The Smurfette Principle

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Take note of the Male-to-Female ratio.
"Your'e not as smart as Stewart. But, you're the only girl in town. "
"I'm the only girl."
Marzipan, Homestar Runner

For any series not aimed solely at females, odds are high that only one female will be in the regular cast.

The Smurfette Principle is the tendency for works of fiction to have exactly one female amongst an ensemble of male characters, in spite of the fact that roughly half of the human race is female. Unless a show is purposefully aimed at a female viewing audience, the main characters will tend to be disproportionately male.

In many series, men will have various different personalities, but women will always be The Chick. Thus, by the Law of Conservation of Detail, you only need one.

In other cases, the women are feminized versions of existing male characters.

This trope has lessened over time, but even now it often applies to animated fare aimed at boys or a general audience. This is especially serious when the regular cast is full of synthetic entities or other species which have a voice or are sufficiently humanoid; these will always be more masculine than feminine, with any feminine examples receiving special attention, suggesting that women are merely an unusual subtype of men.

Why does this trope happen? Often, the problem lies with the source material—the work's an adaptation of something written or created decades before equal recognition for women started to gain momentum. Sometimes, however, writers will try to correct this problem by inserting a few more female characters or at least an Affirmative Action Girl.

When the time for merchandising comes, unless the cast is all female, manufacturers won't create as many figures of the female members as they would males of the franchise even if the series is Merchandise-Driven (or at least, until the mid-90's). This creates a vicious cycle in which The Smurfette Principle is upheld by both toy manufacturers and TV writers, each reasoning that the other will enforce it anyway. This may be because, statistically, companies believe that action figures of female characters don't sell as well as the male ones, all evidence to the contrary. Of course, the shortage of female action figures to base those figures on can lead to another vicious cycle.

In classic comedy animation or shows, especially slapstick, women are often absent because hitting a girl just isn't considered funny. (In the case of harmless Amusing Injuries, this isn't always the case.)

This trope can also be Justified Trope by its unfortunate accuracy in certain contexts. It is fairly realistic for armies, police forces, adventuring parties, and similar groups to be predominantly male, especially if set in a non-Politically-Correct History.

As noted in the examples below, this trope is nearly universal in all forms of media. Most writers try to balance this out with Positive Discrimination, making the girl more intelligent and level-headed than everyone else, but it still doesn't change the simple fact that there's only one of her. Usually, all it does is turn her into a Mary Sue for everyone to loathe.

Writers who recognize the problem after a season or two may expand the cast with Affirmative Action Girls. This is usually more effective.

Interestingly, this can extend to Mooks and the Monster of the Week with Mono-Gender Monsters, to avoid the Unfortunate Implications of violence against women.

The name of this trope was first coined by an article in the New York Times printed April 7, 1991, called "The Smurfette Principle". The article discussed the negative message which this trope gave its young audience: that males are individuals who have adventures, while females are a type of deviation who exist only in relation to males.

Contrast Two Girls to a Team, The Bechdel Test, Girl Show Ghetto. This is also Distaff Counterpart to The One Guy. See also Smurfette Breakout when the character becomes popular on her own, and Territorial Smurfette when another female is added to the show and the character reacts negatively.

