The Yellow Peril is an "oriental" criminal and/or political mastermind, a character originating in the xenophobic days of the late 19th century, but popular ever since.
As an expression of the "mysterious East" gone wrong, this villain traditionally had, or seemed to have, mystical powers. Often he had a beautiful daughter, who either turned from her evil ways to work with the good guys, or was herself a scheming villain, at least as bad as he, in her own right. He would likely know some form of martial arts, and sometimes speak in a thick and oddly-pronounced dialect. In other cases, the Yellow Peril may be an evil horde making up in raw numbers what they lack in power, since China is the most populous country in the world. He will often be garbed in clothing you'd expect to find from the Qing dynasty.
However, not all examples are necessarily Chinese nationalists; on the contrary, many (including the Trope Codifier Fu Manchu himself) are the leaders of Pan-Asiatic coalitions, uniting Chinese, Indians, Japanese and various others against "Western Imperialism" and its alleged or real exploitation of Asia. Such portrayals may be inspired by the real-life Pan-Asian ideology of the Japanese in World War II, who claimed to be fighting against globalist capitalism and for the liberation of the Asian peoples (most of whom were still colonized by England or America in 1941) — although more crudely racist depictions may also simply be a case of thinking all Asians are the same (as well as bad).
The "mysterious Chinaman" grew to be such a cliché in mystery stories of the early twentieth century that, in 1929 Ronald Knox, included in his "Ten Commandments" the rule that "No Chinaman must figure in the story." Early story attempts to counter the connotations of such a villain often had an Asian hero included who is dedicated to stopping the villain, such as with the various incarnations of Marvel Comics which had Jimmy Woo in the Yellow Claw stories in the 1950s, while Fu Manchu was opposed by his son Shang-Chi the Master of Kung Fu in the 1970s.
In what was presumably an attempt to avoid accusations of falling into this trope's racist and xenophobic roots, several 80s and 90s Animated Adaptations of properties with Yellow Peril villains colored them green. Mandarin in the Iron Man cartoon, Dr No in James Bond Jr., and Ming the Merciless in both Defenders of the Earth and the 1996 Flash Gordon series, are examples of this.
One may think this was now a Discredited Trope, but in fact it is alive and well, although the individual "yellow" villain is often replaced by Triads, Yakuza, Chinese Communism, or sinister "Asian" businessmen.
In the UK, this trope drew inspiration from the Opium Wars, the Boxer Rebellion, and Chinese immigration. Across the pond in the US, this trope also drew inspiration from Chinese immigration—specifically, the mass migration of thousands of Chinese laborers in the 1800s. This large movement led many Americans to mistakenly think of Chinese people (and by extension, all Asians) as mysterious and expansionist. The fact that the workers weren't allowed to integrate with whites and often couldn't speak English didn't help matters. It later turned out that it was Japan that was expansionist, and horrifically brutal doing so,—China was in no shape for world domination at that point—but hindsight is 20/20. (Of course, in response to the new threat of Imperial Japan, the media promptly switched this trope around and started portraying "the Japs" as the new Yellow Peril, only to switch back to China during The '50s.)
See also: Inscrutable Oriental, Dragon Lady, Japan Takes Over the World, China Takes Over the World, and another product of these stereotypes, Mighty Whitey and Mellow Yellow. For the Web Comic of the same name, see Yellow Peril.
- Prince Ko-Fan Shiemarr from The Five Star Stories, despite being a character in a Space Opera manga set A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away... is designed to mimic the aesthetic of Yellow Peril characters in western works. He is a bit of a subversion, though, since rather than being an out-and-out villain, he's more of a Psycho for Hire who works for the nominal protagonist.
- Chao Lingshen, the first major Big Bad from Negima! Magister Negi Magi is the smarter of the two stereotypical Chinese students in Negi's class. Completely subverted when it is revealed that Chao's ambitions are actually to bring about a better future, causing the entire cast to question whether they should stop her or join her.
- Also, she is technically Martian, not Chinese. Those bits of her we see outside of the plot arc centered around her and outside class 3-A show her as smoothly blending in to Mahora culture and being genuinely social, friendly and helpful - which combined with the hints of a backstory which makes pulp villainy relatively lighthearted comedy strongly imply that to the extent this trope fits, she's role-playing it on purpose both for effect and personal entertainment.
- Rurouni Kenshin includes a reversal of this in Shogo Amakusa, a mysterious westerner who used his mystical Christian powers to heal people and fight.
- Bi no Kyoujin implies this about Xiao Chen, him being Chinese and linked to the Chinese triads is presented as an extra reason why he is an enemy to Kabu's clan.
- Discussed in a German political cabaret sketch. It was way back when the right wing coined the term "red-green peril" in analogy to "yellow peril", and the left wing fired back (freely translated excerpt, to be mentally read in "breathless" style):
"The reds turn all trafficlights to red!"
"To stop traffic!"
"The greens turn all trafficlights to green!"
"To destroy traffic!"
"They compromise... on yellow!"
"Thereby, the red-green peril has turned into a yellow peril!"
"Chinese General Secretary Dennnnnnnng Xiao Pinnnnnnnng..."
- Alan Moore's comic series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen concluded with a war between "The Doctor", who is clearly meant to be Fu Manchunote , and Professor James Moriarty. It also reflected the times by having a lot of dialogue and depictions of London's Chinatown in ways that we would consider massively racist now.
- The Mandarin, from Iron Man, though more recent writers have dropped the Fu Manchu-esque traits, making him more like Ra's Al-Ghul from the Batman comics.
- The 90s TV series tried to avert this by revealing that he was white before he got exposed to the power rings and his appearance changed. To green.
- The later Iron Man: Armored Adventures animated series also largely averts this with its portrayal of the two characters who use the Mandarin identity- Shin Zhang is treated as a fairly typical criminal mastermind whose Asian-ness is incidental to his evil, while his stepson Gene Khan is both a major Anti-Villain and, while he certainly takes pride in his heritage from China in general and his family line in particular, he's otherwise very modern and western in his mannerisms and outlook.
