Ambiguous Gender

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"Shrouded in odd clothing
" this a man...?
"...a woman...?
"...or should we ask...?"

Gogo's introduction in Final Fantasy VI

Halfway between Lady Looks Like a Dude and Dude Looks Like a Lady is the character who falls squarely in the middle of the male-female divide... except that no-one can decide which side the character actually belongs on. Lots of subterfuge always follows, as everyone follows him/her around to try and determine his/her sex once and for all. Expect a Gender Blender Name, lots of Gender Neutral Writing and Pronoun Trouble. Usually, his/her gender will never be revealed, and no-one will be any the wiser. This type of character is also subject to The Un-Reveal quite a few times.

The technical term for this kind of person is "androgyne", from the Greek for "man-woman", if you care. Used as an adjective it's "androgynous". And to answer your question: yes. It is a gender identity. It should be noted, that this person’s sex may not correlate to their gender, if they even have one.

See also Viewer Gender Confusion, something which invoking this trope may cause to persist even if the character does get a Gender Reveal.

See also No Biological Sex, for characters who have no physical sex. They may or may not look as androgynous as the ones whose gender is simply ambiguous. Can be one of the attractive things that leads to Everybody Wants the Hermaphrodite.

Examples of Ambiguous Gender include:

Anime and Manga

  • Helba from .hack; it's unknown if Helba's Player is a guy or a girl.
  • Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin gives us Pink Dragon. Fans believed that he was female for years (Not that we can really blame them) until it was discovered that Meteor Gin, the series' info book, very, very heavily implies that the wolf in question is actually male.
  • Zoisite from Sailor Moon became this to fans. While he was originally a man in the original anime, the fact that he had feminine apperance and was in a relationship with another male led the American dub to turn him into a woman.
  • Crona from Soul Eater. Japanese doesn't have to use gendered pronouns, and doesn't in this case. Any cases of "guy" or "daughter" in fan translations are so far just the translator's guesses.
    • The author has stated that he neither knows nor cares what Crona's true gender is.
      • The official English dub calls Crona a boy, but only because the writers (who are just as clueless) didn't know what else to say to avoid making the dub sound awkward.
      • The dub has Medusa refer to Crona as "my child" or "it" to avoid any gender orientation. Likewise, all the other characters say Crona's name and never refers to Crona by he, she, him, or her.
        • Considering his/her mother is Medusa, a mad scientist witch who we already know was using Crona for experimentation, not to mention that the show is pretty much made of Mind Screw there is a strong possibility that Crona is neither or both.
  • Yubel in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. No body except a demonic arm, uses 'boku' and initially primarily a female voice. Then, Yubel starts shifting from a female to a male voice and back, and also mixes that in with the voice of the host's. Characters also refer to him/her as, well, him and her. The answer, of course, is that Yubel is a hermaphrodite human/spirit fusion... living being. And we're not counting their past self...
  • Kino, the main character from Kino's Journey, is pretty darn ambiguous. Kino's gender is indirectly revealed in one episode, and in one of the movies Kino has a monologue about whether to use male or female pronouns (eventually deciding on "boku").
  • The Pokémon anime is one of the most notable examples, as most of the mons belonging to characters in the anime do not have their gender confirmed unless it is important to the plot of the story. Further complicating the issue (or the Isshu) are the ones that only have confirmed genders in one language. After that, viewers have to deal with whether to use male or female pronouns for the officially non-gendered mons (Ditto, Shedinja, a couple Steel-types, and most legendaries), as even the dubs have used genders in some cases.
    • Ash's Pikachu was a King (or some thought Queen) of this trope, together with Sheik down below. Arguments often occurred over his (now-confirmed) gender. Even the makers of the show didn't know what gender he was, until they decided to throw in a Togepi that successfully used Attract on him and Meowth. Since Attract only works on Pokémon of the opposite gender, and Meowth was confirmed male ages ago, the Togepi was female - thus, Pikachu is male.
    • Somewhat less confusing once the anime enters the 10th season, which is set in Sinnoh - the games from the 4th generation on add gender-based differences to various Pokémon, and the anime follows suit.
  • Belial from Angel Sanctuary.
  • Possibly the most baffling example occurs in the dubbed movie Serendipity the Pink Dragon, in which the bird Peela-Peela is referred to as male in the first half of the movie and female in the second half. The voice actor seems to be female, though.
  • Hellsing's Heinkel Wolfe and Alucard's 'Girlycard' form in The Dawn.
  • Edward in Cowboy Bebop is introduced like this. Male name, lanky but with prepubescent features, typically dresses in a baggy white shirt and biker shorts (when in a dress, the effect is... sort of like drag). Regardless of attire, characters are often visibly confused, as Ed's behavior and voice reveal only childlike androgyny. In Ed's introductory episode, the ambiguity is resolved in the very last line, as we cut to an external shot of the ship while Faye wrestles with her:

"Hey, you're a girl?!"