Examples of The Smurfette Principle include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Dragon Ball Z is notorious for this; Bulma is the only female character through nearly its entire run with any significant screentime. This might also reflect the small yet vocal fanbase for Pan, a female Saiyan descendant.
    • You could very arguably make a case for ChiChi, Videl, and Android 18 as regulars, but the latter two don't appear until later in the series.
    • The original Dragon Ball series, however, started with a cast of a girl and a boy, later adding males Yamcha and Oolong and (maybe) female Puar. The males started to outnumber the females later, where against all the fighters in the cast there were only Chi-chi and Lunch, and then the latter was forgotten.
  • In Ghost in the Shell, the only woman is Major Motoko Kusanagi, but she is both the protagonist and the team leader.
    • Justified due to the fact that, while speculative fiction, it preserves the country's real world issues. Sexism in the government is dealt with explicitly later in Stand Alone Complex, and is a major catalyst for many of the political issues encountered later. Given this attitude, it's not unthinkable that an Elite government operations unit would have difficulty maintaining women not hyper-competent.
  • Naruto enforces this trope religiously, regardless of the size of the group. There is one female in every Genin team (that matters), there is one female among the five Jonin senseis (all the ones we've seen that aren't teachers are male), there's one known female member of ANBU, there is one female among the three Chuunin Exam proctors, there is one female among the Sound Five, there is only one female among the Akatsuki, only one female in Snake/Hawk, and there's even a single female Pain body and even that was a replacement for another one that died. We might as well call it "The Kunoichi Principle".
    • There has recently be one recent group that is an exception: the Cloud village team taught by a man named Killer Bee (the host of the eight-tailed beast) is the first to have two girls (Karui and Samui) and one guy (Omoi), although arguably, that squad is one person short since Samui is the squad's leader, a position equivalent to Kurenai/Kakashi/Gai's.
    • Although this can be read as there being a 2:1 male to female ratio, thus making 1/3 of the main and secondary characters female and therefore averting this trope - 1/3 of a large cast is much more than one.
  • Similarly, in Pokémon, there has only been one female on the main team out of three or four. For a long time, this was Misty, who always took a backseat to Ash's adventures. The other two token females, May and Dawn, are somewhat like female versions of Ash, and have a plot similar to Ash's but heavily feminized. This might be intentional, as the latter two are supposed to represent the otherwise identical protagonists you can choose in the Pokemon games, with the show itself noting that May was copying Ash's battle-style too much. Black and White plays this straight considering only the main trio (the usual Two Guys and a Girl) but the trope is averted if the various Rivals are taken into account (three girls versus two boys).
    • Before catching Snivy, Pidove was the only female on Ash's Unova team. Because of this, Pidove was the only one who could get close to Snivy without being affected by Attract.[1]
    • The various manga series are typically better at this.
  • Pokémon Special has this in the whole first arc...then at the end of the yellow arc, we discover that he is a she.
    • While all the main characters of the various regions have a 2:1 ratio when it comes to males and females, it still avoids the Principle by having a healthy-sized supporting cast who regularly interacts with them, girls included.
  • Between the two fighting groups in X 1999, there is only one woman (Satsuki) among the Dragons of Earth, as opposed to three (Yuzuriha, Karen, and Arashi) among the Dragons of Heaven.
    • Although Nataku could count as a girl
  • Record of Lodoss War has a typical fantasy adventuring group which is mostly male. The sole female main character is a blond elf named Deedlit (keep in mind that this series was based on an actual Tabletop Games campaign played by a bunch of Japanese college fraternity brothers in the late Seventies—women didn't always fit well into hack'n'slash scenarios).
    • The sequel Chronicles of the Heroic Knight averts this. The "new generation" of heroes consists of three (or four) male and three female characters. As with the previous heroes, Shiris was given a bigger role, and former Faux Action Girl Deedlit was markedly more competent—both had to save the male heroes more than once.
  • Inverted in Azumanga Daioh - there are only two male characters (three if you count The One Guy) with a notable role in the series. Every other main character in the series is female; the gender ratio is 1:5 or 3:10.
  • In Saint Seiya Omega, Aquila Yuna is the only girl among the Bronze Saints.
  • Science Ninja Team Gatchaman (and its various Macekre including Battle of the Planets) has one heroine in a squad of five heroes.
  • Voltron (Golion) also has one heroine in a squad of heroes. Dairugger XIV didn't have that much better a ratio either, with roughly three females in three squads. Notably, Princess Allura originally only joined the team as a replacement after one member of the all-male Five-Man Band was killed. Even then, it was over everyone else's objections, and only because they couldn't form the Giant Robot without a fifth member.
    • That said, Princess Romelle could be seen as an additional female character, even though she doesn't make her debut until Episode 17, and a more kick-ass one than Allura. (Unlike the former, Romelle actually 'fights back' against would-be attackers.) Queen Merla was added by the American writers/editors of the series for the second season that got distributed to the Western market.
  • Uchuu Senkan Yamato has—you guessed it—one heroine in a squad of heroes. Early episodes showed more women among the crew, but they all abruptly disappeared.
  • Digimon tends to vary drastically in how well it handles the problem. The worst was Digimon Frontier, which was 1 out of 5 on both the good and evil sides (at least they were cute to look at). Digimon Tamers did best, with 3 out of 8, the same ratio as Digimon Adventure. For the record, Digimon Adventure 02 was 2 out of 6 (though girls were fairly well-represented among the international Chosen), Digimon Savers was 1 out of 3 (later 1 out of 4) among the main cast, and Digimon Xros Wars spent most of its time at 1 out of 3 as well, with two different girls being the "1" at separate times. Then came its followup, Digimon Xros Wars: The Young Hunters Leaping Through Time, which appears to be at 0 out of 3 among the heores and just 1 out of 6 among the central humans as a whole.
  • Gundam uses this to varying degrees from series to series. Examples:
    • Gundam Wing has a roughly 1:1 male:female ratio, but few of the woman are pilots and even fewer are main characters.
    • Gundam 00 has at least a high frequency of female members, but none is a pilot (depending on your opinion on Tieria, that is). At least one is a high ranking officer and one is a capable pilot.
      • There is Chall Austica of manga-only 00P fame.
    • G Gundam, which mainly is about a fighting tournament, has one female participant shown, and a handful of other female members....about half of which are part of one character's cheerleading squad. They act as his support crew too, but it's sort of difficult to remember that they're supposed to be highly skilled engineers when they're being paraded around in bathing suits for no particular reason.
    • UC makes things more complicated. Mobile Suit Gundam had a fair amount of female characters, but only two were mobile suit pilots, one who wasn't very good and one who was also the main character's Love Interest. However, Zeta and ZZ were much better about this: Zeta had about as many female elites as males (Emma, Reccoah, Sarah, Fa, Rosamie, Four, Lyla, Maua, and Haman of course) ZZ had about the same quota (Elle, Roux, the Purus, Chara, etc), also Lady of War Haman got the part of the main villain throughout the bigger part of the series.
      • A major female character in the first Gundam series (Sayla) was planned to be far more important in the storyline before her voice actress died unexpectedly.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam Ecole Du Ciel is so far the only Gundam work with a female as the main character.
    • While not the main character, Chris Mckenzie of War In The Pocket was the only female pilot, but is also the best one in the series, being a test pilot for the Gundam Alex.
    • Yoshiyuki Tomino reportedly wanted the main character of Turn a Gundam to be female, but was overruled by the producers. This may explain why the male lead spends most of the series disguised as a girl.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh the only female character to be around during the show's entire run is Anzu among a group of Yami Yugi, Yugi, Jounouchi, Honda, Kaiba, Mokuba, and to an extent Bakura and Otoji. Mai and Shizuka put in appearance now and then but are really secondary characters.
    • The Toei anime added Miho, the Girly Girl to Anzu's Tomboy.
