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Token Trio

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From left to right: White female, white male, black male.

The Power Trio's answer to the Five-Token Band. It usually includes:

The end result manages to combine Token Minority and The Smurfette Principle: the Token Trio. Implicit in most cases is that the white male is the de facto head of the Power Trio—at the least, he'll play a more prominent visual or verbal role in the commercial. Only on rare occasions will the girl be recognizably a third race, such as Asian.

This trope is common in kids' advertising. If you want to sell a product like, say, Lucky Captain Rabbit King Nuggets to kids, you put kids in the commercials. That's basic demographic appeal. But you can't cast just any kids— you want three, all implied to be friends, and for a mix of reasons— political correctness, as well as representing the largest target demographics in the Western world with a minimum of actual effort.

Even outside of advertising, this is an incredibly frequent attribute of the Power Trio, where the white guy's status as The Hero is essentially guaranteed. Larger variety is Five-Token Band.

The Scott Westerfeld novel So Yesterday termed this phenomenon the 'Missing Black Woman Formation,' or MBWF.


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  • Pick any kids' food commercial from North America, particularly Lunchables. However, breakfast foods are the real offenders here.
  • Older Uniroyal tire commercials had three racers, a woman named "Uni" and two men named "Roy" and "Al."
  • The Three Musketeers, named after the chocolate, were respectively white, black and Ambiguously Brown
  • There's an advertisement for a particular doll out there that comes in three versions. They are, shot for shot, identical; the only difference is that the child and the doll the child is playing with are, respectively, white, black, and light-skinned Hispanic.
  • In his book From Those Wonderful Folks Who Brought You Pearl Harbor Jerry Della Femina describes an ad that had three people on a triple bike - a white man, a white woman and a black woman. Their question was, where to put the black woman? Last seemed racist. First seemed a bit obvious. In the middle just looked weird, like a sandwich.

