When the Token Minority and/or Token Female character can do no wrong. They will never bumble or make a mistake, even in a show where the majority of the cast does. They will be much smarter and have more common sense than average, they have more knowledge and skill than they have any reason to possess given their professional background, and they will definitely be of superior moral character. If the show is a comedy full of idiots and other wacky characters, the token is almost always The Straight Man.
When this trope appears in dramatic works, in addition to the typical Mary Sue qualities of being both impossibly badass and irreproachably moral, the Flawless Token will nearly invariably have suffered a horrifically tragic past of abuse and injustice from evil white oppressors, making their rise to greatness from total abjection all the more indicative of their perfection. Despite this, they will never harbor any resentment or desire for revenge towards their oppressors as a whole and will be perfectly happy to work alongside white men who treat them fairly. If the Flawless Token is a foreigner to their oppressor's society, their English (or whatever language) will always be absolutely perfect. When required, they will interact with this oppressive society with total confidence and will have no complaints or criticisms against its culture or customs. This allows the (likely predominantly white) audience to nod their heads in agreement at how righteous the Flawless Token is without having to face any anxiety or discomfort from having to choose between them and the institutions the audience cares about.
Physically, the Flawless Token will generally be attractive, but not quite a supermodel. Naturally, they are far too noble to ever be concerned with such a shallow and meaningless thing as beauty, but - in a remarkable coincidence - will just so happen to meet most of those beauty ideals anyway. Even a crossdressing or Transgender token will typically have little trouble "passing" as an attractive member of his or her preferred sex.
Though this trope is more common with women, racial minorities, and LGBT characters, it is sometimes applied to disabled people as well. This often leads to Disability Superpower, Handicapped Badass, Idiot Savant, Inspirationally Disadvantaged, and other tropes that, done wrong, will imply that disability actually makes a person inherently superior. In an effort to compensate for a history of stigmatizing the disabled by using them as Morality Pets, objects of pity, or the subjects of miraculous cures, writers will often completely overshoot the mark, going from "inferiority" to "superiority" and skipping "equality" altogether and never addressing issues such a character might realistically face.
Speculative Fiction can create a culture where women or groups that are minorities in Real Life are in positions of power and no one thinks it's unusual (invoking Fantastic Racism optional), but sometimes they dip into this trope anyway.
While usually a well-intentioned attempt at giving the minority in question some much-needed positive representation, another likely reason behind the presence of Flawless Tokens is the fear of misrepresenting minorities and being accused of bigotry as a result, making this trope the safest way of portraying one. This has the unintended consequence of pigeonholing them into being the dullest characters of the entire work. Some media may be shrewd enough to give a minority the odd token flaw or Not So Above It All moment, but they tend to dilute it as much as possible (occasionally to the point of near non-existence), or at least emphasize the fact that such a trait or moment is rare. In other cases, they may actually indeed be just as flawed as the rest of the cast, but still treated as having the moral high ground regardless. In the long run, however, their shortcomings will usually at the very least be far less detrimental than others'.
Compare Closer to Earth, Females Are More Innocent, and The Unfair Sex. Almost all instances of You Go, Girl! and Battle of the Sexes are this when women are displayed as superior to their male competitors in sports or other traditionally male domains. The Innocent Bigot may expect a token character to be perfect, but in this case, it will be lampshaded as a bad thing. You Are a Credit to Your Race is a related trope, as is Noble Savage. Taking the polar opposite tack leads to Mighty Whitey and Men Are Better Than Women. Almost always leads to a Right Way/Wrong Way Pair.
See also Magical Minority Person and its subtropes.
- Used in this Mario Kart 7 ad. The incredible opponents are Japanese girls.
- The "Take the Subaru" commercial features several white kids, ages 5-16, being told by a parent "you're not taking that," referring to some sort of household object (in one case, nunchucks) that was about to be used for a Jackass style stunt. The lone African-American teenager at the end asks if he could go out in the rain, his mother approvingly tells him to take the Subaru.
- In Eyeshield 21, Patrick "Panther" Spencer, a well-known, dark-skinned individual, gets this treatment. By the final story, where a chapter or play doesn't seem to be able to go by without saying he's greater than everyone else due to "his black genes", it truly sticks out. It's odd when you consider that in a football series about players who casually pull off superhuman feats regardless of ethnicity, the narrative claims that one character's defining ability to his football skill is "because he's black".
- Nils Nielsen is the only genuinely black Gunpla Fighter in Gundam Build Fighters, and one of the precious few black people in the entire Gundam world in general. He's a 13-year-old Child Prodigy with several PhDs, as well as the son of a famous detective and a prominent female martial arts champion. On the other hand, he does mix up his Chinese and Japanese cultures when he builds a Japanese-themed Gundam that fights using the Chinese martial art fa Kendall, something that gets lampshaded by the show's Japanese cast members.
- Motoko Kusanagi of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, the sole female on her team, is the most skilled member of Section 9, being an expert hacker and skilled in both hand-to-hand combat and firearms. She even outdoes some of the other team members at their own specialties. Anyone fighting her will lose because the Major is a Genius Bruiser and will turn people's advantages against them.
- Shirow Masamune loves this trope. Deunan from his previous manga Appleseed is much less perfect and relies heavily on her much more level-headed partner/boyfriend Briareos. Yet she is still the only woman of the unit and by far the most badass officer on the force.
- Kirika and Mirielle from Noir are assassins who commonly use bumbling male thugs for target practice. Most male antagonists fall under the "bumbling thug" descriptor. When they go up against more elegant, dangerous, and skilled opponents, the opponents are almost always female. In an aversion, the only one who manages to successfully manipulate them into serving his goals and get away with it (read: live) is male.
- In Yo-Kai Watch, Katie is shown to be better at collecting medals than Nate would have been, befriends powerful Yo-kai, and is much more helpful and respectful to Whisper.
- The "Djeeta Arc" episodes of Granblue Fantasy has Djeeta blaze through the same plots Gran took the whole season to finish and accomplish near all the classes, with just enough time to have fun with her crew and team up with fan-favorite characters.
- In The King of Fighters: Destiny, it is quite evident the show tried to exempt the popular classic female characters from suffering the same fate as some other mainstay male characters who got hit by the Flanderization hammer, making the girls more competent than they were shown to be in the games, the team known as Women Fighters Team is rebranded as Queen Fighters, describing the original name as old fashioned and lacking in proper self-promotion. Mai, Yuri, and King completely dominate Ryo Sakazaki and Robert Garcia, whose original game portrayals are on point to state are stronger than them. When the Queens are captured and brainwashed, they become troubling foes to even Kyo and Terry, the two main characters the show favors in making look very competent. In the end, Mai and Yuri even assist Kyo in his final battle against Rugal.