    • In the spin-off Yu-Gi-Oh GX it gets even worse - Asuka is the only girl among Judai, Sho, Ryo, Manjoume, Daichi, Ed and Tyranno. The only other female cast member to get more than a few episodes was Rei, who didn't join the cast until the third season and even then didn't get a lot of screentime in comparison to the rest of the cast.
  • The director of Mai-HiME claimed in an interview that he deliberately wanted to invert this trope. Indeed, the important male cast is considerably smaller than that of the female cast. But considering that this a Magical Girl team show, the effort's kinda misapplied.
  • One Piece has two female Straw Hats (with one temporary member), one female Supernova, and one female Warlord of the Sea. Most of the evil organizations have exactly one female member, whom Nami tends to fight, with the notable exception of Baroque Works (half its Officer Agents are female, although most of the Mooks are male), and all of Amazon Lily is female. The Marines are almost entirely male, except for Hina, Tashigi, Tsuru (the old woman who's sometimes seen with Sengoku), and Bellemere (in the past).
    • Also one female Giant, who is also a Marine, and one Celestial Dragon.
  • While half of the Soul Reaper lieutenants in Bleach are female, only two of the captains are. There is also only one female Espada and two former Espada, and the current one is the only one other than Stark to have female fraccion. Ichigo's team seems to be more balanced with a 3:2 guys:girls ratio
    • Though in the case of Starrk, Lilynette is actually his other half. When they were made into Arrancar, they separated into two bodies rather than just a body and a sword. Starrk specifically says, "We are the Primera [first] Espada".
    • Similarly with the Vizard. Though the number is almost equal with a 3:5 the Principle is still in effect since all three females are former Lieutenants while four of the five male members are former Captains.
  • Appleseed and Appleseed Ex Machina twist this trope by having the one and only female elite soldier, Deunan Knute, top every battle ranking. While she is the Smurfette with respect to numbers her role defies the trope's framework by fashioning her as The Hero as well as an ueber-competent soldier who tops even her technologically-enhanced teammates (and foes), mechanical and biological alike. Note that the larger "team" including politicians and foot soldiers/pawns does feature many females, with politicians being almost exclusively female, e.g. Prime Minister Athena or Ambassador (and Deunan's friend) Hitomi. This is somehow hand-waved by implying most politicians are bioroids for humanity's own good. Hyper-strong, but not unemotional, female leads are characteristic of Shirow Masamune's manga, from which both the Appleseed and Ghost in the Shell cinematic/TV works are derived. Actually, the female politician/male fighter "division of labor" seems reasonable even for real-world implementation.
    • If one looks closely during the opening action scene and the briefing room scenes, they can find the real smurfette of Appleseed. There's one other female member of E.S.W.A.T. (who is never named, never speaks, and sure as hell never does anything cool; that's Deunan's job).
  • In Axis Powers Hetalia, Hungary is the only female character who is regularly recurring. There are other females, but they have only been shown in a few strips or only on the artist's blog. However, considering the tone of the series and the fact that Hungary herself is a Yaoi Fangirl, this may be an example of a Cast Full of Pretty Boys.
    • Counter to the usual progression of such a circumstance, Hungary, Belarus, Ukraine, Lichtenstein, and Taiwan are all varying degrees of Ensemble Darkhorse. Vietnam, Belgium, and the African nations haven't gained such distinction, unfortunately. The fans' fondness of gender bending deserves mention, too.
  • Riza Hawkeye is the only woman in Roy Mustang's group in Fullmetal Alchemist. Somewhat justified in that there are fewer women in the military than there are men, and the reason she's in the group in the first place is because she's Mustang's aide, confidante, and bodyguard. She's The Chick only in the sense of being the sole female and dearly loved by her male counterparts; fact is, she's more badass than any of the other four subordinates. This may also be justified, as the country that the series mainly takes place in is an alternate-universe version of pre-World War II Germany, an era where seeing women in the military was a lot less common.
    • Among the homunculi, Lust is the only female in the manga/Brotherhood anime (though Envy is genderless according to Word of God), but the first anime replaced the male Sloth with a female one.
  • Heeello, Bio-Meat: Nectar. One female lead the entire time (until part 3, which introduces a Wise Beyond Her Years 10-year-old), and the only one on the team without a specific role other than, you guessed it, moral support and maturity. Oh, and Cassandra Truth. Part 2 is especially glaring.
    • Presumably it's especially glaring because they're teenagers, which heightens the difference between girls and boys more than in elementary school. Bonus points for two of the boys, especially Shinko, having gotten pretty, and the fat one being less absurd-looking than before.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena inverts this trope with the Black Rose Duelists (as opposed to the regular duelists chosen by Akio). Discounting the man manipulating them, Mikage, there are five girls that were chosen, and one boy, Mitsuru. Another boy, Tatsuya, was lured into becoming one but was rejected.
  • In Katekyo Hitman Reborn, there is only one female, Chrome Dokuro, amongst Tsuna's six Guardians. Even worse, as the real Mist Guardian is Mukuro Rokudo, and Chrome is mostly just a vessel for him. Meaning instead of one woman, there's half a woman. The illusion of a woman. Less than woman.
  • In Eyeshield 21, nearly every team has a female manager. While it IS understandable that there would a good number of female managers, as it's the only football-related position open to girls at most schools, the fact that there appear to be NO male managers for any team makes you wonder if it's a gender-specific position.
    • The only exception to the "manager" rule is the Teikoku Alexanders, whose token female is the quarterback.
  • Fist of the North Star only had one prominent female fighter in the manga and that was the village guardian Mamiya. In the Atomiswave fighting game, as well as in Ken's Rage, her fighting abilities are exaggerated for game purposes in order to match her against the Hokuto Shinken and Nanto Seiken masters, whereas in the manga she got overpowered by a mere nameless underling of Uighur.
  • In Death Note, Rem is the only female shinigami to appear in the main story. The rest of the cast is predominantly male too, but this is justified somewhat by the fact that most of the characters are detectives or high-ranking businesspeople, which are predominantly male groups in real-life Japan.
    • This happens to the Kira Task Force in the Live Action Film, where Word of God states that she was added simply to make it so it wasn't an all male team like in the anime.
  • In Tantei Gakuen Q, Minami Megumi is the only female student in the Q-class, and her role is mostly limited to memorising and recollecting scenes with her photographic memory.
    • Possibly subverted with the A-class, because although Yukihira Sakurako is the only female until another female member joins in the group, she is the only one in the class who gets significant screen time, other than Comic Relief Saburomaru.
  • This trope is scaled up for Legend of Galactic Heroes. It's pretty conspicuous that there are only five notable female characters among a literal cast of HUNDREDS in a 110 episode saga, one of whom dies early on. The Alliance has an Action Girl and The Chick among its ranks, while the Empire has another Chick and the one woman who even comes close to the Magnificent Bastardry of the male characters. This is partly justified by the Empire's archaic social structures.
  • Casca is the only woman in the Band of the Hawk from Berserk and mainly serves as Griffith's Number Two. She's quite respected by pretty much the entire band, at least some of whom refer to her as "anego" (sister). In time, she becomes the Love Interest of Guts. When the Eclipse goes down, she becomes the victim of a horrific Break the Cutie ordeal, culminating in her rape at the hands of Femto right in front of Guts. Two years after the horror, she and Guts form the core of a new group of True Companions later on, which is fairly evenly split between four guys (Guts, Serpico, Isidro and Puck) and four girls (herself, Farnese, Schierke and Evarella), but because of her traumatized post-Eclipse state, she's not the combatant that she used to be.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is severely lacking in the female department until Part 6. Most of the women up to that point are either secondary characters or love interests with no real role in the story, and almost all the antagonists are men as well.
    • Averted in Part 6, where the primary protagonist and two of her closest allies are women, with at least a couple of female antagonists.
  • Sailor Moon inverts this, Tuxedo Mask and Artemis being the only male (non-villain) primary character.


