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Token Trio
The Power Trio's answer to the Five-Token Band. Usually includes-

The end result manages to combine Token Minority and The Smurfette Principle: the Token Trio. Implicit in most cases is that the white male is the de facto head of the ˇThree Amigos!—at the least, he'll play a more prominent visual or verbal role in the commercial. Only on rare occasion will the girl be recognizably a third race, such as Asian. And the black one naturally will be not very black.

This trope is common in kids' advertising. If you want to sell a product like, say, Lucky Captain Rabbit King Nuggets to kids, you put kids in the commercials. That's basic demographic appeal. But you can't cast just any kids— you want three, all implied to be friends, and for a mix of reasons— political correctness, as well as representing the largest target demographics in the Western world with a minimum of actual effort

Even outside of advertising, this is an incredibly frequent attribute of the ˇThree Amigos!, where the white guy's status as The Hero is essentially guaranteed. Larger variety is Five-Token Band.

The Scott Westerfeld novel So Yesterday termed this phenomenon the 'Missing Black Woman Formation,' or MBWF.

Examples:

Advertising
  • Pick any kids' food commercial from North America, particularly Lunchables. However, breakfast foods are the real offenders here.
  • Older Uniroyal tire commercials had three racers, a woman named "Uni" and two men named "Roy" and "Al."
  • The Three Musketeers, named after the chocolate, were respectively white, black and Ambiguously Brown
  • There's an advertisement for a particular doll out there that comes in three versions. They are, shot for shot, identical; the only difference is that the child and the doll the child is playing with are, respectively, white, black, and light-skinned Hispanic.
  • In his book "From Those Wonderful Folks Who Brought You Pearl Harbor" Jerry Della Femina describes an ad that had three people on a triple bike - a white man, a white woman and a black woman. Their question was, where to put the black woman? Last seemed racist. First seemed a bit obvious. In the middle just looked weird, like a sandwich.

Anime
  • The anime Transformers Armada has the incredibly stereotypically named humans Bradley "Rad" White, Carlos Lopez, and Alexis. No points for guessing who fits which demographic.
  • The Mysterious Cities of Gold: Esteban, Zia and Tao.
  • The Humongous Mecha show Metal Armor Dragonar gave Japanese protagonist Kain Wakaba a pair of wingmen, one black, one white whose mechs had paintjobs to match.
  • Pokémon's Black And White season's party stays true to the trope— Ash fills the male Token Minority slot, Iris is Ambiguously Brown and Cilan rounds the trio out. Conversely, the group dynamic part of the trope is subverted, since Ash is the hero/leader.
  • Sonic X had Chris Thorndike's (presumably a white male) two friends be a black male and a white female in a wheelchair.

Comic Books
  • Archie Comics sometimes grouped Archie, Chuck and Betty this way in the 1970s.
  • Preacher has Jesse, Tulip and the Irish vampire Cassidy.

Film

Literature
  • Rick Riordan's The Heroes of Olympus series:
    • Jason as the quest leader, Piper as the Native-American love interest and Leo as the Latino Best Friend.
    • Also in "The Son of Neptune" with Percy (white), Frank (Asian), and Hazel (black).
  • Discussed in Scott Westerfeld's So Yesterday, where Jen goes to an advertisement screening and comments on what she called the "Missing Black Woman Formation" in the shoe commercial.
  • In the Warrior Cats field guide Cats of the Clans, the three kits Rock tells his stories to are Mosskit, who is half ThunderClan and half RiverClan, Adderkit, who is from WindClan, and Blossomkit, who is from ShadowClan.
  • The Infernal Devices has Will being the lead "white guy", Tessa being the lead "white girl", and Jem being the lead "ethnic guy", although he's half-British.
  • Alexander Key's Flight To The Lonesome Place has Ronnie Cleveland, a white boy, Luis Black, a black boy, and Anna Maria Rosalita, an Hispanic. Takes place mostly in Puerto Rico, where both latter characters were born and lived for a lot of their lives. It doesn't feel token.
  • More Than This has Seth the white male protagonist, Tomasz the Polish boy, and Regine the black girl.