  • The anime Transformers: Armada has the incredibly stereotypically named humans Bradley "Rad" White, Carlos Lopez, and Alexis. No points for guessing who fits which demographic.
  • Digimon Tamers uses a Japanese variant, Takato is the Japanese boy leader, Ruki/Rika is the Japanese token girl, and Jenrya/Henry is the half-Chinese token minority.
  • The Mysterious Cities of Gold: Esteban, Zia and Tao. Of the two boys, Esteban is white, while Tao is Ambiguously Brown. Zia is an Inca, making her a minority female, though her skin tone is lighter than that of the other Incas in the series.
  • The Humongous Mecha show Metal Armor Dragonar gave Japanese protagonist Kain Wakaba a pair of wingmen, one black, one white whose mechs had paintjobs to match.
  • Pok√©mon the Series: Black & White's party stays true to the trope— Ash fills the male Token Minority slot (visiting Unova from his hometown in Kanto), Iris is Ambiguously Brown and Cilan rounds the trio out. Conversely, the group dynamic part of the trope is subverted, since Ash is the hero/leader.
  • Sonic X had Chris Thorndyke, a white male from Station Square (itself based on a multitude of cites in the United States), whose friend group initially starts out with Danny and Frances, a black male and white female respectively. In later episodes, they're joined by a second white girl, the wheelchair-bound Helen, making them a Gender-Equal Ensemble.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics sometimes grouped Archie, Chuck and Betty this way in the 1970s.
  • Preacher has Jesse, Tulip and the Irish vampire Cassidy.
  • Robin: Tim's high school friends when Tim's not hanging out with them, which is usually since he's rather busy saving people as an extracurricular, are generally grouped as Ives (white male), Callie (white female), and Hudson (Latino male). Originally Ives spent more time with Kevin Hudman (black male) than Hudson but later writers and artists merged the two into one character.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Rick Riordan's The Heroes of Olympus series:
    • Jason as the quest leader, Piper as the Native-American love interest and Leo as the Latino Best Friend.
    • Also in "The Son of Neptune" with Percy (white), Frank (Asian), and Hazel (black).
  • Discussed in Scott Westerfeld's So Yesterday, where Jen goes to an advertisement screening and comments on what she called the "Missing Black Woman Formation" in the shoe commercial.
  • The Infernal Devices has Will being the lead "white guy", Tessa being the lead "white girl", and Jem being the lead "ethnic guy", although he's half-British.
  • Alexander Key's Flight to the Lonesome Place has Ronnie Cleveland, a white boy, Luis Black, a black boy (described as very dark-skinned), and Anna Maria Rosalita, who is Irish/Hispanic. Takes place mostly in Puerto Rico, where both latter characters were born and lived for a lot of their lives. It doesn't feel token.
  • More Than This has Seth the white male protagonist, Tomasz the Polish boy, and Regine the black girl.
  • Along The Winding Road has Dalton the white male, Arthur the Asian male, and Charlotte the white female. Played with in that the white female is the protagonist and the Asian male the love interest.
  • Bazil Broketail: Lumbee forms one along with Bazil and Relkin when they liberate Ardu slaves together. When Relkin gets abducted himself, she becomes a part of another trio with Bazil and Norwul, leading their campaign against Mirchaz. She's a woman of foreign (Ardu) ehtnicity, Bazil's a dragon male, Relkin a boy from the Argonath, whose people are the main focus.
  • The Shadow Project: Danny, Opal and Michael, the main trio, are a Caucasian boy and girl from England and a black boy from Mali.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Perhaps the prototypical Token Trio was TV's The Mod Squad, first aired in 1968. The titular cops were famously billed as "one white, one black, one blonde."
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide would be an example (Ned, Cookie, and Moze fit the demographic sampling perfectly), except they are the main characters and genuinely fleshed out (i.e. not at all Token).
  • VR Troopers features a Token Trio as its main protagonists. (Through no fault of the actors involved: Brad Hawkins {white guy} and Sarah Brown {the white girl} have both gone on to bigger and better things, though Michael Bacon {black guy} seems to have vanished)
  • Also present in Big Bad Beetleborgs, yet another contemporary Power Rangers clone.
  • Even the actual Power Rangers did this when it lacked a Five-Man Band. Seasons 11, 12, 16 and 26 started with these setups (before the arrival of any Sixth Rangers), while 11, 17 and 26 mixed it up just slightly by having the minority male be the leader.
    • Ninja Storm: Samoan guy, white girl, white guy. Then they added another white guy and a Latino guy, and finished it up with an Asian guy.
    • Dino Thunder: White guy, white girl, black guy. Then they added a Native American guy and finished it up with a Latino guy.
    • Jungle Fury: White guy, white girl, Asian guy. Then two more white guys.
    • RPM: Black guy (leader), white guy, white girl. Then two more white guys and finished up with an Asian guy and girl.
    • Beast Morphers: Black guy (leader), Indian guy, white girl. Then they added a Latino guy and finished it up with an android (who in the finale was transformed into a white guy).
  • Smallville, back when Clark, Chloe and Pete were friends. Pete had even undergone a Race Lift for the series!
  • Sort of a gender reversed version in Lizzie Mcguire: White Girl (leader), Mexican Girl, White/Jewish guy.
  • Another gender flip and racial inversion with That's So Raven with a black girl (leader), black guy and white girl.
  • The three main kids in Wishbone are Joe (main guy), Sam (Samantha), and David.
  • The original three ducklings on House: White Girl (Cameron), Black Guy (Foreman) and White Foreign Guy (Chase). Later we also get the White Bisexual Girl (Thirteen), White Jewish Guy (Taub) and Adopted Indian Guy (Kutner).
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures has Luke (the white guy), Maria (the white girl) and Clyde (the black guy). When Maria leaves, we get Rani Chandra (the Indian girl).
  • Inverted example in The Famous Jett Jackson, where the leader of the trio is a black male, with white male and mixed race female sidekicks.
  • Lampshaded by the Master in the third season of Doctor Who. You have the Doctor (white male), Martha (black female), and Jack (bisexual male).
  • Played with on the Nickelodeon series Supah Ninjas, which features an Asian male lead, Token Black Friend sidekick, and white female Love Interest.
  • The original judge trio on American Idol: Simon (white male), Paula (Jewish female), and Randy (black male).
    • The season 10-11 trio also fits the demographics, keeping Randy and adding in Steven (white male) and Jennifer (Latina), though the dynamic isn't quite there since Randy is the senior member of the panel. The season 12 quartet actually fits better with Randy joined by white guy Keith and a pair of Ambiguously Brown females in Nicki and Mariah.
  • Galavant has eponymous hero Galavant (white guy), Sid (black kid), and Princess Isabella (ambiguously brown girl).
  • Original Team Arrow consisted of Oliver Queen (white guy), John Diggle (black guy), and Felicity Smoak (Jewish white girl).
  • Hank Zipzer has Hank (white male) and his two best friends: Ashley (Asian female) and Frankie (black male).
  • Hardball centres around Mikey (Maori male) and his two best friends/coaches: Jerry (a disabled white male) and Salwa (a Middle Eastern female).
  • Psych: The judges of ''American Duos'' are a Caucasian man, a Caucasian woman, and a Hispanic man, with Gus even commenting about the tokenism of the arrangement. The Caucasian male member of the group is the undisputed leader and frequently ignores or interrupts the other two when they try to disagree with his judgments.
  • Sex Education's three protagonists: Otis (White Male Lead), Eric (black/gay best friend), and Maeve (white girl).
  • Glee's Blamtina, to an extent. Sam is a straight white male, Tina is a straight South Korean woman, and Blaine is a gay man who is also Asain (Although the character isn't mentioned to be such)

  • Massive Attack's three members, all male, came from different ethnic backgrounds. Inapplicable since Andrew Vowles left, however.
  • The Thompson Twins - from 1982 to 1986, anyway. Tom Bailey was the white redhead guy, Alannah Currie the blonde chick, and Joe Leeway the dreadlocked black man.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Gender flipped with LayCool and Kaval (Lay-Kav-Ool) since there's Michelle (white girl), Layla (mixed race) and Kaval (half-Hispanic half-white guy).
  • At the start of 2010 there was the random team of Matt Hardy (white guy), Maria Kanellis (white girl) and the Great Khali (Indian) for a few weeks.
  • The APA had Bradshaw (white guy), Farooq (black guy) and sometimes Jacqueline (black woman).
  • The Dudley Boyz (white guy and black guy) added Stacy Keibler (white girl) to their stable from 2001-2002
  • MNM had a variation with two white guys and a Hispanic woman

  • The three human characters in Avenue Q are Brian (white Jewish male), Gary Coleman (black male), and Christmas Eve (Asian female).

    Video Games 
  • Deceive Inc. features Chavez (Black male), Squire (white male) and Ace (female) as its cover stars, as well as your three default starting agents.
  • The first Streets of Rage video game had Adam (black), Axel (white), and Blaze (white female) as your choices of player character.
    • Its contemporary game, Golden Axe didn't have the stereotypical black guy. Instead, the fantasy setting used an axe-wielding dwarf.
    • Alien Storm, which basically was Golden Axe in a sci-fi setting, had Gordon (male), Karla (female) and Scooter (robot).
  • The poster party in the Mass Effect games tends to be male Shepard, female human party member, and male alien party member. The first game had Shepard, Ashley and Garrus filling those roles, while the second had Shepard, Miranda and Thane. Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect: Andromeda also directly invoke this trope in-game, as your starting parties consists of a white female and a black male, with the assumption that your hero would be a white male. However, this can be averted since your character is fully customizable, possibly leaving the white girl as the Token White and/or the black guy as the only male, at least until other party members are discovered.
  • Undercover Cops has Zan (Japanese man), Rosa (white woman), and Matt (white guy).
  • Mix with Terrible Trio and you have the three F-Con executives in TRON 2.0: Seth Crown, Esomond Baza, and Eva Popoff.
  • The Pico's School games have the white boy Pico alongside Asian girl Nene and black boy Darnell.

  • In The Fourth, we have Derk as the white male, Lorelei as the white female, and Lord Skärva as the male minority: in his case, of shark-man descent.
  • In Autumn Bay, we have Stephen (mixed race male), Adam (white, male, and gay), and Callie (white female).

    Web Original 
  • Not intentionally evoked, but the hosting crew of video game music podcast Nitro Game Injection has a white guy (Kyle), a black guy (Larry), and an Asian girl (Suraida).
  • The peer review panel in this article from The Onion.
  • The post-reboot episodes of Nostalgia Critic star a White Male Lead (Nostalgia Critic), a black male (Malcolm), and a white female (Rachel, who is later replaced by Tamara).
  • The Once and Future Nerd has Billy (white male jock), Nelson (black nerd) and Jen, (white female cheerleader) be the highschool students who go into the magical world.
  • SugoiSquad podcast. Mr Lost Link (Indian) Alexisneo (White Female) and Stariano (Asian).

    Western Animation 
  • Danny Phantom has Danny as the white guy, Tucker as the black guy, and Sam as the white girl.
    • Technically speaking, Valerie Grey could be counted as the Missing Black Woman.
  • Rambo: The Force of Freedom, the Eighties attempt to sell Rambo toys to kids, featured male African-American Edward "Turbo" Hayes, female Asian Katherine Anne "K.A.T." Taylor, and, of course, some white dude named John Rambo.
  • American Dragon: Jake Long has the somewhat refreshing variation of having the main character of the all-Totally Radical team be half-Chinese, with a sassy female Token Black Friend and a Genius Ditz faux-stoner white guy.
  • Another variation takes place in Cyberchase, with its trio of two girls and one boy.
  • In Hey Arnold!: The three main characters consists of Arnold (white male), Gerald (black male) and Helga (white female who becomes a Love Interest later in the series), this is played more straight in the episode, "The Haunted Train", where come together and form this dynamic.
  • In the first season finale of Justice League Unlimited, three heroes are thrown back in time. The three? Batman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern (John Stewart).
    • Granted, things get messed up in part two, when timeline changes make Wonder Woman disappear and at one point make Green Lantern a non-minority (Hal Jordan).
  • Pepper Ann had this, with the gender ratio switched to accommodate the main character being female: Pepper as the lead, Nicky as her white best girl friend, and Milo, whose ethnicity is never explicitly mentioned, but whose skin is noticeably darker than that of anyone else in the cast (Ambiguously Brown).
  • Space Sentinels was one of the earliest in Western Animation. Astraea is an African-American woman, Mercury is a Chinese man, and even Hercules is Ambuguously Brown (an early animatic shows him to be a literal caveman).
  • Any time The Zeta Project has a group of three, it's either Zeta, Ro and Bucky (a robot, a tomboyish girl and a mixed race boy) or Lee, Rush and West (Chinese woman, black man and white man, with the white man being lowest ranking in their group). When not doing that, it's Lee, Bennett and West (Chinese woman, white man, white idiot man who makes them look awesome by comparison).
  • Voltron Force does this: Daniel is Asian, Vince is black, and Princess Larmina is white.
  • Subverted by Home Movies. The main trio consists of two white boys (Brendon and Jason) and a black girl (Melissa)
  • In Iron Man: Armored Adventures, most of the time this is in place with Tony (white male lead), Rhodey (black best friend), and Pepper (white female friend). This is subverted however in several parts of season one, where the trio is Tony, Rhodey, and Gene Khan (Mongolian-Chinese American) and Gene is actually given the main character role. In the episode "Pepper, Interrupted" the trio is actually Gene, Pepper and Rhodey, in direct order of plot importance.
  • Milo Murphy's Law with Zack as black best friend to Milo and Melissa as their female friend.
  • Craig of the Creek with Craig as the black kid, J.P. as the white boy, and Kelsey as the white girl. In a slight twist, the titular Craig is the leader of the group.
  • The Backyardigans does this with Funny Animals: Pablo (Hispanic male penguin), Tyrone (African American male moose), and Uniqua (African American female alien), typically whenever Tasha and Austin aren't there to create a Four-Temperament Ensemble or Five-Man Band. Interestingly, the main protagonist is actually Uniqua.
  • Hanna-Barbera's Teen Force had Kid Comet (white guy), Moleculad (black guy), and Elektra (white girl).
  • The three main kids of Ready Jet Go!: Jet is an alien who disguises himself as a white male; Sean is a human white male, and Sydney is a human black female.
  • The Ghost Force team is comprised of Andy Baker (white boy), his sister Liv Baker (white girl), and their friend Mike Collins (black boy).
  • Defenders of the Earth: The three teenaged Defenders are Rick (white male), LJ (black male) and Jedda (white female).


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Missing Black Woman Formation


Barbie Princess Charm School

The main trio consists of Blair Willows (white), Hadley Ainsley (Latina), and Isla Kokoro (Japanese).

How well does it match the trope?

2.17 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / TokenTrio

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