While most of Osamu Tezuka's "Star System" relies on Mukokuseki when playing explicitly non-Japanese characters, his recurring schoolboy character Kenichi (or simply Ken) has had two Race Lifts. While usually portrayed as a dark-haired Japanese kid, in a few anime produced by Tezuka's company in the 1980s (most notably the second Astro Boy series), he was redrawn as a brown-haired, blue-eyed white kid. This was somewhat reversed in the Metropolis (2001) film, but in the 2003 Astro Boy anime series he has brown skin.
In Riding Bean, Bean Bandit's partner Rally Vincent is blonde and appears white. When she became the main character in Gunsmith Cats, she was dark-skinned with black hair, and her father is East-Asian Indian, making Rally biracial with an English mother.
In a very subtle and tricky one, the Appleseed 3D animation's secondary protagonist, the full-body cyborg Briareos Hecatonchires is shown in the original manga to have been African-American before becoming aCyborg, while in the second Appleseed film he appears to be turned into a generic Japanese-looking Bishōnen. Even in the manga you can only tell through some certain artwork pieces Shirow did: Briareos doesn't really have much of a face most of the time. In the new anime series, he's black again.
The Ultimate Marvel incarnation of Nick Fury is black. Or rather, deliberately styled after Samuel L. Jackson. This was to lead up to Jackson having a role in the Iron Man movie as the man himself (he allowed the usage, having it written into the deal he would play the part when/if a movie(s) were ever made). Within the series, this has undergone some lampshading with a conversation with Nick being asked who he would like to see in a biopic about himself. The answer? Samuel L. Jackson.
While the Marvel UniverseWasp is white, her Ultimate counterpoint became Asian-American. She even mutters about Lucy Liu being suggested to play her, as they look nothing alike. Later, though, the new artist started drawing her as white in a rather egregious case of artistic license. Alas, it will never be known if she would have stayed white or not, as soon thereafter she was eaten by the Blob.
The Ultimate version of Tony Stark changes his mother Maria into a Hispanic woman, making Antonio Stark half-Hispanic.
Ultimate versions of the Abomination and Crimson Dynamo are Chinese (the originals were both Russians), Hurricane is a North Korean woman (the original was a white male), and Swarm is a Syrian woman (the original was a white male).
The second iteration of The Vision is a black man.
Ox, a minor mook in the mainstream continuity, is a black man in the revamp, and given more of a personality (the other one was known for being a Silent Antagonist). He's even shown to consider reforming at the end of his first arc (but doesn't, in favor of becoming a Goldfish Poop Gang).
The Ultimate version of Ben Reilly is a young, African American lab assistant, rather than a clone of Peter Parker.
The second Scorpion is Maximus Gargan, a Mexican version of Mac Gargan, who was the original Scorpion in the 616 universe. This also makes him an Affirmative Action Legacy of sorts since the first Scorpion in the Ultimate universe was a clone of Peter Parker.
In the 2004 Legion of Super-Heroes reboot, Star Boy was changed from white to black, with this incarnation being used in the short-lived Legion of Super-Heroes cartoon. Sadly, black Star Boy also suffered from having every defining characteristic of the character stripped from him (right down to having his girlfriend Dream Girl reassigned to be Brainiac 5's love interest).
Karate Kid (no connection to the movies) has also been Race Lifted back and forth to and from Asian a couple of times. Though to be fair, in his original version, he was Eurasian with a Japanese father and a white mother.
In the Age of Apocalypse universe, X-23 is half-Japanese due to being the daughter of Wolverine and Mariko Yashida, rather than simply a clone of Wolverine like in the main continuity. Accordingly, her civilian name is Kirika rather than Laura.
The Batman foe Killer Croc had his origin told in one of his first appearances, Batman 359, which showed that young "Waylon Jones" was African American before his severe skin condition left him looking like a monster. But since he was a green crocodile man in all his appearances in "the present," some people assumed he was originally white (including at least one colorist doing a flashback). More recent interpretations (including some Alternate Universe stories such as Joker) have undone this unintentional racelift and correctly portrayed Waylon as an African American.
The publisher of Dilbert (not cartoonist Scott Adams) colorizes the Sunday strips and picks the race of minor characters. This results in Unfortunate Implications as when they made a corrupt security officer black (he's white in later reprintings). This happens because there isn't anyone in Dilbert who isn't either corrupt, an idiot or severely flawed in some other way.
In the Multiverse of the DC Universe, there are several worlds where normally-white heroes have their races changed. Earth-D, a retroactive addition to the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths Multiverse, sported an Asian version of The Flash, black versions of Superman and Supergirl, an Arab Wonder Woman, a Hispanic Green Lanternnote This was before Kyle Rayner's Suddenly Ethnicity, or the introduction of Jesscia Cruz. and a Native American Green Arrow. In the post-52 Multiverse, Earth-23 features a black Superman and Wonder Woman note Superman's rocket was found by the black Ellises rather than the white Kents in this world, while another unidentified Earth from Countdown had Korean American reporter Linda Park as her world's Flash.
Marvel used to run a title called Marvel Tales, which reprinted old Silver Age comics for newer readers. During the 80s, colorist Andy Yanchus would sometimes change the skin tones of one-shot characters or people in crowd scenes to make The Amazing Spider-Man's version of New York City more realistically diverse.
Greg Pak's X-Treme X-Men featured a black version of Cyclops.
The hardcover edition of Kingdom Come identifies Angela Margolin (white) as the mother of Irey West, the new Kid Flash and daughter of The Flash. When Irey was made canon in the DCU years later, her mother was changed to Linda Park (Korean American), making her half-Asian.
In the Batman/Doc Savage crossover, this is done to Doc, who is of mixed-race in this continuity. Rather cleverly, this explains his old school nickname of "The Man of Bronze", as his unique skin tone is now a result of his mixed European/Asian ancestry.
The sketchbook at the back of the one-shot suggests that if DC's whole "First Wave" line of Two-Fisted Tales hadn't collapsed, their version of Black Canary would have been non-Caucasian (probably Indian-American, but possibly of Korean or Middle Eastern origin).