Live-Action TV
  • Perhaps the prototypical Token Trio was TV's The Mod Squad, first aired in 1968. The titular cops were famously billed as "one white, one black, one blonde." Which actually counts as two whites.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide would be an example (Ned, Cookie, and Moze fit the demographic sampling perfectly), except they are the main characters and genuinely fleshed out (i.e. not at all Token)
  • VR Troopers featured a Token Trio as its main protagonists. (Through no fault of the actors involved: Brad Hawkins {white guy} and Sarah Brown {the white girl} have both gone on to bigger and better things, though Michael Bacon {black guy} seems to have vanished)
  • Also present in Big Bad Beetleborgs, yet another contemporary Power Rangers clone.
  • Even the actual Power Rangers did this when it lacked a Five-Man Band. Seasons 11, 12, 16 started with these setups (before the arrival of any Sixth Rangers), while 11 and 17 mixed it up just slightly by having the minority male be the leader.
    • Ninja Storm had the New Zealand version: Maori guy, white girl, Latino guy. Then they added another white guy and an Asian guy, and finished it up with one last Asian guy.
    • Dino Thunder: White guy, white girl, black guy. Then they added a Native American guy and finished it up with an Asian (Filipino).
    • Jungle Fury: White guy, white girl, Asian guy. Then two more white guys.
    • RPM: Black guy (leader), white guy, white girl. Then two more white guys and finished up with an Asian guy and girl.
  • Smallville, back when Clark, Chloe and Pete were the ˇThree Amigos!. Pete had even undergone a Race Lift for the series!
  • Sort of a gender reversed version in Lizzie Mcguire: White Girl (leader), Mexican Girl, White/Jewish guy.
  • Another gender flip and inversion with That's So Raven with a black girl, black guy and white girl.
  • The three main kids in Wishbone are Joe (main guy), Sam (Samantha), and David.
  • The original three ducklings on House: White Girl (Cameron), Black Guy (Foreman) and White Foreign Guy (Chase). Later we also get the White Bisexual Girl (Thirteen), Jewish Guy (Taub) and Adopted Indian Guy (Kutner)
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures has Luke (the white guy), Maria (the white girl) and Clyde (the black guy). When Maria leaves, we get Rani Chandra (the Indian girl).
  • Inverted example in The Famous Jett Jackson, where the leader of the trio is a black male, with white male and mixed race female sidekicks.
  • Lampshaded by the Master in the third season of Doctor Who. You have the Doctor (white male), Martha (black female), and Jack (bisexual male).
  • Played with on the Nickelodeon series Supah Ninjas, which features an Asian male lead, Black Best Friend sidekick, and white female Love Interest.
  • The original judge trio on American Idol: Simon (white male; bonus points for being a Mean Brit), Paula (white female), and Randy (black male).

Music
  • Massive Attack's three members, all male, came from different ethnic backgrounds. Inapplicable since Andrew Vowles left, however.
  • The Thompson Twins - from 1982 to 1986, anyway. Tom Bailey was the white redhead guy, Alannah Currie the blonde chick, and Joe Leeway the dreadlocked black man.

Professional Wrestling
  • Gender flipped with Lay Cool and Kaval (Lay-Kav-Ool) since there's Michelle (white girl), Layla (mixed race) and Kaval (half-Hispanic half-white guy).
  • At the start of 2010 there was the random team of Matt Hardy (white guy), Maria Kanellis (white girl) and the Great Khali (Indian) for a few weeks.
  • The APA had Bradshaw (white guy), Farooq (black guy) and sometimes Jacqueline (black woman).
  • The Dudley Boyz (white guy and black guy) added Stacy Keibler (white girl) to their stable from 2001-2002
  • MNM had a variation with two white guys and a Hispanic woman

Theatre
  • The three human characters in Avenue Q are Brian (white Jewish male), Gary Coleman (black male), and Christmas Eve (Asian female).