    • Edward herself confirms her gender in The Movie
  • Envy from Fullmetal Alchemist. While the gender is eventually revealed in the 2003 anime (in which he was originally male), and turns out to not be really applicable in the manga, Envy's androgynous 'normal' appearance, and being a Shape Shifter, left it ambiguous for quite some time.
  • Otto during Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS. As revealed in the supplementary manga, even most of her fellow Numbers were unsure if Otto was a male or a female, with the few who knew being told to keep quiet about it by Quattro. Eventually revealed to be female, though Seven Arcs continues to play up her ambiguous gender by, for example, excluding her from the Numbers' Fan Service posters.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00 gives us the Innovators AKA Innovades, a group of Artificial Humans, most of which are either sexless or genderless according to the people who made the show (excepting Anew, who's completely female).
    • An early episode in the second season has fun with this by having Tieria Erde, an Innovade and one of the main characters, go undercover at a fancy dress party in drag. Making it even funnier is his voice, which sounds just like a woman's, but is provided by...HiroshiKamiya, the actor who plays Tieria normally.
  • The 7-Tailed Beetle's host in Naruto. Even the creator isn't sure, although he's leaning towards female at this point. S/he's dead anyway, so it's only supplementary.
    • S/he's been revived by the Big Bad and is going to probably get some screentime fighting. Comparing chest size with the known female Jinchuriki next to him/her, it seems that Fuu (the 7 tails host) is either a flat chested woman or a very effeminate male, which isn't that big of a stretch with this show.
    • Naruto and Bee have recently run into her. It's confirmed at this point that Fuu is a girl.
  • Oyashiro-sama from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. In the anime it's referred to as male. In the sound novels, as female due to the fact they're talking about Hanyuu who very much sounds female, and is female. Its statue is very gender neutral too, in a religious way.
  • Mammon in Katekyo Hitman Reborn of the Varia is stated to be a man but his future self looks suspiciously feminine. Also Daisy of Byakuran's Six Funeral Wreaths. Turns out to be a guy but for a while he was right in the middle.
  • Prunus Girl: Aikawa says he's a guy on a regular basis and still ends up ambiguous—he's really good at playing a girl, periodically hinting at Recursive Crossdressing and inviting Maki to personally confirm his gender.
  • Mr. 2 Bon Kurei from One Piece apparently thinks that he falls under this category, although he isn't very feminine looking (aside from the makeup and tutu). Emporio Ivankov and his Newkama army come a little closer by being able to change genders whenever he feels like it.
  • Kurapika of Hunter X Hunter is male, but it took an art book to reveal that, and there are many people who still aren't convinced. His tribal wardrobe and habit of dressing as females for undercover missions don't help things.
    • Same for Karuto and Illumi.
    • No mention of Nefelpitou? Fans are still confused.
    • And now Aruka who is called sister by Killua and brother by Illumi to add to the confusion.
  • Toto of Deadman Wonderland does this on purpose, although s/he occasionally slips up and uses gendered "I"s. This probably has to do with all those "spare parts" s/he has to keep replacing.
  • Played with: Being a fox spirit, Laon's gender changes to suit (and seduce) whoever is closest to him/her at the time.
  • Grell from Black Butler. There's still discussion on whether or not she's transgender or just flamboyant gay.
    • Word of God is that she's Transgender, and Grell makes that quite apparent.
  • New Zealand from Axis Powers Hetalia. Himaruya takes all the advantage he can of this.

Fans: Is NZ a boy or a girl?
NZ: Which do you think I am? :D

  • Wandering Son has this with a few characters due to the manga's relation to transgenderism. Makoto is typically seen as a Camp Gay Wholesome Crossdresser rather then transgender, though there's room for debate. Takatsuki had some mixed reactions with people due to her shyness, but it's been confirmed she's a trans boy.
  • In Black Lagoon It's impossible to tell which one of Hansel and Gretel is a boy and which is the girl as they change appearances for the heck of it. It is also speculated that they were both the same gender, which one is anyone's guess.
  • In 07-Ghost, Kuroyuri's gender has yet to be revealed. Even the other characters don't know, in which Kuroyuri will even threaten them to death whenever they ask.
  • In Family Compo Shion is automatically thought of as a woman for the early chapters. Then Shion announces the intent to go to university as a man. Shion's cousin then searches the family photo albums and realises Shion has been switching genders at every school attended. Attempts to see proof of Shion's sex has so far failed. Many fans presume Shion's sex is female (though Shion's final decision on gender is unknown).
  • The King in Arisa is this; the official translation uses the pronoun 'he' but notes that the Japanese pronoun is gender neutral, meaning the King can be female.

Comic Books

  • Krazy Kat, per Word of God; Herriman described Krazy as 'androgynous, but willing to be either'. In-strip, Krazy did get called 'him' often, but the mannerisms were either way. 'Female' was assigned in the 1962-63 animated series.
  • One Far Side comic strip showed a group of jellyfish in the ocean, with two outhouses, each with identical pictures of jellyfish on them. The caption below it reads "Only they know the difference".
  • Indigo, of Sovereign Seven was said to be able to swap between male and female at will.

Fan Works

  • Brox in With Strings Attached. Brox seems like a five-year-old child who dresses to create an impression of indeterminate gender. Turns out the body is male and the soul is female. Which explains why the Baravadans use the genderless pronoun “sar” to refer to everyone.
    • Also the god Ardav.
  • For Fusion Gundam in Final Stand of Death appears gender-neutral due to their bodies despite actually being female... well, embodied with female souls, allowing them to speaks with both the fallen and living that appeared on Celebrity Deathmatch.


  • The Passion of the Christ subverted the traditional, unambiguously male image of Satan by having the character played by a woman with her head shaved and her voice altered in post-production to make it sound more masculine. Thomas Aquinas would approve: Satan, as a pure spirit, has no gender.
  • Ditto with the portrayal of the archangel Gabriel in Constantine, played by a very androgynous looking Tilda Swinton.
  • Sadako Yamamura of Ringu is intersex (see below); though she appears feminine, her genetic makeup is stated differently several times throughout the films, novels and manga.
  • In Rat Race, there's a barkeeper who confuses not only the audience.

Man: Hey, miss!
(Barkeeper turns around; thin lips, hard face, doesn't look pleased, maybe for the "miss", one could guess.)
Man: Sorry, I thought you were a woman.
Barkeeper: I am a woman.

  • The protagonists of the "queer buddy movie" By Hook Or By Crook both have ambiguous gender identity: Bifauxnen, transgender guys, or somewhere in between?
  • Briefly parodied in a scene of Mars Attacks!, with the person at the press conference who asks if the Martians have two genders, like humans.
  • People are STILL debating the genders of some of the appliances (especially Toaster) from The Brave Little Toaster
  • Gimli on dwarf women:

Gimili: It's true you don't see many dwarf women. And in fact, they are so alike in voice and appearance that they're often mistaken for dwarf men.
Aragorn: It's the beards.
Gimili: This in turn has given rise to the belief that there are no dwarf women and that dwarves just spring out of holes in the ground, which is of course ridiculous."

  • Note that a few obviously-female dwarves did indeed appear briefly in The Hobbit, as many fans have noted; maybe it's just harder to tell them apart in-universe.
  • The Ghost of Christmas Past from The Muppet Christmas Carol appears as a childlike creature whose gender is never stated. The spirit was a male in the original novel but voiced by a girl in the film.


