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Positive Discrimination

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"See, it's not enough for the new black kid on the team to be just as competent as everyone else on the team, oh no. He has to be Super Negro and beat the snot out of everybody else in the entire gymnastics world."
The Agony Booth's recap of the Mister T episode "Mystery of the Golden Medallion".

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.

They may not be the star who saves the day (or they may be but will simply not get public credit for it, but since they're so selfless they don't really care), but they will never hinder the progress of anyone else. In fact, this trope is far more blatant if they're in a relatively minor role but are consistently better than the male, non-minority lead at damn near everything.

You will virtually never see Native Americans in 21st century works without this trope being present in spades, usually in a hybrid of the Magical Native American and Noble Savage tropes. The individual in question will be depicted as having a much stronger/more active connection to God or spirituality than whites are supposedly capable of, and will therefore automatically be morally superior as well.

Though this trope is more common with women, racial minorities, and gay/bisexual 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 superior to non-disabled people. Unlike with other minorities, it has not yet become generally recognized that disabled people can be portrayed just about any way non-disabled ones can be. 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.

Sometimes the writers are being deliberately Anvilicious about equality and discrimination. Other times, they're just concerned about looking racist, sexist, homophobic, ableist etc. if the only X on the show does something wrong, since X isn't on the list of Acceptable Targets, and they overcompensate the other direction. Rarely do they come across the solution of simply having more than one X, which is, of course, half the problem of the Token Minority and The Smurfette Principle in the first place. Just like all tropes by their nature, this one has its own inertia and thus adding more X doesn't always solve the problem. Instead, often all of the X will still be unfailingly more competent and better than the others, essentially giving the message of "X is superior in every way to Y" explicit. Contributing to this is that there are people out there who will indeed call the show racist/sexist/ableist/whatever if any of the multiple X on the show has any kind of flaw or suffers any kind of hardship, and the writers may end up taking these accusations to heart if there is a significant number of them.

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.

You would think stories with all-minority casts would be exempt from this trope, but not always. You'll notice that characters in such stories tend to have upper-class dream jobs. They won't just be a journalist, but the executive editor of their publication; a lawyer will be a partner at their law firm; a teacher will be a college professor and head of their department; and so on. Not only that, but such characters will be inexplicably young in these positions as well; such an achievement would be worthy of a movie in its own right. Rarely will you see a middle-class office drone or tradesman unless their job is central to the story. Needless to say, Wish Fulfillment may be involved.

The issue of Positive Discrimination can lead to a case of Unpleasable Fanbase. On one hand, lack of Positive Discrimination, as stated above, puts the writer in danger of being called racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. just because they gave the Token Minority something as heinous as a common flaw. On the other hand, it puts the discriminatee in danger of becoming the Creator's Pet, since he/she will often be seen as a Mary Sue or Marty Stu in the eyes of the audience that is blatantly shilled one too many times and it leads to implications that someone from X isn't equal, but superior and can do no wrong. Even worse, in Real Life it tends to set the victim up for a dizzying fall: if they are assumed to be so hypercompetent, then their making even the slightest mistake will be seen as disgrace or, worse, hypocrisy. (To quote Bill Cosby: "If a white man falls off a chair drunk, it's just a drunk. But if a black man does it, then it's the whole damned Negro race.")

Some media may be shrewd enough to place the odd token flaw or Not So Above It All moment, but usually dilute it as much as possible (occasionally to the point of near non-existence), or at least emphasize the fact it is rare. In other cases they may actually indeed be just as flawed as the rest of the cast, but treated as better. In the long run, however, their shortcomings will usually at the very least be far less detrimental than others'.

Compare Closer to Earth and The Unfair Sex. If a Lady Land is a utopian paradise, it's probably running on this trope. Almost all instances of You Go, Girl! are this, when women are displayed as superior to their male competitors in sports or other traditionally male domains. The Innocent Bigot may display Positive Discrimination, but in this case it will be lampshaded as a bad thing. You Are a Credit to Your Race is a related trope. Taking the polar opposite tack leads to Mighty Whitey. Almost always leads to a Right Way/Wrong Way Pair.


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  • Played ridiculously straight in this commercial for some sort of oven cleaning product. From the woman standing in the background with what can only be described as a scowl on her face, to the tagline "So easy...even a man could do it!". It's actually rather disgusting.
    • Said advert received 663 complaints from men and women (men claiming it portrayed them as idiots, women claiming it supported out-of-date stereotypes regarding women and the kitchen). Amazingly, they were not upheld - which sparked backlash from people saying an opposite advert would be shot down immediately. The Daily Mail had a field day.
    • The natural outcome of a reverse example was when DIY chain B&Q jokingly advertised a product as being so simple even a woman could use it. As soon as any controversy flared it had to rewrite.
  • This Butterfinger commercial. It goes just like any other Butterfinger commercial, man tries to steal Butterfinger, and suffers the consequences from his friend. In the last three seconds, some random female appears and tells the men, "You guys are idiots." The line offers nothing to the commercial; there was no reason for its inclusion other than to be insulting.
  • The ads for Flash in the UK seem to be aware of this trope such as one had the mother coming home to find the kitchen in a complete mess and storming all over the house looking for her husband. The husband uses this time to quickly clean the kitchen up and then position himself in the living room so that when the wife comes in to scold him about the mess she looks back to see it clean and is left speechless.
  • Used in this Mario Kart 7 ad. The incredible opponents are Japanese girls.
  • Seen in one AT&T commercial, where four businesswomen (two of whom are minorities) and one white businessman are looking for a network provider and seek help from a female AT&T employee. Naturally, the women are the ones asking all of the 'smart questions' and displaying any business sense, while the guy is shown to be completely clueless and only going along with what the women are doing.
  • 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.