- When writing New X-Men: Academy X, the creators were careful to avoid any African-American stereotypes when it came to Prodigy. Taking that idea to its natural conclusion, the character ended up as a genius with the superpower to absorb the knowledge of those around him. Thankfully, he's a well-rounded character, which kept him from becoming a Creator's Pet.
- There was a time in the 1980s when Marvel Comics' two flagship ensemble teams, the X-Men and The Avengers, both had black female leaders. However, there's a reason why Storm caught on with readers and became a very popular character and Monica Rambeau did not. The latter was a girl scout who was as close to being The Cape without actually wearing one as possible, whereas the former was seen as a more flawed, fleshed-out character.
- Although in theory Simpsons Comics (like The Simpsons itself) is non-discriminatory in its negative stereotypes and everyone was supposed to be a blockhead, the Superior Squad (a superhero team led by Bart Simpson's favorite comic-book character Radioactive Man that fought supervillains between the 1950s and 1990s) mostly adhered to this trope. The team consisted of six men and two women - and guess which two were the most positively portrayed? One of the females, Lure Lass, was stereotypically perfect, while the other, Weasel Woman, did have some flaws but was braver and more badass than everyone else on the team, including Radioactive Man himself. (One reader even wrote in to comment that Weasel Woman really should have been named the team leader.) In contrast, the two most profoundly flawed Superior Squad members were male, as well as the two ostensibly most powerful: Purple Heart (who later changed his name to "Bleeding Heart", then to "Heart of Darkness", then to "Bleeding Heart" again, and finally to "Bloody Heart"), who was your standard Ted Baxter type, and RM himself, who was well-meaning but very much a Windmill Crusader and rather stupid. Weasel Woman being a female version of Wolverine (created well before X-23 came along) might explain her popularity, though in the "Simpsons" universe she doesn't seem subject to Weasel Woman publicity.
- Harvey Bullock and Renee Montoya of the Batman corner of the DC universe are both Gotham City police detectives, and Commissioner Gordon always puts them at the forefront of any "major crimes" case. Bullock, who first showed up in the original comics in the mid-1980s, is a large white man (albeit a vaguely "ethnic" one, as he was voiced by an Italian-American actor in the animated series). He was originally a plant installed in the police department by an underworld syndicate, only to perform a HeelFace Turn and start working for Gordon for real. Despite this, Bullock is still a loudmouthed, hot-tempered, stubborn, self-important Fat Bastard type who eats too many donuts — and, to top it off, is also commonly shown to be a hypocrite, such as when he chides Batman for working outside the law but also regularly flouts police procedure himself (and in the comics, after Bruce Wayne has his back broken by Bane and is replaced by his apprentice Jean-Paul Valley, Bullock actually praises the new Batman for being excessively violent with criminals, even helping him by giving him files on suspects that the police can't finger). Then we have Montoya, a character created for the animated series in the 1990s who subsequently found her way into the original comics. She is a Latina, and (in the comics from the 2000s onwards) a lesbian; she is also a much more pleasant person to be around than Bullock, is athletic and beautiful (although somewhat mannish in the early years of the animated series), always (with a few exceptions) obeys Commissioner Gordon, and in the 1990s she had no character flaws other than being a little too idealistic about crime-fighting. The discrepancy between Bullock and Montoya was never worse than when the two of them battled the hulking vigilante Lock-Up hand-to-hand: Bullock did most of the work but couldn't quite bring the big guy down, only for Montoya to jump onto Lock-Up's back and easily knock him unconscious by hitting him in the head with her pistol; when the other cops arrived, Montoya got all the credit. It should be noted that the comics version of Montoya underwent a large amount of character development in the 2000s under the pen of Greg Rucka, developing a number of realistically unflattering character traits, including an extremely vengeful attitude and eventually alcoholism and a bad smoking habit. It should also be noted that Renee Montoya stopped being a token in the 2000s: her parents and brother started appearing, so she was no longer the only character of Latin descent in Gotham, and former Superman supporting character Maggie Sawyer moved to Gotham in this time, so Renee was no longer the only lesbian.
- In issue ten of Peter J. Tomasi's Batman and Robin run, a Big Bad gathers together various people that feel like they've been injured or wronged by Batman. Almost all of them were injured through the results of their own actions and stupidity, or in one case, were simply embarrassed. The lone female of the group is also the only one whose injuries were purely the result of Batman's actions towards her, thereby making her the only one with some small amount of legitimacy to her anger. Her injuries are also relatively minor and no more disfiguring than many body piercings... that apparently she simply decided to keep rather than have them removed.
- Black-a-Jack in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. note Where do we start? His oversized head houses a brain similar in density to a black hole. He has to step lightly so he doesn't crack Earth in half. He disables any humanoid opponents just by raising his voice. He builds himself a language of his own that seems to splice and synthesize English and Dutch at will because saying just one word at a time is a dullinquent waste of vocablishment; he builds himself a spaceworthy flying ship seemingly powered by the scent of roses; he's the single most interesting, possibly most in-depth, inarguably by far the most intelligent, most funny, outrageous, sexy, free-spirited and most phenomenally powerful being encountered in this work of infinite fiction; he doesn't even show up on the page very often as the writer probably realizes nothing could stop him from stealing the show and depriving it of drama. And he has a huge...personality.
- Archie Comics:
- Chuck Clayton has zero flaws whatsoever, is Riverdale's top athlete who plays on every team, a terrifically talented artist, an A student, has a hot steady girlfriend who he rarely (if ever) has any quarrels with, has his father on staff at school meaning he's guaranteed access to a Reasonable Authority Figure, and is basically beloved by the entire town. Really the closest thing to a "flaw" he has is he's not much of a ladies man... and that's only because for the longest time they didn't dare put him with anyone other than the one Black girl in school.
- Kevin Keller's character basically begins and ends with "is gay". Aside from that he's basically a living Ken Doll with zero flaws, is one of the nicest and handsomest people in school, and is basically loved by everyone in town.
- In Sonic the Comic, after Amy's initial portrayal as a standard Damsel in Distress, she fairly rapidly developed into a more level-headed Action Girl with Improbable Aiming Skills, ultimately becoming the Freedom Fighters' Number Two after Sonic himself. Writer Nigel Kitching revealed this to have happened at the behest of the comic's editors, who wanted to make her a more positive female role model. Kitching resented this imposition, as he claims that he had planned to make her into a more competent contributing member of the Freedom Fighters over time anyway, and he felt that she ended up becoming a much more one-dimensional character as compared to her more flawed male comrades.