Board Games[edit | hide]

  • Chess has only one female character, the queen, which makes sense since the names are inspired by medieval warfare. However, she is also the most powerful piece.
  • The Guess Who? game (in the late 80’s) had exactly 5 girls and like 35 guys. This was a game of yes/no questions about appearance. If you drew a card w/ a girl on it you were almost sure to lose that round. Women were truly an “unusual subtype”. They were rarer than bald people, people with glasses, and gingers.


Card Games[edit | hide]

  • The Star Wars Customizable Card Game has exactly one female Imperial: Mara Jade. Female Rebels are half as rare: Leia and Mon Mothma. Female aliens are far more common, though.


Comics[edit | hide]

  • Named for Smurfette, the only female Smurf for years out of a population of 100.
    • Ironically, The Smurfs cartoon actually toned this down, a little. While you could argue Smurfette is as much a stereotype as any other specific smurf, Peyo (their creator) caught some flak by admitting she was not intended to be a real heroic character at all, describing her in mostly childish ways. The Hanna-Barbera show only played this up in her origin, where she was created by Gargamel to disrupt the lives of the Smurfs. Otherwise, Smurfette is typically a strong-willed type who is often ready to take charge when necessary in Papa Smurf's absence.
    • Later, another female Smurf, the younger and more tomboyish Sassette, was created by similar means as Smurfette. The final season added Nanny Smurf, who confusingly seems to have been a natural female Smurf.
    • Although, as noted in Donnie Darko, as a creation of Gargamel Smufette wasn't a true Smurf. Originally, the Smurfs were all male (or possibly asexual).
    • This was later spoofed in Fables the founders of Smalltown were members of an Lilliput army (i.e. all men) until Thumbelina showed up so had to go find more magic barley seed that was used to made her because of mass riots fighting over her.
  • Bloom County's cast had a series of strips dealing with the necessity of introducing a female character after the Supreme Court declared male-only clubs unconstitutional. ("Nothing's more 'male-only' than Bloom County! We've GOT to introduce a WOMAN!") Before, the comic strip had several notable reoccurring female characters including the feminist schoolteacher Ms. Harlow, who actually did like men. Eventually, Ronald-Ann was created as a regular, who subverted the trope by not being The Chick. Rosebud the Basselope was also revealed to be female, much to the surprise of the cast. Unfortunately, it looks like this was retconned to oblivion.
    • Even more directly addressed in the not-a-sequel-series-I-swear, Outland. In the strip, a woman asked why all the well-known animal characters in comics and animation are all male; any female animal characters were just The Girlfriend. Opus announced that the strip was just about to hire the first major female animal character star to join the main cast, Hazel the Hedgehog. In a brilliant sequence that ran for weeks, she lampshaded why most animal characters are male. (Are we asking girls to identify with a "little pig-rodent"? Can she participate in a slapstick pie fight if depicting violence against females is taboo? Is she still her own distinct character if we have to Put a Bow On Her Head?)
  • In Hergé's Tintin comics, just about the only recurring female character is Bianca Castafiore, who's an impossible diva. Oh, and her maid.
    • Word of God says that Hergé had a lot of trouble drawing adult characters that weren't ugly or ridiculous (Tintin doesn't count, as the character design is almost childish and very simple anyway) - something that didn't bother Hergé when it came to men, but annoyed him greatly when drawing women. He actually started to get better at it in the latter albums, and a cute female character with a major role was introduced in "Tintin et l'Alph-Art", but this effort suffered Author Existence Failure.
  • Alison Bechdel's Dykes to Watch Out For initially inverted this, with scarcely any male characters, partly as a response to the Smurfette principle (as discussed in The Indelible Alison Bechdel) and partly to force male readers to identify with the female characters, as women often have to identify with male characters. Over the last several years, more male characters have appeared; one of the main characters, Sparrow, had a long-term relationship and a child with a man named Stuart. This may have also been her accommodating what has become to be known as The Bechdel Test in her own work.
  • When the Fantastic Four started in 1961, the Invisible Girl was the only female member, and she was the weakest of the four (her force fields weren't invented till later).
  • When the X-Men started in 1963, Jean Grey was the only female member, and the weakest (it was a decade before she got Phoenix powers).
    • Polaris, the second female to join the team, didn't join until 1969, although she has had a sporadic history with the team.
    • When the "New X-Men" started in 1975, Storm was the only female member. Though she certainly wasn't the weakest (and seeing as how Chris Claremont was writing, she wasn't alone for long, either).
    • Eventually, the X-Men became quite possibly the heaviest aversion of this trope in the entire genre. At some points in their history, female characters actually outnumbered the males.
    • The original incarnation of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants had Scarlet Witch as its only female member, though also the weakest at the time (mostly due to her inexperience with her powers).
      • Averted during the "Sisterhood of Evil" era, when the three female members of the team carried on in the absence of the then incarcerated male members.
  • When The Avengers started in 1963, The Wasp was the only female member, and the weakest. Then all the original members left in 1965, but there was still only one female, the Scarlet Witch, who was the weakest...at the time.
    • They got better though. Scarlet Witch grew to become one of the most powerful mutants in the 'verse, and the team has since then featured several significant female characters, like Ms. Marvel, Black Widow, and Spider-Woman.
    • The Wasp herself eventually became a badass hero in her own right and she even led the Avengers.
  • When the Justice League of America started in 1960, Wonder Woman was the only female member, and though not necessarily the weakest, was certainly the most resembling. At least the early Gardner Fox stories treated her like the other members, and not like The Chick. Though she soon became the secretary at the JLA's meetings, taking minutes and so on. It took almost a decade before Black Canary became the second female member (and that was only after Wonder Woman had resigned; it would take several more years before there was more than one woman on the team).
    • In the original Justice Society of America comic (predating the Justice League by decades), Wonder Woman was the only female character, and had to be the secretary and never took part in storylines, so JLA Wonder Woman actually came out ahead. That was in the 1940s however, and the reason she didn't take part in storylines was because she had her own book. As a rule the JSA active members were limited to popular characters who didn't support their own title, and even Superman and Batman were limited by it. The JSA did, eventually, get a female character: Black Canary. Huh. Pattern?
    • To add insult to injury, the JLA rejected a female member prior to letting Black Canary in: Hawkgirl was specifically disallowed, initially because the bylaws required they only let in one new member at a time, and they had just let in Hawkman. Later, she was kept out because her powers duplicated Hawkman's, so she brought nothing new to the table. Hawkman, of course, can only fly, thus is made completely redundant by Superman, but nobody moved to kick Hawkman out on these grounds. Hawkgirl was finally allowed in in the 70s, when the writers caught up with the sexual revolution.
    • While we are on the subject of Justice League, the fact that movies starring male superheroes are being greenlit left and right, and Wonder Woman's own film is still in Development Hell, has not gone unnoticed.
  • The first incarnation of the Teen Titans only had one girl, Wonder Girl. That soon changed.
    • In their defense, the team was made up of every sidekick DC had going at the time. There was only one choice unless they wanted to make up a new character.
  • The Doom Patrol started with one woman, Elasti-Girl.
  • Inverted in Y the Last Man where Yorick Brown spends most of the series as one of only two males (the other being his pet monkey) in a world full of women (most of whom try to kill him).
  • Silk Spectre II from Watchmen is the only female super-hero of the second generation. Furthermore, her central importance to the plot is that of her role as a woman, being a kept-girlfriend to Dr. Manhattan and then the love interest of Nite Owl II. However, this is a Deconstruction, so it may be intentional to demonstrate the usual roles female characters play in the comic book genre.
  • Rupert Bear had few female characters - Ottoline Otter (introduced about a couple of decades ago) and Tiger Lilly, not counting the mothers of the characters - and the main cast was mostly male. The CGI adaptation saw it fit to Gender Flip Ping Pong and Freida Fox.
  • With the occasional exception of Xavin, Runaways inverts this by having, at most, 2 male characters in any team roster. Of those characters, only Victor has had superpowers constantly.
  • One Hundred Bullets has one female Minuteman (who is arguably The Chick), one powerful businesswoman with Absolute Cleavage, and a lot of scantily-clad female walk-on characters. The rest of the cast is male.
  • According to Norwegian Scholar Jon Gisle, the population of Duckburg is about 80% male.
  • In Scott Pilgrim, one of Ramona's evil ex-boyfriends is actually a girl.
  • Lampshaded in Youngblood Judgment Day, where Glory is keen to the idea of re-forming the Allies of Justice because she enjoys being the only woman in a team of men—it's implied that it makes her feel like she's the one in charge.
  • Platnium was the only female member of the Metal Men. Tin later created Nameless, who didn't really do much other than act as his girlfriend. Right before the Cerebus Syndrome Retool, Doc Magnus created Distaff Counterparts of the team, but they were one-off characters. In recent years, the team finally gained a bona-fide second female member, Copper.
  • The newspaper comic Tumbleweeds had two Smurfettes—Hildegarde Hamhocker among the townsfolk of Grimy Gulch, and Little Flower among the Poohawks. Aside from Hildegarde's little niece Echo, other female characters are extremely rare (if not non-existent) in the strip.


Film[edit | hide]

