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Jun 3rd 2017 at 11:14:54 AM •••

Could we just delete this trope? It's extremely racist. Not to mention Western Centric.

Feb 22nd 2017 at 4:34:43 PM •••

Schindler's List was removed because the editor considered Jewish people "white". Whiteness isn't a color, it is a concept created by white people to exclude others. One of those others have been and, at times (witness St. Louis this week) are still Jewish people. And, despite racial taxonomy, there is still the problem of religious difference. Dallas Buyers Club, which I also added, has been left intact. It features someone who is white male and hetero as the savior of people who are mostly white male and not hetero. Most everyone is still "white" but their sexuality differs. It would be impossible and historically ignorant to base this trope only on skin color.

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Feb 22nd 2017 at 6:12:23 PM •••

Wow, that is hilariously not an example. While you're right it's not all about whiteness, unless Schindler is considered more Jewish than the Jews, and Matteo is considered better at being gay than the gays, those are both serious shoehorns.

Edited by Edited by Larkmarn
Feb 22nd 2017 at 6:33:20 PM •••

Yeah, the trope has sort of lost its meaning over time and now it's every kind of savior that doesn't share the same background as the people they save. Wasn't this about an outsider inexplicably being superior at being part of a group than most people in the group itself?

I don't think Schindler counts and it has nothing to do with his ethnicity.

Edited by Edited by DeisTheAlcano
Feb 23rd 2017 at 3:10:56 PM •••

Fine then, I'm movie them you White Man's burden.

Edited by Edited by Mark2000
Jun 3rd 2017 at 11:16:31 AM •••

"Whiteness isn't a color, it is a concept created by white people to exclude others."

This is known as a contradiction in terms. If "whiteness isn't a color," then how could it be created by "white people?"

Aug 18th 2017 at 4:32:08 PM •••

The concept of who counts as "white" has shifted over time as ostricised groups gained more acceptance and/or assimilated. The Irish in the 1800s are one example as are European Jews (though the modern ones with close connections to their heritage may still carry the memories of those times as they were passed down to them, affecting their outlook.)

Oct 12th 2016 at 12:46:04 PM •••

I don't see how Batman is this. He didn't visit some culture, learn their methods, surpass them and become their savior. He traveled all over the world learning skills from different cultures, then went back to his native country and used all he had learned to protect its people. Nowhere near the same.

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Oct 12th 2016 at 12:51:14 PM •••

He visited them, learned their methods, and surpassed them. That's the trope.

The "became their savior" is a common, but not necessary part of it.

Oct 12th 2016 at 12:57:11 PM •••

Was he ever shown surpassing them at their methods? Because I don't recall seeing that.

Oct 12th 2016 at 1:03:59 PM •••

Ra's, yes. At least he thinks he's a more worthy successor than anyone in his organization. This is particularly true in Batman Begins but is usually true in every medium.

I don't think he ever did surpass Lady Shiva. I think she does at one point imply that he could surpass her, but his code against killing holds him back.

I don't know anything about the tracking.

Oct 12th 2016 at 1:15:34 PM •••

Ra's wasn't his mentor outside of Begins, though. You have a point about Ra's choosing him to be his successor though, but outside of Ra's (who isn't part of his origin, except in Begins) I don't think he was ever depicted as this trope. If anything, he's a jack of all trades. He has a lot of skills that in combination make him a formidable crime fighter and detective, but he's not the best at any of them.

Oct 12th 2016 at 2:16:33 PM •••

Personally, I agree. My issue is your reasoning in your first post was incorrect.

I wouldn't mind seeing it gone overall, but in regards to Batman's lore, there's so much of it that it's impossible for me to say with certainly that something didn't happen, you know?

Oct 12th 2016 at 2:32:49 PM •••

I think in that case what we want isn't an entry about Batman in general throughout comics history— because like you say, there are just plain too many versions to say definitively that Batman "in general" does or does not fit— but specific examples of specific Batman stories in which he's portrayed as a Mighty Whitey, if there are any that fit the trope.

If we can't come up with at least one specific example of a Batman story that fits, then it's Not an Example.

Edited by Edited by HighCrate
Oct 13th 2016 at 7:00:18 AM •••

I suppose the League of Shadows is a two-fer, you've got both Ducard and Bruce as the best they've produced even though they're a vaguely non-white group (since they seem to be based in Asia).

I can't remember, does DCAU count? Bruce and Kyodai Ken had a fierce rivalry, and I want to think it's because Bruce, the outsider, was better, but I don't recall. Haven't seen it in ages.