- In an issue of Ms. Marvel, two supporting characters, Mike and Nakia, commiserate about this trope:
Mike: I feel like I need to be the well-adjusted, straight-A-getting, all-American kid at all times, because it I'm not, people will blame it on my moms.
Nakia: I know that feeling, Mike... It's like being an immigrant kid, you have to be the best because if you're not, it's proof that your parents and their culture messed you up. Meanwhile, the nice apple-pie kid is in the corner sniffing glue, but nobody is asking what culture messed him up.
- Scott Adams, the writer/artist of the comic strip Dilbert, has trouble including minorities in his central cast because he loves deeply-flawed characters and doesn't want to get angry letters by creating dumb, criminal or lazy minority characters.
- So he created Asok, an intern from India who's a foil to the rest of the cast. He's technically brilliant, hardworking, honest, and nice. His only flaws are inexperience and wide-eyed naivete. He's TOO nice and TOO trusting. Adams still got letters.
- Following reader complaints that Tina the Tech Writer was too stereotypically female, he created Antina, the "anti-Tina," a female character who had a liking for sports, a muscular build, and short hair. Adams claimed that readers were not happy with her either, because they thought he was making fun of lesbians.
- Delta, the main black cast member of Luann, is the smartest and most level-headed of the entire group. Unless you count "being a workaholic" as an actual flaw, she's about as absurdly perfect as they get. (She was written out of the strip after the main characters graduated from high school. In an interview, cartoonist Greg Evans explained why, saying, "Delta was always a hard character to write because shes too good (giving a minority character negative traits is always problematic).")
- Nearly all the characters in Peanuts have some kind of flaw or insecurity, with the noted exception of Franklin, the only black character in the cast. He's a decent athlete, does well in school, and he's one of the handfuls of individuals that is genuinely nice to Charlie Brown. In fact, when he came to Charlie Brown's neighborhood to visit, he found everyone to be strange and unusual.
- Occurs in the movie version of Get Smart due to Values Dissonance. Agent 99 being the competent and experienced professional while Maxwell Smart was a blundering incompetent was originally a surprising and subversive twist.note Today it just seems like this trope. In fact, they seem to have made Maxwell more competent in order to compensate. This may be to rectify the fact that in the original, 99 admires Smart, likes him being in charge, and is prepared to completely ignore his lack of ability in favor of his experience, character, and tendency towards dumb luck. The modern 99 is clearly aware of Max's inexperience, so they had to give him at least some capabilities. The funny thing is that the experienced character is younger than the inexperienced one in real life - Anne Hathaway is twenty years younger than Steve Carell. This is actually referenced in the film. 99 reveals that she recently underwent plastic surgery after botching a mission and had the surgeons make her look younger. Smart's inexperience is mostly due to him having been too obese to be a field agent until just before the events of the film.
- George A Romero's Living Dead trilogy played this fairly straight:
- Black Ben in Night of the Living Dead is not only the Final Guy, but the only person in the film to be competent at both gunplay and tire-iron-to-temple combat. He was also smart and resourceful, and not stupid (Johnny or Mrs. Cooper), emotionally unstable, or incapacitated (Barbara and Karen) or just a plain Jerkass like Harry Cooper. Tom and Judy are fairly useful, but not as useful as Ben and they're the first in the house to die in an accident that was their fault. Keep in mind though, this was likely unintentional, as the script didn't call for Ben's character to be black, and Duane Jones was just the best actor to audition for the role.
- The rest of the trilogy plays it fairly straight. In Dawn of the Dead the African-American SWAT officer is both the groups' best fighter and savvy enough to not get overconfident, and the film's survivors are him and the only female of the group. The same goes for Day Of The Dead, as the female and/or non-white characters are both the most moral in the film and its only survivors.
- Much hoo-ha was made over Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle starring non-white main characters as stoned slackers, but the writers still went out of their way to mention how both are brilliant students with near genius-level IQs who simply have a problem with staying motivated, whereas various white characters are uniformly portrayed as total idiots and/or Jerkasses. Protagonists in other stoner comedies —including the non-white Cheech and Chong— are freely made to be as stupid as possible without any "No, really, they're super smart!" qualifications, which are tough to reconcile with all the boneheaded decisions that drive any good Stoner Comedy.
- Sidney Poitier's most famous starring roles in Lilies of the Field, To Sir, with Love, In the Heat of the Night and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. For the most part, all these roles have Poitier playing men who are nearly perfect specimens of humanity except for a bit of righteous anger at injustice. Dinner is the most blatant with a character being less a man than a demigod of perfection. Stanley Kramer, the director/producer of Dinner argued that Poitier's character had to be perfect because the only objection to his marrying Spencer Tracy's daughter was his race. Poitier himself mentioned in an interview later on that, in retrospect, the fact the only real flaw the daughter brings to the table is that of being a white woman is a bit annoying.
- Lampshaded in The Animal: Miles, the only black man employed at the airport, is constantly complaining that, because he's black, the others treat him as if he could do no wrong, and ignore anything he does - such as smoking in a federal building - that would prove otherwise. This becomes a Chekhov's Gun when Miles claims to be the monster to keep the mob from killing the main character. The mob immediately disbands to avoid getting charged with a hate crime, and Miles stands there as they walk off, screaming about 'reverse racism'.
- In The Gamers: Dorkness Rising a female joins the group and two of the guys flip out (the other two being the ex-boyfriend and the DM who knew ahead of time). And:
- In spite of being completely new to gaming, she's able to build a monster 9th level fighter using only the Players Handbook and a combination of feats that only exist in this movie that the Munchkin Powergamer Rules Lawyer somehow missed. She's far more mature than the other players and after only one game session is able to give the Game Master all the insight he needs to run his group correctly. The guys are a milquetoast, a Jerkass, and two emotionally stunted clowns. Circumstances are contrived to make sure her character is the most effective. She excels against several weak opponents, but her low hit points make her weak against a tougher foe and the group has no real tank due to this. Though to be fair, players who have to campaign to take part in the...campaign are far more likely to obsess over the game to find exploits and create an OP charector, and the books aren't really that complicated.
- Lampshaded in Miss Congeniality. Victor the beauty-pageant coach is explaining to Gracie how he had a near-perfect record of the girls he coached winning the pageant. On one year his girl lost, the winner was a deaf-mute. You can't beat that.
- Dean Koontz often does this with his disabled characters. Needless to say, this annoys actual disabled people.