When first introduced, the minor X-Men supporting character Cartier St. Croix was a white Monacan but was changed to a black Monacan with an Algerian wife in his subsequent appearances (with the white guy who first appeared retconned into being Cartier's father). This retroactively made his daughter Monet (of X-Factor), as well as her siblings, Afro-Algerian as well. Not too much of a stretch since she was already Ambiguously Brown.
Obscure comic book character Marie Thirteen (the wife of Doctor Thirteen) was pretty consistently portrayed as a blonde white woman in most of her appearances. After several decades in limbo, Doctor Thirteen returned to the DCU with a half-Asian daughter named Traci, with references made to Marie having passed away. This would count as something of an offscreen race lift since Marie was retroactively established as having been an Asian woman.
Spider-Man has a lot of these. There's Pavitr Prabhakar from Spider-Man India, as well as Izumi (Japanese) and Anansi (African) from the Spider-Man: Fairy Tales anthology.
In Superman: Secret Identity, Lois Lane is modernized as the Indian American reporter Lois Chaudhari. She ends up marrying Superman and producing two mixed-race daughters who become their Earth's equivalents of Supergirl.
As of May 2014, ginger-haired Wally West has been reintroduced as half-black — though DC Rebirth later subverted this by revealing that the original Wally is still around and that the new Wally is in fact a younger cousin of his, both of whom are named after their great-grandfather.
The Bloodlines reboot makes Gunfire black and Anima half-Asian.
Julia Pennyworth (Alfred's daughter), a minor Pre-Crisis character, is now half-black.
The Flash villain The Folded Man is changed from a white American named Edwin Gauss to a Zulu named Xolani.
The Nightwing and Robin villain Pamela Swiegeld/Mouse is African-American.
The youngest of Billy Batson's fellow foster-kids who he shares his power with is an African-American girl called Darla Dudley, presumably based on Mary Dudley/Freckles Marvel, the youngest member of the pre-Crisis Marvel Family.
Jenny Steam, the 19th century counterpart of Jenny Sparks, is introduced in a Stormwatch 1880 back-up strip as an African-American who also goes by Jenny Freedom.
In Mastermen #1, Earth-10's Freedom Fighters represent ethnic, sexual, and religious minorities targeted by the Nazi Party. The Ray is homosexual, Doll Man is a Jehovah's Witness, Phantom Lady is Romani, and Black Condor is African.
In DC's short-lived revamp of the Red Circle properties, the Black Hood's identity was changed from Matthew Burland, a white man, to Mateo Burland, a reformed Latino crook.
The later Dark Circle revival included a modern reboot of the Web. The character was changed from John Raymond, an adult college professor, to Jane Raymond, a 14-year old Korean American schoolgirl.
An in-universe example took place in an issue of Catwoman where Harley Quinn tried to pitch a movie based on the exploits of the Gotham City Sirens. For the sake of diversity, one of the studio execs suggested making Harley an Asian American teenager for the film, despite the "real" Harley being a white adult with blonde hair and blue eyes(ironically enough since there were multiple Harley Quinns according to the Joker there's a slight possiblity that at least one is Asian American).
There were plans to make Stephanie Brown into a black teenager in the Smallville comic book, which the artist felt would better fit the character's working-class background. This plan fell apart, and Stephanie herself would then wind up completely taken out of the book by editorial interference.
Annabel from "KWYNK en zijn zusje Annabel", the byline character and sister of the Dutch digital comic magazine Kwynk's title character, was changed from a fair skinned curly redhead to Afro-Surinamese, Word of God has it that this was to improve the balance, which makes sense in context.
Super-obscure Earth-One Batman supporting character Batman Jones reappeared in Battle for the Cowl as a "renowned Batman and organised crime expert" in a ski-mask and Batman hoodie. The Earth-One version was a blond Caucasian, the New Earth version, even with the ski-mask, is visibly African-American.
Also, while this is true for Earth One and Legend, it could also apply to the Amazons in general. In the Golden Age Wonder Woman stories, all of the Amazons on Paradise Island were white, but Post-Crisis, they've been shown to be racially diverse. For instance, Philipus, probably one of the more prominent Amazons, is black.
In the 2016 M.A.S.K. reboot, Matt Trakker is black and Gloria Baker is Indian (the latter being a Composite Character with Ali Bombay, the franchise's previous character of Indian descent).
Jem and the Holograms makes Jetta from the Misfits half-black and half-Japanese. This is actually a Development Gag, as she was originally going to be a black American in the animated series before Executive Meddling resulted in her being a white British woman instead. Riot and Minx are not white, unlike in the cartoon. Riot is half-Asian and Minx is a German of East Asian descendance.
In Aeon Natum Engel several characters were lifted into Nazzadi and Xenomixes (Nazzadi/Human Halfbreeds). In various Shows Within a Show previously human characters were lifted to Nazzadi, for example in the thread where the story is posted, The Nerv Bridge Bunnies are watching the Sci-Fi marathon MST3K-style, and argue about this trope (Blade Runner with Nazzadi, anyone?).
The Muses are a black Gospel choir in Hercules, in a film where all of the humans are white (of Mediterranean origin) and the gods/spirits tend to be from an Amazing Technicolor Population. Considering, though, that there's only a sea between Egypt and Greece, and there was lots of trade between the two people (they even had gods and myths in common), it's not too far-fetched.
Like in Smallville and Young Justice, Justice League: Doom made the Martian Manhunter's "John Jones" identity African-American. Like Nick Fury, this version seems to be catching on to the point that the original comics character is becoming the black sheep. Only time will tell if, being a shapeshifter, the Manhunter in the comics will have something happen that requires him to change his standard human disguise, and choose one that looks a lot like Phil Morris.
The Big Hero 6 cast was entirely Japanese in the original comic, but the Disney film makes Fred (ethnically Ainu in the comics) white, Wasabi African-American, Honey Lemon Hispanic, GoGo Tomago Korean, and Hiro half-Japanese instead of fully Japanese.
Fantastic Four (2015): The Human Torch is played by African-American actor Michael B. Jordan with Reg E. Cathey playing his father, Franklin Storm. In an aversion, the Invisible Woman (his sister) is played by Kate Mara, with the explanation being that she was a refugee from Kosovo that was adopted by the Storm family.