    Anime and Manga 
  • 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. Though early on, Panther's main trait was his being a Determinator (he worked hard to impress his racist coach, misinterpreted the racism as his not being good enough, and worked even harder). While his race did come into it as described, it's not like they had the "he's awesome because he's black!" attitude the whole time.
  • 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 jin, 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.
  • Played awkwardly straight in Soul Eater. Soul is a pervert, and Maka scolds him for it. Black Star is an arrogant asshole, and Tsubaki is often called the truly strong one in their partnership. Thankfully, the Kid-Liz-Patty trio seem avert this trope, as Patty is just as crazy as Kid is obsessive, and Liz, while the Only Sane Man, is very easily disgusted or frightened, and keeps her mind on fashion and beauty.
  • There are two female Espada in Bleach, past and current. note  Apart from Starrk, they're the only nice ones. They're also stronger with only two Espada stronger and Harribel is the last Espada defeated, taken down personally by Aizen. And the two female Espada seem to be the only ones that actually get to live.
  • Tends to happen when an anime of a game that allows the player to pick between a male and female protagonist does a What If? episode showing what would happen if the female protagonist got to the plot first. Yo-kai Watch had one where Katie was shown to be better at collecting medals than Nate would have, befriend powerful Yo-kai, and was much more helpful and respectful to Whisper, while the last episode of Granblue Fantasy had 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 a Beach Episode with her crew and team up with fan-favorite characters.

    Comic Books 
  • A particularly common theme in comics is to have black scientists as well, especially circa the 1970s or 80s, where it would likely have seemed ironic and well-intentioned of the writers - Cyborg's parents (and his love interest at STAR Labs), Bumblebee of the Teen Titans, and more. Marvel examples include Thunderball (the only black member of the universally idiotic thugs in The Wrecking Crew was the brilliant nuclear physicist), Vermin, and streetwise more standard-type geniuses like Hobie Brown, among others. There's also Chemistro (Hood's go to science guy) and Deadly Nightshade from M.O.D.O.K.'s 11. Also Mister Terrific, who is usually portrayed as the smartest member of the JSA and the team's go-to science whiz. He's generally called the third smartest man on Earth.
  • The reason that Black Panther's African country of Wakanda should be lifting into the air and hovering far above the backwards, petty influence of all those...well, every other ethnicity there is...any day now. However, the country of Wakanda is shown to have its own problems, mainly infighting between other African nations, and that they're xenophobes, but taking into consideration the histories that other African nations have with foreign powers, you can't really blame them.
  • When writing New X-Men, 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 Captain Marvel (yes, that Captain Marvel) did not. The latter was a girl scout who was as close to being The Cape without actually wearing one, whereas the former actually had more than one dimension and is an interesting character in her own right.
  • In addition to Storm of the X-Men and Monica "Formerly Known as Captain Marvel" Rambeau of The Avengers and Nextwave, Slingshot naturally gravitated to the leadership role of Dynamo5, Skyrocket was the field leader of the Power Company, Misty Knight led Heroes for Hire, Vixen briefly gravitated to the leadership role of the Justice League, Jet of the Global Guardians, Vaporlock of Infinity Incorporated, Kid Quantum II of the Legion of Super-Heroes, Amanda Waller of the Suicide Squad... if you put a black woman on a superhero team, chances are she'll be running the show eventually. Oh, and Bumblebee ended up leading Titans East on the Teen Titans cartoon.
  • 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.
  • Amy in Sonic the Comic was made into The Lancer with Improbable Aiming Skills due to Executive Meddling. She had few flaws compared to her very flawed male counterparts, and Tekno (another thoroughly competent female character). Ironically her initial persona was surprisingly close to the lovesick Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass Amy of the later games. While Amy herself is a much more abrasive character in the American Sonic comics, it plays this straight with a fair few other characters. Sally and Bunnie are usually more rational and Closer to Earth than many male Freedom Fighters, who are often harbored by significant flaws like arrogance or temper issues, meanwhile the female leads' shortcomings are often more minor or down to circumstance than deep personality issues (e.g. Bunnie's robotization, Sally's responsibilities as leader and monarch). Julie Su leans less into this vein, more or less acting as a Distaff Counterpart to Knuckles, though is still slightly more rational than him.
  • Harvey Bullock and Renee Montoya of the Batman 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 Heel–Face 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 who subsequently found her way into the original comics. She is a Latina, and (in the comics at least) 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 has no 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. This is subverted by the Bullock and Montoya Expies in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, the first two movies of Christopher Nolan's Batman movie trilogy. It's not that the Bullock character here is depicted in a positive light (he's even worse in this version), but the Montoya character, Ana Ramirez, turns out to be a weak, weaselly woman who betrays two of her best friends to The Joker (getting one of them violently killed) for her own purposes. She pays for it by being held at gunpoint and forced to submit to a Reason You Suck Speech from Two-Face of all people - and then, when Two-Face's coin lands with the "good" side up, sparing Ramirez's life, Two-Face just punches her in the mouth, knocking her in a heap.
    • It should be noted that the comics version of Montoya underwent a large amount of character development in her time, developing a number of realistically unflattering character traits, including an extremely vengeful attitude and eventually alcoholism and a bad smoking habit.

