Alice accuses Bob of discriminating against/being prejudiced towards group X, and Bob denies it, by pointing out "Some of my best friends are X's". Usually played for Hypocritical Humor, as if having friends of a particular racial/ethnic group makes them not racist. Said friends are rarely ever present to speak for themselves and, therefore, can neither defend nor criticize whatever it was that earned Bob the accusation of prejudice. Besides, being a member of group X yourself will not necessarily preclude your being prejudiced against group X.
Note though that this trope depends on its use as a defense against an accusation. If Bob simply says 'I have many friends who are X', but is not using it as a defense, then it may not be this trope. It may just be that he's saying so because another person says they've never seen many people of that group, so Bob saying he has friends in that group is just meant to point out he knows some. The use of this phrase as a defense against bigotry has been lampooned so many times that un-ironically using it in Real Life is usually construed as ipso facto evidence of racism.
Often a response to Mistaken for Racist. Related to You Are a Credit to Your Race and Bigotry Exception, and often accompanied by Not That There's Anything Wrong with That. It may also be used to (dubiously) claim N-Word Privileges for using a slur that's considered derogatory when it comes from outsiders.
Note that this is not the same as saying "Some of my best friends are X" in the context of expressing knowledge and familiarity with the group in question. Example: "Yes, I'm familiar with Jewish customs. I have many close Jewish friends".
- Parodied in a She-Hulk story involving Spider-Man and Jonah Jameson in court. A lawyer asks Spidey why he thinks Jameson has spent so many years attacking him in the Bugle. To mess with Jonah, Spidey jokingly replies that it's because he's black. The flustered JJJ gives the stock response. (Though in this case, Jonah's actually speaking the literal truth. One of his best friends is Robbie Robertson.)
- In both the comic and film version of Sin City, there is a scene in which an abusive ex-boyfriend is trying to get into the apartment of his ex-girlfriend. She begins to mock him by implying that she has multiple African American boyfriends. The ex-boyfriend becomes even angrier but quickly mentions "some of my best friends are black".
- Runaways: Parodied when Topher assures Molly that some of his best friends are mutants, nauseating Gert. He turns out to be a vampire who was trying to get them all on his side so he could eat them.
- In the Young Avengers miniseries during Dark Reign, blatant racist Big Zero tells her counterpart in the actual Young Avengers, Stature, that "some of my best friends are Jews". Neither Stature or any of the other Young Avengers were convinced in the slightest, and she was immediately refused membership.
- In Iron Man (Vol. 5) #9, Death's Head questions Iron Man if he's a "krypto-fascist."
Iron Man: No! Absolutely not! Some of my best friends are robots an— That sounds kind of robot racist, right?
- From X-Factor (Vol. 1) #92, when they'd just learned that their government liaison, Valerie Cooper, was part of the Sentinel program, and she protests that she was Just Following Orders and considers the team to be her friends.
- Averted in Secret Wars. When a battle between Doctor Doom and The Beyonder threatens Battleworld itself, Wolverine goes to open the cells that the super-villains had been locked up in. He's very surprised to find Captain America there, working on releasing them already. His surprise is mainly due to the fact that he believed Cap was anti-mutant due to his distrust of Magneto.
Wolverine: I'm beginnin' to think you got room in your high-falutin' ideals for all people... don'tcha—? Even if they're mutants!
Captain America: Some of my best friends are people!
- Subverted in Grandville Noel: when a human rights activist accuses Cherie Rocher of being a speciesist, the badger doesn't help her case by indignantly responding "Our butler is a doughface!"
- In the Asterix story "Ceasar's Gift," Geriatrix grumbles about the new people who moved to the village: "You know me, I've got nothing against foreigners. Some of my best friends are foreigners. But these particular foreigners aren't even from the village!"
- At least two examples, this notoriously homophobic ad.
- Gentleman's Agreement:
Bert McAnny: What? Now, Green, don't get me wrong. Why, some of my best friends are Jews.Anne Dettrey: And some of your other best friends are Methodists, but you never bother to say that.
