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The Smurfette Principle: Live-Action TV

  • Pick an Idol jury. Pick any Idol jury. They added Kara DioGuardi in the eighth season, making it two male judges and two female judges. When Paula Abdul left before Season 9 she was replaced by Ellen DeGeneres. Beginning with Season 10 it's back two male judges (Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler) and one female judge (Jennifer Lopez).
  • In Angel, Cordelia is the only female main character for the first 2 seasons and Fred/Illyria (and while Illyria is in Fred's body, she likely has No Biological Sex anyway) is the only one for most of the fifth season before Harmony was thrown in the last few episodes. Note that this is basically the inverse of the show it spun off from, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
    • While Cordelia generally defies the typical expectations of this trope because of her lack of romantic subplots Until season three of course, when everybody had a romantic subplot and role as The Seer, Fred perfectly embodies this trope. It's hard to find her purpose in the show other than deciding which boyfriend to pick.
  • Bear in the Big Blue House had Ojo as the only female in the main cast.
  • The main trio of Being Human had Annie as the only female with Mitchell and George. There were a couple of secondary female characters, specifically Lauren, Nina, and Janie. Although, it was later reversed. Nina has become a principal cast member and now that Aidan Turner has left the show the ratio is now two women to one man. However, it looked like it was going to turn out that way at the end of series 3, but what with Nina and George both getting killed off and replaced by two male characters, the formula ultimately remains the same. In the show's defense, it's not that bad to only have one major female character when there are only three protagonists in total.
  • The Big Bang Theory started with five main characters: the four male nerds, and The Chick who lives across the hall. However, in seasons 1 and 2, there was often Leslie Winkle acting as a female Sixth Ranger. And later the show got even more females, with Bernadette and Amy both being upgraded to main cast status for all the episodes they appear in. Raj's sister Priya was also a major character, and mothers of the main characters are frequently involved.
  • Big Wolf on Campus had Stacy for Season 1, who basically served to be Tommy's love interest and Damsel in Distress, getting kidnapped by various monsters of the week. She left and was replaced by Lori who was much more active in the monster fighting escapades. The show also used a number of female villains (or at least villains in the sense that they introduced conflict, some weren't evil), though mostly they were used for supernatural girlfriend plots.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Eventually inverted. The Scooby Gang started out gender-even (Buffy and Willow to Xander and Giles), but became female-dominant with the additions of Tara, Anya, and Dawn. Even with the additions of Angel, Riley, Oz, and Spike, the Scooby Gang remained predominantly female.
    • Unusually, the official main cast of Season 4 is male-dominated, with Buffy and Willow as the only female characters included in the opening credits. Somewhat offset by Oz being a regular only briefly and Anya and Tara appearing in over half the episodes despite receiving guest billing.
    • Darla is seemingly the Master's only female minion, or at least the only non-background one.
  • The Five-Man Band in Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future included Captain Power, Hawk, Tank, and Scout, all male. Sometime before the start of the show, they rescued Jennifer "Pilot" Chase from the Dread Youth. She was an awkward mix of skills and talents: she was on par with Power and Scout in combat and infiltration, but the former could easily (and often did) replace her at the helm of the Jumpship, and most of the time she was there only to be The Chick. Worse, at the end of its only season, she was Killed Off for Real in a Heroic Sacrifice. Leaked scripts for a proposed Season 2 would have brought in a more Amazonian replacement.
  • In Cases of the 1st Department, the only woman that is in a way part of the team is JUDr. Svihlikova who is a public prosecuter. She's present at video reconstructions or line-up recognitions, and she's a worthy ally helping them with legal stuff. Other female characters are secretaries, witnesses, suspects, victims or family members. And then there is a female TV reporter who is more of an antagonist. It reflects the situation at the real-life 1st department but other homicide departments in Czechia do have policewomen in important positions. It was a bit strange for cases that would logically require a female investigator. In "Phantom from Southern Town" about a serial rapist, the victim was visibly uncomfortable when a rough man was interogating her. They also questioned a murderess who pathologically hated all men. Surely having a female psychiatrist would have made more sense.