Edited by Edited by Larkmarn
Oct 13th 2016 at 11:18:26 AM •••

Bruce definitely surpasses Kyodai Ken after becoming Batman (although Ken was the superior fighter when they were students together), and as far as we can see they're the star pupils of the dojo, but there's nothing to indicate that either of them ever surpassed the old master who trained both of them, who even admonishes Kyodai Ken that "there is always someone better" when Ken mocks Bruce during training. I don't think it's a very good example.

Edited by Edited by HighCrate
Oct 13th 2016 at 11:39:19 AM •••

I'd consider that Not an Example, then. Just thought I'd spitball it since I genuinely couldn't remember.

Oct 13th 2016 at 11:55:41 AM •••

All good. I did a Batman: TAS dive pretty recently so that one was fresh in my mind.

Oct 13th 2016 at 12:09:06 PM •••

Man, I've got to rewatch that. It's on Amazon Prime, right?

Oct 13th 2016 at 1:35:24 PM •••

I believe so, in the U.S. at least. I've got the DV Ds so that's how I usually watch.

Jan 24th 2017 at 10:26:23 AM •••

I agree about Batman not being an example. His story rarely ever makes a comparison between his skills and those of the people he learned from. Rather, his origin is "rich guy travels across the world to learn skills from different cultures so that he can fight crime". Beyond that, the story never made a big deal out of the relationship between Batman and the people he learned from, or showed how well his skills measures against those of the people he learned them from. There's a subtle but important difference between his origin and the Mighty Whitey trope. If there are no objections, I'll remove him from examples.

Jan 24th 2017 at 10:52:15 AM •••

Ironically, the one place I think this should count (Batman Begins) it's not listed. But based on this thread you can probably pull the BTAS and Comic Book entries.

Feb 5th 2017 at 3:01:14 AM •••

Hmmm... I don't seem to recall Ra's/Ducard choosing Batman to be a successor in Begins. IIRC, he was training him to convert him into another member of the League of Shadows. Am I misremembering? Though he DOES seek to make him his successor in some continuities; those cases would count as examples.

Feb 25th 2017 at 12:00:12 PM •••

I removed Batman. I was about to replace the origin mention with the Ra's thing, but decided it's not really an example of the trope. Ra's and his people are Arabs, and Arabs aren't a race, but an ethnicity. They would have to be black or Asian to count. Anyone disagrees?

Jul 9th 2015 at 5:32:27 PM •••

"Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Madoka becomes a goddess to save the European and African magical girls."

This example should not be here, because it has nothing to do with other cultures. She was saving every magical girl across time and space from the horrible fate of becoming Witches.

Edited by Edited by Rahkshi500
Apr 19th 2015 at 5:15:40 PM •••

I was under the impression that tropes are not bad, but this page reads like an essay on why its trope is not only bad but reflects badly on anyone who uses it- plus a few comments on how insecure white people are. I realize how touchy things get when race is brought up, but isn't this all a little extreme? It seems like too many assumptions are being made about the motives behind creating these kinds of stories.

Jul 22nd 2014 at 11:46:30 AM •••

...Is there a particular reason there are doubles of some folders near the bottom of the page?

Jun 12th 2013 at 11:20:37 AM •••

I dispute the Planet of the Apes part where Pete is described as "a recognizable African-American". Pete was played by James Naughton. Here's a photo of Naughton along with his costars (he's the one on top). Does he look African-American to you? Here's a more recent picture of Naughton.

Edited by Edited by Hide/Show Replies
Jun 12th 2013 at 11:41:46 AM •••


Was Pete ever identified in the show as being African-American? If not, then axe the whole bit. If so, then make a comment on it.

Jun 18th 2013 at 9:46:17 PM •••

Sorry, trope poster here; must have gotten the live action show confused with the animated "Return To the Planet of the Apes" series, which did have an African-American protagonist.

