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Genre Refugee

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These Cartoon Creatures have found a land of High Fantasy. They don't exactly fit, do they?

A Genre Refugee is a Stock Character from some genre who appears in a story that is in no other way part of that genre. The character is probably Wrong Genre Savvy, or may be the cause of wrong genre savviness in others. Since genres often have different tones, the character may be a Knight of Cerebus or the inverse.

See also Fish out of Water and Outside-Genre Foe.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Makoto Kyogoku from Detective Conan is a Fighting Genre Superhuman stuck in a Detective Drama.
  • Rossiu from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is a Real Robot character stuck in a Super Robot universe. He's cool-headed, pragmatic and smart, which makes him stand-out from his hot-blooded comrades. He's still capable of piloting Gunmen powered by willpower as good as the rest of them though and they all respect him well enough, if not just lightly tease him every now and then. This is explored a fair bit in the second half of the show. On the one hand, this makes him one of the few competent members in actually ruling and managing their new civilization and he is pretty much The Reliable One to Simon. On the other hand, his pragmatic choices lead him to oust Simon from power to quell a riot (which he is beating himself over) and his tactics are predicted by the Anti-Spiral and only stopped by Simon and the others own style. Furthermore, they all don't blame him and understanding his reasoning (including Simon), meaning the only person that blames him... is himself. Simon eventually snaps sense back into him after stopping him from suicide.
  • Gai Daigouji from Martian Successor Nadesico is the inverse: A Hot-Blooded Super Robot hero stuck in a Real Robot setting.
  • Kimi ni Todoke has three such characters, Chizuru, Ryu, and Kazuichi "Pin" Arai. Who seem to have got transplanted from a fiery shonen sport series to a lighthearted shoujo romance.
  • Half the cast of Ouran High School Host Club are stranded from typical shoujo reverse harem, but it's an Affectionate Parody Gag Series most of the time.
  • Yandere Kanojo has a few characters who would not be out of place in the Shoujo Genre. Shiratori, who tries so hard to be Manabu's rival, is explicitly based on the rival character in Tokimeki Memorial 3 and retains some of his genre tropes. Given that the general tone of the series is Affectionate Parody of shounen romance stories, these contrasting genre elements are milked for all their comedic worth.
  • Isidro in Berserk thinks himself a Kid Hero from a shonen manga. He is very much Wrong Genre Savvy.
  • Retsu Akagi would be right at home as a Super Robot protagonist, or in any sufficiently Hot-Blooded shonen series... but he's a character in the little girls' magical fantasy Jewelpet Kira Deco!.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, Gunha Sogiita thinks and behaves like a goofy, stereotypical superhero from a Saturday morning cartoon or a Sentai series. He has the superpowers to match and is pretty good at dealing with mundane crime, but this series is a Gambit Roulette of Magic Versus Science, and he's completely oblivious to the conflicts and struggles the real main characters have to deal with.
  • Yowamushi Pedal is filled with them. Naruko looks like he came from a standard battle shounen manga, while people like Midosuji look like the villains in a more physically involved story. They're in a cycling-themed Sports manga.
  • In the bright and vibrant wold of One Piece, in the especially hyper-saccharine (yet very much Crapsaccharine World) Whole Cake Island, we get Charlotte Katakuri, who looks like he would be at home in Fist of the North Star or Berserk and doesn't quite mesh with the demented wonderland feel of the rest of the arc, which features mirror worlds, biscuit soldiers, and talking cannonballs. He does eventually display the quirkiness mandatory for One Piece characters but it's a side of him he keeps deeply private.
  • Goemon Ishikawa XIII in Lupin III is a traditionally-minded samurai who lives and dies by the way of the sword, so he'd fit right in a Jidai Geki drama. The problem is, he's from a caper series set in modern times. Fortunately, he and the rest of the Lupin gang occasionally come up against rivals that also share his mindset of old-time Edo values, so it's justified a bit.