Billy and Kimberly, both white characters in the original TV series, are played by black and half-Indian actors respectively.
Trini (Asian in the original) was recast as a Latina, and Zack (originally African-American) is played by an Asian actor. As a result, the team is now majority non-white, with only Jason as the Token White. Funnily enough, the original actress cast as Trini in the show was Latina, but she left over pay issues.
Previous incarnations of Rita Repulsa were played by a Japanese actress (stock footage) and other Asian actresses (original footage). The latest actress to portray her is Elizabeth Banks, who's white.
Red, in The Shawshank Redemption, is played by Morgan Freeman; the character is a white man in the novella. In both versions, he tells Andy he got his nickname because he's Irish, but in the movie, it's a clever joke. Both start out in 1940s Maine. We hear at roll call and see on his file that it's actually from his last name, Redding (while his first name is Ellis).
Freeman's character in Gone Baby Gone was, in the original novel — you guessed it — Irish.
Morgan Freeman also plays Colonel "Curtis" in the adaptation of Stephen King's Dreamcatcher, taking the place of the extremely Irish Colonel Kurtz from the novel.
In Congo, Charles Munro is changed from a white South African to an African-American man named Munro Kelly, played by Ernie Hudson. There's even a bit of Lampshading:
Miss Moneypenny is played by black actress Naomie Harris in Skyfall. The character was white in the original novels and each of the prior films she appeared in.
In Batman (1989), Harvey Dent (Two-Face's original identity), who is white in the original comics, is played by Billy Dee Williams, who campaigned for the role specifically to be Two-Face in the sequel, but the role eventually went to Tommy Lee Jones, averting the trope.
In Venom, Carlton Drake, a white man in the comics, is played by Riz Ahmed, who is of Pakistani-English descent.
Wesley Snipes was cast as Sean Connery's kouhai in the movie adaptation of Rising Sun, which led to a disagreement over which the script writers Michael Crichton (whose novel it was based on) and Michael Backes quit the project. The character is written as a racist white man in the original book.
Sgt Bilko has a black actor play Cpl Henshaw. (Bilko's other sidekick, Cpl Barbella, gets a Gender Flip).
According to Sylvia Anderson, one piece of Executive Meddling during the early days of the Thunderbirds movie was "Could the main cast be more ethnically diverse?" Since they're all brothers, the answer was "No."
Bolivar Trask is played by an African American actor, Bill Duke, while his original comic book incarnation was a white guy. However, the version seen in The Last Stand was later made into a different person thanks to X-Men: Days of Future Past opting to redo the character.
Kid Omega also becomes Asian American, though this is definitely a case of In Name Only since he has almost nothing in common with his comic counterpart. Kid Omega had much more in common with Quill and is even referred to as such the director's commentary. This would still make this a race lift since Quill was white too.
Callisto is also played by a dark-skinned Latina actress.
Blink, a white Bahamanian in the comics, is played by Chinese actress Fan Bingbing in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Not too much of a stretch, since Blink is purple in the comics despite her white ancestry.
Blind Al, a white woman in the comics, is played by African-American actress Leslie Uggams in Deadpool (2016).
Logan sees X-23 as half-Mexican and Rictor, a canonically Mexican character, as half Greek as his source DNA is listed as Dominic Petrosnote which itself in an alias in the comics, as his real name is Dominikos Petrakis, best known in the comics as Avalanche.
In Deadpool 2, Domino is portrayed by Afro-German actress Zazie Beetz. Like the Blink example, it's downplayed since Domino has an unnaturally chalk white, inhuman-looking skin tone in the comics anyway.
In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, a black extra was identified in the credits as having played Lavender Brown. When Lavender appeared again in the sixth movie (with actual lines this time), blonde, white British Jessie Cave was cast in an open audition. While one of the novels released after that film did mention that Lavender had the same skin tone as white Ron Weasley, there's no indication that the recast was an attempt to "correct" the original casting or even that the producers noticed the one minor mention of that fact.
The Twilight movies diversified the entire pure-human cast. In the book, all of them are assumed white and the ones Bella interacts with the most are all blond or brunette white people. The movie makes Angela Hispanic, Eric Asian, and Tyler black. In the movie, one of the vampires is black, but in the books, it's made perfectly clear that when you become a vampire, you become white-skinned.
Harriet the Spy made Janie black, and also made Rachel Hennessey and a family that plays a minor role Asian (the latter was originally VERY stereotypically Italian).
Ripcord is played by a black actor in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. (The original character and action figure is a red-headed white male.) Supposedly the original plan was for him to be Stalker but the name had Unfortunate Implications and it was felt the more comedic turn the character underwent wouldn't be well-received as Lonzo Wilkinson, so they went with a more obscure Joe name. Likewise, to diversify the origins of the character, Heavy Duty became a black British man (rather than a black American man) and Breaker became French Moroccan (rather than a white guy with a southern accent). Some of these changes went on to influence future adaptations, with Ripcord especially almost always being black afterwards.
In the book High Fidelity, we are led to picture Marie De Salle as white after Dick describes her as "kind of Sheryl Crow-ish crossed with a post-Partridge Family pre-L.A. Law Susan Dey kind of thing." In the movie she was played by Lisa Bonet; Dick now describes her as "kind of Sheryl Crow-ish crossed with a post-Partridge Family pre-L.A. Law Susan Dey kind of thing, but, you know, black."
An in-universe example: In The Specials, the Minute Man action figure is made black, in the interest of taking a "multi-cultural approach".
The unproduced live-action Voltron script made Lance into a young black guy.
In the film version of Mystic River, Sean Devine (Kevin Bacon)'s partner is played by Laurence Fishburne. In the novel, he is white and supposedly looks a little like Brian Dennehy. However, after casting Fishburne they did not change the character's name: Whitey Powers. Dennis Lehane, author of the original book, admits that the character's name was a pun in the book, but that it actually became funnier when Fishburne was cast.
In Carrie (2002), the character of Sue Snell, who was white in the book and movie, was played by black South African-Canadian actress Kandyse McClure. This seems to have been more a case of colorblind casting than a deliberate Race Lift; her race is never brought up over the course of the film.