- The Mandarin is played by Ben Kingsley (who is half-white and half-Indian) in Iron Man 3. Purportedly, a non-Chinese actor was deliberately cast due to the film receiving funding and cooperation from Chinese backers. And in the movie itself, it turns out he was a deliberate invocation of this trope — the Mandarin is actually an actor and a Decoy Leader to disguise the real Big Bad, who is both American and white, and people bought the story since he fit with the archetype of an anti-American terrorist. All Hail the King reveals the real Mandarin is still out there, but he wouldn't be revealed to be Chinese until the announcement of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
- There was a villain named "Yellow Peri" in both the Superboy comic book and TV show, but she had nothing to do with the trope other than the name pun. (A "peri" is a type of Persian fairy, and "The Red Peri" was a space pirate in a 1935 Stanley G. Weinbaum story.)
- The Tintin story The Blue Lotus averts this: the portrayal of China is famously sympathetic and accurate - though the trope is both discussed (Tintin describes to a Chinese friend the common Yellow Peril stereotype prevalent among westerners) and parodied (Thompson and Thomson dress up as the stereotype to go undercover, only to end up being followed by a throng of amused Chinese onlookers... without them noticing beyond a hunch). The Japanese invaders come across as evil and petty imperialists, but, well, they sort of were. Coming from a Belgian, this is something of a case of grey and black morality, not that Hergé was your typical Belgian colonial. The Second Sino-Japanese War, in which at least 10 million Chinese civilians died at the hands of the Japanese Army, was undoubtedly the darkest moral hour of the Japanese people.
- Averted permanently for the rest of the series. There's a non-caricatured Japanese detective in "The Crab with the Golden Claws" and the locals in "Tintin in Tibet" are all normal folks.
- That was largely because Herge befriended Zhang Chongren, a Chinese student who came to Brussels to study art and architecture. Zhang was his consultant about China, and was the reason why Herge become sympathetic to the Chinese during the war and caricatured the Japanese invaders so heavily. When the war ended, there was basically no reason to draw these caricatures anymore, so Japan just became another nation to portray accurately. Ironically, while his first editor, a conservative Catholic abbot, was encouraging Herge to be racist, it was another abbot who urged him to be more sensitive and introduced him and Zhang to each other.
- In the Legends of the Dark Knight story Tao, Batman encounters a number of Chinese villains, as well as a Chinese Mentor. The villains include a wicked old wizard, H'sien Tan, his student, Dragon, who acts as The Dragon to his master as well as the Big Bad later, and looks just like the "Little Dragon", Bruce Lee. Most stereotypical of all is the boss of Gotham's Chinese underworld, Johnny Khan (Khan isn't even a Chinese name!). Khan isn't just a 'Yellow Peril' stereotype, he's Fu Manchu. And not just any Fu Manchu. He's clearly recognisable as Christopher Lee dressed as Fu Manchu.
- The Golden Age comic book supervillain The Claw took this trope about as far as it could possibly go. He was a gigantic yellow dragon-like Evil Overlord with a horde of "oriental" minions and could do anything, up to and including standing in the middle of the ocean and creating a gigantic whirlpool to change the Earth's climate. During his five-issue battle with the Golden Age Daredevil (at a time when multi-part stories were unheard of), he brainwashed the US President and then took over the country himself with an army of criminals.
- The somewhat similar Yellow Claw in modern Marvel comics continuity (originally from 1956) still exists; however, the old coloring is lampshaded with a remark in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition that "The Yellow Claw has a pale yellow skin color quite unlike the skin tones of other Orientals." It's also counterbalanced by the fact that his archenemy, FBI agent Jimmy Woo, is a typical Golden Age action hero who happens to be Chinese-American. This makes Woo one of Marvel's earliest heroes of color.
- The "yellow peril" aspects of the Yellow Claw are Lampshaded and subverted in the Agents of Atlas miniseries, which brings both the Yellow Claw and Jimmy Woo into the modern era. It should be noted that by the mini's end, the Yellow Claw is about as dead as anyone in comics can be. The same miniseries also states that his name is actually the Golden Claw and that "Yellow Claw" was the result of racist westerners deliberately mistranslating the chinese characters that made up his name.
- There was actually an Iron Man storyline in the 80's where Yellow Claw fought the Mandarin in an epic clash of yellow peril stereotypes! Specifically, Yellow Claw represented the pre-World War II stereoptype of Asians as devious and inscrutable, and The Mandarin represented the post-World War II stereotype of Asians as reckless bloodthirsty barbarians.
- Later Fu Manchu himself was a major supporting character in the 1970s series, Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu, where the title character, Fu Manchu's son, fights against his father's villainy.
- A few particularly cracked out issues of Wonder Woman and The Metal Men had "Egg Fu", a gigantic yellow egg with stereotypical Oriental features and a "mustache tlap." (Well, "trap", but, you know.) John Byrne later tried to retinker him as a supercomputer from Apokolips (and one that was deemed culturally insensitive within the story), but this was undone by Grant Morrison making him one of the Great Ten (a Chinese superhero team also created by Grant Morrison) and dubbing him "Chang Tzu." While Morrison ditched the mustache and the accent, his Chang Tzu was still an overly-intelligent yellow Asian egghead, which brought back the Unfortunate Implications. In the Batman: The Brave and the Bold comic book, he turns out to be an Eldritch Abomination named Y'ggphu-Soggoth.
- Played with in Mark Millar and J. G. Jones's comics miniseries Wanted, where the prerequisite Fu Manchu knockoff, who secretly rules all of Asia, is actually pretty affable as far as megalomaniacal supervillains go.
- Memnan Saa from the Hellboy universe (the B.P.R.D. and Lobster Johnson comics). Though as it turns out, his origins predate China, and stretch back to the ancient Hyperborean civilization of the North Pole. Not only that, but the reason he resembles the classic British actor dressed in ridiculous Oriental robes look is because he's actually a Victorian-era British occultist named Martin Gilfryd.
- Doctor Tzin-Tzin is a Fu Manchu-inspired Asian-looking (but actually a Mighty Whitey American raised by Chinese bandits) crime lord who battles Batman several times.
- Hark in Planetary is a clear Fu Manchu analogue, but ended up working for the side of good, alongside various pulp hero Expys. His beautiful daughter is Anna Hark, a ruthless businesswoman who's a bit of a Dragon Lady but undergoes her own HeelFace Turn.