  • Chou Sei Shin Gransazer has twelve Gransazers (transforming superheroes), divided into four "tribes", each consisting of two guys and a girl. The two guys of each tribe can be quite clearly categorized as an "alpha male" and a "beta male". The girl is invariably The Chick. Ai of the Water Tribe is the chickiest of the four, though. (Her name means "love". It doesn't get any more cheesy and girly than that.)
  • The Daily Show rarely has more than one female regular at a time, if that. Currently, the only female correspondents are regular Samantha Bee and the very irregularly recurring Kristen Schaal. Rather curious, considering that the show was created by Madeline Smithberg and Lizz Winstead. The show's spotty record with women correspondents was lampshaded when Kristen Schaal took over the show and declared Jon Stewart to be the new Senior Men's Correspondent: "Feel free to talk about men's issues. But don't expect to be on the show more than every four to twelve weeks or so." Olivia Munn has appeared multiple times, which may make her the third regular female correspondent. The show has since recruited Jessica Jones, so the situation is improving slightly...
  • Reversed in Designing Women: Anthony was not only the token male, but also the Token Minority, making him a Twofer Token Minority. Depending on who you speak to, some consider him almost a Threefer Token Minority, since it seems like there's significant evidence in the series to suggest he might also be gay.
  • Constantly played straight and averted in Doctor Who, thanks to the ever changing nature of the show. Because the Doctor is male (although, he could regenerate into a girl, theoretically) writers tend to balance him out by having a female companion. Extra companions will occasionally be brought on, but their gender in completely random. Examples of multi-companion crews have been:
    • First Doctor; 50/50 for the first while. There was the Doctor and Ian, plus Barbara and Susan.
    • Second Doctor had for a while 2 boys (the Doctor and Jamie) plus one girl, Zoe. Another girl, Victoria, occasionally joined them.
    • The third Doctor was a bit of an odd case. Set on Earth, in a male dominated military organisation, there were mostly guys around. Main cast members, however, were the Doctor, The Brigadier, Harry Sullivan, and Sergent Benton, with Sarah-Jane Smith, Dr. Liz Shaw and Jo filling in the female roles.
    • Fourth Doctor companions were Sarah Jane Smith, fellow Time Lady Romana, Leela, Tegan the air-hostess, with the guys being Adric and the robot-dog K9.
    • The Fifth Doctor again had a string of mostly female companions, such as Peri and Tegan. There were guys, however, such as Adric, Turlough and the robot Kamelion.
    • The Seventh's Doctor only permanent companion was Ace.
    • For the majority of Nine's run Rose Tyler was the only companion, although the very popular Captain Jack Harkness came on near the end. By the end of the Russel T. Davies era all the companions from the period came back, including Martha Jones, Donna Noble, Sarah Jane Smith and Jackie Tyler for the girls, with the guys including Jack and Mickey.
    • The Eleventh's Team TARDIS could be considered 50/50, so far: You've got the Doctor and Rory, but also Amy and River. However, since Clara's introduction this is actually in the favour of females, until the Twelfth Doctor was introduced which returned it to 50/50.
      • And as of the newest series, the odds have shifted to 2:1 as a new (male) companion will be joining Clara and the Twelth Doctor. Although whether or not he'll be a permanent addition remains to be seen.
  • Fraggle Rock has a fairly even gender balance, with over seven reoccurring Muppet female characters, of which five are regulars: Action Girl Red, Cool Big Sis Mokey, levelheaded Ma Gorg, Short Tank Cotterpin, and wise Trash Heap. Furthermore, the series has an excellent age balance as well, with Cool Old Guys like Doc, Cantus, Architect Doozer, The World's Oldest Fraggle, and the female Storyteller and aforementioned Trash Heap. That's not even getting into the species diversity!