  • 7 is the only female ragdoll in Nine. The twins 3 and 4 never talk, so their gender is ambiguous, but that's still a 1/2/6 ratio. On the other hand, only 7 is a fighter or independent by nature.
    • They were made from the brain essence of a man, so it's surprising there are ANY females among them.
    • Made fun of in this comic.
  • The Smurfette Principle was dissected and explained with disturbing precision in Donnie Darko as being a non-existent issue, because all Smurfs are asexual.
    • While it's true that they reproduce by stork, this doesn't stop them from falling in love with Smurfette. More on this issue in Comics, above.
  • In Fight Club, Marla Singer is the only major female character—Fight Club itself is entirely male. On the commentary track, Helena Bonham Carter talks about how she was glad when the support group scenes were being filmed because it was effectively the only time there were other women on set.
    • The movie is about universal frustrations. By portraying these frustrations as male and implying that few females could relate to it, it invokes the trope even further.
    • The movie is in fact concerned with male frustrations, being narrated by and about a frustrated and idealised masculinity. Specifically, how modern consumerism has an inherent effeminacy (e.g. "the Ikea Nesting Instinct" & "we used to read pornography: now it was the Horchow Collection..."), versus the classic masculinity of the pre-historic "hunter / gatherer" ideal that Tyler Durden advocates. The Gender Binary is destabilised both by the sexually aggressive, non-feminine Marla; and Bob who has his testicles removed and grows breasts. The Narrator (and therefore Durden) are consumed by the implications of (post-)modernity for the masculine subject, hence why the Fight Club is male only.
  • In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (both the film and the graphic novel), Mina Harker/Murray was the Smurfette in the otherwise all-male League. However, she is by no means The Chick—she is the League's leader in the graphic novel. In the movie it's made clear early on that she's a vampire who can kick all the other League members' collective asses. Alan Moore said he titled it "Gentlemen" to reflect the sexist tendencies of Victorian times.
  • In The Film of the Book as with the book, The Lord of the Rings has very few female characters. The film tries to combat this trope by giving Arwen the roles of Glorfindel and her brothers Elladan and Elrohir, and writing up her part in other ways. However, by cutting out the whole Tom Bombadil section it also leaves out Goldberry, one of the few other female characters.
    • In the Ralph Bakshi animated version, the only female character with a speaking part is Galadriel. The only others to even appear are Eowyn (who gets a few seconds of standing behind Theoden's shoulder) and a pair of unidentified women in the background of The Prancing Pony.
  • Star Wars: Leia is the only major female character in the original series, and Padmé is the only major female character in the prequels.
    • It affects the merchandise, too. Toy producer Hasbro has always been reluctant to make action figures based on Padmé's various gowns, but have settled for releasing one a year. It's somewhat justified by the fact that most of Padme's outfits don't easily lend themselves to action figures. But if Alien Extra #5 is getting a toy, well...
    • The Phantom Menace has a Double Subversion. It appears there are two major female characters, Queen Amidala and Padmé, but in the end they turn out to be the same person.
    • After the There Is Another line in The Empire Strikes Back someone suggested to Mark Hamill that the mysterious second Jedi might be Leia. Hamil joked that she had too much power already. "She's the only woman in the universe! If you don't make it with her, you're a monk!"
  • In Wanted (2008), the sociopathic female killer-for-hire Fox (played by Angelina Jolie) is the only female member of an ancient fraternity of assassins, and (what else did you expect) the top-ranking member. Sex sells even Strawman Political orgies of violence.
  • The Toho films are notorious for this. Throughout their famous Kaiju (specifically Godzilla) film series, only 6 monsters have been female. These monsters are Mothra, Rodan (one of the monsters in the original film was a female), Manda, Kamacuras (arguably, since there is more than one), Megaguirus, and Biollante. This becomes especially evident when one begins to wonder where the heck Godzilla's son came from. Some fans believe that Destoroyah and Kumonga are female, but that has never been confirmed by Toho, as some material clearly refers to them as male.
    • In the British Godzilla knock-off Gorgo, the monster (the big one at least) is female, but there are no female human characters at all. In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, this made it difficult for the bots to complete their "Women of Gorgo" calendar.
  • Bimbos in Time inverts this by having only one male character in the hero team (referred to as "the male Bimbo"); indeed, the only other male character with a major role in the story is the villain.
  • Dorothy Lamour in the Bob Hope/Bing Crosby "Road" movies (Road to Morocco, etc). Roger Ebert referred to "Dorothy Lamour Syndrome" in his Little Movie Glossary; when two men and one woman have a dialogue in a movie, the woman is usually reduced to looking back and forth between the two men as they talk. Lamour had an excuse, as Hope and Crosby were frequently off-script and adlibbing.
  • Oceans Eleven and, for that matter, essentially every crime movie with an ensemble cast.
    • The second movie averts it by bringing in Catherine-Zeta Jones, and the third movie plays it straight by dropping Julia Roberts and Jones and bringing in Ellen Barkin. It should be noted that all three of these women were a love interest for one of the main (male) characters.
  • Prince of Persia the Sands of Time has princess Tamina as the only female character in the movie, but she proves she's not just there to look pretty. The fate of the world lies in her hands.
  • Inception has a crew of around six guys and one girl. There is one other important female character, and for most of the film, she's a projection of the main (male) character's subconscious.
  • The casting for The Avengers is even less balanced than the Sixties teams. While the original team had a 4-1 ratio (Hulk left almost as soon as Cap joined) and the second had a 3-1 ratio, the movie's inclusion of Fury and Agent Coulson as "title" characters currently puts the central cast at 7-1. Needless to say, some chunks of fandom took note. Maria Hill was added to adjust the ratio a little.
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen has exactly one female Autobot, who gets one short line and appears on screen for the entirety of three seconds (before getting blasted away), making her appearance more or less a cameo. Then again, as one needs to keep in mind when it comes to Transformers, we're talking about robots.
    • Depending on the medium. In the film itself there are three female Autobots: Arcee, Elita One and Chromia. Arcee gets the most screen time and the line, but the sisters do get a good fight scene with Sideswipe at the beginning. In the novel and comics Arcee is the central component with Chromia and Elita One as drone units she controls and they can combine into a larger robot.
    • Arcee was cut at the last minute from the first movie and was replaced by Ironhide because of negative fan reaction to her. Also, it was decided that there wasn't enough time to discuss why there were female Transformers in the first place (not that it stopped them from appearing in the second movie). There are a handful of female human characters, though most are simply eye candy.
  • The Matrix Trilogy is an interesting case. True, Trinity is the only female in the main group of characters throughout the trilogy, but incidental characters are far more likely to be female.
  • In RED (film), Victoria and Sarah are the only female characters in the team, and Sarah is not even an official member, being a civilian who was caught up in the mess along the way.
  • With the exception of Kelly, the female characters in Mystery Team play very little part in the story, and are only in a few scenes each.
  • In Predators, Isabelle is shown to be the only female cast in the entire film.
    • In the original Predator, the cast was made up of a bunch of battle-hardened marines and one female prisoner-of-war whose primary function was to create an Enemy Mine situation.
  • In the 2010 film The Traveler, Jane Hollow is the only female police officer present in the film, and the only female who took part in the assaulting of the drifter 1 year prior to the story.
  • In the 2011 J.J. Abrams' film Super 8, Alice Dainard is the only female in a group with 5 young boys making a film and navigating their way through their adventure. In fact, she's pretty much the only female in the entire movie, other than one of the boys' mothers.
  • Salt was the only known female CIA agent and Russian spy.
  • Sif is the only Action Girl in Thor's gang of warriors. This is lampshaded in the film, where it is noted that Sif is the only girl in Asgard to want to become a warrior, and must do so in the face of entrenched sexism. Anyone who knows about Norse history or mythology will find this odd, since Scandinavian women enjoyed more freedom than women almost anywhere else in the world during the medieval period, and Norse Mythology features several Action Girls.
  • All three main characters in The Hangover films are male and so are nearly all substantial supporting characters but Jade from the first film comes closest to being a female lead. The second film effectively has no important female characters in terms of screentime - even Stu's fiancee has only a few lines.