- The first of Edgar P. Jacobs' Blake and Mortimer stories, Secret of the Swordfish, pits the heroes against the world-conquering, Asian-supremacist "Yellow Empire" (in the original french-language version, the Empire was specifically and explicitely... Tibet). However, the trope is subverted, as the primary villain in the story is the white Colonel Olrik and the Big Bad, Emperor Basam Damdu, is less mysterious Oriental, and more Hitler-esque, megalomaniac madman.
- Ra's Al-Ghul is explicitly modeled after this character type, essentially being a more Arabic-themed Fu Manchu with all of the trappings (beautiful daughter infatuated with the hero, vast criminal empire, supernatural elements). His creator, Denny O'Neil, commented that his face is meant to be an unidentifiable mixture of facial features so that he is neither Asian nor Arab (of course considering his tribe came from China he is Asian). He also has green or blue eyes (depending on the continuity) and in media tends to be portrayed by white European actors (Liam Neeson, David Warner). In an interesting example in the former's case, he was cast to subvert this trope. As Batman Begins was in development right after 9/11 and its aftermath, Warner Bros. didn't want to play into an Arab terrorist stereotype so Neeson was cast.
- Leif Lama in the Swedish comic James Hund, an Affectionate Parody of action-adventure stories. He is the Evil Twin Brother of the Dalai Lama; like him he is supposedly reincarnated through the centuries, but leads the Dhubbist sect "which preaches violence and materialism". Leif is one of the leaders of Evil, Inc., and his thieving followers apparently created a Mount Everest-sized heap of stolen goods in Tibet - as well as partially powering modern (Western) consumerist society (they keep stealing our useless crap, so we buy more useless crap, for which Corrupt Corporate Executives pay a fee to Leif).
- During Joss Whedon's run on the series, the Runaways ended up in early 20th century New York. While there, team leader Nico Minoru learned that her ancestor was a Yellow Peril-type sorceress, although instead of running her own criminal empire, she was forced to do the bidding of a vaguely racist forerunner to the Avengers.
- Chin-Kee from American Born Chinese is an embodiment of every negative Asian stereotype, all of which are employed for satirical purposes. (He's not really a villain, but he can be unpleasant to be around and it's not clear if a couple of minor characters end up better off for having encountered him.)
- In some issues of Tales of the Jedi, Aleema and Satal Keto are depicted this way—there's no Asia in Star Wars, but they are drawn with Asian facial characteristics and sometimes even have lemon-yellow skin, evoking this trope. (Granted, the latter may be due to those issues' very weird coloring issues.)
- The first album of De Avonturen van detective Van Zwam, Het geheim van Matsuoka, is all about a Japanese enterpreneur that creates a company that serves beer to people that turns them mad. Subverted because Marc Sleen, the creator of the comic, thought that Matsuoka was the name of the Japanese minister of foreign affairs during World War 2 .
- Starting in 1989, Atari ran Atarian magazine, which, alongside game reviews, previews and interviews, printed the Adventures of Atari, superheroic champion of the company. In the pages of his comic, Atari would thwart the plans of a Fu Manchu-style mastermind, a Japanese caricature with slit eyes and buck teeth named "Ninja-Endo", to ruin Atari Corp's foothold in the video game market. Unsurprisingly, these comics were published after Nintendo brought the NES nationwide in the United States (having first sold it in specific cities) and quickly overtook American companies like Atari in video game sales. Also unsurprisingly, Atarian only lasted three issues.
- The WildStorm comic The American Way has a 1960's United States defended by the Civil Defense Corps, a team of heroes. An advertising whiz brought on to help discovers the CDC is actually a massive fraud; half the team have no real powers and all their super-hero "fights" and "alien invasions" are staged for public morale. One fight is set up with the Red Terror, a supposed Communist agitator who's actually an American cast simply because he's of Chinese descent. However, in the middle of the fight, CDC hero Old Glory dies of a heart attack and Red Terror becomes paranoid the public will blame him for it as he played the role of the evil villain too well.
- The Madballs comic book published by defunct Marvel Comics subsidiary Star Comics featured a Chinese villainess named Maiden Hong Kong, who made her debut in the sixth issue attempting to coerce Chin's father into only making fortune cookies with nasty fortunes inside them.
- Detective Comics, now known as the home of Batman, started out as an anthology title whose first issue featured a story about a private eye fighting cartoonishly-drawn oriental villains, whose leader smirked at the reader from the front cover. In 2017, Gene Luen Yang's New Super-Man incorporated a deconstruction of that story into its backstory, depicting the Chinese antagonists more sympathetically than the prejudiced white detective.
- In Asterix and the Falling Sky, the main antagonists are an evil race of Yellow Peril-coded beetle-like aliens called the Nagma who are meant to illustrate Albert Uderzo's dislike of manga and its popularity in France. Both critics and fans derided the book as little more than a crass and xenophobia-tainted rant against manga and it dealt a fatal blow to Uderzo's reputation from which he never quite recovered.
- Ming the Merciless from the 1934 Flash Gordon comic strip was written and drawn as Fu Manchu IN SPACE!, right down to the scheming daughter. (He's not named "Ming" by accident.) The early serials and Filmation animated version continued this portrayal. The 1980 movie cast Max von Sydow, a Swedish actor, in the role, and the 2007 TV series dropped 'the Merciless' from his name and turned him into a blond guy, while in the 1990s comic book mini-series, he and his people have natural ash-gray skin coloring, and in the animated series Defenders of the Earth, his skin is green.
- In the early years of Buck Rogers, the title character fought "Red Mongols" who had invaded and conquered the USA.
- Los Miserables frequently portrays the Chinese as a constant peril to the nearly nonexistent finances of the Godinez family, in one example after a story arc learning everything about People Smuggling to the U.S. they decide to start a business of this, only to discover that the Chinese already beat them to it and their fees are so much lower, they drive them out of business before even starting. In another example, the kid, Bimbilique, gets annoyed with a competing Chinese boy who gets up very early and performs several tricks on his same street corner, gathering all the coins from passerbys and leaving nothing for him, so he gangs up with other kids, beats him and drives him away.
- Ruthlessly averted in the Rupert Bear comic strips and books with the Chinese girl Tiger Lily and her father The Conjurer, who are both polite, friendly and helpful and in some stories are even crucial to solving the current problem. Ironically the strip is run by the Daily Express. And that's no joke.
