We then pan up to get a clear shot of the big shots on the catwalk, and here's what we find: 1) a guy wearing an American army general's uniform, 2) an obviously Russian woman wearing a big Cossack hat, 3) a Yassir Arafat-type with a kaffiyeh on his head, 4) a dead ringer for Fidel Castro, 5) a black guy in a dashiki, and finally, 6) a Japanese guy in a business suit. Nope, not one single stereotype in the whole bunch.
Well what do you know? It's the employers of the Equal Opportunity Evil Mooks and the patrons behind the Five-Token Band! These people can be any kind of congregation, whether to play poker or plot the downfall of western civilization, but are nonetheless very heterogeneous.
Options include both sexes (but usually just one woman), ethnically, religiously and geographically distinct people, always in the regional chic rather than western business attire (except maybe one). A comedy can even highlight this by using ridiculously cliché or period dress, such as the Mexican delegate dressing like 1910 Bandito/Revolutionaries, the Russians contingent in full Cossack regalia, or an American in a cowboy suit. If they aren't outlandish/foreign enough, expect them to layer their English with lots of gratuitous phrases or accents.
The one trait that ties everyone together is that they are all in possession of skill, authority or money, and in excessive amounts. The members will probably be heavily accessorized with gaudy jewelry or a scar to prove their moral alignment. In short, the implication is that each and every member has a varied and storied past... which we very likely won't learn.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion had such a council meet with Gendo, and thanks to cheesy lighting-effects, they were even color-coded (Instrumentality Commitee), but then opted to be cooler and more mysterious/ominous by turning into a circle of mysterious "SOUND ONLY" black monoliths (SEELE). Stanley Kubrick was not pleased.
- The SOUND ONLY monoliths were justified, those were the behind closed doors meetings.
- One Piece does this quite a bit.
- The Akatsuki in Naruto, originally just fuzzy, indistinct holograms in a dark cave, are eventually revealed to have unique appearances (there's one guy with fish-like skin, one who's a living puppet, one with mouths on the palms of his hands, and let's not even get into the Venus flytrap guy), and with only a couple of exceptions all hail from different ninja villages.
Comic Books[edit | hide]
- DC Comics had the Quintessence, formed by Zeus, Highfather, Ganthet, The Phantom Stranger and Shazam. Zeus is depowered, Ganthet took a demotion to join the Green Lanterns, and Highfather is dead. But it used to qualify.
- It also has The Endless in The Sandman, though they all share the same pasty complexion. (Except Destruction.)
- The comic book Sojourn had an example of this, with a council of Troll governors of conquered territories: They were all Trolls, but each one was dressed in the ethnic garb of the area they governed. There was even a token She-Troll.
- In Runaways, the Pride is the very model of this: six Super Villain couples each representing a very different kind of villain (mad scientists, aliens, mutants, etc.)
- Justified by the Gibborim specifically needing these "six young pair bonds" for the rituals needed for their return to power: the magicians (the Minorus, Japanese), the thieves (the Wilders, Black), the travelers (the Yorkes, Jews), the wise men (the Steins, apparently WASPs), the colonists (the Deans, Aliens), and the outcasts (the Hayes, Mutants).
- Marvel Comics has a council made up of the heads of all Earth's Pantheons, called the Council of Godheads.
- In preparation for the slew of events in 2006-2008, Marvel retconned the existence of a Cosmopolitan Council of superheroes called The Illuminati (the name alone raises warning bells): Namor, Blackbolt, Professor Xavier, Doctor Strange, Mr. Fantastic, and Iron Man.
- With Dark Reign there is now the Dark Illuminati. Norman Osborn (Green Goblin), Loki (now female), The Hood, Dr Doom, Emma Frost....and Namor.
- The Black Glove from Batman RIP.
- The Kryptonian Science Council.
- Dr Evil's Evil Panel in Austin Powers is a (very slightly) toned-down version.
- As is the SPECTRE leadership in Thunderball from which Dr. Evil's panel is derived.
- Austin Powers International Man of Mystery: the ambassadors in the United Nations Secret Meetings Room. (Mike Myers even put the Israeli representative next to the Palestinian, which he admitted "didn't change much".)
- James Bond:
- In the third Pirates of the Caribbean film, the Pirates Council: all the greatest pirate captains from nine distinct geographic regions are in it—Caribbean (Jack Sparrow), Indochina (Elizabeth Swann), Japan, northwest Europe, North Africa (Corsairs). This is accurate because each of the areas they used were actually known for their large populations of pirates. Several of the pirates in the council were based on real life pirates (although they did not all live at the same time, obviously). Mistress Ching, for example, was most likely based on the Chinese pirate Ching Shih.