Carrie (2013) does this with Tina Blake. She's a redhead white girl in the book but played by the mixed-race Zoe Belkin in the film.
When The Wild Wild West was adapted to a movie in 1999, Jim West, played by white Robert Conrad in the original TV show, was played by black Will Smith in the movie. This also resulted in many racist remarks, as much of the film takes place in the Southern states shortly after the American Civil War.
Artemus Gordon:(picking out disguises) How about this? You could come as my manservant. Jim West:(excited stereotype Negro accent) Why, yessuh, Masah Gordon, Why I swears, I'd be delighted, I'll sing, I'll dance for ya sir and I swear, none of the other white folks'll know that (in normal voice) I'd rather shoot myself than play your damn manservant.
Joseph's brothers in the film version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat include two black brothers. The two brothers involved were Judah (son of Leah) and Benjamin (son of Rachel). Both women had also, in this version, produced quite light-skinned and otherwise "white"-looking sons, and the twelve brothers in that cast covered a wide range of apparent ethnicities.
Maxwell Lord in Wonder Woman 1984 is played by Chilean-American Pedro Pascal. It's even part of his character background, as his birth name was Maxwell Lorenzano, and he used to face racism from bullies.
The 2014 remake has African American actress Quvenzhané Wallis playing the title role. Similarly, Jamie Foxx plays Will Stacks, the film's analogue to Daddy Warbucks.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is an interesting case. Ford Prefect is played by rapper/actor Mos Def (An American playing an extraterrestrial living in England and speaking English to British people who don't have a Babel Fish in their ears). It doesn't really come up in the original radio series, though since Arthur evidently lived in a quite rural part of the UK in the 1970s one can draw certain inferences, but the books describe Ford as white -somewhat unnaturally so even- with wiry ginger hair. The TV series, incidentally, completely ignored this. Of course, Mos Def's portrayal of Ford was In Name Onlyanyway...
The Amazing Spider-Man: Sally Avril (white in the comics) is played by Kelsey Chow, who is half-Taiwanese. Its sequel sees African-American actor Jamie Foxx play Electro.
In the film adaptation of Charlie's Angels (2000), one of the angels is Asian (portrayed by Lucy Liu), though she's not supposed to be one of the angels from the original series.
The 2010 film adaptation of Wuthering Heights had a black actor play Heathcliff. In the book, he looks white but with a noticeably dark complexion, causing people to suspect that he's part Romani.
The Cloud Ten Pictures' 2000-2005 Left Behind films have Clarence Gilyard and Arnold Pinnock playing Bruce Barnes, T.D. Jakes playing Vernon Billings, and Louis Gosset Jr. playing Gerald Fitzhugh. Verna Zee, who is given a Race Lift, also doubles as a Composite Character, with her being a combination of herself and Lucinda Washington, the African-American editor-in-chief of the Global Weekly office in Chicago.
In Gridiron Gang, the real Sean Porter is white (as shown in the credits), but is played by The Rock. Dwayne has light enough skin to pull it off, but there is a scene where Sean visits his dying mom, who is much darker.
Pan has black actress Leni Zieglmeier as Wendy and Adeel Akhtar as Smee.
In What Dreams May Come, Albert is played by black actor Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Leona is played by Chinese-American actress Rosalind Chao. While the book never explicitly identifies either character's race, the most logical assumption is that both are white, since Chris himself is white, Albert is his cousin in the book, and there's one scene where he remarks that he hardly ever saw people of "other races as well as my own" when he was alive.
In the original Jem cartoon, Roxy from The Misfits was Italian-American. In the movie, she was played by Korean-American actress Hana Mae Lee.
In the novel A Little Princess, the maidservant Becky is white; she's described near the end of the book as having "a round, pink face." In the film adaptation A Little Princess, she's played by the young African-American actress Vanessa Lee Chester. Part of this is Cultural Translation due to the setting change; the book was set in Victorian London, where Becky was a low-class cockney girl. The film relocates it to 1910s New York, so Becky becomes a black servant.
Arbuthnot is a black man rather than a white South African. This adds an interesting subtext to Arbuthnot's secret romance with Miss Debenham, as a relationship between a black man and a white woman would've been far more controversial back in the 1930s.
The Swedish Greta Ohlsson is now the Spanish Pilar Estravados.
The Italian Antonio Foscarelli is now the Cuban-American Biniamino Marquez.
The French Pierre Michel is being played by Tunisian actor Marwan Kenzari, although the character is still stated to be from France. He is presumably a Frenchman of Arabic descent in this version.
In Beauty and the Beast (2017), Plumette (the maid turned feather duster) and Mme. de Garderobe (the opera diva turned wardrobe) are both black in their human forms, as is Père Robert, the priest who corresponds to the animated film's (white) bookshop owner, and various background characters.
In the 2019 Detective Pikachu movie, Tim is played by Justice Smith, an actor of mixed African-American and French-Canadian descent, in contrast to the game, where Tim was just white.
The Beast Must Die is based on the James Blish short story "There Shall Be No Darkness," which involves a wealthy English couple, Tom and Caroline Newcliffe, inviting people out to a weekend getaway in Scotland - only for one of the guests to turn out to be a werewolf. In Blish's story, Tom and Caroline are both Caucasian. For The Beast Must Die, however, Amicus cast black actor Calvin Lockhart, who was born in the Bahamas, as Tom, and black actress Marlene Clark, who was American, as Caroline (however, for whatever reason, they ended up having Clark dubbed by white actress Annie Ross in post).
For The Witches, the main character and his grandmother are black Americans, where as in the book and original film they were white British people.
The Green Knight: In Arthurian legend, Sir Gawain is a white Briton. In the film, he's played by Dev Patel, a British Indian.
Lana Lang, who is a white redhead in the comics, is portrayed on the show by Kristin Kreuk, who has Dutch, Chinese, and Indonesian heritage.
Roulette is a weird one; in the comics she's a white girl who wants to be a Dragon Lady, but in Smallville she's really Asian. It's hard to escape the suspicion that the writers just didn't get the joke...
The Martian Manhunter's "John Jones" identity is made into an African-American. However, the character is actually a green-skinned alien to begin with.
Plastique is a white Canadian in the comic books. In the show she was played by the half-black, half-white Jessica Parker Kennedy.
