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Unfortunate Implications

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Let's just say Vogue managed to get themselves into trouble.

"I'm amazed sometimes at the subtext that writers don't spot in their own work."

The media to which TV Tropes is devoted generally exhibit greater sensitivity now than in the past. Even when authors are being careful with story elements, it is impossible for them to know every single person in the world's opinion or how certain tropes may be construed as offensive. Especially when you consider just how diverse human beings really are. When a work's content offends a large enough audience in a way that the author did not expect, you get this.

This is a highly subjective Audience Reaction, and since in the past this page became bogged down in arguments about some tropers believing that concerns about such matters simply relate to Political Correctness Gone Mad, and other tropers — seeing the entire "political correctness" argument as a plausibly deniable defense of racism — vehemently oppose it, no example may be added in this article or on a work article, without proof that it's not just one person's thinking. Citations are done as follows:

  • Blah Story Blah Blah Circumstance Blah Blah Implication Blah. Example Website

  • The citation needs to record the opinions of several people; a citation that mentions only one person isn't enough.
  • The citation should be in a reputable source. We'd prefer you cite something a bit more formal than someone's Tumblr blog. Anyone can write a blog post and then call it a "citation".
  • Also, citations stuck behind paywalls or mandatory logins don't count. If people can't see your proof, then it doesn't prove much.

Keep in mind that Unfortunate Implications are unintentional. An intended offensive message (for example, a piece of Axis propaganda about Jews) does not belong here, nor does natter about the author's true intentions. Also, for something that may not be offensive to you personally but may offend others in a different culture or time period (or vice versa), see Values Dissonance or Family-Unfriendly Aesop.


If you came here looking for unfortunate implications of the Nightmare Fuel variety, rather than the hopefully accidental offenses with which this trope concerns itself, see Fridge Horror. If something with this kind of content offends everyone, regardless of audience or time or place, then it's an Audience-Alienating Premise. If unfortunate implications are caused by the modern audience by once-innocent words changing meaning over time, it's Have a Gay Old Time.

To avoid these pitfalls, please see So You Want To Avoid Unfortunate Implications.

Subjects susceptible to Unfortunate Implications include:



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  • It's been noted several times that even clothing brands that market to plus-sized people tend to use extremely thin models to show their clothes, which has several effects: First, plus-sized clothing on your typical model looks enormous, since it is not meant for their body type, meaning that the people who want to order it are unsure what it will look like on them, and it further stigmatizes plus-sized people because it implies that no-one will want to look at them, not even other plus-sized people looking for clothing that will fit them. Several companies have caught on and now consciously try to avert this, including Kiyonna, which honestly makes an effort to have its models be people who would actually wear their clothing in their everyday lives. Even plus-size (if you will) models are altered, which can seem unnatural, but it's more noticeable here.
  • A series of Huggies adverts for diapers in a denim jean pattern had a baby strutting around on a sidewalk with the intention of looking "sexy". The tagline "My diaper is full of... CHIC!" probably did not help. After it caught a lot of flack, it got banned, despite being edited twice.
  • UK mobile phone network "Phones4U" embarked on an advertising campaign where they show a particular group of people (scoutmasters, yo-yo specialists) then claim that their phone rates would be wasted on such people because they have no friends (unlike their target demographic, one would assume). Said groups weren't amused.
  • An ad campaign from The Economist aimed at women used its traditional brand of quirky humor when it said on the front, "Why should women read The Economist? They shouldn't." Then, on the inside, it said "Accomplished and intelligent people should read it." Even some women who made it to the punchline on the inside got offended, taking it to mean that a female point of view (the magazine's staff is mostly male) was invalid.
  • Complaints were brought against a 2012 campaign in Atlanta, GA that used such slogans as "It's hard to be a little girl if you're not." Childhood obesity is a genuine problem in the U.S., but so far it seems to be an impossible one to sensitively address.
  • Commentators picked up on misogyny as one of the predominant themes of the 2010 Super Bowl ad crop. 2011 and 2012 weren't much better. In fact, there was a Twitter hashtag (#NotBuyingIt) in anticipation of the rampant misogyny, with the "woman is actually a car" Fiat ad receiving the brunt of it.
  • In the UK, Persil ran an ad which showed (among similar images) a dalmatian shaking off its black spots and a white horse breaking away from a group of black horses. There was a small-scale press outcry after viewer complaints that these were racist metaphors, but after a formal investigation by a regulatory body, the complaints weren't upheld.
  • Cravendale had an advert in which an angry bull's black patches are removed, leaving it white and "pure". Naturally, there were complaints, though the Advertising Standards Authority ultimately deemed it "unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence".
  • The Metropolitan Police in London have come under fire for several campaigns encouraging the public to report terrorism, suggesting that the most innocuous of activities could be a possible sign of a terrorist. In particular, one radio ad was banned for implying that closing curtains or not speaking to neighbours is suspicious enough activity to merit reporting someone to the police.
  • An anti-drinking PSA aired in New Zealand showed a woman getting progressively more drunk on a night out and dancing with a stranger who grabs her and drags her into an alleyway. The ad received a number of complaints that it implied that being abducted/presumably raped was her own fault, and encouraged Victim Blaming.
  • Pepsi: An ad was made and then subsequently pulled for Mountain Dew that involved a white woman attempting to pick the person who had assaulted her out of a line-up that consisted of a group of young black males and a goat. Even leaving the aside the question of what anything in this scenario had to do with Mountain Dew, the ad implied that white people cannot tell the difference between a black man and a goat. The fact that it played heavily on racist stereotypes and violence against women as well as it all being Played for Laughs didn't help matters.
  • A commercial for Samsung's Smart TV shows a caveman-like guy watching The Croods and acting like an imbecile while his wife upgrades the TV through an "evolutionary kit" box. She then fantasizes about using the box on her husband, transforming him into a handsome man who does all the chores for her and sets up a dinner date for her (at which point she is brought back to reality by her real husband farting loudly). The implications that Women Are Wiser and that men who don't toil away for their significant others are neanderthals were not lost on commentators.
  • An ill-conceived internet flyer from IKEA, the furniture store, demonizing goths as "creepy" and a "bad influence" didn't go down too well with the subculture. Several gothic commentators pointed out that IKEA had managed to offend a group who actually like a lot of their products and were unhappy with IKEA perpetuating negative stereotypes of goths.
  • Some of the Meth Project ads, which pointedly use frightening, extreme imagery to make their point, have a noted tendency to have some of the more problematic ads imply that meth addiction causes middle-class kids to become homeless and straight kids to turn gay, and that linking these things are designed to attach the shame and stigma of being gay or poor to being a meth addict. The reality is that impoverished people and homosexuals already are the groups with the highest risk of meth addiction, particularly in the northern and midwestern United States. Supporters have pointed out that the poor and gay characters in the ads are depicting a realistic example, and it's only the audience who assumes that they weren't poor or gay to begin with, but most of them depict at least upper-middle-class teenagers, often girls, from good families, and the ads that reference male homosexuality depict it as predatory and abusive.
  • In 2011, Israel's Ministry of Immigrant Absorption released a series of ads targeting Israeli expatriates in America to encourage them to return home. They depicted Jewish Americans as ignorant of Jewish history and culture, while their patient and intelligent Israeli partners or family members struggled in vain to educate them. The ads seemed to imply that Israeli Jews are the only "real" Jews, that the world outside Israel is a godless wasteland, and that American or secular Jews (or Americans of any type, for that matter) are dumb and will lead Israelis astray. Needless to say, many Jewish Americans found this deeply insulting and the ads were pulled. Might also be a case of You Are What You Hate, since many of the earliest official Israeli citizens were American-born.
  • In the mid-nineties, Reebok came under fire for producing a shoe called the Incubus — a shoe marketed to women, no less. Apparently, someone in marketing submitted it as a potential name because it was a non-trademarked word that sounded cool, and the company didn't do the research that would have revealed that they were about to sell a women's athletic shoe named after male Horny Devils. The company quickly apologized and recalled the product when this came to their attention.
  • The "Add a Kid" line of kids' clothing attracted some controversy: the main premise of the line is that there is a picture of a headless character printed on the shirt so that when a kid wears it, it looks like his or her head is on the character's body. In order to illustrate this, the shirts had cardboard cutouts that had photos of kids printed on them while in stores. The controversy occurred when one of the shirts with a monkey's body was paired with an African-American child, unintentionally referencing the "black people are monkeys" stereotype.
  • A 2015 Coca-Cola Christmas ad came heavily under fire for this. In it, a group of white teens are seen traveling to an indigenous Mexican village with the intention of spreading Christmas joy; they give away bottles of Coke to the sad-looking natives and build them a Christmas tree made out of soda bottles. The ad was widely panned for its White Man's Burden theme and was immediately pulled.
  • The 2015 Bloomingdale's Christmas Catalog advised readers to "Spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking." That line, coupled with the image of a man staring intently at a woman who doesn't appear to notice him, caused an uproar as many people saw it as making light of, or even going as far as encouraging, Date Rape. Bloomingdale's subsequently apologized for the gaffe but were unable to pull it, as all copies of the print catalog had already been sent out.
  • An In-Universe variant of this happens in Mad Men where Don Draper's Hawaii ad unintentionally invokes the idea of Hawaii as a suicide destination, which his colleagues and the client have to point out.
  • The Nostalgia Critic has a series of videos where he reviews old commercials. One of these features a Toys-R-Us ad from 1996. It showcases kids from an older ad and then shows them 20 years older. The unfortunate implication here is that these people never did grow up.
  • The Red Cross issued an apology when a pool safety poster showed the lighter-toned characters acting safely and following the rules, while the ones painted with darker skin tones were the ones breaking the rules.
  • A series of blood donation PSAs talked about people who tried to do something about a social issue, only for it to go horribly wrong and end up exacerbating the problem. E.g. a man discovers his letter-writing campaign about sweatshops has led to increased use of child labor and deforestation from all the paper; or an activist takes down a company that was polluting a town and making people sick, but now the whole town is unemployed and no one has health insurance. The message was that giving blood is a much simpler way of doing good. These PSAs attracted some criticism for implying that social activism is a waste of time and only makes things worse.
  • A Pepsi ad from early 2017 shows a group of young people protesting over social issues and walking towards a line of police officers. Kendall Jenner, who is modeling nearby, decides to join the protest and offers a Pepsi to one of the police officers, eliciting a roar of applause from the protesters and apparently mending relations. Despite its intended message about peace, the ad was widely panned and pulled from television due to co-opting the very serious and controversial-at-the-time issue of police brutality and their protests to simply sell a product. Also rather disliked was the fact that rich, white, and privileged Kendall Jenner is the one to mend issues, while police brutality frequently targets poor and underprivileged minorities. This was on top of the simple fact that the ad was sickening and rather childish Glurge from the premise alone.
  • Bud Light's infamous "remove no from your vocabulary" ad campaign was widely criticized for sounding an awful lot like it was making light of rape. While "removing no from your vocabulary" was intended to mean that the drinker would have more bravery to ask someone out, it instead brought up implications of intoxicating a person and removing their ability to withhold consent to sex (legally, an intoxicated person cannot give consent to having sex, so anyone who has sex with them is essentially raping them).
  • In October 2017, Kellogg's "Corn Pops" cereal featured a game in the back of the box where the point was to find certain yellow corn pop characters doing a specific, silly activity, a-la Where's Waldo? Kellogs then issued an apology when DC Comics artist Saladin Ahmed noticed that the only brown corn pop character in the illustration was working as a janitor.
  • Heineken had to pull an ad after it got accused of racism. In it, we see a bottle of beer being passed among several dark-skinned arms until it stops on a white woman and it shows the tagline "Sometimes lighter is better".
  • Soap brand Dove has managed to twice show black women becoming white after using their product.
  • Similarly to the Dove example, a Chinese detergent company got themselves in hot water with a commercial where a black guy is flirting with a Chinese woman, who stuffs a laundry tablet into his mouth and shoves him into a washing machine, whereupon he emerges as a clean, well-dressed Chinese man.
  • During the 1993 Canadian elections, the Progressive Conservative Party produced an attack ad (now known as the "face ad"), showing unflattering still close-ups of Liberal leader Jean Chrétien's face while questioning whether he is fit for the position of Prime Minister. Since Chrétien has Bell's palsy, which causes facial deformity, the ad was easy to interpret as mocking his condition. Wikipedia has an article about the controversy caused by the ad, which was met with enormous backlash, contributing to a landslide victory for the Liberals and a crushing defeat for the Tories.
  • An advert by Sofitel in Brisbane showed a man and a woman enjoying breakfast in bed, with the man reading the Financial Review while the woman reads a Chanel coffee table book. The advert has come under fire for implying that women only care about looking at fashion and don't care about finance.
  • Yet another advertisement using highly questionable metaphors to represent a white/black dichotomy: a Dutch billboard for the PlayStation Portable White featuring a white model violently grabbing a black model's face.
  • A crowdfunding campaign by Michael Jackson fans angered by the documentary Leaving Neverland bought ads on London Transport buses and at bus stops defending him against the child molestation allegations leveled against him in the documentary with the slogan "Facts don't lie. People do." When The Survivors Trust charity pointed out that the campaign could discourage survivors of abuse from coming forward for fear of being called liars, London Transport pulled all of the ads.
  • Nationwide aired this commercial during the 2015 Super Bowl, about a boy who won't be able to experience growing up because he died in an unidentified home accident. The backlash that ensued accused Nationwide of exploiting the lives of children to sell insurance and its commercial for being too depressing, and it never aired again.
  • Dodge drew controversy from The King Center and other civil rights groups for a 2018 Super Bowl Ad. They disavowed commercializing his anti-racism message when one of Martin Luther King Jr.'s audio speeches was used to advertise the RAM truck.
  • The 2019 Peloton holiday commercial, in which a husband buys a stationary workout bike from the brand for his wife as a Christmas present, has been widely criticised as sexist due to the implications of the patronizing mindset from the husband that the woman in the ad needs to lose weight in order to keep being attractive. The backlash also spawned numerous parodies and even a "sequel" in the form of a Aviation Gin commercial in which a woman played by the same actress (and implied to be the same as the one in the Peloton ad) has split from her husband because of this.
  • In 2019, the Hallmark Channel got into hot water with LGBT groups after pulling an ad from their annual Christmas movie marathon featuring two women getting married and kissing at the request of a conservative group. Since all of the Hallmark Channel's Christmas movies are romances, they were accused of having a homophobic double standard, and ended up reinstating the ad after enormous outcry on social media. It didn't help that the actual movies (which by that point numbered in the hundreds) were coming under increasing fire for only featuring heterosexual couples, the vast majority of whom are white and Christian, and often having Stay in the Kitchen politics (i.e. women leaving thriving careers in the big city to settle down and raise a family in Flyover Country).

    Anime and Manga 
  • Defied by Nobuhiro Watsuki in Rurouni Kenshin. The minor character Hannya had a featureless death-mask of a face beneath the mask he wears in battle. Watsuki noted in the liner notes to manga volume 4 that originally he planned for Hannya to have been stepped on in the womb like The Elephant Man. After thinking it through, he realized Unfortunate Implications abounded with the idea ("the shape of one's face determines the shape of one's life", as he put it). To avoid this, Watsuki altered the backstory to Hannya having intentionally mutilated his own face into that death-mask so that he could easily disguise himself as anything.
  • The Dressrosa arc of One Piece has been criticized for how it treats its female characters, from Rebecca being sidelined in the fight against her mother's killer, to multiple cases of female characters being killed off to develop male characters (in addition to Rebecca's mother, Doflamingo's mother, Law's sister and Senor Pink's wife).
  • While Sister Krone of The Promised Neverland is a popular character with a complex backstory, some readers were made uncomfortable by her less-than-flattering depiction as a black woman, with her cartoonishly grotesque features, expressions and somewhat animalistic demeanor in some scenes that are seen as reminiscent of old racist caricatures.
  • My Hero Academia: Chapter 259 revealed the Doctor'(the evil scientist assisting All For One and Tomura Shigaraki)s name to be Maruta Shiga, with many people noting that the name "Maruta" was likely a reference to project Maruta, a project done by Unit 731 of the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II that involved inhumane experimentation on various people which included live vivisection, weapon testing, and forced pregnancies. While this name fits Horikoshi's tendency to give his characters punny/meaningful names, the "unfortunate" part comes in when you realize that "Maruta", meaning "logs" in Japanese, was the name given to the test subjects as the official cover story for the facility was that it was a lumber mill. Fans were very upset with the idea of a character as vile as the Doctor being named after the victims of a horrible experiment instead of the perpetrators, especially the ones from Chinanote  and South Korea where the scars are still prominent. Horikoshi later apologized for this on his Twitter account, where he clarified that the reference was unintentional and that he would change the Doctor's name in future chapters.

    Comic Books 
  • A large number of villains in comics or otherwise suffer from mental illness, despite the fact that, in reality, the mentally ill are only connected to 4% of violent crimes, and are 11 times as likely to be subjected to them. That's right; contrary to what media tells you, sane people are enormously more dangerous to insane people than the reverse.
  • The star of the infamous New Teen Titans saga, The Judas Contract, Terra, is subjected to this trope. She was a super-powered 16-year-old hired by the mercenary Slade Wilson, a.k.a. Deathstroke the Terminator, to infiltrate, spy on, and destroy the Titans (she was actually 15 when she started doing this). During her time with the Titans, it's revealed she's having a sexual affair with Slade, and the story's creators have confirmed that the purpose of this was to shock the readers at what a slut she is, never mind that nothing indicates she's ever slept with anybody else, she actually seems to think Slade loves her, and Slade might be committing statutory rape. When the time comes to betray the Titans, they try to reason with her and fail, and she dies while trying to kill them, destroyed by her own powers. The story becomes quite Anvilicious at how evil she is. She's explicitly called evil, the narrator informs us that she's both completely insane and completely responsible for her actions (a contradiction in terms), even Slade later says her evil scared even him. Her death is essentially a teen suicide (in a series that was about and originally intended for teens) where everything is being blamed on the teen. And as for Slade, her boss and lover, the man who's decades older than her, a multiple murderer, who created the Evil Plan she was following, whose own stated intentions were to murder all the Titans, he is (comparatively speaking) Easily Forgiven by the Titans afterwards, and is treated by DC Comics as an Anti-Hero for the next several years. He's even treated as a father figure by several of the Titans he was trying to kill. This storyline exonerated the adult in this murderous partnership while trying to blame everything on the 16-year-old girl. The blogger tamaranorbust has a thorough, multi-part study on Terra, covering her appearances, her background, how she's referred to, the characters she affected, the histories of her two later namesakes, and the very unpleasant implications of her story.
  • The now-infamous The Avengers issue #200, in which Carol Danvers suddenly becomes pregnant and gives birth at an impossible rate of speed, only to learn that her baby is, in fact, his own father, having used "a subtle boost" from mind control machines to impregnate her in another dimension, an encounter which she has no memory of. And the Avengers are just peachy with this, even allowing her to go back to the other dimension with him despite ominous hints that the mind control is in effect again.
  • One of Linkara's main berserk buttons is sexism. Thus, when he reviews much of Frank Miller's works, such as All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder, he hates how Miller objectifies women. He's so perfectly pissed off about it in All-Star Batman & Robin #5, in which Frank reduced Wonder Woman of all people into a hyper-violent Straw Feminist with Psycho Lesbian undertones that needed a "Strong Man to make her 'right'", he became absolutely livid.
  • Uncanny Avengers, a book with a pro-tolerance message, has come under fire for seemingly endorsing not integration but assimilation. The intended aesop was "Mutants should be treated just like any other superhuman," but was phrased more like "People should have no cultural identity other than just 'person'."
  • The December 2014 issue of Batgirl had the heroine confront a villain who tried to build up his popularity by going around dressing himself up as Batgirl and plays it as a textbook Unsettling Gender Reveal with Batgirl being shocked. Naturally, some fans were quite livid over this, and the creators (though not DC Comics) issued an apology over it. Made worse by the fact that the previous writer had made headlines when she introduced a sympathetic trans woman to the cast who was promptly sidelined by the new creative team despite their earlier statements that this wouldn't happen.
  • One of the more famous racial controversies in 2000s comics related to the death of Ryan Choi, The Atom, who was graphically killed by Deathstroke and his shrunken corpse sent to his Arch-Nemesis in the mail. Ryan had taken up the mantle of the Atom after his white predecessor, Ray Palmer, went into seclusion after discovering his ex-wife was a murderer; Ray returned during Final Crisis but let Ryan hold onto the mantle, before retaking it during Blackest Night, with Ryan being killed almost immediately after this happened. This well-known essay addresses the controversy, calling it a symptom of a greater problem of writers wishing to write characters they were fans of as kids, most of whom are white, and as such killing off or demoting to extra their successors. The essay does not accuse the writers of racism, merely shortsightedness, but points out that this shortsightedness tends to result in uncomfortable trends.
  • The Agony Booth was very critical of The Killing Joke for its Stuffed into the Fridge treatment of Batgirl, serving only as a helpless victim to the story. They were particularly bothered by its original anniversary cover, which depicted The Joker menacing a terrified Batgirl, with a Joker smile forcibly painted on her face, which they believed glorified him.
  • In Justice League 3000, Guy Gardner is transformed into a woman. The handling of Guy's situation has been accused of transphobia, primarily due to the Critical Research Failure that suggests that having female hormones alone would make him behave like a female (and think like one) despite identifying as male; that his constant shock at this is Played for Laughs does not help things in the least.
  • Hank Pym striking his wife. Jim Shooter intended for this to be the culmination of Pym's mental breakdown. This scene has stuck on Pym, however, with writers going back and forth whether to reunite the two explicitly because of this trope.
  • In 2015, Marvel Comics announced a storyline focusing on a conflict between the X-Men and The Inhumans, which has been framed as a conflict between two oppressed minorities. As this article mentions, this is not without some problems, because whereas mutants have long served as metaphors for LGBT individuals and other minorities, the Inhumans have long had an elitist, eugenicist bent, and for most of their history have largely been white.
    • As this editorial explains, things have gotten worse in 2016 with the Inhumans vs. X-Men comic, with the reveal that the Inhumans' Terrigen Mist is actually gassing mutants to death, and the only peaceful solutions mutants have are to either let the gas kill them, go into hiding, or get "cured" by gene therapy that will remove their powers.
  • In Green Arrow, writer Benjamin Percy introduced the Lukos virus as a scientific explanation for lycanthropy. Percy's stated intent was to use people turning into werewolves and the people who rise up to kill them as a metaphor for the conflict between HIV/AIDS patients and anti-gay activists. Multiple critics pointed out that the metaphor was "clumsy and unsettling", since the werewolf people, once infected, are unable to control their impulses without medication. Though this could maybe have remained sympathetic, the main faction of 'Wargs' (the werewolves/AIDS stand-ins) are shown to be a violent biker gang who deliberately infect others with the condition and revel in their violent impulses, which is uncomfortably close to a lot of anti-gay beliefs regarding AIDS.
  • Captain America:
  • In Marvel's Black Panther, one of the titular African superheroes' few enemies from his homeland of Wakanda is M'Baku, a member of a rival tribe who has also gained superpowers through mystic rites associated with his tribe's totem animal. The problem is that his totem animal is the White Gorilla, and M'Baku's supervillain name is thus The Man-Ape, as he runs around in a gorilla-themed costume. The long history of demonizing African men by comparing them to primates has led to backlash against the character by African readers in recent years. To their credit, Marvel has listened to the critique; both M'Baku and his brother, who inherited the identity, were killed off in the comics, for a time at least, and Marvel has gone on record stating that they chose to both avoid the use of the Man-Ape name and to adjust M'Baku's costume to downplay the ape imagery for his depiction in the 2018 film precisely to avoid this trope. M'Baku even lampshades the implications: after he and his men drown out caucasian CIA agent Everett by imitating gorilla challenge calls, M'Baku declares "YOU may not SPEAK! If you open your mouth again, I will feed you to my children!" almost immediately followed by "I'm kidding, we're vegetarians... the look on your face." When a 'new' M'Baku was introduced in the comics (a seemingly unrelated figure who leads the rebel Maroons in Wakanda's space empire), he lacked any of the original's gorilla associations and is depicted as a tough-but-fair Reasonable Authority Figure.
  • This article details the highly problematic depiction in New Teen Titans of Mirage's relationship with Nightwing and how it falls under Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male. To give a summary, Mirage, a character from a Bad Future and is in a relationship with Nightwing in that timeline, travels back in time and sleeps with Nightwing while disguised as his current girlfriend Starfire, in the process committing rape by deception. No one calls her out on this, even though she did it fully knowing the circumstances, and instead accuse Dick of cheating on Starfire, essentially having him be forced to defend himself for being raped. What's more, later on, the version of Nightwing from the future (now an insane villain named Deathwing) rapes Mirage, and this is treated as a horrifying event.
  • Robert Jones, Jr. argued in an editorial that the New 52 reboot of Cyborg's origin suffered from some dodgy implications, particularly the way the story made it clear that the character lost his genitalia in the accident that disfigured him. Not only was this not the case in Cyborg's initial 80s originnote , but the fact that it occurred at the same time DC was attempting to elevate the character to A-list status as a member of the Justice League and DC's premier black superhero made it seem even iffier, especially since there is a history of black men being viewed as sexually threatening in mainstream American culture. DC writer David Walker publicly agreed with this sentiment, which is why one of the first things he did when he started writing Cyborg's short-lived solo title was to have the character begin to regenerate his organic tissue, including his genitals.
  • If M'Baku the Man-Ape was bad, fellow Marvel supervillain The Mandrill is even worse. This D-lister mutant, a recurring foe of DareDevil, escapes a lot of public scrutiny for his obscurity, having first surfaced in 1973 in Shanna the She-Devil, but those who learn of him invariably marvel that he can still make appearances in the modern era. He combines the worst "Africans are monkeys" stereotypes, being a mutant who was born as an African-looking child, then transformed into a literal humanoid baboon in puberty, with the "African men are all rapists" stereotypes: his secondary mutant power, after an enhanced physique based on his ape-like form, is to be a Living Aphrodisiac, capable of controlling the minds of all but the strongest-willed women through his pheromones, which reduces them to infatuated, love-sick slaves and is even addictive with long-term exposure. This is a rather cringe-inducing power to begin with, but the Mandrill is an out-and-proud misogynist who regards women as nothing but toys for him to use and discard as he sees fit, up to and including raping any of the women he enthralls if he feels like it. The character's second appearance revolved around him using his powers to create Black Spectre, a terrorist organization made of brainwashed African & African-American women that wished to overthrow the US government and make Mandrill the ruler; after Black Spectre was defeated, he then raised another army of female slaves, called Fem-Force. Oh, and to make things even worse, Mandrill is technically a Caucasian man whose African-esque "dark skin" was an early manifestation of his dehumanizing mutation, meaning he's technically a Blackface stereotype on top of everything else!
  • Wonder Woman: This essay points out that the Wonder Woman's New 52 series and origins not only miss many of the ideas behind the original series, but also manage to portray nearly all the Amazons as vicious harpies, completely undermining Marston's vision of a community of women who supported each other.

    Comic Strips 
  • An Australian political cartoon depicting Serena Williams' infamous outburst at a 2018 grand slam attracted considerable controversy for depicting the tennis star as a large black woman with big red lips having a tantrum (one commentator described her depiction as "unnecessarily Sambo-like"). It didn't help that her opponent Naomi Osaka, a dark-skinned Japanese woman, and the umpire Carlos Ramos, who is also dark-skinned albeit Portuguese, were both depicted as white with the former having blonde hair.
  • Dennis the Menace (US): Hank Ketcham attempted to integrate the strip in 1970 by introducing Jackson, a black playmate for Dennis. The result flooded Ketcham with angry letters, saying Jackson was an unnecessary Sambo-like stereotype. To Ketcham's credit, later issues of the comic book and an animated series from The '80s had Dennis interacting with much more positive examples of minorities.
  • Garfield: Jim Davis got himself in hot water with this strip where a spider taunts Garfield about becoming a decorated hero if Garfield lays the newspaper on him. The final panel has the spider getting his wish in the form of "National Stupid Day". Complaints ensued that it was insensitive to the military (the strip was posted on Veterans Day no less), and Davis later apologized for it.
  • A Rugrats newspaper comic strip had caused some controversy for featuring a scene where Tommy Pickles was wondering about the true meaning of a traditional Hebrew mourning hymn while attending a Synagogue with Grandpa Boris. Many readers had accused the comic strip of showing Antisemitism as the strip seemed to be patronizing such a solemn prayer. Also, readers had complained about how Grandpa Boris seemed to be shown as a stereotypical Nazi-era depiction of Jews.


    Films — Animation 
  • Stephen Krosecz of Animated Analysis argues that the heroes of Cars 2 are prejudiced against the Lemon cars, that the film doesn't seem to treat this as a bad thing, and that one could interpret this as an ableist message.
  • Disney's Chicken Little didn't sit well with some viewers because of the way the story treats Foxy Loxy. She's a popular, athletic tomboy and a bully (without succumbing to the "mean girl" stereotype). And by the end of the film, not only is she the only real antagonist, but she's also mind raped into becoming docile and feminine after being trapped, terrified, in a featureless, black void. When a cure is offered, Runt exclaims "She's perfect!" and she instantly becomes his girlfriend. So her character arc ends with her being brainwashed into becoming traditionally feminine, and no-one advocates for her right to her own personality because a boy likes her better this way. And then there's the fact that Chicken Little, a girl in the original fairytale, is made a boy, apparently to better appeal to general audiences.note  The issue of gender roles hasn't gone unnoticed.
  • Anthony Pryor points out in his review of Wizards that the director's words that the film's conflict between good elves and evil mutants is supposed to represent a real-life conflict in Israel gives bad implications. The Big Bad seemingly being born hideous and evil is also pointed as potentially giving a bad message.
  • Hasbro's official synopsis for My Little Pony: Equestria Girls is "Learn all about the magical parallel universe with high schools instead of castles, where six pony friends become real girls with a love for fun and fashion." Amanda Duncil from Feminspire was not amused at the implication that "real girls" must love fashion and fun (as opposed to just being human and not horses) and the fact that the girls have been given ridiculously thin bodies that reinforce the stereotypical and unrealistic idea of beauty.
  • Because of all the praise regarding the same-sex parents in the trailer for The Boxtrolls, some people may be disappointed when they find out the film had some uncomfortable transphobic implications, including playing the reveal of the cross-dressing character as a textbook Unsettling Gender Reveal. This review brings this issue up, complaining that there was only one female character in the movie "unless you want to count the man-in-drag figure, via whom the movie adds a dash of transphobia".
  • Surprisingly Subverted, In the film Sausage Party Mr. Grits was originally named Uncle Tom's Rice and his design of an old man with white hair. It was changed for obvious reasons which is saying something considering what did get put in the movie.
  • Defied by the makers of The Jungle Book where orangutan King Louie was originally intended to be played by Louis Armstrong (a fact made fairly obvious by his name) but they realized that casting a black actor as an ape (who sings a song about how he wants to be human) could be seen as this, so they chose Sicilian-American Louis Prima instead, which incidentally kept The Danza aspect of the original choice. However, critics have pointed out that the ethnicity of Louie's voice actor is irrelevant because the characterization of Louie himself still draws on stereotypes about African-Americans. Not to mention that having a white man play a character who is, for all intents and purposes, a stereotype of black people is problematic on its own in other ways.
  • Averting this reaction caused a major character to be removed from Inside Out. Originally, Riley Andersen's depression was going to be personified as a new emotion named Gloom, who would've served as the Big Bad, but the writers realized that the way this character was going came uncomfortably close to outright demonizing depression sufferers and made the call to cut him. As a result, Inside Out became the first Pixar film to have No Antagonist.
  • The Incredibles:
  • Upon its release, Aladdin came under fire by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee for the infamous lyric "Where they cut off your ear if they don't like your face" in the opening song "Arabian Nights". The line was changed to "Where it's flat and immense and the heat is intense" for the VHS release.
  • Mars Needs Moms, as this Something Awful review points out, risks coming across as one of the more alarmist tomes on parenting from the Fifties. The Martian women, who assume the roles of societal leaders, need to abduct human mothers to serve as templates for maternal care — because a powerful working woman apparently can't be a loving mother at the same time. The Martian men thus have no role in their society and become somewhere between hippies and gay stereotypes. And the Martian girl explicitly says at the end that the only way for a child to truly feel loved is if they're raised by two parents, which must have been interesting for all the single parents in the audience to explain to their kids afterwards.
  • Foodfight!:
    • Many internet reviews have pointed out that The Reveal that Lady X is an old prune mascot implies that "ugliness = bad". And that's only one example of Beauty = Goodness in a movie that consistently plays it straight (although you'd be hard-pressed to say that anyone in the movie is actually appealing, given the animation).
    • Some people also consider the movie homophobic due to Vlad Chocool's Depraved Homosexual behaviour (for the record, he's the only gay character in the movie). And then there's all the racist and sexist unironic caricatures...
  • The Angry Birds Movie has been accused of spreading a message that can best be summarized as: "Immigrants will come into your country, steal your resources, and destroy your home."
  • Batman: The Killing Joke: The Adaptation Expansion that was supposed to be an Author's Saving Throw for Barbara's Stuffed into the Fridge treatment in the graphic novel is even worse than in the source material, as she's treated as Ms. Fanservice and given an arc portraying her as an emotionally needy girl seeking out a relationship with Batman rather than a platonic friend and heroic protégé.
  • Pocahontas has come under fire from numerous Native American groups (example) for whitewashing history and turning a story of kidnapping, rape, and genocide into a family-friendly romance guaranteed not to make white Americans uncomfortable. There's also a lot to be desired from the equivalency between Native Americans and the colonists in "Savages".
  • Mulan: Some critics (for example, The Nostalgia Chick, Lindsay Ellis) dislike the fact that Mulan turns down the post as the Emperor's consul to go home to her family. They think it implies that while a woman can be a hero, she shouldn't have an actual position of power. They also sometimes criticize the hint of romance with Shang, even though it's only a Maybe Ever After since they feel it implies that not even a woman who saves China can be complete without a man.
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2: The Big Bad of the film, Drago Bludivst, being the first non-white character of the franchise, has attracted some backlash for unintentional racism.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The movie Christmas with the Kranks has the protagonists decide not to celebrate Christmas. The reaction this gets is pretty insane, to say the least, with the neighbors harassing the Kranks endlessly to celebrate it and put up decorations like the rest of the neighborhood. They finally give in when their young adult daughter decides to come home to visit. The very fact that not celebrating Christmas is seen to be some kind of unforgivable sin is bad enough, but then the film hammers home the idea that fighting against the established conformity — no matter how much you disagree with it — will get you nowhere and you should never do otherwise. Roger Ebert noticed.
  • Nick's Flick Picks gives The Green Mile a D-, not because of the acting or film making — which he admits are fine — but because the film doesn't seem aware of the problem with a story set in the 1930s South, in which an innocent black man is shuttled around to absorb the pain of white people before being executed as a mercy. A mercy for the pain he feels. That he absorbed from white people.
  • Roger Ebert criticized the Twilight movie New Moon for its portrayal of Native Americans as werewolves because it seemed to imply that they were savage animals who don't like to wear clothes.
  • Consider the creepy ephebophilic themes in The Phantom of the Opera film version, due to casting younger actors than usual in the roles. Erik poses as Christine's father's ghost, starting when she arrives at the opera house at a very young age — and continues posing as her father's ghost after attempting a romantic relationship with her. The stage version never specifically says when Christine came to the Opera and the Phantom started hanging around her (and it is generally assumed that, as in the original novel, she was a young woman by that point). The massive Electra complex overtones remain, though... As Phantom of the Opera in 15 Minutes says, "Daddy issues ahoy!"
  • The movie Dragonslayer had strong anti-Christian overtones (it involves the rise of Christianity... where they're treated as naïve upstarts, every Christian is either incompetent or cowardly and portrayed as ineffective and obstructive) that were blatant enough to make it likely the filmmakers were prejudiced against religion, particular Christianity and/or Christians, which several fans and media outlets pointed out upon the film's release. The most egregious example is where the filmmakers took advantage of having the monster, the dragon Vermithrax, graphically kill one when he confronted the dragon when he tried to cow it in the name of God and got burned to death for his troubles.
  • Pop Culture Detective comments on the predatory behavior present on movies starring Harrison Ford, including The Empire Strikes Back and especially Blade Runner. The video essay shows that the women explicitly refuse the advances of Ford's character, but his behavior is accepted just because the women actually wanted to kiss him. This brings the implication that when a woman rejects a man's sexual advances, she secretly wants them, and that being predatory is a legitimate way of flirting.
  • Many Costa Ricans have a love-hate relationship with Jurassic Park. Many people felt offended because the movie depicts San Jose City as a backwards coastal town with Mexican motifs, chickens, and... well, a generic Banana Republic, while in reality San Jose is located in the center of a valley and is a pretty cosmopolitan big city.
  • Star Wars examples:
    • The Phantom Menace ran into criticism for various Fantasy Counterpart Cultures which some critics felt were a bit too "counterpart" for their liking — for instance, the Nemiodians all speak like Japanese corporate executives (lampooned by Rifftrax, who had Gunray offer "hot and sour soup while you wait for noodle!" to Darth Sidious), Jar Jar was seen by some as a caricature of Jamaicans, and Watto was seen as a greedy space Jew. His enormous nose and small metal quasi-yarmulka did not help. Lucas denied everything and blamed the internet. also disputes this, author Mike Wong, a Canadian of Asian descent, noting that he had to have it explained to him how the Neimoidians are like Asians.
    • The Force Awakens has been accused of racist undertones in the portrayal of Finn, stating alleged examples to be the character's overall lack of effectiveness, his identity being decided by someone else, and his snubbing as a romantic lead.
    • The Last Jedi has garnered some criticism for its handling of non-white characters. Some bloggers have noted that the subplot of Poe (played by the Latino-American Oscar Isaac) being taught a lesson on respecting authority by Admiral Holdo (played by the white Laura Dern) was seen as an example of White Man's Burden. Likewise, others feel that the underutilization of Rose Tico (played by Asian-American Kelly Marie Tran) and the fridging of her sister Paige Tico were seen discriminatory towards Asian actresses since neither were consequential to the larger story.
    • Some feminists have expressed anger and disappointment that Solo has Thandie Newton's Val getting unceremoniously killed just 20 minutes in and promptly forgotten, which wouldn't have been so offensive had there been more women of color in the film, let alone the franchise.
    • Around the release of The Phantom Menace, sci-fi author David Brin penned a series of essays detailing a large number of uncomfortable messages he felt the franchise sends, including "Violence Really Is the Answer," "Some people are just born better than others and the rest of us should defer to them for leadership," and "Absolutely any evil deed is forgivable."
    • When Rose Tico had less than two minutes of screentime in The Rise of Skywalker, abandoning the plot threads the previous film set up for her, many fans of the character suspected this was a deliberate attempt by the filmmakers to appease sexist and/or racist viewers who resented the character for existing and harassed Tran off of Twitter, carrying the unfortunate implication that bullying behavior will get toxic fans what they want out of creatives. The film's co-writer insisted that Rose would have had more to do had the death of Carrie Fisher (Princess/General Leia) and a lack of stock footage of her not got in the way, but this was seen as a weak defense.
  • In-Universe example with Tropic Thunder. Kirk Lazarus, a notoriously extreme method actor, was cast in the role of Sergeant Osiris. Because of this, he had to undergo extensive surgeries and makeup to appear as African American and adopt an accent similar to Ebonics to sell the effect. This leads to the only other major African American character in the film, rapper Alpa Chino, criticizing Lazarus frequently for the action, as well as a news report noting the controversy. What makes this absurd is that Alpa himself is a stereotypical character, and even gets slapped by Kirk for taking it for granted that he (Alpa) has N-Word Privileges.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness attracted controversy for Race Lifting, that is, making Khan, an Indian Sikh character originally played by Hispanic actor Ricardo Montalban, into a white character played by British actor Benedict Cumberbatch. This article goes into detail about the problems with this casting change. It's worth noting that the film's crew actually thought they were avoiding Unfortunate Implications with the casting choice. They thought casting an ethnic actor as a brutal terrorist would have the same outcome. Instead, ironically, their decision to give him a Race Lift was viewed as being even more racist than just sticking to his original ethnicity, as many, especially in the Sikh community who would have liked one of their own to get such a juicy role, complained that it was pointless "whitewashing" of an iconic villain and a lame excuse to cast Benedict Cumberbatch.
  • Although hardly the only flaw in Uwe Boll's series of BloodRayne movies, this article points out how Boll seemingly has "nothing but contempt" for the aggressive, sexually charged female lead character. The review points out how Rayne herself is trumped at every turn in the fight scenes by original characters, and how she is the more submissive partner in the inevitable sex scene.
  • X-Men Film Series
  • Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is about a black doctor marrying a young white woman, and their efforts to get her parents' approval. The filmmakers deliberately made Sidney Poitier's character into a virtual demigod of perfection, to eliminate audience objections to their marriage other than those based on race. But this created other unfortunate implications. To quote Melvin Van Peebles in the documentary Classified X: "Equality. Never mind that the black guy was a scientist, a Nobel Prize candidate, a Pulitzer Prize-winning, butter wouldn't melt in his mouth type who could practically walk on water, and that she was only a pimply-faced nobody. They were equally matched because she was white. Right?"
  • The casting and portrayal of Tonto by Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger has attracted this from critics. From choice of costume, based off of a fantasy painting by a white artist (see here) to Depp's claim that he wanted to provide a "warrior" character for Native American youth to look up to (here), many people have stated that the film is a complete embodiment of this trope.
  • Grover's characterization in The Lightning Thief was such a nonstop barrage of black stereotypes that it led one person to liken it to a minstrel show.
  • During the 2000s, it became a trend for black actors to crossdress as women in movies for the sake of comedy. Martin Lawrence, Eddie Murphy, and especially Tyler Perry have all come under fire for their movies where they crossdressed as stereotypical fat black women. They've all been accused of reinforcing Uncle Tomfoolery and Modern Minstrelsy.
  • Tyler Perry's Temptation deals with the main character having an extramarital affair, putting her marriage on the line in order to get with a "bad boy." And by the end of the film, she's contracted AIDS from her affair, and this is depicted as her "punishment" for stepping out. Given the history of AIDS being painted as a just punishment for sinners, critics lit up Perry for this one.
  • The Ultimate Gift is a relatively normal glurge-y film about a man who must improve himself in the hopes of getting a reward. You'd expect that said award to be the improvement itself, but the movie actually awards him 2 billion dollars. DVD Talk points out the glaring flaw in this ending:
    "Um, hey, how about this instead: you make an inspirational movie about healing and growth, and at the end, the gift is something internal, like being nice to people or not being a jackass anymore. That's a message worth hearing. Having your hero wind up a billionaire suggests we should all do good things solely in the hope of landing a monetary reward. Ugh."
  • In his review of Shame, Kyle Kallgren of Brows Held High took issue with the depiction of the scene when protagonist Brandon has sex with a gay man. While Brandon's compulsive sex addiction is shown to be destructive in every instance, the gay sex is treated as "rock bottom", as the scene is shot under red lighting and then is followed by another scene where Brandon is beaten up by a man on the street.
  • In the 2000 film Rules of Engagement, American Marines open fire on unarmed Yemeni civilians at the American embassy in Sana'a (Samuel L. Jackson's character, a Marine colonel, gives the order to "Waste the motherfuckers!"), killing 83 civilians and injuring over 100 more. When Jackson's character is put on trial, the story then turns to find out if his claims are substantial. In the end, though, it turns out that the civilians were no better than terrorists themselves — everyone, even a four-year-old girl, fired on the Marines first. This article has more info.
  • Spring Breakers' climax involves two white girls donning masks and shooting down a bunch of black people... in Florida... and the film began production shortly after Trayvon Martin was killed. In fact, of all the gangsters in the film, the one who the protagonists trust is white. Addressed by Kyle Kallgren of Brows Held High, who proceeds to criticize this as well as the rampant Male Gaze in his review. The implications of people being shot down in Florida certainly haven't gotten any better over the next few years.
  • The Freudian Excuse of the villain in Rock of Ages is that she was seduced and then abandoned by a rock star, inspiring her to begin her crusade to lobby the government to ban rock music. The thing is, she is presented as an entirely negative character, while her ex is portrayed relatively positively, even joining the protagonists' band at the end, even though it was he who both made the first move in their relationship and left her. As the Musical Hell review points out, the only reason she's a villain and he isn't is Slut-Shaming.
  • Roger Ebert was extremely critical of The Siege because of what he believed was a poor attempt at subverting the anti-Arab/Islamophobic attitudes typically found in other movies. Not helping matters was the fact that it came out three years before the 9/11 attacks.
    "I'm not arguing that The Siege is a deliberately offensive movie. It's not that brainy. In its clumsy way, it throws in comments now and then to show it knows the difference between Arab terrorists and American citizens. But the prejudicial attitudes embodied in the film are insidious, like the anti-Semitism that infected fiction and journalism in the 1930s — not just in Germany, but in Britain and America."
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was heavily criticized for the characters of Skids and Mudflap, who many people viewed as racial caricatures of black people. The Twins are depicted as ebonic-spewing, bickering idiots who can't read and only serve to be comic-relief in a film that's already full of comedic side-characters. It doesn't help that Skids is depicted as having a gold tooth for no particular reason.
  • Some biblical films often tend to white-wash the characters despite the stories taking in the Middle East. For instance, the cast of Noah is entirely white (although the actress portraying Noah's wife is part-Jewish) despite the characters being the ancestors of all races, which wasn't helped by the screenwriter claiming "white people are stand-ins for all people while people-of-color just represent themselves". Also under fire is Ridley Scott's Exodus: Gods and Kings, which casts black people only in the roles of servants and crooks, and even makes the Great Sphinx statue look white.
  • Seven Pounds concerns Tim Thomas, a man who had accidentally killed seven people in a car accident. At the film's climax, Tim commits suicide and donates his organs to seven people who need them, which is portrayed as a Heroic Sacrifice and a redemptive act for him. Mathew Buck of Bad Movie Beatdown took the film to task for this ending, believing it sends the message that there are situations where committing suicide is justifiable, and moreso the implication that there are people who have screwed up their lives so badly that suicide is the optimal course of action. (This is also Values Dissonance, as certain cultures would actually agree with that message.)
  • In his review of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, Film Brain objected to the torturous death given to the promiscuous Bailey; she is first tied up, then raped, then has her teeth pulled out, and finally has her throat cut with a pair of dull scissors. As the rape was deliberately shot to resemble a scene of her having kinky but consensual, sex earlier in the movie, Film Brain took it to mean the filmmakers felt she deserved this gruesome fate.
  • 300 drew criticism for its portrayal of civilized European-looking Greeks fighting against monstrous and dehumanized Persians, several of whom were played by African actors. Not helping matters is that the movie can be seen as a militaristic analogy to the War on Terror. Sources: the Slate, the Guardian, History news Network.
  • 300: Rise of an Empire drew criticism for similar reasons to the first. As once again all the heroes are a group of blue-eyed supermodels speaking in British accents, all the villains dark-skinned Persians speaking in Middle Eastern accents, and this time the only sympathetic or competent Persian so happens to be the only Greek (i.e European) woman within their ranks. Sources: Time
  • Avatar is often criticized for using Mighty Whitey/White Man's Burden plot devices in a high-budget science fiction movie. The main character is a human who becomes the hero of the alien tribe (based off of Native Americans) and gets The Chief's Daughter in the end. This video illustrates using clips of other movies with similar themes how exactly it can be seen as a colonial view of "natives". These articles go into further detail about the controversy.
  • Skyfall: Some viewers have called this after watching Bond's seduction of Severine. Given Severine's background, there's a strong possibility that when Bond initiated sex, she may have felt like she had no choice in the matter. Cinema Sins hangs a lampshade on the discomfort and even Honest Trailers asks: "Isn't he sort of raping that former child prostitute?"
  • M. Night Shyamalan's take on The Last Airbender was heavily criticized for giving a Race Lift to the protagonists, making all three of the main heroes (two of whom, Katara and Sokka, were vaguely Inuit-looking) white and the villains Indian (when they were actually among the paler characters in the show). The Ability over Appearance excuse used falls flat considering the very wooden acting of the leads.
    • The Agony Booth calls out an apparent sexist tone in the film, pointing out that a number of important moments female characters had in the animated series (Katara's speech to the imprisoned Earthbenders, Yue realizing she can sacrifice herself to restore Waterbending) are given to male characters instead. The writer specifically mentions how the film's climax inverts the outcome of the battle of Katara and Zuko from the cartoon, with Zuko being the winner rather than only getting a second wind after the sun rose.
  • Sacha Baron Cohen‘s film The Dictator was criticized many times for portraying negative stereotypes of Arabs as many people felt that Sacha Baron Cohen’s character as the Dictator was highlighting the stereotypes against the Arab community, while comparing the performance to modern day Minstrel Shows.
  • American Sniper:
    • There are a number of controversies regarding the film's depiction of the Iraqi War, with plenty of accusations of racism directed at the depiction of Iraqis and further accusations of washing over Chris Kyle's glorification of war, racism, and moral absolutism, being utterly dismissive of those who didn't serve and being extremely proud of his deeds.
    • Other critics attacked it for perpetuating misconceptions, false pretenses and propaganda about the war. Specifically, the film shows Kyle and his unit being deployed to Iraq immediately after 9/11, and also shows the US Army fighting Al Qaeda right from the start, implying that Iraq was responsible for 9/11, the War in Iraq was a war against Al Qaeda and the invasion was a justified and appropriate response to 9/11.
    • One commentary by an Iraq combat veteran claimed that the film's depiction of Kyle as a One-Man Army, and relegating ordinary soldiers and Marines to background players to be saved or simply be in awe of Kyle gave the impression that elite operatives like Navy SEALS were the only components of the US Armed Forces who were effective and useful.
  • Before it even began filming, Adam Sandler's Ridiculous Six movie got bad press for racism and sexism, with a Native American cast walking out on him.
  • One of the reasons why Adam Sandler’s Jack and Jill was so heavily panned by the critics was due to how Mexican Americans were being portrayed in this film. One of the biggest criticisms regarding this was how Felipe, the family’s gardener, was making self-deprecating jokes about Mexican Americans throughout the film, which includes jokes about immigration.
  • Sandler's 2015 film Pixels was heavily criticized for being sexist. For instance, Michelle Monaghan's character is a decorated military officer, but nevertheless spends most of her screen time moping about her husband leaving her or making moon-eyes at Sandler's character, a down-on-his-luck repairman. Josh Gad's character's love interest is the protagonist of a fictional video game come to life; she never speaks and is explicitly referred to as a "trophy" (i.e. an achievement in a video game) at one point.
  • In one scene in Lucy, the titular Lucy shoots a perfectly innocent Taiwanese taxi driver, for no other reason than because he doesn't speak English... while she's in an Asian country after being kidnapped there. Many people have called the film out on this.
  • was critical of the sexual politics of the films of John Hughes in an article they wrote shortly after his death in 2009. In Sixteen Candles, the male lead casually jokes about raping the Alpha Bitch while she's drunk; he doesn't do this, but the Alpha Bitch and the local nerd have a sexual encounter of Questionable Consent later on which is treated as okay because she liked it. Both the male characters here are supposed to be sympathetic. As well, in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, the character Cameron pretends to be unconscious at one point so he can watch his best friend's girlfriend naked.
  • Spy is a comedy about a downtrodden woman succeeding in a man's world, specifically espionage. According to the Daily Telegraph, however:
    But the film needs Susan to be a bit useless along the way, or it’s in danger of not being funny. And herein lies a slight problem. It’s hard to upend the sexism of the spy genre while also laughing at the unlikeliness of a female spy – especially one played by the magnificently shambolic McCarthy – filling Bond’s boots. The funnier the film gets, in a way, the more it shrugs and admits this is fundamentally a boy’s-own business.
  • Mysterious Skin is a very hard-to-watch movie that faced a lot of controversy from Moral Guardians because of its graphic depiction of the grooming and sexual abuse of a young boy by his baseball coach. There's been some criticism that Neil's life as a prostitute isn't shown to be destructive or dangerous (or even all that abnormal, since he cares more about the sex than the money) until he takes his business into the big city, and because the coach is shown through the gaze of a little boy who has a crush on him, it lessens the impact of the coach as a sexual predator. Then we find out that the coach sexually abused Brian and Neil together, and Brian's life has been very obviously ruined by it. The implication ends up being not that All Gays Are Pedophiles, but if a gay man does happen to be a pedophile then it's no big deal as long as he targets gay kids.
  • Jurassic World has been criticized by some for its characterization of Claire, making her look like a frigid woman who is in the wrong for not having any children as explained here. This actually gets Invoked at one point. Hoskins is discussing how to control the Velociraptors and brings up not allowing the disloyal ones to breed. Barry, a French-African paddock employee who is present when he says this, gives a bitter Never Heard That One Before laugh. Hoskins doesn't get that he just unwittingly referred to one of the historic strategies of African slave owners.
  • Ace Ventura: Pet Detective has a major plot point where the main villain turns out to be a Creepy Crossdresser (who's possibly also transgender), and is subsequently slut-shamed and mocked for it. This review provides an Alternate Character Interpretation that points how cruel the narrative treats said villain, while this one points out that the narrative not only punishes Einhorn for kidnapping and murder, but also for being mentally unstable, "sexually deviant", and presenting as female. Even in 1994, the film was derided for its homophobic implications.
  • Before it was even out, Stonewall, a film about the 1969 Stonewall Inn riot that was one of the founding incidents of the LGBT rights movement, ran into criticism for casting a fictional White Male Lead as its main character despite many of the most important figures in the actual historical events being women, minorities, and transgender people, the person who is commonly credited with having begun the protest, in fact, being all threenote .
  • Discussed here about a change in Divergent from the book to the film — in the book, Tris's fear of intimacy is her third fear, which gets changed to a hallucination of Four attempting to rape her in the film. The post points out that the change (and by extension having Tris conquer the fear with a Groin Attack) opens up a can of worms:
    "...Aren't we just putting the impetus on preventing sexual assault back on the women? So if someone not as strong as Tris is unable to fight off her attacker, is she not responding "appropriately"? Then, aren't we just saying she didn't do everything she could, and thus, it's partly her fault?"
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Defied by Joss Whedon in The Avengers. DVD commentary reveals that the old man who compares Loki to Adolf Hitler came about after Whedon realized what else a crowd of Germans Kneeling Before Zod looked like. He also made sure that other people could be seen standing in the background while Captain America said his line about "a man standing above everybody else" so that Cap wouldn't be the one standing above everybody else.
    • In Iron Man 3, the Mandarin's henchmen are all U.S. military personnel who have had amputated limbs regenerated by Extremis. There's a line in the film that implies they're helping the Mandarin create a never-ending war on terror because soldiers can't get jobs after they come home. Noah Antwiler of The Spoony Experiment pointed out how ridiculously offensive the thought that such a large number of U.S. servicemen and women would willingly and knowingly coordinate attacks against American citizens and even help the Mandarin kill the President is.
    • Avengers: Age of Ultron:
      • The toy tie-ins for the film seemingly eliminated Black Widow figures, which became surprisingly rare. Boxed sets that supposedly included all the Avengers would have Iron Man, Cap, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye, even Ultron...but not Widow. The Quinjet-motorcycle set, which is based on Widow's big action scene speeding through the streets of Seoul, replaced her with different characters like Cap or even Iron Man, who doesn't even need a motorcycle. Mark Ruffalo himself voiced his displeasure with it on Twitter.
      • One scene has the heroes try to lift Thor's hammer, Mjölnir, which would allow them to become the ruler of Asgard if they succeed. Tony claims that when he takes over Asgard he'll "re-instate prima nocta". Detractors state that regardless of whether or not Tony was kidding, casual rape jokes are a serious problem, and Tony is never called out on this by his friends.
      • Although in full context Black Widow was commenting on her Tyke Bomb history and Training from Hell as a whole, the scene in which Black Widow connects with Bruce Banner over their shared inability to have children was criticized due to the implications that women who can't have children are monsters.
    • Doctor Strange (2016): Screenwriter C. Robert Cargill explained that the casting of the Ancient One was an "unwinnable one". They cast Tilda Swinton, who isn't Tibetan or of Asian descent at all. However, making her from Tibet would lead the movie to be Banned in China due to political problems between the two countries and making the character of any other Asian descent would open up even more cans of worms.
    • Despite the franchise's considerable clout, the MCU has been criticized by many for its lackluster depiction of women. Both Gamora and Black Widow were excluded from the merchandise line despite being core members of the Guardians and Avengers lineup. Furthermore, several female characters are treated as little more than generic love interests, bland supporting characters, or the butt of misogynistic humor. Most damningly, Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter refused to green-light a female-led superhero movie, going so far as to defend his rationale with an argument that was seen as a sexist double standardnote . Even MCU head Kevin Feige agreed with such criticism and, upon gaining full control of the MCU, he promised to have better female representation in subsequent movies.
  • Disability advocates are criticizing the movie adaptation of JoJo Moyes' Me Before You because of its ending suggesting that quadriplegic's lives are not worth living and that committing assisted suicide is, for them, a Heroic Sacrifice that can only benefit their abled loved ones. It doesn't help that the story the movie and book follow is the able-bodied female lead's and not the quadriplegic character's, who ends up as an underdeveloped Disabled Love Interest, or that at the end the female lead, Lou, actually is rewarded by Will with a congruous inheritance that makes her able to finally follow her dreams, making Will nothing more than a plot point Lost Lenore.
  • Apocalypto has been criticized on its portrayal of the Mayan people as savages, some scholars have said that the final scene of the Spanish conquistadors arriving sends the colonialist message that the Mayans were so vile and barbaric that they deserved to be "saved" by the white Europeans.
  • Passengers (2016) has the female lead brought out of suspended animation early in an interstellar voyage and trapped on the ship, alone with the male lead for the rest of her life. It was criticized in multiple reviews for revealing that the male lead inflicted this on her intentionally to avoid going mad from the isolation (and because he thought she was cute) and presenting it as a surmountable relationship hurdle that he can badger her into forgiving — essentially portraying "captivity fantasy and victimization" as romance. It also didn't help that the film had an extremely misleading trailer that implied both characters' awakenings were accidental.
  • The Reveal at the end of the already-controversial Ghost in the Shell that Scarlett Johansson's character was originally a Japanese girl before being turned into a Caucasian cyborg has been criticized for unintentionally reinforcing the idea that European beauty is superior to all others.
    Jen Yamato: “Ghost in the Shell” sent a clear, cold message to me as an Asian woman that I am not as worthy of owning my own identity. It’s a dehumanizing concept to sell so cheerily to mass audiences.
  • Atomic Blonde picked up a significant LGBT Fanbase before it was even out thanks to the promises of the main character being bisexual and her primary love interest being a woman. Many of them were disappointed to discover that the love interest character is brutally murdered by the villain toward the end, in a case of Stuffed into the Fridge without a hint of irony.
  • The film adaptation of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood has received some negative reviews that argue that its central storyline of the protagonist reconciling with her abusive mother after being told about the latter's own Dark and Troubled Past sends the message that abusive parents should not be held accountable for what they do to their children as long as their own past is sufficiently tragic.
  • Daredevil: In his The Nostalgia Critic review of the film, Doug Walker took issue with Matt and Elektra's first meeting, which involves them fighting in an open playground when he won't stop trying to get her name.
    NC: Okay, so...where do I begin with this? First of all, I think she's making it pretty clear she's not interested in your stalker ass. If she wanted, she could call the cops on you for being a creeper and grabbing her. But, nah, it makes much more sense to fight him, which leads to the second and most obvious problem: she's fighting a blind guy! She doesn't know he has super senses and neither does anyone else, so, really, what is there to gain? If you lose, you got beaten by a blind guy. Pretty pathetic. But if you win, congrats, you beat the shit out of a fucking blind guy. How does anyone come out looking good in this scenario?
  • Bright: In her video essay, Lindsay Ellis points out that along with the film's many other tone-deaf ideas, the film tries to tie the in-universe racism, both fantastic and mundane, to real-life historical events where the persecuted people were the aggressors. She notes that this insinuates that racism can be based in logical and rational reasons when in truth that isn't always the case and, more troublingly, notions like that can fuel and enable bigots.
  • Under The Rainbow, being a 1980s comedy about the 1930s, isn't exactly the most politically correct movie out there. But even by those standards, it has some pretty horrific things to say about non-straight, white, able-bodied males. The Japanese are not only almost all portrayed as photographers who mix up their R's and L's and have a photography club called JAPS, but it also has them all dying horrific deaths that are basically waved off as hilarious by the movie itself, to the point where when a group of them are shot, a white guy in the elevator's response to it is just "I would've held the door open for you, y'know". Not only that but, at one point, one of the Dwarfs in the movie, who are the good guys, gets ready to rape a bunch of distraught women and it's seen as being hilarious in the context of the movie. Worse, the film basically portrays every character with Dwarfism as psychopaths that will ruin any place they go to just for the hell of it. Not only that, but many of them have very childlike personalities because, apparently, just because someone is the size of a child means they are a child. To say some critics weren't exactly amused by the movie's portrayal of little people is putting it mildly.
  • Peter Rabbit contained a scene where the eponymous rabbit and his family chuck blackberries at Thomas McGregor knowing that he is allergic to them. One then gets into the poor gardener's mouth and he wheezes while struggling to get an EpiPen. This infamous scene has understandably infuriated parents with kids who have allergies and were then boycotting the film.
  • The children's film Show Dogs fell under fire for a bit where the talking dog protagonist has to have his genitalia inspected to be part of the show. Despite showing obvious discomfort, he's simply told to "go to his zen place," at which he imagines himself dancing while he's being groped. Many people were disgusted with the Black Comedy Rape implications, feeling that it essentially normalized sexual grooming. The film's distributors responded by quickly pulling the film and re-releasing it in an edited version that removes two scenes prominently relating to this subplot — the National Center on Sexual Exploitation still took offense at the re-cut because it still retained some genital-inspection scenes.
  • Ready Player One (2018) drew criticism on top of what the book got (see below) for a virtual Race Lift, of the protagonist's in-game best friend Aech. In the book, the avatar Aech is a white male, but the film makes him an orc-like creature. The book made a significant reveal out of the fact that the person behind the avatar Aech is a black woman, noting that she picked this to avoid sexual and racial harassment on the Internet; essayist Ayo Norman also notes the fact that in-universe the virtual world of Oasis is an escape from a Crapsack World. This reveal loses quite a bit of power in the adaptation.
  • In World War Z, Israel built a massive wall to keep the zombie horde out, and when the Palestinians are allowed within its confines, everybody cheers as the conflict ends since both peoples celebrate the fact that they are alive. Soon after, all hell breaks loose as the zombies hear the sound, and Zerg Rush the wall, make it over, and Israel is destroyed. To some, this sounds like a justification of the Real Life wall on the edge of the Western Bank, with the implications that if the wall is torn down, and if the Palestinians are allowed to become part of Israeli society, the state, and even the concept, of Israel will be destroyed.
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice drew much criticism for its depiction of female characters. Martha Kent and Lois Lane are used more as hostages for the male heroes to rescue. Mercy Graves, a no-nonsense bodyguard in the cartoons and comics, is turned into the helpless assistant who gets killed off in a bombing caused by Lex Luthor. Likewise, several women of color are depicted as collateral casualties or human trafficking victims. For several fans and audiences, the women exist only to mourn or be abused.
  • Ghostbusters (2016) has been criticized on its portrayal of male characters, as according to an editorial by Andre Einherjar from Midnight's Edge every single male character in the movie is either inept, incompetent, an idiot, an asshole, or some combination of all of the above.
  • In Bird Box, seeing the creatures makes people go crazy and suicidal; but somehow people with mental disorders are not affected by it and instead force everyone they encounter to see the creatures. Jeremy on CinemaSins pointed out how this helps to perpetuate the stigma of mental illnesses and the people who suffer from them.
  • Pokémon Detective Pikachu has received criticism for its handling of the villain with a disability as well as for suggesting that all disabled people want to be cured rather than try to live with their disability.
  • Loqueesha a 2019 comedy film, in which the white male protagonist pretends to be a Sassy Black Woman on the radio and becomes a hit sensation, has been slammed by critics who decried its main premise as both racist and misogynist.
  • The Test (2012), another comedy film with the same actor and director as Loqueesha, is about a man who is about to marry a beautiful woman, but fearing that she might be a Gold Digger, he puts her through a series of humiliating and abusive Secret Test of Character to prove to him that she truly loves him. Several reviewers have balked at its inherently misogynist premise, and how we are supposed to root for the male lead.
  • This video discusses the "abduction as romance" trope present in The Terminator, V for Vendetta, Passengers, and several others. Quoted below is the film's analysis of Kyle Reese trying to save Sarah Connor, despite the fact that she doesn't want to go with him.
    "The storytelling here is trying to set up an elaborate scenario in which a woman's perfectly reasonable and rational resistance to male violence seems like a naïve mistake. And that framing is not accidental. It's a specific kind of male fantasy where a man taking away a woman's freedom and fundamental rights is presented as something done for her own good, which results in situations where she becomes dependent on her abductor for survival."

  • In The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, the author once compared his Dwarves to Jews — "at once native and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country, but with an accent due to their own private tongue." In a radio interview, he said the Dwarf language was modeled to resemble Semitic. Though he was speaking in specific terms, as a Jewish Journal article has noted, Unfortunate Implications are there for those who want to see them. The Dwarves are created by basically the smith-god of Tolkien's universe and thus have an affinity for mining and crafting with metals and jewels, similar to the original Norse dwarfs. Later, the Dark Lord Sauron tries to corrupt the Dwarf-kings with magic rings which give them explicit gold-lust, multiplying their treasure hoards. But it's noted that this was all the rings did, instead of turning them evil and slaves to Sauron's will, as planned.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Briefcase was a 2015 CBS reality TV show described as poverty pornography, about two struggling families deciding whether to keep a briefcase of money or give it to the other family.
  • In the Mexican Soap Opera La rosa de Guadalupe, as stated in this blog, there are quite a few misconceptions about Asperger Syndrome, making it seem like something that makes people violent, and a Fate Worse than Death. Not only that, but apparently, Aspergers can now be cured, you don't even need a doctor or anything.
  • True Blood:
  • Doctor Who:
    • Susan Foreman of was not originally intended to be the Doctor's granddaughter, but a writer created the family tie because of the connotations of an older man traveling around with an attractive young woman.
    • The TARDIS Eruditorum has observed that it's uncomfortable watching "The Daleks", which has a theoretically anti-racist moral but also uses Beauty = Goodness and presents the Inhumanly Beautiful Race as resembling Aryan supermen — not least that Carole Ann Ford, the actress playing Susan, is Jewish and is asked to say dialogue calling them "perfect". This was also lampshaded indirectly in the Big Finish Doctor Who drama The Alchemists, set in 1930s Germany, where Susan remarks that a young Nazi SS officer looks "almost Thal-like", while herself receiving negative comments based on her dark-eyed appearance.
  • Star Trek:
    "By calling attention to the elephant in the room, they've unwittingly drawn attention to the mammoth standing next to it."
  • The Newsroom:
    • There have been many criticisms of the portrayal of female characters in the series. These tend to center around how female characters tend to have their competence undercut by naiveté/personal problems to a greater extent than do male ones, and are often corrected on their ignorance by male characters. While improved over the course of the series, these features stood out because at least in initial episodes, the supposed competence of the female characters was an Informed Ability.
    • The show's penultimate episode "Oh, Shenandoah." drew a great deal of criticism over the subject of rape accusations, the potential for false accusations, and which party, if either, should be treated as correct. In the episode, a woman who accused a man of rape but found no justice with the police or college made a website where women can anonymously accuse men of rape. Don interviews both the man and the woman in turn, and tells the woman, whom he admits is credible and has no reason to lie, that he is "morally obligated" to believe the man, whom he regards as "sketchy", just on the off chance that she could be lying. The Internet lit the fuck up, with many critics launching the accusation that Sorkin was again using men to correct women and mitigate their concerns, this time in the worst way possible.
  • Many a Lifetime Movie of the Week featuring women being beaten to near-death have been repeated over and over and over and over again on broadcast television. One Movie of the Week produced by CBS in 1993 dealt with a male victim of Domestic Abuse. This film, Men Don't Tell, never aired on that channel again, though Lifetime snuck in a few repeat showings. At least one reviewer discussed this disparity and pointed out exactly what message this was sending in an article in the New York Times.
  • This review of Hemlock Grove points out that, for a show that tries to "shake up" the horror genre, it still kills off a good chunk of its female cast, especially the ones who are sexually active.
  • For the 13th season of Survivor (Cook Islands), the tribes were separated by race. Although this meant that there much more racial diversity in a show that had previously been very monochrome, and the tribes were mixed up after only two episodes, many viewers couldn't help but feel offended by the stunt, finding it reminiscent of Jim Crow-era segregation.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • There have been issues with how the show treats homosexuality. Raj is repeatedly given effeminate quirks. His relationship with Howard is once outright said to be a replacement for a traditional heterosexual relationship that neither can get, with the idea being that it's sad and pathetic as claimed by a professional and well-renowned psychologist, and his later close relationship with possibly bi Stuart is treated similarly. Asexual Sheldon was noted prior for subverting usual sitcom standards by having no interest in women until they decided to add in a female love interest to avoid people thinking he was gay (ironically, his actor actually is).
    • The stereotype that women cannot be comic book, sci-fi, or video game geeks, no matter how nerdy they are, has not gone unnoticed.
    • This two part series on the show discusses the show's more problematic elements when it comes to gender politics, such as treating sexism as a harmless joke or promoting toxic masculinity.
  • Game of Thrones:
  • Glee:
    • The storyline about Quinn trying to get Beth back was criticized by adoption advocates for giving a bad image of open adoptions, as well as just factual inaccuracy (i.e. once the birth parents sign away their parental rights, they're gone for good, so if the adoptive parent is declared to be "unfit," the child is taken into foster care, not given to the birth parents). They petitioned the show to do a PSA dispelling myths about adoption; so far, nothing has come of it, but the controversial storyline also seems to have been wrapped up.
    • Kurt's behavior in "Grilled Cheesus" was treated as unreasonable, but was it, really? It would be one thing to tell friends they're not allowed to pray, but they went beyond praying — they made a big show of being religious in his dad's waiting room, despite the fact that no one except Carol, Finn, and maybe Mercedes actually knew Burt, and Rachel, the person in the room who was the least close to Burt (tied with Quinn), was the one who goes to the solo over his bedside. Also, Mercedes wouldn't accept Kurt's atheism until he went to church with her, but Kurt is supposed to be the intolerant one? No wonder some atheists got really pissed off.
    • Kurt's speech to Blaine (who is questioning his sexuality) in "Blame It On The Alcohol", where he states that bisexuality doesn't exist and that men claiming to be bisexual are really just closeted gay people. While it could just be dismissed as Kurt holding the Jerkass Ball, and Blaine does call him out on his insensitivity, the fact that Kurt is validated at the end of the episode combined with his usual history of being seen as an Author Avatar regarding LGBT issues was seen by many viewers as a case of the show being biphobic. Not helping were comments from Ryan Murphy made soon after regarding the fact that Blaine is 100% gay that "it’s very important to young kids that they know this character [Blaine] is one of them", as if bisexual kids don't matter. Especially considering male bisexuality has even less representation in the media than male homosexuality does.
      • The controversy got reignited after "Tina In the Sky With Diamonds", where Santana spends half of her courtship with Dani panicking over having no "real" experience since she dated a bisexual woman, and the other half sighing in relief that she didn't have to worry about her girlfriend "straying for penis". Between implying that bisexuals aren't "real" members of the LGBT community, claiming that they're unfaithful and promiscuous by nature, and wrongfully smearing Brittany's character (Brittany didn't even end the relationship between her and Santana — Santana did), viewers got angry.
    • Kurt, in general, has been accused of being an unflattering stereotype of gay people. While Kurt is commended for his courage in not hiding his sexuality and standing up to adversity, he is also rather disliked by many gay viewers for being hard to identify with due to his extreme Camp Gay tendencies or criticized for doing more harm than good for representation of gay people in the media. On top of that is resentment over the above-mentioned issues and the way he's seen as a mouthpiece for controversial views expressed by some portions of the gay community that are not necessarily shared by the rest of its members.
  • One of the criticisms of Joss Whedon's Firefly was the fact that despite taking place in a future where China was a massive superpower and Chinese influence could be felt in everything from dialogue to clothing, there were almost no actual Chinese (or indeed any Asian) characters in the show. Even the Tam siblings, who had a Chinese surname, were played by white actors.note 
  • And prior to that, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was subject to criticism about its treatment of minority characters, namely the fact that there were very few of them, and the ones that did exist had a nasty habit of getting killed off.
  • Merlin:
    • The treatment of female characters was bad enough for commentator Dave Bradley to write an article on the subject, pointing out that without exception, all its female characters were either a Distressed Damsel, a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, or a Disposable Woman.
    • The Problem of Morgana points out that Morgana's Face–Heel Turn is presented as her choosing the dark side - except she only becomes evil because she gets her trust betrayed by a friend who thought killing her was more convenient that revealing his secret, and is presented as irredeemable despite being a victim of everyone else's meddling. That one of the show's only prominent female characters is robbed of any agency in her own story, and has her fate dictated by the males around her did not go unnoticed.
  • Teen Wolf:
  • Season 8 of the American version of The Amazing Race provided a rare funny example. The season was an experiment with family teams of four rather than teams of two of different relationships. The only non-white family was a black family whose surname happened to be, well, Black. Cue the Cringe Comedy of them always being called “the Black family” both by the other teams and by the show itself. They were the first team eliminated so at least the unintentional hilarity didn’t last.
  • The Disney Channel has been criticized for playing Jerkass, bullying behavior for laughs in many of their live action shows, as well as portraying adults as useless and continuously implying that girls need to be attractive over being kind, smart, or successful. This is especially unfortunate given the target audience for such shows are tweens, who are likely to emulate such behavior.
    • There have also been at least two Disney Channel shows — So Random! and Shake It Up! — that got flak for making light of eating disorders. When Demi Lovato (who had left Disney Channel to go into rehab for her own eating disorder) called the network out, both episodes were pulled until the offending jokes were edited out.
  • 2 Broke Girls had been accused many times of showing negative stereotypes of various characters, including Han Lee, an Asian American character who is the boss of the diner. Many viewers felt that the show was showing negative stereotypes of Asian Americans through Han’s character, which includes speaking in broken English and not understanding American culture very well.
    “I’m in a casual flirtation with a woman in Australia! She’s part Aboriginal, but has a great personality!”
  • Homeland:
    • There has been criticism of the show's depiction of Muslims and the Middle East in general. Whether seemingly westernized and educated or ignorant and fanatical, the overwhelming bulk of the show's 'Muslim' cast has ended up being linked to the terrorists in one way or another. The Islam of Homeland is presented almost like a monolith, with Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda teaming up to kill Americans without complicated ideas like 'Shia' and 'Sunni' being introduced to complicate such a team-up or acknowledging that Hezbollah has never targeted the United States for an attack. The show's presentation of Hamra Street in Beirut — in reality, a bustling and cosmopolitan area with shops and cafes — as a dirty haven for terrorist and armed militia even led Lebanon to threaten legal action.
    • The third season makes things worse by making the entire nation of Iran the enemy and by making Javadi a cartoonish Evil Muslim who stabs his ex-wife to death because all Muslims are Straw Misogynists. Iran, a country whose people once held candlelight vigils for the victims of the 9/11 attacks, is here shown as a place where everyone cheers Brody the suspected terrorist when they discover who he is, with the CIA bomber quickly becoming a national hero.
  • Jersey Shore: Portraying all Italian-Americans as drunken, steroid-fueled party kids and Hard Drinking Party Girls. In addition to several Italian-American groups, Kevin Smith (a New Jersey native) commented that it's an Italian equivalent to the early 20th-century practice of "cooning", where black entertainers played to the "Uncle Tom" stereotype.
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has garnered a lot of flack for casting Jane Krakowski, a white Polish-American, as a Native American pretending to be Caucasian and hiding her past.
  • De Nieuwe Orde lampshades in the second episode the problems that arise from All Germans Are Nazis, since one of the interviewed of that episode is clearly pro-Nazi Germany, saying that this trope is one proof (among with many other reasons, such as the idea that people had more freedom there) that everyone was happy under the Nazi regime. Maurice De Wilde himself then answers back by saying that there was German resistance, but that the Nazis themselves hid it away from the public. The interviewed man promptly ignores it.
  • El Chavo del ocho has several gay jokes, including Don Ramon's famous Catchphrase: "Yo le voy al Necaxa" (I support the Necaxa [soccer team]) this is because the followers of the Puebla (Necaxa's rival team) were accused to be gay. But probably the most inappropriate example was an episode in which Don Ramón and Profesor Jirafales are mistaken to be homosexuals and the rest of the cast reacts with anger, fear, and disgust. This will be very offensive for modern audiences, especially in some very liberal parts of Mexico like Mexico City (where the show is supposed to happen), a very progressive place and the first part of Mexico in legalizing same-sex marriage.
  • Legends of Tomorrow: A prominent episode guide noted that in the episode Night of the Hawk the behavior of Sara Lance — an established bisexual — promoted the stereotype that bisexuals are only after casual sex. Sara determines that one of the nurses at the 1950s' hospital she's infiltrating is a lesbian and begins to woo said nurse, dismissing her teammate's concerns over what her eventual abandonment of this woman once their mission is complete and they return to their own time will do to her.
  • The Price Is Right had a short-lived pricing game in 1978 called "Shower Game", where the contestant had to guess which of six shower stalls had the correct price of a car. Complaints soon ensued from viewers that its rules and setup reminded them of The Holocaust, which ended over 30 years earlier. While this wasn't why the game was retired, the complaints probably didn't help its case.
  • One episode of House called "Better Half" sent the message that asexuals are all either in denial or have a hormone imbalance, accusations real-life asexuals have to deal with from people who don't realize (or don't care) that it's a legitimate orientation. The asexual community was not pleased by this.
  • During the 2016 Oscars, host Chris Rock spoke about the #oscarssowhithe controversy, which sought to bring attention to the lack of representation by ethnic minorities in Oscar nominated films. His gag, that the Oscar ballots were counted by some Asian kids, had many labeling Rock a hypocrite.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
      • The show took criticism for having the first super powered threat be an Angry Black Man. Later episodes with this character in the first season may have made things worse. Most of the criticism appears to stem, however, from individuals unfamiliar with the character Deathlok, who Peterson was always intended to become and who, by the end of season 1 and into season 2, was not an "angry black man" at all, but a hero.
      • "Yes Men" was a clumsy attempt at a female empowerment story that managed to garner accusations of sexism from both sides. For women, it was the episode's need to "justify" Sif's presence in the plot by having a Villain of the Week only a woman could defeat, and for having the first major female supervillain to appear on the show be a seductress. For men, it was the episode's sentiment that "men are weak", which is echoed by several heroic characters and never contested, as well as the treatment of Grant Ward, who is brainwashed and raped by the female villain, the implications of which are ignored.
    • Daredevil (2015):
      • It had been brought up that out of all the stereotyped criminal organizations in Wilson Fisk's criminal enterprise in season 1, the Chinese and Japanese are essentially modern-day Yellow Peril cliches. Moreover, there's the fact that they're basically not even considered human (Matt killing Nobu isn't even counted as a blip on his moral radar, despite his Catholic guilt and Thou Shalt Not Kill being a huge part of his character). Doesn't help that canon-wise they are not human: Gao is clearly supernatural and Nobu is undead (as Nobu reappears towards the end of season 2).
      • The second season also came under fire. The need to equate the Asian gangs and ninjas comes across as a bit racist, as does the fact that the one decent person tied to The Hand is Stan Gibson, a white accountant who is being forced to help them against his will. In fact, Iron Fist (2017) takes steps to make the Hand a lot more ethnically diverse: Madame Gao uses Caucasian, Mestizo Latina, and African-American women to market her heroin; Radovan's jailer, King, seems of Middle-Eastern origin; Danny gets pitched against a pair of Slav brothers; Bakuto's camp includes black and Hispanic kids, etc.
      • Some people take issues with the way the show treats Matt Murdock's potential love interests. Namely, that Matt takes great pains to hide the darker aspects of his personality from the white Karen Page, being very chivalrous and gentle with her, but is hostile and abrasive with the Afro-Latina Claire and the French-Cambodian Elektra, continuing an unfortunate media trend wherein white women are seen as the "happily ever after" instead of non-white ones. The article also takes issue with the way Karen has quite a few men who shield her from harm compared to Elektra and Claire, who only ever have Matt or have no one at all. Or that whenever Karen does get injured, the injuries disappear to avoid tarnishing her appearance, but the same is not said for Claire or Elektra.
    • Iron Fist (2017):
      • Particular ire has fallen on the Mighty Whitey overtones of a scene where Danny lectures Colleen about East Asian philosophy and the true nature of martial arts in her own dojo. Bad enough in-universe, and worse when you consider that everything he's saying is based on a fictional martial art made up in the '70s. Though she does get her own back a couple of episodes later when she calls out Danny's sword work (using a traditional Japanese katana like a Chinese sword) and shows him the proper technique, to which he calls her amazing.
      • As one review put it, "It blows my mind that despite the sheer number of people who worked on this episode no one flagged that it would be a bad idea to have Danny chastise a room full of black and brown students by calling them 'chattering monkeys.' It's stuff like that that makes me hesitant to give the show the benefit of the doubt when it comes to issues of representation. If the creators aren't even aware of basic racially charged language, how am I supposed to trust that they've thought out the racial politics of their show?"
  • Done In-Universe in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode featuring The Time Travelers where Jonah calls out the movie for using an actor with an actual deformity to portray one of the mutants.
  • How I Met Your Mother
    • Throughout the series, some feel there is a running theme that the only success for a woman is raising a family, leading to some claiming the show made female characters into nothing more than just a walking uterus. There's also talk of how it reduces the value of the gang's friendship and every message about how important it is by having them split up, essentially saying that his friends had no value outside of how they got Ted and Robin together.
    • The Season 9 episode, "Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra," got a lot of criticism on the Yellow Face. Carter Bays admits that they were trying to pay homage to the Kung Fu movies that they grew up on and apologized to people who were offended.
  • In 2017, Netflix ran a short-lived show starring Naomi Watts as a psychotherapist who gets overly involved in her patients' lives. The series was titled Gypsy, a word now considered a racial slur for the Romani people, which the creators didn't seem to realize. The resulting controversy was discussed briefly by Bleeding Cool and in-depth by Bitch Magazine.
  • The Orville's episode "Cupid's Dagger" drew the ire of both viewers and reviewers for its poor grasp of sexual consent. Darulio is essentially guilty of three known counts of date rape (by way of estrus pheromones that evidently work on humans) by the end of the episode, which is ignored completely. The episode was made worse by its real-world timing, having aired amidst a wide-ranging spate of sexual misconduct scandals that started with Hollywood casting mogul Harvey Weinstein being publicly accused of crimes up to and including rape.
  • Pretty Little Liars took a massive flak broadside when it revealed that A was actually Ce Ce Drake, formerly known as Mister Charles DiLaurentis. This was heavily criticized for playing into negative stereotypes about transgender women, in that they're deceitful crossdressing men at best and depraved, violent, and insane at worst. The fact that the character wasn't played by a transgender actress either did not help matters.
  • When one strips away the various pieces of flat-out wrong information produced on Ancient Aliens, it can fall into this: a great deal of the "alien" artifacts or human sites built "with alien assistance" are from pre-Columbian civilizations or sub-Saharan Africa, the implication being that these civilizations were too backward or stupid to create such impressive structures. For instance, the show once claimed that Puma Punku, a fifth-century Aymara site in the Bolivian Andes, was "the only site created directly by extra-terrestrials". At the same time as Puma Punku was constructed, the Romans were building equally-if-not-more advanced stone structures... but of course those stupid Amerindians couldn't build anything white people could, they must have been helped by aliens!note  It's not hugely far-removed from the 19th-century theories that Great Zimbabwe was built by "southern Jews".
  • Heathers has received intense criticism for its decision to change the conflict from a bunch of rich socialite bullies into Political Correctness Gone Mad, pushing the narrative that minorities are the real power now in schools (which is very much not the case) and that the straight white kids are the "real" victims.
  • Blue Bloods: This critique of the show points out how the show reinforces negative stereotypes about racial minorities by often having them portrayed as untrustworthy by having them manufacture fraudulent claims about police brutality.
  • Quantico
    • Has been called out various times for its grossly egregious misrepresentation and villainization of queer characters, with some calling out the fact that Simon became a better, more competent person AFTER he revealed he wasn't gay.
    • This article also points out that Simon's story is full of anti-Semitic stereotypes, since he lies about his identity and is presented as someone unreliable and misleading.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit dropped a planned subplot for this reason. Originally, it was going to be revealed in Season 2 that Olivia Benson's mother hadn't actually been raped. Realizing that would feed into a problematic narrative (one which, in fact, the series debunks or deconstructs on multiple occasions), producers made the decision to cut the subplot, and those scenes were never aired. (In fact, a subplot several seasons later that did make it into the series confirmed that Olivia's mother was raped.)
  • Stranger Things: A few commentators have perceived a sexist streak in the first season. It doesn't exactly help that the treatment of Barb Holland is textbook Stuffed in the Fridge.
    • Season 3 seems to gladly indulge in toxic masculinity, and no better place is this shown than in Hopper's behavior. Many of the commenters have noted that the behavior Hopper exhibits is the kind of behavior that's tantamount to domestic abuse, both in his handling of Mike spending time with Eleven, and in his constant belittling of Joyce (which many see as character derailment from the way Hopper treated her in seasons 1 and 2). However, this behavior is treated as a minor character flaw at best, not to mention played for laughs several times and ultimately excused by the show.

  • The AV Club article "We Care a Lot" discusses various examples of the Charity Motivation Song, such as "We Are the World", "Do They Know It's Christmas?", and more obscure efforts, pointing out more than once that the songs and videos made for them wind up coming off as narcissistic by promoting the celebrities singing them as much as, if not more than, the cause.
  • Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend" music video has plenty of these, a great many of which get called out in the Literal Music Video parody of it. On the whole, the video promotes promiscuity while shaming more conservative outlooks while simultaneously flipping between two different stereotypes.
  • Taylor Swift songs can come off as incredibly slut-shaming and sex-negative sometimes (in "Fifteen" it's implied that her friend's virginity was all she had, and in "Revenge" it's implied that the person it's addressed to stole her boyfriend via being better at sex, just for two). See this article for a much longer explanation.
  • "The Christmas Shoes" is a contemporary Christian song (and movie) about a melancholy gentleman who helps a boy buy a pair of shoes for his mother, who is on her deathbed and expected to pass away shortly, so she can greet Jesus while wearing them. The singer then muses to himself that God sent the kid to remind him what Christmas is all about; in other words, God killed a little boy's mother on Christmas just to guilt some unrelated curmudgeon into appreciating the holidays. That observation has been made numerous times by various critics, but the Nostalgia Chick and Patton Oswalt probably put it best.
  • The song "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke is supposed to be an Intercourse with You song. However, the lyrics come off more like the perspective of a rapist. To illustrate, Todd in the Shadows did a juxtaposition of this song and "Sex Type Thing" by Stone Temple Pilots (a song explicitly sung from the perspective of a rapist) in his review, while Sociological Images did a break-down of the song by taking images from Project Unbreakable (an online photo essay of survivors holding up placards with quotes from their rapists to bring awareness) to demonstrate how in a real-world context things like this aren't said in a consensual encounter. It's also brilliantly satirized in the parody "Lame Lines". This parody by Bart Baker points out the rape overtones while still being comedic.
  • Justin Timberlake was criticized by the Take Back the Night Foundation, an anti-rape group, for his song "Take Back the Night." Timberlake claims that he was unfamiliar with the organization when he wrote the song and that the similarity between the title and lyrics and their name is unintentional. However, certain lyrics such as "come on, surrender," "your love's a weapon," and especially, "they gon' try to shut us down, I’ll be damned if we gon' let them take back the night" read as very disturbing when viewed through this lens. He has since apologized and made a statement in support of the group, and for their part, they have decided against taking legal action. Read all about it at Wikipedia.
  • Lily Allen's video for the song "Hard Out There" met with controversy over alleged racist undertones, such as Allen using predominately black backup dancers while singing about how she doesn't need to shake her booty because she "has a brain". Allen claims the fact that dancers were mostly women of color was an unfortunate oversight, and that they just happened to be the most talented women who auditioned.
  • Similarly, Lorde's single "Royals" became the subject of controversy because she criticizes the materialism and alleged "vapidity" in genres like rap and hip-hop, which are primarily populated by black and Latino artists. She even ended up issuing an apology to Drake and Nicki Minaj after claiming their music was irrelevant.
  • Cover Band Sambô's take on U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday" got some heat for making a cheery samba version of a song about a massacre remembered today as an Irish national tragedy. The performance, full of smiling, giggling and cheering basically throws the point of the original version through the window, as if the group was making fun of what happened, or if the performers never bothered knowing what the lyrics were about. In an interview, when faced with the accusation of making the dissonant version, the group responded that the rhythm didn't make the song any less sad, and blamed Misaimed Fandom for the awkwardness.
  • "Rhythm Is a Dancer" by the Eurodance group Snap! has the line "I'm as serious as cancer when I say rhythm is a dancer". This has been referred to as "the worst lyric of all time" and it drew controversy from family and health groups in spite of the analogy being used in rap music since the late '80s.
  • "Word Crimes" by "Weird Al" Yankovic created minor controversy with Al's usage of the word "spastic". Once informed that it's a derogatory term for people with cerebral palsy, he quickly apologized on his Twitter.
  • "Happy Ending," the second single from the 2017 Hopsin album No Shame, is Exactly What It Says on the Tin: it tells the story of a man who gets a Happy Ending Massage at an Asian massage parlor — already embodying a rather egregious stereotype. It's bad enough that some of Hopsin's vocals, which take the POV of the Asian masseuse, are incredibly broken English sung in a high-pitched Funetik Aksent that almost certainly comes across as Yellowface. But what really takes it Up to Eleven is the video, which was taken down from YouTube for nudity. The titles are written in stereotypical "wonton fonts," and in one scene that drew particular ire from critics, the masseuse dances around with tip jars covering her breasts that say "Suckee" and "Fuckee." Controversy ensued, with critics including a member of the House of Representatives and the Director of Disruption Strategies at the anti-sex trafficking organization Polaris, while Pitchfork gave it special mention in their review of Hopsin's No Shame, and The Needle Drop was so disgusted by the song and its unfortunate implications that he called it the worst single of 2017.
  • The Christmas carol "Baby, It's Cold Outside" (originally written by Frank Loesser, sung here by James Taylor and Natalie Cole) has in The New '10s drawn fire from listeners leading to it being banned by some radio stations for what sounds like Questionable Consent on the part of the female speaker (the line "Say, what's in this drink?" especially can raise eyebrows). As this article explains, Values Dissonance is largely to blame here: the woman is actually consenting, but a "good girl" in The '40s wasn't supposed to actually say yes to sex.
    "It’s a song about a society where women aren’t allowed to say yes...which happens to mean it’s also a society where women don’t have a clear and unambiguous way to say no."

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Noted on Lethal WOW about how WWE has a history of favouring white Divas as their top babyfaces. Any women of colour either don't become stars or else get pushed as heels (and make what you will of their opponents usually being heroic white girls). Likewise, many women of mixed heritage have a history of downplaying it and being presented as white or Ambiguously Brown. Especially of note is Sasha Banks taking ages to achieve anything, despite her clear popularity - when her white contemporaries received pushes far quicker.
  • Cewsh Reviews noted here and here the disturbing tendency for WWE to portray their Faces as mean-spirited bullies who are supposed to be in the right purely because the audience cheers for them. Sheamus is particularly notorious for acting like this whenever he's face.
  • Paige has attracted a couple:
    • In one Smackdown segment, she referred to Tamina Snuka as Naomi's "boyfriend" and suggested that she belonged in the wrong division. Critics pointed out the negative implications of a face making sexist and transphobic remarks.
    • She and AJ Lee were the faces going up against the heel Bella Twins. The face team had two Tomboys, while the heels were Girly Girls. This wouldn't have been so bad if Paige hadn't claimed that she and AJ were automatically better because they weren't girly, and that the Bellas somehow weren't 'real' women. ''Diva Dirt'' criticized them for that.
  • After losing her Divas' Championship, AJ Lee - again meant to be a Face - insulted the Bella Twins by claiming "talent isn't sexually transmitted". Resorting to Slut-Shaming as a way of insulting her opponents was called out.
  • In the sixth season of WWE Tough Enough, contestant Amanda accused Sara Lee of being a "ring rat". Mick Foley criticised Amanda's Slut-Shaming Sara Lee in an attempt to sway fan votes. He also had a problem with none of the judges calling Amanda out for her bullying. He later wrote a retraction once it was explained that Amanda was playing the part of the heel in the final, though still said she shouldn't have resorted to slut-shaming to get cheap heat.
  • The character of Muhammad Hassan, an Arab-American wrestler who was angry at the United States for discriminating against him following the 9/11 attacks. It was a powerful gimmick that touched upon the real-life social issue of Islamophobia. There was just one problem: the character was portrayed as a heel, which essentially meant that the Islamophobes were essentially the good guys in his storyline. Things were only made worse after the terrorist angle that aired the day of the London terrorist bombings in July 2005. Aside from being obviously Too Soon, it perpetuated the "All Muslims are Terrorists" stereotype and completely contradicted the original character of being an ordinary American standing up to discrimination. Hassan explained his thoughts on it here.
  • Ronda Rousey, meant to be a Face was criticised for again resorting to Slut-Shaming in a promo against the Bella Twins. Her comments about the 'Diva Era' making her "sick to my stomach" were also noted to be Undermined by Realitynote 
    "Ronda Rousey is the main eventer of this all women's PPV, the all-women empowering event. She's the face of this women's event and she's the one taking issue with Nikki Bella being in a relationship with a man."

    Radio Plays 

    Tabletop Games 

  • The Las Vegas Sun's review of Criss Angel BeLIEve points out that in the original (subsequently retooled) story "[T]here's a continual struggle over [Criss's] usually shirtless bod between his stage assistants, Kayala, an angelic ever-receding woman in white and Crimson, a devouring, demonic black woman. (Not even going there.)"
  • When Tootsie was given a Broadway adaptation in 2019, it received several criticisms for the story (a struggling actor masquerading as a woman to get a role on a big Broadway show) having transphobic undertones without the excuse of Values Dissonance that the original movie has. Some lines do try to address this (with Michael's agent flippantly supporting alternate pronouns and using whatever bathroom you want), but for many it comes across as a weak hand wave. Even more controversial was several pieces of merchandise that featured the quote from the show: "Being a woman is no job for a man." While this makes sense in the context of the show, it received much backlash from trans people for sounding eerily close to a transmisogynistic slogan, resulting in the merchandise being pulled.
  • The play All in a Row, which premiered in London in 2019, faced some serious backlash for portraying an autistic child as a puppet, as it implied that autistic characters could easily be replaced by props. Not helping was the puppet's design as "grey and mawkish" and the flimsy excuse that it would have been too hard to get consent from an actual nonverbal autistic child (since verbal autistic children exist and are often capable of tasks like acting).
  • Miss Saigon was written in the 1990s and, despite initially casting some actors in yellowface (already a highly problematic move), brought major roles for Asian American actors during a time when there were few. However, many modern critics have denounced the show for its misogynistic and racist overtones. The love story between the white American soldier Chris and Kim, a Vietnamese escort he sleeps with, is seen as highly questionable, with most of the story putting sympathy towards Chris in what many see as unchecked White Guilt.

    Theme Parks 
  • The Epcot ride Habit Heroes was heavily criticized for fat-shaming, as it focused on literally fighting obesity. The article also notes that one of the "villains" seen in the old attraction's site was an embodiment of insecurity. Yes, insecurity is a bad habit that must be cured like a sweet tooth or excessively gossiping. Thankfully, Disney closed the ride and remodeled it to be a bit gentler, to a much warmer reception.

    Video Games 
  • Duke Nukem Forever suffered a bad example of this. The game positively rejoices in a very dated portrayal of female characters as damsels to be rescued and eye candy, is (seemingly) intended to be an example of Crosses the Line Twice, in a send-up of old action games and movies (and with a fairly large helping of Self-Deprecation). However, one game mechanic, in the "Capture the Babe" multiplayer mode, which involved the babe making a bid for freedom and needing to be slapped on the arse to calm her down, didn't endear it to some reviewers.
  • Metroid: Other M: Some critics argue that the game's sexism and bizarre incompetency on Samus' part are merely parts of a greater whole: a romanticized abusive relationship between an otherwise capable bounty hunter and her surrogate father figure.
  • Mass Effect:
    • A Kotaku article guffawing about the Running Gag of Commander Shepard's Renegade option to punch out reporter Khalisah bint Sinan al-Jilani attracted complaints that the action treated violence against women as a laughing matter. Other commenters, however, made the point that in Mass Effect's future, it didn't matter that she was a woman, and that female Shepards could do the exact same thing. Even the author of the conversations weighed in, saying that al-Jilani was a Take That! directed against certain Pompous Political Pundits and biased journalism and that the only reason he made al-Jilani a woman was because he likes coming up with female names more. He was more surprised people weren't latching onto the fact that al-Jilani is identifiably Arab. "They notice the gender issue, not the race issue."
    • The first two games attracted criticism for a lack of same-sex romance options for a male Shepard, while female Shepards could begin a relationship with a member of a One-Gender Race or a bisexual woman. They rectified this with the third installment, which has two male homosexual romance options (one new and one who has been around since the first game). Only adding it to the third game has its own issues. It's completely possible to have played a male Shepard as gay throughout ME1 and ME2, he'd just also be a Celibate Hero on top of being gay, but that just falls into this again. Plans were allegedly in place for Male Shepard to be able to pursue a relationship with Thane in Mass Effect 2, but this was cut in response to the controversy over the first game. Even so, it remains unfortunate that Female Shepard being openly lesbian is available from the very first game while Male Shepard can't be played that way until the final installment.
    • In Mass Effect 3, all of the love interests, save for African American Jacob Taylor, stay faithful to Shepard. Jacob is the only character to outright dump Shepard because, during the Time Skip between Mass Effect 2 and 3, he impregnated another woman. This led to a large debate over the negative connotations related to his unfaithfulness and his race. To this day, it's still a touchy subject to tackle.
  • In the World of Warcraft Mists of Pandaria beta, Jii Firepaw, leader of the Horde-allied Pandaren, would compliment your strength if you're playing a male Pandaren, and your attractiveness if you're playing a female one. This sparked a controversy, with people complaining about, among other things, the focus on a female's appearance rather than competence in her chosen class. This ultimately led to the dialogue getting removed from the game.
  • Persona 5:
    • Your high school-aged player character is free to engage in implied sexual relationships with several adult women, which many countries would consider statutory rape — and one of those women is your teacher, an even worse case. All this moral ambiguity and there isn't even a Gay Option to romance. While there is a tastefully depicted Drag Queen, the other two gay characters in the game are played as lazy jokes. The LGBT Fanbase that had been attracted to the series by better representation in Persona 2 and 4 felt alienated, to say the least.
    • The fact that the character Ann, a sex abuse survivor, is the game's premiere Ms. Fanservice has also been criticized, especially in Madarame's arc, where Yusuke blackmails her into posing nude for him. This undermines her introduction during Kamoshida's arc, which treated his perverted nature much more seriously, since the situation with Yusuke was more comedic in tone and has the other guys making light of her situation. When Yusuke does join the team, he does so without facing any backlash from any of the other members for trying to blackmail Ann, and nothing he does afterwards is as disrespectful towards anyone else's personal boundaries.
  • Avoided in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. Marluxia was originally intended to be a woman, but once they started to develop the game's plot, the developers realized that having the only two women out of a group of thirteennote  plotting to overthrow the men in charge and subsequently getting killed for it by another male wasn't going to go over too well.
  • BioShock Infinite, which features class warfare between downtrodden minorities (led by the black Daisy Fitzroy) and a racist white society (led by the "Prophet" Zachary Hale Comstock), has come under criticism for its somewhat awkward use of the theme of race. The juxtaposition of Comstock and Fitzroy has been called a false equivalency, and the main quantum mechanics story thread being independent of race (although the two themes do dovetail in some of the subplots, e.g., the gunsmith and his wife) have led some to question why even add race relations to the game at all. Burial at Sea attempts to alleviate this by making Fitzroy more sympathetic, revealing that she never wanted to kill Fink's son, and only pretended to because the Luteces needed Elizabeth to become more comfortable with killing.
  • Fire Emblem Awakening:
  • Fire Emblem Fates, despite the inclusion of Gay Options as stated above, fell into this with the treatment of character Soleil, who seems to prefer women as romantic partners but can't support with any of them, and her Japanese higher level support dialogs with a Male Avatar are strongly reminiscent of both Cure Your Gays and Slipping a Mickey, as he essentially gives her a potion without her knowledge to make her view him as a cute girl, and this is treated as a good thing. This has been heavily criticized on both sides of the Pacific, so much so that Nintendo would later completely rewrite the scene for its Western release.
  • The reboot of Tomb Raider seemingly featured Lara's sexual assault as a plot point in the trailers and interviews (such scenes were not in the actual game). When questioned about this, one of the game's executives claimed that the point of the assault was to encourage the player to 'protect her and care for her' because 'they don't really project themselves into the character'. This left many people understandably less than impressed, including the game's lead writer and marketing department.
  • The trailer for Hitman: Absolution, which features PVC-clad Ms. Fanservice Naughty Nuns being shot, beaten, stabbed, and garroted by the very male Agent 47, caught a lot of flak for seemingly encouraging sexism, fetishizing violence and glamorizing violence towards women, such as this article in the Guardian, and this tweet from Charlie Brooker:
    Brooker: Trail for Hitman: Absolution is terrible shit aimed at base, clueless imbeciles. Fuck the game industry if it thinks this shit works. Fuck it.
  • Call of Juarez: The Cartel:
  • Shortly after the release of Scribblenauts, a game where you write words into a magical notepad in order to make a corresponding object appear and use these items to solve puzzles, some controversy was caused when it was discovered that writing "Sambo", a derogatory term for black people, would cause a watermelon, which is often stereotypically associated with black people, to appear. The creators clarified that this was not because of racism, but because there is a fruit called sambo that resembles a watermelon, and the game often reuses graphics for similar-looking objects.
  • Digging into the files of Dead Island reveals the names for the special abilities for each character. One of Purna's is "gender wars", which allows her to deal more damage to males. However, it was discovered this particular ability was before release named by one of the developers ''feminist whore.'' This was something developers Deep Silver were sorry had been missed and sent out with initial copies of the game.
  • Avoided in Kingdom of Loathing: a Bad Moon-only adventure where your character falls into some tar is titled "A Potentially Offensive Reference Has Been Carefully Avoided Here".note 
  • The "pawns" system in Dragon's Dogma has drawn comparisons to pimping. Let this quote from the Zero Punctuation review explain:
    "...for adventuring purposes, you can also enlist two additional sidekicks who are the main sidekicks of other players elsewhere in the world. [...] When you're finished with them, you give them a little present and send them back to their owner with a fond slap on the bum. You even have to rate them like you're filling in a timesheet for a temp agency. It creates motivation to make sure your sidekick has the best equipment and skills [...] so they'll be more likely to be hired by other players, acquire experience, bring you back presents, and — wait a minute! Am I pimping?
    Once that thought occurred to me, I just couldn't shake it off. [...] 'No, it's alright,' says the game. 'They're not actually intelligent free-willed human beings, they're pawns, a sort of magical human slave race who look a lot like humans but actually don't have minds of their own.' Oh, even better! Now we're pimping the mentally subnormal!"
  • Avalon Code. The only character (other than the Big Bad) to be Killed Off for Real — through a spiteful Backstab Backfire Karmic Death, no less — is Olly, who is designed as stereotypically ugly. (They are, of course, evil.) Everyone else gets a Disney Death or otherwise miraculous survival. Let's Player Didja Redo did not like this, frequently criticizing the game's usage of Beauty = Goodness in his rewrite and explicitly mocking it in his run-through of the real game:
    "By the time we were told the tornado victim could be revived, I'm sure we were all expecting everyone to survive. This game does not have the moxie to kill someone 100% indisputably dead. [picture of Olly's death] PROVIDED THEY AREN'T TOO UGLY."
  • Uncharted doesn't exactly treat non-Americans very well. Most of the mooks in the first two games are ethnic minorities (for bonus points, a few of them are also portrayed as stupid and superstitious), and Nathan is the only one ever capable of doing any actual treasure-hunting or clue-solving. Additionally, in the first game, every protagonist is white, and almost every antagonist is...not. This has lessened somewhat in the later sequels, which have more sympathetic non-white characters and white villains. Yahtzee sums it up pretty well.
  • There has been some controversy about the character Sarah in The Walking Dead. Sarah is a teenage girl who is implied to have some form of disorder, and is also confirmed to suffer from PTSD by Telltale themselves. She is portrayed as The Load, and is killed off in the fourth episode of Season 2. In an interview, two Telltale game employees admitted that many people in the office (as well as the fandom) was excited to kill her off. More than one person has called out the developers for seeming to imply that a disabled child is nothing but a liability, and other survivors should get rid of them to give themselves a better chance.
  • Two robot masters were introduced in Mega Man Powered Up as two new bosses Mega Man had to face before challenging Dr. Wily. One of them is Oil Man, whose original design made him resemble someone in blackface. Naturally, this attracted some controversy. Therefore, international versions of the game attempted to lighten his colors in an attempt to make it more appealing to western audiences, and when he appeared in Archie's Mega Man comic, he donned a scarf over his mouth in an attempt to hide the resemblance.
  • Regarding Assassin's Creed: Unity, Robert Rath writing for The Escapist criticized the depiction of famous revolutionary women in the game, noting that despite the negative publicity Ubisoft is Not Helping Your Case. He points out how one major woman historical figure like Charlotte Corday is portrayed like a crazy stalker (rather than Well-Intentioned Extremist who truly believed she was doing right) as well as being treated in a throwaway half-baked side mission when she is one of the most legendary true-life assassins in history. Olympe de Gouges, a highly respected feminist author (regularly considered for placement in France's Pantheon building) does not get a database entry and appears as a collectible severed head for Madame Tussaud's collection which Arno has to rescue since it's a fetish object from a nutty soldier, noting how literally she's made into a sexual object.
  • Star Trek Online: The relationship between the Kobali and the Delta Alliance, as well as between Kobali "parents" and their "children", have been compared to domestic abuse and parental abuse, and their method of reproduction (basically necromancy: they inject humanoid corpses with a virus that rewrites their DNA) to rape. In the latter case, in response to a rebuttal one poster commented that saying a Kobali resurrectee that remembered their past life should stay with the Kobali because "that's their culture" was like saying that a friend of his who had been date-raped needed to spend the rest of her life living with her rapist. By contrast, the Vaadwaur, intended to be the Monster of the Week for the Story Arc in question, come off as the Designated Villain. [13], [14]
  • Pokémon: The Pokémon Jynx has been accused of resembling Blackface performers, mostly due to her big, pink lips and jet black skin. Jynx's appearance caused episodes starring the Pokémon to pulled from rotation (with one episode being banned entirely), and later led to Jynx being redesigned in the international releases of Gold & Silver to have purple skin. Re-releases of older games and episodes have also digitally altered Jynx's skin color in order to avoid controversy.
  • In-Universe example: Megatagmension Blanc + Neptune vs Zombies opens with Rom and Ram, a pair of high school juniors (who still look like children) being attacked by film club volunteers in zombie costumes. Nepgear uncomfortably notes they initially had the high-school boys playing the aggressors without makeup, "But it looked... weird. Zombies were a less offensive options." It's then parodied by Blanc deciding to open the movie by having a cruise ship crash into the (inland) school because it had never happened before, but using a plane, train, or car might offend someone.
  • Super Fighter: Discussed about in this video (19:00-19:25) by the guys of Two Best Friends Play while playing this Taiwanese made Poor Man's Street Fighter II clone concerning the unwisely chosen name of "Red Man" for the lone Native American character, who is a blatant rehashing of the worst and most racist caricatures of Native Americans (without any sort of hint of irony whatsoever; the fact that he is also the main villain doesn't help.
  • This is very likely why Chief Thunder was not given a true retro outfit in the 2013 Killer Instinct reboot, as his original outfit could easily be construed as culturally insensitive (instead he was given a Badass Biker alternate outfit as his retro outfit, which is definitely cool but not what he wore in the original Killer Instinct). Iron Galaxy (the developers who assumed control of the game when Double Helix was bought out by Amazon) went on to correct this by collaborating with the Nez Perce tribe to create a 100% culturally accurate alternate outfit for Thunder.
  • Super Princess Peach received a bunch of criticism about its Vibe mechanic, saying that having Peach's powers come from emotions while Mario and Luigi merely use their strength plays right into the stereotype that all women are emotional and overreact. They've also been compared to PMS symptoms.
  • Ride to Hell: Retribution has been widely criticized by practically everyone who has reviewed the game for the way women are treated in this game. Basically, they are treated as trophies where after Jake rescues a woman from being assaulted by a man, they immediately reward him with sex and have very little personality.
  • Cuphead's art style pays homage to cartoons of the 1930s, many of which deployed racial caricatures for comedy. Studio MDHR has stated that in designing the aesthetic of Cuphead, they wanted to honor the artistic merit, but not the racism. Some critics, however, note that Cuphead still borrows many of the tropes and plot devices used in those same racist cartoons, and that merely swapping out a racist character design for a non-offensive one doesn't do enough to separate the art from its racist context.
  • This review of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony complains that killing off Kaede Akamatsu "falls into the unfortunate trope of 'fridging' a female character by introducing them, only to kill them off to further the character development of the male."
  • The Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons series has received criticism by several sites, and especially by the fandom, for its lack of a Gay Option. Despite being over 20 years old, same-gender romances aren't allowed in the games. Dating, marrying, and having kids are important in the series, so this exclusion ostracizes some fans. The Japanese version (not the English translation) of Harvest Moon DS Cute had a "Best Friend System" and only because courting certain Special Girls was needed to 100% the game. Spiritual Successor Stardew Valley received a lot of acclaim for having same-gender relationships. 2019's Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town made Everyone Is Bi but still calls it "becoming best friends" with your partner (at least in the Japanese version).
  • Richard La Ruina's Super Seducer is a game that aims to teach men how to approach and pick up women. Some of the advice it gives has been accused of being awfully close to sexual harassment: one level, for example, has you continue to pursue a woman after she's told you that she already has a boyfriend. Many scenarios consist of intruding upon women who are trying to spend some alone time, and in most cases, the correct answer is the one that limits her options to get away from you and psychologically coerces her into going out with you. Super Seducer has also been accused of objectifying women, turning them into a goal to be conquered by following a fixed series of steps. All of this controversy led to the game's Playstation 4 launch being cancelled, although it was still released on Steam.
  • The Quiet Man is told from the perspective of a deaf man...but resorts to many, many ugly stereotypes about deaf people in its storytelling (including conflating ASL with gang signs and withholding content and context from the 'deaf' playthrough, insinuating that the deaf are helpless and useless compared to the hearing). Deaf gamers were not impressed.
  • Smite is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena where players control deities and heroes from various mythologies, including Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Chinese, and Hindu. That last one caused some controversy, as unlike every other pantheon portrayed in the game at launch, Hinduism is a religion that is still widely practiced today, with over a billion followers worldwide note . Rajan Zed of the Universal Society of Hinduism has stated that featuring Hindu deities as playable characters trivialize the religion. The overly-sexualized portrayal of Kali, the Hindu goddess of time, death, and doomsday, was also a major point of contention, and in response, her outfit was made less revealing in a later update.
  • Minecraft drew some ire for requiring killing polar bears, an Endangered Species in real life, for a Cosmetic Award involving killing one of each hostile mob type in the game, when polar bears in this game aren't even inherently hostile, just neutral mobs that will pounce on you only if you harm them or come close to their cubs. This was even reported as a bug, which Mojang thankfully fixed in version 1.14.

  • This was invoked purposefully on one occasion by 8-Bit Theater. When Bahamut decides that Red Mage and Black Mage are Fighter's slaves, and Fighter starts referring to Red Mage as Red Slave, Black Mage points out that this would make him Black Sla—"GOOD NIGHT, EVERYBODY!"
  • Shortpacked! lampshades this trope in this strip. To explain, a LEGO Space Policeman is showing a diagram of a variety of aliens and identifying them as inhuman criminals in a lecture to a bunch of human trainees. There's a pause and one of the trainees says "Anyone else uncomfortable with this?"
  • Ménage à 3: Zii has a habit of tossing people into sexual situations and otherwise violating personal boundaries willy-nilly. The audience is apparently supposed to be on her side, and she was never punished for it for a long time. (To be fair, the comic shows a disregard verging on contempt for the concept of karma for anyone.) This is in addition to a lot of fanservice and some stereotyping in the comic generally. For more detail, see these reviews. However, things grew a little more nuanced as the plot continued, as one of Zii's conquests turned into a comedy Stalker with a Crush who was largely responsible for her first serious relationship for years crashing and burning.
  • Moon over June is pretty notorious in general and there's very little about its plot that doesn't carry unfortunate implications; the most commonly cited ones are Hatsuki's ability to 'try out' eating disorders and her deciding to become a lesbian to piss off her parents, Summer having such extreme misandry as to seriously consider putting any son she may end up having up for adoption, and Summer's career as a gynecologist being solely based on her desire to grope vaginas all day, which is totally fine.
  • Sticky Dilly Buns: Ruby has a degree-level education, is looking for an appropriate job, and considers this a higher priority than dating. She's also a screaming neurotic who seems permanently stressed out, and the best advice she receives in her job search relates to how she should dress. Amber is a former porn actress who got her current job (and her apartment) by sexually manipulating a man; she's also relatively well-balanced and comfortable with her life. This has inspired some comments on the comic's discussion boards; readers think that the comic is implying that women who seek to get an education and use it to earn a good living are doomed to be desperate virgins who need to get laid, and the best way for a woman to get on in the world is to exploit her appearance and sexuality.
  • As noted on The Bad Webcomics Wiki, the Basitin arc of TwoKinds attracted accusations of xenophobia from several. Throughout the arc, the Basitin culture is portrayed as almost comically corrupt and despotic, with their obsession with honor and loyalty being seen as alien and foolhardy by the protagonists. This is especially notable during Keith's climatic duel with the Arc Villain's Dragon, who goes on an extended speech about how blind Undying Loyalty to your superiors, regardless of your own personal feelings, is the defining trait of Basitin culture, and one of the major reveals of the arc is that all Basitin are genetically hardcoded to devolve into mindless monsters the instant they ever disobey or otherwise show disloyalty to a superior. This caused several readers to accuse the story of being intolerent of foreign traditions and portraying the Basitins are being "wrong" and "evil" simply because they're different from the Human and Kiedran cultures.

    Web Original 
  • The Nostalgia Critic's review of Sailor Moon was heavily criticized for being sexist. The article goes into detail about how Usagi shouldn't be called stupid, cowardly, or slutty, and how the message of girls accepting their sexuality and femininity was lost on him. The same review got another article about how it was filled with Victim Blaming. The author dedicated a special section of scorn for the dick-talking scene.
  • Feminist Frequency: In the video about Watch_Dogs, the show makes the claim that the scene where the player investigates a sex-trafficking ring was used for fanservice. This has been a controversial statement as it seems to imply that the average player would find violence against women arousing. Liana Kerzner in her series examining Feminist Frequency's critique of video games. pointed out that Anita's arguments also seem to back-handedly slut shame and generalize all sex workers as either victims or objects.
    "Anti-rape advocates have spent years making the distinction that rape is a crime of violence, not of sex, and yet Feminist Frequency insists that video games use the victimization of women to titillate players. Most men do not get turned on by rape. To imply that they do demonizes male sexuality, and that's not fair critique."
  • On Columbus Day in 2017, Ben Shapiro's The Daily Wire tweeted out a cartoon depicting pre-Colombian Native Americans as cannibalistic savages. Christopher Columbus and other Europeans come along and teach them agriculture and build modern cities. Mediaite accused the video of "excusing ethnic genocide by depicting Native Americans as cannibals and savages who weren't tamed until white Europeans came to America and took their land." He eventually took it down and apologized.
  • A video about the Body Positivity Movement was criticised by Roaming Millennial here — for implying that self-love and health are interlinked and encouraging obesity and unhealthy habits in the name of wanting to "feel pretty". Roaming also highlighted that the video tried to make the following comment from a boy interviewed look stupid — when he was actually giving a valid point:
    "I mean if you're overweight then it's obviously not's proven not to be healthy. People have died from [being]overweight."
  • Similarly, How To Get A Bikini Body - For Feminists was attacked by Nate Talks To You because its Aesop about acceptance ignored the health risks brought on by obesity, and because it implied that since exercise takes time to yield results, people just shouldn't bother.
  • Defied in RWBY. The first LGBT character in the show would be the Atlesian Pilot, who was going to make an offhand comment about having a boyfriend. This was scrapped, however, as the showrunners felt that it was in bad taste for their first piece of LGBT representation to be a nameless character that would die soon after being introduced.
  • The Onion: The "Autistic Reporter" series caught some flack for furthering stereotypes of autistic people, such as Lack of Empathy, Schedule Fanatic, and Literal-Minded. While most articles parody, subvert, or invert stereotypes, this series seems to play them entirely straight as a source of humor.
  • During the Lavender Town episodes of Pokémon World Tour: United, the characters participate in the Festival of Life, a celebration that winds up resembling Día de Muertos, the Day of the Dead. In episode 35's intermission, Jake, who plays Rose Jenny, states that he realized as they recorded that they may have strayed into culturally insensitive territory without meaning to and requests feedback on the matter. Episode 37 opens with Jake explaining that they got that feedback, with reactions ranging from "It's okay, don't worry about it" to statements that they felt uncomfortable for reasons such as the cast treating the celebration too frivolously. Jake makes special note of one response which explains that because the character Tsubaki, who opposes the Festival of Life and who the hosts themselves regard as the villain of the arc, came off Unintentionally Sympathetic, it appeared as if the hosts themselves regarded the Festival, and by extension Día de Muertos, negatively. The hosts assert this was not their intent, apologize to those left offended or otherwise uncomfortable, and retcon some of the details of what's been happening, such as toning down the decoration of skull masks the characters got, to try and better regard the celebration with the respect it deserves.
  • Pop Culture Detective heavily specializes in videos that talk about problematic tropes in movies and TV shows.

    Western Animation 

Alternative Title(s): Unfortunate Implication


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