- Before achieving international fame with his children's books, Dr. Seuss wrote political cartoons for the now-defunct left-wing magazine PM during the first half of World War II. Although Seuss's views were generally quite progressive, especially for the era, he tended to paint the Japanese in an extremely negative light, implying that Japanese-Americans were a secret army just waiting for the signal to rise up against America (note that these cartoons were made before the Pearl Harbor attacks). He would later come to regard these cartoons as an Old Shame, and expressed guilt over them later in life.
- Modesty Blaise has Mr. Wu Smith; a Chinese crime lord based in Hong Kong who dresses and speaks like Fu Manchu.
- The affable, polite Japanese neighbor in The Cheat (1915) turns out to be a sexual predator who tries to rape the heroine.
- The evil Mongol Shiwan Khan in The Shadow movie is a magical overlord who claims to be the last direct descendant of Genghis Khan—a bit of an unlikely story given just how many descendants Genghis Khan is believed to have.note
- The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932), with Boris Karloff playing the titular character, is widely considered to be probably one of the most racist films of all time.
- Parodied in The Kentucky Fried Movie with Dr. Klahn.
- Dr. Tito Daka from the 1943 The Batman serial blows far past Unfortunate Implications; the narrator actually refers to him as "the sinister Jap, Dr. Daka" and speaks glowingly of when "a wise government rounded up the shifty-eyed Japs" of Gotham City's Little Tokyo.
- Batman Begins changes Ra's al Ghul from his comic book portrayal. Some of the Yellow Peril aspects are played more straight this time (his headquarters are in China this time, and Ra's is Chinese or Japanese) while others are messed with (he and his followers lack supernatural powers, but use tricks to make enemies think they do, and he's actually a white with an Asian decoy).
- Dr. Yen Lo the sinister brainwasher in the 1962 film The Manchurian Candidate.
- Mr. Han from Enter the Dragon would exemplify this trope, right down to his "daughters", but the hero opposing him is played by Bruce Lee!
- Grindhouse had Fu Manchu in the Real Trailer, Fake Movie Werewolf Women Of The SS... played by Nicolas Cage!
- Black Rain plays the trope completely straight, with a sinister Japanese conspiracy to flood the USA with "perfect" forged banknotes, although the mastermind is portrayed fairly sympathetically and reveals his motivation for the plot is revenge on the US, having survived Hiroshima as a child, while the main villain is a young Ax-Crazy The Starscream whose actions are blamed on him having become too Westernized.
- Kabai Sengh, leader of the Sengh Brotherhood in The Phantom. (The name was modified for the film to make it sound more Asian; in the comics it's Singh, which is Punjabi.) He is played by Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, who was the go-to guy for Asian supervillains back during the 1980s and 1990s (he played Shang Tsung in the Mortal Kombat movie, for example).
- Red Dawn (2012) has North Korea invading the United States. (It was the Soviet Union, with Cuban shock troops, in the 1984 original.) The original script had China as the main aggressor but it was changed to North Korea due to fear of ending Banned in China. The movies those mention "a coalition" of sorts.
- Battle Beneath The Earth (1967). The Chinese military is tunnelling under the Pacific so they can plant atomic bombs under US cities. A slight amount of subtlety was added to this by making the Big Bad a renegade general who'd already set up nukes under Beijing.
- Used in Rising Sun because Japan Takes Over the World. Sean Connery's character constantly talks about how Japanese culture makes them more efficient and productive, but the plot also portrays Japanese businessmen as shadowy, corrupt and decadent.
- Indiana Jones briefly faces off against Chinese mobster Lao Che and his cronies in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Not particularly stereotypical (they speak near-perfect English), although all rather hammy.
- The not-particularly-nice Chinese pirate Sao Feng, as played by Chow Yun-Fat, in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. There's also a female Pirate Lord named Mistress Ching.
- The Dragon Emperor as played by Jet Li in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. The sorceress Zi Yuan does help the heroes, though.
- Although it had the chance to go this route, The Bitter Tea of General Yen soundly averts this trope. General Yen can be cruel, but he's drawn as a complex character with complex emotions.
- The Blaxploitation spoof Black Dynamite has The Fiendish Dr. Wu. His name actually is Fiendish Dr. Wu, and Dynamite refers to him like that every time he is mentioned. Considering how he takes out the entire squad, leaving Dynamite as the sole-survivor, and has created a drug that shrinks people's "johnsons", he certainly lives up to his name.
- In The Fast and the Furious (2001), the main antagonists are an Asian biker gang even though there aren't really any infamous Asian biker gangs in real life. In addition, the Asian bikers are the only Asians in the film and are violent and unsympathetic.
- In Snakes on a Plane the main antagonist is a brutal Asian gangster who beats a prosecutor to death with a baseball bat in the beginning of the movie. However, there is another Asian character in the film, a kickboxer, and he is portrayed as selfless and brave.
- Doctor Who (no relation) from King Kong Escapes would be a classic Yellow Peril villain, except that, since this movie was made in Japan, he's just ordinary peril (being sort of Bond-villain-ish), with no particular xenophobia attached.
- Iron Man 3 both averts this and cleverly exploits this. The Mandarin is an Wicked Cultured Diabolical Mastermind, played by the British-Indian actor Ben Kingsley, who does follow some classical Chinese philosophy. Except he's not. Kingsley's character is a washed-up actor named Trevor Slattery who is being paid by Dr. Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce - a white dude) to be the front for his operations in exchange for a cushy life.
- Things seem to have changed as of All Hail The King. Both Killian (who died at the end of Iron Man 3) and Trevor Slattery were using a guise founded by the real Mandarin, who is less than pleased with what they have done with his name. His race then was left unclear, as he and his organization the Ten Rings were Out of Focus until Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where it was reveal he would be Chinese. However, the first film he will appear in is Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, where the director, writer, and leading cast are all Asian or of Asian descent.
- In Cloverfield the Evil Corporation that apparently caused the awakening of the monster from the ocean's floor was the Japanese company Tagruato.
- The villain in Big Trouble in Little China is a stereotypical Chinese Evil Sorcerer named David Lo Pan, who dresses the part (well, the spirit version of him does; the decrepit old man version wears a suit and a tie).
