Follow TV Tropes


Token Minority Couple

Go To
Sponsored by Pantone Connect.
"Hey there, other black person in the room. Wanna engage in a little... desegregation?"

When the writers want to give the Token Minority a love life, but are in a bind because either A) most of the character's options are already taken, or B) the writers (or producers) would rather avoid the controversy of interracial romance. Thankfully, the latter isn't much of an issue anymore, although it hasn't entirely gone away, but there remains some instances of "Like Goes with Like" in fiction.

This comes in two varieties:

  • Tailor-Made Partner: The writers attempt to remove the label of tokenism by adding a similar character later, like a black female after a black male. Would be hypothetically successful, except she is usually a Distaff Counterpart who is quite clearly going to be paired off with the token at some point and will not be fully integrated with the rest of the cast. Extra points if she is the only other minority character to ever appear on the show.

  • Independently-Made Partner: Two minority characters are established independently of each other. If they have any interactions at all, it's as friends and nothing more. But then later seasons find them getting "friendlier," even though they have nothing in common beyond their race...and sometimes not even that, with them just both being racial minorities.

It is Not a Subversion if the lovebirds are different minority races. For example, it's been a pretty common Hollywood practice since the '90s to give a black lead a Hispanic love interest, to avoid the Minority Show Ghetto or the perception of strict racial divides if the show is diverse, but without the cultural baggage of pairing them with a white person.

Homo/bisexuality is the most common non-racial variant. This can be tricky since a same-gender love interest must by necessity be sexually compatible, so the key thing to look for is if their relationship develops at a realistic pace and the character is subtly introduced, or if Billy Queer just pops up and is clearly going to get in the token gay's pants. But if the show features two gay/bi characters of the same gender with no real connection to each other and no reason to start dating, it's another straight example if they get in bed.

Another variant happens in the World of Funny Animals, where everybody is a different anthropomorphic animal, but no matter how anthropomorphic, they are, only those of the same exact species will truly hook up. For example, Bob Kitty is the only cat in the show and has no love interests until Alice the cat shows up. This is less Fantastic Racism and more to avoid the potential Squick of an Interspecies Romance. note 

See also Same Race Means Related, which includes cases where a new racial/ethnic minority character is related to (or assumed to be related to) an existing one.

It is unnecessary to list aversions since that tends to mean rattling off the character's entire dating history.


    open/close all folders 

Tailor-Made Partner

    Comic Books 
  • Frankie and Maria, and several one-shot couples, from Archie Comics.
  • Lampshaded in an issue of The New Mutants. Dani tries hooking up Karma with a lesbian they meet at a coffeehouse, and Karma is offended on principle.
  • An exampled mixed with Pair the Spares appears in Avengers: The Children's Crusade. Patriot (now the new Captain America) is randomly paired up with Samantha Wilson, a previously unseen relative of The Falcon.
  • In Runaways, within five minutes of coming out as a lesbian, Karolina Dean was paired off with Xavin, a genderfluid Skrull prince.
  • In The Walking Dead, all of the men Michonne has been in a relationship with have been fellow African-Americans.
  • Subverted in Jem and the Holograms (IDW), unlike in the original Jem cartoon. Shana and Tony are still an Official Couple but they meet on their own and their relationship is more natural. Most of the pairings are in fact interracial. There's Kimber (white) and Stormer (half-Middle Eastern, half-Israeli), Rio (Ambiguously Brown Latino) and Jerrica (white), Jerrica and her crush on Riot (half-white, half-Asian), and Aja (Chinese) and Craig (half-Middle Eastern, half-Israeli).

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In the Twilight (2005) film, this overlaps with Pair the Spares as some of Bella's friends are given a Race Lift, pairing minorities Eric and Angela (Asian and Hispanic respectively) and white Mike and Jessica. What's more is that Eric initially pined for Bella, who went with the white Edward (and Eric's crush subsequently vanished).
  • Margarita with a Straw: Laila and Khanum, who are both disabled queer women of South Asian ancestry, begin a relationship. It's justified as they bond, in part, precisely because of their shared traits.
  • High School Musical: In the films, Chad and Taylor - two of the only main black characters - are paired up together.
  • Hearts Beat Loud: Sam is Black and a lesbian, like the woman she dates, Rose. They are the only people of color in the film.