Dec 27th 2012 at 2:15:18 PM •••


  • Recycled INSPACE in the John Carter Of Mars books by Edgar Rice Burroughs. These featured an Earthman who, due to Mars's lower gravity, had super-strength compared to the humanoid inhabitants of Mars. To modern eyes, this appears to subvert expectations of Puny Earthlings who might-or-might-not be special. However, the Puny Earthlings trope had not yet evolved at the time the books were written. Attempted subversion later in the series, when (blonde) White Martians are introduced. And they're jerks. It seems to try to change the message to "red martians and some exceptions".
    • There's also the black martians. Who are fairly advanced and, almost universally, pretty darn fit; Carter (who, it must be remembered, fought in the Civil War on the losing side) comments more than once that he feels a little odd admiring them. (The black martians are also mainly jerks, though it turns out that a lot of them are just arrogant rather than evil after their truly evil rulers are deposed, and a few of them are actually quite decent.)
    • And the yellow martians. Pretty decent people for the most part, ruled by a real jerk.
    • And the green martians, who while humanoidish are not exactly human (they have six limbs and multi-inch fangs and they'd consider someone 7 feet tall to be a dwarf), stand out as a Proud Warrior Race even on Barsoom (where the only culture that wouldn't qualify for that designation by Earth standards is possibly the white martians). Carter becomes a minor chief among them by killing two of them in single combat, but this is almost accidental on his part... he himself realizes that he's incredibly strong, comparatively speaking, and that if a green martian were to be transported to Earth, he probably would not even be able to stand up against something like three times the gravity he's used to.
    • In short: The red martians are a scientifically advanced Proud Warrior Race, the yellow martians are a scientifically advanced Proud Warrior Race, the black martians are a scientifically advanced Proud Warrior Race to an even greater degree, and the green martians are a rather scientifically backward (except for what they can scavenge) mostly nomadic Proud Warrior Race on steroids. If anybody gets an unsympathetic treatment, it's the white martians, who come across as something like Nazi Cannibals. Carter's superiority, such as it is, comes from being from Earth, not from being white.

John Carter is compared to aliens, not humans of other races. The whole issue with the different color martians might be an example of Space Jews, but has nothing to do with this trope.

Dec 27th 2012 at 2:06:30 PM •••


  • Lawrence in Lawrence Of Arabia goes native and leads the Arabs to great victories. Of course, a big part of the reason he did so well was because he could talk to his British commanders and get support in the form of money, machine guns, armored cars, and explosives... things that the Arab rebels were notably short on. Also, Lawrence had the leadership advantage of being completely removed from Arab tribal rivalries. The trope is subverted, however, when Lawrence's hubris and bloodthirst appall his Arab companions and ultimately cause his efforts to fail.

Lawrence's success has nothing to do with any kind of intrinsic or genetic advantage. As listed, he has a whole lot of tangible assets at his disposal.

Edited by Edited by CaptainCrawdad
Oct 30th 2012 at 12:09:34 PM •••


  • The Last Airbender: The movie made its world more "diverse" by casting white actors to play the show's originally Asian and Inuit-inspired heroes, which, when combined with the ethnic casting of the background characters and extras results in strong example of Mighty-Whitey. The pan-Asian world of Avatar: The Last Airbender was expanded to include Caucasians, Middle Easterns, "African American" (per M. Night), and other ethnicities, but the heroes with actual speaking-roles somehow ended up being Caucasian while the villains are dark-skinned Indians, Arabs and other assorted dark-skinned ethnic groups. Every non-villain person of color that performs a heroic action needs inspiration from the white heroes before they take action.
    • Rifftrax lampshades this near the start of the movie with the line "How come some of us are white, and the rest of us look like for real Eskimos?"

The hero of the film, as I recall, isn't white. His white sidekicks aren't shown to be any more powerful than the other, darker characters. As I recall, they're pretty useless.

Also, this trope is really about white people beating other races at their own game. The white characters here never join another race's culture.

Jul 12th 2012 at 2:09:22 AM •••

Dances With Wolves is a poor example of the trope. I changed the wording instead of removing it because it's the trope image right now and it'd just get added back in by someone else anyway. If the image gets changed, it should be removed. Costner's character is never shown to be any better than the Sioux. In fact, the whole movie is about how totally awesome the Sioux are.

Jul 12th 2012 at 1:51:20 AM •••


  • A recent example is the Tom Cruise drama The Last Samurai. Cruise is captured by Japanese warriors who are impressed by his Determinator status, goes native, and eventually becomes the Samurai's equal (though not quite their superior) in sword-fighting skills and honor. He then uses his superior knowledge of modern weaponry to heroically lose against the greedy dishonorable other whites and their army of Japanese mooks. He is the only survivor and also gets the (native) girl.

Cruise's character is already a decorated professional soldier before he ever starts living with the samurai clan. The fact that he's outclassed by them in so many regards and grows into a complete person by learning their culture is actually an inversion of this trope. People got bent out of shape about this film because Cruise's character is the only one who doesn't die (he survives because he doesn't sacrifice himself, not because he fought better) and because they think he's the eponymous last samurai (the title refers to the actual samurai he fought with).

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Jul 12th 2012 at 9:25:06 AM •••

Now that there is a White Male Lead trope, I agree that Cruise's character fits that better (ditto the protagonist of Dances With Wolves).