- The saintly Uncle Tom in Uncle Tom's Cabin: Harriet Beecher Stowe intended him to be a model of a perfect Christian: he was portrayed in the novel as being young and strong but still aspiring to be nonviolent. It eventually backfired when later readers began to interpret Tom's goodness as weakness, and a different version of the character emerged in minstrel show adaptations (which Stowe neither approved nor profited from): an older, weaker man who groveled and kowtowed before whites and was essentially a slavery apologist. Thus we have Uncle Tomfoolery.
- Of the four protagonists of Patrick Tilley's The Amtrak Wars, the two guys are pretty deeply flawed, get slightly better or a lot worse, and die. The two girls wind up more or less saints by the end.
- The Watch series has this as a running theme, especially in Men at Arms. Due to the speciesism that pervades Ankh-Morpork, Lord Vetinari's demand that the Watch better represent the city's "ethnic" makeup means including a dwarf, a troll, and a werewolf on the Watch.
- Snuff plays this trope absolutely straight with goblins.
- NewsRadio — the sole black character, Bill's co-anchor Catherine Duke, was by far the least ridiculous person at the station. Also the dullest, which is why few noticed her departure in the middle of the fourth season. Dave and Lisa were also more or less normal, as well as more successful. Still, in one episode when Bill is listing the positive traits of all his coworkers, for Catherine he simply says, "You're a woman, and you're black, oh what I wouldn't give!"
- The Office (US): Even though Stanley and Darryl have clearly been obnoxious or inappropriately insubordinate, Michael constantly ignores it for the cameras, fearing accusations of racism.
- Spin City averted this cleverly with gay black guy Carter. Carter was highly intelligent, extremely good at his job, and often acted as the voice of reason but he was a flawed character in other ways such as his neuroses and hypersensitivity to racial and sexual discrimination.
- In the BBC version of Robin Hood, the character of Djaq is a double token minority- the one non-white outlaw and the only female member of the group. She is frequently shown to be more intelligent than the other characters and is usually the one to tell them off for being idiots, kicks butt while fighting, has incredible healing powers, and can always get herself out of a fix with her Saracen know-how. It got worse in S3, in which Djaq (whose flawlessness was at least alleviated by a likable personality and a plausible backstory for her assortment of skills) is written out and replaced by Kate, whose characterization was a mess of Double Standards. Essentially, the portrayal was a strange blend of blatant sexism and wannabe feminism: on the one hand, the only female of the gang was invariably the one that was constantly getting arrested, kidnapped or injured (usually due to her inability to keep a lid on her emotions), her only objective on the show was to become Robin's girlfriend (with a Love Triangle with two other outlaws on the side), and she was an otherwise completely useless member of the gang who contributed nothing and was in need of constant supervision. At the same time, none of the male outlaws ever seemed to notice just how much of a liability she really was. Instead, she was allowed to abuse and criticize them constantly, was never required to take responsibility for her actions, and had all the outlaws fall inexplicably in love with her despite her serious attitude problem. Too useless to be an Action Girl and too obnoxious to be a worthy Damsel in Distress, no one truly knows what the writers were trying to achieve with her.
- Lampshaded and then massively subverted in the Inspector Morse episode "Twilight of the Gods." Nobody, including Morse, wants to believe anything too bad about Andrew Baydon—despite how unpleasantly he treats other people—because he has a Nazi concentration camp tattoo on one arm. In fact, the tattoo is a fake, designed to cover up what Baydon was really doing during WWII.
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia initially had Sweet Dee represent the Women Are Wiser trope, only for Kaitlin Olson to grow bored with the character and campaign for more comedic scenes. Starting somewhere in the first season, Dee has become just as depraved as the rest of the gang.
- Parodied in My Name Is Earl:
Joy: We're gonna require a second opinion from a real doctor. You know, a Jewish one.
Doctor: I'm Indian. We're the new Jews.
Darnell: I thought that was Koreans.
Doctor: They wish!
- Scrubs occasionally mocked this with Turk's history, including the time he got 3rd place in the science fair without entering, and how he was photoshopped multiple times in his college brochure to make it more diverse. Then he's put as the face for an outreach project for the hospital. He even addresses this trope directly and how much he dislikes it. If the hospital wanted to portray him as a role model for being just a good medic, fine, but being singled out as the token annoyed him.
- Parodied in How I Met Your Mother, where Marshall's father suggests he borrow an umbrella from the Koreans down the hall since Koreans are apparently all wise enough to be prepared for any situation and compassionate enough to lend their things out to neighbors. Marshall is just as confused as everyone else. The Koreans did lend him an umbrella. Lily even lampshades it later by calling it "positive racism" in an attempt to cheer Marshall up.
- Key & Peele:
- Played With in the "Racist Zombie" sketch, where the planet is hit by a full-on Zombie Apocalypse, with the narrative following two black guys and a white guy. In a subversion of the Black Dude Dies First trope, the white guy is violently killed and eaten while the zombies ignore the two black guys, who eventually realize that the zombies are racist and refuse to eat black people. The sketch ends with a group of black survivors having a massive, jovial barbecue while the rest of the world goes to hell around them.
- Another sketch, "Sex With Black Guys", has the duo overhear a pair of white women chatting about black people and what they must be like. Some of their assumptions, like that black guys have big dicks and are sensitive to women, make the duo feel flattered. But then the women also bring up stereotypes like black guys never having fathers or being inherently subservient to white masters, which gets the duo very offended. The two women flip-flop back and forth between praise and taunting, making the guys rather conflicted about whether it's worth trying to flirt with these girls or not.
- Orange Is the New Black has a relatively minor example. While the show is filled with well-rounded characters of almost every imaginable race, gender, and sexual orientation, it's somewhat noticeable that the most good-natured prisoner at Litchfield — by a pretty wide margin — is the sole transgender character, Sofia Burset. Tellingly, her closest competition in the niceness department is probably Sister Ingalls, the former nun. While Sofia has her share of personal drama, she's one of the only prisoners who's consistently friendly to Piper from the beginning, she had one of the most stable pre-Litchfield lives of any of the prisoners, and her crime (stealing credit cards) is one of the most minor of any of them.
- Deconstructed in Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Holt is both black and gay, which made his early police career very difficult as the '70s and '80s were a much less tolerant time period. However, in the present, the problem has swapped: he finally got the various promotions he had earned over the years, but only because his higher-ups want to make themselves look good. This infuriates Holt, as it makes him feel like he didn't truly earn his position. Not only that, but he had to constantly struggle with his superiors because they wanted to shunt him off to a quiet but visible desk job so they could tout their progressiveness without putting him in charge of anything.