  • PK Pinkerton of The Western Mysteries
  • The Person of Indeterminate Gender from A Series of Unfortunate Events, who is called "he or she" or "it" even by other members of Count Olaf's troupe, and "the overweight accomplice" by Snicket. The closest we get to a name is "The Big One".
    • In the film version The Big One's depicted as Craig Ferguson wearing a combination of men's and women's clothes.
  • Pwt in Muse Magazine. The subject is one of constant argument on the Muse Mail page.
    • There was one cartoon in which the crow sings a limerick about how pleased he is Pwt, having a cold, can't keep up with him to chase him. He repeatedly refers to Pwt with male pronouns. Perhaps he just felt the need to use pronouns and flipped a coin or something, but it was once cited in a letter as proof Pwt is male.
  • Harry Potter's Blaise Zabini got a single mention in book one, which sparked years of furious debate over his or her gender. Fan Fiction summaries often stated Boy!Blaise or Girl!Blaise, each with their own set of conventions and Fanon personalities. (Boy!Blaise was often suave and Italian, Girl!Blaise often red-haired.)
    • The Dutch translator, who changed all the names, even thought Blaise was a girl and called "her" Bella in book one. In book six this was corrected and Blaise was called Benno instead.
  • Robin Hobb's Realm of the Elderlings sequence consists of three trilogies. In the Farseer trilogy we meet the Fool, who the narrator Fitz believes is male. The Liveship Traders trilogy has a totally different dramatis personae, including the female Amber. It's never stated that these two are the same person, but more and more clues are dropped as the trilogy progresses, and because Amber advised Althea how to disguise herself as a boy we start to think the he/she is really female and was disguised as male in the earlier books. But in the Tawny Man trilogy, where we and Fitz are told outright that both characters are the same person, there's a section where Fitz inhabits the Fool's body and can presumably tell what sex he/she is, but never tells us! Fitz implies that the fool's kind are so different from humans that neither gender is appropriate -- but then there's the Pale Woman to account for.
  • The Angel Islington of Neverwhere is so androgynously beautiful that it has no obvious gender and is referred to as "it." A few characters do call it a "he" at some points, but always go back to calling Islington an "it," implying that they only do so because they're not used to talking about a genderless being. The narrative persists in using the dehumanizing "it", which suggests a certain ambiguity about its nature.
  • Douglas Hofstadter's Metamagical Themas features a dialogue between people of intentionally unspecified gender, named Chris, Pat, and Sandy (interestingly, in the context of a discussion of the life of Alan Turing). When translated, the translators used epicene names in their own language, such as Dominique in French.
  • Discworld dwarfs look very male. The twist is, they all look very male, and are mostly unconcerned with gender. There's a handful of known females (Gloria Thogsdaughter, Cheery Cheri Littlebottom, Lars Skulldrinker, Dee, and possibly Rhys Rhysson) and one known male (Cassanunda). Beyond that, any dwarf could be either. Basically, while the sex of a dwarf can be male or female, the actual gender of most is male.
    • The idea is played with in Feet of Clay, in which he introduces a dwarf keen on asserting her femininity (Cheri, above) with techniques such as makeup. However, she refuses to shave her beard because, though she is proud to be a female, she felt that doing so would be denying that she was a dwarf.
    • Inverted in the case of the golem that looks over Moist von Lipwig in Going Postal and Making Money. An employee who considers herself a Moral Guardians insists that only a female can clean the women's restroom, so Moist stuck a dress on one and called it "Gladys" to keep her quiet. She took her assigned sex to heart.
    • Also in Discworld, no-one knows what sex Great A'Tuin the Star Turtle is, although a lot of people are interested in finding out.[1] It's obviously heading somewhere, what if it's migrating to a mating ground? Suppose it met another star turtle, would they fight or mate? If they mate, who's going to be on top? Also, if A'Tuin is female, what would happen if she became pregnant? How would she lay her eggs, and what would the hatchlings do once they hatched? Would more "Discworlds" be created?
  • In Bridge to Terabithia, Jess isn't sure whether Leslie's a boy or a girl when he first meets her, but guesses (correctly) that she's female.
  • In Raptor, Thorn (the main character) is a literal hermaphrodite. "He" lives most of his life as a male but lived in a convent for a year and can easily pass as attractive members of both genders (voice midway, taller than some men but shorter than some women, etc). Early in the book, he deliberately dresses in ambiguous clothing, confusing his hunting companion who simply can't figure out his gender (and won't ask, since he figures Thorn is deliberately hiding it). He meets another one. They have lots of sex. Then the second one turns out to be a real bitch.
  • Taken to the extreme in Iron Council, where one of the characters, devotee of a god of secrets, doesn't even know his/her own gender. Followers of this deity forfeit knowledge about themselves to honor their patron, and this particular priest lost knowledge of what sex he/she happened to be. Self-examination can't clarify matters, as the character is blind to his/her own body features.
  • The gender of Hilary Tamar, the protagonist of a series of mystery stories by Sarah Caudwell, is never revealed.
  • In The Princess Diaries, there's a character called Perin in Mia's French class. Mia and her friends can't figure out whether Perin is male or female until their French teacher calls Perin a boy, leading poor Perin to have to point out in front of her entire class that she's actually a girl.
  • The gender of secondary character Merideth in Vonda N. McIntyre's Dreamsnake is left entirely up to reader discretion. (Quite tellingly, when asked who would play the character in a film adaptation, McIntyre mentioned both Jaye Davidson and Tilda Swinton as possibilities.)
  • The Ra'zac, Lethrblaka, and their High Priest(ess?) from the Inheritance Cycle.
  • Nyumba in Someone Else's War. Actually, her gender is never officially stated, except that the narrator assumes she's a girl.