Neutron, a white Superman villain, was played by an Asian-American actor.
Deathstroke is played by Māori actor Manu Bennett. (This is a legal technicality, as in New Zealand anyone with at least 1/16th Māori ancestry is considered Māori for legal purposes and will identify as such, but he's actually half White Australian on his mothers side and 1/4 Irish from fathers side. He's mostly a white fella genetically, but looks Polynesian.)
Brother Blood is depicted as Latino.
Walter Steele is depicted as Black.
Ted Grant is played by a Latino actor.
Komodo, a white guy in the comics, is played by black actor Matt Ward.
Baron Reiter is played by black British actor Jimmy Akingbola. Particularly notable since his comic book counterpart was a Nazi (Baron Blitzkrieg).
Iris West is an African-American woman played by Candice Patton rather than a redhead. Her father Joe is likewise African-American, portrayed by Jesse L. Martin. When Wally West joins the show in the second season, he's black as well (although by this point a black Wally had already been introduced in the comics; see above).
Obscure villain Null goes from a white guy to an African-American woman.
Ben Urich is portrayed by African-American actor Vondie Curtis-Hall.
Night Nurse, a white woman in the comics named Linda Carter, is made into a Composite Character with Claire Temple, an African-American woman from the Luke Cage comics.
Elektra, a Greek woman in the comics, is played by French-Cambodian actress Élodie Yung. Her Greek name is kept, with it being shown in flashbacks that she was an Asian child who was adopted by a wealthy Greek couple after the rest of the Chaste tried to kill her.
Boomer, who had been played in the original by black actor Herb Jefferson Jr., was changed into Korean-Canadian actress Grace Park (also a Gender Flip). As Boomer is a Manchurian AgentCylon in the new series, this one also counts as a Species Lift. The race and species part also applies to Athena, who is Park's other major "Number Eight" character; in the original, Athena was white (and Adama's daughter).
Commander Adama, originally played by white Canadian Lorne Greene, was recast as half-Hispanic with Edward James Olmos in the role. Or Colonel Tigh, who in the original series was black, played by Irish-Canadian actor Michael Hogan, who is (of course) white— and, like Boomer, Tigh is a Cylon. In the case of Tigh, this might have been to avoid Unfortunate Implications, given that the re-imagined Tigh begins as an alcoholic who isn't very good at his job.
The BBC series has cast multiracial actress Angel Coulby as Guinevere (or Gwen as she is initially known). Perhaps to make the casting more plausible, the traditional background of Guinevere (as the daughter of a king) is dropped in favour of making her a commoner and a servant. The character of Sir Elyan, one of the Knights of the Round Table, is made into Guinevere's brother and is portrayed by a black actor - ironically, the character was often known in the legends as "Elyan the White."
There are several Black background characters as well, including various one-off knights and nobles, particularly during feast scenes (non-white characters are NOT all servants.) Also, Gwen was written as a servant before Angel was cast when (presumably) a white actress was expected to take the role. Also also, according to Word of God, Angel Coulby was cast because of Ability over Appearance, not specifically to fulfill some sort of diversity requirement.
The English language version turned the Icelandic Latibær plays' red-headed hellion Halla and pale computer geek Goggi into Asian (and slightly less wild) Trixie and black (and possibly more computer-obsessed) Pixel. The mayor's skin also darkened several shades, but given he's closely related to a character who stayed white, and not very dark (and a puppet, so actor race gives no clues), it's unclear if he too had his race changed, or if he's just meant to be tanned.
In the original play, Goggi was a white baldling wearing green glasses and pyjamas!
In the Gossip Girl novels, Kati and Isabel are both white. The actresses who play them are Chinese and black, respectively.
The unaired pilot for the proposed 2004 Dark Shadows revival had longtime character Dr. Julia Hoffman played by Asian American actress Kelly Hu.
The Wonder Woman (2011 pilot) had Etta Candy, Diana's blonde and blue-eyed best friend from the comics, played by African American actress Traci Thoms. This was carried over into the New 52, see above.
On Game of Thrones, Xaro Xhoan Daxos is played by Nonso Anozie, a Black British actor. In the books, Xaro is a native Qartheen, who are so pale that Dothraki call them "Milk Men." In the show, he described himself as an immigrant to Qarth from the Summer Isles, where the other Black characters in the series are from.
The 2012 Sherlock Holmes update Elementary has John Watson both race-lifted and gender-flipped into the Asian American surgeon "Joan Watson", played by Lucy Liu.
The cop in the pilot who corresponded roughly to Inspector Lestrade, Detective Abreu, was Latino. In the second episode, he was replaced by the African-American Detective Bell (named for the real-life surgeon who was the inspiration for Holmes), who swiftly became less Lestrade-like than his predecessor.
Emily and her father are half-Asian and Asian respectively. In the original novels, they were both white, with Emily being described as a redhead.
The TV version of Mona Vanderwaal is likewise played by a biracial actress, Janel Parrish, who is half-Chinese and was born in Hawaii. In the books she is described as having blonde hair and blue eyes. At a later point in the series, Mona does dye her hair blonde shortly.
In the 1963 film The Courtship of Eddie's Father, Mrs. Livingston was a white woman played by Roberta Sherwood. In the 1969 TV adaptation starring Bill Bixby, Mrs. Livingston was played by Japanese-American actress Miyoshi Umeki.
Polly and Polly: Comin' Home! retell Pollyanna with a with a mostly-African-American cast, and with the location and time period changed from Vermont in the 1900s to segregated Alabama in The '50s.
Their take on Cinderella (Rodgers and Hammerstein) stars Brandy as Cinderella. Additionally, Whitney Houston plays the fairy godmother, African-American Natalie Desselle plays stepsister Joy (renamed Minerva), Paolo Montalban, a Filipino actor, plays Prince Christopher, black actress Whoopi Goldberg plays his mother Queen Constantina, and white, Canadian Victor Garber plays his father King Maxamillian.
Their version of Annie features Audra McDonald as Miss Grace Farrell, as mentioned above, and also adds girls of other races to the orphanage.
Simon Lewis was white in the books, but will be played by a Hispanic actor in the series.