- Red Dwarf:
- The seventh season introduces a female crewmember who quickly proves the most competent of any of them (not a challenge given the competition, granted...) They thankfully back off this some in later episodes. It should be pointed out, however, that she came from an alternate universe where the Red Dwarf crew were all more competent than their "regular" universe counterparts. A recurring theme has Kochanski berating Lister for not being as competent as her Dave. However, there is a lot of implication that they were more competent because of her, so it still stands.
- A subversion is Holly from Series 3-5, played by Hattie Hayridge. The character admits in one episode to being a "deranged, half-witted computer" and in another can't even count without banging her head on the screen. That being said, Holly still seemed smarter as a female, especially in episodes like "Backwards" with her theory on "The Big Crunch" and in "Polymorph" she is actually able to recognize the creature (a shapeshifter) when even Rimmer (who is always insulting Holly's intelligence) is too distracted by its current shape (his mother).
- In the comedy Chalk, Suzy Travis is the sarcastic, intelligent straight man to the rest of the teaching department's idiotic fools — especially deputy headmaster Eric Slatt. However, this is subverted in the second season as she slowly turns into Slatt herself. Likewise, Eric's wife Janet is a typical Closer to Earth sitcom wife. However, it's averted entirely with Ms. Trippley, a complete mess of a woman who sacked all the students at Galfast High School. Twice. There's still something to be said for the fact that while there are Straight Men amongst the female staff, all the male staff have individual quirks and flaws.
- In the short-lived series The Lone Gunmen, Yves Adele Harlow was the lone female on the primary cast, and also the only fully competent one. The individual characters all got their moments to shine, but Yves owned almost every single time she was on-screen (and off-screen). Only exceptions: in the pilot, Frohike managed to outwit Yves, and Jimmy manages to save the day often as well. (Yves was also dark-skinned and a foreigner, making her a threefer.)
- Refreshingly averted on The Magicians. The show had four minority characters in the main cast: Indian Penny, mixed-race Margo, gay Elliot, and black Dean Foggnote , all of whom had their fair share of mistakes, morally questionable and/or jerk-ass moments, and comedic scenes.
- Fate: The Winx Saga:
- The series portrays Aisha as a Go-Getter Girl who's also an avid swimmer - able to do so twice a day. She's also the responsible, Only Sane Man and Team Mom of the group. She does occasionally struggle with Power Incontinence, and mentions once being so distraught over failing a math test that she accidentally flooded her old school.
- Musa is Eurasian and because of this, is allowed to be a much more flawed person; she's an Aloof Dark-Haired Girl who has to learn to let people in.
- Pro wrestling had this problem from the very beginning.
- When wrestling shows first began to appear on TV, Westerns were popular, so it was perhaps inevitable that "Indian chief" characters would appear. The promoters were aware that depicting a member of America's smallest minority group as a cheating savage murderous heel would be, to put it lightly, kind of mean - so they set out to subvert the negative stereotype and overdid it. Every Native American wrestler between the 1940s and the 1990s - Chief Jay Strongbow most famously - was the Noble Savage incarnate and always a hero, with the exception of Apache Bull Ramos, who even then had to fight for the right to work heel but had a successful feud in the western NWA territories with Mil Mascaras which would pave way for Tatanka (a real-life Lumbee from North Carolina, although he depicted a Lakota) to turn spectacularly heel in 1994, joining Ted DiBiase's Million Dollar Corporation. (Later, when he returned to WWE in the mid-2000s, Tatanka would turn heel in a different way, this time painting his face with creepy makeup and claiming to be a "vengeful ghost warrior" - and his new gimmick was so powerful that it just resulted in Draco In A Leather Loincloth. Worse, he got only two matches with the new gimmick before mysteriously disappearing.)
- Black wrestlers also faced this problem. Perhaps due to outbreaks of racially charged violence that tended to erupt in wrestling arenas in some parts of the country, promoters had to be very careful never to A) feature black athletes too prominently; or B) have them engage in behavior, even in Kayfabe, that could lead to race riots. The result was that guys like Art Thomas and Bobo Brazil never got to depict anything more interesting than the standard boring good guy who didn't do anything extraordinary, at least at first. Not just the US, as Penny Banner recalled working in Mexico that Babs Wingo was stuck with the good girl role because even there the sight of a good blonde getting beat up by a "colored" woman could spark a riot. Ernie "Big Cat" Ladd was the first to defy the tradition in the 1960s, transforming himself into one of the most obnoxious and bullying heels of his era.
- Even though WWE now features several prominent black wrestlers, traces of the hapless black hero of yore can still sometimes be seen, usually with Kofi Kingston, the only African-born (from Ghana) WWE Superstar. While he was always a face from his debut until 2015 and can more than hold his own with some of WWE's best (even defeating Chris Jericho for the Intercontinental Championship in his first pay-per-view appearance!), many of his storylines have seen him job to the heels or get stuck in the tag-team ranks. Probably one of Kingston's most degrading moments was when he was attacked by Edge just before the 2009 Raw Elimination Chamber Match and prevented from competing at all, for no other reason than so that Edge could win the World Heavyweight Championship (and get a good Kick the Dog moment in the bargain).
- Subverted, cut with a blade, bashed with a guitar, put through a table, and generally beaten all to hell until there was nothing left of it by New Jack. The Gangstas (Jack and Mustafa Saied) debuted in SMW in mid-1994 as Angry Black Men whose whole act was based on playing on the racial fears of SMW's very white audience. That there have been so many different kinds of black heels, from Faarooq's black power gang The Nation of Domination, to the aforementioned New Jack to Foreign Wrestling Heel/Wrestling Monster types such as Abdullah the Butcher and Kamala to Large Ham Jerk Jocks such as the Rock also qualifies as a subversion.
- In all eras, female wrestlers almost never have the moral or psychological depth of their male counterparts. In the digital TV era WWE's Divas and TNA's Knockouts could be heels but they're more likely to commit petty or annoying misdeeds than to act truly evil. (In the case of the later, Winter clearly crossed the Moral Event Horizon - but even then, her doing that was met with the woman she mindraped being perfectly happy with what she did and taking her side against the woman who did an admittedly poor job of trying to save her.)
- In intergender situations, it's almost always the man as the heel and the woman as the face, even if the woman is a heel as well (see Beth Phoenix). Chyna debuted in WWE in February 1997 as Heel Triple H's bodyguard, whose role was to beat up Marlena [Terri Runnels] during HHH's feud with Goldust, and, later, anyone else who got in HHH's way. She became a Face after DGenerationX's collective face turn in Spring-Summer 1998, not because of anything she herself did and remained one for the rest of her run with the company. Ivelisse Vélez of WWE Tough Enough fame successfully averted this as she competed in several intergender matches as a heel.