- In the 1945 film Blood on the Sun
Nick Condon (James Cagney): I lived [in China] 6 years myself.Journalist colleague: Four was enough for me... Uh, not that I haven't tremendous admiration for the Chinese people.Nick Condon: (mockingly) I see; some of my best friends are Chinese, huh? [laughs]
- Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss:
Billy: You're straight?Gabriel: Girlfriend in San Francisco. What's that supposed to mean?Billy: Nothing. Some of my best friends are...Gabriel: Straight?
- Casino Royale (2006). Mathis does a tongue-in-cheek version when he gripes that the accountants are running British Intelligence these days. He then adds to Vesper (who works for the Treasury) that he has nothing against accountants. "Many of them are lovely people."
- In The Godfather Part II Senator Geary says it word for word regarding Italian-Americans, just before excusing himself from Michael Corleone's hearing.
- In America (The Book), there's a section listing the most controversial Supreme Court nominees. One of them is (fictitious) Floyd Burnington, who was a member of the KKK. The book notes: "But some of his best friends were... Actually, they were all white."
- Catch-22, for the purpose of satire:
Colonel Cathcart: Do you really think it's a good idea to let the enlisted men in?The Chaplain: I should think it only proper, sir.Cathcart: I'd like to keep them out. Oh, don't get me wrong, Chaplain. It isn't that I think the enlisted men are dirty, common and inferior. It's that we just don't have enough room. Frankly, though, I'd just as soon the officers and enlisted men didn't fraternize in the briefing room. They see enough of each other during the mission, it seems to me. Some of my very best friends are enlisted men, you understand, but that's as close as I care to let them come close. Honestly now, Chaplain, you wouldn't want your sister to marry an enlisted man, would you?Chaplain: My sister is an enlisted man, sir.
- Harry Potter: Horace Slughorn has a variation: "An X person was one of my favorite students!":
Slughorn: Lily. Lovely Lily. She was exceedingly bright, your mother. Even more impressive considering she was Muggle-born...Harry: One of my best friends is Muggle-born, and she's the best in our year.Slughorn: No, no! You mustn't think I'm prejudiced! Your mother was one of my absolute favorites!
- In the Riverworld novel To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Richard Burton defends himself against accusations of anti-Semitism by citing his many Jewish friends. Later in the story, so does Hermann Göring.
- Played for Laughs in Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel. Razza even has friends who are fans of Manchester United. Manchester United, if you can imagine that.
- Friday says this when Georges Perreault mentions that he's a genetic engineer, involved in the creation of Artificial Persons. Georges politely disagrees; while he can honestly say this, as his job involves working with such people, it's extremely unlikely that Friday would have any friends who'd even admit they were AP's, due to Fantastic Racism. The irony is that (unknown to Georges at the time) Friday is an AP herself, posing as a normal human.
- In the non-fiction Spitfire Girl by Jackie Moggridge, she tries to make awkward conversation with a Jewish refugee whose parents have been thrown into a Nazi concentration camp. When Jackie says that she likes the Jews, the girl snaps back "That's the same as not liking them." After the war Jackie is ferrying Spitfires to Israel and makes a Jewish joke, only to belatedly realize that her fellow pilot is Israeli. When she apologies, the Israeli pilot ironically gives the trope line.
- Happens literally in The Emperor's Coloured Coat by John Biggins. Otto Prohaska is dating a Polish countess who is a virulent anti-Semetic, so he's surprised when she greets a Hassidic family in a friendly and familiar manner. When Otto calls her out on this she's outraged; she grew up with them in the same village and they are as Polish as she is, how dare he call them Jews!
- In The Menace from Earth, a short story by Robert A. Heinlein, the female protagonist has a rather snobbish attitude towards anyone who is not born on the Moon like she was.
I'm tolerant of groundhogs—some of my best friends are from Earth. As Daddy says, being born on Luna is luck, not judgment, and most people Earthside are stuck there. After all, Jesus and Gautama Buddha and Dr. Einstein were all groundhogs.
- After Dick was Mistaken for Racist by Nina on 3rd Rock from the Sun, he used this argument when Caryn confronted him about it. The only black acquaintances of his which he could come up with were Nina and Caryn themselves. And Al Roker.
- In All in the Family:
- Arch-racist Archie Bunker denies that he is, well, racist. When challenged, it turns out that all these "friends" are actually shoe-shines, waiters and other people who work for him, rather than anyone he actually socializes with. So not only would his statement not be an adequate defense, it isn't even true.