  • Hawaii Five-0 has Kono Gender Flipped in order to have a girl among the lead characters.
  • Homicide: Life on the Street began with only one woman, Detective Howard, in the main cast. That was a deliberate decision to reflect real-life homicide squads which were dominated by men. More women were added later on, and the show tried valiantly to avoid Fanservice by casting actresses who looked normal (by TV standards).
  • Possibly lampshaded during the fourth season of House: The title character has two slots for doctors to work under him, and four prospects, two of each gender. He kicks one of the women out, and tells the other, nicknamed "13", that he'd hire her if he had a slot. Later, his boss, Lisa Cuddy, informs him that he has to hire at least one woman, and tells him to hire 13. Cuddy starts to walk away, then realizes that she had just given him exactly what he wanted.
  • Human Target will be adding a female character in its second season. The main characters are all guys. Please welcome this trope.
    • Human Target actually added two women to the cast in season two, making it a 3:2 male-to-female ratio.
  • Lampshaded in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. In "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis." The gang are trying to figure out their roles within the group and summarise that Mac's the brains, Dennis is the looks, Frank's the muscle, Charlie's the wild card, and Dee's the useless chick.
  • Kamen Rider has always been quite the wiener party, with female Riders being few and far in between.
    • Kamen Rider Ryuki introduced the first official female Rider. Her title was "Kamen Rider Femme". Go figure. ("Femme" is French for "woman"...) She only appears in a movie, thus being non-canon. Oh, and she dies after like 30 minutes, but not before killing the most evil Kamen Rider apparently.
      • Ryuki's Western Adaptation Kamen Rider Dragon Knight expanded the role of Femme's counterpart Kamen Rider Siren with original footage, (much original footage) making her a Sixth Ranger and forming a Power Trio with the two male leads. She's still the only girl out of thirteen Riders, but points for doing what they could.
    • Furthering the point on the rare female Kamen Riders, Shuki from Kamen Rider Hibiki was the first female Rider to be in a TV series rather than a movie-only character. The tragic Executive Meddling that ruined the show in an attempt to make it more like other Kamen Rider series killed her off.
    • On a few occasions, women have "borrowed" Rider powers (including Kamen Rider Faiz, IXA, and the Kamen Rider Decade incarnation of Den-O), but this is always temporary.
    • Preceding all of them was Electro-Wave Human Tackle (yes, that was her name) from Kamen Rider Stronger, who had all the qualifications to be considered a Rider, but wasn't. It Gets Worse: Her eventual death was quite tragic at the time, but gets Harsher in Hindsight: in light of the fate of all female Riders since her, it now just seems like the strict "Stay in the Kitchen or get Stuffed into the Fridge" law of the series got an early start. The manga Kamen Rider SPIRITS addresses her non-Rider status by saying that following her Heroic Sacrifice, Shigeru/Stronger wanted her to rest in peace as a normal woman. A lot of fans cry shenanigans at this even more - as someone who Jumped at the Call and really wanted to do good, she would not want to be remembered as just some girl.
    • Kamen Rider Decade tries to redress some of the issue by having Natsumi temporarily become Den-O and later becoming Kamen Rider Kivala in the Grand Finale movie (Keyword: "Finale". Go figure.) and not dying, unlike the previous female Riders as well as giving Hibiki's Akira full-fledged powers as Kamen Rider Amaki (in Hibiki, she only ever assumed a middle-stage transformation). Tackle appears in the finale movie and turns out to be a ghost, but the character is treated with much more respect than history would lead you to expect, nonetheless. Blade's movie-only short-lived girl Rider also gets a happier ending as well. Alas, it can't be extended to Femme, who only appears briefly as one of the not-actually-a-person Rider duplicates created from Kamen Ride cards as a distraction. Still, Decade treats female Riders better than the entire rest of the franchise put together.