  • The Babysitters Club:
    • The Babysitters Club did this in one of the Super Specials where a Japanese boy was introduced as a Satellite Love Interest for Claudia.
    • Similarly, Jessi went on a trip outside Stoneybrook once and met Quint, a black Satellite Love Interest.
  • Set up and then subverted in Harry Potter. Hagrid, a half-giant, quickly falls for another half-giant Madame Maxime and works hard to woo her after the meeting. After some back-and-forth they become very close and attempt to date... Then subverted. While they're both half-giants, Hagrid is an uneducated, rough-and-tumble British groundskeeper and Madame Maxime is a well-to-do headmistress of a classy French magical school. The fact that they have the same lineage isn't enough to bridge that gap and they wind up parting ways. Also, Maxine is in denial about her heritage due to prejudice against half-giants, so Hagrid's calling her one quite bluntly almost torpedoes the relationship from the beginning.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Every time The Love Boat guest-starred a black female and not a black male, said black female would be after Isaac and/or vice-versa.
  • This is done in Hogan's Heroes. When a black woman turns out to have access to secret Nazi plans, she also turns out to have been the high school girlfriend of Kinchloe (the only black member of the group). They make out at the end of the episode.
  • Likewise, the Baywatch episode "Homecoming" decided to give Garner a romantic subplot involving a black lifeguard named Katherine. Unsurprisingly, Katherine never appeared before this episode, and completely disappeared once it was over.
  • Subverted on Flash Forward. Stan Wedeck, who is black, is accused by one of his adversaries of having had an extramarital affair. Later, we meet the woman in question, who is also black. This, along with the friendly way they greet each other when he visits her apartment, implies the accusation is true. But it turns out the actual affair took place between the woman and the President of the United States, who is white. Stan merely helped cover it up.
  • Mocked by quite a few watchers and reviewers of The Vampire Diaries - at the start of Season 2, a hot black guy appears, and everyone immediately goes "Riiight, he's so it looks like Bonnie has a love life as well as the others." Of course, he died.
  • Psych: Gus's two long-term girlfriends are Indian and black.
  • Star Trek:
    • Averted in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Gamesters of Triskelion". The original script called for a muscular black male to be Uhura's drill thrall (and unwanted "breeding partner") on Triskelion. However, associate producer Robert Justman objected against it, claiming that it reinforces the "separate but equal" policies often seen on television, and thus Uhura's drill thrall was changed to a white male.
    • On the Deep Space Nine episode "The Visitor", the alternate future version of Jake Sisko marries a black Bajoran woman, the only black Bajoran to be seen on the show outside of blink-and-you'll-miss-it actors in the background.
    • And what about Jake's father? His first and his second wife are black. And most of his love interests (even the alien he crushed on in "Second Sight" was black).
    • Geordi LaForge also once had a black alien love interest. Subverted with his crush on white Leah Brahms, though the writers had intended her to also be black (and a descendant of Dr. Richard Daystrom of TOS), they just neglected to make that clear to the casting department. He also once dated a white woman on the crew as well (though briefly).
    • Tuvok's wife also had a rather dark complexion. This could be a result of the show's creators realizing that the notoriously sunny, arid planet Vulcan would favor a darker skin tone - most times you see a Vulcan in Voyager or Enterprise, they at least have a decent tan. However, barring some minor background extras and bit characters (such as a Vulcan midwife in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and a council member in Star Trek (2009)), the only other significant black Vulcans in the franchise's history, before or since, are Tuvok's wife and son.
  • This happens in Stargate Atlantis with Teyla. From the second season, she isn't the only alien or the only person of color who's a main character, but when Rachel Luttrell got pregnant, the character they revealed she was having an offscreen relationship with was shown to have a very similar skin tone to hers, despite the fact that her people are shown to be of various races.
  • Lampshaded on Glee when Kurt tries to set up Mercedes on a date. She notices that he's "One of five black guys in the school" (even though Lima's over a quarter black in real life) and is not impressed.
    • Later there was Shane, Mercedes' jock boyfriend whom she met between seasons two and three, though things got complicated once her first boyfriend Sam came back to McKinley High.
    • Played straight with Kurt and Blaine. When we first meet Blaine, even if you weren't following all the online rumors and whatnot, it was clear that he would inevitably end up as Kurt's boyfriend. And when Mercedes hangs out with them, she pictures them both saying "gaygaygaygaylittlepursegay", complete with mentions of favorite Vogue magazine covers and discussing Patti LuPone's new book. Thankfully, Blaine has since developed beyond just being Kurt's boyfriend, to the point that he had better chemistry with the other members of New Directions than Kurt ever did. The writing staff tried to give a red herring by saying Kurt was going to get a boyfriend who was a new character but, implied that it was Sam. Then his intro episode happened. Hilarity ensued.
    • In Season 4, Artie starts dating Emma's niece Betty, who's also in a wheelchair, even though he was already dating Sugar in a relationship that didn't reek of this trope.
  • Pretty Little Liars are more and more clearly following this trope. Every single lesbian that shows up on the show turns into a love interest for Emily, including one who at first bullied Emily and held her head under water. The patterns seem so far to be unaffected by her whether or not she even is single at the moment.
  • In Combat Hospital, Suzy Chao seems to have been introduced only to give Bobby Trang a love interest.
  • Parodied on Little Britain where Lou sets up Andy on a date with a disabled woman, believing they will get on wonderfully since they both use wheelchairs. Andy dislikes her, and when Lou leaves them alone, Andy gets up and pushes her wheelchair down a slope.
