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The Smurfette Principle

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Take note of the Male-to-Female ratio.

Chris: I get it! So [points to Danny] you're the cool one, [points to Wallow] you're the funny one, [points to Beth] and you're the...
Beth: Girl.
Bravest Warriors, "Memory Donk"

The Smurfette Principle is in action when the cast is made up of a group of males and exactly one female. This can occur even in works with Loads and Loads of Characters, so long as each sub-Ensemble (of five or more) contains only one female character. Adding a second female to the ensemble creates a related trope. With the relatively few female-aimed works, contrasting the sheer volume of works that are aimed at males, it stands out that the demographics of fiction shows a ratio of female to male characters much lower than Real Life.note 

Albeit being named after Smurfette from The Smurfs, the name of this trope was first coined by an article by Katha Pollitt in the New York Times printed April 7, 1991, called "The Smurfette Principle". The article focused on the trope as it applies to young children, and discussed the negative message: males are individuals who have adventures, while females are a type of deviation who exist only in relation to males. See also Margaret McGowan's Reel Girl column Females 51% of population but minority of imaginary characters and real life power positions.


Compare The Bechdel Test, Two Girls to a Team, and Two Guys and a Girl for similar critiques of female:male proportions in fiction. Affirmative Action Girl is a common way of averting the trope, sometime preemptively, sometimes as a reaction to the aforementioned criticism. See Chromosome Casting when there's zero members of the opposite sex present in the work. This is also Distaff Counterpart to The One Guy. Subtropes include Never a Self-Made Woman (women cannot achieve anything without a male mentor or counterpart), Smurfette Breakout (the Smurfette character becomes popular on her own), Starring Smurfette (Smurfette is the protagonist), and Territorial Smurfette (another female is added to the show and the original Smurfette reacts negatively). Often, the one girl is a princess for economy's sake. Contrast Gender-Equal Ensemble and Improbably Female Cast. For the Music equivalent, you would have Male Band, Female Singer.


Sub-pages and examples

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    Eastern Animation 

    Fan Works 
  • Played straight in the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story series, since it's mostly based on the cartoon show, though the reason for the disproportionate number of male Smurf characters is that Papa Smurf's generation (which consisted of both male and female Smurfs) ended up having mostly male offspring, with only one female Smurf offspring, which turned out to be Sassette.
  • In My Little HetaStuck MSTs, Twilight Sparkle is not only the only girl in the riffing group, she's also the leader.
  • Lampshaded by Hinata in chapter 34 of I Am Not Going Through Puberty Again when she refers to Fubuki Kakuyoku as the "obligatory kunoichi".
  • According to Haruhiko Takenouchi of Digimon Adventure 02 fame from Digimon Adventure 02: The Story We Never Told, Chidori is stated to be the only female member of the 5 Original Digidestined group.
  • Black Mesa, the Fan Remake of Half-Life, very deliberately added a lot of female scientists to address the imbalance of women in Black Mesa. The company claims to be an "equal-opportunity employer", but all of its employees seen in the original are men, except for the holographic assistant in the tutorial.
  • My Huntsman Academia: Izuku and Tenya gender-invert this as they're the leaders and only guys on their respective teams, which each have three girls. Ruby, however, plays this straight as the only girl on a team with three guys.
  • The Bridge: Each of the core kaiju groups sent to Equestria only has one female. Mothra Lea for the Terra Defenders, Destroyah for the Mutations, and the albino Hyper Gyaos later called Irys for the Dark Hunters.