Live Action TV

  • One episode of Jonathan Creek has a police officer of unknown gender. Creek and Maddy spend the episode following him/her around to find out his/her name, to see which toilets he/she uses, etc.
    • the character, Sgt Richie, was played by a man. With really bad hair.
  • The Saturday Night Live character Pat appeared in multiple sketches devoted to this trope, ultimately scoring a feature film, It's Pat where he/she meets another ambiguous character, Chris.
    • The mystery was actually "solved" in a really round-about way. Fans debated endlessly about whether Pat was a man or a woman—and the writers never planned on revealing the character's true sex—until one particular sketch towards the end of Pat's run. The actress playing the character, Julia Sweeney, had been super careful throughout the series to never act in a gendered manner, but when Pat was to be kissed by another character, Sweeney instinctively titled her head back ever so slightly the way a woman would. When fans brought this to her attention, Sweeney said that her little goof confirmed Pat was a woman and that now it was canon.
  • Dr. Haru Tanaka on Bones has a deep voice and an unusual style of dress. No one uses any gendered pronouns without dispute to refer to Tanaka. This led Angela to ask:

Angela: That doctor, dude or dudette?
Hodgins & Sweets: I dunno.
(later) Angela: It moved, he's a guy.

    • Some fans have theorized that Angela lied because she had thought Dr. Tanaka was male and didn't want the others to know she was wrong. It doesn't help that Dr. Tanaka is actually played by a woman.
  • In the original Star Trek: The Original Series pilot episode "The Cage", the alien Talosians were played by actresses in heavy alien makeup, but their speech was dubbed over with male voices. The incongruity between their facial features and voices was intended to emphasize their alienness.
    • Next Gen: Riker dated a hermaphrodite once. The hermaphrodite was being ostracised from her species' society for acting slightly like a woman instead of carefully maintaining gender ambiguous behaviour. It was An Aesop about how Transgender people should be accepted as whatever gender they identify as, even if that gender is ambiguous, but with "the masses" portrayed as being ambiguous rather than divided into two definite genders.
      • The actor, Jonathan Frakes, said that he'd have preferred it if the hermaphrodite was played by an ambiguously gendered man, since having him kiss a female actor kind of nullified the point of the story.
  • Isabel on HawthoRNe. Aside from the name, it's hard to tell.
  • The sex of Hal and Lois' baby on Malcolm in the Middle was kept under wraps to the point that, when the writers couldn't just keep calling it "the baby", they revealed the name as Jamie.
  • A MST3K episode featured a '50s "educational" short called Mr. B Natural, which had a woman in the title role. While "Mr. B" was (despite the name) pretty unambiguously female, Joel and the 'Bots had a lot of fun riffing over the character's presumed androgyny, and devoted a whole host-segment sketch to the question of exactly what (s)he was supposed to be.
    • The Other Wiki mentions that photo captions in C.G. Conn's magazine refer to the character as "he", adding the confusion.


  • The title character of Id looks like a female (especially in the early art), dresses somewhat like a man, is regularly mistaken for a woman, loudly exclaims he's a man at every point, has strange costume folds that slightly hint of cleavage, and is quite careful to never expose the chest area.
    • In the original novels Id is unambiguously male. In the manahwa it has been made ambiguous probably for comedy effect.


  • The music video for "Lightning Crashes" by Live features an androgynous-looking angel (played by a woman) guiding human souls from death to rebirth.
  • David Bowie as well as other British glam rockers of the 70's.
    • Bowie also used this trope in his song "Rebel Rebel," where even the character's mother is "not sure if you're a boy or a girl."
  • Pink Floyd's David Gilmour came across as pretty androgynous at times. Observe. (A friend of mine actually mistook him for a woman in that photograph; this is very notable in that she is a diehard Floyd fan who has a more-than-decent grasp on what each band member looks/looked like.)
  • Annie Lennox from the Eurythmics got some heat over looking a little more masculine than some would prefer.

Newspaper Comics

  • The title character of Krazy Kat seemed to have whatever gender was most appropriate to the current situation, given the surreal tone of the comic. Creator George Herriman stated that Krazy was "androgynous, but willing to be either". The version in the short lived animated adaptation (from 1961 - 1962) was definitely female.
  • Played for Laughs in one of the later Peanuts strips, the day after Halloween, where Charlie Brown, Lucy, and Linus were talking:

Charlie Brown: Well, the Great Pumpkin didn't show up again.
Lucy: No, she didn't, did she?
(Big Oh Crap look from Linus)
Lucy (With a smug smirk): Never occurred to you, did it?


  • Angels are often played as this, if not unambiguously female, Bishonen or Pretty Boy, though in the original texts they are always referred to as male, possibly just for convenience sake because there is no clear reason why they would even have a gender anyway.

Tabletop Games

  • In Unknown Armies, any avatar of the Mystic Hermaphrodite plays this role to the hilt; particularly powerful avatars are even able to switch their physical gender daily, making the question unanswerable. The Freak, godwalker of the Mystic Hermaphrodite, is a prime example of this to the point that no one seems to know which gender they used to be, if either. The novel Godwalker reveals they used to be female.
  • The Chaos gods Slaanesh and Tzeentch in Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40,000. Though the other two major Chaos gods (Khorne and Nurgle) are identified as male, Slaanesh is referred to (among its many names) as both "She Who Thirsts" and "the Prince of Excess" and is explicitly hermaphroditic in nature, while Tzeentch is so fluid in form as to render the question moot and is called a "he" to keep things simple.
  • Vampire: The Requiem features the Galloi, a Nosferatu bloodline that decides to trade in "the crawling creepies" for "beauty beyond compare." It doesn't quite work out as planned; they become beautiful and utterly androgynous, but they're so beautiful that they can't possibly be anything natural, and thus still unnerve people. On top of that, a lot of them worship Cybele, and prefer to do so the old-fashioned way.
  • In Forgotten Realms, the ormyrr are a non-humanoid race that look like huge worms with big, toad-like heads, and four arms. While they do have genders and have no problem telling each other apart (possibly by odor), it is impossible for members of other races to do so. Most other races use neutral pronouns when referring to them, which doesn't offend them, apparently.
  • The Yu-Gi-Oh! card game has a downplayed example in "Dharc, the Dark Charmer" - Dharc is the only one of the archetype referred to with male pronouns, and does straddle the Bishonen Line in appearance. While the German, Italian and Spanish TCG prints of the card translate "Charmer" as the masculine "Zauberer", "Ammaliatore", and "Encantador" respectively (instead of "Zaubererin", "Ammaliatrice", and "Encantadora"), the French print's card name retains the female "Charmeuse" used for the other "Charmer" monsters. The Japanese version of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's Tag Force 4 uses male pronouns for Dharc.