    • Kamen Rider Fourze gets a Distaff Counterpart, Kamen Rider Nadeshiko, in Movie War Megamax; only for her to go and Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence at the end. But we finally get a subversion when she actually comes back, in the next year's installment Movie War Ultimatum.
    • Kamen Rider Wizard zigzags this; having one female Victim of the Week gain magical powers and be taken away to train them, with the implication that she'd be back later as another Rider. On the plus side, this did indeed return as Kamen Rider Mage and was given a subplot about her personal vendetta with The Dragon, Medusa. On the minus side, the Mage gear is overly generic and doesn't fit her at all, her uniqueness was undermined by more Mages being introduced - a tie-in movie even had an Alternate Dimension where everyone could become a Mage - and once Medusa was dealt with she became a Faux Action Girl. On the plus side again, these were justified in-story: the one training the Mages was just using them as pawns, so it makes sense he wouldn't give them personalized equipment; and her drop in effectiveness was due to having to stop and ask And Then What? once her nemesis was gone. And she didn't die, so that's in her favor too.
      • Medusa herself is a victim of this. Aside from Siren, who was a Monster of the Week, she's the only Phantom that's ever female. Even more mind boggling is the fact that Phantoms are based off mythological creatures, and so creatures like the Sylph and the Valkyrie are among the Phantoms... with their human guises being male.
    • Kamen Rider Gaim is another mixed example. Kamen Rider Marika is the first woman to be a Rider for the majority of the series run, as opposed to being a movie-only character or Eleventh Hour addition. But like Femme, she's the only girl out of over a dozen Riders; and she's largely a Satellite Character who follows other Riders.
    • Overall, after forty years, we're still waiting for a female Rider to be treated as well as the worst-treated token girl Ranger in Super Sentai or Power Rangers. ("Treated" in terms of screentime, being able to hold one's own, and not dying. Tackle got screentime but mostly got beaten up and captured. Then she died. The movie-only girl riders appeared once in non-canon installments. Then they died. The one-shot borrowers can measure their Rider "careers" in seconds and counting them as Riders really doesn't ring true.) You know it's bad when you have to work your way up to being as good on this score as any straight example of the Smurfette Principle on the page.
  • Valerie was this on Land of the Giants for a time when Betty was written out for part of the second season as a result of actress Heather Young's pregnancy.
  • The Law & Order universe is always a bit prone to this:
    • On The Mother Ship, the lack of female characters lead to one of the most positive examples of Executive Meddling ever, giving us Anita Van Buren and Claire Kincaid. Ever since, there have been two women (Van Buren and Jack McCoy's current Hello, Attorney! ADA), apart from the single season in which Nina Cassidy was a detective. She was known as Detective Beauty Queen.
    • On Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Olivia Benson is very noticeably the only female detective, which, in a squad which deals with rape victims daily, seems somewhat impractical. This was diluted as the show continued, as the ADA was invariably female, and Melinda Warner was given a Promotion to Opening Titles, but it's still pretty glaring.
      • No she isn't. She is the only female detective in the main cast, except for Jefferies in Season 1 and now Rawlins in Season 13, but it is never said or even implied that she is the only female detective in the unit. Unnamed female detectives can be seen in the background. The ADA is also almost always a woman.
    • Law & Order: Criminal Intent is always very good about having one male and one female partner. For maximum UST.
    • Both leads on Law & Order: Trial by Jury were female. And the Les Yay ran rampant.
    • Law & Order: LA had a male dominated police force, though their Captain was a female. While the prosecutors rotated a bit during the season, only the ADA's assistant was ever female, exemplifying this trope in spades.
  • In London's Burning there is only ever one female firefighter in Blue Watch at any one time. This is a reflection of reality, as only 3.1% of operational firefighters in the UK are female. In 1986, when the series began, there were less than ten women in the London Fire Brigade. The issue was explored in the pilot movie, when the station gets its first female firefighter and the men initially react with hostility.