  • In 7th Heaven Simon's friend Nigel says that there's a desirable girl in his class who could have picked anyone to be her boyfriend and she picked him. He comes to find out that she's black like him.
  • Season 8 of Degrassi has an episode where Connor, who's black, helps get KC and Clare, who are white, together. In gratitude, the writers give him a black girl as an admirer. It's like when Liberty (non-token black) is rejected by Sean but in the end, she finds out that his black friend likes her.
  • Criminal Minds set Derek Morgan (black) up with a black woman who was involved in one of the cases, even though they didn't seem to have much chemistry. Much later, Morgan mentions that he's dating his neighbor. When we do see her, it turns out she's black as well. He also had a one-episode flirtation with a Latina detective and initially displayed interest in JJ's black replacement while she was on maternity leave. He does have a running flirtation with (white) Garcia, but it's more playful than romantic or sexual, and no relationship ever develops.
  • On ER, Peter Benton's relationship with fellow surgeon Elizabeth Corday fizzled because actor Eriq LaSalle didn't like what he felt were Unfortunate Implications—that his character had previously had lousy relationships with two other black women, yet now had a functional one with the white Elizabeth. Sure enough, the following season, a black female doctor was brought on to be his love interest, despite them having zero chemistry (but very similar personalities).
  • Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Robert E. was the town's sole black resident. . .until Grace came to town and they fell in Love at First Sight.
  • In As the World Turns:
    • Bonnie and Derek (the only two black characters) were paired up.
    • If a gay character showed up, chances are they would be introduced as a love interest for Luke (and always male, of course) or his boyfriend Noah to cause tension in their relationship, though sometimes they were just introduced as a friend.
  • Pair of Kings was setting up Brady with Mikayla in the first series, but there was no one for Boomer ... until the prom episode brought in another black character as a love interest for him.
  • On The Big Bang Theory, when Penny sees Raj's (Indian) ex-girlfriend Lucy (White), she comments to the other girls "For some reason, I always pictured her as Indian." Bernadette tells her flat out "That reason's called racism." At the end of the episode, Penny agrees to set Raj up with one of her coworkers, who's Indian (they end up not dating because Raj was a little messed up at the time, but Penny was definitely and admittedly trying to invoke this trope). This trope is Lampshaded again in another episode, where the guys are trying to find a girl to distract Sheldon's rival Dennis Kim.
    Howard: We need a hot fifteen-year-old Asian girl with a thing for smart guys.
    Penny: What?
    Leonard: Howard, that's racist. Any fifteen year-old girl will do the trick.
  • What I Like About You introduces a love interest Jill for the black Gary in Season 1. She's also black. He is shown to have had a crush on Val for a few years, but nothing comes of that and all Val's love interests are white. But subverted majorly later on when he hooks up with Tina, who is white.
  • Charmed had a tendency to only pair the three female leads up with white love interests. Despite living in San Francisco, the majority of their love interests were white. All of the sisters marry white guys, while the token black character Darryl is married to the black Sheila. The only minority love interests for the sisters were the Asian Mark from "Dead Man Dating" for Piper and the black Mason in "Enter the Demon" for Paige.
  • Dates: Kate and Erica are the only interracial couple and the only LGBT couple (Mia's played by an actress of mixed-race ancestry, but the character's ethnicity isn't brought up, though both her love interests are white men).
  • NOS4A2: In the second season, Maggie's girlfriend is also black.
  • The White Lotus:
    • Paula, who's Black, is secretly with Native Hawaiian Kai in Season 1.
    • In Season 2 it's lampshaded. Harper complains that she (of Puerto Rican descent) and her husband Ethan (of East Asian descent) are probably the acceptably white-passing diverse friends of the rich white Sullivans, and indeed they stand out as two minorities in a majority-Caucasian batch of guests.
  • Burden of Truth:
    • Owen Beckbie and Diane Evans, who are Indigenous Canadian and Guyanese-Canadian respectively, have a relationship.
    • In Season 4, Luna (who's mixed race) dates an Indigenous woman named Stevie.
  • The Republic of Sarah: AJ, who's Black, and Alexis (Ambiguously Brown, played by a Latina) are having an affair at the beginning (plus being a same-gender couple).
  • Jupiter's Legacy: Gabriella and Jacinda, the two Latinas on the show (going by their names at least) are in a relationship, while the only explicit LGBT+ characters as well.
  • Impulse: Townes, an autistic boy, discovers that his online girlfriend Zoe is missing her left arm (she uses a prosthetic replacement) when they finally meet. She was scared for him to see, as people sometimes are pretty uncomfortable due to her arm. Townes likes it though, and understands what she means as a result of his autism. She is very pleased by this. Both of them are the only disabled characters in the show.
  • The Order: Ambiguously Brown Lilith and Nicole (a young black woman) have a mutual attraction, but circumstances stop them from getting into a real relationship.
  • Hacks:
    • Marcus is a gay black man, with his boyfriend Wilson being dark-skinned (played by a Latino).
    • Eva meets a lesbian couple on the cruise later — one of them is of East Asian ancestry and the other is olive-skinned.
  • Dynasty1981: The show only had two recurring black male characters, Brady and Jonathan, who were both love interests for Dominique.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Technically speaking, exploited by the main cast of Retail: when Cooper and Val (who avert this trope) were in danger of being caught in a relationship which would at best result in one of them being moved to a different store (and more likely would result in Stuart, who hates Cooper, firing him), Cooper enlists the help of his black friend to pose as (the also black) Val's boyfriend Rick Cooper to make it look like Josh was mistaken about Cooper and Val.

