Buck teeth were the dental stereotype common to most people of East Asian descent in the early-to-mid 20th century.
Whereas the Western world associates this trope with ALL Eastern Asians in racist caricatures, in Asia itself, the bad teeth stereotype is associated with Japanese people, and either used to villainize them or Played for Laughs in Korean and Southeast Asian comedy. Japan has lax standards on dental beauty and orthodontics is still a relatively recent thing. Crooked teeth are actually viewed as a positive trait in Japan; wealthy women sometimes pay to have their teeth reshaped unevenly because a crooked smile makes them look more childlike and thus "cuter."
Historically in Japan, white teeth were generally seen as unattractive, and women concerned about their physical attractiveness would artificially blacken their teeth as part of their makeup. Much American anti-Japanese World War II propaganda picked on Japanese people's poor dental health, this stereotype eventually evolved into the Asian Buck-Teeth trope, which now instead of only targeting Japanese people conflates all Eastern Asian people into one monolithic bloc.
World War II depictions of the Japanese, however, typically involved giant upper front teeth and sometimes fangs. The primary inspiration for this trope was Hideki Tojo, the de facto leader of Imperial Japan during WWII, who had a pronounced overbite.
- One of the flavors of the now defunct drink mix brand Funny Face was Chinese Cherry, the mascot being an anthropomorphic cherry with squinty eyes and an overbite. For the sake of racial sensitivity, it and Injun Orange were later rebranded as Choo-Choo Cherry and Jolly Olly Orange and had their mascots replaced with anthropomorphic fruits that weren't ethnic stereotypes.
- Due to Katsuhiro Otomo's art style averting Mukokuseki, Nezu's buck teeth and design in AKIRA is often thought to be this, even though they're part of his rat motifs.
- In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, used for caricature comedic effect on Zenitsu Agatsuma; both Inosuke Hashibira and Flame Hashira: Kyojuro Rengoku, saw Zenitsu having quite the buck teeth during their dream prison under the Lower-One demon Enmu’s power; Zenitsu’s actual normal appearance doesn’t have that pronounced buck, but the series’ author says in a extra that Zenitsu does have buck teeth, it just isn’t visible.
- In Golden Boy, with his metaphorical gallery of facial expressions, Kintaro makes a face like this for a single scene after meeting Naoko for the first time in episode 2. His eyes become sharply slanted and his teeth become a lot more pronounced.
- Many depictions of Japanese in World War II U.S. comics had this feature. An example from SuperDickery.
- Besides portraying many other stereotypes, Chinese people tend to have huge front teeth in the Lucky Luke comics. Also applies to the earlier animated adaptations, namely the first animated series and the character of Ming Li-Foo in Lucky Luke: Ballad of the Daltons.
- All Asians in Mortadelo y Filemón, even in the latest releases.
- A non-Asian example is Prof. Bacterio. There is an episode in which Mortadelo burns up Bacterio's beard, revealing that he has enormous, very prominent buck teeth - which leads us to think that Bacterio actually grows his beard in order to hide them.
- From the very first Tintin, the two Chinese torturers have teeth like this.
- Mitsuhirato, a villainous Japanese businessman in China, is drawn with stereotypically buck teeth, notable in a comic that was very progressive for its time in terms of racial attitudes (well, not counting the first book). Understandable in that at the time the character was written, Japan was currently engaged in a very brutal occupation of China, and Hergé made his views abundantly clear.
- A much more sympathetic Japanese policeman, Bunji Kuraki, does appear in "The Crab With The Golden Claws", however, who is drawn normally.
- Lucky Luke: The Chinese Launderer (the same everywhere) has teeth like this, as do many others. The leader of the Triads in Rantanplan's Heritage does not, however.
- Dan's cousin Chin-Kee from American Born Chinese looks like a bad Chinese stereotype, complete with buck teeth. He is drawn with this trait as part of his "embodiment of every negative Chinese stereotype ever." As part of his ongoing ruination of every relationship in Danny's life, the other kids start to think Danny's got buck teeth too. Turns out the reason he's so goofy-looking is that he's actually a badly made human disguise worn by Sun Wu Kong, the Monkey King.
- Detective Yashimoto, from Cybersix and his little sister have very prominent teeth, though apart from this they're not portrayed very stereotypically. Interestingly their character designs from the comic were kept for the Cult Classic animated series, despite the series being animated in Japan.
- In New Super-Man #16, Kenan has a vision of the past and finds himself in a 1940s Chinatown as it would have been portrayed in the comics of the day. He initially thinks the bald, bright yellow, buck-toothed people being beaten up by Slam Bradley are some kind of goblin until All-Yang tells him to use his x-ray vision to see through "the illusion generated by a century of brutality", at which point they look like ordinary Chinese people.