  • In issue ten of Batman and Robin (New 52 version), 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.
  • Every single Archie Comic ever printed that pits the boys vs. the girls in any way shape or form will have the girls completely and utterly destroy the boys in every conceivable way possible. Most common in sports stories, where the girls will either beat them directly or the girl's team will do much better in their games than the boys do in theirs.
    • Similarly, is Riverdale's resident Canon Sue Chuck Clayton. Said character 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.
  • Future Quest (the Hanna-Barbera Beyond cross-over of their 1960s action-adventure animated series) might be better named Invasion of the Mary Sues. For example, Cobalt, a female Impossible introduced in the series, immediately proves more powerful and useful than all three male characters combined and frequently treats the trio condescendingly while casually commenting about how easy it is for her to use her superior powers. Similarly, Professor Linda Kim-Conroy, a replacement for Buzz Conroy's conveniently dead 'dad-scientist', is gratuitously retconned to have created the famous spider-bot of Doctor Zin, gaining authority as a character by theft from the character of Doctor Zin; in one issue, she is shown a number of times with Doctor Benton Quest and Doctor Zin, and in almost every scene, she looms in the foreground while even the famed Dr. Quest is relegated to a background character. This becomes even more noticeable because all the male characters respond to the female characters as unquestioned equals (or superiors) and do nothing to merit any contempt; not even the villains are sexist.

    Comic Strips 
  • 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 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 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 she’s too good (giving a minority character negative traits is always problematic).")
  • Dr. Liz Wilson, the female veterinarian of Garfield, has it all. She's a hot babe, a caring doctor, and she's smart. Back when the strip played up the romantic antagonism between her and Jon Arbuckle (before she and Jon finally became a couple), Liz was consistently portrayed as a goddess whom Jon could never measure up to, and he was lucky to be even breathing the same oxygen as she. Really, her only perceptible flaw was her Deadpan Snarker behavior toward Jon (which Jon never seemed to notice). Just to make things even, though, she did shoot down Jon so many times, and so coldly, that after a while, people stopped laughing at Jon being idiotic and becoming resentful towards Liz for being so mean to him. Played more straight in The Garfield Show, where Liz is far less snarky and irritable and willingly dates Jon from the get go. Jon, while not quite as brainless as his comic counterpart, is still pretty pathetic.

