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Race Lift / Mixed-Race or Miscellaneous

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    Comic Books 
  • Final Crisis managed to do this twice to two different characters completely by accident. In the original comic run, Mister Miracle (the second one, a black man) was accidentally colored as white in one issue. DC acknowledged the error and corrected it in the trade paperback - resulting in Sonny Sumo (an Asian sumo wrestler whose skin tone happened to be the same as the botched color scheme for Miracle) appearing as black in those same panels. None of this had anything to do with the story.
    • The lead-in series Mister Miracle performed a major Race Lift on the New Gods by forcing them into human bodies. Most of the evil gods ended up black, which has Unfortunate Implications until you consider that Shilo Norman is himself black, and having a large white man named Boss Dark Side putting him through nine layers of Hell would have been unfortunate in a completely different way. (The Black Racer, incidentally, became white, and a lot closer to evil than Kirby's "death as inevitability" version.)
      • In Final Crisis proper, Glorious Godfrey, originally a red head, became G. Gordon Godfrey, a combination of Al Sharpton and Don King. And he was much more fun to read this way.
    • It used a lot of body surfing that ended up subverting this. Darkseid went from a large black man to the white Dan Turpin, who he ended up remaking into his old gray-skinned self. Then Desaad swapped out for a pink-haired Mary Marvel and Granny Goodness traded up for a blue-skinned alien cyborg. None of this is the weirdest thing that happened in that series.
  • The wizard Shazam's back story has long established him as being from ancient Canaan, and he was drawn white up until the New 52; however, now his ethnicity has been changed to Aborigine. Darkseid War: Shazam reveals that he's Mamaragan, the Aborigine god of thunder.
  • Before the New 52 reboot, Huntress, Helena Bertinelli, was Sicilian-American and was drawn as being white. When she was reintroduced post-reboot, her appearance had changed dramatically, probably to make her more visually distinct from the other Huntress, Helena Wayne; her last name was still Bertinelli, suggesting Sicilian ancestry, but her skin tone was much darker, possibly suggesting a mixed-race background. It's not clear, however, because the comics have so far revealed very little about her in the new continuity.
  • The Star Trek: The Original Series record-and-comic "A Mirror for Futility" by Alan Dean Foster managed to feature a white, blonde Uhura and an African-American Sulu, apparently out of sheer ignorance.

    Fan Works 
  • To Hell and Back (Arrowverse): A very minor example. In Vixen, Mari and Kuasa are of pure African descent. Here, they're one-fourth Caucasian, due to For Want of a Nail making it so their grandfather is Amaya Jiwe's First Love Rex Tyler (a.k.a. Hourman, the leader of the Justice Society of America) rather than an unnamed man from Zambesi like in canon.