- The second issue of the 1966 Plastic Man series had Plastic Man's archenemy Dr. Dome attempt to learn Plastic Man's origins so he can go back in time and prevent Plastic Man from getting his powers, doing so by having his daughter Lynx split into three people and interview Plastic Man's best friend Gordon K. Trueblood, Mrs. DeLute (the mother of Plastic Man's girlfriend Micheline) and policeman Captain McSniffe. The three each give a contradictory origin where the only elements in common are Plastic Man obtaining his stretching powers while confronting a supervillain (with the end of the story revealing that none of the origins were true, Plastic Man made the origins up to confuse Dr. Dome and the associates he told the origins were in on the trick). Mrs. DeLute's version of Plastic Man's origin story goes with Plas being a Romani fiddler who got exposed to milk and acid at the same time while chasing a criminal called the Japanese Beetle across a train. The Japanese Beetle demonstrated just about every racist stereotype of Asians, including yellow skin, squinty eyes, getting Ls and Rs mixed up and prominent front teeth.
- Mickey Rooney in his Yellowface portrayal of Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany's has misaligned buck teeth.
- At the end of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, an "extremely accurate" police sketch is shown of the duo; the drawing of Harold shows him with squinty eyes, a Fu Manchu mustache and beard, buck teeth, and wearing a conical straw hat (meanwhile, the drawing of Kumar shows him with thick lips and wearing a turban).
- Once Upon a Time in China includes a bizarre Chinese example in the character of Buck-Teeth-Soo, the Americanized member of the cast. It's downplayed, though, compared to most of these examples.
- Comes up in some World War II era Three Stooges shorts, with the Japanese characters being played by actual Japanese Americans from internment camps, wearing fake teeth. Some of them were American citizens and some were native-born American citizens. The teeth are particularly obvious in "The Yokes On Me," (by today's standards probably the most racist of all the shorts) in which the actors not only were Japanese Americans from a camp, they PORTRAYED Japanese American escapees from a nearby camp bent on sabotage.
- The propaganda series Why We Fight drops in a mention or two as well.
Narrator: At the same time, start across from the Scandinavian countries, to hook up with [Hitler's] bucktoothed pals coming over from Siberia, to join in the conquest of the United States!
- IN SPACE! with Seetee Ship by Jack Williamson, where a Guard cruiser seems to have a crew of consisting entirely of propaganda stereotypes, including a "toothy, bespectacled" Venusian-Japanese.
- Chop-Chop from the Wild Cards series was a joker whose virus-induced deformities made him a real-life version of a cartoon Asian, including big buck teeth.
- On The Office, Michael dresses up as a character he calls "Ping", and does a terribly unfunny and racist Asian Speekee Engrish routine.
- Lampshaded in The Pacific when John Basilone takes exception to one of the recruits he's training to be Marines expressing a desire to 'get out there and slap a Jap'.
"Slap a Jap? That's what the enemy is to ya, huh? A fucking bucktooth cartoon, dreamt up by some asshole on Madison Avenue to sell soap? Let me tell you something: the Jap I know? The Japanese soldier? He has been at war since you were in FUCKING DIAPERS!"
- Fire Emblem: Awakening puts a fantastic spin on this, with Panne the Taguel (aka person with rabbit features that can turn into a literal Killer Rabbit) mentioning that humans seem more comfortable around her when she pretends to have buck teeth. Note that Panne seems to hail from the world's Europe analogue, though, rather than its Asia analogue. Her Kid from the Future, Yarne, can complain that he's tried pretending to have buck teeth, but nobody liked it.
- Possible contributing factor to the racewank early in Homestuck fandom; John and Jade have buck teeth and are sometimes portrayed as Asian in fanworks. The art style is such that it's impossible to tell what, if any, race they were intended to be and since they were effectively cloned from nothing instead of being born, nothing says they actually have to fit into any recognizable racial category. The wank seems to have mostly died out by now, though.
- Krusty does an incredibly racist imitation of a Chinese man with enormous buck teeth in The Simpsons episode "The Last Temptation of Krust" when he goes back to stand-up comedy, showing how out-of-touch he is.
- In the old Disney short "Der Fuehrer's Face", the caricatures of Emperor Hirohito and Hideki Tojo looks like this. The Japanese soldiers in Disney's other wartime cartoons, such as "Commando Duck", are also drawn this way.
- Joe Jitsu from The Dick Tracy Show has buck teeth.
- Si and Am the two Siamese from Lady and the Tramp have buck teeth when their mouths are closed and Cute Little Fangs when their mouths are open. (Interestingly, however, their slitted eyes are blue, which is Truth in Television for actual Siamese cats.)
- In The Aristocats, Shun Gon the Siamese cat (a.k.a. the Chinese Cat) has buck teeth.
- Batfink: Batfink's Asian sidekick Karate initially had these. They were removed in later episodes though.
