf, both Daxes) and recurring cast.
- Voyager averts this trope as well, with Neelix, the holographic Doctor, Tuvok, Torres, Kes, and in later seasons former Borg Seven of Nine. The nonhuman main cast slightly outnumber the human main cast members (Janeway, Chakotay, Paris, and Kim).
- Seven is a strange borderline case, since she was born as the human Annika Hanson, assimilated, and then severed from the Collective. At the end she agrees to a surgical procedure to de-Borgify her completely and at that point presumably goes back to being completely human.
- T'Pol and Phlox in Enterprise.
- Doctor Who has the Doctor as this a lot of the time.
- Though during Peter Davison's era this was inverted, with Tegan Jovanka serving as the token human in a TARDIS full of aliens
- Teal'c from Stargate SG-1. An odd example in that Jaffa are genetically altered humans.
- Subverted, averted, and inverted (possibly) in Stargate Atlantis - the Pegasus galaxy is full of humans, but almost none of the the non-Terran humans work for the Atlantis expedition, but then by the end of the pilot, the flagship exploration team adopts a non-Terran member.
- Trip in Power Rangers Time Force.
- Blake's 7 has Cally, an Auron with limited telepathic powers.
- Though the cast contains several examples of not quite human characters, including the titular protagonist, Angel has Lorne as the only visibly demonic main character who is unable to alter his appearance in any way.
- Final Fantasy has a history of this:
- Final Fantasy VI: Mog and Umaro. Possibly Gogo as wellnote . VI has a large enough cast size for three to still be token.
- Final Fantasy VII: Red XIII. Possibly Cait-Sith as well, although it's controlled by a human.
- Though as the two interact in Dirge of Cerberus, at least some Cait Sith models are sentient.
- Final Fantasy IX: Nearlynote half the party, making them not really "token" at all.
- The only one that is clearly human is Steiner. The other include a tailed Genome (Zidane), human-like summonersnote (Garnet & Eiko), a Black Magenote (Vivi), a Burmecian (Freya), a Qu (Quina) and a blue-skinned man who might be human (Amarant).
- Final Fantasy X: Kimahri.
- Final Fantasy XII: Fran. Somewhat obvious here, as Ivalice is replete with sentient nonhuman races (Viera, Moogle, Bangaa, Seeq, Aegyl etc.). but Fran is the only one such among the protagonists.
- Final Fantasy XIII: This trope is averted for the first time since Final Fantasy VIII. Or subverted if you look at it from another way: the game could be the first in the series to have no (technically) human playable characters, as everyone in the party becomes a L'Cie. Which means in the first two chapters of the game Vanille is the Token Non-Human in the group...
- Ne'ban in Unreal II: The Awakening, while the rest of the main cast is human he is, apparently, an intelligent parasite living in a jelly like alien, housed in a robotic suit.
- Harukanaru Toki No Naka De franchise:
- Odium has Jan Kurtas/Medusa, the only Humanoid Abomination victim of the Viral Transformation who didn't go murderously insane. For now. Though this can be avoided by refusing to go to a certain optional place. He's special in that he cannot carry weapons, instead using his mutant abilities. He also happens to be immune to tranquilizing and doesn't need to increase his Accuracy stat since all his abilities are treated as melee attacks (and thus have a 100% accuracy).
- Golden Axe has Gilius the dwarf together with the male and female human heroes, and the sci-fi based Spiritual Successor Alien Storm has Scooter the robot.
- In the Mass Effect series, most of Shepard's crew are human, but typically feature about two or three aliens.
- Among teammates it's averted in Mass Effect 1. The human squad members are actually outnumbered 2:1 by the aliens.
- In the second game, we are introduced to Legion and EDI as the token robot and Normandy AI respectively.
- Lampshaded in Mass Effect 3, where Garrus refers to himself as Shepard's "token Turian friend".
- In Beyond The Beyond, every character that can join your party is a human, save for the summoner Tont, who is basically an amorphous blob of goo.
- In Good Ship Chronicles, Mike is literally a token alien, hired only to fill a quota; consequentially, he serves no real purpose on the ship.
- For the first 500-some strips, the central mercenary crew in Schlock Mercenary had only one nonhuman — the titular Schlock. But that ended in 2002.
- Schlock Mercenary is generally pretty good about averting this trope, even prior to the hiring spree on Ghanj-Rho. The first two months see the introduction of not only the eponymous ball of amorphous violence, but Flib Sh'vuu, communications slug/squid with a cool flying chair; Ennesby, a viral AI that used to be a boy band; Ch'vorthq who was genetically tailored to be the perfect ambassador that explodes. All of whom are, or become part of Tagon's Toughs, although Sh'vuu doesn't really get much of plot and character development thrown at him.
- Carson the muskrat from Dork Tower.
- The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! has Molly the Peanut Butter Monster.
- El Goonish Shive has Grace Sciuridae who is a Tulougol Seyunolu (Greater Chimera).
- Legostar Galactica gives us T.A.G. (Token Alien Guy) who only puts up with being called T.A.G. because of his Embarrassing First Name and lack of a last name, although the cast quickly expanded to include numerous aliens, robots, and the likes, including a air-breathing giant squid and a Deep One
- Bender is the token robot of Futurama and Zoidberg is the token alien.
- And Leela is the token mutant. The only fully human characters in the delivery crew are the Martian, the 160+ year old man, the human popsicle from a thousand years in the past, the bureaucrat, and the janitor. Actually, the main cast is mostly full-on humans.
- Men in Black: The Series has The Twins as the Token Aliens of MIB. In the fourth season, sci-fi affirmative action causes MIB to hire an alien field agent and alien scientist.
Anthropomorphic Animal Examples
- Dr. Delbert Doppler and Captain Amelia from Treasure Planet. The film in whole is an inversion though, most characters are various aliens, with Jim and his mother being the Token Humans.
- Red Dwarf had The Cat. Arguably, he could also be construed as Team Pet, as he was descended from Lister's cat Frankenstein, but let's count 3 million years of evolution to his credit.
- Seaquest DSV had a dolphin that could talk.