  • The 1939 Broadway musical Too Many Girls paired up its two Hispanic characters, Pepe and Manuelito. Interestingly, the movie cast had the non-Hispanic Ann Miller opposite Desi Arnaz (making his screen debut).
  • From Show Boat, we have Joe and Queenie, the two main black characters.

    Western Animation 
  • Teen Titans (2003):
    • Bumblebee basically flirts with Cyborg in every episode she's in, despite the fact that the two never shared a romance in the comics. Word of God insists it was unintentional, though. They knew people were going to ship them because they're both black and tried to make the ship as unappealing as possible by having them constantly bicker, but their bickering just came off as Slap-Slap-Kiss instead, especially since both characters are naturally playful and competitive.
    • Notably subverted in the comic book continuation, where Cyborg has a steady girlfriend, Sarah Simms, who is Caucasian. Yet, Bumblebee and Herald (also black) are implied to be going out later on as a nod toward their being married in mainstream DC comics.
  • Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts: Benson (gay) and Troy (pansexual). Although Benson is black and Troy is mixed Latino-Asian, this counts as Troy was introduced to be a love interest for Benson.
  • Jem:
    • When Shana meets a black guy at a party, no sooner does the gang see him that the other girls basically shove Shana into his path. They of course become the only permanent recurring couple of the show.
    • Averted in other cases though. Jerrica is the girlfriend of the Ambiguously Brown Rio and Aja (who is Asian) is dating Craig (who is white).
    • The only time the Mexican-American Raya has a love interest is when the band goes to Mexico and Raya has Ship Tease with Luis. It only lasts one episode.
  • Winx Club's Layla and her Ambiguously Brown fiancé Nabu. Layla was introduced in season two and Nabu late in season three, and it was established at their first meeting that they had a lot in common. But while Layla was an obvious fit into The Winx Club, Nabu didn't fit as easily into the boys' group, especially since he was the only non-Specialist. He wasn't even seen hanging out with them until season four, where he became the first main character of the series to die for real.
  • On Total Drama, Alejandro (Hispanic) and Heather (Asian) have a strong case of Belligerent Sexual Tension. (Despite being different races, it counts best as Tailor-Made Partner—Alejandro was introduced after Heather and is repeatedly played up as her Spear Counterpart.)
  • South Park parodies and then reconstructs this trope in "Cartman Finds Love" — a black girl named Nicole moves to town, and racist Cartman immediately decides that she has to get together with Token, previously the only black kid in school. At first Token won't even speak with her to avoid this trope, but eventually Cartman manipulates them to get together, only for Nicole to break up with Token when she misinterprets evidence of Cartman's plan to mean that Token was invoking this trope. Eventually Cartman manages to manipulate them back together, and the two decide that forcing themselves to not date due to their shared race was just as bad as forcing themselves to date due to their race.
  • Discussed on The Cleveland Show — Junior meets a couple who says that he'd be perfect for their neighbor's granddaughter, and he wonders if that means she's also black or also fat. Roberta suggests both, which is fine with him. ("I like fat black girls!")