- His liberal son-in-law Mike turns out to not be much better. While he's very friendly and sociable to the Bunkers' black neighbor Lionel, the only things he ever talks to him about are race politics and civil rights developments. Lionel reveals in one episode that it makes him feel that Mike considers him just a representative of the black community he can talk about issues with rather than a real friend (Archie on the other hand at least treats Lionel like an individual).
- The villain in the Mexican soap opera Al Norte del Corazon ("To the North of the Heart"), a racist and bigoted border patrol agent, attempts this before being gang-raped in the prison's showers during the final episode:
Stay away you fuckin' brownies!
You are a racist asshole!
I'm not a racist! I'm married to a Mexican!
- As If (UK TV series) has this inversion:
Alexander 'Alex' Stanton: I'm not being heterophobic... Some of my best friends are straight.
- In Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Peralta correctly deduces that Kevin, Captain Holt's husband, is so cold to the squad because he doesn't like cops. Kevin's reply is, of course, that he's married to one. However, this is Peralta's point: Holt is black and openly gay, and so Kevin has had to watch the man he loves be discriminated against by other cops for twenty-five years.
- Jessica Williams uses this on The Daily Show when she claims that most crimes are committed by men who fit a certain profile: white men in suits. When Jon Stewart points out that he himself is a white man in a suit:
Jessica Williams: Don't worry, I can say that! Some of my friends are white men in suits!
- Doctor Who:
- "The Invisible Enemy":
The Doctor: The Asteroid Belt's probably teaming with them by now. New frontiersmen, waiting to spread across the galaxy like a tidal wave... or a disease.
Leela: Why a disease? I thought you liked humanity.
The Doctor: I do, I do! Some of my best friends are humans. When they get together in great numbers, other lifeforms tend to suffer.
Nardole: Some of my best friends are blueish.
- "Kerblam!": After Graham, Ryan and Yaz express unease with the Kerblam! robots, the Doctor tells them off for being "robophobic", including:
The Doctor: Some of my best friends are robots!
- "The Invisible Enemy":
- In Frontline, a 1990s Australian satire of current affairs programs, anchorman Mike Moore says this regarding Asians. When the person he's interviewing challenges Moore to name these Asian friends, he runs to his colleagues during the commercial break for help.
Colleague: What about the guy who works in the carpark — Mr. Chink?
Moore: Is that his name?
Colleague: No, that's what you call him.
- Frasier: Trying to assert his authority to call Frasier out on his White Guilt, Niles remarks that his first roommate at Yale was black. Frasier scoffs that being friends with "Huntington Treadwell III" doesn't necessarily give Niles much insight on African-American culture.
Frasier: Niles, owning the CD of "Ella Sings Gershwin" does not qualify you as a soul brother!
- In a Masterchef send-up on Horrible Histories, Gregg Wallace speaks to a caveman in stereotypical "Caveman-speak". When the caveman takes offense, Wallace replies "I didn't mean anything by it, some of my best friends are cavemen."
- Played for laughs in the episode The Gang Gets Racist of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. After The Waitress overhears Charlie saying a comment out of context about African-Americans, he goes out of his way to show he's not racist by showing he has African-American friends.
- Played for laughs in one episode of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers when Lord Zedd creates the Monster of the Week Lanterra out of what Adam believes is his uncle's antique lantern. Adam eventually gets angry at the creature's taunting, and calls it "nothing but an inanimate object", to which he replies, "Careful, some of my best friends are objects." Actually, as it turned out, the lantern he had been created from was nothing but a cheap one; Rita and Zedd had stolen the wrong lantern.
- Modern Family once had Lily believe she was gay, operating under the same logic that the child of Italian parents is Italian. Mitchell told her she wasn't, right as a lesbian couple walked by.
Mitchell: Oh please, we have tons of lesbian friends.
Cameron: Odd that you would reference our friends, and not us.
- Later, Gloria claims that Lily's lack of knowledge about her heritage will make her like an old white man, just as two old white men walked by.
Mitchell: Uh, most of our friends are white.