  • Spike Lee tried to call Clint Eastwood out on this, accusing him of not casting any black Marines in Flags of Our Fathers. Irritated, Eastwood responded that his film was about the Marines who raised the flag on Iwo Jima in World War II, and he cast them with the races they actually were. The only black US soldiers on Iwo Jima were in support units (which the film shows briefly). Eastwood also replied that for the film Bird (his 1988 film on jazz legend Charlie Parker) where 90% of the characters are black, he cast 90% black actors.
  • Actor Vin Diesel had difficulty getting roles at the beginning of his career due to his very mixed ethnic background. His semi-autobiographical short film Multi-Facial is about this problem. He doesn't seem to have a problem getting cast anymore.
  • The Scooby-Doo made-for-tv movie Scooby-Doo: The Mystery Begins has an actress named Hayley Kiyoko, who is obviously Japanese, playing Velma Dinkley. Ironically, she does look the part with the glasses and hair.
  • The Last Airbender: While the races in the show are fantasy, this film adaptation has lesser and greater examples of the trope, all defended by the filmmakers as Ability over Appearance.
    • In the original series, Katara and Sokka are from a culture resembling Inuits, but have blue eyes. In the film, Katara and Sokka are played by white actors with brown hair. Some fans accused the adaptation of Race Lift, preferring Asian or Inuit actors to fit the cultural inspiration. Most of the background extras appear Inuit, with Asian-looking features, black hair and brown eyes. The reason their ethnicity was changed was because Nicola Peltz’s dad is a billionaire Hollywood investor and Paramount owedhim a favor and cast her. Since Katara was played by a white actor, Sokka had to be played by one as well.
    • Aang comes from a culture based on Tibet. He has light skin and grey (but occasionally brown in some shots) eyes. He's played in the film by a Caucasian actor with brown eyes.
    • The villainous Fire Nation is based on East Asian cultures in the series, with members sporting light skin and black hair. The film cast dark-complexioned actors, including Indians, a Maori, and various brunettes in the background. Many fans considered it Unfortunate Implications to cast dark-skinned actors instead of East Asian actors as villains. Notably, the director M. Night Shyamalan is of Indian descent and has a cameo as a Fire Nation guard. Apparently, part of the reason for why the Fire Nation are mainly dark-skinned is a film-only reasoning that it's because they come from around the equator, where darker skin tones are more prevalent in real life. To add salt to the wound, originally Jesse Mc Cartney was cast as Zuko but when Nicola Peltz was cast as Katara, they didn’t want to make two of the ethnic groups white so Paramount dropped him (amicably with his blessing) from the project.
    • The Monk Gyatso, a fantasy Expy of the Tibetan Dalai Lama, is black in the film.
  • G.I. Joe: Retaliation:
    • Elodie Yung portrays Jinx. The character is normally depicted as a full-blooded Japanese woman while Yung is half-Cambodian and half-French. Still Asian, but the French features are very obvious.
    • African-American soldier Roadblock is portrayed by the half-black, half-Samoan Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
  • The film Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom portrays all of the defendants at the Rivonia Trial as being black except Ahmed Kathrada (who was Asian/Indian). In actuality, another of the defendants (Billy Nair) was also Asian/Indian, and another three (Lionel Bernstein, James Kantor, and Denis Goldberg) were white men of Jewish descent (although Bernstein and Kantor were acquitted).
  • The Crow: Eric was fully white in the original graphic novel, but Brandon Lee, who was of mixed European-Chinese descent, played him in the film.
  • The Power Rangers movie changed just about everyone: Billy and Kimberly, originally white, are now played by a black actor and a white/Indian actress, respectively; Zack, originally black, is now Chinese; and Trini, originally Chinese, is now Hispanic. The only Power Ranger to stay the same is Jason, who is white in both versions.
  • The T-1000 in Terminator Genisys is a Composite Character of the first cop Kyle Resee ran into in The Terminator and the T-1000 from Terminator 2: Judgment Day, but is played by Asian Byung-hun Lee rather than either a white guy like Robert Patrick as the original T-1000 or a black guy like the original cop.
  • The Japanese live-action Fullmetal Alchemist had characters who were clearly Caucasian and with Western names in both animes cast by Japanese actors.