  • The play Sylvia, by A.R. Gurney, has a character named Leslie, a person of indeterminate gender, that asks the other characters to assign gender roles to him/her when they first meet.
  • Though this may not have been intentional, Mistoffelees from Cats could be seen as having an ambiguous gender, especially in some productions (including the DVD version) even though he is referred to as a "he". Mistoffelees tends to share the choreography of the female cats more than the toms, in several stage versions he isn't matched with anyone at the mating dance, and a line from his signature song implies that "he" has had kittens.
    • In the original T.S. Eliot poem, it's more obvious that Mistoffelees is actually a female cat. Not sure if this translates to the stage version, though.
  • The Israeli otaku musical And Sushi For Free, the main protagonist is a child of about ten, allegedly the star of some anime, with the ambiguous name Daniel, who looks rather ambiguous, is addressed by people as either and doesn’t seem to mind. Some characters are confused about this with no reponse, which is somewhat of a running gag that’s quickly dropped, but later turns into a Chekhov's Gun. It is revealed to be the source of much Internet Backdraft on The Other Wiki...

Video Games

  • Lion Ushiromiya from Umineko no Naku Koro ni Chiru has a deliberately ambiguous gender that is probably essential to the mystery itself. All the pronouns are deliberately written as ambiguous, and even the translations kept him/her perfectly ambiguous. Even the detective once wondered if he/she were a 'fairly slender boy' or a 'serious, no-nonsense girl', and when he asks Lion he/she refuses to answer him directly.
    • By extension, Yasu, Beatrice's original self, also has an ambiguous gender that is deliberately hidden from the readers.
    • And then there's Zepar and Furfur, twin demons who are stated to be of opposite genders, though it's never revealed which is which. They serve as a Greek Chorus in EP6 and EP7 and they represent Lion and Yasu's Ambiguous Genders, as well as Yasu's gender confusion as a whole.
  • Quina (and by extension, most of the Qus) from Final Fantasy IX. They're essentially a Genderless Race.
    • The Lamias' "attract" attack works on him/her, so whatever s/he is, s/he's attracted to women. Shudder.
    • Zidane won't protect him/her when equipped with the Protect Girls ability. Of course, that just means he doesn't know himself.
  • Jamie, the player character's nemesis from Harvest Moon: Magical Melody. Jamie dresses in clothes that deliberately make him/her appear androgynous (he/she looks the same regardless of whether you choose to play as a boy or a girl, and is officially female if you are male and vice versa).
    • In an official art for him/her, the female Jamie looks more feminine. Not that you can tell ingame.
    • Often times your child has no official gender, mostly in earlier games, so you can chose its gender. It doesn't affect the game, and the games don't refer to any pronouns.
  • NiGHTS (from the game of the same name) is a hermaphrodite and has "apparent gender" that's whatever would be appropriate for a particular viewer. It was given a British accent that sounds like a cross between a teenage girl and a little boy.
  • Arno from Summon Night: Swordcraft Story 2. Her/His/Its gender is never revealed and she/he/it calls her/him/itself a 'child of the wind'.
    • This isn't helped that in the English games, its voice is masculine, but in the original Japanese it's feminine.
    • The Japanese official site seems to suggest s/he is female by putting her/him with the Dinah and Aera, while the confirmed male summon beasts are with Aera's male counterpart.
    • The Dragon Child Coral of Summon Night 4 is explicitly this as a direct result of Schrödinger's Gun. When the Dragon Child is first met, the protagonist is asked by another character what the Dragon Child's sex is. The response options are "male", "female", and "I don't know". Coral is the result of choosing the third option. Gameplay and Story Integration keeps this up as Coral ignores sex restrictions on equipment and can be used in both the Undead Ship Captain and Dryad collaborative summons, which requires 4 male characters and 4 female characters respectively.
  • Birdo from Super Mario Bros. wears a bow to signify femininity, and was originally classified as "a boy who liked to dress up as a girl", but the official stance on its gender seems to vary from game to game (and region to region).
  • Revan in Knights of the Old Republic is never referred to in the game as male or female because Revan is the player character, which can be male or female depending on the player's selection at the beginning. There is one line of dialogue, spoken by Juahni, that refers to Revan as female, but this was an error in the coding that missed an if/then note earlier in the game. Other characters, particularly Canderous, use male pronouns to refer to Revan—which is canon, as confirmed by The New Essential Chronology.
  • Final Fantasy VI's Gogo, thereby introduced as:

Shrouded in odd clothing this a man...?
...a woman...?
...or should we ask...?

Frog: This is no ordinary woman! Meet Flea, the magician!
Flea: What the...?! Hey, I'm a GUY!
Robo: But its exterior is that of a female...
Flea: Male...female...what's the difference? Power is beautiful, and I've got the power!

    • This is even more in context in the DS version:

Frog: She is a powerful magician. Do not lower your guard! Flea is not the mere woman she seems.
Flea: Yes, yes... I'm a man, after all, right? *pout*
Lucca: Say what? That's a guy!?
Flea: Tee hee hee... Man or woman, it's all the same. Power is beauty, and I'm deliciously strong!