- Unsurprisingly, The Face of Fu Manchu and its sequels, based on Sax Rohmer's characters and starring Christopher Lee in Yellow Face in the title role. The fifth and final installment The Castle of Fu Manchu was the
victimsubject of an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
- Fu Manchu, of the original short story and novel series by Sax Rohmer and their many, many adaptations, is perhaps the classic example. From the same source, Fah Lo Suee embodies the "beautiful-but-at-least-as-evil-as-he" version of the evil mastermind's daughter. Though he is not the first example of Yellow Peril caricatures of Asians, his cultural influence and the host of imitators he spawned make him the Trope Codifier.
- H. P. Lovecraft seemed to genuinely believe that some day in the future the Chinese would take over the world. This worked its way into the Cthulhu Mythos in his story "He," where a man travels into the future and sees New York filled with scary Asian people. His opus "The Shadow Out of Time" also briefly mentions "the cruel empire of Tsan-Chan, which is to come in 5,000 A.D."
- Robert W. Chambers, who was a major influence on Lovecraft, had a similar (though far less over-the-top) fear of the mysterious East in his short story "The Maker of Moons", which involved an evil Chinese criminal getting involved in an illegal American alchemy ring. He had a Beautiful Daughter who was good, but she was adopted and white.
- The villains in the 1928 pulp novel Armageddon 2419 A.D are the Han Airlords, an Asian empire that conquers the world in 2109. It takes a 20th century transplant to turn the tide.
- Shiwan Khan, The Shadow. This is somewhat subverted (at least in The Movie) by making him properly Mongolian instead of Chinese. (There are Chinese who have Genghis among their ancestors, even if they may prefer not to.)
- Robert A. Heinlein's Sixth Column depicts heroic white Americans fighting back against sinister (and themselves racist) "Pan-Asian" (A Chinese/Japanese alliance) invaders, with race-specific weapons. The invasion had targeted Chinese or Japanese Americans from the start; one surviving Chinese American was an integral part of the counter-attack by joining the scientists and helping them test their weapons. Heinlein usually made an effort to be non-racist, but when working with another's writings when you want to not anger them (as Heinlein did with John W. Campbell's All, the original story from which Sixth Column was modified) there's only so much a writer can do.
- One of the recurring Diabolical Masterminds of the Belgian book series Bob Morane is Mr. Ming, a tall, mysterious, bald Mongolian. He was also known by the not-very-subtle moniker of "L'ombre Jaune" or "The Yellow Shadow".
- Doctor Julius No in the James Bond book and movie Dr. No. Ian Fleming admitted that Dr. No was inspired in part by Fu Manchu. Despite this, No's half-Chinese national origin has little to do with his actions.
- Michael Crichton's Rising Sun runs with a "the Japanese are different from us, so their investment is a threat" version.
- Tom Clancy's Debt of Honor keeps pretty close to the standard version, with a Chinese/Japanese conspiracy as the Big Bad, and Raizo Yamata in the "sinister yellow mastermind" role. Clancy pursued the "Chinese threat" theme in other novels: Executive Orders, SSN,note The Bear and the Dragon, and Threat Vector
- Lord Hong from Interesting Times, although an ambiguous version of this trope (his plans to conquer the West, i.e. Ankh-Morpork, are depicted as hopelessly naive).
- Several of Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt Adventures books have examples of this:
- The Fiendish Doctor Po from the Bernice Summerfield novel Ship of Fools — a fictional character in that world (until somebody programs an AI to be him) and lampshaded as a ridiculous anachronism to boot.
- David Wingrove's Chung Kuo series of sci-fi novels averts this. The founder of the system actually saved mankind from extinction, but it became corrupted over time, so that dissenters of all ethnicities work together to overthrow the regime. In the reboots, perhaps in light of changes in international relations, it's...less averted.
- Cyberpunk literature of the 80s and early 90s just considered Japanese economic domination of the world inevitable, even extending to non-cyberpunk and even comedic SF like Back to the Future Part II. And then the bottom fell out of the Japanese banking system, which has never quite recovered.
- Ah Ling in the Sally Lockhart novels is half-Dutch, and looks white, but is otherwise a fairly standard example of the trope.
- Explicitly averted in the original Charlie Chan novels by Earl Derr Biggers, in which the author set out to create an Asian character on the right side of the law for a change. How accurate they are is open to question, but at least some respect for the Chinese and their culture is shown.
- Played very straight in Henning Mankell's novel The Man From Beijing. Evil Chinese mastermind? Check. Sinister Chinese conspiracy to take over the world (well Africa anyway)? Check. Subtle Chinese murder techniques? Check.
- Even the typically politically-correct Star Wars Expanded Universe gets in on this with Prince Xizor and his crime syndicate, Black Sun. Besides being a blatant Chinese/Manchurian stereotype and a reptilian (he looks like this◊), he's a scheming, inscrutable sort, and the logo of Black Sun is suspiciously similar to the flag of the Republic of China.
- Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: Oh yes, this series, particularly the book Vendetta, happily went into this trope! That book even had the ladies take evil John Chai and disguise him as Fu Manchu! In other books of the series, Harry Wong gets little respect from a number of Americans, simply because he is Asian.
- The Yellow Invasion trilogy, a political thriller written in 1905 by Emile Driant, depicts the surprise attack of Europe by gigantic Sino-Japanese armies led by a highly intelligent and fanatically anti-Western officer, Yukinaga.
- Her Father's Daughter: Despite its nature-loving themes and its romances, it's centrally a heavy-headed warning against it:
People have talked about the 'yellow peril' till it's got to be a meaningless phrase. Somebody must wake up to the realization that it's the deadliest peril that ever has menaced white civilization. Why shouldn't you have your hand in such wonderful work?"
"Linda," said the boy breathlessly, "do you realize that you have been saying 'we'? Can you help me? Will you help me?"