  • The Belles is set in a world where everyone except the titular Belles are born with grey skin, stringy grey hair and sallow yellow eyes, which according to myth is due to the curse of an angry god. The Belles have the power to make people beautiful, and as a result skin colours, hair colours and textures, and eye colours are subject to beauty trends. Several characters in the first book, due to Belle treatments, go through wildly different appearances as a result.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Inspector William Henderson was white when he first appeared in The Adventures of Superman, and when he was later introduced into the comics, but was black in his early appearances in Lois & Clark (first played by Mel Winkler, then by Brett Jennings). Then he was white in later episodes, played by Richard Belzer. He was also black in Superman: The Animated Series (and reprised by Winkler). Eventually, the comicbook Bill Henderson having been promoted to Comissioner, the comics introduced a new Inspector Mike Henderson, who was African-American.
  • Attila: It is a bit unclear what the historical Attila the Hun looked like in real life, but a nomadic warlord from the Eurasian steppes probably didn't resemble the blue-eyed northern European Gerard Butler too much.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Melody Pond, aka River Song, regenerates from a little white girl (Sydney Wade) to a little black girl who grows up into a woman (Maya Glace-Green, Nina Toussaint-White) to a white woman (Alex Kingston). This was complicated by the fact that the final Alex Kingston form was actually the first to appear in the show, due to time-travel.
    • The same era of the show also explicitly establishes that Time Lords can gender-bend themselves when they regenerate (when the new version of the Master turns out to be the Mistress), and combined the two with the General in "Hell Bent", who goes from Ken Bones (white man) to T'Nia Miller (black woman).
  • Grey's Anatomy: Creator Shonda Rhimes deliberately did not assign races to any of her characters, allowing for "color-blind casting" in which the best actors to get the roles no matter what their ethnicity.
  • A rare double Race Lift (crossed with Suddenly Ethnicity) is executed in Saved by the Bell and its spinoff, Saved by the Bell: The College Years. Originally, the character of Slater was intended to be Anglo, but then Latino actor Mario Lopez was cast in the role. His ethnicity was never referred to in the first series, but in The College Years Slater's father appeared and confessed that he changed his name (from Sanchez) to pass as Anglo and get into West Point.
  • An interesting example from Star Trek: The Next Generation, where an episode with racist undertones would have benefited from a face-lift: In "Code of Honor", the aliens of the week are a group of black people — no elaborate makeup. Now, there's anything wrong with an alien race of black people; what's alarmingly racist is that in the episode's depiction of them, they "are also descended directly from a 1940s pulp novel set in deepest, darkest Africa", as Wil Wheaton describes in a review of the episode. Wheaton goes onto describe how it was the episode's director who had the bright idea of casting and portraying the aliens in this manner (the script over suggesting a Scary Black Man or two as guards, but nothing about the accents). The director was eventually fired for his poor choices and for being a major Jerkass to the cast during shooting.
    • Dialogue in the episode compares the planet's culture and customs to Ming China and Native Americans, and most of the costumes are like metallic versions of something you'd see in The King and I or a Sinbad movie. The scriptwriters are on record as intending to base them on Japanese culture. As written, it's a melange of all sorts of Orientalist and ethnic stereotypes. But the casting and the "African" accents the characters use tend to overshadow the rest in the audience's eyes.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series in the early stages were planning on having Spock have the ears and red skin, to further his alien presence. But this was a time when most households did not have color television sets, so his red skin would instead appear to be black. With all the other issues surrounding the show and Executive Meddling, they decided it would avoid a lot of headaches and especially avoid problems with the show airing in the South.
    • Fan favorite Star Trek villain Khan Noonien Singh is an Indian Sikh. He is portrayed by the overtly Mexican Ricardo Montalban in the original series and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and by the overtly British Benedict Cumberbatch in Star Trek Into Darkness.
      • Given that the name "Khan Noonien Singh" is itself an ethnic muddle (Khan is generally a Muslim surname with Turkic-Mongolian roots, and "Noonien" was a nod to an old Chinese/Indian friend of Roddenberry's), it's conceivable that Khan might have some mixed ancestry (since he's genetically altered/engineered).
      • The Star Trek: Khan comic reveals, however, that Khan is indeed of fully Indian heritage, originally an impoverished orphan from a slum in New Delhi, India, before he became a test subject for genetic engineering research. It reveals he only became white later on in his life due to literal white-washing.

  • An unusual example is the Broadway musical The Wiz, an adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It was originally written for and performed by an all-black cast, and this holds for the film adaptation and many subsequent stagings, including NBC's live telecast. However, probably because race doesn't seem like an issue if you take the story at face value, it's not uncommon to see it mounted with color blind casting, particularly in school productions.
  • The play Golden Boy (in which the protagonist was an Italian-American) was musicalized as a star vehicle for Sammy Davis, Jr.
  • When Pearl Bailey assumed the role of Dolly in Hello, Dolly!, black actors and actresses filled the supporting cast.
  • There's a lot of debate over what the title character in Othello is supposed to look like. Does he look like a light-skinned North African, as the Moors historically appeared, or is he supposed to look like the more dark-skinned Africans that were brought to Europe as slaves? The characters frequently call him "black", but "black" to a Englishman of Shakespeare's time was a much more inclusive term. Ultimately the part is usually played by dark-skinned actors of African descent, or white actors in blackface attempting to appear as such. In one instance, Patrick Stewart financed and starred in a production of the play where he played Othello, and all the other roles were filled by black actors.