The Lightwoods are now a mixed-race family with Isabelle being played by a Hispanic actress, although strangely her brother Alec is still white. Depending if the series follows the book plot of Robert Lightwood having had an affair, this could end up being significant.
Luke Garroway was white in the books, but will be black in the series.
Camille Belcourt was white in the books, being described as having silvery blonde hair and green eyes. In the series, she is played by a Chinese-Irish actress.
Magnus was half Dutch and half Indonesian in the books, but is played by a Chinese-American actor in the series, which could also qualify as a case of Interchangeable Asian Cultures.
Officer Kono Kalakaua, a man in the original, is now played by a woman. Ethnically, he was a native Hawaiian and she a Korean-American, but in practice the two ethnicities are visually close enough that "Asian/Pacific Islander" is often a category on surveys and you could honestly mistake one for the other with no malice. Furthermore, given the history of interracial marriage in Hawaii, most people would just figure that Kono is a mixed Asian/Hawaiian anyway.
Dr. Max Bergman, white in the original, is now Asian (but adopted by Jewish parents).
Captain Lou Grover, also white in the original, is now black.
Uncle Monty is played by Aasif Mandvi, who is Indian.
Fernald/The Hook-Handed Man is played by Usman Ally, who is of South Asian descent.
In Hulu's live-action adaptation of Runaways, Molly Hayes, a white girl in the comics, is reimagined as a Latina girl named Molly Hernandez.
In the live-action Inhumans TV series, Karnak and Gorgon, who are white in the comics, are played by Ken Leung and Eme Ikwuakor, who are Asian and black, respectively. Triton is played by Mike Moh, another Asian actor, but this is an odd example. He's technically caucasian in the comics by virtue of being Karnak's brother, but his skin color is pretty irrelevant since his entire body is covered in green scales. Oddly, even with the race lifts, all three, along with Black Bolt and Maximus (who remain white) remain blood-related as they are in the comics (Karnak and Triton are brothers as already noted, as are Black Bolt and Maximus, and both pairs are cousins to each other and to Gorgon).
In the comics, Deathstroke's son Joseph Wilson/Jericho is white, while his daughter Rose Wilson/Ravager is half-Asian (as Slade fathered her while having an affair with a Hmong woman in Cambodia). The TV series instead makes Jericho half-Asian like his sister, which also results in his mother Adeline being made Asian.
Slade's ally Wintergreen is black.
Lex Luthor's assistant/bodyguard Mercy Graves is black.
Likely influenced by the popularity of Young Justice, the show's version of Tigress is Asian-American, while her daughter Artemis is half-Asian.
Paul Drake (white in the original novels and TV show) is black in Perry Mason (2020). This change affects the plot in a fairly significant way, with the character now having to deal with the institutional racism of 1930s Los Angeles.
In the Shannara novels, Menion Leah in Sword is described as having a "brown face", but also has grey eyes, suggesting he's tanned rather than black. Rone Leah, his great-grandson, in Wishsong is described similarly. While neither of them actually appear in The Shannara Chronicles, which is set between the two, the Leah royal family is African-American.
13 Reasons Why's book counterpart left the races of several characters ambiguous. The Netflix series makes Tony Hispanic, Courtney and Zach Asian, Jessica biracial (white mother, black father) and Marcus and Mr Porter black. Book character Jenny Kurtz is implied to be a white girl and becomes Sheri Holland, who is black.
In the original Watchmen comic, while his identity was never confirmed, it is speculated in-story that Hooded Justice is a white, German man named Rolf Muller. Hooded Justice also makes statements that are construed as pro-Nazi. In the series, it's confirmed that its version of Hooded Justice is a black man named Will Reeves who wears make-up around his eyes to make himself seem white. His pro-Nazi leanings are not addressed, but Word of God effectively ret-cons these as lies to maintain his cover as a white man. The change in background also greatly changes the context for the trademark noose around Hooded Justice's neck, now serving as a reminder America's history of lynching African-Americans.
An In-Universe case: Dr. Manhattan was born Jon Osterman, a white man. His physical appearance shifts to a blue-skinned and hairless version of Osterman. The show has depicts him changing his appearance from Osterman to that of Cal Abar, an African-American man. Even when he reverts to his blue-skinned and hairless look, he maintains the features of Abar instead of Osterman.
The Outsider: In the book, Holly is white, but she's changed to a black woman because series co-creator Jason Bateman wanted to work with Cynthia Erivo. Holly's habit of saying cheers in Lithuanian is turned into a eccentricity rather than a reference to her ethnic background.
The Baby-Sitters Club (2020): Majority of the cast in the books are white or assumed to be white if not stated otherwise, but the Netflix 2020 adaptation makes it more diverse. For example, Mary-Anne is white and in fact so pale she can't ever tan in the books but is mixed (half-black and half-white) in the adaptation, and Dawn is a blonde white girl in the books which contrasts with her Hispanic roots in the adaptation.
Despite being primarily inspired by the classic Marvel continuity, Nick Fury in the MCU is played by Samuel L. Jackson. This is understandable though as mentioned above, the Alternate ContinuityThe Ultimates series portrayed Fury as a black man with Jackson's likeness. The right of first refusal to play the character in any future movies was actually part of the deal for allowing Ultimate Fury to look just like him.
Heimdall is played by Black-British actor Idris Elba, despite being based on a white Marvel character. This is particularly ironic given that Heimdall is described in the Eddas as being "the whitest of the gods." The word might also be translated as "brightest," however.
Asgard in general seems more diverse in the films than in the comics. There are non-white extras seen in crowd scenes, despite it being established in the comics that there are no people of color there. In a New Mutants issue where the team went to Asgard, the Asgardians were shown to be confused by Roberto's coloring, implying that they were unaware of the concept of non-white skin tones.
Guardians of the Galaxy sees Korath the Pursuer played by Djimon Hounsou and depicted with black skin rather than blue. This is notable since, in the comics, Kree are explicitly stated to all have either blue or pink (resembling white humans) complexions. Dave Bautista also played Drax, but given the movie reworked his origin to be that of an actual alien and not a resurrected human whose real name was Arthur Douglas, that is more Adaptation Species Change. Its sequel sees Lady Starhawk and Charlie-27, both of whom are white in the comics, played by Michelle Yeoh and Ving Rhames, respectively.