- The "United World" representatives in Batman: The Movie (1966).
- In Zoolander, there is a group of high-profile fashion industry leaders that comprise this role.
- The movie version of Wild Wild West has a Cosmopolitan Council comprising the South, the Native Americans, the British, the Mexicans and anyone else with a grudge against 1860s America.
- SPECTRE, mainly in the James Bond film series, tended to have multinational representation when they were shown meeting. Their successor, Quantum, in the reboot starting with Casino Royale and revealed in Quantum of Solace, are even more multinational and composed of men and women.
- The Naked Gun starts with Frank Drebin barging into a meeting of an "anti-American" council consisting of (the film was made in The Eighties): Ayatollah Khomeini, Yasser Arafat, Muammar Gaddafi, Idi Amin, Fidel Castro (IIRC) and Mikhail Gorbachev (who comments on how he fooled the Americans into thinking he's "a good guy").
- The Council of Zion in The Matrix sequels is extremely diverse. Of its 18 members, 12 are women, and the majority of councillors are non-white. Hamman is the only white male.
- The Jedi Council in the Star Wars prequels.
- The President's Committee of Inquiry in Escape from the Planet of the Apes. The board "consisting of leading experts in all fields relevant to a situation whose implications - whether zoological, biological, psychological, medical, mathematical, historical, physical or even spiritual - are numberless."
Literature[edit | hide]
- The Senior Council from The Dresden Files has The Merlin (who looks like The Merlin and is British), a Scottish wizard who lives in Missouri (Ebenezar McCoy), a small Asian witch (Ancient Mai), an older black witch (Martha Liberty), a hooded Arab wizard (Rashid, the Gatekeeper), an American Indian shaman (Joseph "Injun Joe" Listens-to-Wind) and a French wizard (Aleron La Fortier). They also used to have a Russian wizard (Simon Petrovich).
- The leaders of the Illuminati as depicted in Dumas's Ancien Regime novels are collected from all leading societies of the time, including Emanuel Swedenborg, Rousseau, and John Paul Jones. But they are duly humiliated when Cagliostro does the revelation of "I am The One, bow to me!"... and we find later that his Master Plan has already plotted the entire course of the French Revolution and Empire.
- The Council of Elrond in The Lord of the Rings is made up of people who just happened to be in Rivendell at the time. The council members end up representing all the "free peoples," including Elves, Dwarves, Men and Hobbits.
- In Illuminatus, the Erisian Liberation Front is represented by a council of people in really bizarre costumes, including a cavewoman. (Being Discordians, they might just be playing dress-up for the fun of it.) And in subversion, while the Illuminati Primi are for a while implied to follow this trope, in fact apart from one exception they are all siblings.
- The Seven in the Babylon Rising series is made up of two British men (one apparently a Roman Catholic priest), a Spanish man, a communist Chinese general, a German woman, a Romanian woman, and an Indian man.
- The 4400 had the Marked. First seen in a returnee's a low budget black and white home film, he was prescient/postcognitive, but only expressed it in his films. It included a geisha, a Catholic bishop, a software tycoon, and assorted others.
- An episode of Dirty Sexy Money has a poker game similar to the one in Casino Royale.
- The System Lords in Stargate SG-1, each choosing to inhabit an ethnically distinct host and formed the basis for the ancient gods and cultures of every ancient religion except the vikings. Previous councils have included Egyptian, Mesopotamian and even Japanese and Chinese gods.
- The Xindi in Star Trek Enterprise were five different alien races from the same planet who were in a council. A Five-Token Band for the bad guys, basically.
- They would've had six, if the Xindi-Avians weren't all killed when their planet was destroyed.
Video Games[edit | hide]
- The evil Cabal from Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising fits this trope to perfection: there's a sinister American radicalist who thinks that "Without control, we may as well end all life on this planet and see if the cockroaches can get it right", a Russian who remembers "de old days", a German chick that wants to "take major urban areas back to the Stone Age", plus an assortment of guys who look like gangsters, ganglords and corrupt politicians. Oh and the obligatory cigar-smoking El Presidente lookalike.
- See the whole thing here.
- The villains in the first Kingdom Hearts. You can't really call yourself diverse unless your council includes a giant talking sack filled with bugs.