  • Inverted on The L Word where the vast majority of the (very large) Ensemble Cast is female and there are only ever one or two major male characters at any time.
  • Justified on Mash, given it's set in a military installation and most surgeons at the time were male. Only one, Margaret Houlihan, maintained a major role at all times (and not as The Chick), with a number of other recurring and once-off nurses (most notably, Kellye Nakahara/Yamoto, Ginger Bayliss, Janet Baker, Nurses Baker, Shari, Jo Ann, Bigelow, and Able) typically playing the role of The Chick where necessary. Gender issues were explored in the show — most notably when a male nurse is the victim of gender discrimination, having been made a private when all the other (female) nurses were commissioned officers.
  • Mission: Impossible (both the original and revival) never had more than one female regular at a time (though missions could and did have more than one female agent involved) - the original had Cinnamon in the first three seasons, then a revolving door of replacements in season four, Dana in season five, and then Casey for the final two seasons; in the revival Casey came first, and she was replaced by Shannon.
  • Monk has a 3:1 ratio, due to there being three main male characters (Monk, Captain Stottlemeyer, Lieutenant Disher) and one female lead role (Sharona for seasons 1-3, Natalie seasons 3-8).
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus featured almost no women, but then again most of the roles were played by the same six actors anyway, regardless of gender. By their own admission, the Pythons brought in women like "Seventh Python" Carol Cleveland only when they needed a female character to actually be attractive, otherwise, they'd just get into drag Both Python precursor series, Do Not Adjust Your Set and At Last The 1948 Show, featured five person casts consisting of four men and one woman.
  • The sketch comedy series Mr. Show was pretty bad about this, as roles in which gender wasn't a factor was rarely written for females (the leads were usually played by Bob Odenkirk and/or David Cross). The only regular female cast member in all the seasons was Jill Talley and the show alternated between other female cast members (Mary Lynn Rajskub, Brett Paesel, Karen Kilgariff, Sarah Silverman, Becky Thyre) through out the show's run.
  • The only major female Muppet is Miss Piggy, a glamourous diva. When she was first introduced, she was a minor character. The large cast of The Muppet Show is male-dominant, but this may be due to its slapstick nature (Miss Piggy, for example, rarely takes any of the slapstick, but she certainly dishes it out when provoked). Furthermore, the regular cast used to include other female characters, such as Janice and Hilda, but both became much less prominent after Hilda's puppeteer quit and Janice's puppeteer died, leaving Piggy. Janice herself rarely appeared outside of her Five-Man Band (The Electric Mayhem), of which she was The Chick. There have been a few other female Muppets, but their tenure is either short-lived; or they're one-off characters. A notable example is Annie-Sue Pig; a young ingénue and foil to Miss Piggy. Her appearances declined considerably after the 3rd season, although she did still appear from time to time. A number of the ambiguously-gendered monsters are noted in background material as being female; but there is no clear indication of this on the show. This applies to the puppeteers as well; in the first season, there were seven puppeteers, and only one (Eren Ozker) was a woman. Ozker & John Lovelady left after Season 1, so they held auditions for a new female for Season 2, with Louise Gold getting the part (although she was uncredited for the season). In Season 3, they hired another female puppeteer (Kathryn Mullen) but also hired another male (Steve Whitmire) making it 6 guys, 2 girls. Also, in relation to Miss Piggy & Janice, they were (and still are) performed by males. Yeah.
  • The spinoff Muppet Babies added Skeeter, Scooter's "identical" twin, to balance the sexes.
  • MythBusters generally has Kari Byron as the token female. This hasn't always been the case, however; Mythterns Christine and Jess often added a second female to the group, and the earlier episodes with the Build Team had Scottie Chapman as the third member after Kari and Tory. Grant only came on board after Scottie left the show.
  • NCIS stars a set of four investigators, only one of which is female at any one time. They do have Abby, a lab tech who is one of three characters who has been in every episode (the other two being Gibbs and Dinozzo).
