In the Future, Humans Will Be One Race

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A science fiction trope, most common in Literature wherein it's discussed that different races have essentially vanished, and everyone is pretty much within a limited range of color, usually a medium tan so to speak. Contrast with Humans Are White, which is basically the opposite idea, as well as the related Society Marches On.

Essentially, as racism fades and travel becomes easier and easier, more and more multiracial children are born until the entire world's population shares one big gene pool.

Tends to imply something of a Utopia- given how much blood has been shed over race, a world where there has been much interracial coupling is likely to have solved at least that problem. Additionally, humans in this scenario tend to have formed The Federation or there is a lot of globalization (but framed in a positive way), as this type of future naturally implies a lot of interaction between different peoples.

One particular version that's popular in anime won't have all races merge, but rather a prominent number of half-European, half-Asian people. This may relate to Japan Takes Over the World. This particular version is also popular with Cyberpunk, especially the part-Japanese version.

Needless to say, this entire trope is the worst fear of ethnic supremacists/nationalists. When this doesn't happen in the future, often writers will address it via explaining that cultures or nations have settled their own planets, thus allowing them to maintain common day ethnicity in the far-flung future.

Bonus points if Everyone Is Bi and/or an Ambiguous Gender as well.

In actuality, this trope is unlikely to come to pass in the way we think of race; while closely-knit populations will often share traits for both genetic and cultural reasons, the color of one's skin is affected by multiple genes allowing for a range of shades and complexions. See the Pashtun or Brazillians for the actual result, which is wildly varied looks often within the same family. However, over a long enough time scale the trope can happen. Even without selection, neutral genetic drift will cause alleles in the population to tend towards fixation. If the light alleles for some genes fixate, and the dark alleles for others (or the intermediate alleles for all of them, if such alleles exist) then you would have a population with a consistently heritable intermediate skin tone. Of course, it's also possible that all of either the dark or light alleles will fixate, but an intermediate result is more likely.

Another unfortunate problem with the Utopian ideal this implies is that race does not always mean 'skin colour' or 'face shape' - For instance, in South Africa, people who would be considered 'just black' in Western cultures, can be/have been split into the 'Black' and 'Brown' races, even though there is no physical way of differentiating between these two populations.

A subtrope of All Genes Are Codominant.

Examples of In the Future, Humans Will Be One Race include:

Comic Books[edit | hide | hide all]

Film[edit | hide]

  • In the 2002 film adaption of The Time Machine, the Eloi (who are human, rather than being small low-intelligence androgynous creatures as with in the novel) are all played by mixed-race actors, with a kind of medium-brown skin tone. Contrast with the leader of the Morlocks, who is bleach white.
  • Hinted at in The Matrix films; while the humans in the Matrix itself are shown to be more or less split along the traditional ethnic lines, the humans in Zion are frequently of mixed race. Makes sense; people in the Matrix would have a much larger pool of same-race partners than the few freed humans in Zion would.
  • Alluded to in Planet of the Apes. The apes stuff and display Dodge because they'd never seen a human with dark skin like him.
  • In Bulworth, when Senator Bulworth is on TV in brutal-honesty mode, he suggests that the U.S.A. should engage in "a voluntary, free-spirited, open-ended program of procreative racial deconstruction". Seeing the blank look on the interviewer's face, he re-phrases it more bluntly: "Everybody just gotta keep fuckin' everybody 'til they're all the same color".

Literature[edit | hide]

  • The Clone Republic. Most people are of mixed ethnicity, though most of the main characters don't follow this trope. For example, Freeman is described as "coffee without a hint of cream." Also, Japan's descendants have seperated from the main empire, and they are said to be unique in their isolationism. The clones are also designed to be white.
  • In the Polity Series, the protagonist, super-spy Ian Cormac, is described as having the golden-brown skin tone which dominates in the Polity. The Polity isn't quite a Utopia though, more like The Federation as a benevolent dictatorship. Even then the other characters in the series come in a rather wide variety of colors.
  • Possibly intended with dark-skinned ambassador Genly Ai in The Left Hand of Darkness. Possibly, in that while Ursula K. Le Guin later placed the novel within a universe where humanoid aliens colonized a number of planets including Earth, it fits the general idea of "future with The Federation and many dark-skinned people".
    • Also subverted by the author in The Lathe of Heaven where an attempt to create this results in a drastic assimilation event after which everyone has grayish skin.
    • Implied to be the case in The Dispossessed by a Terran ambassador, if this troper remembers correctly.
  • In one time travel story by Philip K. Dick, the future was populated entirely by brown people. Part of this is due to the fact that they reproduce through a soft form of cloning, part of it is due to inferior members of families being pressured to kill themselves, and part of this is due to race wars.
  • In Ira Levin's This Perfect Day, the "Family" is genetically engineered for perfection—which in this world is an almost stereotypically Asian appearence.
  • The 70s B-Grade sci-fi series, Space Ways, which is set in the far future, has almost all humans with tan to dark skin and brown eyes where natural features like red hair or blonde and blue eyes only exist as rare genetic throwbacks.
  • In The Forever War, the hero leaves Earth to fight in an interstellar war using a starship drive that causes time dilation. When he returns to Earth its thousands of years after he left, and everyone on Earth is a nice even tan, with dark hair and eyes. Oh, and they're all gay.
  • The Foundation Series is like this. In The Currents of Space, it's mentioned that people from the two main planets look slightly different, though not different enough to be able to tell for certain which a person is from. Everywhere else is pretty much homogeneous.
    • Possibly played for laughs in Isaac Asimov's The Currents of Space, in which one character notes that, since he has very dark skin, and a group of people he is attempting to aid have fair skin, the two must have been equally discriminated against at one time.
      • He's not too far off the mark, either. The Florinians (the light-skinned ones) are described a few times as having ginger hair. As the Acceptable Targets page points out, "Gingers" face a lot of discrimination in some places.
    • The difference is simply not emphasized in the earlier books, but according to the later ones, there is plenty of difference - though the different races prefer to live with their own.
  • Larry Niven's Known Space continuity has this happen.
  • In the Uplift series, humanity was gradually moving toward this.
  • The second Mass Effect novel has a human character looking at the quarians and thinking about how not only quarians but also the various other species tend to look homogeneous. She knows that part of that has to be just that she's unused to those other species and can't pick up on the differences, but even so there aren't serious variations in body size or coloration or anything. Then she realizes that, well, these other species have each become one race, and it's happening to humans too; humans who are purely of any one race are extremely rare.
    • This is also mentioned in the first novel about Anderson, who has half-a-dozen ethnical groups as his ancestors, including Caucasian, Indian, African, and East Asian. Of course, the game model just makes him look black. The fact that he's voiced by an African-American actor also doesn't help.
  • John Carter says at least twice that he expects this to happen. Considering when the books were written, Edgar Rice Burroughs must have freaked people out with that one.
  • Race Against Time by Piers Anthony starts out in a 20th-century setting, but later shows the 24th century, where everyone is a muddled brown color and genetic throwbacks with distinct racial features are kept in cultural preserves with a zooish quality to them. (The protagonist is one such throwback, living in preserve modeled on the 20th century; he starts out believing that he really lives in the 20th century, and learns the truth over the course of the novel.)
  • Part of the background in the Council Wars series, by John Ringo. The sheer homogenity led to Change (a medical procedure, similar in use to modern-day plastic surgery. But involving the changing of your genetic code, with nanites) which allows people to turn themselves into mermaids. Or unicorns. Or anything else they can imagine. This eventually leads to the Council Wars proper.
  • A variant occurs in the Antares novels. Apparently, most settled planets are homogenous - either they all came from one region on Earth, or they blended after a while. The only planet that is not homogenous is Earth itself. That said, different planets will have different dominant racial types. Altans and Sandarians are white, because their ancestors were mostly European, but other worlds have different ancestries. There is almost certainly one planet that is all black.
  • Implied in the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel The Year of Intelligent Tigers, which takes place on a future Earth colony called Hitchemus (which borders on Mary Suetopia, except for the disgruntled tigers) where almost everybody appears to be mixed race. However, there are two characters described as "Black", and pale-skinned people are "exotic" but aren't considered particularly strange.
    • Alluded to in an early description of 30th century companion Chris Cwej, from the New Adventures novels, which says that he is, by 20th century standards "the superman" ... and that this was the result of the exact opposite of how certain 20th century politicians thought it could be achieved. On the other hand, he certainly looks white, and his police partner is not only black but comes from a family very proud of their pure African heritage. But it appears that society is on its way to this, more or less.
  • Invoked in Arthur C. Clarke's Imperial Earth by an Earthman who remarks wistfully that it'll be kind of monotonous "when" everyone on Earth has bred to "the same shade of beige." He's a touch envious of the main character's darker skin.
  • Variation: In The Turner Diaries, it's implied via footnotes in 2099 everyone on the planet is the same race, that race being white. And yes, it's exactly what it sounds like.
  • Invoked to a degree in Nancy Farmer's The Ear, the Eye and the Arm; modern races still exist, but there is a new minority of mixed ancestry known as (naturally) the Browns. One of the titular detectives is this ethnicity.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, the Loonies ancestors are from all parts of the earth, and everyone is of (very) mixed race.
    • Though it's not mentioned in detail, it seems to mostly be the case in Luna City, where the main character lives. Hong Kong Luna, for instance, is noted for its ethnic Chinese community, among others.
  • The Dragonriders of Pern. It's never flat-out said in the series, but supplemental material notes that the humans living on Pern are more or less homogenous. Pernese are all somewhat tan in color, and the men have very little facial hair. Apparently, some extremes exist in eye and hair color. F'Lar is mentioned to have amber-colored eyes, while Lessa's are grey (which is something of a family trait in Ruatha Hold), and Kylara has blonde hair, to name three examples. This wasn't the case before they landed on Pern, though it seems that just about every major racial grouping was part of the Pern Expedition, and though there wasn't any kind of racism, people still tended to marry within their own nationality (Sallah Telgar and Tarvi Andiyar being a notable exception). Presumably that practice ended under the threat of Thread.
  • Averted in Honor Harrington.
    • The royal family of Manticore is notably dark skinned. As they don't practice endogamy and in fact are required by law to marry commoners it is not explained how they preserve their complexion (which is apparently fairly rare on Manticore, otherwise it would not be associated with royalty). Of course they could marry foreigners to preserve the genetic trace but no mention of that is made. In fact no mention at all is made of any attempt to artificially preserve such genetic traits which would be inexplicable otherwise.
    • Sphinxians tend to have a disproportionate number of humans bred for heavy gravity. Much of their lineage does in fact come from genetic manipulation (including that of the title character). As Sphinx has notably heavy gravity, those that can't stand it leave or die off or just stay and suffer.
    • Graysons, who developed on an isolated planet have a disproportionate number of females. This has resulted in traditions of patriarchy (which range from the more or less benign to the tyrannical the latter being predominate in the Masadan sect), and polygamy that look somewhat odd to outsiders.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • It's not quite this trope, but Jessica Alba was chosen to represent a "perfect human" in Dark Angel because James Cameron commented that he was tired of the representation of an ideal human as one with "Aryan" features and that there would likely be evolutionary benefits in someone who was a mixture of ancestries.
  • In Firefly, two main characters are white siblings with the Chinese-sounding last name Tam. Since Firefly takes place in a future that is heavily influenced by Chinese culture, it is implied that they are part Chinese.

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The protagonist of Beyond Good and Evil, Jade, is infamously racially ambiguous, but she's far from the only one on her futuristic planet. Quite a number of human characters are tan-skinned and dark haired in an undefinable manner (and one bald guy who looks like he might be part black and part Asian). Even her AI companion is a weird Spanish/Italian/French mush, and he's a computer program. And then there's Yoa. Going against the usual nature of this trope, though, humanity hasn't become a species of Ditto Aliens; skin tones and hair colors of all sorts can be found on Hylia. And loads of Petting Zoo People with Canis Latinicus species names. It's just that nobody maps to any contemporary race. It also doesn't help that there's the added filter of cartoon exaggeration and stylization on top of everything else.
  • Played mostly straight in Mass Effect in that it is confirmed that humanity—at least in North America—is certainly heading this way, with most human characters you'd define as "white" actually having light brown skin tones, noticeably. This is apparently similar to how years of living as a galactic-scale society has done this to the individual ethnicities of all the other species, and humanity is slowly starting to homogenise as well. May be lampshading how aliens often seem to lack ethnicity in the sort of genre Mass Effect is in.
    • In Mass Effect 2, the lack of genetic homogenisation in humans is one of the reasons why the Reapers have targeted humanity as the first (or perhaps only) Reaper to be built out of the current galactic races.
    • Though you frequently meet humans of widely varying skin tones (contrast Miranda's pale complexion with Jacob's dark skin, for instance). This shows up even in random extras and NPCs with five lines or so, such as Fist and Dr. Michel.
      • Human characters also frequently speak with various accents and the Codex says instantaneous machine translation is available, so human beings have united politically without surrendering their own cultural identity, language, and certainly not without becoming a race of Ditto Aliens. Likewise, the codex states outright that Turians, Asari, and Salarians at least all identify with their colony, world, clan, and religion even while still falling giving their allegiance to their species and the Citadel Council. Apparently they are able to spot visual differences and Turians even paint their faces to show their allegiances. More than once an alien comments that "all humans look the same to me," suggesting they cannot spot our racial differences easily.
    • Notably, the only racism within a species is the Asari disdain for "purebloods" of their own species. Human racists are "speciests" in the game and only dislike aliens. "Human first" characters are generally shown to be sympathetic but in the wrong, as seen in Navigator Pressly's changing attitude in his journals from Mass Effect 2 and how rebuking Terra Firma, Ashley Williams, and Pressly for these attitudes is a Paragon act. Human sexism, however, is still present, but every person who displays it is a complete scumbag or Complete Monster. Most species heavily stereotype other species, however. Humanity's hat is ambition and how they cannot be stereotyped easily, as pointed out by Moridin, Liara, and others.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Real Life Comics referenced this trope, as main character Tony claims that this is his race.

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • In Orion's Arm it is stated that modern-day races only exist on certain baseline reservations, and most are genetic recreations. Of course, humanity isn't even one species anymore.
  • This premise was behind a favourite dire prediction of futurists—not nuclear war or mass starvation, but that there would be no blondes in the future! Imagine mankind deprived of Marilyn Monroes! The Horror!
  • Cracked.com

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The future people, or "Goobacks", from South Park (seen above) are an example of this trope. Played with, though, because the episode involves them going back in time to the present, where they're considered a different race from all the modern people.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Inverted in Real Life, allegedly, as with nearly all geneticists think that the human population was as small as less than 10,000 just 70 - 80,000 years ago, and all our modern races actually evolved since then. It has also been demonstrated that it took only about 2,000 years for the racial traits as we know them to develop - the only reason why no such major cosmetic changes have followed is that there are no new environments to favour different body-types.
    • It's because of this factor that many anthropologists suggest there is no such thing as race, citing the official literal use of the term as one of anthropology's biggest blunders. There have been efforts to correct it; many people in the US particularly may have noticed that in recent years, areas of official forms that previously asked for "race" now ask for "ethnicity."
  • The Straight Dope's take on the plausibility of the trope.
  • Because skin color is controlled by a number of loci, with several alleles each, this isn't realistic. People who are both "brown" can have a huge range of variation in their children. The quirks of independent assortment can give the children anything from very dark to very light skin tones.
    • Over a long enough time scale, it would happen. Even without selective pressure, genetic drift tends to cause fixation (one allele becoming vastly more common than the others). If the "light" alleles for some of the genes that influence skin color becomes fixed, and a "dark" alleles for some of the others, then you would get a population with a consistently heritable intermediate skin tone. It's also possible that all the dark alleles will fixate, or all the light ones, but an intermediate mixture _is_ much more likely.
      • Genetic drift presupposes that a trait does not offer a selective advantage and all mating is entirely random with regards to that particular trait. Human mating is not random. Folks tend to choose people who live close to them, which in most parts of the world means someone of the same ethnic group. People in multiethnic societies also tend to choose mates of their own race much more often than not, even if they are unprejudiced toward other groups, due to a mix of social, familial, and other pressures. They may also just hit it off best with their own group due to shared experiences, which are always a big part in human relationships. (Let alone that many people are just prejudiced.) Additionally, if a particular skin tone is made rare and therefore beautiful via being exotic, it will confer an advantage, as sexual selection is a very real evolutionary advantage. It will become more common until it loses its advantage. See also Brazil, discussed below.
    • Not really. Fixation might change the average skin tone but there are too many genes determining skin color to wipe out all skin color variation. In fact mass interracial mixing would also create new combinations as well. [1]
    • A Brazilian study into people's genetics and family history strongly suggested that, in urban Brazil at least, skin colour no longer gives any real indication of a person's ancestry. It's probably no coincidence that Brazilians are stereotypically known for their beauty.
  • Ignoring whatever weirdo definition of "race" you're going to use, it's important to understand that skin tone itself is strictly related to latitude because of the UV(-B) content in the sunlight. Humans require UV-B radiation to produce vitamin D without a steady supply of which they simply die, conversely, when absorbing too much UV-radiation, this damages the skin and puts the body under constant stress. The further away from the equator you are, the lower is the content of UV-B in the sunlight throughout the year. This means that for example in the far north, such as Scandinavia, someone who doesn't have a very light skin tone will not be able to absorb enough UV-B from the sunlight to survive! Conversely, someone near equatorial regions who doesn't have a very dark skin tone will be burnt by the sun on such regular basis that the constant effort to repair the skin damage depresses the immune system to the point of death (if by cancer or influenza is only a minor detail). There are meta-genetic skin tone markers - essentially, on/off switches for skin pigmentation genes that are inherited like genes but can be switched throughout the lifetime. These markers are presumably the reason why in Brazil, even people with an purely white ancestry are now rather tanned, and conversely, why for example the African-American population in US has a much lighter skin tone than most Africans, even when said African-Americans have little to no non-African-American heritage in their ancestry. To put it short: Mankind will not ever be "one skin tone" as long as they live in different latitudes. People who live near the equator will always tend to grow darker skin and people who live in the higher latitudes will tend to grow lighter skin, because skin tone itself is first and foremost a vital adaptation to the specific solar radiation makeup of their environment. Bonus Internets to you if you point out the Unfortunate Implications.
    • It's important to note that vitamin D deficiencies are much worse for children than adults. An adult can survive for years with a deficiency that would kill an infant. And the main selective pressure with too much UV exposure isn't sunburn or skin cancer, it's loss of folate, a deficiency of which is most harmful to developing fetuses.
    • One of the coolest demonstrations of the relationship between skin pigmentation and vitamin-D is looking at populations which at first glance seem to be exceptions to the rule. In many of these cases you have populations at northern latitudes who have fairly dark skin. Its only only looking closer at their diet, and discovering that it is very rich in oily fish, that the reason for the exception becomes apparent (Oily fish being rich in vitamin-D). Of course, this can be emulated by supplementing a diet with vitamin-D, and several foods are commonly fortified with vitamin-D (margarine and flour are two common ones).
    • Given the sheer mobility of present-day humans, and the existence of vitamin-D supplements and sunscreen, it's unlikely that geography will be a factor in skin-pigment distribution in the immediate future. Long-term, if the ozone layer continues to be depleted, we might all wind up needing dark skin just to cope.
  • Current trends in genetics suggest that not only is it unlikely that we will become one race, but that people in a given city have distinct enough genetic traits to functionally be a different race from those of another city.
  • Cynicism suggests that if humans are ever one race they will just find other things to hate each other about. So it may not really matter.
    • But this trope is already coming into effect with Melting Pot Nomenclature. People came to hate and fear other races because of generations of slow/low/no communication between continents. With the mass communication and diplomacies we have today, any racism found today is more of a "tradition" than anything else.
  • The specific post-racial set of features that humanity is predicted to develop—dark-white, small-boned, long nose, narrow jaw—are the features of a historical race, called Iberians or Small Mediterraneans by modern writers—the classical Celts (not the same as Gauls), ancestors of the modern Spanish, Portugese, British Celts, and especially Basques.
  • The Euro/East Asian combination mentioned in the introduction is already happening in Sydney and Melbourne. The first big generation of "half asian" children is in primary school at the moment; their progeny will be "part asian" or "part white", etc, and this is ignoring such issues as Fillipinos already having a lot of European genes. The reasons for whites and asians interbreeding to the exclusion of every other ethnicity is not publicly debated.
    • To be fair, those are the two largest "racial" groupings in each city, and with the exception of the small minority of indigenous Australians, also the two groups that have lived there the longest. Although there is a growing Afrian minority, emigration from Africa was rare until the last decade or so. Give it another generation or two, and who knows?
  • Another barrier to this would be a future Earth where uniform prosperity has been achieved. A huge source of interbreeding is the movement of rural populations to urban areas and from poor regions to rich regions. This movement is driven by economics-people look for better living standards and incidentally move from one gene pool to another. If the entire planet reaches a similar level of economic development (either up or down), there will be much less drive for people to move around, so they'll settle down and start adapting to their local environments again-which includes a skin color suitable to the latitude.
  • This troper vaguely recalls a joke that the way to end racism was to "fuck until we're all beige". Yeah.
    • Yep, that's part of Russell Peters' routine, played for laughs as the Indo-Canadian Peters suggests that any attractive white women in the audience should go ahead and sleep with him to get it over with.
  • This trope is starting to happen in Latin American countries which have historically been very racially diverse. For example, round about 90% of Mexican people are directly or indirectly mixed-race.
    • Yet their skin tones range from extremely light-skinned blondes, especially near Chihuahua, to the stereotypical "dark" Latin American. For all this mixing, diversity is still quite high as can be seen in any large city like Mexico, Guadalajara, and Monterrey.