Black Couple: (glares at him)
- Later, Gloria claims that Lily's lack of knowledge about her heritage will make her like an old white man, just as two old white men walked by.
- Parodied in the TV miniseries Monty Python's Personal Best, where in a fake interview, John Cleese is asked whether Monty Python was anti-Semitic. Cleese first says that it was, then claims that Michael Palin is Jewish.
Interviewer: Michael Palin?
Cleese: Oh, I think so, don't you? I mean, I know he hasn't come out yet, but he looks Jewish, and the name "Michael" is a bit of a giveaway... Anyway, he's a good friend of mine, as are many other, um... Semitics.
- The Munsters:
Herman Munster: Grandpa, have you found anything yet to make me brave? When I think of riding a bucking bronco, I'm petrified!
Grandpa: What are you knocking? Some of my best friends are petrified.
- In Quantum Leap, after Sam admonishes Al for giving this as the reason he knows so much about the Civil Rights Movement, he reveals during the '50s and '60s he took part in the Marches, got arrested, was beaten up by bigots and saw many of his friends killed along the way.
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch actually had an episode called "Some of My Best Friends Are Half-Mortal". Sabrina starts dating a warlock whose family are prejudiced against half-mortals such as herself, but her boyfriend asserts he's not like his family and really does care about Sabrina. She overhears him retelling a "half-mortal" joke to a couple of aliens in a bar and promptly dumps him. It then turns out the two aliens were actually Hilda and Zelda in disguise, wanting to show Sabrina the guy was just as prejudiced as his parents in order to protect her.
- In a Saturday Night Live sketch parodying white anime/J-Pop fans who are unaware of the Unfortunate Implications of imitating Japanese accents and mannerisms and singing in fake Japanese, one character states, "I am not a racist! My girlfriend is Japanese!"
- In New Zealand, Pio Terei presented a series of light-hearted documentaries beginning with the title, Some Of My Best Friends Are..., which deliberately inverted this trope to provide a perspective from the show's subjects.
- Occurs in SOTF-TV with this quote, coming from Todd Hudson after mistaking Marcus Walker (an African-American) for one of his teammates while attempting a Pretty Fly for a White Guy routine.
Todd Hudson: "Now, look buddy, I think we might have gotten off on the wrong foot... I think what we've got here is a simple misunderstanding! I mean, I LOVE black guys! Uh, black PEOPLE I mean, seeing as I ain't a fag or anything. But yeah, rap music? I am SO down with that shit! Snoop Dogg? Man, what an awesome guy! I must have, what, six friends who are black? Seven if you count Indian guys... Do Indian guys count as being black? I mean, I know they're kind of brown-ish, but... I dunno."
- Star Trek: Voyager. The episode "Living Witness" has a Vaskan clarify that he has Kyrian friends while criticizing a museum that portrays Vaskans (and Voyager's crew) as the villains in a conflict from 700 years ago. Later, he's seen as a leader in the mob that attacks the museum when the curator uncovers contrary evidence in a copy of Voyager's sentient, protesting holographic Doctor.
- Strong Medicine. When her son's girlfriend accuses her of disliking her for being white, Dr. Lu Delgado (who is Hispanic), goes running to best friend Lana, who basically name-drops this trope when pointing out her friendship with her nurse Peter. She soon realizes that who she has a problem with is rich people, and the majority of those she knows are white.
- On Survivor: One World, attempting to defend himself against the charge of being racist, Colton Cumble stated that his housekeeper was black with perfect seriousness, apparently not realizing that the best way to defend against the claim wouldn't be to state that his hired help was black.
- Parodied on That Mitchell and Webb Look. Jesus is giving the Parable of the Good Samaritan, but the people he's preaching to already know that the prejudice against them is bad, and one of the people says this trope word for word.
- The Thick of It: Ben Swain's "I'm so not a racist! One of my best friends is an Asian" just makes things even worse for himself.
- Also this exchange:
Ollie: You didnt say youve got lots of black friends, did you?
Hugh: No. Well, I havent, I havent got any.
- Also this exchange:
- Joked about on Twin Peaks when the sheriff's secretary gets a visit from her sister, who decides to try to make friends with Hawk, a Native American cop.
Gwen: God, how you must hate us white people after all we've done to you.