Independent Partner:

    Comic Books 
  • Ryu and Chun-Li from Malibu's Street Fighter comic, due to Chun-Li being the only prominent female character in the series (this was way before Cammy, Sakura, and Rose were introduced in the games).
  • The infamous pairing of Storm and the Black Panther. It's been outright stated by Reginald Hudlin, the writer of BP at the time, that he married them because they were the "two most prominent black characters in Marvel." Prior to this, they had met in an issue of Marvel Team-Up that made it clear that while there was an attraction between them when they were teenagers, they'd both moved on since then. When they met again in Christopher Priest's Black Panther run, it was once again clear that while there was a spark between them, they weren't destined to be together. Then suddenly under Hudlin, it was Retconned that they'd been the love of each other's lives since forever.
  • Storm and Bishop have never been more than just friends, but this has not stopped fanfiction pairings of the two.
    • Storm broke up with Forge (a Cheyenne) not that long after Bishop joined the team, prompting speculation that Storm would become involved with Bishop.
  • Generation X was just as bad with this. It's as if someone was forcing the kids to date along color lines. Synch and Monet were arbitrarily paired off despite hints of romance with Asian Jubilee (though it did add fire to the girls' rivalry), and there's no plausible reason why Husk put up with Chamber's self-loathing for so long when she had a much healthier friendship with Latino Skin, other than the fact that they're both white.
  • Reptil got hit with both categories of this trope in Avengers Academy. He was initially paired up with Anya Corazon aka Spider-Girl (this was dropped rather quickly, however), and later ended up with the newly-introduced White Tiger. Throughout most of the series, however, he's pursuing a white girl, Finesse, and only starts getting together with White Tiger after accepting everything between them is over.
  • Lampshaded in an issue of Justice League of America, where Congorilla tries to pair his friend Starman up with Tasmanian Devil. He later admits that as far as he knows, the two men have absolutely nothing in common other than both being gay.
  • The Young Avengers' Hulkling and Wiccan might be immensely popular, especially among GLBT readers, but there's no shortage of fans of any persuasion who would like to know how they fell in love, instead of taking for granted that the two gay boys on the team would automatically get it on.
    • Though to be fair the boys are shown to have a lot in common, such as their similar taste in comics, movies, and television, similar moral values, and senses of humor. Basically, they're both huge nerds who value family, friendship, and crime-fighting so it makes sense that they would like each other.
    • One of the reasons why Kieron Gillen, writer of Young Avengers vol.2, made the team's Sixth Ranger (former member of New X-Men, Prodigy) come out as bisexual was his dislike for this trope. As he put it:
    "Seeing a gay character in a book is one thing, but if thereís only one gay character on the team, you donít get to do any stories based around active pursuit of their sexuality. You have two characters? Your romance is limited to do they do it or do they not? Add at least one more, and the matrix becomes more complicated. Thereís a different sort of dramatic potential there, from the classic love triangle to something a little more subtle and everything in between."
    • It's later implied by Loki that Wiccan may have subconsciously used his powers to make Hulkling fall in love with him, though this is never confirmed. And of course, it's Loki.
  • The situation in Silver Age superhero teams with just one female member was often somewhat comparable, although here at least the token female had a choice. But what really were the odds that e. g. Cyclops would fall in love with Marvel Girl, who was not only the only female X-Man, but also the only woman with whom he had any social contact at all due to the responsibilities of being the team leader?
  • In X-Statix, the writers of the X-Statix movie felt it was more "appropriate" for the Anarchist to get together with Venus Dee Milo in the movie. While this is mainly so they can hold the Conflict Ball with her boyfriend the Orphan, it's implied that they got pushed together by Executive Meddling because they're both black.
  • When Aquagirl first joined the Teen Titans, it seemed like she was being Ship Teased with Static. However, as soon as Bryan Q. Miller took over, he decided to put her in a Love Triangle with Blue Beetle (who like Aquagirl, is Latino) and Traci 13 (who is half-Chinese).
  • Archie Comics has Nancy and Chuck. They were created five years apart. Nancy is something of a Satellite Love Interest to Chuck and rarely appears without him. They are still a couple in Afterlife with Archie, however Nancy is cheating on him with Ginger. Ginger and Nancy count as well as Ginger is Latina.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Chad and Taylor from High School Musical, both the respective Token Black Friend of the main couple.
  • In The Matrix films, there's a lot of this. Neo (white) ends up with Trinity (white), while Morpheus (black) only has one strongly implied relationship- Niobe (black), whose implied former love interest was Jason Locke (black). Link (black) is married to a black woman too, and Dozer's (black) widow is also black. Switch (white) with Apoch (white) in the first film too, and Mouse's (white) attraction to his own fictional "ideal woman", the Woman in Red (white).
  • Subverted in the 2000 adaptation of Love's Labour's Lost. While Maria and Dumaine are both played by black actors, they instead fall in love with Longaville and Katherine respectively (as the play has it), both of whom are played by white actors.
  • Lampshaded by Danny Glover and Alfre Woodard's characters in Grand Canyon after Kevin Kline acts as matchmaker for both of them. On their first date, they realize that they're probably the only two black people he knows and laugh about it.
  • Notably averted in Love Actually, as none of the minority characters are paired with other minorities. Aurelia (Portuguese) is paired with the white Jamie, black Peter marries white Juliet, white Sam's love interest is black Joanna and minor character Tony (black) makes a love connection with a white girl called Carla. Though if you want to get technical, the two characters from the American continent - Sarah (American) and Karl (Brazilian) do hook up.
  • Sex and the City: The Movie has Stanford and Anthony get together (with their wedding serving as the opening scene of the sequel), even though they hated one another on the show. Most egregiously, they'd both expressed annoyance when Charlotte tried to pair them up back in Season 4.
  • Love, Simon:
    • Abby and Nick, who are both Black, get together near the end. They're two of three Black kids in the main cast.
    • After Simon is outed, it's just assumed by the vice principal then that he's with Ethan, the only other gay student there (who's out). This is not true-they don't even have much in common, but he doesn't get their denial.