"No," said Linda, "I didn't realize that I had said 'we.' I didn't mean two people, just you and me. I meant all the white boys and girls of the high school and the city and the state and the whole world. If we are going to combat the 'yellow peril' we must combine against it. We have got to curb our appetites and train our brains and enlarge our hearts till we are something bigger and finer and numerically greater than this yellow peril. We can't take it and pick it up and push it into the sea. We are not Germans and we are not Turks. I never wanted anything in all this world worse than I want to see you graduate ahead of Oka Sayye. And then I want to see the white boys and girls of Canada and of England and of Norway and Sweden and Australia, and of the whole world doing exactly what I am recommending that you do in your class and what I am doing personally in my own. I have had Japs in my classes ever since I have been in school, but Father always told me to study them, to play the game fairly, but to BEAT them in some way, in some fair way, to beat them at the game they are undertaking."
- A subversion is related in one of Nightingale's anecdotes from Moon Over Soho, of how Folly police in 1911 went to bust someone they thought was a Chinese crime-lord and sorcerer. Turned out that, while he was indeed involved in white slavery, an offense often attributed to old-time Yellow Peril villains, he was also a white Canadian invoking this trope to throw off the cops.
- Dime Novel hero Nick Carter had a few of these:Sang Tu and The Yellow Tong, The Hip Ling Secret Society, the Yellow Spider (A Chinese crime boss in San Francisco), etc.
- Nick Carter also subverted the trope with his relationship with the heroic Japanese detective Ten-Ichi. Further departing from the trope, Ten-Ichi marries June Lamartaine, a French woman, in Nick Carter Weekly #460 (21 October 1905);that kind of intermarriage was quite rare in 1905, both in fiction and in real life.
- No Escape: The film initially plays up the exoticness of the setting, but later on all (and only) Asian characters become a threat to Jack Dwyer and his family.
- One chapter in The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey has "The Yellow Peril" as a chapter title, which predicts that the Chinese military will invade Israel (based on a fleeting reference in Daniel to "Kings of the East"). Though intended to be nonfiction, The Late Great Planet Earth and other books by Lindsey were a major influence on Left Behind.
- Hercule Poirot has an offscreen version in "The Big Four": the titular four are the head of a pre-WWII conspiracy to rule the world, headed from China by The Chessmaster Li Chang Yen. The other three are all Western (an American billionaire, a fascist French scientist, and an English assassin) but take their orders from him. At the end of the book, he commits suicide when the attempted coup fails and the three others die in their lair's self-destruction.
- The Magic Pudding: Curry and Rice — beyond his atrocious name, he's a Fat Bastard of a Villainous Glutton who uses strange magical powers to create an infinitely renewable pastry and then hoards it to himself while watching his fellow shipwreck strandees slowly starving to death. About the only way he's not a racist icon is his art, and that's because all of the humans portrayed in the illustrations are bizarre-looking caricatures.
- CALEXIT: Much concern is had that an independent California would become a Chinese puppet-state and seek to expand into the American Southwest. As of the second book, this appears virtually given.
- Caliphate subverts this with the Celestial Kingdom of Han, which is what the People's Republic of China has turned into in a dystopic future. They are portrayed as amoral and strange post-human people with no reservation about performing weird experiments for their sinister purposes, and it's clear they want to replace America as the resident superpower. With that said, they are allied with the Americans against the titular Islamic empire because the latter represents the more immediate and dangerous threat.
- Prof. Anne Witchard's Englands Yellow Peril: Sinophobia and the Great War, published as of 2014, analyzes the reasons behind the sensationalist Fu Manchu-inspired media and why it flourished during WWI and The Roaring '20s.
- The Wild Wild West episode "The Night the Dragon Screamed" subverts this: the episode starts as a rival-tongs plot, but halfway through the main villain is revealed as a renegade Englishman hoping to manipulate the Chinese throne.
- Many episodes of Kung Fu, though the hero was a half Chinese man played by a white American actor.
- The Hood from Thunderbirds, with mind-control powers. His brother Kyrano and niece Tin-Tin were both on the good guy's staff. Kyrano was a servant. Tin-Tin has degrees in Engineering and Mathematics - she's the Mad Scientist's Beautiful Niece
- Get Smart, as a spoof of secret-agent fiction has a couple of examples:
- Doctor Who has never played this absolutely straight, but three individual stories have shown elements of it:
- The Doctor Who serial "The Talons of Weng-Chiang" features numerous Mooks in the employ of Chinese Tongs, including peasant-turned-magician Li Hsien Chang, but the ultimate villain is a white, possibly Australian, time-traveller from the 51st century named Magnus Greel. This doesn't really help, though, as most of the Chinese characters are portrayed as fanatical, bloodthirsty thugs falling over themselves to kill and die for anyone who impresses them with a bit of whizz-bang. And the only one who gets a Heel Realisation is played by a white guy in make-up.
- Mavic Chen in "The Daleks' Master Plan" has a Chinese-sounding last name, stereotypical East Asian facial features created by sticking makeup on a white person, and even a sort of Fu Manchu-ish moustache. Since it's black-and-white, some fan recolours attempt to rescue this by colouring him pale blue, making him into an alien. The official intention was for him to look vaguely multiracial as he was from the future.
- The Celestial Toymaker from "The Celestial Toymaker" dresses in stereotypical Mandarin clothes, possibly playing on how the word 'celestial' is an old-fashioned British mild slur for Chinese culture. There's no accent, and no yellowface beyond a bit of makeup to make his eyebrows stereotypically straight and sharp.
- Klingons in the original series of Star Trek: The Original Series give every indication of being descended from this model. Before their retrofit for the movie era, Klingons were usually portrayed as a bunch of clever, deceitful criminals, played by white guys in vaguely "eastern" make-up, complete with Fu Manchu moustaches.
- The Steve Coogan series Dr. Terrible's House of Horrible parodied this with Hang Man Chan, Sinister Bony-Fingered Menace of the East and Would-be Emperor Of The Free World, and his daughter Woo-Woo.
- The Dragonman (Joey Forman, who also played Charlie Chan Expy "Harry Hoo" on Get Smart) in The Monkees episode, "Monkee Chow Mein."
- The bizarre Saturday morning chimpanzee-acted parody of spy parody Get Smart, Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp, featured both "Wang Fu" and the (*ahem*) "Dragon Woman."
- Chinese communist agent Wo Fat from Hawaii Five-O. He appears in the reboot too, but a criminal rather than a spy.