Hawk: Some of my best friends are white people.
- War of the Worlds (TV series):
- The Wire: When Baltimore detective McNulty needs to ask a rural cop for a favor, he assumes that the cop is a Corrupt Hick and makes racist comments to ingratiate himself. It turns out that the cop is married to a black police officer, so McNulty quickly backpedals by offering to introduce his black partner, Kima.
- Yes, Minister:
- In the episode "Equal Opportunities", Sir Humphrey responds to Hacker's claim that his opposition to women in the civil service is anti-feminist by saying that some of his best friends are women... "my wife, for instance".
- In the 2013 remake episode "Scot Free", Hacker tells the Deputy Prime Minister (Scottish, and apparently a member of a Scots independence party Hacker's party is in coalition with) that some of his best friends are Scottish. His policy advisor Clare Sutton rolls her eyes at this.
- Inverted by Stephen Lynch (who is white), when he sings about his preference for black girls in his song "Vanilla Ice Cream." He mentions that he is not a racist since some of his best friends are white.
- In The Mitchell Trio's "The I Am Not A Nazi Polka (Seig Heil)", one of the "not a Nazis" claims some of his best friends are Jews.
- Subverted for laughs by Daniel Tosh, who recalls a woman indignantly jumping up his ass for making black guy jokes during his stand-up routine. Daniel replies "Now look here, lady: my best friend is... Cuban, and that's close enough."
- Sean Lock pokes fun at this trope during a stand-up routine:
"It's a nonsensical argument if you think about it, 'I'm not racist, I've got black friends.' You might as well argue 'I'm not a murderer, some of my best friends are alive!' And if you try arguing 'I'm not a pedophile, some of my best friends are kids!' you'll probably make things worse for yourself."
- Subverted in an Imran Yusuf joke: "Some people get annoyed at me for making jokes about the situation in Israel and Palestine, they accuse me of being an antisemite for making jokes criticizing Israel. I always tell them, 'You know who my best friend at school was? He's a real antisemite, I'm an absolute amateur compared to him!'"
- Dane Cook lampshades the trope by pointing out that some people deny accusations of being racist by saying "I have a black friend." Dane says that now Barack Obama is the president he will say "I'm not racist, I have a black president."
- Stewart Francis says "The two kinds of people I hate in this world are racists... and Norwegians. Especially the black ones!" then goes on to say that he's allowed to do that joke because some of his best friends are... racists.
- Jeff Dunham's character Peanut spends a good bit of his and José's shared time making fun of José for being Mexican. Jeff attempts to call him out on it at one point, to which Peanut replies that he's not prejudiced because "most of [his] friends are... on sticks". When Jeff corrects him, Peanut gives us this:
Peanut: "No, my... mother is Mexican. Well, she's New Mexican. She's like José, only... fresher."
- Hannibal Buress has a bit where he says he can make fun of blind people like Stevie Wonder because he has a close friend who is gay.
- Referenced in Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! when discussing the song "Accidental Racist" and Brad Paisley's decision to make it a duet with LL Cool J. Host Peter Segal alleged that this trope was in play, saying that the message was "Some of my best friends are... LL Cool J."
- One of Ghost's many catchphrases. "I am not a racist. I am a melting pot of friendship, and I want you to amplify that all over the internets. I happen to have a whole bunch of friends that happen to be black. I happen to have a whole bunch of friends that happen to be Hispandex. Oriental, kraut, camel jockey..." And so on.
- Avenue Q, during "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist":
PRINCETON: Everyone's a little bit racist...
BRIAN: I'm not!
PRINCETON: Oh no?
BRIAN: Nope! How many Oriental wives have you got?
- In State of the Union, when Mrs. Alexander mentions that she's a Democrat like most Southerners, Grant says, "Some of my best friends are Democrats."
- Portal 2 inverts this - when the best insult the power-mad Wheatley can come up with is "Fatty-fatty no-parents", GLaDOS replies "What exactly is wrong with being adopted?" Cue Wheatley mumbling that "Some of my best friends are orphans" while trying to regain control of the conversation.
- Even funnier? GLaDOS then claims it IS terrible that Chell is adopted, but to just go with it.