  • In one of the Sabrina the Teenage Witch novelisations, Sabrina gets jealous when Harvey shows interest in a Chinese transfer student and suggests to Mark Wong that he date her since he's Asian-American. He coldly replies "Do you only want to date people from the United States?" The subversion becomes even more pronounced when he becomes Sabrina's love interest for that book (though they don't actually hook up - Sabrina was still with Harvey at the time).
  • Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating: Invoked as Hani seeks out Ishu, her year's only other Bengali or South Asian girl, for a fake relationship. Since it turns out Ishu is queer, this works out. Eventually the relationship becomes real as they fall in love.

    Live-Action TV 
  • All Rise: Emily, a Latina, gets together with Luke, who's Black, early on in the series. When season 2 then rolls around, they are taking a break due to issues caused by the Black Lives Matter protests back in July, but they still care about each other greatly.
  • Castle: The only two minorities in the main cast (aside from the much-older and already-married Montgomery) are suddenly together in one episode, with no mention of prior attraction. In fact, this is the first time we see them interacting one-on-one. It's then revealed that everyone else knows about it... despite no one ever referencing it before. Seeing as how everyone else is in some sort of relationship at the time, it's also a case of Pair the Spares.
  • Shirley (who is black) actually Plays With this trope in one of the early episodes of Community.
    Shirley: I don't see why you and Britta aren't together. Two cute white people going to school together just seems right.
    Jeff: Shirley, we're not pandas in a zoo.
  • Degrassi: The Next Generation: Jimmy and Hazel. It doesn't help much that Hazel really doesn't do anything.
    • It's unfortunate that their relationship was treated as such because, despite the fact that they were both black, they actually came from very different backgrounds. Jimmy was rich and very Canadianized. Hazel was a Muslim from Somalia.
  • Doctor Who: "The End of Time" reveals out of nowhere that Mickey and Martha have gotten married in their final appearance. While their personalities do in fact make a good match for each other, the facts that they had a negligible amount of screen time together, both of them are black, and Martha dumped her white fiancé Tom offscreen (or, rather, he vanished) make it look like this trope. Unintended, Unfortunate Implications.
    • That Mickey was Rose's boyfriend, but she chose the Doctor over him, and Martha pined after the Doctor, who didn't notice and was hung up on Rose, makes this Pair the Spares, while Rose and the Doctor being white adds to the unintended Unfortunate Implications.
    • Allegedly the relationship between the two of them was going to be developed in Torchwood: Children of Earth, but then neither of the actors were able to appear in it.
    • Donna Noble marries a black man in the same episode. All signs make it clear that this was supposed to be the end result of the character development they would have gotten if they had been cast members on Torchwood. It's just an unfortunate coincidence that invokes this trope.
  • Possibly justified in Everything's Gonna Be Okay with Matilda and Drea, who both happen to be autistic. Previously, Matilda had been obsessed with "fitting in" and finding a "normal" boyfriend and tried to hide her autism by drinking, which led to her losing her virginity to a random boy while drunk. Her relationship with Drea, by contrast, does not require her to "fit in" (and indeed, precludes her from fitting in, because Drea can't "pass" for normal), and because Drea has her own set of issues, Matilda actually has to learn to consider the needs of someone other than herself, which leads to Character Development.
  • Glee:
    • The fandom has a tendency to ship Matt/Mercedes—the two black characters in the first season—before Matt was Put on a Bus, and Tina/Mike, the two Asians.
    • Tina/Artie begin as this, shipping the two "disabled" members of the Glee Club together. In fact, Artie is explicitly attracted to Tina for her disability (stuttering), thinking they had a shared empathy. Subverted when she reveals she had been faking the stutter all along.
    • In the second season, Tina dumped Artie for Mike over the summer when they both worked at "Asian Camp." What makes this a particularly annoying example is because their race was almost never brought up in the first season. They were two kids in the club who happened to be Asian. Come Season 2, it became all they ever talked about before being dialed back in Season 4 when they broke up.
  • Misfits: Initially played straight with Alisha and Curtis, who are both Black, but averted after they split up.
  • The Office (US):