Video Games
  • The first Streets of Rage video game had Adam (black), Axel (white), and Blaze (white female) as your choices of player character.
    • Its contemporary game, Golden Axe didn't have the stereotypical black guy. Instead, the fantasy setting used an axe-wielding dwarf.
    • Alien Storm, which basically was Golden Axe in a sci-fi setting, had Gordon (male), Karla (female) and Scooter (robot).
  • The poster party in all three games in the Mass Effect universe tends to be male Shepard, female human party member, and male alien party member.
  • Undercover Cops has Zan (Japanese man), Rosa (white woman), and Matt (white guy).

Webcomics
  • In The Fourth, we have Derk as the white male, Lorelei as the white female, and Lord Skärva as the male minority: in his case, of shark-man descent.

Web Original
  • Not intentionally evoked, but the hosting crew of video game music podcast Nitro Game Injection has a white guy (Kyle), a black guy (Larry), and an Asian girl (Suraida).
  • Pico is the white boy alongside Asian girl Nene and black boy Darnell.
  • The peer review panel in this article from The Onion.
  • The post-reboot episodes of Nostalgia Critic star a White Male Lead (Nostalgia Critic), a black male (Malcolm), and a white female (Rachel, who is later replaced by Tamara).
  • The Once And Future Nerd has Billy (white male jock), Nelson (black nerd) and Jen, (white female cheerleader) be the highschool students who go into the magical world.

Western Animation
  • Danny Phantom
    • Technically speaking, Valerie Grey could be counted as the Missing Black Woman.
  • American Dragon Jake Long has the somewhat refreshing variation of having the main character of the all-Totally Radical ˇThree Amigos! be half-Chinese, with a sassy female Black Best Friend and a Genius Ditz faux-stoner white guy.
  • Another variation takes place in Cyberchase, with its trio of two girls and one boy.
  • In the first season finale of Justice League Unlimited, three heroes are thrown back in time. The three? Batman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern (John Stewart).
    • Granted, things get messed up in part two, when timeline changes make Wonder Woman disappear and at one point make Green Lantern a non-minority (Hal Jordan).
  • Pepper Ann had this, with the gender ratio switched to accommodate the main character being female: Pepper as the lead, Nicky as her white best girlfriend, and Milo, whose ethnicity is never explicitly mentioned, but whose skin is noticeably darker than that of anyone else in the cast (Ambiguously Brown).
  • Space Sentinels was one of the earliest in Western Animation. One team member was Asian and the woman was African-American.
  • Any time The Zeta Project has a group of three, it's either Zeta, Ro and Bucky (a robot, a tomboyish girl and a mixed race boy) or Lee, Rush and West (Chinese woman, black man and white man, with the white man being lowest ranking in their group). When not doing that, it's Lee, Bennett and West (Chinese woman, white man, white idiot man who makes them look awesome by comparison).
  • The latest incarnation of the Voltron franchise, Voltron Force does this: Daniel is Asian, Vince is black, and Princess Larmina is white.
  • Subverted by Home Movies. The main trio consists of two white boys (Brendon and Jason) and a black girl (Melissa)
  • In Iron Man: Armored Adventures, most of the time this is in place with Tony (white male lead), Rhodey (black best friend), and Pepper (white female friend). This is subverted however in several parts of season one, where the trio is Tony, Rhodey, and Gene Khan (Mongolian-Chinese American) and Gene is actually given the main character role. In the episode Pepper, Interrupted the trio is actually Gene, Pepper and Rhodey, in direct order of plot importance.


Token RomanceToken IndexToken White
Twofer Token MinorityRace TropesTonto Talk
The Power of CheeseAdvertising TropesToo Incompetent to Operate a Blanket

alternative title(s): Missing Black Woman Formation
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