    Films — Animation 
  • In How to Train Your Dragon, Astrid has established that she is not only the most competent trainee but the only competent trainee. The others (who are mostly boys) barely do anything to the dragons.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005). Jane Smith is professional and usually the one to be in control of the situation. John Smith makes bumbling mistakes and more than once seems to succeed purely on luck. He is also not as cold-hearted as his wife. It appears she paid for that skill with her charisma and wisdom stats.
  • 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 of 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.
  • A scene in Dogma depicts two angels condemning a room full of businessmen for their (many, many) sins such as child molestation, squandering family inheritance money, extramarital affairs, disowning gay kids, incest, etc. Every one of them are male, and the only female in the room is a secretary, whose worst sin was not saying "God bless you" when one of the angels sneezed. Well, that, and the golden calf.
  • The Bourne Series. All the important female characters are pretty unambiguously good; except for Bourne himself nearly all the important male characters are corrupt and/or outright sociopaths (except for Simon in Ultimatum, but he ends up being Too Dumb to Live). Julia Stiles's character does spend the first two films trying to kill Bourne, but only because she was given false information. Averted in The Bourne Legacy where the main villain has a henchwoman and one of the soldiers sent to kill Marta, and apparently the boss of the mission, is a woman.
  • 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.
  • This is one of the rules set down for The Lone Ranger: all villains had to be white to avoid accusations of racism. One might feel that, if it weren't for the historic setting, it would be almost hypocritical.
  • 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 character being less a man than an 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.
    • Lampshaded by Matt after he has someone check up on John. "I can certainly understand why he didn't have much to say about himself. Who would believe him?!"
    • This is a bit of Typecasting as Poitier is a demigod of perfection IRL.
    • Hilariously Subverted in Sneakers. For most of the film, Poitier's character is his typical eloquent, composed, genteel family man. During the film's climactic confrontation, however, he and Dan Aykroyd's character are kidnapped by a pair of mooks. Poitier turns to Aykroyd, says "Hey, you know why they kicked me out of the CIA? My temper." and proceeds to beat the crap out of one of the mooks, as he screams, "Motherfucker, mess with me and I split ya head!".
  • 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'.
  • Cleverly averted in the otherwise forgettable Paul Hogan comedy Almost an Angel. A wheelchair-bound man is being a Jerk Ass in a bar and Hogan calls him on it. When the other bar patrons get angry over Hogan coming down on a guy in a wheelchair, Hogan pulls a chair out, sits down in it, and then challenges the guy to a fist-fight since they were now on equal terms. And wins. This earns the respect of the Jerk Ass, who stops being such a Jerk Ass for the rest of the film.
  • In the future of Virtuosity, the prisons are filled to overflowing with white people (who are all white supremacists). In fact, Denzel Washington's character may be the only black guy in prison in the future. And he's a cop. And it was a bogus rap.
    • Not bogus. He did mow down the camera crew after his wife and daughter were killed by a maniac. While they were Too Dumb to Live, it doesn't justify not checking your targets before firing on full auto. It's not clear why he was put in prison instead of a mental asylum, though (YMMV on which is worse).
  • George Lucas's Red Tails does this with the African-American Tuskegee Airmen, not by making them unusually good, but by making their white counterparts incredibly incompetent, instead. It's not that they're incompetent, but that they're reckless and glory hungry and leave the bombers they're supposed to be escorting unprotected to go after shoot down German fighters.note The Tuskegee pilots are not above this, especially Lightning, but their commanding officer Col. Bullard orders them to stay with their bombers at all costs. There's also more of a risk for the Tuskegee pilots compared to the white pilots; if they don't do their jobs correctly, they'll be sent back to doing reconnaissance missions in rural areas so they need to be more competent and careful than the white pilots, to prove they deserve their jobs escorting the bombers.
  • In a World......: In-universe, Lake Bell's Carol is straight-up told that she was given the part of voice-over in the Amazon Games trailer for this reason.
  • Briefly discussed in Stand and Deliver. The movie is about a teacher getting his below-average class to pass AP Calculus. When the Educational Testing Service comes in and accuses them of cheating, the teacher argues that they're only suspicious because the students are Latino. The (black) agent points out that "There are two kinds of racism: judging a group because they are a minority, and not judging a group because they are a minority."
  • 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.
  • Done in the Harry Potter films with Hermione Granger (much less so in the books). The film version of Ron is rather Flanderized, being much more cowardly and incompetent than he is in the books, with most of his good material being given to Hermione. One major example is in the first film, when the Power Trio is caught by a man eating plant. Ron panics and is nearly crushed by the plant, while Hermione is the first to figure out how to escape, and subsequently saves Ron. In the book, while it is still Ron being crushed, Hermione is the one who panics and Ron has to yell at her to snap her back to her senses. She is still the one to save him, but if Ron hadn't kept a cool head (while being crushed to death), he might not have survived. Averted from the fifth film onwards. Notably, when the kids are being restrained by the Death Eaters, Ron struggles against his captor while Hermione just cowers in fear. And Ron is given a few CMOA in the seventh film to balance things out a bit.
  • The early movies starring Adam Sandler would often show not just Adam's character but practically everyone else to be annoying, bizarre, or just plain unpleasant (due to Rule of Funny). The one exception would be the pretty young woman whom the Sandler character lusts after, who was always about as absurdly perfect as it could get: always did the right thing, never disgraced or embarrassed, and without any but the smallest flaws that could be easily ignored by the story. The implication was that Sandler didn't deserve such a perfect creature and had to spend the entire movie reforming his behavior to be worthy of her. As time went on, the usual Sandler formula began to be subverted. In Big Daddy, for instance, the girl Sandler is with at the start of the film is even more morally flawed than he is, and receives her comeuppance in the final scene as most of the movie's characters (both male and female) laugh at her. And the remake of Mr. Deeds turns the trope completely inside-out: the heroine of the story is actually a villain at the start of it (well, more of a Defector from Decadence) while Deeds (Sandler) is Incorruptible Pure Pureness personified. The girl ends up having to suffer quite a few indignities (including a brutal "The Reason You Suck" Speech) as part of her Heel–Face Turn and to prove to Deeds that she's worthy of him - and, just to add insult to injury, also discovers that in this film, Slapstick Knows No Gender. The Waterboy subverts this, too: Sandler's love interest is good-hearted, but also somewhat trashy and a petty criminal to boot.
  • Saw VI both plays it straight in the first trap and lightly lampshades it in two later scenes; the hanging trap, where the main character has to choose between two employees; an elderly woman with failing health but a family and a young man who's perfectly healthy but has no-one he chooses the woman and the carousel trap, in which he has to choose two out of his six employees for survival he chooses two women; one because she's a single mother (playing it straight) and the other who's suggested to have been written out of her parents' will chosen at random (lampshading it).
  • 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. The one year his girl lost? The winner was a deaf-mute. You can't beat that.
  • In Flatliners, medical students putting themselves through Near Death Experiences to try and glimpse the afterlife are tormented by the vengeful spirits of the people they have wronged in their lives; they can only stop them by Crossing the Burnt Bridge. All the men in the group have to deal with some pretty serious sins, while the only woman in the group's only sin is having a veteran drug addict father who committed suicide out of shame when she as a little girl walked in on him hitting up, through no fault of her own. In the original script, her character actually had an affair with her college professor; when she was caught out, she villainised him and claimed he was sexually abusing her.