    • Chrono Cross has an even more interesting example. The computer program FATE is often referred to as the "Goddess of Fate", and in battle, it boasts feminine features. However, the target does say that it is male, and on top of that it had inhabited a male form for the entire game up until that point. Since it is actually a supercomputer, though, gender might be a moot point.
  • Yumeji from the Samurai Shodown series.
  • The Great Mizuti from Baten Kaitos. However, during a very important scene near the end of the game the truth is revealed: Mizuti's a girl.
    • Guillo from Origins might count since as an animated puppet, he/she doesn't really have a gender.
  • Nergal's morphs in Fire Emblem are supposedly genderless, or maybe that's just Fanon. Gets applied to Limstella the most often, although Ephidel is probably just as ambiguous. Of course, if they really are genderless, that brings up a lot of questions regarding how Sonja could operate under the delusion of being human--or, for that matter, what type of relationship Sonja and Brendan had that he could not know that there was something seriously weird about his new wife. The latter can be Hand Waved with the fact that Sonja seemed to have Brendan under some sort of enchantment, anyway.
  • Leo from Tekken 6, who has been referred to as both male and female, in-game and on official material. Apparently it's part of the character's appeal.
    • The debate since has been settled by Word of God. Check the Tekken page.
  • Applied to two of the playable classes in the first three Geneforge games, though the Agent is clearly female. Interestingly, while the first and second game have the same character model for the Shaper, the drawings accompanying the loading screens make "him" look more male in the first game and more female in the second. (The third solves the problem by showing the Agent in the drawings.)
  • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance also makes generic allies and enemies androgynous, with the exception of the Viera. Characters are randomly assigned male or female names, though the former seem to be more common.
  • Poison in Final Fight. It doesn't help that official Canon seems to change her/him all the time.
  • Zohar from Silhouette Mirage for PS 1. He/She changes genders based on what powers it's using. Though it's a computer program so gender might be irrelevant.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has Sheik, who is Princess Zelda in disguise. However, fans are divided over whether or not Zelda made herself into a man, or simply disguised herself. The skin-tight body suit highlights certain physical features, such as pectoral muscles and...other areas. Fans of female Sheik claim this to be an armor of sorts beneath the bodysuit, despite this severely restricting her movements. The instruction manual in Super Smash Bros Brawl officially states Sheik's gender to be female. Additionally, Sheik was given more feminine attributes, like longer hair and an absence of frontal muscles. However, as the Brawl Zelda characters are based on Twilight Princess, the jury is still out on Sheik from Ocarina of Time.
  • Pyro of Team Fortress 2. The baggy suit and the mask make it hard to tell. Valve seems to enjoy fueling the fire.
    • Indeed, editing the posts on the official blog, changing subtle references to the Pyro's gender, just to screw with people's minds. Even happens in-game with the new interface, in which the class recommendation window has the seemingly innocent and consistent line "Why don't you give him a shot?" when recommending a class to the player... Except when the pyro appears, when it changes randomly between "him" and "her".
  • The original White Mage. Eight Bit Theater, and the fact that most of the subsequent games had White Magician Girl White Mages, have helped establish the Fanon that they're female.
    • Although Word of God says that in Eight Bit Theater the reason White Mage's sprite isn't taken from FFI (unlike all the other initial class characters) is because FFI's White Mage sprite couldn't be female since he's obviously male post-class change.
    • Hilariously enough, the sprite for White Mage was taken from FF 3, in which the White Mage is definitely male.
  • No one knows for sure what Seem's gender in Jak 3 is. Their body type is ambiguous, which is amplified by the many layers of clothing and armor they wear. They were originally scripted as male - Daxter refers to them as 'monk boy' which Seem never corrects, and the trophy for rescuing them at the temple is titled "Dude in Distress". In the Spanish, Italian, German and French versions of the game, Seem is male and is voiced by a male actor. And while the official Jak 3 website gives their gender as male, they are voiced by Tara Strong, the final concept art on Bob Rafei's website is titled "Seem girl merged", and the commentary and official guide refer to them as female.
  • The Makeover Mage in RuneScape technically subverts this - when you first see them, the mage may be man or a woman, but keeps switching between the appearances, thus making them more 'genderfluid' than anything. You can change your own gender as well using said makeover mage! It helps that male and female characters can wear the same clothes, with just a few exceptions, and have long or short hair. This video should explain it better.
  • The merfolk in Tales of Monkey Island. Guybrush is rather unsettled that he can't tell what gender they are.
  • Ghost Trick: While he spends the entirety of the game presenting as and being referred to as male, there's some fandom debate as to Sissel's actual sex. This is partially due to his Gender Blender Name and the fact that he was named after Yomiel's female fiancee. Since Sissel didn't even know he was a cat, it's possible he also forgot that he was female, since during her first ghost manifestation Lynne also thought she was male (and Cabanela-shaped).
  • This is a trait of the Lapine race in Pandora Saga, the race has no gender selection due to the fact that the males and females are almost impossible to tell apart. At one point the lapine host of the first trailer gets angry at the audience for not being able to tell. Naturally, the real answer is interrupted.
  • Pretty much the first thing Subaru from Sakura Taisen V does in the game is respond to the protagonist wondering about Subaru's gender by saying that the "difference in organs" doesn't really matter, and "Subaru is Subaru". This ambiguity persists throughout the game; for every line that hints that Subaru is really female, there's another that suggests that Subaru's really male. In the English version, characters refer to Subaru as "she" (as does Subaru on one occasion, which seems a bit out of character, but it can't be easy to translate for an ambiguously-gendered character who's also a Third Person Person); however, in the original Japanese, Subaru is never referred to by a gendered pronoun at all.
    • NIS America deals with this by referring to Subaru in a promotional ad as a "guygirl".
  • The Magypsies in Mother 3 lack a gender and have rather feminine names, feminine hair, and wear women's clothing while having facial hair.
  • Tuta from Suikoden II isn't obviously a he, considering his sprite and character portrait. Indeed, some people didn't realize his actual gender until they saw him grown up in the sequel.
  • Anna Hottenmeyer of Mr. Driller is a girl that can get some people to believe she's a guy (even in her normal person get-up).
  • Crash Bandicoot has Nina Cortex is most of their appearances, with the exception of Crash of the Titans and Mind Over Mutants.
  • All the dogs in Dogs Life, besides Jake and Daisy. They all have Barbie Doll Anatomy and don't interact with Jake much, though you may hear a human refer to a few of them as being male or female (such as Lopez being a girl, the sheep-dog being female, and Snookie apparently being male).
  • World of Warcraft has had much fan debate over the gender of the bronze dragon Chronormu/Chromie. Due to the dragonflights Theme Naming, any name ending in -ormu is male while females are -ormi, but whenever they assume a humanoid form it's always as a female gnome, and no other dragon has been shown shifting into a humanoid form of the opposite gender.
    • Word of God later confirmed her to be female, meaning that for her species, she had a Gender Blender Name and goes with a somewhat more feminine-sounding name instead.
  • Vestera, a Vernal god/dess from Lusternia. Appropriately, their dominion is over illusions and dreams, so gender is less relevant anyway.
  • The protagonist of Pirouette is referred to as both a "daughter" and as a "husband" by various characters and has an androgynous appearance.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, the Daedric princes only choose to appear with a gender, and some of them, such as Boethias, make full use of this trope.
  • Captain Viridian in VVVVVV is never explicitly assigned a gender. Even when giving (somewhat less-than-fulfilling) romantic advice to a trusted member of their crew, the issue of Viridian's gender is entirely unresolved in any capacity. The retro graphics do ultimately little to help clear anything up.
  • In Journey, the mysterious robed player character has no gender.
  • In Maple Story, Jay - Kinesis' assistant/trainer/supplier - seems to be this. The Maple Wiki entry says "male", but the voice during the tutorial seems feminine - whether Jay is the speaking or not is debatable. The profile (where Jay claims to be of the "PC Master Race") does not specify gender either. Since interaction with Jay is never of any intimate sort (and Kinesis is male and seems heterosexual), it doesn't seem important story-wise.
  • Pokémon:
    • Played straight in Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow with the exception of the Nidoran evolutionary lines - but including "obvious" candidates like Machop (which evolves into the male bodybuilder-esque Machoke and Machamp) and Abra (which evolves into the mustachioed Kadabra and Alakazam).
    • Subverted with the introduction of gender markers in Gold, Silver and Crystal - while there's no difference in appearance between genders for Pokémon, some Pokémon such as the aforementioned Machop and Abra families have non-50/50 gender ratios, and others like Kangaskhan, Miltank and Tauros are Single Gender Species. In these games only, gender was also tied to Attack IVs - specifically (and a bit unfortunately), female Pokémon would always have lower ones than male Pokémon.
    • Further subverted from the fourth generation on - Pokémon Diamond and Pearl introduce gender differences in appearance for several Pokémon, with some being more subtle than others - e.g., male and female Gyarados have different whisker colorations, while male and female Hippowdon are different colors entirely! These games also introduced gender-specific evolutions such as Vespiquen, Mothim/Wormadam, Froslass, and Gallade.