Several characters in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Liz Allen, Flash Thompson and Ned Leeds are all white blondes in the comics, but in the film, Liz is black, Flash is Latino and Ned is Filipino. The Shocker, a white brunet, is also African-American. Played with in some cases, as Liz's surname is never stated and she is the daughter of Adrian Toomes, the Vulture, and there are two Shockers, one white and one black. Mac Gargan, the Scorpion, also takes after the second Ultimate version and is Latino. Michelle "MJ" Jones, the franchise's Expy of Mary Jane Watson, is played by the half-black Zendaya.
In Loki, Princess Ravonna, a white woman in the comics, is played by Gugu Mbatha Raw, who is the daughter of a Black South African father and an English mother.
Uatu the Watcher is Ambiguously Brown in What If?, with his voiced provided by Jeffrey Wright. Showrunner Ashley Bradley explicitly pushed for this, not wanting a character as powerful and near-omniscient as the Watcher to be a white man, which she likened to stereotypical Western depictions of God.
In the original Eternals comics, most of the characters were white. In the movie adaptation, there are multiple changes:
Sersi is played by Chinese-English actress Gemma Chan.
Gilgamesh is played by Ma Dong-seok, who is South Korean.
Makkari is played by Lauren Ridloff, who is African-American and a woman.
Ajak is played by Salma Hayek, who is of Mexican and Lebanese descent.
The third Ant-Man movie has Kang the Conqueror played by Jonathan Majors, who is black.
An interesting example in the Paper Mill Playhouse production of Stephen Schwartz's musical Children of Eden: Adam was white and Eve was black, apparently also allowing them to have children of different skin tones. However, this also had possible, unintended Unfortunate Implications (see that trope entry).
The musical version of Jekyll & Hyde almost always casts Utterson as a black man.
Aside from race-specific roles and shows like Aida or Miss Saigon, Broadway's casting is remarkably color-blind. Black/non-white actors have had major roles in nearly every Broadway show around. For example, Chicago (Velma/Roxie/Billy Flynn), Les Misérables (Javert, Mme Thenardier, Fantine, Cosette, Eponine), Wicked (Fiyiero), Beauty and the Beast (Belle), Miss Saigon (John) and most notably Robert Guillaume (on tour) and Norm Lewis (on Broadway) as the titular The Phantom of the Opera. Even applies when such casting would result in Black Vikings or be otherwise implausible—like a black/Asian Eponine playing the daughter of the white Thenardiers in Les Misérables. There have even been some cases where a white actress has played Young Eponine or Young Cosette and a non-white actress has played the older versions of those characters, or vice versa.
Elphaba from "Wicked" can be played by any actress, no matter her race, considering that she has to be painted green anyway. Actually, Glinda is the only character from Wicked explicitly required by the plot to be white. Not that it stopped Japan...◊
Miss Saigon's Ellen (the American wife of Chris) was always played by a white actress, especially a blonde or redhead. However, towards the end of the show's Broadway run, Ellen was cast with an Asian actress, which added a new dimension to the show. Rather than moving on with his life, as Chris insisted that he had, it now seemed very likely that Chris only married Ellen because she reminded him of his Lost Lenore Kim.
A 1994 production of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice by noted director Peter Sellars (not to be confused with the film actor) implied the location to be multi-racial Venice Beach, California. A clip of Shylock's speech is available on YouTube.
Shylock and his compatriots were played by Black actors.
Portia and her retinue were actresses of Asian ancestry.
the titular merchant was Latino.
The only significant characters played by Anglo actors were the clown Gobbo and his son (played by a pre-stardom Philip Seymour Hoffman).
Collins, from RENT, was intended to be a "kind of Tom Waits" character, but the playwright changed his mind once Jesse L Martin auditioned. Similarly, at least half the cast ended up being played by non-white actors; this has varied from production to production.
In Freehold Engagement Theatre's 2012 production of King Lear, Edgar, the Fool(a puppet held by a white actress), and one of the ensemblists were black, and Edmund and Cordelia were Hispanic. In the 2010 Donmar Warehouse production, the Afro-British actress Pippa Bennett-Warner played Cordelia.
In the 2001 Broadway revival of The Rocky Horror Show, Magenta was played by Panamanian-born Daphne Rubin-Vega, Columbia was played by Aiko Nakasone (who's Japanese), and Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Eddie, and Dr. Scott were, at one point, played by African-American actor James Stovall.
Hamilton features an almost entirely non-white cast playing America's founding fathers (and mothers). The only main character to be played by a white actor is King George.
Actresses of various ethnicities, orientations, and sizes have played the wives of Henry VIII in Six, historically a group of white women married to a man. The casting call has stated that it's open to people of all genders who are comfortable playing female roles. Openly gay composer and writer Toby Marlow stepped in to cover Catherine Parr for an emergency.
A Gender Flip production of 1776 consisting entirely of women and non-binary, transgender, and genderqueer actors of various ethnicities directed by Diane Paulus has been slated for a tour and a Broadway premiere in 2021.
Birdie from Street Fighter Alpha — he originally appeared in the very first Street Fighter game as white, but when his character underwent a complete visual overhaul, he became black. One of his victory quotes is a Lampshade Hanging: "You mean before? I was pale because I was sick!"
In Mortal Kombat, the character of Jade has been portrayed as every race under the sun. In her original MK II & Ultimate MK 3 appearances, she and Jax were the token black characters. On the port for MK II to the Sega Genesis and the Amiga, she became white (this might have something to do with the fact that, skin tone augmentation aside, she was portrayed by the same actress as Mileena and Kitana). However, in Annihilation she was played by the pale, Asian Irina Pantaeva (who is ethnically Buryat, i.e. Russian Mongol). Over time, her appearance has shifted to just being Ambiguously Brown.
Taking after the original adaption of Bolivar Trask in X-Men: The Last Stand, Trask (a white man in the original comics) is depicted as a black man in the game.
The game also heavily implies that Nightcrawler's father is the African-American character John Wraith. Of course it'd be difficult to tell anyway since Nightcrawler's skin is depicted as blue due to his mutation.