  • 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, and truly live.
  • Subverted in the Discworld book Jingo, where 71-Hour Achmed tells Vimes "Truly treat all men equally. Allow Klatchians the right to be scheming bastards."
    • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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 hyper-sensitivity 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 Twofer Token Minority status was at least alleviated by a likeable 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, Positive Discrimination played its part considering 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 had Sweet Dee, who started out in this trope but was quickly averted when the writers realized there was no reason Dee would hang out with such a horrible group of people if she wasn't just like them.
  • It's been noted (half-jokingly) that the only people to get a definitively happy ending at the end of series four of Skins are the lesbians and the black guy.
  • 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's 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.
    • Turk himself really disliked this, saying that if he wanted to be portrayed as a role model for being just a good medic, fine, but being singled out as the token and being used for positive discrimination annoyed him.
  • In-universe Fantastic Racism version here: In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Dr. Pulaski is well-known for her casual dismissal of Data as anything other than a mere machine. However, she is shocked—shocked— when Data is defeated in a chess-like game by a flesh-and-blood man, fully expecting him to ace the challenge. Pulaski may count as an aversion here since her Fantastic Racism was a much bigger flaw than those of any of the rest of the main cast..... Only she was never called out on it and instead everyone pays lip service to what a loving and caring doctor she is (at least partially because some scripts were written for Gates McFadden's Dr. Crusher, who actually was).
  • 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.
  • This has been a criticism of Game of Thrones depiction of Brienne of Tarth. While she is still a credible badass in the books, the show drives this home by giving her extra fight scenes where she goes up against some of the best swordsmen in Westeros like Jaime Lannister and Sandor Clegane and wins. These scenes are not in the books, and generally serve little narrative purpose beyond the fanservice of the fight and reinforcing how awesome she is when she inevitably wins. From the other side, it's been pointed out that the men she beats in these fights are never at full strength.
  • 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 race 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.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has gotten some flak for trying a little too hard to push the Action Girl trope. Originally the show had two combat-capable male characters (Coulson and Ward) and one female one (May) though May was generally regarded as the best of them. This got a little more complicated as the show progressed - Ward left the team, his replacement Triplett was killed off, and Coulson was promoted to Director and stopped doing fieldwork nearly as often. Meanwhile, Skye Took a Level in Badass (rather quickly, considering her rather lack of fight scenes the season prior) and Lance Hunter and Bobbi Morse were added to the team. Mack was also introduced, and eventually revealed to be pretty tough, though he dislikes fighting and won't do it unless forced (and in fact spent the first half of season 2 pretending he couldn't). This left a ratio of roughly one active male fighter to three female ones on the team, and again, the women were usually portrayed as better. When the agents fight each other, the fights have always either ended ambiguously (May's first fight with Ward), with the woman winning (May's second fight with Ward, Bobbi sparring with Mack), or otherwise shown her as the better fighter despite a loss (Bobbi's fight with Ward, where she manages to fight him evenly until Kara, another female character, joins the fight on his side, despite Bobbi having spent the last few hours being tortured and not being in any condition for a fight). Then Simmons, the female half of the team's science duo, starts training, while Fitz is content to remain a Non-Action Guy.
  • Deconstructed in Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Holt is both black and gay, which made his early police career very difficult as the 1970's through 80's 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 backs 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.)
  • Coronation Street. Any male character that isn't a gormless twat or a henpecked husband, or has any type of backbone, is some kind of villain. Be it a wife beater, serial killer, con artist, womanizer or just your average Jerk Ass. In affair storylines the woman will almost always be the sympathetic one.
  • iCarly has the episode "iHireAnIdiot" where Carly and Sam hire a male intern based on the fact that he's handsome, despite him being idiotic. For revenge, Freddie hires an attractive female intern who is also idiotic. At the end of the episode, it turned out that she was actually a brilliant college student intentionally pretending to be stupid.
  • The Vampire Diaries does this with Bonnie, who is always lauded, never judged. She betrays Elena by pretending to de-curse the vampire weapon, knowing it will affect Stefan and Damon, and no one pulls her up on it. Season two, when Caroline becomes a vampire, Bonnie immediately snubs/judges her instead of being a friend - again, this is never addressed. She also Mind Rapes a sorta friend and no one who matters in the show bats an eye. The creators always try to force The Woobie card, too. When something bad happens to Bonnie, she's treated like her life is a cesspool. Most notably in season three when her Mum — who she doesn't really know or like - is vamped up. This quoted by a character who had been murdered and turned into a vampire, tortured twice (once by her own father), and whose boyfriend is magically bound to the enemy.
    Caroline: Bonnie's always the one who gets hurt.
  • Homicide: Life on the Street: Averted with Detective Kay Howard, who was initially the only woman on the Homicide squad. Although she never failed to close a case, was the only homicide detective with a perfect record, eventually taking the sergeant’s exam—and getting the highest score ever recorded, she still had somewhat of an inferiority complex who constantly felt as the only woman on the squad, she constantly needed to prove herself. Indeed, future fellow female regular Lieutenant Megan Russert would later chide Howard for this tendency. In addition, upon actually assuming the sergeant's role, she becomes very alienated from her fellow detectives. This happens in part because she seems at first to "micromanage" them, and also simply because her new position changes her relationship with them. Her friendship with Detective Meldrick Lewis, for example, grows especially stormy after she is promoted.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • 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.
  • 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 Heel–Face 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).
  • Look at how the backstage interviewers are treated (in story) by the wrestlers. "Mean" Gene Okerlund was (usually) portrayed in a neutral manner back in the day, but today the male reporters will regularly be insulted, made the butt of jokes, or just wind up being in the wrong place at the wrong time and get their heads bashed. Worse, it's not unheard of for the Divas to hit on visibly uncomfortable male interviewers or even touch them inappropriately, just to humiliate them; that would never happen if the sexes were reversed. Female reporters, while they are often not respected by the heels - and sometimes the faces! - will usually not be verbally humiliated, and certainly not physically attacked. If a heel does verbally trash a female interviewer, he'll wind up looking stupid or a Jerkass more often than she will (e.g., when Paul Heyman tried to embarrass Renee Young by discussing her sexual history on camera).