  • Two episodes of the original The Outer Limits, "The Chameleon" and "The Invisible Enemy", have all-male casts.
  • Virtually every seasonal roster of Power Rangers consists of three guys and two girls. That is, until the invariably male Sixth Ranger showed up. A few seasons instead start with a Power Trio of two guys and one girl, and are then joined by multiple (still invariably male) extra rangers. Super Sentai is sometimes worse, with a Five-Man Band of four guys and one girl; in those cases Power Rangers uses She's a Man in Japan to improve the gender balance.
    • Neither show ever had a female character in Red until Power Rangers S.P.D.'s Charlie, but she was fighting for the villains. The first heroic female Red Ranger appeared in Samurai Sentai Shinkenger/Power Rangers Samurai (and even then, she got minimal screentime/development/relevancy/etc).
    • Super Sentai often has one female major villain. She is usually a comic relief character. This is less prevalent in Power Rangers, which usually makes female villains The Dragon or even the Big Bad.
    • Engine Sentai Go-onger, for once, had one of the extra rangers as a female with actual screentime. The ratio of the Go-onger team was still 5:2, but at least they made an effort. Power Rangers RPM, sadly, took this a step backward; Gold and Silver became Single-Minded Twins, so the girl basically amounted to half a character. Though it did make up for it by having the mentor character be female and get plenty of focus.
    • Enforced in Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger, as Word of God stated that since becoming a Kyoryuger involves a test of strength (defeating a dinosaur in a fight), it made sense to them that only one girl would make the team. Western fans felt the Values Dissonance pretty badly. Thankfully, this was eventually addressed: this season had a number of recurring guest Kyoryugers, and one retired and passed his powers on to his granddaughter. She wasn't tested like the others, but she's a Smart Girl and was gutsy enough to impress the dino anyway. Admittedly it's still a one-to-four gender ratio, but considering the team came close to being one-to-nine I'd say we dodged a bullet. And the final episodes see a second guest Kyoryuger choose a female successor for good measure.
    • In the toylines, the female Rangers usually get basic action figures produced and that's it, while the boys get Environment-Specific Action Figure variations out the wazoo. With the Jungle Fury and RPM toys, Bandai America has actually created extra marketable (read: male) Rangers for the toyline to give these extras to, rather than give them to the existing female Rangers. Then again, that's less misogyny and more because girls don't sell: young boys really are the primary consumers of action figures for fighting series, and in second and third grade, owning a Pink Ranger "doll" can be hazardous to your health. Some series have made non-Yellow females a Blue or White Ranger rather than Pink, so that even if little boys don't want her action figure (because the costume will usually have a skirt on it) they can still be persuaded to buy other merchandise based on the character - her weapons, mecha, etc.
  • In the second season of Prison Break, Sara Tancredi is the only female character on the main cast, since Robin Tunney (who played Veronica in the previous season) decided to leave the show. Gretchen and Sofia were later added to the main cast in season 3 though.
  • Red Dwarf had an all-male main cast for Series I, II and VI, but Holly had a sex change for Series III, IV and V, while Kochanski was the only main female for most of VII and VIII (Holly reverted to male). For part of Back to Earth, the hologram Katerina takes up the female role, Kochanski being assumed dead.
  • Averted and inspected in Rescue Me. Janet Gavin and other women are major characters, and the presence of one woman in the firehouse warranted an entire subplot.
  • An interesting case is the BBC's Robin Hood. For the first four episodes, Marian was the only female character, not so much because of The Smurfette Principle, but simply because there was no other reoccurring female character in the legends. This was solved with the introduction of Djaq, a Sweet Polly Oliver in the Gender Flipped role of the Saracen, who contributed her skills as a physician and scientist to the team. However, both Marian and Djaq were written out of the show at the end of Season 2, and replaced with Isabella and Kate. Although Isabella had an important part to play in the narrative, the widely-hated Kate was simply the Token Girl amongst the outlaws, a task that involved fan-girling Robin, getting kidnapped every week, and being a useless tag-along. Unfortunate Implications abounded.