  • Like its source material, the 2011 film Tintin exemplifies this trope. It has only a handful of female characters, and only two of them (Tintin's landlady Mrs. Finch and opera singer Bianca Castafiore) have names, dialogue, or any importance to the plot.
  • Out of all the support crew for Captain America the First Avenger, Peggy Carter is the only significant female on the SSR team. She, however, is arguably one of the main characters of the movie, though.
  • In Immortals, Athena is the only female god seen in the entire film. Phaedra is also the only female travelling with Theseus.
  • Galaxy Quest parodies this on Star Trek (see Live-Action TV below) by having only a single female character on the show, whose actress was constantly annoyed that her only roles on the show were Fan Service and repeating the computer.
    • At the end, when the show is revived, Laliari joins the cast
  • In The Avengers, the only female member of the group (and only main character) is Black Widow.
  • In Mystery Men, The Bowler.
  • The Men in Black don't have many female agents.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy series contained only one major female character for the first three books. Douglas Adams explained in an interview that he wasn't comfortable writing female characters because he didn't understand women. He made up for it in the third book by allowing Trillian (instead of Arthur, as he had originally planned) to make the deductive leaps that narrowly prevent a galaxy-wide war. Books four and five added Fenchurch and Random, respectively.
  • It took 456 pages to reach a female character in The Sword of Shannara. Even her rescuer was VERY surprised.
  • In Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game, Petra is the only girl ever mentioned at the Battle School; when Ender is first recruited, it is mentioned that girls rarely pass the tests to get in. However, Ender's sister Valentine proves to be an important character. Later books in the series introduce more major female characters.
    • Eventually, Petra winds up first a kinda-shallow Love Interest and then a babymomma. To something like eight kids. And settles down with Peter, of all people, since Bean had to go away into space with the mutant babies and you can't have a woman alone. (Unless she's a nun. The nun was cool.) Be fruitful and multiply indeed.
  • Tamora Pierce has stated she writes stories with female leads precisely because of this. At the time she was starting the Circle of Magic series, she saw an article that mentioned that 75% of recently published fantasy books had male heroes, so she inverted the figure by having three girls and one boy as the main characters (a male character with stereotypically "girlie" plant-based magic at that).
    • The teachers were two men and two women, though, and Sandry also had Duke Vedris.
    • However, Pierce does have a roughly equal number of male and female secondary characters in almost all the books.
      • And sometimes they overshadow her girls, especially when she gets to the romance stage. Still, she does all right. In the Trickster books even the Love Interest didn't hold a candle to Ally for character-dominance. Of course, the relationship had a really odd progression. Starting with the fact that he's a crow.
  • Terry Pratchett examples:
    • The Discworld novels includes a Violent Glaswegian version of the Smurfs, called the Nac Mac Feegle, or Pictsies. The Nac Mac Feegle, though humanoid, can be considered an extreme case of Insect Gender Bender, in which the gender of the 'worker bees' is reversed. Their hundreds-to-one sex ratio is explained in that the females are rarely born, but are "Queen Bees" (Keldas) who rule over their sprawling, brawling sons and brothers and husband(s?). Keldas may, when fully grown, be larger than the males of the species (Big Aggie of the Long Lake Clan, for example).
    • The Discworld Watch books feature only two non-dwarf female Watchmen. They're even Twofer Token Minorities (one is a werewolf, the other a vampire). There ARE other female Watch Officers- a Constable Jolson may have been vaguely referred to as 'she'- but they don't get screen time.
      • Leave us not forget Corporal Cheeri Littlebottom, the unfortunately-named one-dwarf forensics department of the Watch. Of course, it's not obvious that she is a she until the end of the book in which she's introduced, but that's par for the course for Discworld dwarves. Littlebottom later starts a sort of feminist movement for female dwarves by making it obvious that she is female, which is apparently a serious taboo for dwarves.
    • Subverted with a vengeance in Monstrous Regiment, of course.
    • Kirsty from the Johnny Maxwell Trilogy is the only girl, but does not accept her status, going so far as to call the others 'four token boys'.
    • Only You Can Save Mankind inverts this trope: the Gunnery Officer on the ScreeWee ship is the token male on a ship crewed by females.
    • And of course, who could forget Pepper from Good Omens, the only girl in The Them.
      • Well, she's a Gender Flip of Ginger in the Just William books. So at least the ladies are making inroads.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events averts this to the extent that it seems deliberate. The Baudelaires are one male, two female; their counterparts the Quagmires are one female, two male. Count Olaf's theater troupe contains two men, two women and "a person who looks neither like a man nor a woman".
  • R.A. Salvatore's Icewind Dale series (of the Forgotten Realms) originally did not have any major female characters. But soon he learned that further books of his would be rejected if he didn't add one. And thus Catti-Brie was given the literary equivalent of Promotion to Opening Titles.
  • In the Forgotten Realms stories starring half-elf warrior Arilyn Moonblade and human mage Danilo Thann by Elaine Cunningham, aside from Arilyn herself, it seems like every single female character winds up Women in Refrigerators at some point. Aside from the Big Bad of the week, the males survive and get larger roles (including Danilo, as well as fan favorites Elaith, Foxfire, etc.) Considering the tabletop RPG market, this may be due to Executive Meddling.
  • The Lord of the Rings features very few women. The actual Fellowship is completely male, and the only female character to take an active role in the sprawling thousand-page plot is Eowyn. Galadriel is powerful and important, but mostly "offscreen". Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, Mrs Maggott, Goldberry, Ioreth, Mrs Cotton, and Rose Cotton are trivial. Arwen barely has a speaking part. Everyone else is male.
    • Tolkien does point out that her people have a tradition of warrior women. Peter Jackson's films are actually much better examples of the Smurfette principle than the books.
  • Fate/Zero has a bit of this with Saber, a Gender Bender version of a traditionally male character to start with and the only female amongst individual servants. It repeats again with the Assassins with one female and three males on the team.
  • In Good Omens, Pepper and War are the only girls in their respective groups (a gang of children for Pepper, the Horsemen of the Apocalypse for War). There are, however, several other female characters in the story.
  • Beverly Marsh is the only female in The Losers Club in IT. This has its consequences later.
  • From 72 demons featured in Ars Goetia, only Marchosias, Vepar, and Gremory are female. And that's only from their usual forms on manifestation (respectively: gryphon-winged, snake-tailed she-wolf; mermaid; camel-riding noblewoman); the text itself still uses male pronouns for all the demons. Marchosias, Vepar, and Gremory included.
  • The only female disciple of Aldur in Belgariad is Polgara. Well, also Poledra, but she's a Missing Mom most of the time. And these women are Belgarath's wife and daughter, so apparently to be a female member of the group you have to have a connection to a male member of the group.
  • Isaac Asimov, until he married his second wife had issues with women due to relations with his beloved Smother. Susan Calvin was the shining exception in the 400+ books he wrote until he was old.
  • Of Mice and Men: There are a total of eleven characters mentioned in any capacity in the book. Two are women. One, Lennie's Aunt Clara, deceased, is never seen and is only a part of Lennie's background. The other, Curley's wife, doesn't get a name. And she dies anyway.
  • Shub-Niggurath is the Smurfette of the H.P. Lovecraft canon, being the only Great Old One refered as a female in his works.
  • The Mythos also has Cthylla, who is the only "daughter" of Cthulhu's offsrping.
  • A subtler version is at play in Zamyatin's We: everyone in the society is issued with an alphanumeric designation instead of a name, with one letter followed by several numbers. Men get consonants; women get vowels. Note the ratio.
    • Except in Russia, the ratio is about 2:1 - 10 vowels, 20 consonants, so it's not as extreme.
  • In Sharon Creech's The Wanderer, Sophie is the only girl among the surly crew of the titular sailboat, made up of her three uncles and two (male ) cousins. And they didn't even want to take her in the first place. Their main reasoning was "wouldn't you rather stay at land, where you can take shower every day?". Yup, very convincing.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Almost all Panel Games contain one, or no, women.
    • Only two episodes of QI, the Domesticity episode and the Girls and Boys episode, have featured two females on the same panel; this was lampshaded in the latter, which included a question on why there weren't more women as guests on the show (the excuse was that test audiences laugh less at female comedians). Out of approximately 69 different guests over 7 series, 17 of them have been female, and only 6 of those have made more than one appearance. Jo Brand pretty clearly serves the role of the token female, having appeared 24 times (the most appearances of any guest panelist), whilst the other repeat appearances have only appeared two to three times.
    • Mock the Week has never featured more than one female comedian on the same panel; out of 51 guests to appear on the show, 16 have been women.
    • To Tell the Truth often averted this, with a 50/50 split of the 4 panelists. The guests on the show are a trio, all imitating the same person, but have been both females and males.
  • Reversed in Designing Women: Anthony was not only the token male, but also the Token Minority, making him a Twofer Token Minority.
    • Depending on who you speak to, some consider him almost a Threefer Token Minority, since it seems like there's significant evidence in the series to suggest he might also be gay.
  • Virtually every seasonal roster of Power Rangers consists of three guys and two girls. That is, until the invariably male Sixth Ranger showed up. A few seasons instead start with a Power Trio of two guys and one girl, and are then joined by multiple (still invariably male) extra rangers.
    • With that said, in five instances where the original Super Sentai countpart only had one female ranger, the yellow ranger was gender flipped for the Power Rangers adaptation in order to provide the team with two female rangers instead of just one.
    • Neither show ever had a female character in Red until Power Rangers SPD's Charlie, but she was fighting for the villains. The first heroic female Red Ranger appeared in Samurai Sentai Shinkenger (and even then, she got minimal screentime/development/relevancy/etc).
    • Also, Super Sentai often has one female major villain. She is usually a comic relief character. This is less prevalent in Power Rangers, which usually makes female villains The Dragon or even the Big Bad.
    • Engine Sentai Go-onger, for once, had one of the extra rangers as a female with actual screentime. The ratio of the Go-onger team was still 5:2, but at least they made an effort. Power Rangers RPM, sadly, took this a step backward; Gold and Silver became Single-Minded Twins, so the girl basically amounted to half a character. Though it did make up for it by having the mentor character be female and get plenty of focus.
    • In the toylines, the female Rangers usually get basic action figures produced and that's it, while the boys get Environment Specific Action Figure variations out the wazoo. With the Jungle Fury and RPM toys, Bandai America has actually created extra marketable (read: male) Rangers for the toyline to give these extras to, rather than give them to the existing female Rangers. Then again, that's less misogyny and more because girls don't sell: young boys really are the primary consumers of action figures for fighting series, and in second and third grade, owning a Pink Ranger "doll" can be hazardous to your health.
      • Some series have made non-Yellow females a Blue or White Ranger rather than Pink, so that even if little boys don't want her action figure (because the costume will usually have a skirt on it) they can still be persuaded to buy other merchandise based on the character - her weapons, mecha, etc.
  • The only major female Muppet is Miss Piggy, a glamourous diva. When she was first introduced, she was a minor character. The large cast of The Muppet Show is male-dominant, but this may be due to its slapstick nature (Miss Piggy, for example, rarely takes any of the slapstick, but she certainly dishes it out when provoked). Furthermore, the regular cast used to include other female characters, such as Janice and Hilda, but both became much less prominent after Hilda's puppeteer quit and Janice's puppeteer died, leaving Piggy. Janice herself rarely appeared outside of her (The Electric Mayhem), of which she was The Chick.
    • There have been a few other female Muppets, but their tenure is either short-lived; or they're one-off characters. A notable example is Annie-Sue Pig; a young ingénue and foil to Miss Piggy. Her appearances declined considerably after the 3rd season, although she did still appear from time to time. A number of the ambiguously-gendered monsters are noted in background material as being female; but there is no clear indication of this on the show.
      • This applies to the puppeteers as well; in the first season, there were seven puppeteers, and only one (Eren Ozker) was a woman. Ozker & John Lovelady left after Season 1, so they held auditions for a new female for Season 2, with Louise Gold getting the part (although she was uncredited for the season). In Season 3, they hired another female puppeteer (Kathryn Mullen) but also hired another male (Steve Whitmire) making it 6 guys, 2 girls. Also, in relation to Miss Piggy & Janice, they were (and still are) performed by males. Yeah.
    • Sesame Street, on the other hand, has an almost evenly split human cast, but for a period had almost no female Muppets. Even now, there's only a few significant ones, such as the mild-mannered Prairie Dawn (and Betty Lou, who was actually the same Muppet), Snuffy's little sister Alice, and the more recent characters of fun-loving Zoe, earthy Rosita, and girlie-girl Abby Cadabby.
    • The spinoff Muppet Babies added Skeeter, Scooter's "identical" twin, to balance the sexes.
    • Fraggle Rock has a fairly even gender balance, with over seven reoccurring Muppet female characters, of which five are regulars: Action Girl Red, Cool Big Sis Mokey, levelheaded Ma Gorg, Shorttank Cotterpin, and wise Trash Heap. Furthermore, the series has an excellent age balance as well, with Cool Old Guys like Doc, Cantus, Architect Doozer, The World's Oldest Fraggle, and the female Storyteller and aforementioned Trash Heap. That's not even getting into the species diversity!
    • Bear in the Big Blue House had Ojo as the only female in the main cast.
  • Stargate SG 1 suffers from this: Samantha Carter is the only woman on the team (although there is a very prominent female doctor who eventually ends up getting Killed Off for Real). Can be justified by the fact that, even in modern times, the military is hardly the most gender equitable of places. Due to Executive Meddling, a sexy female thief gets added to the team in the final two seasons. Atlantis is a lot better at balancing out the roles.
  • Lampshaded on 3rd Rock from the Sun, where the aliens, having learned their ideas about Earth from its popular culture, decided that only one of them needed to be "The Woman".
  • Justified Trope on Mash, given it's set in a military installation and most surgeons at the time were male. Only one, Margaret Houlihan, maintained a major role at all times (and not as The Chick), with a number of other recurring and once-off nurses (most notably, Kellye Nakahara/Yamoto, Ginger Bayliss, Janet Baker, Nurses Baker, Shari, Jo Ann, Bigelow, and Able) typically playing the role of The Chick where necessary. Gender issues were explored in the show—most notably when a male nurse is the victim of gender discrimination, having been made a private when all the other (female) nurses were drafted as officers.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus featured almost no women, but then again most of the roles were played by the same six actors anyway, regardless of gender. By their own admission, the Pythons brought in women like "Seventh Python" Carol Cleveland only when they needed a female character to actually be attractive, otherwise, they'd just get into drag.
    • Both Python precursor series, Do Not Adjust Your Set and At Last the 1948 Show, featured five person casts consisting of four men and one woman.
  • Possibly lampshaded during the fourth season of House: The title character has two slots for doctors to work under him, and four prospects, two of each gender. He kicks one of the women out, and tells the other, nicknamed "13", that he'd hire her if he had a slot. Later, his boss, Lisa Cuddy, informs him that he has to hire at least one woman, and tells him to hire 13. Cuddy starts to walk away, then realizes that she had just given him exactly what he wanted.
  • On Star Trek: The Original Series, Uhura was a Token Twofer who was also relegated to the position of space phone operator. For the time, she was rather progressive, but...
    • This was due to Executive Meddling. The original pilot had a female second-in-command. The network couldn't fire her fast enough (even if she managed to sneak back on set anyway in a blonde wig and a nurse's outfit).
      • The network might also have resented the fact that she was Gene Roddenberry's girlfriend.
      • According to William Shatner at least, women in the test audiences found the female second-in-command "pushy" and "annoying". Maybe The World Was Not Ready...
        • It's also been said that NBC gave Roddenberry a somewhat Sadistic Choice: either keep the female second-in-command or keep Spock, but not both. Years later, Majel Barrett would quip that he "kept the Vulcan and married the woman, 'cause he didn't think Leonard would have it the other way around."
    • For a world with supposed complete gender equality, this applies to most Trek series. Star Trek: The Next Generation started with three women - after the security chief died, all that were left were in rather stereotypically feminine roles as the doctor and counselor. Recurring females were Keiko (botanist), Ogawa (nurse), Ro Laren and Guinan. Only the latter two were of any real importance, and the first eventually settled into the role of O'Brien's wife.
    • Much improved in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine which had a female first officer (Kira) and female science officer (Dax), though the number of women was still in the minority. Unfortunately, however, the science officer role was not replaced after Jadzia Dax's death - the new Ezri Dax was another counselor.