  • While it almost certainly was Fair for Its Day when the play was written in 1957, it's hard not to notice the discrepancy between how the two New York City street gangs - the Jets and the Sharks - are portrayed in West Side Story. It's insinuated about the Sharks - the Puerto Rican gang - that, well, it's kind of excusable that they're a little violent, since they're homesick immigrants and victims of discrimination. The Jets, by contrast, are all from various white ethnicities and are never shown as anything more than Jerkass blowhards who feel entitled to a non-Puerto Rican neighborhood and lash out when things don't go their way. (True, in "Gee, Officer Krupke" they do make the case that they deserve to be pitied because they've been psychologically and sociologically scarred by big-city life, but it's all just a satire.) After it's all said and done, the Jets serve as Acceptable Target Politically Incorrect Villains, even though the Sharks kill exactly twice as many people as the Jets do (and the one Jet-on-Shark killing in the entire play could be rationalized as self-defense). Ultimately subverted, however, when the worst villain of the piece turns out to be a Shark: Chino, who shoots Tony In the Back.
  • Lampshaded and discussed in Max Frisch's play Andorra, where, in a small Catholic town full of raving antisemites who despise and eventually cause the death of the Jewish protagonist Andre, the priest seems to be the only decent person. He admires Jews and at one point even lists all the things that Jews can do so much better than Christians, just to show him that he bears no grudge against Judaism. He doesn't even notice that he begins playing this trope 100% straight as he still refers to Jews as "them" and generally describes them as 'different'. He is committing just a reverse kind of discrimination.

  • 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 Re Tool 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.

    Video Games 
  • Coco Bandicoot of the Crash Bandicoot series 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. Interestingly, as more female indvidiuals were introduced in later tiems, Coco seemed to gain more prominent obnoxious and idiotic tendencies (in addition to getting kidnapped frequently), though still seems somewhat saner than her male comrades.
  • In Fire Emblem Tellius, 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 the sequel, 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".
  • In the Reincarnation series of games, the Reincarnys (sinners who have escaped from Hell) have all been male up until the most recent mini-release. While the male Reincarnys have typically been serial killers, child rapists, and so on, the first female is simply a drug dealer. And unlike most of the other Reincarnys you recapture, her death occurs offscreen (though the bloody aftermath is shown) and there's no scene of "Luke" torturing her afterwards.
  • 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.

    Web Animation 
  • 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).person.

  • 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 Black Best 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.

    Web Original 
  • 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 " 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 Harry Partridge's "ChangeTheBees". 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,, 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 never invoked that one.