    Films — Animation 
  • Aladdin has only Jasmine. Aladdin's mother was originally in the film, but got cut. The protagonist (Aladdin), main villain (Jafar), best friend/mentor (Genie), and sidekicks (Abu and Carpet) are all male. The Sultan rounds out the cast of male characters. Female characters do populate the world so this is arguably faithfully reflecting the kind of world where power games are played out between men and Jasmine's story would revolve around the necessity of her finding a man to marry. It still doesn't solve the diversity/representation issue but it's somewhat logical.
  • In The Book of Life, Manolo's Grandmother is the only female Sanchez bullfighter.
  • The Land Before Time: Averted Trope: The first film ratio of male to female was originally going to be 4:1. The character Cera was originally going to be male, thus being a basic rival for Littlefoot, while Ducky would have been the only female and a fairly stereotypical one at that. However George Lucas realised that Cera's gender had no real bearing on the plot and asked if Cera could be a female — but keeping the character's personality exactly the same. The result was a memorably less clichéd female character and an unusual (for the time) male/female rivalry. The movie is a straight example of Two Girls to a Team.
  • Megamind has a single Brainbot out of hundreds with a pink frill and lipstick. The DVD commentary states that she was an Invoked Trope, and considered "the Smurfette of the Brainbots".
  • Susan/Ginormica is the only woman of the five monsters in Monsters vs. Aliens ("We are in the presence of the rare female monster."). However, she is the main character and has the most Character Development of anyone else, going from The Chick to Action Girl. The human cast is presented in a more even gender split, although not half-half.
  • Mulan: During most of the film, Mulan is with the Chinese Army, which wouldn't accept females at the time. (Which is why she has to disguise herself as a man.)
  • 7 is the only female ragdoll in 9. There are a total of nine dolls, and the twins 3 and 4 never talk, so their gender is ambiguous. Justified; they all seem to stem from the Scientist's soul, so odds of his soul containing a lot of feminine qualities are very low.
  • Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie has only one prominent female character, Edith, where the rest of the main cast is all male.
  • For all the praise they have received, one major complaint about Pixar is the lack of films that have a notable number of prominent female characters:
    • Toy Story's main cast includes a young boy's toy collection, with predictably male-oriented rather than girls' toys. Bo Peep was the only female in the cast, a domestic woman and Satellite Love Interest with no part in the main action. It's hinted that the sequels would add more female characters at the end by having Mr. Potato Head wishing for a Mrs. Potato Head to be opened. Of course, the sequels, while still having mostly male characters, replace Bo with Jessie and Barbie.
    • Cars: Both films add more than one female to the main cast, but in this world of racing, the principle is still enforced. Somewhat justified since the Piston Cup is analogous to NASCAR and NASCAR has been a male-dominant sport for decades (while there have been women drivers like Janet Guthrie and Danica Patrick, they've never lasted long enough to make major impacts).
      • In the first film, the racecar sponsoring RevNGo is actually the only female competing in the Piston Cup.
      • In the sequel, Carla Veloso, the Brazilian racecar is the only female competing in the World Grand Prix.
    • Ratatouille:
      • There is only one female rat in the film, who speaks to Remy at the end. Remy's family consists of a father and a brother. Plus thousands of additional colony rats.
      • Colette provides an in-universe example. She is very much aware that she is the only female chef in Gusteau's, and in a definite minority in the profession in general. She was forced to claw her way up and as a result, feels that she has to be tough and defensive to succeed in a career she worked so hard for. However, when her protégé, Linguini (and secretly Remy the Rat as well), make it clear that they deeply respect her expertise, she softens to become a good friend and more later on.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • This is the premise of Alien³, where Ripley is stranded on a penal colony planet populated solely by men. The only other female character in the film is Newt, who only briefly appears in suspended animation and later as a corpse.
  • In Big Game, the unnamed woman in National Security Vault (referred to as chief of CIA in the closing credits) is the only female being in the entire film, which otherwise uses a large cast of actors.
  • Bimbos in Time inverts this by having only one male character in the hero team (referred to as "the male Bimbo"); indeed, the only other male character with a major role in the story is the villain.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the 2005 adaptation of the novel. While hundreds of Oompa-Loompas are seen in the film only one is depicted as female. This is in contrast to the book, whose Greek Chorus of Oompa-Loompas clearly has multiple females.
  • Centurion shows the Pict army with one female, the archer Aeron. Subverted when the female with the Romans is revealed to be a mole for the Picts, and their Dragon-in-Chief to boot.
  • In Down Periscope there are one female officer in the sub crew. It is the source of some cheesy jokes in the first half of movie.
    • Justified in that, at the time the film was made, the U.S. Navy had only recently begun to introduce women into front-line service, particularly in the submarine fleet. It was both less common before, and more common after the film.
  • In Ernest Goes to Camp, Nurse St. Cloud is the only female at Camp Kikakee. Justified in that it is a boys' camp.
  • In Fight Club, Marla Singer is the only major female character — Fight Club itself is entirely male, with an unknown number of members across the country. On the commentary track, Helena Bonham-Carter talks about how she was glad when the support group scenes were being filmed because it was effectively the only time there were other women on set.
  • Canadian cheese-fest, The Final Sacrifice, has literally only one on-screen female character in the entire film; Aunt Betty. Any other feminine presence consists of the voices of a phone operator & radio announcer, or a photograph on a desk. The main characters, the villain, mooks & extras (one, actually, a gas station attendant) are all men.
  • Galaxy Quest parodies Star Trek: The Original Series by having only a single female character on the show, whose actress was constantly annoyed that her only roles on the show were Fanservice and repeating the computer. At the end, when the show is revived, Laliari joins the cast, moving the In-Universe series to Two Girls to a Team.