- To their credit they actually had two women in the group of 6, Ursula and Maleficent, the latter of whom was the leader of the group. The successors as antagonists, Organization XIII, only had the one girl and much less diversity in background... well, except for the Anime Hair.
- It even has the Arab tyrant covered. No word on whether there's oil in Agrabah, though.
- The Athkatlan Twisted Rune cell from the second Baldur's Gate game. Of course, as a Cosmopolitan Council in a Heroic Fantasy setting, they consist of a lich, a vampire, a beholder, a male fighter with no armour, and a woman mage with her pet devil.
- The Citadel Council in Mass Effect.
Web Comics[edit | hide]
- The Inter-Fiend Cooperation Commission in Order of the Stick is one of these for the three evil outsider races. (It currently only has three members, and they all dress identically, though.)
Web Original[edit | hide]
- In The Gamers Alliance, the Crimson Coalition council consists of various leaders of different factions which oppose the Grand Alliance. The current members are Glaurung Losstarot (leader of the Rebels and the overall commander of the Coalition), Hannibal Losstarot, Adela al-Saif (High Priest of the Clergy of Artemicia and deposed Sultana of Vanna), Yoshimuriko (High Priest of the Clergy of Nergal), Kamelith (lord of the Dark Elves), Endoran L'Sarius (leader of the Mullencamp), Boris Ivanov (general of the Proninist Party), Orestes (leader of the Vulfsatz), Simon (representative of the Totenkopfs), and last and definitely least, Craig Rimner (representative of the Scunnish rebels and author of the horrible yet ear-wormy Rimnerian Songs).
- The Board of Trustees of Super-Hero School Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe. They range from Totem (an over-hundred American Indian former superhero) to Lord Paramount (a notorious supervillain who now has his own country in Eastern Europe).
- Atlantis the Lost Empire had an example.
- The Simpsons parodies this with the group that gets together to discuss Sideshow Bob's demands to abolish all of television, which included the Fourth Doctor and Steve Urkel.
- The Republican Party in Springfield is depicted similarly, consisting of Dr. Hibbert, Rainier Wolfcastle, Count Chocula, Mr. Burns, Krusty, Rich Texan, Birch Barlow (a No Celebrities Were Harmed Rush Limbaugh), and Lindsay Neagle. Mr. Burns greets them by performing an elaborate hand gesture while chanting in Enochian, and Bob Dole reads to them from the Necronomicon.
- In another scene, Mr. Burns calls for advice from his "League of Evil" - a mad scientist, a samurai, a Nazi colonel, a Wild West outlaw, and an Arab warlord with turban and scimitar. Unfortunately, however, they've all been sealed in the space behind his bookcase for decades and all that's left of them is their costumed skeletons.
Smithers: Even monsters need to breathe sir.
- Don't forget the Stonecutters' supreme council. Any group that includes both Orville Redenbacher and Mr. T has definitely met its diversity quota.
- In "Doug's A Big Fat Liar", Doug imagines being on trial by the "Sub-Committe to Uncover Big Fat Liars", which consists of: his parents, Mr. Bone (presumably the chairperson), Mrs. Wingo, Mayor White, Roger and his cat Stinky.
- South Park's Imaginationland trilogy has a council composed by the nine most important fictional characters: Aslan, Luke Skywalker, Zeus, Wonder Woman, Popeye, Morpheus, Gandalf, Glinda the Good Witch... and Jesus.
- On Young Justice, the members of The Light turn out to be Vandal Savage (Ambiguously Brown immortal caveman), Lex Luthor (white American), R'as Al Ghul (Asian), Queen Bee (a Quraci female dictator), Ocean Master (Atlantean), the Brain (French Brain In a Jar), and Klarion (Creepy Child Humanoid Abomination).
- Truth in Television: The UN Security Council. There are five permanent members: One American (the US, obviously), two Europeans (UK, France), one Eurasian (Russia), one East Asian (China), and a smattering of ten elected Red Shirts, which have to be from different regions: They split into 3 from Africa, 2 from Asia, 2 Latin America and Caribbean, 2 Western Europe and Other and 1 Eastern Europe. This has to be maintained, and there also has to be at least 1 Arab country. Subverted, in that the dress is almost universally Western business attire, and that it can't actually do that much, since the Permanent Five are at each others' throats (politely and diplomatically, of course).
- International organization BRICS (an acronym of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) fits the bill perfectly. At their annual summits national leaders Dilma Rousseff, Dmitry Medvedev, Manmohan Singh, Hu Jintao and Jacob Zuma make up a remarkably diverse bunch, even including the token woman.