- In perhaps her most notable appearance, Beth Phoenix was more of a Wild Card than a straight face or heel. Still officially a heel at the time, she entered the 2010 Royal Rumble Match (which only two other Divas, Chyna and Kharma, have ever done) and foreshadowed her HeelFace Turn by easily eliminating the Great Khali (who was a face at the time, albeit not a very sympathetic one). She then attempted to eliminate then-heel (and her Real Life boyfriend) CM Punk, but he got the best of her. It's doubtful she would have won in any case, since one of the last entrants in that match (and the eventual winner) was Edge, who has demonstrated in the past that he Would Hit a Girl.
- A special case occurred early in 2004 when Trish Stratus was a face and Christian was a heel, and Christian brutalized Trish with a submission hold after promising to throw the match. But when Chris Jericho (Trish's boyfriend at the time) tried to come to her rescue, she inexplicably sided with Christian and became a heel herself (and yes, the Unfortunate Implications were thick).
- In the LEGO series BIONICLE, each Toa team has only one female on it, the main three so far being Gali, Nokama and Hahli. In the latter two cases, they are the least flawed and the wisest members of their teams. Particularly noticeable in Legends of Metru Nui in which each Toa Metru is given a major character flaw which they must overcome to unlock their individual mask powers, such as Vakama's lack of confidence and Matau's inability to stop and think before rushing in. Not only is Nokama's flaw relatively small (not admitting when she's wrong), it is only referenced once and she overcomes it very early on, extremely quickly. Note that this stopped applying to her after her team's transformation into Turaga elders.
As for Gali, this is kind of zigzagged depending on the story, as Onua, a male, was just as wise and never argued with the others, whereas Gali frequently argued with Tahu and Kopaka, although that was mainly trying to get the two to stop their own fights. Notably, Gali was also the only Toa who properly heard the vision about the Toa Kaita (the others tried to fight it) and the only one to protest the Toa Nuva going solo before all went wrong (proving to be wiser than Onua); however, in The Movie, Gali became just as arrogant to Tahu as he was to her.
- It gets better after a Retool that switches settings to focus on a world with Gladiator Games. The one girl there, Kiina, is brash, aggressive, and blunt; traits that help her in the arena but make her a pain to deal with outside of it. Though, The Movie actually shows her as a Genki Girl with a little Tsundere thrown in the mix.
- Partially justified with Hahli in the Mahri Nui Arc; she is stronger, faster, and more aggressive ("Hahli the barbarian") because she is literally in her element, while the team leader Jaller is severely weakened by being constantly submerged in water.
- Natalie Breez of Hero Factory, the only female Hero ever to be featured prominently, was, for the most part, a minor character who didn't have much to her. Suddenly, in the animated special Invasion from Below, she becomes the most competent of the bunch: She defeats a giant beast all by herself when the rest of the Heroes can't deal with them even in their mechs, learns that the beasts can communicate, finds out why they are attacking by reading ancient carvings (the others dismiss her), and at the end saved the day by offering peace to the beast queen. After that, the beasts attack again and the Heroes kill them, but that wasn't her fault.
- Crash Bandicoot: Coco Bandicoot is significantly more intelligent and Closer to Earth than her brother (though that's not much of a challenge) and not far off in terms of physical power either. This changed when the franchise shifted to being more Denser and Wackier, as while Coco remained the smarter one, she also became more prone to petty frustrations and her own quirks, though while having her Action Girl qualities increased too. The Continuity Reboot of It's About Time played it straight again by bringing back her wiser portrayal while keeping her new active role, while making Crash seem even more inept physically and mentally by comparison in the process.
- In Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, Fantastic Racism between humans and the shapeshifting beast-men races called the Laguz is a major theme. While there are many senselessly evil or stupid human characters, in the first installment, there was not a single evil Laguz. They were either outright heroic, brutally tortured and crazily brainwashed into attacking the heroes, or had a very good reason for opposing the good guysnote . It got a bit better in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, with a few Laguz bandits, some Laguz too big on the whole Blood Knight thing, references to the days when they would burn the branded at the stake, etc., but not exceptionally either.
- According to an official Epic Mickey profile, "whether she's busy fending off unwelcome advances from the notorious Pete or wishing that Oswald would spend more time with her and their copious children, Ortensia is - in every way - Oswald's better half".
- D'arci Stern from Urban Chaos is the only female and non-white person working for the police and is the only competent officer - even though she's just a rookie for most of the game.
- This ended up being the reason why the Western version of Final Fight has the Mad Gear mostly composed of White Gangbangers: Capcom feared that people would react negatively to black hoodlums (namely Dug and Simons, but also Damnd and Edi. E - whose case is worse, as he's a crooked cop) getting beaten up, which resulted in their skin getting lightened for America. It's also the reason why Poison is a transgender (and, by association, Roxy too, depending on who you ask): when the game was ported to the Super NES, Nintendo's stricter censorship policies decreed that beating women up was a no-no, regardless of which side of the law they werenote . Making Poison transgender was what Capcom thought to try and get away with it, but that wouldn't have made things any better due to implications of homophobia, so she and Roxy were changed to male thugs.
- Farah, a native from a fictional nation loosely based on Syria, from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019), made all the more ironic by how hard the game tries to present itself as a gritty, hardened story that rejects indulgent fantasy. She watches her mother and father die in front of her as an 8-year-old child. Attacked by several soldiers and forced to kill them - again as a child. Captured and spends 10 years in prison, enduring abuse and torture. Somehow becomes a commander of the resistance movement inside prison, because the resistance apparently decided a great choice for a commander of their military organization would be a teenage girl with zero military experience (or experience in anything besides being an 8-year-old and a prisoner), zero access to learning materials or training, near certain extremely severe physical and mental damage, and who can't even be spoken to without going through the dangerous trouble of smuggling messages in and out and prison. Successfully leads her squad of other abused female Arabic prisoners with zero combat training to overpower dozens of trained soldiers, all while severely starved and dehydrated. Becomes an ultra-super-badass insurgent leader who is somehow far more knowledgeable than her white Western male colleagues from elite American and British units. So utterly dedicated to her morals that she's willing to immediately turn on her beloved brother when he uses weapons she doesn't approve of. Accepts the clueless US Military Command incorrectly classifying her equally flawless movement of freedom fighters in stride. Has to be convinced to seize an opportunity to take revenge on the man who imprisoned and tortured her, because it means acting aggressively instead of defensively. Immediately offers to sacrifice herself when the mission requires it.
- Red vs. Blue used to have this issue, when the only female characters were Tex and Shiela, one of whom is canonically the best warrior in the series and the other is a tank's AI. Later seasons grew out of this to some extent, after introducing a female character who is just as laughably incompetent as the main cast (Sister), and giving real flaws to the more hypercompetent ladies (Tex).
