Dirty Foreigner

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

One of the easiest ways to look down upon another person is to make fun of their personal hygiene. This extends sometimes to entire nationalities. Thus, the Dirty Foreigner trope was born.

This trope is strange in that it, in particular, unlike the Funny Foreigner, is a Discredited Trope at best, possibly verging on a Dead Horse Trope, and is most often used today in subversion, as a quick and easy way to tell that a character has a prejudice against another group, and that character is usually painted in a negative light.

No real life examples, please; there is a reason that the character who implements this trope is usually looked upon in a negative light.

See also The Pig Pen.

Examples of Dirty Foreigner include:

Anime and Manga

Comic Books

  • In Viz, a foaming at the mouth rabid dog enters Britain through the then recently opened Channel Tunnel, followed shortly by its French owner, who explains that the dog isn't rabid but ate some soap having mistaken it for cheese, because we do not have soap in France.


  • Borat portrays Kazakhs this way.


  • In Isaac Asimov's The Caves of Steel protagonist Elijah Baley notes that the Earth rhyme against the foreign "Spacers" (people who settled worlds besides Earth) always seems to include "Dirty Spacers", and that "dirty" seems to be a common insult against those you hate. Ironically, the Spacers consider Earth people as dirty, and are correct, as the Spacers have eliminated most communicable diseases and compared to them, Earth people are bags of disease and a danger to Spacers due to a mostly unused Spacer immune system.
    • In addition, when Elijah Baley visits a Spacer world in the sequel, the bathroom is so clean it gleams (because it is cleaned by robots after every use and uses advanced materials) that he wonders how he will adjust when he had to go back to using communal bathrooms on Earth.
  • Historical downtimers are treated this way in Time Scout.
  • In Tom Sharpe's novels, the mutual respect with which the two kinds of white South Africans look upon each other... both British-descended and Dutch-descended Afrikaaners will use the trope of soap-innocence to describe each other...

Live-Action TV

Lewis: ...and that's why the French don't wash.


  • This American Life: in a bit by David Sedaris that takes place while he's living in France, on the French subway he overhears an ugly American Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist and his wife talking loudly about (among other things) how much French people stink. Including Sedaris, who (a) isn't French, he's only living there and (b) just took a bath.

Web Original

  • "Tales of the White Street Society" by Grady Hendrix has the very obviously prejudiced protagonist repeatedly claim this of the Irish.