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • The major reason for the general fandom rejection of Lola Bunny in Space Jam, who aside from being the only newcomer, she didn't follow any of the usual humorous slapstick conventions. For instance, at one point, Bugs pushes her out the way when one of the Monstars is about to squash her. It's as though she, unlike all the other toons and Bugs himself afterwards, will not just get flattened like a pancake or some other temporary cartoon injury that is easy to recover from. Even a human gets flattened and did not receive permanent damage. One could argue this is less a case of Positive Discrimination and more Wouldn't Hit a Girl. That said, Lola exemplifies Closer to Earth, and she's the most talented basketball player of all the Looney Tunes.
  • Illustrated quite well in The Fairly OddParents!. Although (much like The Simpsons) the emphasis on humor quickly turned the entire cast into irrational people, they are constantly reminded that Cosmo and Timmy's dad were far stupider than their female counterparts Wanda and Mrs. Turner.
    • However, that's not to say Wanda and Mrs. Turner are consistently perfect (or even close). Wanda borders on being a complete bitch more often than not, while Mrs. Turner is still (usually) neglectful and not exactly a genius, even if she seems so in comparison to Mr. Turner. As for other female characters, Vicky is the embodiment of evil, Tootie and Veronica are borderline-psychotic stalkers, and Trixie is a bit bitchy and airheaded. In fact, the guys on average, sans Cosmo and Mr. Turner, probably have it better off. Despite some of their flaws (Timmy being a bit of a slow minded Jerk Ass, AJ being a bit of an Insufferable Genius, Chester being poorer than dirt), they're all otherwise relatively normal kids who are (usually) able to handle themselves.
    • AJ starts off as Timmy and Chester's Black Best Friend who happens to be a Straight Man to Timmy. Now he's an Insufferable Genius who (very rarely though) rubs his brain power in Timmy's face.
  • With Danny Phantom, Butch Hartman was able to do it all over again with Danny's parents. In the early episodes, though goofy, Jack was portrayed as a visionary ghost-hunter whose over-enthusiasm often got in the way of common sense, while Maddie was soft-spoken and more of his assistant. By halfway into the first season, it completely flipped: Maddie became the bold action-oriented commanding ghost hunter, while Jack could barely even point a rifle in the right direction.
    • Positive Discrimination was also regularly expressed by Sam, constantly the voice of reason to the perpetually Idiot Ball-holding Danny and Tucker, and Jazz, the perfect student in contrast to her Book Dumb little brother.
    • Danny eventually averts this for the most part come Season Three through Character Development. If anything, his only Book Dumb moments occur as an excuse to give Sam a reason to nag, an act that is all but pointless by that point.
  • 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.
  • Daria:
    • The two major African-American kids at Lawndale High, Jodie and Mack, seem to be the only ones outside a handful of others who have intelligence and integrity enough to earn Daria's respect. However, Jodie's parents are portrayed as horrifically mean-spirited snobs, and Jodie can have a bit of their high-handedness when she's pimping the latest extracurricular school activity that no one else cares about. Of course, this is lampshaded frequently with them. One time, they're voted King and Queen in a parade, and they point out that they win every year just because the school wants to look diverse. Jodie frequently points out that she feels pressured to be the perfect "queen of the negroes" as she puts it, because she and Mack are the only black people in their entire grade. In the series finale, she ends up wanting to go to a traditionally black college, just so that she can act like a normal person for once.
    • The show itself does this massively with its female cast, notably Daria herself. In the series finale, both Daria and Tom are getting into Bromwell University, and Tom is accepted with Daria rejected. Daria (and the writers) immediately blame this on the fact that Tom is a legacy student, and the fact that Daria has an utterly terrible interview is no longer brought up.
  • In The Proud Family, Penny dates Johnny, a wheelchair bound boy, out of pity. However, 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.
  • Foxxy Love of Drawn Together, despite being half fox and half human, is consistently portrayed as the smartest, most moral character on the show (though that isn't saying much). She is even referred to in one episode as being "the only person in the house who isn't completely retarded". In contrast, the show's white characters (Hero, Clara, and Toot) are fair game for all kinds of abuse. (Xandir, who is Ambiguously Brown, vacillates between being a Butt-Monkey and The Woobie.)
  • An Animated Adaptation of The Little Rascals in the early 1980's 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.
  • X-Men:
    • In Wolverine and the X-Men, when Wolverine is unconscious after braving a fire to save a little girl, the little girl's parents want to help him (risking their whole family), but another member of the group wants to turn him in to the mutant registration forces. Fair enough. The little girl's parents are also a mixed race couple and the other guy is white. Okay, fine. Except the mixed-race couple are toned, young, attractive, and wearing fashionable clothes, while the white guy is fat, middle-aged, balding, and wears Bermuda shorts and Hawaiian shirts. Again an over the top mix of Positive Discrimination and an Acceptable Target.
    • Also happens in X-Men: Evolution. Humans in their area (who seem less ethnically diverse than the mutants) find out about the mutants and freak out. So the X-Men take a Caribbean cruise to "take a break" from the bigotry. They are exposed as mutants and treated as freaks/outcasts by the other passengers (almost all of whom are white) when Jean uses her powers to put out a fire. They visit an island where they are again revealed to be mutants, though the dark-skinned islanders are shown to be extremely friendly and actually admire them for their abilities.
    • This is played straight with Amanda, a black(?) girl, but completely averted with her (also black) parents. She dates Kurt/Nightcrawler despite knowing his true appearance (and was actually initially more interested in him because of it) but when her parents find out, they want her to stop seeing him, though she doesn't listen to them.
  • Barbie in a Christmas Carol has Barbie's Black Best 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 afterwards when the other minority juror (a dog) gives a technical explanation and another juror interrupts him with, "Uh, you're a f**king dog."
  • Abby from The Replacements. In addition to being rich, she also seems to be the Straight Man in her Girl Posse, and is rarely the butt of anyone's joke.
    • Subverted in one episode with Terrance, a blind kid who bullies Todd and uses his disability to play the victim and make it look like Todd is bullying him.
  • Family Guy:
    • Lois and Meg have their flaws, certainly, but they're certainly far more clever and competent than Peter or Chris.
    • 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).