  • Scrubs started off with two females (Elliot and Carla) out of a cast of six—later seven once The Janitor was Promoted to Opening Titles. Laverne started off as the only recurring female character until formerly one-shot Jordan became an Ascended Extra, but then Laverne was Killed Off for Real in Season 6. Season 8 averted this, adding three recurring female doctors (Sunny, Katie, Denise) and two recurring non-meds in The Gooch and Lady, but the last season only had two female mains and one recurring, who only served two purposes. There were several female guest stars throughout the series, but the vast majority were just girls of the week for J.D.
  • Out of the four leads on Seinfeld, only one (Elaine) is a woman, and she was a late addition to the cast. All four do get roughly equal screen time, though.
  • Sesame Street has an almost evenly split human cast, but for a period had almost no female Muppets. Even now, there's only a few significant ones, such as the mild-mannered Prairie Dawn (and Betty Lou, who was actually the same Muppet), Snuffy's little sister Alice, and the more recent characters of fun-loving Zoe, earthy Rosita, and girlie-girl Abby Cadabby.
  • Reversed in Sex and the City which had no male characters at all in the main cast; even Big and Steve (the two most frequent recurring characters) appeared in rather less than half the episodes of the series. Carrie's friend Stanford, the next most frequent, showed up in less than a third of the episodes.
  • In Smallville, the earliest version of the Justice League includes Clark, Aquaman/Author, Cyborg/Victor, Impulse/Bart, Green Arrow/Oliver, and Chloe. This defies some common expectations however, as she is The Smart Girl and is, at that time, romantically involved with someone outside the group.
  • Stargate SG-1 suffers from this: Samantha Carter is the only woman on the team (although there is a very prominent female doctor who eventually ends up getting Killed Off for Real). Can be justified by the fact that, even in modern times, the military is hardly the most gender equitable of places. Due to Executive Meddling, a sexy female thief gets added to the team in the final two seasons. Atlantis is a lot better at balancing out the roles.
  • Franchise Star Trek:
    • On Star Trek: The Original Series, Uhura was a Token Twofer who was also relegated to the position of space phone operator. For the time, she was rather progressive, but... This was due to Executive Meddling. The original pilot had a female second-in-command. The network couldn't fire her fast enough (even if she managed to sneak back on set anyway in a blonde wig and a nurse's outfit). The network might also have resented the fact that she was Gene Roddenberry's girlfriend. According to William Shatner at least, women in the test audiences found the female second-in-command "pushy" and "annoying". Maybe The World Was Not Ready... (It's also possible that Number One was simply perceived as being too abrasive toward her subordinates — though her being a woman with subordinates would probably contribute to this perception. On the other hand, it's noteworthy that Kirk was also frequently abrasive in the early episodes until the character was refined and solidified.) It's also been said that NBC gave Roddenberry a somewhat Sadistic Choice: either keep the female second-in-command or keep Spock, but not both. Years later, Majel Barrett would quip that he "kept the Vulcan and married the woman, 'cause he didn't think Leonard would have it the other way around."
    • For a world with supposed complete gender equality, this applies to most Trek series. Star Trek: The Next Generation started with three women - after the security chief died, all that were left were in rather stereotypically feminine roles as the doctor and counselor. Recurring females were Keiko (botanist), Ogawa (nurse), Ro Laren and Guinan. Only the latter two were of any real importance, and the first eventually settled into the role of O'Brien's wife.
    • Much improved in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine which had a female first officer (Kira) and female science officer (Dax), though the number of women was still in the minority. Unfortunately, however, the science officer role was not replaced after Jadzia Dax's death - the new Ezri Dax was another counselor.