  • Ghostbusters
  • The Hobbit trilogy adds a completely original female character, Tauriel the elf, so that there would be at least one prominent woman in a story based on a book that depicts zero women, and only mentions one in passing (Bilbo's mother). Thanks to Executive Meddling, she ends up in a Love Triangle.
  • In Immortals, Athena is the only female god out of the six seen in the film.
  • Inception has a crew of around six guys and one girl. There is one other important female character, but for most of the film, she's a projection of the main (male) character's subconscious.
  • Jack the Giant Slayer: Princess Isabelle and the Queen are the only two females in the whole film, which has plenty of actors otherwise. Unfortunately, the Queen dies early on, making Isabella the only major female character.
  • Joyeux Noël, set during the Christmas Truce, has soprano Anna Sørensen. Justified by the film's World War I setting.
  • In Kingsman: The Secret Service, though initially two of the nine candidates recruited for the intelligence agency are women, one of them is disposed of on the first night of training, leaving Roxy as the Smurfette for the majority of the film.
  • Late Night: Molly is hired as the only female (and only non-white) writer on the Katherine Newbury Show. Her boss Katherine is the only woman in late night TV.
  • In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Mina Harker is the lone female in an otherwise all-male league of seven. In the movie it's made clear early on that she's a vampire who can kick all the other League members' collective asses. Alan Moore said he titled it "Gentlemen" to reflect the sexist tendencies of Victorian times.
  • In Marianne, Marion Davies, playing Marianne, is the only female with a speaking part.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • The Avengers hosts a primary ensemble of eight characters, with Black Widow acting as the lone female of the team. Supporting female cast members were included to improve the gender demographics. Joss Whedon himself was not happy, as he'd initially wanted The Wasp to be part of the team as well. He's said he added Scarlet Witch to the sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron, partially for this reason.
    • Captain America: The First Avenger has only Agent Carter for female protagonists. Supporting cast membership includes some females, to even out the story disparity. Carter's own spin-off averts this.
    • Captain America: Civil War shows this, as each side of the conflict has exactly one female member - Scarlet Witch for the Anti-Accord and Black Widow for the Pro-Accord. The above-mentioned Wasp was planned to appear as part of the Anti-Accord side, but ended up being cut. Additionally the group of other Winter Soldiers has just one female in the group of five.
    • The Marvel Universe LIVE! stage show (inspired by the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but not canon with it) added The Falcon and Captain Marvel to The Avengers to help offset the racial and gender disparity.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy has exactly one female teammate (Gamora), and her sister (Nebula) works for the antagonists. Loads and Loads of Characters apply here, so there are additional female characters.
    • Thor and sequel Thor: The Dark World have a team of the prince(s) and "Lady Sif and her warriors three", implying that Thor, Loki, and Sif are the only ones who rate a name to strangers. The first film put some emphasis on her success, although people familiar with Norse history or mythology will find this odd, since Scandinavian women enjoyed more freedom than women almost anywhere else in the world during the medieval period, and Norse Mythology features several Action Girls. This is especially odd since the second film shows that Queen Frigga is quite capable with a sword too.
    • Phase 3 takes steps to avert this, with Mantis joining the team in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Valkyrie debuting in Thor: Ragnarok.note  Captain Marvel also got her own film, making her the first woman in the MCU to do so.
  • Margaret Dumont is affectionately known as "The Marx Sister" by many fans of the four Marx Brothers, since she was the one female actor who consistently appeared as a leading lady alongside the Brothers in nearly all of their films. Notably, just like each of the Brothers typically played variations on the same character (with different names) in all of their movies, Dumont managed to cultivate a Straight Man persona that turned out to be nearly as iconic as that of Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo. The iconic role is a feisty, wealthy Grand Dame, always known only by her last name and inevitably seduced by Groucho's character.
  • In Mean Girls, the two Mathlete teams we see each have a single female member, presumably because of the double-funding incentive Kevin mentions.
  • Men in Black has the titular organization with a lack of female members.
    • The end of the first film shows the female mortician become agent L, J's new partner. However, she is neuralyzed before the events of the second film and given a Written-In Absence to make way for the return of Tommy Lee Jones.
    • Men in Black 3 had agent O in charge of the organization (during present day), but she was still the only female in an organization of hundreds (dozens in the past).
  • In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the only woman among the Holy Grail seekers is one of Sir Robin's minstrels.
  • In Mystery Men, the team has one female member, The Bowler, who carries a male bowling ball.
  • In The Naked Spur, Lina Patch (Janet Leigh) is the only female in the five-person Minimalist Cast. Her obvious sexual desirability is used by the bad guy, a fugitive who's been caught by a bounty hunter, to sow tension between the bounty hunter and the two partners the bounty hunter got stuck with.
  • Ocean's Eleven zig-zags through the films. The first (Eleven), has Tess, Love Interest to Danny Oceans. The second (Twelve), averts it by bringing in Isabel Lahiri, and the third (Thirteen), plays it straight by dropping Julia Roberts and Jones and bringing in Ellen Barkin. It should be noted that all three of these women were a love interest for one of the main (male) characters.
  • Pan features Tiger Lily as the only woman with a prominent role in the story. Peter's deceased mother Mary is an offscreen presence and a cameo from Wendy was filmed but cut.
  • Pacific Rim has roughly 9 major characters, only one of which—Mako—is female. She's more assertive and plot-relevant than most examples, has her own story arc, and isn't presented as a Love Interest despite some Ship Tease with Raleigh. Sasha could have made the movie an aversion if she'd had more screen time.
  • Predator