    Video Games 
  • The WWE: SmackDown vs. Raw series has exaggerated the "Indian-ness" of The Great Khali. Real-life Punjabis can be surprisingly light-skinned, and wrestler/actor Dalip Singh Rana (Khali's portrayer) might have been mistaken for a swarthy white man if there had not been anyone fairer-skinned in the ring with him. The games, however - which, ironically, are based on motion-capture technology - tint the animated Khali a somewhat diabolical mahogany brown, with the red practically burning off the screen. You half-expect him to sprout horns and start breathing fire at any moment.

    Western Animation 
  • Earl from Beavis And Butthead had this within the course of a single series. He was quite inconsistently colored in early episodes, switching between white and black skintones, sometimes within a single episode, before they finally settled on a pale white-looking coloration, probably for fears of being seen as a racist caricature (this is the guy who infamously got into a shootout during class, then had the gun calmly confiscated by Mr. Van Dreissen). However, he does still have some slightly African-looking features, particularly the shape of his nose, and a very deep, black-ish sounding voice. It's possible he's mixed, which would be consistent with his earlier coloring weirdness as the skin color of biracial people in Real Life can vary wildly depending on sun exposure and other factors.
  • A common misconception is that DCAU Lex Luthor was changed into a light skinned black man, especially in Superman: The Animated Series. Being voiced by Clancy Brown (who is white, but his voice gives a Scary Black Man vibe) probably aided in this perception. His skin tone is identical to Superman (although not always consistent), but he was often framed in shadow (giving a darker appearance) and had fuller lips because he's meant to look like Telly Savalas, who's Greek.
    • The reason he's so dark is that the show had two basic skin palettes for white characters; one for females, which defaulted as light pink, and one for males, which was supposed to be only a shade or two away from the female mix, but ended up with a lot more red than planned, making most of the show's male characters look deeply tanned. By the time the producers became aware of it, it was too late to do anything about it and they just said "screw it" and stuck with that coloring.
      • This becomes absurdly noted, of all places, in Histeria!: In the "Lewis and Clark" sketch, William Clark is deliberately drawn to look like Superman, and looks even redder than Sacajawea.
    • By Justice League, the same incarnation of Luthor was drawn noticeably whiter.
  • Jinx from Teen Titans really bears very little resemblance to her comic counterpart in terms of powers, costume or personality, but for what it's worth, the original version is Indian while the TV show's version is...probably Caucasian? She's really more grayish with a bright pink Horned Hairdo.
  • The Silver Surfer's original form has a noticeably darker skin tone in his self-titled cartoon adaptation than in the comics.
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender is something of an odd example, since the cast's ethnicities have never been very stable across prior incarnations to begin with. This time around, Shiro (formerly a Norwegian man named Sven Holgersson) is Japanese and given his original name from GoLion, Takashi Shirogane. Lance (previously the Scotch-Irish Lance McClain) is now an olive-skinned teenager who hails from around Varadero. Allura has gone from a blonde, blue-eyed Human Alien to a dark-skinned, white-haired Space Elf. Hunk (formerly Tsuyoshi "Hunk" Garrett) is now hinted to be Polynesian. Pidge remains white and gets a Gender Flip instead. Keith (Keith Kogane in prior incarnations) still appears to be Asian, but it's not clear if he's still specifically of Japanese and Chinese descent. Though we do eventually learn that he's part Galra.

    Real Life 
  • John Howard Griffin took pills to make himself look black for a few months, during which time he got kicked around in the Deep South. And then he wrote Black Like Me (Trope Namer for Black Like Me) about it. James Whitmore played Griffin in a film adaptation.
  • Many medieval illustrators depicted famous historical figures as white instead of "less popular" ethnicities such as African and Arab. In The Renaissance, fashions changed and painters were more eager to depict "exotic" people realistically. Compare this 1493 picture of Aesop (who was said to be of African origin in late Antiquity) to this one from 17th century painter Velázquez.
  • The New York Fire Dept. caught flack for trying to Race Lift a statue of three firefighters raising a flag among the wreckage of the World Trade Center after 9/11. The real guys were white, the statue depicted a white guy, a black guy, and a Latino.
  • Michael Jackson was often accused of having used numerous plastic surgery operations to try and make himself look more white. He claimed that he'd only had two operations, affecting his nose and chin (the latter had a cleft added), and that he bleached his skin to even out blotches caused by vitiligo. There's plenty of proof online that he had vitiligo.


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