    • Further improved in Star Trek: Voyager, with Captain Janeway (who later became admiral), Main Engineer Twofer Token Minority Torres (who was Klingon, female and half Hispanic), and little girl-who-evolves-into-god Kes, who was later replaced by science "Überbabe" Seven of Nine. The main villain for the first two series turned out to be Seska, a manipulative Cardassian spy, and the surprisingly non-annoying child character was Naomi (her mom, originally a Recurring Character before falling Out of Focus despite her daughter remaining prominent, was a scientist).
    • Star Trek: Enterprise had a female first officer/science officer (T'Pol), and a female comm officer/linguist (Hoshi).
    • Interestingly villains don't suffer this problem: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had the Female Shapeshifter, and Kai Winn as Big Bads and the Dominion has plenty of female Vortas. The Borg equally have plenty of female drones and are led by the Queen. In Star Trek: The Next Generation there was Planet Angel 1, led by women and Tasha Yar's home planet, complete with Tasha's sister. There were the Duras sisters, aka The Magnificent Four.
  • Amanda Keller is the only female cast member on the Australian panel/game show Talkin' 'bout Your Generation, not counting female guest stars.
  • The sitcom Taxi only had Elaine Nardo, until late in the show's run Simka became a semi-regular.
  • Both the U.K. and U.S. versions of Whose Line Is It Anyway? feature four players, all of whom are almost always male. Only one episode in 18 series featured one male and three female performers. This is not helped by both Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles appearing in every episode of the last 11 series, meaning the best the women could achieve was parity with the male performers. Lampshaded in one episode during a game of Scenes From A Hat in which the scene was "Bad Times to Kiss Someone". Since all the players were male, when the game ended, Colin Mochrie asked if they could get some women on the show. This is a common issue on similarly structured comedy shows.
  • Lampshaded on 3rd Rock from the Sun, where the aliens, having learned their ideas about Earth from its popular culture, decided that only one of them needed to be "The Woman".
  • Almost all Panel Games contain one, or no, women.
    • Only two episodes of QI, the Domesticity episode and the Girls and Boys episode, have featured two females on the same panel; this was lampshaded in the latter, which included a question on why there weren't more women as guests on the show (the excuse was that test audiences laugh less at female comedians). Out of approximately 87 different guests over 9 series, 21 of them have been female, and only 7 of those have made more than one appearance. Historically, Jo Brand has pretty clearly served the role of the token female, having appeared 27 times as of series I (the most appearances of any guest panelist, tied with Sean Lock). Sandi Toksvig, however, started appearing in at least two episodes a year as early as series G, and Sue Perkins has also started to appear more regularly (twice in series I, and will appear in three episodes in series J), making them the Affirmative Action Girls of the show.
    • Seems to have been changed for "J" series - "Jack and Jill" had two women and "Jam, Jelly and Juice" had an unprecedented female majority — Jo Brand, Sue Perkins and Liza Tarbuck.
    • The biggest offender is probably Mock the Week, since all four recurring panelists (out of six) are male and the host is as well, and has never featured more than one female comedian on the same panel; out of 51 guests to appear on the show, 16 have been women. In fairness, there is a paucity of female comedians already, so it's not necessarily the fault of the people who make the programmes.
    • To Tell the Truth often averted this, with a 50/50 split of the 4 panelists. The guests on the show are a trio, all imitating the same person, but have been both females and males.
    • Almost always averted in Match Game (at least the 70's versions). Brett Somers was nearly always the top middle spot, and there were usually two women (with Richard Dawson in the middle) on the bottom tier.
    • The BBC recently announced a new rule that all their panel shows would have at last one female participant from now on, effectively making the Smurfette Principle a literal law.
  • Pick any jury on any other talent show. So You Think You Can Dance: 2 men, 1 woman. America's Got Talent: 2 men, 1 woman. The Sing-Off: 2 men, 1 woman. The Voice: 3 men, 1 woman.
    • So You Think You Can Dance has fluctuated; Nigel and Mary are permanent judges, but others have come and gone, so on any given episode the third could be a man or a woman.

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