Web Comics

  • Although he is unquestionably male in canon now that Star Fox Command has come out, the VG Cats comic "It's Pat" (named for the above example) gives this status to Slippy from Star Fox, with Aeris and Leo following him to the loo to try to identify his gender - only to be foiled when instead of going into the male or female toilets, he pees in the break room.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Vaarsuvius wasn't originally planned to be one of these, but it's evolved into an extensive Running Gag. V's Evil Counterpart is identified as such by his clearly-established gender identity. When V was transformed into a lizard, Belkar narrowly misses his chance to determine V's gender, and finally, V is married (with (adopted) children!), and that raises a lot of questions. This actually comes up so often on the forums that there are regularly threads made for the purpose of asking people to STOP making threads about it! Every single detail has been covered, and at least two new threads will be made for every issue that even refers to the gender.
    • It is, of course, lampshaded in a way that calls anything the characters call V into doubt: V doesn't pay attention to pronouns.
    • V's "mate" doesn't help, neither do his/her adopted children. V refers to his/her husband/wife (who looks androgynous enough so that no on can tell) as "my mate." His/her mate refers to him/her in the same way. His/her kids? They call him/her "Other Parent" (They are only seen speaking a foreign language).
      • Note this actually complicates things even further, as not only do we not know V's gender, nor V's mate's gender, but we do not even know for certain whether they are each the same or of different genders.
  • Styx. Although originally appearing by taking over several nominally female characters, Styx's later appearances, in physical, robot bodies, only get more and more ambiguous as Coga Suro progresses.
  • Fluffy from the No Fourth Wall segments of Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures. At one point, during 'Reader Mail', Amber receives a letter questioning what gender Fluffy is, causing Fluffy to complain that "that's too stupid, even for the readers", walking away complaining about their obliviousness... as soon as she/he/it's off-panel, Amber admits that she doesn't know either, despite having created it.
  • Pippin from Stupidity in Magic, the bisexual Author Avatar's boyfriend/girlfriend. The other characters treat him as male, but admit at intervals that they're not really sure, and the happy couple's keeping mum.
  • Taking cues from Order of the Stick, elves from Murphy's Law have much less noticeable secondary sexual characteristics.
  • Noah, from El Goonish Shive, whom we know as a boy only because it was said and in comparison to whom Tedd doesn't look "that androgynous" at all, despite this being an old Running Gag.
  • SPDA from Magic and Physics is ambiguous to the point the creator's don't know.
  • Insecticomics has fun with this: the giant androgynous robots are whatever gender and gender role they feel like being at the time. Thrust even changed gender to female as a mocking response to Lady Jaye's complaints about gay robots—and has kept it that way ever since, though no other aspects of her personality have shifted.
  • The main character from Demon Eater, Saturno. At least, that's what the author tells us. Used as a plot point in later story arcs.
  • Sydney Morgan from This Is Not Fiction is an anonymous romance novelist who the main character has fallen in love with. He's convinced that she's female but everyone else is not so sure.
  • Calmasis, a character in a book-within-a-webcomic (the comic being Homestuck) is said to be "androgynous" and referred to as s/he. Whether this means Calmasis merely chooses to conceal his/her gender, is a person of nonbinary gender identity, or is a non-human with No Biological Sex is as yet unknown.