    • In Predator (1987), the cast was made up of a bunch of battle-hardened marines and one female prisoner-of-war whose primary function was to create an Enemy Mine situation.
    • In Predators, Isabelle is shown to be the only female cast in the entire film.
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time has princess Tamina as the only female character in the movie.
  • Bob Hope/Bing Crosby made the "Road to ..." movies (Road to Morocco, etc), which included one woman in the cast: Dorothy Lamour. A trope related to the Smurfette Principle was named after her; Roger Ebert referred to "Dorothy Lamour Syndrome" in his Little Movie Glossary; when two men and one woman have a dialogue in a movie, the woman is usually reduced to looking back and forth between the two men as they talk. Lamour had an excuse, as Hope and Crosby were frequently off-script and adlibbing.
  • Sometimes found in Military and Warfare Films where there isn't a realistic opportunity for more female parts. One example is submarine film Run Silent, Run Deep, in which the only speaking part for a woman goes to Cmdr. Richardson's wife, who appears in one scene.
  • Salt had the titular character operating as the only known female CIA agent and only known female Russian spy.
  • The Scribbler inverts the trope; the character of Hogan is the only guy in an otherwise all-female psychiatric halfway house.
  • Star Wars: The original trilogy almost represented this trope, with Leia given nearly the entirety of female dialogue. There are a few other female speaking roles: Aunt Beru (who only appears briefly and is slaughtered by the Empire in the first act of A New Hope), Jabba's slave dancers, and Mon Mothma. Someone actually tabulated the amount of screen time given to non-Leia female dialogue over the three films: 63 seconds. There are a few women extras, too.
    • The Smurfette Principle affects the merchandise. Toy producer Hasbro has always been reluctant to make action figures based on Padmé's various gowns, but have settled for releasing one a year.
    • After the There Is Another line in The Empire Strikes Back someone suggested to Mark Hamill that the mysterious second Jedi might be Leia. Hamill joked that she had too much power already. "She's the only woman in the universe! If you don't make it with her, you're a monk!" An early draft of the script for Empire, written by Leigh Brackett, included Luke's twin sister — who was not going to be Leia, but instead another Jedi, already in training on some remote planet. This idea was never developed, though the "There Is Another" line might be a reference to it.
    • Return of the Jedi was originally to include shots of several female Rebel pilots in the attack on the Death Star, with at least one getting a substantial amount of dialogue, but for unknown reasons these shots were all removed from the final cut. The one line of female dialogue that remained in the scene ("got it!") was over-dubbed with a male voice.
    • This is lampshaded in the Lego Star Wars: Droid Tales adaptation of Return of the Jedi. Luke surmises that Leia is his sister because she's literally the only woman he's ever met in the trilogy aside from his dead aunt.
    Yoda: Not many women in our adventures, are there. Fix that next time, we must. Note 
  • In the 2011 J.J. Abrams' film Super 8, Alice Dainard is the only female in a group with 5 young boys making a film and navigating their way through their adventure. In fact, she's pretty much the only female in the entire movie, other than one of the boys' mothers.
  • The Transformers Film Series has a complicated relationship with the Smurfette Principle. Depending on the medium, transformers Arcee, Elita One and Chromia may be one robot, or sisters. The human cast always has several females, even if it isn't usually an even gender split. In Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, they are female Autobots; Arcee gets the most screen time and one line, but the sisters do get a good fight scene with Sideswipe at the beginning. In the novel and comics, Arcee is the central component with Chromia and Elita One as drone units she controls and they can combine into a larger robot. Arcee was cut at the last minute from the first movie and was replaced by Ironhide because it was decided that there wasn't enough time to discuss why there were female Transformers in the first place (not that it stopped them from appearing in the second movie).
  • The Bride of Frankenstein is the only female monster of the Universal Monsters.
    • And she had a grand total of one screen appearance in the classic cycle, while all of her male counterparts had multiple ones.
  • In the 2010 film, The Traveler, Jane Hollow is the only female police officer present in the film, and the only female who took part in the assaulting of the drifter 1 year prior to the story.
  • In Wanted (2008), the sociopathic female killer-for-hire Fox (played by Angelina Jolie) is the only female member of an ancient fraternity of assassins, and (what else did you expect) the top-ranking member.
  • Wonder Woman in Justice League (2017) is the only female member of the six-person superhero team.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In some versions of the myth, Atalanta was the only woman on board the Argo in Jason and the Argonaunts. Some myths also state that Jason refused to allow a woman on the ship, which meant that Medea would be the only woman on the voyage back.
  • The planets in our solar system are traditionally named after deities in the Roman pantheon, and it zigzags between this trope and Two Girls to a Team (at least depending on whether you want to count our planet, as Earth is classified as female in many world religions, including the Roman Terra, which is occasionally used as the "proper" name of Earth): Originally, the six planets were Sun/Sol (male), Moon/Luna (female), Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. The moon and sun of course aren't planets, so that changed to the nine planets at some point (adding in Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, which was later demoted from planet status), with Venus being the only one left named after a goddess. The next planet discovered was named Ceres, also female, upping the count to two... but Ceres was later demoted into an asteroid, returning to this Principle.
  • Dwarf planets avert this. Of the five most recognized, three (Ceres, Eris, and Haumea) are feminine. Similarly, moons are more often female than male, with many of Jupiter's moons being named for his lovers (but there's still some guys in there).
  • The Taoist Eight Immortals, which represent people from different walks of life, contain one female member in the form of He Xian Gu, though the gender of Lan Cai He is usually ambiguous.
  • Of the Seven Lucky Gods in Japan, Benzaiten is the sole goddess. Some versions, however, up the number of female deities to three.