    Comic Books 
  • The superhero genre is an eclectic mix of various genres like science-fiction, detective fiction, mythology etc., but there are some characters that stick out. In the Marvel Universe for instance, heroes may encounter:
    • Patsy Walker, the heroine of a girl comedy series from the 1950s and 1960s, who eventually became the superheroine Hellcat;
    • Millie the Model, the heroine of a girl comedy series that last from the 1950s to the 1970s, who never became a superhero like Patsy;
    • Nick Fury, a superspy in the mold of James Bond and The Man from U.N.C.L.E., who is also one of the few surviving characters from Marvel's long-defunct war comics;
    • Characters from Marvel's take on classic horror stories like Dracula and the related cast (Blade, Lilith, the Harkers);
    • The Punisher, expy of Mack Bolan, the main character from the Long-Running Book Series The Executioner, who at the outset was so out of tune with the rest of the Marvel Universe that he appeared primarily as an antagonist to people like Spider-Man before coming into his own during The Dark Age of Comic Books;
    • Deadpool who would feel right at home in an All Adult Animation Is South Park type series.
    • Shang Chi, Master of Kung Fu, a character created to cash in on the success of the martial arts films of the 1970s who also happens to be related to old Yellow Peril villain Fu Manchu; and
    • Luke Cage and Iron Fist were inspired by two big film crazes of the 70s: Blaxploitation and Wuxia/Eastern martial arts. In the end they (fittingly?) became good friends and partners.
    • Howard, a walking, talking anthropomorphic duck "Trapped in a World He Never Made".
  • Bone features three Cartoon Creatures (think along the lines as Mickey Mouse and his friends) stumbling into a High Fantasy story.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has been this from the very beginning. They don't quite belong in gritty martial arts or campy bizarre sci-fi, but often step into both. And meet still more characters in other genres, like the Silver Age superhero team Justice Force.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
    • Volume I looks a lot like a superhero story note ... but with the twist that the heroes are all public domain characters from Victorian-era Gothic Horror and adventure fiction. This is mostly done to show how these characters influenced more modern fiction.
    • What's more, since all fiction is true in this universe, you can't count out meeting someone from children's fiction or parody porno.

    Films — Animation 
  • Oogie-Boogie from The Nightmare Before Christmas. The other spooks are frightening and with a bit of a skewed morality code, but are ultimately good-natured creatures that scare folks for fun. Enter Oogie-Boogie, the one spook who is genuinely malicious and evil-natured, who even the other spooks seem to dislike. According to a supplementary material he's also this in a completely literal sense, being a refugee from a different bug-themed holiday that's no longer celebrated.
  • Sykes from Oliver & Company is a particularly jarring example, he's a scarily realistic portrayal of a mafia loan shark who seems like he'd fit better in a Martin Scorsese gangster film than a Disney movie with cute talking animals.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: The first few Spider-Men (and -Woman) introduced all still belong to the superhero comics genre; this, however, stops being the case with the last three:
    • Spider-Man Noir is an escapee from the Film Noir.
    • Peni Parker and SP//dr are not only Animesque but from a Cyber Punk future.
    • Peter Porker a.k.a. Spider-Ham is a Toon (and proud of it).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Most of the characters in The Big Lebowski appear to have stumbled into a skewed Film Noir setting from different genres and thus aren't quite sure what movie they're in:
    • The Dude's walked right out of a stoner comedy or a 1960s New Hollywood-style counterculture flick.
    • Walter acts like he's in a Vietnam drama that chronicles the veteran's harrowing struggle to re-acclimatize back into civilian society after everything he's seen and done.
    • The Big Lebowksi, Maude, Jackie Treehorn and Da Fino seem to think and act like they're playing a Film Noir straight (and even manage to convince Walter of this for a time).
    • The nihilists believe they're in a quirky-but-dark Quentin Tarantino-inspired crime thriller about a gang of eccentric Villain Protagonists, and that they're the protagonists in question.
    • From what we see, Bunny apparently thinks she's in a porn movie.
    • The Jesus is practically Opposing Sports Team personified.
    • Sam Elliott's cowboy character gives the movie a serious-sounding Fauxlosophic Narration under the impression that he's in The Western.
    • Donny is just an ordinary guy who thinks he's in a slightly eccentric bowling team but has an otherwise normal life. He's probably the most wrong out of all of them.
  • Tommy Frigo in Adventureland has wandered in from a raunchy teen movie.
  • Steve the Pirate in DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story.
  • James Bond:
    • The films Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun feature Sheriff J.W. Pepper, who feels like he wandered in from a Burt Reynolds comedy.
    • For that matter, Live and Let Die gave us Mr. Big, who not only feels like he belonged in a Blaxploitation action movie, but has subordinates with hinted-at supernatural powers, which is pretty atypical for a Bond film.
  • The Predator series: The plot of the first one is "the soldiers from Rambo find themselves up against an alien invader". The plot of the second one is "the cops from your favorite action-packed Buddy Cop Show go up against the same alien". The effect actually works rather well: watching musclebound, macho action stars confronted with something beyond their comprehension really helps sell the horror.
  • The bumbling comic relief cops from The Last House on the Left, who clearly belong in a comedy rather than a horror film.
  • Williams from Enter the Dragon is a Blaxploitation character in a martial arts film.
  • Deadpool (2016) has X-Men member Colossus show up and act like a traditional Superhero, delivering uplifting speeches and morals and suggest that Deadpool is better than he thinks he is. In, say, a Captain America or Superman movie he would probably be The Hero, but since he is trapped in a Deadpool movie, he is forced to merely act as a foil to all the insanity around him.
  • Hidalgo has a more serious rendering of this trope. The main character is the half-Indian sidekick of a Western film, but he's in Lawrence of Arabia (without the war). While this does lead to some funny moments, it's mostly used to set up the protagonist as the underdog.
  • Sam Witwicky from Transformers Film Series wouldn't look out of place in a high school-based movie or TV show rather then a movie about giant robots fighting each other.
  • The Gecko brothers in From Dusk Till Dawn are characters from a gangster movie who suddenly find themselves in a vampire splatterhouse. Another way to put it is saying they're Quentin Tarantino characters in a Robert Rodriguez film.