- The second Sherlock episode "The Blind Banker" is an old-fashioned Yellow Peril story that smacks viewers in the face with every Chinese stereotype ever portrayed in television played completely straight.
- The Monk episode "Mr. Monk gets Cabin Fever" has Monk going into witness protection after witnessing a killing by an Asian gang member. The twist near the end reveals that EVERY Asian person that appears in the episode was working for the Asian gangster and was involved in a plot to kill Monk.
- Nickelodeon's The Thundermans features a semi-recurring character named Mrs. Wong whose sole characterization is to be a light personification of this trope. This from a TV show that's brand new for the 2013-2014 television season.
- The Chinese crime lord Soo Choy in The New Avengers episode "Trap", who wears traditional Chinese robes and a Mandarin cap and generally comes across as a poor man's Fu Manchu. Not helped by being played by a white actor in obvious Yellow Face.
- Daredevil (2015) had some in the first season. The Second season was full of it. They have been called out, but it looks like the Hand aren't going anywhere right now.
- seaQuest DSV has the Chaodai, a Southeast Asian maritime nation that is starting to show its teeth to UEO. In their first (and only) appearance, their sub-fighters (who utilize a BrainComputer Interface) easily outmaneuver and kill a long-time secondary character, proving their technological superiority. Supposedly, the Chaodai were planned to be the next Big Bad alongside Macronesia.
- Jessica Jones (2015): One of the fake Kilgrave victims is a stoner who claims Kilgrave was this Chinese dude with glowing eyes who made him rob a convenience store at gunpoint.
- The Magician: The villain in "The Illusion of the Lost Dragon" is a descendant of warlords who used to rule Szechuan Province, and who regards anything that originates from there as his property. This includes demanding daughters of Chinese immigrants as tribute. Although he mentions that he is of mixed race (presumably to explain why the white actor playing him does not look Chinese) he dresses in ancient Chinese armour, and lives in a palace surrounded by Chinese servants.
- Played for laughs with the recurring villain The Master in The Navy Lark.
- Also with Dr. Chu-en Ginsberg, M. A. (failed), from Round the Horne.
- And before that in a number of The Goon Show episodes, e. g. "China Story" and the one where Fred Fu Manchu, the world's leading bamboo saxophone player, explodes all non-bamboo saxophones.
- Warlord Kang, head of the Iron Dragon railroad in Deadlands.
- The Ubiquitous Dragon of Adventure!. His worldview is the result of his being raised by a Chinese warlord, who sought to corrupt him as a form of revenge on the Dragon's deceased father, a man of honor.
- Subverted in the revised Sons of Ether Tradition book for Mage: The Ascension. Fang Qinbao is one of a group of globetrotting archaeologist-mages. He assumes the persona of "The Insidious Doctor Fang" as a way of dissuading interlopers - his 'death-traps' are, in reality, a way of neutralizing his enemies without killing them, letting him and his friends escape. (Oddly, playing the part seems to make his enemies behave like they're in the pulps themselves - getting caught in Fang's traps, or wasting their time against Fang's followers.)
- Most of the Coordinators and Chancellors of the Draconis Combine and the Capellan Confederation, respectively, in BattleTech. They technically fall under Grey-and-Grey Morality (with a few exceptions), but they're generally a darker shade of grey.
- To be more specific, during the Eighties and Nineties, when Japan was seen as an economic threat to the US and China was (still) recovering from the worst excesses of communism, the Combine (Japan) was portrayed as being powerful and evil, whilst the Confederation (China) was portrayed as incompetent. After that, the Combine became less hostile to the erstwhile good guys (but see Gray-and-Gray Morality again), whilst the Confederation suddenly became a lot more competent and threatening.
- Then again, since none of the factions in BattleTech are outright "good guys," the Combine and Confederation can just as easily be seen as sympathetic, defending themselves from aggressive and (especially in the Capellan Confederation's case) larger enemies. There are also any number of Asian characters staunchly in the "good guy" camp, such as Justin Xiang Allard and his son, Kai Allard-Liao. On a meta level, BattleTech started off taking its cues from any number of Anime Mecha series, so has a vested interest in not portraying its Asian factions as wholly evil.
- Zhu Long in Sentinel Sentinels Of The Multiverse is an intntional reference to this, having originated early in Sentinel Comics's history: an immortal Chinese mastermind who employs ninjas and turns into a dragon. He was primarily a villain for Blaxploitation kung fu hero Black Fist, now Mr Fixer. CCG Importance Dissonance means that despite his significant story influence, all he gets is an environment deck and a guest spot as a minion card.
- Chairman Shen-Ji Yang of Sid Meiers Alpha Centauri is a Yellow Peril on an alien planet. He is one of the most sinister of the faction leaders (though some of the others are no slouches themselves), and regards his entire population as nothing more than a grand social experiment. Doesn't help that his faction is one of the most powerful in the game...
- Of course, factions in the game are based on ideology rather than racial makeup. The Hive are likely to be just as ethnically diverse as any other faction.
- In Evil Genius, one of the Diabolical Masterminds the player can choose to play is Shen Yu, who looks like Fu Manchu and was formerly a triple agent spying on both The Triads and the local Heroes "R" Us for each other. Now, he seeks to Take Over the World for himself.
- In reference to this, Hearts of Iron has both Imperial Japan and Nationalist China (biggest/most dangerous Chinese faction) don different shades of yellow as their faction colours.
- In this update page for Team Fortress 2, the Spy's predecessor is portrayed as the yellow peril.
- Debateable as the characters aren't mentioned by name and they all appear to be working as mercenaries for higher powers.
- Sin Tzu, from Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu.
- Marshall Kai from Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb. Indy's love interest and Marshall Kai's assistant Mei Ying is not villainous though. At least not until she is posessed by the demon Kong Tien and becomes a boss you have to fight.
- Yakuza Kumicho (boss) Shogo Takamoto in Tomb Raider: Legend. And scores of Yakuza mooks. Lara does get a Japanese friend who helps her find Takamoto, in the form of media mogul Nishimura.
- Wang, leader of the sinister Shai-Gen Corporation in Crackdown.
- Richard Wong from Psychic Force. Class S evil Chinese man who controls time and manipulates the NOA group under Keith Evans to eventually take over the world for his plaything as a God. Predictably, he breaks out from NOA.