    Pro Wrestling 
  • On the world level, the National Wrestling Alliance only had one women's division for about two decades. In the 1950s, World Tag Team Titles for women were introduced and Jack Pfefer presented a World Women's Junior Heavyweight Title belt but only the tag titles stuck. They lasted about thirty years before the WWF took them and killed them.
  • In the WWE Hall of Fame, each year typically has one female inductee against about seven males.
  • La Nazi was the only woman in the CMLL version of Los Boricuas, which is just as well as previous versions had no women and she wasn't even Boricua, just along for the ride. Zeuxis would join her when they became Commando Caribeno.
  • Another CMLL group was Rudos del Ritmoa, evil dancers Kung Fu, Búfalo Salvaje, Gran Apache, Ari Romero, América, Mario Prado, Halcón Negro...of which Estrellita was the only woman.
  • Despite what the name would have you believe, the only biological woman in AAA stable Lucha Libre Latina was Tiffany. The rest were all exoticos, gorgeous Georges and straight male delinquents (granted, LLL wanted to make the entirety of AAA them, so if they succeeded they would have averted this trope).
  • Initially, Allison Danger was the only woman associated with The Christopher Street Connection (alongside Buff E, Mace Mendoza, Fun Athletic Guy and Chris Cabana) and was the only woman in Ring of Honor (where Chris was absent but she was the lone woman among 30 wrestlers). Jailbait and Portuguese Princess Ariel would later join the connection, while Simply Luscious followed Danger in ROH.
  • Happened again in ROH with the move to Sinclair Broadcast Group leaving Mia Yim the lone woman on a roster that usually had twenty eight wrestlers for a television taping, though more women came back around the end of the year.
  • Ashley America argued the business practices of Valkyrie Woman's Pro, the first all women's promotion in New York City New York since Betty Niccoli got the ban on woman wrestlers lifted, unconscionable, accusing them of depriving starving male wrestlers of work and demanding they only run a single women's match(featuring herself, obviously).
  • Kazza was literally the only woman training with Mainstage Wrestling in her native Ireland for years - and began her career wrestling men in intergender matches.
  • Brandi Lauren's goal in EVOLVE, to be the lone woman in the company. Given Mercedes Martinez invited women wrestlers to EVOLVE since the first show, this left Lauren with a lot of work to do. Shotzi Blackheart in turn made it her mission to cut Lauren off before she could make any "progress".