Web Original

  • P. Monkey, the Companion Cube character from Lonelygirl15, has been variously described as a "she", a "he" and an "it", a practice which is finally lampshaded in "I Miss Her" - Bree isn't sure whether to call P. Monkey a boy or a girl.
  • The Pink and Blue unicorns in Charlie the Unicorn.
  • Masquerade, a shapeshifting supervillain from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe can make itself convincingly female or male at need. No one knows if Masquerade even had a gender of its own when it was born.
    • Bodysnatcher, on the other hand, has long since abandoned his (or her) original body so long ago that she (or he) no longer remembers whether he (or she) was born male or female. The fact that the Bodysnatcher can't remember her (or his) real name doesn't help things.
  • The title character of The Saga of Tuck dresses in his suit to take a girl friend out only to be mistaken for a lesbian.
  • Jamie Carson, codename Heyoka, in the Whateley Universe. Looks and dresses very androgynously. This is made worse because Heyoka can gain the powers of spirits, and then physically shifts to look like that spirit, so Jamie has been extremely male (after getting the power of the bear spirit), and extremely female (after getting the power of a female earth spirit). Jamie has been beaten up because of this too, so it's not a good thing.
  • In the browser RPG Echo Bazaar, players can choose to play as a male, a female, or an Individual of Mysterious and Indistinct Gender, the last of which is (unsurprisingly) this trope. Of course, it doesn't seem to affect the game much except for making NPCs refer to you as "sir- er, mad- er, yes".
  • Flaky the porcupine from Happy Tree Friends. It's a long-standing, and still present debate due to her ambiguous appearance (unlike the other female Tree Friends, she lacks Tertiary Sexual Characteristics). Although Word of God from Flaky's voice actress in an interview says that Flaky's a female, there is still reason to believe otherwise.
    • Among many pro-female arguments, an outstanding one is that Disco Bear (a male) has hit on Flaky on a couple of occasions, and "Disco Bear would not wink at a guy."
    • The official character page lists Flaky's gender as "?", being the superior Word of God.
    • Most Word of God states that Flaky is definitely a girl, but co-creator Ken Navarro loves trolling the fandom by playing up the debate for all it's worth.
    • It's later parodied in one episode where Flaky is shown unable to decide which bathroom she's supposed to go into.
  • SCP Foundation:
    • Agent Diogenes has been exposed to so many magical artifacts that no one has kept track of their gender, and Diogenes refuses to tell anyone. Despite this, Diogenes' psychologist is still romantically interested in Diogenes - unfortunately, he Cannot Spit It Out and Diogenes is Oblivious to Love.
    • SCP-665 ("the Garbage Man") is male by its own account, and also claims to be formerly-human; because it is literally made of garbage, one can only assume that.

Western Animation

  • Fluffy and Uranus from Duckman. The title character's teddybear secretaries, they have distinct feminine voices, wear bows around their necks, and their behavior is mostly feminine, but apparently they have male genitals as they were humping a woman's leg in one episode and they say that they haven't been neutered. This is Lampshaded in a later episode where the men and the women are separated from each other and forced to live on opposite sides of the city, but they can't decide on which side Fluffy and Uranus belong on so they make them crossing guards.
  • In Mission Hill, the gender of Carlos and Natalie's baby was never revealed, and on top of that it's name wasn't mentioned at any point in the series; everyone called it "The Baby".
  • Despite being male in the books, Rusty was never referred to by gender-specific pronoun in the TV series and had a rather ambiguous looking face and persona. This led to... interesting results when new writers were brought into the series.
  • Gorillaz bassist Murdoc has a pet raven named Cortez. The name is masculine and Murdoc refers to it with male pronouns, but he also mentions it laying eggs. Either he or the writers Fail Biology Forever. Then again, it's very hard to tell the gender of ravens, and it doesn't really matter except to other ravens.
  • In Shane Acker's 9, the twins 3 and 4 don't have any discernable gender. While they are 8-inch-tall automatons, the other ragdolls clearly indentify as male or female, 3 and 4 are never referred to as either.
  • Roger from American Dad is an alien and always referred to as male, but is apparently able to produce an egg and transmit it through 'kissing' someone. He also lactates. It doesn't help that on one occasion, he claimed he "doesn't have a wang," yet in another episode he claims he's just really small due to steroid abuse. He's also implied to be sexually attracted to both males and females at different points, has camp tendencies and assumes identities of both genders with his many disguises.
  • In an episode of Lloyd in Space, the characters spend an episode trying to figure out the gender of a new kid named Zoit. When asked about it at the end of the episode, Zoit reveals that members of its (alien) species have no gender until they turn thirteen, at which point they have to decide to be male or female. Zoit chooses a gender, but we're never told which.
  • The monkey in Prometheus and Bob.
  • Although stated as female, Airrazor was physically ambiguous enough that when Beast Wars was dubbed for a Japanese audience, her gender changed.
    • Also, Transmutate's gender was a mystery. Other characters mostly referred to the deformed Transformer with "it". Aside from that, there was one utterance of "she" as a pronoun, and Transmutate was given voice by the show's voice director and Transformers alum Susan Blu, leading to the prevailing contention the character was female.
  • On the King of the Hill two-parter about Buck's mistress' death, the mistress had a roommate named Gail. He/she looked and sounded pretty masculine, so people would assume he/she was a guy until they heard his/her name; however, it's never really clear if Gail is a guy with a Gender Blender Name or a Bifauxnen chick.

Other Media

  • Avatar Portal's Tera253 has a repeated running gag on whether or not he/she is male or female. Even after the user produced "proof" of his/her gender, it is still a common running gag that the user plays along with.
  • One of PETA's mascots, a chick named Nugget, has been flip-flopping through genders lately. The site refers to it as male, and some early material with it shows it in a masculine role, but lately Nugget has been shown as a girl. His voice is childish and gender neutral too.
  • Several Beanie Babies are of unknown gender either because they have gender-neutral/cartoonish names, their poems don't use pronouns, or both.

Real Life

  • Babies.
  • Most animals.
    • Hyenas are especially bad about this because of their rare matriarchal social structure, how the female is bigger and more aggressive than the male, and how their naughty bits are almost identical due to the female's usually high level of testosterone, to the point of making ancient people think they were Hermaphrodites or Gender Benders.
    • Birds. Usually, either the male is more flamboyant and colorful then the female, as with peafowl, or the they look identical but the female is bigger, as with eagles.
      • Some birds, like toucans, take this Up to Eleven, so their genders can only be discovered via DNA exams!
  • As mentioned above, androgyne is a gender identity for something "halfway" between male and female. Also many a genderqueer person, who reject the binary entirely.
  1. Pratchet actually describes it as a male turtle in The Colour of Magic, but then, he gives no indication that any citizens of Discworld know this.