Apr 3rd 2012 at 7:38:32 AM •••

>>Can be a Justified Trope as it did happen in real life. Explorers from a more advanced civilization had access to education, technology and general skills and experience that a native who never traveled further than the neighboring village didn't. Especially as only those who were already among the strongest and bravest in their home countries did have the courage and motivation to become explorers in those dangerous times.

Is this paragraph necesesary? It's really not true, historically speaking, especially the last sentence — plenty of explorers were missionaries (and thus motivated by religious zeal and enthusiasm more than common sense and experience, resulting in plenty of deaths) or were looking to profit from being the first to cash in on resources in unexplored (by white Europeans) territory. Also, the "dangerous times" line is kind of ridiculous — which times are we talking about? How were they more dangerous than now? Weren't these people only in danger because they were walking into foreign lands and cultures and trying to impose their opinions and ideas on the people who were already living there and were understandably not particularly receptive?

Not to mention that the whole "more advanced" line is pretty offensive to begin with, and is based on the assumption that "technologically superior" = "better".

/historian soapbox

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Mar 6th 2012 at 6:08:50 AM •••

Does anyone know why the original introduction was axed? I always liked it, it explained the trope in a nutshell, but in a humorous way:

"Anything you can do, he can do better. He can do anything better than you. Oh yes he can, especially if you happen to be of Asian, Pacific Islander, Indian, African, Aboriginal or Native American descent. It doesn't matter that you have spent your entire life living in the densest African jungle, being taught how to survive there since you were old enough to stand up — the moment a colonist arrives in your town (most likely as a prisoner of war, an orphan or a lost traveler), you might as well hang up your blowpipe and take up crochet."

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Nov 26th 2011 at 9:48:39 AM •••

I have a few doubts about a number of examples of this trope. It seems like this trope really is "White person goes to another culture... doesn't COMPLETELY suck at it" and then the fandom elevates them to seeming "superior" even if the original work does not imply it.

In a lot of these works (Dances with Wolves, Last Samurai) it seems people who'd jump to a "Mighty Whitey" conclusion are themselves completely missing the point. Costner or Cruise is the protagonist, and thus important to the narrative, but both are far from the best. Pretty well corresponds to Banderas in the 13th Warrior (but yet that's not "Mighty Arab" or something)- where he's competent AND the protagonist, but is never presented as SUPERIOR. These characters often need some kind of defining "well this is what *I* do well" component to offset their fish out of water status...

just seems people make more of the racial aspect of this trope than there really is.

Nov 18th 2011 at 12:44:38 AM •••

Could someone clarify what is meant by "Original Version" and "Modern Version"?

Feb 26th 2011 at 1:01:00 AM •••

I'm surprised that Ian from tower prep is not there.

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Aug 10th 2012 at 8:03:39 PM •••

Then add it in rather than complain about it not being added in.

Feb 21st 2011 at 9:17:53 AM •••

Real Life Example of Gonzalo Guerrero?

Jan 13th 2011 at 4:35:19 PM •••

Alright, we seriously need to start limiting the use of this trope. I understand what it's about, but it seems nowadays any film or whatever that features an especially talented White person gets the "Mighty Whitey" label.

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Jan 21st 2011 at 7:25:33 AM •••

not Leonardo Dicap... I he's good in his own right. I do wish him and Denzel Washington to a movie together.

Oct 19th 2010 at 12:22:22 PM •••

  • In "RedDeadRedemption" the Mexican rebels and the Mexican army are in a stalemate until John Marston (white guy) comes along and tips the balance

Went ahead and chopped that out. This trope is about a character from one culture coming in and being automatically better than another culture at something he really shouldn't be. Marston is a gunslinger, and while his contributions are unrealistic this applies to every fight a player gets in during the game.

Aug 17th 2010 at 4:49:48 PM •••

I really don't think Lelouch of Code Geass counts. He's not the best pilot on his own side. Also, he's far from being morally superior to the Japanese characters.

Really, you could easily see the show as having a stance closer to Japanese superiority than the Mighty Whitey trope.

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Aug 17th 2010 at 5:05:45 PM •••

He's not the best pilot, but he is the best strategist and capable leader, and Episode 25 goes as far as to having the Black Knights fall apart in his absence, eventually ending in their defeat.

Aug 17th 2010 at 5:09:16 PM •••

That's true, but one of the typical tropes associated with Mighty Whitey is that they are "better at being that culture" than the people from that culture themselves- Lelouch isn't like that at all.

Also, I don't know this for certain, but I wonder if the Caucasian Asian trope means that the Japanese audience would pretty much look at Lelouch as like them rather than as a European person.

Edited by Edited by Jordan