  • The BBC has been trying to avert (and risk enforcing) this trope on radio (and TV) panel shows since 2014, mandating the invitation of female comedians and saying that there is no reason to have all-male panel shows.
  • The Brewing Network's Justin tries hard to make sure there is at least one woman on The Session- usually it's the chat moderator, with the role mostly filled in the early years by Daniela and afterwards by Beevo. Occasionally Suzie Q would join the crew. Listeners have criticized the show as being overly blokey as a result. The other shows are almost always 100% male, though Beevo occasionally makes a contribution to The Sour Hour, as she is working at The Hop Grenade while the show is recorded.
  • Dead Ringers featured a primarily male cast, with a single female member. This allowed the male impressionists to stick to the impressions they were good at or otherwise fitted their voices (and on the TV adaptation, appearances), while the sole female impressionist had to be three times better because she had to do ALL the women.
  • I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue has a male cast, only qualifying for The Smurfette Principle when they have a female guest. The role of the five cast members are to have one host, and two teams of two comedians each. When Sandi Toksvig first appeared in 1997, she remarked how thrilled she was to be 'in the long line of women who have appeared on the show' (she was the third, after Jo Kendall and Denise Coffey, and the show had been running for 25 years.) This provoked considerable laughter from the audience, and a sort of 'oooh' noise from Tim Brooke-Taylor. Barry Cryer proceeded to make the apologetic comment "Well, they were all in the factories when we started!" note  There's also the scorer, the ever-delightful Samantha who "appears" on almost every episode.note 
  • I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again featured seven members, one of which was Jo Kendall, as the only female cast member.
  • The Burkiss Way had two Smurfettes in quick succession in an otherwise all-male cast: they were... yes, Denise Coffey, closely followed by Jo Kendall.
  • Betty Marsden was the only female performer to appear on Round the Horne and its predecessor, Beyond Our Ken.