- Many early Looney Tunes shorts used this for Japanese and other East Asian stereotypes. Especially the war time cartoons Tokio Jokio, Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips and The Ducktators.
- Master Little in the animated The King and I movie has these, oddly for a movie that came out in 1999.
- This turned up in the Fleischer's Superman Cartoons episode "Japoteurs" with Superman foiling some bad Japanese stereotypes from sabotaging American War Effort.
- Charlie from Mr. Magoo has buck teeth.
- South Park :
- The kid Junichi in the "Jewbilee" episode has these.
- Cartman and Butters also use these when disguising themselves as Chinese people in "The China Probrem".
- The Family Guy episode "Road to the Multiverse" makes Quagmire in the universe where Japan won World War II and occupied the U.S. fall into this trope.
"Hello, I like many sex. Goodbye!"
- Peter sports buck teeth while wearing a Chinaman disguise in "Peter's Daughter"
- One cutaway gag shows a stereotypically Asian version of the Trix Rabbit, complete with slanted eyes and buck teeth (which the Trix Rabbit ordinarily lacks in spite of being an anthropomorphic rabbit), kicking children and snapping their necks in retaliation to their refusal to let him have Trix cereal.
- Another cutaway gag has Peter as a police sketch artist being given the description of an Asian-American assault suspect, ultimately drawing a crude stereotypical face that has these alongside slanted eyes and a straw hat. Later, Chris is attacked and robbed by a man whose head looks exactly like Peter's sketch.
- The Beatles' cartoon series fell into this trope whenever Japanese characters were featured, among the many other unfortunate stereotypes of the time.
- Ludwig Von Drake speaks with an Asian accent, complete with buck teeth, in the Wonderful World of Color specials "Three Tall Tales" and "Fly with Von Drake".
- Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!: Shaggy briefly gains buck teeth while disguised in "Mystery Mask Mix-Up".
- Josie and the Pussycats: The closing scene of episode "All Wong in Hong Kong" has Alexandra leech some coins from her brother, then head toward the snack bar. She collides with an Asian man there, and grouses that he should watch where he's going. Since the Pussycats' whole adventure began with this scenario, the troupe flees the hotel, with Alexandra following behind. The Asian man has huge, protruding buck teeth, and he laments, "You meet the strangest people in Hong Kong."
- The cartoons by Guido Manuli for Italy's "Bimbomix" music compilation series (which features Italo Disco and other popular music) and the children's show Baby Show in The '80s and '90s include the stereotypically Chinese and buck-toothed Cin Ciao Lin.
- Purno de Purno features an Asian Store-Owner named Dr. Ha Chiu who has buck teeth.
- The Private Snafu shorts depict Japanese soldiers with prominent front teeth.
- Mimmi from The Three Friends... and Jerry is drawn in a very stereotypical manner, including with buck teeth.
- Downplayed with the Chang triplets in The Proud Family. They are typically designed with fairly normal mouths, but in several instances when they open their mouths, their most commonly shown teeth are two upper incisors, giving off the impression of this trope. By Louder and Prouder, this along with any stereotypical characteristics they previously had were removed.
- Minoriteam, a short-lived [adult swim] show notorious for its premise revolving around a superhero team composed of racial stereotypes, had the leader of the titular team being a Genius Cripple and offensively stereotypical Chinese man named Dr. Wang, who spoofed Professor X of the X-Men, personified the stereotype of Asians being highly intelligent and had noticeable buck teeth. It's particularly jarring because he's the one member of the team to not have a less stereotypical civilian identity.
- Very common in World War II anti-Japanese Allied propaganda. Even Dr. Seuss got into the act.◊
- In his biography, General Bill Slim mentions how he got hold of a picture of the Japanese general opposing him. He noted that Lieutenant General Kawabe looked like a propaganda caricature with his bullet head, thick glasses, and buck teeth — so Slim comforted himself with the thought that, no matter which one of them was the better general, at least he was better-looking.
- A lot of Roger Shimomura's artwork features Japanese caricatures that have either buck teeth or misaligned teeth, or at least have yellow skin like many of The Simpsons characters.
- The main character in Chibi Kiiro Jappu (Little Yellow Jap in English), a parody of The Story of Little Black Sambo, has two buck teeth sticking out of his mouth.
- The horse teeth variant actually existed with some Visual Kei artists until The New '10s or so, though it's a subversion - it wasn't due to their race or ethnicity at all, it was due to cosmetic dentistry (especially implant dentistry) not being half as advanced in The '90s and The Noughties, so an artist who was self-conscious over bad teeth had two choices – very large, prominent, and somewhat obvious horse teeth or leaving uncared-for/discolored from tobacco or other drug use/otherwise undesirable teeth the way they were. Quite a few artists that had the money for cosmetic constructive dentistry often opted for the former, getting a result that, as technology improved, became very obvious.