- Mortal Kombat
- Shang Tsung. Though the protagonist Liu Kang is also Asian (Chinese, specifically.)
- Any villain played by Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa will have this flavor.
- Kano was originally supposed to be a Japanese crime boss. However, in Mortal Kombat, he was played by Trevor Goddard, and the developers liked it so much that later games retconned him to being an Australian crime boss.
- In I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, the Chinese supercomputer that forms part of AM's systems projects its avatar as a yellow figure in a gold robe. It also acts as a trickster throughout the scenarios that each of AM's 5 human victims are sent into.
- Homefront may well be the ultimate example of this trope: a gritty, frightening portrayal of Korea takes over the world. You have exactly three guesses as to the fate of the game in many Asian countries, and the first two don't count.
- The Elder Scrolls, while set in a fantasy world, have this trope in effect in regards to the continent of Akavir. Akavir, per in-game sources, is a mishmash of Chinese (Ka Po' Tun), Japanese (Tsaesci), and less prominent Indian (Tang Mo) and Mongol (Kamal) Fantasy Counterpart Cultures. In the backstory, some of the Akaviri races have attempted to invade Tamriel (a continent with a heavy European basis and where all of the games to date in the series have taken place) several times, but have always been defeated. Because of the past invasions, the citizens have Tamriel have some very Yellow Peril inspired beliefs about Akavir.
- Whateley Universe:
- The Chinese supervillain Iron Dragon, who has been trying to overthrow America, Europe, and Russia for decades, is essentially an Expy of Fu Manchu, right down to the moustache. His daughter, Silver Serpent, is now attending the Whateley Academy and is a member of the Bad Seeds clique (to be admitted, one or more of your parents must be a supervillain). In early 2012, Iron Dragon staged a coup that overthrew the People's Republic, declaring himself to hold the Mandate of Heaven as the first emperor of a new Imperial dynasty.
- According to Unreliable Narrator (and one-man Deconstructor Fleet) Mephisto, while playing the part of a 'sinister Asiatic mastermind' in San Francisco in the 1930s, Mephisto had run afoul of a real sinister Asiatic mastermind; knowing when he was beaten, Mephisto sold his operation to him and got as far away as he could. He went on to explain that there were dozens of such masterminds running their own operations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, most of whom were heading remnants of the Tongs and Triads and were looking for revenge against the West for the indignities the Han had suffered at the hands of the colonial powers. By the time of World War II, most of them had fallen to in-fighting or butting heads with other organized crime groups like The Mafia. The Iron Dragon, kept alive by magic, was one of the more ruthless and effective of those remaining, and by the 1980s had co-opted or enlisted most of the others that were still around.
- Peking Duck, a minor villain in The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat is basically a G-rated variant of this. He's named after a Beijing duck recipe and dresses rather exotically, and he has two sumo wrestlers as henchmen. Not to mention his feathers are literally colored yellow.
- Jonny Quest LIVED on this trope, Dr. Zin, Dr. Ashida, General Fong, Chu Sing Ling...
- Dr. Zin also appears as the villain in an episode of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated.
- In the South Park episode "The China Probrem", the eternally racist Cartman sees the Bejing Olympic ceremonies as China's way of showing how large, dedicated and disciplined they are, construing it as a subtle military threat. In the end, the only threat is Butters's shaky aim. Earlier in "Chinpokomon," South Park had already parodied this trope by portraying a Phonýmon franchise as an Imperial Japanese indoctrination tool. They at least got around that by casting Japanese actors, using accurate Japanese language (which Trey Parker speaks fluently), and making it so over-the-top nobody could take it seriously.
- The Venture Bros.
- Jonas Venture tries to disguise himself as a Yellow Peril villain, calling himself Dr. Fanadragon and claiming to hail from "Japananawa." Another villain starts to comment on how Dr. Fanadragon is muddling a number of Asian nations and is obviously a tall white man.
- Affably Evil (emphasis on "affable") Dr. Zhi, a parody of Dr. Zin from Jonny Quest.
- The Looney Tunes Wartime Cartoon "Tokio Jokio" features some very inaccurate caricatures of Hideki Tojo and Isoroku Yamamoto.
- So does the Popeye Wartime Cartoon "You're a Sap, Mr. Jap" with the Imperial Japanese Navy.
- As did the Disney Wartime Cartoon "Commado Duck". It was a thing back then.
- Inspector Gadget nemesis Dr. Claw tried to team up with a Yellow Peril villain on two separate occasions. First the "Great Samurai Waruda" who hailed from Japan, then later the nefarious Mr. Chow from Hong Kong.
- The Siamese cats from Lady and the Tramp, two Manipulative Bitches whose machinations lead to Lady getting muzzled for bad behaviour (in reality, trying to stop them from stealing the baby's milk). Their Villain Song even sounds like a parody of Chinese music.
- Robotboy featured the evil if short-statured Dr. Kamikazi and his hapless sumo sidekick Constantine, though they were deliberately overdone.
- Subverted in Jackie Chan Adventures. The omnipresent evil Chinese sorcerer Daolon Wong is strongly reminiscent of Fu Manchu in all but facial hair, but then virtually all of the heroes are Asian too.
- Long Feng from Avatar: The Last Airbender fits the trope to a T, but similar to the above example, every character in the series is either Asian or Inuit, including the heroes. Tarrlok from The Legend of Korra has all of the characteristics, except that he's from the Water Tribe.
- And it gets worse in the Second Season. An actual War Propaganda movie has Tarrlok 2.0, er, Unalaq, portrayed as your typical Fu Manchu Ming the Merciless villain. In a universe where all the characters are basically shades of Asian and Inuit, they portray the villain as the Yellow Peril...
- Episode "Last Horizons" of TaleSpin has Baloo encountering "Panda-La" a land of Asian stereotypical Panda bears who are secretly planning to invade Cape Suzette, although it is mentioned in passing that other Panda populations despise them for their aggression. The episode was so heavily criticized because of its depiction of Asians that was taken out of syndication.
- The Count Duckula episode "Transylvanian Take-awy" features an evil Mandarin and his thugs trying to beat the Count to some treasure. These characters re-appeared in the Victor & Hugo book "Fu Man's Choo-Choo" thus making the connection clear.