- The series sort of flip-flops on this, since Sister was basically a rare guest star for most of her existence. Then as the series got more serious and started introducing more of the Freelancers, the female Freelancers were allowed to be just as flawed and even moreso than the male characters. However, the series then wandered back towards this trope by introducing a female reporter as the story-driving castmember, whose only flaw seemed to be her singleminded dedication to the story she was researching, her superiority highlighted by her male assistant (who was, if anything, even dumber than most of the Reds and Blues). Then it wandered back away from it again by exiting the reporter and bringing Sister back as a primary castmember.
- Invoked as part of Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff's ever-present Stylistic Suck. Most of the comic's humor comes from the protagonists' struggles with basic motor skills and their own rampaging stupidity. When the Token Black Friend Geromy is introduced, he's too smart to get involved in that nonsense—so he stands around doing absolutely nothing for the rest of the comic. In the print edition, Dave's author's notes even acknowledge this:
Dave Strider: geromy is always the new friend. hes always there and adds much needed racial diversity to these two white assholes who fuck everything up. geromy doesnt fuck anything up because hes perfect. i love geromy.
- Inverted in this video by Macho Sauce Productions where the only black guy of the team are dense and considerably less intelligent as the other 3 members (who are white).
- On the blog Regretsy (which mocks pretentious or ridiculous items on the craft site Etsy), people who leave honest criticism in threads full of fawning approval have their own name and avatar replaced by a default one made up by Regretsy and the name "The Only Sane Person in the World". The icon is of a black woman.
- Deconstructed in this blog post. The author argues that having a single highly-competent black person in the company of many white people of varying competence only shows that black people have to work harder than white people for the same rewards. According to an article, she quotes "...one of the ways in which we will know when black people in the United States are truly liberated and equal to their fellow white citizens will be when there are as many mediocre blacks in academia as there are currently mediocre whites."
- Mocked in "#CHANGETHEBEES" from DR. BEES. In it, Dr. Bees isn't allowed to make a comic cover that shows a woman getting attacked by bees (out of fear of offending women) but is allowed to depict a woman gruesomely murdering a sentient bee. The video is a parody of the Real Life incident where a Batgirl (2011) cover was changed.
- In some Internet communities this is referred to as "the Galbrush Paradox". Someone complains about there not being enough female or minority characters, only to then complain when those characters are depicted as equally flawed as the straight white male characters. The result is a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: creators using white male leads over and over because those are the only type of people they feel they can depict as realistically flawed without offending someone. The name is a reference to Monkey Island, with the theory positing that if Guybrush was a woman named Galbrush instead, the writers wouldn't be able to depict her as the bumbling idiot Guybrush is without being accused of sexism.
- An early "parents'-guide" film review website, Screenit.com, invoked this trope inadvertently in its discussion of film characters as "role models." At the beginning of each "content" analysis, the reviewer would list all the major characters in a film and determine whether each one was a good role model (while occasionally admitting the absurdity of considering fictional characters, some of them quite fantastical, to be role-model material). The male characters were judged entirely based on their moral virtues (or lack thereof), but the female ones (at least if they were supposed to be heroines) would often have to "prove" their Action Girl status, with "ability to beat people up" listed alongside their moral strengths or failings. Apparently, a heroine's inability to punch out anyone even the slightest bit physically stronger than herself made her a borderline disgrace. True, there is a male equivalent to this "moral" hypocrisy, but Screenit.com never invoked that one.
- One Cracked article has a girl demonstrating that no man can beat girls in sports on film: Despite fumbling the ball every time or flinching away from, her throws are always followed by a shot of the ball going in the basket (sometimes accompanied by an obvious stunt double), while the guy's every shot cuts to the ball bouncing off. Note that the guy was in no way acting smug or condescending as usually precedes such anvilicious demonstrations.
- One episode of Epic Rap Battles of History pitted Caitlin Jenner against Bruce Banner aka The Incredible Hulk. In what comes across as a well-meaning attempt at spreading the message of trans equality, the battle was blatantly slanted in Jenner's favor not only by putting her on a pedestal and ignoring her flaws as a person but also by severely handicapping her opponent and allowing her to hog the spotlight (Jenner gets twenty-two lines in her last verse, while the Hulk only gets four.)
- Gwen of Ben 10 was The Load in the beginning. Later events generally portrayed her as smarter, more competent, and all-around better than Ben, despite Ben being the main hero. It culminates in the TV Movie, in which Gwen is portrayed as selfless and Ben as pettily selfish, respectively.
- And when it's time to hand out An Aesop, Ben's always the one it's handed to (or beat over the head with). Despite Gwen almost always having just as big a part in her arguments with Ben as he did (being insulting, condescending, shrill, and, well, argumentative), no one ever seemed to express that this might be a bad thing, not even with a "catch more flies with honey" type thing.
- The sequels didn't help matters, as she's given the most reliable and versatile powers in existence, while Ben has to deal with the still occasionally unruly Omnitrix (and has it futz with his mind repeatedly), and Kevin's powers are only effective for hitting things (and he's constantly getting Worfed anyway). The only two times her powers were an actual drawback were when she had to deal with her grandmother, and when they threatened to make her even more powerful than before.
- In Yin Yang Yo!, the two main leads are girl and boy versions of each other. Yin is the overly girlish girl who likes ponies and anything pink and naturally is the more studious, mature, and level-headed of the two. Yang is a crass, crude-humor spouting blue bunny who likes boyish things like monster trucks, mindless video games, fighting anything that moves, and not studying. Also, Yang is more likely to receive physical slapstick. Once again, the three shows share writers and directors, it is not much of a surprise. Subverted later on when Yin herself is more prone to the dark side because she loves bad boys and that Yang shows that he's more competent and talented than he looks because he prefers to hide it so he can get away with his Book Dumb status. Fridge Brilliance since Yin is the name of darkness while Yang is the name of light.
- In The Proud Family, Penny dates Johnny, a wheelchair-bound boy, out of pity. However, this is subverted when it turns out that Johnny is a genuinely rude and horrible person who intentionally uses his disability to his advantage to make people do things for him. Eventually, Penny has enough and tells him to take a hike.
- An Animated Adaptation of The Little Rascals in the early 1980s has Buckwheat going from Bad Stereotype to an example of this trope. He is now the group's resident Gadgeteer Genius who can build anything from junkyard parts. His speech impediment, of course, is no more.
- Barbie in a Christmas Carol has Barbie's black friend Christi playing a living saint while Barbie is in the role of The Grinch.