    • Spoofed when Pam becomes obsessed with hooking up her gay workmate Oscar to the handyman who comes to the office after she finds out he's also gay. "Yes, they're the only two gay people I know. But I think they belong together."
    • In a later episode, Pam sets up her Indian American pediatrician with her Indian American co-worker Kelly. She insists she paired them up not because they were the same race but because she wants to get Kelly out of her destructive relationship with Ryan.
  • The Outpost:
    • Janzo and Naya, the two characters whose actors are South Asians, get together in Season 2. They break up after discovering they're brother and sister.
    • Season 3 has Janzo get with Wren, the only young woman of color in the cast who isn't his sister.
  • Tom (Indian American) and Ann (Ambiguously Brown) on Parks and Recreation, though only for a brief time and overshadowed by the What Does She See in Him? factor. Ann is a Straight Man and considered hugely attractive by everyone while Tom is a sleazy Casanova Wannabe. Their relationship mostly consisted of Ann trying to convince Tom to cut out his usual antics and gimmicks with Tom completely failing to get the message. Fans pretty much spent the entire arc waiting and hoping for the inevitable breakup.
  • Pivoting: Sarah's an Asian-American who's only paired up with women of color, which includes her ex-wife. Brian, the sole man she has sex with, is black too.
  • Parodied in a Saturday Night Live sketch, where a couple tries to hook up their wheelchair-bound friend with a woman they think will be perfect for him, who just so happens to also be in a wheelchair. Naturally this leads to a lot of awkwardness, but the two actually end up getting along wonderfully (once they start discussing their wheelchairs).
  • Turk (black) and Carla (Hispanic) on Scrubs. Significant in that both are the only minority characters in the main cast. It's a lot more... blatant... in the first episode, where Turk hits on Carla (and only Carla) the moment they meet.
  • Sesame Street: Luis and Maria. Susan and Gordon (though they were already married when the show began). Averting this trope was one of the reasons Gina and Savion were paired up in a semi-romantic friendship, and an episode specifically dealt with the problems it might cause.
  • Sex/Life: In Season 2, Billie (who is half Persian/half white) and Sasha (Black), the two main women of color on the show, both get paired to men with the same ethnicities. Billie dates Majid, and Kam (Sasha's ex-boyfriend/fiance) reconnects with her.
  • The Spanish Princess: Lina and Oviedo, the only two black characters on the show, get married. Justified, as their historical counterparts married.
  • Strange Empire: Kat and Caleb, who are the two Métis (i.e. mixed white and First Nations people) on the show, get together over the course of it. However, to be fair Kat's husband before was white, and it's justified since they share a bond based on their heritage.
  • Implied with the UMA crew in Ultraman: Towards the Future, where the team's African-Australian Sergeant Lloyd Wilder is in a relationship with their Chinese-Australian Ace Pilot, Kim Shao-min.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Nothing to do with Shipping, but this principle also appears in Professional Wrestling: there is a maxim that, if a promotion features two black wrestlers, they will always either be in a tag team together or feuding against one another. Even in 2008, the (black) Shelton Benjamin was the man chosen to feud against the debuting (and so black he rapped his way to the ring) R-Truth.
  • This extends to the women too. Naomi and Cameron were the only two black girls in FCW and got paired together in a team, later getting called up to be The Funkadactyls. Notably when Total Divas got started and they feuded with the Latina Bella Twins, two new Divas got put with each of them. The Bellas got the obviously Latina Eva Marie, while the Funkadactyls got JoJo - who is Latina too but looks more like a light-skinned black girl.
  • Alicia Fox has managed to subvert this. Although lighter-skinned, she's clearly black and has been paired with white Superstars such as Edge and Zack Ryder. She did get some Ship Tease with the black Booker T, but the attraction was started by them using the same Finishing Move (the scissors kick) rather than race.
  • It seemed a little odd that when Sasha Banks was called up, she was put in the Team BAD stable with Naomi and Tamina Snuka. While the latter two had good reason to be in a stable (they're in-laws, Naomi marrying one of Tamina's cousins), the only apparent reason for Sasha to join them was that she was black as well. What's more is that the Bella Twins (Latina) had Alicia Fox (black) in their stable, whereas Team PCB was made up entirely of white girls.
  • Alberto Del Rio only seemed to have Ship Tease with the Latina women on the roster - Rosa Mendes and the Bella Twins. In real life it's a different story - he dated the very white Paige.