  • Used to a similar extent in American Dad!. While Francine and Hayley are still very flawed human beings, they look far more stable and competent compared to Stan (and the other Smith males to a lesser extent). This is even more evident in later episodes where Stan, originally an experienced CIA agent, has suffered heavy Badass Decay and devolved into a brainless Manchild identical to Seth MacFarlane’s other Bumbling Dads. Meanwhile Francine's experiences include becoming a fully fledged Action Survivor in a hurricane and proving pure enough to become the girlfriend of Jesus Christ).
  • Justice League Unlimited: The most glaring use of this trope was when Superman and Wonder Woman were tricked into fighting each other and Diana beat him half to death. Though this might be justified in that Superman caught onto the illusion first and spent the majority of the fight trying to be as inoffensive as possible to try and find a way to snap Wonder Woman out of it. Wonder Woman (in the comics at least) is typically portrayed as being perfectly willing to kill a sufficiently dangerous enemy, in contrast to Superman's Thou Shalt Not Kill, meaning that she could well have been fighting lethally. Depending on how you feel about superheroes killing, this characterization in itself could be either a subversion or a straight example.
  • Downplayed in Cats Don't Dance, as Sawyer is subjected to quite a bit of humiliating slapstick in the opening. Played straighter in that her dance scenes lack the more comedic takes that Danny employs.
  • In The Goode Family this was lampshaded with the quote "We can't hire minorities! That's racist! It's whites only at the Goode house."
  • 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 sake. Her earliest role, "Meet the Carmichaels", has her introduced as a fickle crybaby. "Tricycle Thief" also greatly subverts her Canon Sue role. 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.
  • While it's slightly more nuanced than her comics counterpart, Princess Sally Acorn of Sonic Sat AM was frequently emphasized as the most well rounded and competent Freedom Fighter, frequently having to keep Sonic in line or bail him out when his arrogance got the best of him. She is still a frequent Damsel in Distress and has occasional ego trips and neuroses, but her strengths outweigh it and she is primarily the Straight Man of the team, to the point that by the Second Season she even begins to render other characters like Rotor redundant in her abilities. Bunnie and Dulcy are played more as comic relief, but still have less Idiot Ball moments than Sonic or Antoine.
  • 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 infallable 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. However, this came to be played straight again in later post-movie episodes, where the rest of the cast were Flanderized to extreme levels and Sandy ending up the only notable individual not to have her callous or idiotic traits exaggerated.
  • Subverted in T.U.F.F. Puppy, which has Action Girl Kitty Katswell as The Chew Toy.
  • Though she does have her flaws, Piper of Storm Hawks is the most competent member of the Five-Man Band... she's also the token female, Ambiguously Brown...may or may not be a lesbian, or at least bisexual.
  • 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 scatter brained characters. Winnie-the-Pooh, the 2011 movie, returns Kanga to her original book portrayal.
  • June is the only main girl in the wraparound shorts on KaBlam!. She's also (at least from season two onwards) the most competent of everyone. But has her moments of being wrong, and being a jerk.
  • Villain example; Jinx is the only female member of the HIVE Five on Teen Titans, and is also the only one of them to both largely escape Villain Decay and get to do a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Black Panther of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! is part of an 80% white team of superheroes, and he still manages to be one of the most impressive ones. 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.
  • The Simpsons is renowned for using this at its most intense form, with Marge and Lisa often established as gifted, intelligent and sensible people, while Homer and Bart usually act like immoral idiots who instigate the dilemma of each episode. The show's long run (along with Flanderization taking its toll) has led to numerous reversals and deconstructions (Lisa has gained an ego complex due to this trope, sometimes condescending and underestimating Bart and Homer, while Marge's sensible demeanor was exaggerated to the point she needs Homer for any impulsive drive), but the trope's formula is still easily the most consistent.
    • This is probably most prevalent in the future episodes where despite at least two episodes showing that Bart should be set for life. As well as him repeatedly being shown to be Brilliant, but Lazy. Despite this Bart is almost always shown to be a Future Loser based entirely on the flaws he has as a ten year old. Lisa by contrast is always shown to have a Ridiculously Successful Future Self inspite of her flaws. For example she repeatedly graduates early despite already showing that she can’t handle the stress of not being top dog. So Bart will always be the same while Lisa will just get over it.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Azula is a villain more competent than Zuko, apparently quicker, smarter, and much better at firebending. Justified because Zuko is a Noble Demon, while Azula is a straight villain. Then again, she seems to be more competent than most other straight-up villains are, the possible exceptions being Fire Lord Ozai (who isn't seen employing very much strategy) and Combustion Man (who doesn't have an army under his command). Note that Azula is 14. In particular, fans have noticed that aside from a temporary defeat by Aang (who she later not only gains victory over but almost kills), no-one in the series ever beats Azula in a straight fight. Her defeat has just as much to do with her own decaying mental state as the heroes' capabilities, if not more.
    • Averted with the members of the Gaang, particularly Toph, who's smug, rude, and occasionally quite selfish (not to mention has lower standards of living than anyone else). Katara comes off as the least flawed member of the group, being kind, brave, mature, wise, and a competent fighter, but there have been episodes showing she can be jealous, vindictive, and a stick-in-the-mud.
  • African-American woman Lana Kane and openly homosexual Ray Gillette from the series Archer are the only consistently competent agents in the show. Russian rogue Katya Kazanova is another straight example. She's seemingly the only female operative in the entire KGB, yet is skilled enough to take out an entire hit-squad and later on rises to the top, only because her male predecessors weren't focused enough to be leaders. Averted with the other female members of ISIS, who range from being a dim-witted gossip (Pam), a clueless pyromaniac with a loose grasp on reality (Cheryl) and a manipulative, underhanded abusive mother.
  • In the Teen Titans Go! episode "Boys vs. Girls", while battle of the sexes episodes usually at least try to teach the message that the genders are equal, it is not this case here, as Raven and Starfire outright beat Robin, Beast Boy and Cyborg by a landslide, 3 to 0.
  • In a meta way this happened for Jem. The creator wanted a Black member of The Misfits however Executive Meddling ruined that. They weren't comfortable with having a dark-skinned antagonist, so they made Jetta into a White British woman. A future episode had a Black antagonist though, and thirty years later the comic reboot made Jetta into a Black British woman.
  • 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 screw 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.