  • In The Divine Comedy, the first damned soul Dante meetsnote  is a woman who casts herself as the protagonist of a tragic, romantic ballad where her only flaw was loving too much in an unloving world. A poet himself, Dante is moved with sympathy, but context makes it clear our romantic protagonist is just making excuses for cheating on her husband with his brother.
  • Quincey P. Morris from Dracula. Nothing like the presence of an American cowboy in a Gothic Horror story set in Britain to make you go "Say again?"
  • Tom Bombadil is a Blithe Spirit who migrated into The Lord of the Rings from a series of poems that J. R. R. Tolkien wrote for his children.
  • The heroine of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park (a textbook case of Genre Adultery) — Fanny Price, an Extreme Doormat and Shrinking Violet modeled from years of unceasing emotional and psychological abuse instead of a Spirited Young Lady Deadpan Snarker — has been frequently described (by C. S. Lewis and others) as "a Bronte sisters heroine lost in a Jane Austen novel."
  • Nero Wolfe has the personal quirks and erudition of a typical Agatha Christie detective. However, all the other characters, especially Archie, belong in a tough-talking streetwise Dashiell Hammett mystery.
  • Discworld dares to set its stories in a Standard Fantasy Setting but focus on characters like cynical, coping-with-addiction policeman Sam Vimes; Intrepid Reporter William de Worde, and aspiring film star Victor Tugelbend. It's not uncommon for them to drop lines associated with their home genre, only to wonder where they got that from.
  • The Nightside is a dingy, morally grey, deeply cynical place. Knight In Sour Armor John Tyler and mercenary-with-a-dark-past Suzie fit in fine. But then there's:
    • General Condor, an idealistic and principled starship captain who accidentally got zapped back to our own time. Everyone knows just how out of place he is and his attempts at reforming the locals get him killed.
    • Ms. Fate, a superhero(ine; crossdresser) in a world where even the good guys can't really be called especially heroic.
    • Julien Advent, a heroic gentleman from the Victorian age
    • John hints that Godzilla (or someone similar) has rampaged through town once or twice
  • A Song of Ice and Fire gives us House Stark, who are basically a family of High Fantasy archetypes: stern and honorable patriarch, his strong and devoted Mama Bear wife, handsome and passionate Warrior Prince older son, Princess Classic older daughter, intelligent and sensitive younger son, tomboyish Rebellious Princess younger daughter. They'd be the virtuous heroes in a traditional Fantasy story. Unfortunately they're in a Realpolitik-driven Deconstruction of a traditional Fantasy story, where all their virtues are actually liabilities: refusing to play dirty in a political game where playing dirty is the only way to win means that they lose.
  • Wakatake of Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note is a Stock Shōnen Hero in a Shoujo Middle Grade Literature series. As an result, he is portrayed as a Mood-Swinger, Glory Seeker, and a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, and his friends' opinion of him is more on the Warts and All side.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffyverse:
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
      • The trio of Mad Scientist supervillains. After they disable the museum guards with an ice ray and steal a precious diamond, our heroes start searching the ancient tomes for a "frost monster that eats diamonds".
      • Also Ted, a seemingly nice guy dating Buffy's mom who reveals a disturbing verbally abusive side. Compare to the demons and vampires he comes off almost like an after-school-special villain. And then we learn he's a serial killer. And a malfunctioning robot.
    • Angel:
      • Gwen Raiden. A character with electrical powers out of a super hero show, in a Vampire Detective series. She was completely unaware of the existence of magic, vampires, and demons before she met Angel.
      • In Season 5, we met Numero Cinco, who worked in the mailroom at Wolfram and Hart. A retired luchador, he was clearly a pastiche of El Santo. His sheer incongruity was both unabashed and, since mostly all he did was sort mail, downright hilarious... until his A Day in the Limelight episode, when it was played more like very dreary Society Marches On drama, in a Space Whale Aesop sense.
  • A frequent theme in Doctor Who, as a stock premise of stories right from the early days is 'just drop the Doctor into [Genre] and see how he responds'. A handful of examples:


    Tabletop Games 
  • The Jovian Republic in Eclipse Phase are a traditional military sci-fi faction in an anarcho-transhumanist Post-Cyberpunk setting. They take this about as well as can be expected, to the point where they refuse to associate with the rest of the setting if at all possible because they believe everyone else is a soulless thing using the memories of a dead person.
  • Dungeons & Dragons features knights, elves, dwarves, dragons, quests, castles... and cowboys? Yes, as it happens. The god Murlynd and his paladins are based on The Drifter from Western movies. There's also:
    • The Tarasque, who feels like something out of a Kaiju movie
    • Tome of Battle helps you build a character who does Wuxia marital arts.
    • Barrier Peaks features a crashed alien spaceship full of robots and such.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has the Tau Empire, a young, dynamic and technologically adept alien race on the rise in a universe where every other faction, humanity included, is sharply on the decline, no longer understands their best technology and currently fighting bitterly in an endless Hopeless War. This difference is also reflected in military doctrine: for most factions, warfare has regressed heavily and so close combat and "historical" ways of war are the order of the day; the Tau eschew close combat in favour of laser-precise firepower at extreme range and lots of well-equipped mechanised infantry, i.e. the modern day Yanks with Tanks.

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 
  • DSBT InsaniT: Psycho Man thinks he is in a serious action series, but soon realizes that he's part of a comedy series with No Fourth Wall.

    Web Comics 
  • Darths & Droids, a comedic retelling of Star Wars where the characters are being played by some rather zany tabletop gamers, throws a few curveballs into the space fantasy setting:
    • Darth Maul gets reimagined as a Film Noir Hardboiled Detective type.
    • The Polis Massans who assist Padme in childbirth talk like overblown "General Hospital"-style soap opera characters.
    • Dex, the amiable owner of an inexplicably 50s-Americana Diner, was already this in the films, but it's heavily lampshaded here.

    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
  • Gargoyles:
    • Eliza Maza had her hands rather full with being a typical Cop Show NYPD detective before she stumbled onto the Clan's Urban Fantasy world. Some episodes still revolved around her solving ordinary crimes, though; these often involved Broadway taking her place as the refugee, trying to play Film Noir detective.
    • Conspiracy Theorist Matt Bluestone had it worse, since he belonged in The X-Files.
    • Nokkar is an alien. From a big ol' Space Opera setting featuring an epic war between two starfaring races, and an Ancient Astronauts reveal. He was intended to set up a spin-off, but as it never came to be, he stands out as the only part of the series to even have a connection to space travel.
  • An episode of Johnny Bravo involving all sorts of Halloween creatures also has a random gnome (of the lawn variety) mingling with them.
  • Captain Black in Jackie Chan Adventures belongs in a typical spy thriller, but when the poor guy calls in his old Adventurer Archaeologist friend from school to help track down some art smugglers, he's swept up in a martial arts fantasy full of wizards and demons. Jackie gets the tables turned on him when he has to sub for Black's best agent, "Tag Stone".
  • Coop and Jamie in Megas XLR. The entire show seems to be building up to a dramatic anime-inspired show about an idealistic Mecha pilot fighting evil aliens... until a time warp puts a giant robot in the hands of two suburban Buddy Picture misfits.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) introduced Bishop (and he's since become semi-regular in other TMNT media). Basically one of The Men in Black, his sci-fi elements were dramatically darker and more conspiratorial than the campy stuff usually featured on the series.
  • The Simpsons:
    • "Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment" gives us Rex Banner, the federal agent that is sent in to enforce Springfield's dry law when Wiggum can't. The man is a copycat of Robert Stack's interpretation of Elliot Ness from the old The Untouchables TV series and definitely would have had a better chance of thriving in a production done during the days of the Hays Code rather than the super-corrupt and incompetent Crapsack World that is Springfield.
    • "Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala (Annoyed Grunt) cious" has Sherry Bobbins, who is a full-blown Expy of Mary Poppins with the numbers filed off (which is actually lampshaded). She is perfectly capable of doing the typical stunts of a Magical Nanny and even manages to convert the Simpsons (and, hell, even Mr. Burns) into acting incredibly nice for a while, like any other plot with this kind of character... and then the third-act twist happens and the Simpsons' dysfunctions override everything she's taught them, driving her to alcoholism because they are just that horrible.
  • South Park:
    • The recurring Creepy Old Guy acts like the Mr. Exposition from a Stephen King-esque macabre story.
    • Many episodes were basically "drag the boys into a (insert movie genre) movie and make the characters from it as cliché as possible". Roland Emmerich-esque Disaster Movies are a frequent template.


Example of: