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White Male Lead

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Guess who's the main character.

"Our team consists of two Black guys, two white women, and one white guy, so I guess it's pretty clear who's in charge."

No matter how diverse a show's cast or how positive its portrayal of minorities, the lead character will almost always be a conventionally attractive, heterosexual, white, vaguely Christian, and often American male. Common wisdom in the Western entertainment industry is that a show or film needs a lead character that the target demographic can identify with, so this is usually an Enforced Trope. The White Male Lead is often The Hero.

You may be surprised to learn that this trope has less to do with Western bias (although that's still prevalent, make no mistake) and more to do with courting the international dollar. In the United States, for example, you're more likely to see female, non-white, and LGBT leads in TV shows, where the viewership is mostly domestic. But in big-budget blockbuster films, such actors don't do nearly as well in international markets, particularly China and Russia; Blacks and Hispanics aren't seen as relatable to the audiences there, LGBT characters are outright banned due to the countries' laws against "gay propaganda", and a woman as the hero might upset social mores depending on the movie. As a result, Western studios often play it safe by casting a plain white male as the lead.

Adaptations aren't safe either; even if the main character is explicitly a person of color, they are often subjected to Race Lifts in TV or film so that there will be a white guy in the lead role. And if they were gay, expect them to be turned straight or have their sexuality downplayed as much as possible. Another common tactic is for an adaptation or historical piece to focus on a white male who played a minor role in the original story, then overblow his importance so that he's the lead.

Tropers are reminded that tropes are not always bad. Many works with white male leads have been praised for their positive portrayals of minority characters. And of course it's a vicious cycle of investors who want to put their money in a sure thing and studios who want to have something to point at to seem like they know what's going to sell; there's no one group to blame.

Compare Girl-Show Ghetto and Minority Show Ghetto (which this trope is intended to avoid), Ridiculously Average Guy, and White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. Compare and contrast Mukokuseki, making characters racially ambiguous so that multiple demographics can relate to them. Unless a work is consciously avoiding it, he is often the leader of a Token Trio or Five-Token Band. If the one white person is not the lead character, then he's the Token White.


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    Comic Books 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Forbidden Kingdom takes place in ancient China and features a clash between Jackie Chan and Jet Li as its primary selling point, but its lead is a white male from the present day. This was star Jackie Chan's own idea, precisely to attract interest in the West.
  • Birth of the Dragon was advertised as a Bruce Lee biopic, but turned out to focus more on his white friend who didn't even exist in real life.
  • Universal's 47 Ronin, based on the Japanese historical legend of The 47 Ronin starring the mixed-race (neither of them Japanese) Keanu Reeves as a British-Japanese "half-breed" who is original to the film. He was originally going to be a supporting character, but Executive Meddling had additional scenes shot to make him the main character.
  • The Last Airbender is based on a cartoon with two lead characters who have no specific race's features, being tan-skinned and blue-eyed. They belong to a Fantasy Counterpart Culture based on Inuits. The film cast unambiguously white actors to play the lead roles and Inuit actors as the rest of their tribe.
  • No Escape (2015): Despite being set in an Asian country, the film is focused solely on Jack Dwyer (played by the very white Owen Wilson) and his desire to protect his family, and not focused on any Asian character.
  • Come See The Paradise is a story about Japanese internment camps centered on Dennis Quaid.
  • In the original novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, the narrator is the Native American Chief Bromden. The film version centers on the white male Randle P. McMurphy without any narration from the Chief. This is a case of Pragmatic Adaptation because Chief Bromden is a Supporting Protagonist who does not speak for the vast majority of the film (and it's a surprise reveal in the movie that he actually can), while the main conflict in both the book and the film revolves around McMurphy and Nurse Ratched, not Chief.
  • Glory is about The American Civil War's 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, one of the first formal units of the U.S. Army to be made up entirely of African-American men. The movie's viewpoint character is Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick), the 54th's white commanding officer.
  • Go For Broke, a movie about the Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team, starred the very blonde Van Johnson.
  • Christian Bale played a funeral director in Flowers of War, a story about the Nanjing Massacre during World War II. There were many foreigners in China prior to the rise of communism. This example is unusual in that the movie was made by a Chinese studio.
  • The 2011 film Tower Heist was supposed to have a mostly Black and Latino cast with Eddie Murphy in the lead. The lead role instead went to Ben Stiller.
  • Inverted in Lilies of the Field. Sidney Poitier plays a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who decides to help out some rather disaffected German nuns.
  • In the film version of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Alan Quartermain is the lead character and the team leader. In the original comic, Mina Murray is the team leader. But he's Sean Connery!
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe: The leads of the first 17 films in the MCU are white and male, a trend that held until the release of Black Panther in 2018 and Captain Marvel in 2019. Even in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, where the full diversity of Marvel's superheroes are brought together, the leads for those two films are still white males.
  • The Last King of Scotland: A movie (and its source novel) is a Sidelong Glance Biopic of Idi Amin from the perspective of a fictional, Scottish doctor who has the lead role. The trope has at least one Lampshade Hanging, and it's Very Loosely Based on a True Story.
  • Elysium: The main character is nominally a light-skinned Hispanic man, but he's played by the very WASPy Matt Damon.
  • World War Z features a white male lead played by Brad Pitt, while the original book is a series of interviews with men and women from a wide variety of nationalities.
  • So far there have been two movies about the Stonewall riots that kicked off the modern LGBT rights movement. The real-life riots were headed by Butch Lesbian Stormé DeLarverie, Black drag queen Marsha P. Johnson, and Hispanic transgender woman Sylvia Rivera, among many others. However, both movies chose to focus instead on white male leads:
    • Stonewall (1995) featuring a white male protagonist, but his second-lead drag queen boyfriend was Hispanic and another second-lead drag queen was African-American.
    • Stonewall (2015) focuses on fictional Danny Winters, a white Straight Gay teenager from Indiana who bused to New York City after being kicked out of his home. Filmmaker Roland Emmerich stated in interviews that he created Danny to appeal to straight white audiences, which pleased no one. LGBT historians were obviously unimpressed, and straight white people with enough interest in the subject to even watch the movie knew better. Some were also offended by the idea that they could only relate to the blandest kid possible—not even a native New Yorker but someone from the rural Midwest—rather than the diverse individuals who were actually there.
  • In the Power Rangers reboot film, Power Rangers (2017), the only Ranger played by a white actor is Red Ranger Jason Lee Scott, the leader of the team. The film attempts to balance it out by giving Kimberly and Billy prominent amounts of screentime and focus.
  • The Last Samurai is a loose retelling of the Boshin War and Satsuma Rebellion rolled into one event, experienced through the eyes of an American adviser-turned pro-Samurai defector Nathan Algren (played by Tom Cruise). While Algren is fictional, he's based on Frenchman Jules Brunet, who really was sent to modernize the Japanese military and fought in the Boshin War.
  • Speed Racer casts the racer family, who are Japanese but Mukokuseki in the original anime, with white actors. Emile Hirsch is our white male lead as Speed.
  • Dragonball Evolution, a Live-Action Adaptation of one of the most popular and iconic Japanese anime/manga series, cast Asian actors in every important hero role... except for Goku and Bulma, who were played by white actors.
  • The Great Wall is a joint American and Chinese production with two western, English-speaking actors Matt Damon and Pedro Pascal, as our leads and viewpoint characters in an otherwise Mandarin-speaking Chinese cast. It's an obvious ploy to appeal to both Chinese and American audiences.
  • Pacific Rim: Pan-Pacific Defense Corp is very multinational (American, Japanese, German, Russian, Australian, and Chinese) but the protagonist is a white man. This was reversed in the sequel, Pacific Rim: Uprising, where John Boyega is cast as the protagonist whose father is Idris Elba's character.
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters! (1956): This Americanized version of the original Japanese film inserts Raymond Burr into the footage and turns him into the lead character.
  • Big Trouble in Little China: The story is about Chinese heroes fighting an ancient Chinese wizard and his minions, but we spend the whole time from the perspective of a random white trucker one of the heroes knows. This forms the basis of the film's main joke: Jack thinks he's the hero of the story by default, even assuming a dodgy and inconsistent John Wayne impression to act tough and play the part, but he's really the comedy sidekick.
  • The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift is set around the Tokyo car scene, and features a Japanese villain with yakuza ties, a Non-Specifically Foreign love interest (played by a Latina actress), and a Korean mentor figure. The main character is Sean Boswell, a white guy from Arizona.

  • An Enforced Trope in Astounding Science Fiction under the editorship of John W. Campbell. He was very clear in his opinion that the Northern European male was the pinnacle of all beings, and rarely accepted a story with any other kind of lead.
  • A Brother's Price: While 90% of the population are women, the lead is male, who also appears on the cover holding an unconscious woman.
  • Played with in Gives Light. The main character is a light-skinned Native American boy (his father is Shoshone and his mother was white). As a result, other children on the reservation see him as white, and because he was raised off of the reservation (but by the aforementioned Native American dad) he doesn't always fit in with them.
  • In Animorphs, the eponymous group consists of a Hispanic boy (Marco), a Black girl (Cassie), a white girl (Rachel), a white boy permanently trapped in the form of a hawk (Tobias), a blue, male alien (Ax), and a white boy (Jake). Jake is somewhat arbitrarily chosen to be the leader in the first book, partially because he was the tiebreaking vote on what course of action the kids would take. Though, it should be noted that the series gives pretty equal POV time and attention to each character.
  • The cast of Remnants was enormously diverse, filled with minorities, but Jobs, the lead, is a white male.
  • Gone has Sam, a light-skinned Native-American boy among full-blooded Native Americans.
  • Max in Bryan Miranda's The Journey to Atlantis. Not only is he this trope, even his (last) name is White.
  • The Heroes of Olympus series:
    • The series amps up the minorities compared to its predominantly white prequel, but Percy and Jason are still the attractive, straight, white, male leads of the Greek and Roman camps, as well as of the Seven.
    • Subverted in Son of Neptune - Chinese Canadian Frank is the official leader of the quest. And again in House of Hades, when Jason promotes Frank to praetorship to lead the ghost army.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Bones despite having several different ethnic minorities of African-American, Asian, Middle Eastern, and ethnically ambiguous characters that are both side and main characters, the show always focuses on Booth and Brennan's relationship, two white straight people. An African-American woman, Cam, is Brennan's boss but her relationships, even one with a Middle Eastern man she eventually marries, are a side-story. Although Angela, a half-Asian/half-white woman is bisexual, that's never mentioned again once she's out of the closet and she never has a lesbian relationship on camera. She does marry Hodgens (a white man) and have children with him eventually.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine being set in New York City, the 99th precinct has a good number of racial minorities and women as main and one-shot characters, with the main cast consisting of two black men (one gay), two Latina women (one bisexual), one white woman, and two white men. The lead character is the straight, white Jake Peralta. However, his last name is Spanish, so he's apparently of Sephardi Jewish stock, which is a bit more diverse than most examples.
  • Community: The first season gives the most focus to Jeff Winger, played by Joel McHale, as he transitions from lawyer to college student. While the focus spreads more evenly to the rest of the cast starting in the second season, he remains the group's de facto leader for the show's run.
  • Criminal Minds
    • Although more properly an Ensemble Cast, in its first two seasons billed Mandy Patinkin and Thomas Gibson as the show's leads. Furthermore, the pilot only had one female lead character (Elle Greenaway) and one African-American lead character (Derek Morgan) surrounded by white males, indicating that they were tokens. More female characters were added or became relevant, and Morgan's character has gained depth and prominence as the series progressed, but the show's "stars" are still white males - Gibson and Joe Mantegna.
    • The UnSub in "Broken Mirror" lampshades this when he "profiles" the team while taunting them during one of his phone calls, deriding Morgan as simply a "side of beef" and telling Elle she had no chance of "joining the all-boys' club."
    • The first spinoff Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, in its pursuit to be radically different from the original series while keeping faithful to its basic structure, had a Bald of Authority played by Forest Whitaker among an otherwise whole white main cast. The character "Prophet," who had been originally envisioned as Black, was made white.
    • Played straight in the second spinoff, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders. The team includes two white females (one played by a Hispanic actress though the character is not), a half-Asian male, a Black male, and an older white male played by Gary Sinise, who is the team leader.
  • The CSI shows, at various points. The two spinoffs, CSI: NY and CSI: Miami all the time and CSI started out with white male William Petersen and then went into an aversion phase with Lawerence Fishburne as its lead, and now back to the white male lead thing with Ted Danson.
  • Subverted in Dark Matter (2015) — the show started out with the most milquetoast white guy in the racially diverse crew acting as the lead and audience sympathy character (he wakes up first and he's the only human character who doesn't have a criminal background). But then at the beginning of season 2, the writers kill him off (right after a new plotline for him started, no less), and then they also kill off another, much less moral recurring character the same actor was playing, just in case you thought he was supposed to take over the lead now that the rest of the crew had become more sympathetic. And, just to drive the point home, another, new white male character who joins the crew and seems like a replacement in terms of personality gets killed off even more abruptly after a few episodes, with the rest of the crew not even caring to find out what happened to him. A Black female character gets to permanently join the regular cast instead. And the Asian female Action Girl love interest from the first season becomes the primary protagonist (and captain of the ship). By the end of the second season, the only white male character still on the crew is the show's Jayne-expy, who is perfectly content just being the muscle for "Boss Lady."
  • Death in Paradise has a racially diverse cast, with a black woman and two black men as the main characters, as well as several Black side characters. The head of the show always ends up being a white man, however, with the arrival of Richard Poole, later replaced by Humphrey Goodman.
  • Defiance: Played egregiously straight with Joshua Nolan, who has the textbook atoning White Savior allegory character arc in a cast whose human members consist of at least one white woman, a Native American father and daughter and a Token Black man, in future!St. Louis sharing the setting with immigrant aliens.
  • Dexter: Taking place in Miami, the series features many Hispanic characters and those of other races and ethnicities/nationalities, though Dexter himself is white.
  • Doctor Who:
    • All the Doctors through Peter Capaldi (Twelfth) were white males, though it was eventually confirmed during Steven Moffat's tenure that Time Lords can change race and sex when they regenerate. There had long been debate among fans — and indeed, the BBC, who've considered Black actors for the role — of getting a female or alternate race in, but this quickly degraded into accusations that it would be wrecked. The announcement in 2017 that the Thirteenth Doctor would be Jodie Whittaker, a white woman, caused the fanbase to erupt and break — some were overjoyed, some would rather have had a male Doctor of an alternate race, some wanted a non-white woman, and some wanted another white man.
    • For the run on the classic show, the Doctor was treated as asexual, but the TV movie and the revived series frequently make overtures of the Doctor having sexual tension with orientation-appropriate companions. There are conflicting stories as to whether Peter Capaldi (the Twelfth Doctor) wanted to make him aromantic again when he took on the role. What is clear is that initially the show seemed to be going in that direction in his first season...but by the end of Series 9 it was clear that the Doctor and Clara Oswald's relationship ran far deeper emotionally than simple friendship (to the point that the season finale has him mocked for claiming she's just his friend, given that he would risk the universe to bring her back from the grave), while the post-season Christmas special was an out-and-out Romantic Comedy involving him and River Song, one of his several wives.
  • When the Sci Fi Channel adapted the Earthsea novels into the mini-series Earthsea, they decided to make the main character white. This did not sit well with the original author.
  • Elementary: Despite genderbending and racebending Watson (Lucy Liu) and having a host of gender-bent original characters from the Sherlock canon and the racial diversity expected of a New York show, Sherlock Holmes remains the White Male Lead.
  • Firefly: Four white men, two white women, one Latina woman, one black woman, and one black man in the main cast. The captain and pilot make up two of the white men. However, the black woman is second in command, and the captain avoids the "vaguely Christian" description by being belligerently anti-spiritual.
  • Glee
    • Glee has a very diverse cast, boasting characters of all different races, sexual orientations, and levels of ability, but the stars of the show always seem to be the white, heterosexual teacher Will, and the leaders of Glee club: white, straight couple Finn and Rachel (albeit Rachel is ethnically Jewish, but the point remains the same). Lampshaded by Emma at one point.
    • It gets to the point where one episode has a tacked-on musical number for the Black Mercedes and the Asian Tina. This number is explicitly said In-Universe to have been added to give two underutilized characters something to do.
    • ...Until the fifth season with the untimely death of Finn's actor Cory Monteith, which led to Kurt and Blaine becoming Glee's Official Couple, though they are both white males.note 
    • Finn is also an example in-universe. Apparently he is the only suitable "male lead" for the Glee club at the time the other two boy members are white, but one is a Camp Gay and the other one is disabled. Shortly later three other boys join in, but one is Jewish, one is Black and one is Asian, so Finn, the only non-minority boy, stays as the designated lead, soaking in Will's favoritism, despite definitely not being the best male singer in the group and actually being one of the worst dancers.
  • In Hawaii Five-0, despite the diversity of the Hawaiian islands, the main lead is still a white guy (mcgarrett) and the main plot is usually about him and his white guy partner (Danno). Some seasons had an otherwise minority-majority cast but the leads were unchanged.
  • Subverted in Homicide: Life on the Street. The series initially focused on white Naïve Newcomer Audience Surrogate Tim Bayliss, but quickly shifted focus to his black partner Frank Pembleton after he became a Breakout Character.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): Averted because Louis de Pointe du Lac, the lead character, is a black Creole in the series instead of a white Creole like in the novel.
  • The Law & Order franchise usually has one of these, typically from a salty, no-nonsense, working-class background, plus or minus an Olivia Benson or two. The exception is season 13 of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit when Olivia Benson moves into the role of lead character, and the male lead, Nick Amaro, is Latino.
  • Applies to The Magicians (2016). Its main character, Quentin, is one of two white men in a fairly diverse cast — the other, Eliot, starts the series as openly into men. Quentin is later revealed to be bisexual and neurodivergent, however.
    • This trope is also lampshaded by an old-timey character who recognizes Quentin as the traditional Audience Surrogate.
      Hyman: But Quentin, I mean, [you're] the outsider let into the inner sanctum of secret knowledge. As someone born in 1902, I find a heterosexual white male hero very relatable.
    • Discussed as foreshadowing in "The Side Effect"; two librarians well aware of how the plot will go are discussing the main characters. Derek considers Quentin the white male lead; Penny rebukes him, as viewing Quentin as the main character when everyone has their own contributions is a case of "white male protagonism". He says the story does not go the way one might expect. Indeed, Quentin dies at the end of the season, leaving the series without a clear White Male Lead.
  • Marco Polo is about the eponymous Italian merchant's adventures in the court of Kublai Khan. He is the only major white character.
  • Narcos: The story of Pablo Escobar's rise and fall is told from the perspective of the white American DEA Agent Steve Murphy. However, the first two seasons are a bit of a Sidelong Glance Biopic, and Murphy is himself something of a First-Person Peripheral Narrator since the real main character is Escobar. Once Escobar goes down, and the real Murphy left Colombia, the focus switches to other villains, and our main character becomes Murphy's Mexican partner, Javier Pena.
  • Despite boasting a far more diverse cast than its parent show, the NCIS: New Orleans team is lead by one of these in Special Agent Dwayne Pride. Technically, two, as his second-in-command Agent LaSalle is one of these too.
  • Jim from The Office (US) isn't exactly the only white male at his small paper company in small-town Pennsylvania, but he often served as being the young, attractive, savvy wisecracker who would make fun of the middle-aged eccentric losers around him. Naturally, the spotlight gets stolen from him on a regular basis. After a good deal of Characterization Marches On, he's learned to be Not So Above It All.
  • Outsourced, a fish-out-of-water story about a white male American running a call center in India.
  • Saved by the Bell: Zack, Screech, and Mr. Belding are all white males. Zack is the protagonist during the most popular 1989-1993 run. Screech and Mr. Belding were in all the incarnations. Mark Paul Gosselaar is part Indonesian on his mother's side, but he sported bleached blond hair during the show which made him look decidedly more Anglo.
  • Sense8 features protagonists from all around the world, two of which are white males. Of those two, Will, a clean-cut Chicago cop, is the only one to receive any sort of training in their newfound abilities and possesses Chronic Hero Syndrome. The first season finale focuses on his efforts to save another member of the cluster from dying. Subverted, though — he may have started out as this, but he ends the season as The Load and has to stay unconscious or heavily medicated, the others now having to look after him.
  • The Singoff's third series was won by a now-famous group called Pentatonix. Despite all the singers being diverse and talented, the lead singer during the show was definitely the conventionally good looking white male.
  • As diverse as Star Trek: The Original Series tried to be in the racially charged '60s, they still had to have a white man as the Captain; the meddling executives wouldn't even stand for a female Number Two. This was followed by Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Jonathan Archer in Star Trek: Enterprise. It was averted with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, in which the eponymous space station is commanded by Bald of Authority Benjamin Sisko, and Star Trek: Voyager, in which the eponymous ship is captained by the female Kathryn Janeway. Michael Burnam is the lead but not the captain of Star Trek: Discovery, and a Black woman. Star Trek: Picard is the most straightforward example yet, with Picard as the only white male among the main cast.
  • The Wire features a majority African-American cast, but the clear lead character is Jimmy McNulty, played by the white actor Dominic West.

  • Analog: John W. Campbell Enforced this idea while Chief Editor of the magazine. He was very clear in his opinion that the Northern European male was the pinnacle of all beings, and rarely accepted a story with any other kind of lead.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • In Magic's earlier years, the Weatherlight was crewed by a diverse bunch of people - men and women, with many skin tones, and even including elves, minotaurs, and cat-people. But who is their leader? That would be Commander Gerrard Capashen, a light-skinned human male. And he gets extra discomfort points for being the product of Urza's bloodline project, meaning that he's genetically perfect for fighting the Phyrexian invasion.
    • Later on in the story, the planeswalker Jace Beleren - another light-skinned male human - was introduced and poised to be at the center of many of the story's most important plots, including the Eldrazi invasion of Zendikar and the Maze crisis on Ravnica. In recent years he was chosen to be blue mana "representative" of the Gatewatch, an Avengers-style alliance of planeswalkers dedicated to protecting the multiverse from extraplanar threats; and, like before, he's had a central role in solving each problem that the Gatewatch has thus confronted.
    • For what it's worth, Magic has subverted this trope just as often as it's upheld it. For example, the darker-skinned Gideon Jura was The Hero of the Gatewatch, while Jace was more commonly The Smart Guy. Many blocks have focused on leads that were neither white, male, nor straight. Kaladesh and Fate Reforged get special mentions here; Kaladesh's primary protagonists were the biracial, pansexual female Planeswalker Chandra Nalaar and her middle aged south Asian mother Pia, while Fate Reforged introduced Alesha, Who Smiles at Death, Magic's first canon trans character who also isn't white (hailing from a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to the Mongol Horde).

  • In RENT, despite its racially and sexually diverse cast and high praise by the LGBT community, the two central characters are still the straight and white Mark and Roger (Ho Yay between them notwithstanding). While Mark is explicitly Jewish, Roger's race isn't discussed but he's usually cast as white due to his grunge rock style.

    Video Games 
  • Zig-zagged with the Assassin's Creed franchise. The Vanilla Protagonist in the present-day storyline is just Ambiguously Brown enough to be considered any ethnicity (including white) by those who wish, while his ancestors in the historical storyline are of various ethnicities (Arabic Hashashin, Italian, British, and Native American). He was eventually replaced by you, the player, starting with Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, which was also where the historical protagonists began to play it agonizingly straight to the point where the parade of white male leads can be hard to tell apart. This was not helped by the fact that the titles centering on a half-Black woman (AC III: Liberation) and a Black man (AC IV: Freedom Cry) are a Gaiden Game and Downloadable Content respectively, neither of which received much promotion, to the point where few have heard of them. Assassin's Creed Syndicate featured a woman as a co-player character alongside her twin brother, although both of them were white. To their credit, Ubisoft looks to be attempting to rectify this problem with the heavily-promoted Assassin's Creed Origins, whose Ptolemaic Egyptian protagonist has appropriately dark skin.
  • Zig-zagged in the Crysis series. In the first game and its sidequel, the protagonists are Nomad and Psycho, both white—but their team leader is Prophet, Black. In Crysis 2, the protagonist is Alcatraz, white, who is ultimately absorbed by the nanosuit and overriden by Prophet's memories. In Crysis 3, the protagonist is Prophet.
  • Subverted in the early Metroid games. For the first two games, Samus wears armor that completely covers her body and is described as male in the manual. At the end, it is revealed that Samus Is a Girl.
  • The original North American localization for Persona, Revelations: Persona, turns the Japanese main protagonist into a white American red-headed teenager, along with making the rest of the characters diverse. This would be an example of a Race Lift.
  • Lampooned in South Park: The Fractured but Whole, taking particular aim at the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the gag.
    SuperCraig: Marvel is making a Black superhero movie.
    The Coon: Yeah, now! They waited years to get to that! We follow their plan — we do all the real people first, then we sneak the Black guy in at Phase 3.
  • Booker DeWitt from BioShock Infinite is able to walk about Columbia because he is neither an ethnic minority nor Irish. He has Native American heritage, but there's no indication of this at all in the advertising materials or on the game's cover.
  • Aiden Pearce, the main protagonist of Watch_Dogs.
  • Telling Lies has four main characters — two of them white women and one a woman of color — but the character most central to the plot is The One Guy, who is white.
  • Played straight in Gears of War 1 through 4 (and the spin-off, Judgment), then subverted in Gears 5. Standard White Male Lead JD Fenix turns out to be a Decoy Protagonist, with Kait Diaz (a Hispanic woman from a Fantasy Counterpart Culture) being the game's actual main character.
  • Days Gone has Deacon Saint John.
  • Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order with Cal Kestis. Admittedly, the Ginger-American is an unexplored territory for video game leads.

    Web Animation 

  • In The Order of the Stick, Tarquin has one blind spot in his Genre Savvy dominance: he believes the hero of the story is Elan (white male), when in fact Elan is part of an ensemble and the de facto protagonist is Roy (Black male). A large part of Tarquin's Villainous Breakdown is that other characters are overshadowing Elan, whom he insists should be the hero to his Big Bad—and according to Word of God, it's no accident that Elan and Tarquin both are straight white males while the characters sidelining Elan include a Black man, a woman, an individual outed as genderqueer in that very piece of Word of God, and a Latino guest star. Tarquin not only can't stand losing control of his carefully-crafted narrative, he can't stand the idea that the character who best fits the White Male Lead mold isn't the lead. He pretty much just assumes that he's the leader in his own group for the same reason, even though it's clear to the reader that he's not.note 

    Web Original 
  • Cracked parodies this in A Trailer for Every Academy Award Winning Movie Ever with Wealthy, Successful Protagonist. They cover this trope again here.
  • The Nostalgia Critic likes calling these out in movies, often expressing belief that the female sidekicks/love interests should take over because they're usually more interesting. He's also called himself this, although if you know him, you'll get that he fits the description In Name Only.
  • Deconstructed with Donnie DuPre from Demo Reel. He's the "main" Innocent Bigot in a show that has a woman, a Black man, and two foreign guys, but he's very bisexual, very nice and very woobie, really wants to be a good friend to all of them, and after some firm prodding, works to make up for his initial racist/sexist comments.
  • The Daily Currant: Ann Coulter walks out of star trek claims too many minorities
    Apparently in the future the liberals have extinguished all the white people, Coulter explained, I mean they got a Black girl running the communications, an Asian guy driving the ship and a pointy-eared alien doing pretty much everything else. I guess we're supposed to just accept that minorities will be the new majority. This isn't an entertainment film - it's nothing but a pro-Obama, multicultural piece of propaganda. And of course it's not even realistic. Since when have Black people been able to speak foreign languages? And shouldn't Sulu have crashed the ship into a quasar by now?
    Now Ann, you know I love you, a puzzled Hannity said, but I've seen the film, and although there were minorities, there were also plenty of whites. So I guess I don't see your problem.
    Sean, the only other white people are foreigners, she retorted, you got one Communist from Moscow and a lazy, socialist engineer from Scotland. There's only one red-blooded American white person in the whole movie - and thank god he's the captain. The ship would fall apart in minutes without him.
  • Chrono Hustle is fairly diverse in its cast but, while it isn't explicitly mentioned, Jack seems to be white based on the fact that his race likely would have come into play otherwise when he went to the Old West.
  • Given a Lampshade Hanging in the Honest Trailers for Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) after the narrator goes over the many factions of differently colored aliens.
    Narrator: In case you get confused, the hero is still the white guy.
  • A theory known in some internet communities as the Galbrush Paradox posits that the reason that straight white male characters (especially leads) are so ubiquitous is that they are the only type of characters who creators feel like they are allowed to write as realistically flawed, since all too often, the people who demand better representation for women, minorities, LGBT, etc. end up calling for the creators' blood when those characters are portrayed as anything less than perfect. The name comes from the Monkey Island series of video games, as the theory explains that if the protagonist Guybrush Threepwood was a woman named Galbrush instead, the developers would be called misogynists if they portrayed her as the exact same Idiot Hero that Guybrush is.
    "A white male can be a lecherous drunk. A woman can't or it's sexist. Sexualizing women and what all. A white male can be a mentally disturbed soldier whose mind is unravelling as he walks through the hell of the modern battlefield. A woman can't or you're victimizing women and saying they're all crazy. [...] Men can be comically inept halfwits. Women can't. Men can be flawed, tragic human beings. Women can't. And why? Because every single female character reflects all women everywhere."
  • Parodied in the skit When Sitcoms Try to be Woke. The fake sitcom Divercity has various "diverse" side-characters, such as a Black and Nerdy Harvard student and a lesbian Asian woman, but it focuses on Brandon, the generic straight white male. The skit even questions how Brandon has such a young and diverse assortment of friends.

    Western Animation 
  • In Adventure Time, Finn is a white male lead in a land where he is actually the only human.
  • Futurama's main cast includes a Hispanic robot, a mutant woman, a Jamaican, a Space Jew lobster-man and a Chinese-Martian woman, but the main character, Fry, is still a white male (admittedly, one odd in being from modern times).
  • Kid Cosmic has the titular "Kid."
  • Played (almost) completely straight in Steven Universe. Steven, the lead character, is an alien-human hybrid, yet he still entirely appears to be a white, male human. The alien Gems tick many boxes: they're all female, (or at least present themselves that way), they're Discount Lesbians, and their voice actresses are almost all nonwhite women, but the central figure is always Steven. He's also, however, The Heart and the White Mage in a show where all the combat-oriented characters are women including his sword-wielding Indian-American girlfriend, and no one sees it as a big deal.
  • Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters features Jake Armstrong/Stretch, who is the main character and leader of the titular team, which consists of his Korean-American best friend (Wingspan), his Afro-Latino new friend (Omni-Mass), and the late addition of an Iranian-American girl (Blindstrike). The show's supporting cast and Rogues Gallery is also very diverse.


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Xenophobia Jones

Action adventurer Xenophobia Jones' views come to light in his latest film.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

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Main / PoliticallyIncorrectHero

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