- Robot Chicken:
- Played with and then mocked in a sketch where they play a skit once, then play it with the races reversed. Then they do something completely unrelated to the previous two skits. Each is bookended by a scientist asking what the audience feels about the skits, then concluding something completely nonsensical.
- Subverted in the short 12 Angry Little People in which the only black juror starts to loudly complain about how the police once took his shoe-shine box and beat him with it while using a stereotypically unaware inflection. When the others stare at him in disgust he says, "What? Every black man on the TV gots to be a posi-a-tive role model?" Done again immediately afterward when the other minority juror (a dog) gives a technical explanation and another juror brushes him off with, "Uh, you're a f**king dog."
- Family Guy:
- Joe, who is by far one of the most more competent male character characters in the show, despite being confined to a wheelchair.
- Cleveland as well; despite his rather boring nature, he's also way more competent than Peter, and saner than Quagmire.
- Interestingly, upon getting his own moment in the spotlight, Cleveland became a much zanier and more obnoxious character (if not nearly to the same callous extent as Peter).
- In Rugrats, and sequel series All Grown Up!:
- African-American Susie is the smartest of all the babies, her dad is the creator of a widely successful TV show and her mom is a doctor. Susie was a late addition to the original cast who quickly was utilized as a counter/foil to Angelica and to play a good 'big sister' role for the younger babies. It is likely that the intent was to add an older character that the babies could look up, so she would have had the same positive traits no matter what race she was given. She may very well be an example of an intentionally good character who just happened to also be black for diversity's sake. Her earliest role, "Meet the Carmichaels", has her introduced as a fickle crybaby. "Tricycle Thief" also greatly subverts her saintly role. Her voice actress Cree Summer was told to make sure Susie always sounded as smart and well-spoken as possible. All Grown Up! tries to undo some of the effects by adding realistic flaws to an older child. In the first episode, she is easily conned by a woman into giving her $1000 thinking it's for a record deal, in another she completely buckles under pressure when she has to juggle an audition and a spot on her language team, she's shown to resent how the others look on her as perfect as well as sometimes acting rudely towards Angelica.
- In the first movie, the black female rookie park ranger is much more competent than the experienced white male park ranger.
- Susie's mother Lucy is an even more glaring example of the trope. From her very first episode, she's shown to be an incredibly talented artist and chef who studied in France and that's in addition to being a fully qualified doctor. All Grown Up also reveals that she was a successful blues singer at the age of eighteen.
- South Park:
- In one episode, the boys are forced to attend the Museum of Tolerance. One display shows a stereotyped young Asian with a calculator, to show that even positive stereotypes — such as the stereotype that all Asians are good at math — can have an overall negative effect on the stereotyped group in question.
- The blatantly named Token Black has few distinguishing flaws and is one of the more normal acting kids. One of the positive stereotypes that Token hates is that all black people can play the bass guitar. He's offended and reluctant when Cartman first states this but, after trying and succeeding (even though he's never played before), just says "Goddamn it!" and continues playing. In another episode, he, like every other black person in the show, is completely unable to stop laughing at Tyler Perry and is the main reason why they can't get him to leave even though everyone else hates him since Token keeps giving him money (with Token in slack-jawed amazement that he can't seem to stop doing it, even as he hands over his cash).
- Sandy Cheeks of SpongeBob SquarePants played this to such extremes early on she almost comes off as a parody of the trope. Compared to the more flawed males cast, Sandy was much Closer to Earth and often acted as the infallible voice of reason as well as being extremely talented in both intellectual and brawn levels, suggested to be both the strongest and smartest member of Bikini Bottom. Following the second season, Sandy was swayed from this trope, being granted her own set of flaws and often having her overboard positive aspects parodied or Lampshaded.
- Kanga of Disney's The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh adaptations is presented as being much more logical and mature than the rest of the Hundred Acre Wood for the most part, albeit largely due to taking on a Team Mom role. This is why Kanga is often left Out of Focus. The majority of Disney's attempts to bring in other female additions are similarly far less zany and have less distinct personality flaws than the male leads. This is interestingly subverted in the original novels, where Kanga is more equally idiot-prone as the rest of the cast while the unofficial sequel Return To The Hundred Acre Wood introduces Lottie the otter, who is actually one of the more obnoxious and scatterbrained characters. Winnie the Pooh (2011) returns Kanga to her original book portrayal.
- Black Panther of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! is part of an 80% white team of superheroes. He is athletic and strong enough to fight the rest of the team to a standstill, a genius comparable to Tony Stark except open-minded enough to accept magic and the supernatural, the king of a super-advanced country, and has a Morph Weapon made out of the rare and powerful Vibranium (which is almost exclusively found in the country he is king of anyway). He especially stands out because everyone has huge personal problems that they deal with every day, but Panther didn't get one until season 2. Nick Fury lets the team know that Panther's friend Hawkeye might actually be an alien spy. After Hawkeye denies this, the possibility that any Avenger could actually be an alien spy gives Panther paranoia that doesn't let up until the real Avengers twice save Wakanda.
- Penny of Inspector Gadget, the most down to earth person on the show and several times more competent than her Uncle Gadget and the entire police department combined, it is not rare for her to save the day almost single-handedly while the latter completely screws things up (she is a 10-year-old girl). Granted Brain is near equally skilled if far more blundering and neurotic in execution. Other female characters such as bumbling MAD agents appear but are rare. This probably has less to do with her gender than her age and status as an Audience Surrogate character. The 2015 series gives Penny more flaws, though she still looks far more competent than Gadget.
- In the eighties cartoon Bionic Six, the family started out with three children, two of their own (a boy and a girl) and an adopted child who was black. The male son was a jock, and go-to guy for saying or doing anything stupid. The adopted black son was not only just as big of a school hero jock as the white son but was a supergenius on top of that.
- "Saint Mack," whose primary roles are being the constantly ignored boyfriend of Jodie and the put-upon best friend of Kevin. To be fair, he's often frustrated with both of these situations, but never loses his temper for more than a scene at most. He's also the only jock who's shown to have an IQ in the double digits.
- Jodie herself is sort of a Deconstruction of this trope. Along with Mack, she's the only character who's consistently smart and popular, but she feels like she needs to be perfect at everything, which is only augmented by her parents and the fact that she's a black kid at a mostly-white school. She's probably Daria's closest friend beside Jane and admits that she longs to be as indifferent as they are.
- Oddly enough, only the black characters are treated this way. The two Asian characters, Principal Li and Quinn's friend Tiffany, are every bit as flawed as the rest of Lawndale High, with Ms. Li being a narcissist who cares more about the school's image than its academics or the well-being of its students, and Tiffany being an Asian Airhead.