  • Parodied in Kid Radd. The Token Minority is a black man who in his original game was a shopkeeper, and since he was always behind the shop counter, the lower half of his body was never animated—he levitates instead. He's paired not with another black, but with a nurse who's similarly half-nonexistent. (And yes, there is a joke about the physical disadvantages of this pairing.)
  • Subverted outright in Girls with Slingshots, when the two known lesbians in the cast meet each other, find that they have nothing in common, try to make it work anyway, and it turns into a giant disaster when everyone finds out Angel doesn't consider Thea her girlfriend, is cheating on her and isn't taking precautions against STDs with either partner.
  • Parodied in Dumbing of Age here. Go ahead, try to guess what Joyce's roommate looks like.
    • Then again, when the two actually meet:
    Joyce: Yeah, when I met him, I thought I should introduce you. But I was worried that'd be...racist because you two are both black.
    Sarah: Joyce, I don't care if it dissolves the 13th Amendment—if a boy looks like that, you fuckin' introduce me.
    Joyce: Noted.

    Video Games 
  • Mass Effect, surprisingly. In true Pair the Spares manner, if the player neither romanced Tali nor Garrus, they hook up with each other at the end of Part III. Justified insofar as they're both not just the only constant non-human members of Shepard's crew, but the only ones in general (apart from Joker) who are with you for the entire franchise; so it's logical they would have had enough time to get to know each other. (Also, they have the same amino acids as each other; coming into contact with proteins from any of the other species would result in allergic reactions)

    Western Animation 
  • Wade + Monique in the Kim Possible episode "The Cupid Effect," though it was played entirely for laughs. They were, at the time, sixteen and eleven, but it was a one-sided schoolboy crush on an older woman. Wade picks up a girl-of-the-week his own age at the end of the episode, who's white.
  • Some episodes of Hey Arnold! had the title character's Token Black Friend, Gerald, paired off with another major minority character Phoebe, who's half-Japanese and half-white.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
  • Wheeler and Linka, the only white Planeteers on Captain Planet.
    • This pairing was incredibly subversive, but not for racial reasons. Linka came from the Soviet Union, Wheeler from the United States, and the show started a little before the end of the Cold War...
  • For Daria's classmates Mack and Jodie, this seems to be the only thing keeping them together. Mack often feels neglected by Jodie due to her mountain of responsibilities, but not once does he ever explore other options, nor do any of his female classmates make those options known. Are we sure these are teenagers? But then again, there's a reason why his fanfic nickname is St. Mack. Both were stuck in being nearly the only black people in Lawndale. It's not much of a stretch to consider that while they genuinely like each other, their PD cred would be gone and become labeled as sellouts if either dated interracially.
  • When Blade guest-starred in a two-part episode of Spider-Man: The Animated Series, the writers gave him some serious Ship Tease with Terri Lee, including two separate kissing scenes.
  • Green Lantern (John Stewart) and Vixen in Justice League Unlimited might have counted, had Stewart not already been involved with, then had a mutual breakup with, Hawkgirl. (Which doubled as an Interspecies Romance.)
  • In Braceface, Brock (black) and Maria (half-Chinese, half-Italian) hooks up in the second season.
  • Young Justice:
    • A subtle, sci-fi example when Superboy and Miss Martian, the two alien team members, hook up.
    • In season two they've had an Offscreen Breakup, and now M'Gann is together with Lagoon Boy. Possibly unintentional, but they're both green.
    • For a whole season, no one was attracted to Aqualad, a black guy. Then Rocket, a black girl, joins the team near the end of season one and shows interest in him. However, the trope was averted since the relationship never went beyond a one-sided crush on Rocket's part.
      • Though prior to this, Aqualad was attracted to Tula, who was white. She ended up with Garth, Aqualad's white best friend, creating much angst for poor Aqualad.
    • The trope is averted at least twice: After a season's worth of UST, Kid Flash (white) winds up with Artemis (half-white, half-Vietnamese). Her sister Cheshire is shown to be still married to, but separated from, Red Arrow post-time-skip. Their parents, Paula and Sportsmaster, also avert this, though they are broken up now.
  • Ramone (Latino) and Flo (black) from Cars.
  • Jacobo (Hispanic) and Tasumi (Asian) on The Replacements.
  • Darren's first girlfriend in As Told by Ginger was Miranda, who is also black, though they quickly found out they couldn't work. Darren begins dating Ginger, who is white, however he breaks up with her for Simone, who is black. Ginger also gets a white love interest after she and Darren break up. Darren and Ginger eventually get back together and the Distant Finale has them Happily Married.
  • In Miraculous Ladybug, Nino (whose family comes from Morocco) and Alya (whose family comes from Martinique) realize they "have a lot in common" with each other after an episode that had revolved around a misunderstanding (Nino had a crush on Marinette, Adrien was coaching him, Marinette thought she was going to meet her longtime crush Adrien and Alya was helping her out, and... it's complicated, but Hilarity Ensues.) and begin dating. Precisely what they have in common other than being the only two dark-skinned members of the cast remains unknown.
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: Sheen, who's Latino, gets paired up with Libby, who's black.

Alternative Title(s): Token Shipping