  • William Shakespeare's works generally feature a slightly more realistic gender distribution, but there are a few notable exceptions.
    • Except for the brief appearance of her foil, Lady Macduff, (and, by interpretation, the witches), Lady Macbeth is the only female in the rather extensive cast of her husband's eponymous play.
    • Miranda is notably the only female in The Tempest. In fact, from her perspective, having grown up on an isolated Island of Mystery with only her father and two male servants, she is the only woman in the world.
  • Given that the original animated film had only two female members having an active role of the plot (Nala and Shenzi, incidentally each fulfilling the trope on their opposing sides), Julie Taymor of Broadway’s The Lion King’s stage adaptation states this was the reason behind Rafiki’s Gender Flip and bigger role throughout the story.

    Theme Parks 

  • Before becoming a comic book and animated series, the G.I. Joe toy line debuted with a single female character (Scarlett). It added a female villain (The Baroness, first introduced in the comics). For a while, G.I. Joe added one woman per year, plus variations on the existing characters.
  • Before becoming an animated series, the Masters of the Universe toy line debuted with a single female character (Teela), and after the debut, added a female villain to the team (Evil Lynn). It eventually spun off an entire Distaff Counterpart franchise, She Ra Princess Of Power, which featured only three MALE characters amongst an otherwise all-female cast.
  • Across LEGO's various themes:
    • In BIONICLE:
      • Every major Toa team is composed of five males and only one female.
      • The Matoran villages; the story focuses on six One Gender "Tribes" of Matoran but only the tribe of water is female; consequently all but two female characters are coloured blue. More Matoran tribes exist and are mentioned in the Expanded Universe, to avert the trope: eleven male tribes, three female (Water, Lightning, and Psionics), and a tribe of Light composed of both genders (for what it's worth, the tribe of Plant Life was intended to be female, but a typo set the tribe's male status in stone forever).
      • Most villainous groups avert the Principle, such as the Piraka or the Barraki, by being entirely male.
      • The Phantoka/Mistika sets zig-zag this. As the Phantoka consisted of half of the Toa Nuva (Pohatu, Kopaka and Lewa) and half of the Makuta (Antroz, Chirox and Vamprah). The Mistika, however, have two females: Gali and Gorast. Gorast is a special case of this trope: She's the only female of the Makuta species left. And then she dies when the energy storms in Karda Nui start up.
      • When the focus shifted to the Agori race on another planet, it was established that their tribes don't have the one gender rule. In theory, there can be more females than there were before since no one tribe has to be malenote , and said females could be of any tribe. In practice, only one female character was introduced as a set in the one-and-a-half years of this story... and she was still the blue one. Supporting material discusses this somewhat — the story arc in question focuses on arena gladiators with survival of the race as a whole at stake and it's mentioned that female gladiators are generally less common because the villagers are less inclined to put their faith in female gladiators, which they perceive to be weaker. Of course, said sole female gladiator introduced really isn't at all fond of the sentiment.
    • Hero Factory has a core group with a single female character, Natalie Breez. The backstory attempts to even out the ratio, but none of those female characters were added to the toyline.
    • In Life on Mars, there is exactly one female character: Cassiopeia, a female Martian (distinguished from the others by her eyelashes).
    • LEGO's Minifigures series averts by utilizing Two Girls to a Team: each series of 16 figures includes two female minifigures.
    • For the longest time, Mixels was stuck in Chromosome Casting (even though the Mixels have No Biological Sex, they were still all male-coded). It took until the third year of the run into introduce the first female-coded character, a female Flexer teacher. However, females had been hinted at for the longest while.