- Used to an extent (minus the actual phrase) in Mass Effect 2 when Grunt realizes he hates turians. Shepard's Renegade response is to threaten him that he'd better not start anything with Garrus. Grunt basically responds that he hates turians in general but not Garrus specifically.
- Psychonauts: In Waterloo World, Raz has to try to convince a peasant to join Fred Bonaparte's army, the peasant refuses, saying that Fred doesn't care about the people, to which Raz answers: "What? Fred cares about the people, in fact, some of his best friends are... the people?"
- Soul Hackers: During Judah Singh's vision quest, one NPC asks him if his saxophone shaped COMP can summon snakes. Judah, being Indian, is offended, and the man defends himself by claiming that some of his friends are Indian.
- Neverwinter Nights 2: Khelgar Ironfist totally isn't a racist. After all, he travels with an elf and a tiefling, and everyone knows what they're like! Part of his Character Development involves him recognizing that yes, he is racist.
- Parodied in a strip of League of Super Redundant Heroes, where an extra-galactic visitor can confuse even Starfish Aliens with humans, and then try to pretend that some of his best friends are from the Milky Way galaxy.
- Tip, Skin Horse's Token Human, suffering a bit of culture shock at the transgenic convention, says that it's a relief to see another human, before hastily adding "Don't get me wrong, some of my best friends are non-human. All of them, really." Which would be awkward enough, except he's talking to Artie Narbon.
Tip: ...and you're not human, are you?
Tip: And now you think I'm a big old speciesist.
Artie: But, as you said, a good-looking one.
- Ghost, when faced with accusations of racism, usually says, "I am not a racist, I am a Melting Pot of Friendship, I happen to have a whole BUNCH of friends who HAPPEN to be black! I also have friends who are wops, camel jockeys and Krauts!"
- Deconstructed in this YouTube video. The poster differentiates between what a person does and what a person is. The main point is that while a person might not be racist, a particular action of that person could still be racist.
- SCP Foundation gives us SCP-1171, an extra-dimensional Starfish Alien who asserts that he's not racist since some of his best friends are human.
- Parodied (along with other racism tropes) on Black People Love Us
Testimonial: Johnny always says: "I'm not racist; one of my best friends is Black!" I think he might mean me!
- "The Black NRA": Neal Brennan has over twenty black friends and intends to give them all guns.
- During one of the I'm a Marvel... and I'm a DC videos, Wolverine accuses Superman of being anti-mutant. Superman says he has mutant friends, but the only one off the top of his head is Spider-Man, who says he's not a mutant and quickly adds "Not That There's Anything Wrong with That" after some harsh looks.
- In Epic Rap Battles of History, Frank Sinatra is portrayed as a product of his times, for better or for worse, and as such filled his first verse with barbs regarding Freddie Mercury's bisexuality. When Mercury responded by mocking Sinatra's Italian heritage, Ol' Blue Eyes didn't take it well and felt the need to clarify that he didn't have anything against bisexuals in general. The way he worded it, though...
- The Simpsons: Krusty has a minor identity crisis when his Jewish credentials are brought into question:
Krusty: I thought I was a self-hating Jew, and now it turns out I'm just another anti-Semite!Rainer Wolfcastle: We have so much to discuss.
- In The Transformers, Bumblebee once said: "Some of my best friends are humans." Of course, he actually does like humans.
- King of the Hill: One episode featured Hank being Mistaken for Racist when his dog bit an African-American repairman. A veterinarian told him his girlfriend is African-American. It turns out Hank's hatred is against repairmen and the idea of needing their services.
- Hank tried to invoke this with Roger, treating him especially nicely so he would vouch for Hank (which he would have done anyway), but due to computer incompetence, Hank ends up failing an online racism test Roger gave him to document his innocence.
- In "My Own Private Rodeo", when Dale finds out his father is gay, he's okay with it because "John Redcorn's gay and I've been friends with him for years."
- The Mighty B!: "Some of my best friends are bees!"
- On an episode on American Dad! Francine was assumed to be hateful against black people when she becomes rude to Steve's black classmate, Hailey brings home black strangers and proclaims that "Some of my friends are black!" it's revealed later that Francine's actually bigoted towards left-handed people.