Cobweb and Stripes is starting to do this, as the comic version of characters from the cartoon are sometimes of a different ethnicity than they were originally drawn; for example, Prudence has been changed from a tiny white girl to a Dark-Skinned Redhead.
In The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, several main characters have been race lifted. Considering the original took place in 18th century England, and the adaptation in the modern-day United States, this makes sense.
The Bingleys become Asian, likely Chinese, with Charles Bingley becoming Bing Lee. Caroline Bingley is Caroline Lee.
Charlotte and Maria Lucas become Charlotte and Maria Lu, also of Asian descent.
Adele Varens was a French girl in the book, while Adele Rochester has light brown skin, and her father Mr. Rochester doesn't. It adds mystery as to who Adele's mother might be and whether Mr. Rochester is her biological father.
Grace Poole, a Composite Character of scary and mysterious Grace Poole and kind Mrs. Fairfax, looks as if she was of Asian origin.
Emma Approved, made by the same team behind The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, has several cases of this too:
Emma Woodhouse is played by a half-Japanese and half-German actress.
Izzy Knightley, Emma's married sister, is played by a Hawaiian actress.
Mrs. Bates becomes the African-American Maddy Bates and her niece Jane Fairfax becomes African-American too.
Frank Churchill becomes Asian and Ryan Weston's stepbrother instead of his son to justify their different races.
SuperF*ckers: Ultra-Richard goes from white in the original comics to black in the animation. He also went from having nearly no personality in the comics to basically being a vaguely-super powered Chefexpy.
Superman: The Animated Series has Angela Chen, who is essentially an Asian Expy of the comic book character Cat Grant. Her role as the Daily Planet's gossip columnist and rivalry with Lois Lane are all directly lifted from Grant. Also, Inspector Henderson, who was white in the Superman radio show and The Adventures of Superman, was a black man.
Puff was a white blonde in the original Static comics, but was depicted as an African American in Static Shock.
X-Men: Evolution does this more than once, with originally blonde and very white Amanda Sefton becoming possibly Middle Eastern (or a brown-skinned ethnicity, anyway; it isn't apparent from dialogue or appearance, though she doesn't look quite like the series' black characters) for the series. The Lift is extended to her parents, naturally.
Also, Magma goes from white to Brazilian (in the comics, she was disguised as a Brazilian when she was first seen, but proved to be a blonde from a Romanesque society hidden in a remote area of Brazil).
Amanda Sefton in the comics is a Roma. A pale, blonde Roma. Her mother, Margali, has a more "traditional" Roma appearance.
Mystique receives a mid-series version of this trope. In the first season, Mystique had light blue skin, white eyes with gray pupils, dark red hair, and violet lips. From the second season onwards, her skin is a dark bluish-green, her eyes are yellow with black pupils, her hair is a lighter shade of reddish-orange, her lips are dark blue, and her facial structure is also different in shape.
Mystique's an interesting case, and doesn't really change in the show. It's worth explaining fully anyway, because many fans and even the comic artists don't catch this: Mystique's day-one outfit, the white dress with the skulls, actually has a bodysuit, or it did in early appearances. This makes her face more green and her arms and legs more blue. Artists since have forgotten it was there, and now make her entire body whichever color they feel she should be - sometimes the color of her face, sometimes the color of the rest of her. By now, any shade of green or blue goes. X-Men: Evolution gave Mystique a fairly faithful representation of her day-one outfit, remembering the bodysuit. Eventually, she changed to her second, black outfit, which lacked the bodysuit, so later seasons have her entire body the color that was once reserved for her face. Before.◊ After.◊
Earth's Mightiest Heroes splits the difference, making him a black man with hair more like the original Fury in Season 1. Season 2 made him more Ultimate-like by shaving his head and having him grow a beard.
Additionally, it has Kang's lover Ravonna changed from a white woman with red hair to an Ambiguously Brown woman with jet black hair. Maria Hill also becomes ambiguously brown. This led to a minor controversy when Cobie Smulders was cast as Maria Hill in The Avengers. Some fans who were only familiar with Maria from the cartoon complained about a pale-skinned, blue-eyed actress being cast to portray the character in the film, even though that's how she usually looks in the actual comics.
Corresponding to the above-mentioned Race Lift of his brother Nick Fury, Scorpio is depicted as an African American man in Ultimate Spider-Man.
Rather than being a white guy, the Scorpion is from K'un-L'un, the hidden Tibetan city where Iron Fist received his training.
Arcade also goes from being a white adult to an Asian teenager.
The show does this with Artemis and her mother Paula, both of whom were blue-eyed white women in the original comics. Here, Paula is Vietnamese, while Artemis is biracial. Artemis keeps her blonde hair from the comics, but is given brown eyes, darker skin and Asian facial features to highlight her mixed heritage.
Variant with Aqualad: the original holder of the title from the comics, Garth, is white, but hasn't been Aqualad for a long time anyway. In this continuity they created a new character, Kaldur'ahm, whose father, Black Manta is African-American.
Martian Manhunter might count as well. In the comics his human guise is usually a white man; in the show he adopts the appearance of a black man, though it probably is a Shout-Out to his Smallville appearance.
This also leads into an interesting visual pun and bit of foreshadowing with M'Gann. Her guise is as a white teenage girl. Meaning she's white, and a Martian. She really is a White Martian.
Halo is a blonde woman in the comics, but a dark-skinned Muslim refugee from Qurac in the show.
Hamilton Hill and Roland Desmond (the alter ego of the original Blockbuster) were made African-American.
The Royal Flush Gang that appeared in the 80's Superfriends cartoon had Ten changed from a grown white woman to a black teenager.
As the name would imply, the Bat Man of Shanghai shorts from DC Nation have Catwoman changed to a Chinese thief operating out of Shanghai in the 1930's. Batman and Bane become Chinese as well, though Bane is Latino in the comics.
The Halloween special Toy Story of Terror changes Combat Carl, briefly seen in the original film as a generic white "Little Green Man"-type soldier, into a black G.I. JoeExpy with a mustache. It's not unheard of for toy lines to Retcon characters into being more diverse, so it comes off as a bit of a Meta joke.
Beware the Batman's version of Marion Grange changed the character from Caucasian to African-American.