    Web Animation 
  • The trope is discussed in GEOWeasel, and referred to as "the law of webtoons". The same episode introduces the main female character, Sapphire, who is the only female character to appear for a while, though some later episodes feature Cass along with Sapphire before the series goes back to Sapphire being the only girl.
  • Homestar Runner:
    • Initially, Marzipan was its only female character. The fact that it uses such a Minimalist Cast makes her the only female character in the universe. She lampshades this fact, found here. This was spoofed in a special feature on the "Everything Else vol. 2" DVD, Why Come Only One Girl?. The commentary to Why Come Only One Girl? points out that Teen Girl Squad eventually became their "new female outlet".
    • The Cheat Commandos, as a parody of '80s cartoons, do this explicitly with "Foxface", whose action figure boasts "Lady Type!" and "Not One of The Guys!!" The latter is a direct reference to the token females of G.I. Joe.
  • Recess Reindeer has Svetlana, the only female in the short, alongside the males, Richie and Deegan.
  • In Red vs. Blue, Tex is very much aware that she's the only girl, until another is introduced in the fifth season.
  • The Senpai Club has a club made out of boys who dislike girls. The Senpais in the club are Hero-senpai, Bowl Cut-senpai, Gang Leader-senpai, Rock n Roll-senpai, and Lady-senpai. Lady-senpai is, as her name suggests, a girl and not a boy.
  • The Bravest Warriors usually play this straight, as lampshaded by Beth in the page quote, but avert this trope when Plum tags along on missions.

    Web Original 
  • After Hours has four friends on camera. Katie is the only girl amongst three boys.
  • With CollegeHumor's Hardly Working skits, Sarah Schneider as the only female.
  • Feminist Frequency has made several episodes dedicated to discussing the Smurfette Principle, and even has a few additional complaints to make in reation to it.
  • The Nostalgia Chick talks about this in a video titled "The Smurfette Principle". At that point, she was also an example of it, though two other women joined the site since, and That Guy with the Glasses, as a site, has gone on to build a larger female cast. Her hiring was, in fact, an attempt by That Guy with the Glasses to apply The Smurfette Principle: there were no female reviewers on the site at the time, and the site advertised a contest specifically to find a Distaff Counterpart to The Nostalgia Critic.
  • Noob has a decent number of female members, but the titular guild spent time with just one woman early in the work's run before introducing its female Honorary True Companion. The fact was blatant in the webseries, but the first installements of both the novels and the comic made sure to introduce the Honorary True Companion before the end. The two elite teams both have only one female player and a male Sixth Ranger, plus one of them took in its male Team Wannabe over the course of the series. One of these teams got a second female member, but only in the novel storyline.
  • Mari Takahashi is the only female member of Smosh Games. Although this trope is averted if the people from the main Smosh channel are included in the team, since we'd also have Olivia and Courtney.
  • Lindsay Jones is the only female cast member of Achievement Hunter. While she is the only woman on camera, there are three other women who work for the division in behind the scenes capacities, and are occasionally mentioned or seen in their videos.

Alternative Title(s): Token Girl, Smurfette Principle, Token Female


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