    • Further improved in Star Trek: Voyager, with Captain Janeway (who later became admiral), Main Engineer Twofer Token Minority Torres (who was Klingon, female and half Hispanic), and little girl-who-evolves-into-god Kes, who was later replaced by science "Überbabe" Seven of Nine. The main villain for the first two series turned out to be Seska, a manipulative Cardassian spy, and the surprisingly non-annoying child character was Naomi (her mom, originally a Recurrer before falling Out of Focus despite her daughter remaining prominent, was a scientist).
    • Star Trek: Enterprise had a female first officer/science officer (T'Pol), and a female comm officer/linguist (Hoshi).
    • Interestingly villains don't suffer this problem: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had the Female Shapeshifter, and Kai Winn as Big Bads and the Dominion has plenty of female Vortas. The Borg equally have plenty of female drones and are led by the Queen. In Star Trek: The Next Generation there was Planet Angel 1, led by women and Tasha Yar's home planet, complete with Tasha's sister.
  • Chouseishin Gransazer has twelve Gransazers (transforming superheroes), divided into four "tribes", each consisting of two guys and a girl. The two guys of each tribe can be quite clearly categorized as an "alpha male" and a "beta male". The girl is invariably The Chick. Ai of the Water Tribe is the chickiest of the four, though. (Her name means "love". It doesn't get any more cheesy and girly than that.)
  • The Five-Man Band in Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future included Captain Power, Hawk, Tank, and Scout, all male. Sometime before the start of the show, they rescued Jennifer "Pilot" Chase from the Dread Youth. She was an awkward mix of skills and talents: she was on par with Power and Scout in combat and infiltration, but the former could easily (and often did) replace her at the helm of the Jumpship, and most of the time she was there only to be The Chick. Worse, at the end of its only season, she was Killed Off for Real in a Heroic Sacrifice. Leaked scripts for a proposed Season 2 would have brought in a more Amazonian replacement.
  • Kamen Rider has always been quite the wiener party, with female Riders being few and far in between. Kamen Rider Ryuki introduced the first official female Rider. Her title was "Kamen Rider Femme". Go figure. ("Femme" is French for "woman"...) She only appears in a movie, thus being non-canon. Oh, and she dies after like 30 minutes, but not before killing the most evil Kamen Rider apparently.
    • Ryuki's Western Adaptation Kamen Rider Dragon Knight expanded the role of Femme's counterpart Kamen Rider Siren with original footage; making her a Sixth Ranger and forming a Power Trio with the two male leads. She's still the only girl out of thirteen Riders, but points for doing what they could.
    • Furthering the point on the rare female Kamen Riders, Shuki from Kamen Rider Hibiki was the first female Rider to be in a TV series rather than a movie-only character. The tragic Executive Meddling that ruined the show in an attempt to make it more like other Kamen Rider series killed her off.
    • On a few occasions, women have "borrowed" Rider powers (including Kamen Rider Faiz, IXA, and the Kamen Rider Decade incarnation of Den-O), but this is always temporary.
    • Preceding all of them was Electro-Human Tackle (yes, that was her name) from Kamen Rider Stronger, who had all the qualifications to be considered a Rider, but wasn't. The manga Kamen Rider Spirits addresses this by saying that following her Heroic Sacrifice, Shigeru/Stronger wanted her to rest in peace as a normal woman.
    • Kamen Rider Decade tries to redress some of the issue by having Natsumi temporarily become Den-O and later becoming Kamen Rider Kivala in the Grand Finale movie (Keyword: "Finale". Go figure.)...and not' dying, unlike the previous female Riders as well as giving Hibikis Akira full-fledged powers as Kamen Rider Amaki (in Hibiki, she only ever assumed a middle-stage transformation).
  • Both the U.K and U.S versions of Whose Line Is It Anyway feature four players, all of whom are almost always male. Only one episode in 18 series featured one male and three female performers. This is not helped by both Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles appearing in every episode of the last 11 series, meaning the best the women could achieve was parity with the male performers.
    • Lampshaded in one episode during a game of Scenes From A Hat in which the scene was "Bad Times to Kiss Someone". Since all the players were male, when the game ended, Colin Mochrie asked if they could get some women on the show.
    • This is a common issue on similarly structured comedy shows. The most Egregious offender is probably Mock the Week, since all four recurring panelists (out of six) are male and the host is as well.
      • In fairness, there is a paucity of female comedians already, so it's not necessarily the fault of the people who make the programmes.
  • Reversed in Sex and the City which had no male characters at all in the main cast; even Big and Steve (the two most frequent recurring characters) appeared in rather less than half the episodes of the series. Carrie's friend Stanford, the next most frequent, showed up in less than a third of the episodes.
  • The Daily Show rarely has more than one female regular at a time, if that. Currently, the only female correspondents are regular Samantha Bee and the very irregularly recurring Kristen Schaal. Rather curious, considering that the show was created by Madeline Smithberg and Lizz Winstead.
    • The show's spotty record with women correspondents was lampshaded when Kristen Schaal took over the show and declared Jon Stewart to be the new Senior Men's Correspondent: "Feel free to talk about men's issues. But don't expect to be on the show more than every four to twelve weeks or so."
      • Olivia Munn has appeared multiple times, which may make her the third regular female correspondent.
  • Averted and inspected in Rescue Me. Janet Gavin and other women are major characters, and the presence of one woman in the firehouse warranted an entire subplot.
  • The sitcom Taxi only had Elaine Nardo, until late in the show's run Simka became a semi-regular.
  • The main trio of Being Human (UK) had Annie as the only female with Mitchell and George. There were a couple of secondary female characters, specifically Lauren, Nina, and Janie.
    • Although, as of now, this has been reversed. Nina has become a principal cast member and now that Aidan Turner has left the show the ratio is now two women to one man.
    • Nope. It looked like it was going to turn out that way at the end of series 3, but what with Nina and George both getting killed off and replaced by two male characters, the formula ultimately remains the same. In the show's defense, it's not that bad to only have one major female character when there are only three protagonists in total.
  • Big Wolf on Campus had Stacy for Season 1, who basically served to be Tommy's love interest and Damsel in Distress, getting kidnapped by various monsters of the week. She left and was replaced by Lori who was much more active in the monster fighting escapades. The show also used a number of female villains (or at least villains in the sense that they introduced conflict, some weren't evil), though mostly they were used for supernatural girlfriend plots.
  • In Angel, Cordelia is the only female main character for the first 2 seasons and Fred/Illyria (and while Illyria is in Fred's body, she likely has No Biological Sex anyway) is the only one for most of the fifth season before Harmony was thrown in the last few episodes. Note that this is basically the inverse of the show it spun off from, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • Scrubs started off with two females (Elliot and Carla) out of a cast of six—later seven once The Janitor was Promoted to Opening Titles. Laverne started off as the only recurring female character until formerly one-shot Jordan became an Ascended Extra, but then Laverne was Killed Off for Real in Season 6. Season 8 averted this, adding three recurring female doctors (Sunny, Katie, Denise) and two recurring non-meds in The Gooch and Lady, but the last season only had two female mains and one recurring, who only served two purposes. There were several female guest stars throughout the series, but the vast majority were just girls of the week for J.D.
  • An interesting case is the BBC's Robin Hood. For the first four episodes, Marian was the only female character, not so much because of The Smurfette Principle, but simply because there was no other reoccurring female character in the legends. This was solved with the introduction of Djaq, a Sweet Polly Oliver in the Gender Flipped role of the Saracen, who contributed her skills as a physician and scientist to the team. However, both Marian and Djaq were written out of the show at the end of Season 2, and replaced with Isabella and Kate. Although Isabella had an important part to play in the narrative, the widely-hated Kate was simply the Token Girl amongst the outlaws, a task that involved fan-girling Robin, getting kidnapped every week, and being a useless tag-along. Unfortunate Implications abounded.
  • Human Target will be adding a female character in its second season. The main characters are all guys. Please welcome this trope.
  • Homicide: Life on the Street began with only one woman, Detective Howard, in the main cast. That was a deliberate decision to reflect real-life homicide squads which were dominated by men. More women were added later on, and the show tried valiantly to avoid Fan Service by casting actresses who looked normal (by TV standards).
  • The new version of Hawaii Five-O has Kono Gender Flipped in order to have a girl among the lead characters.
  • The Big Bang Theory has five main characters: the four male nerds, and The Chick who lives across the hall.
    • However, in seasons 1 and 2, there was often Leslie Winkle acting as a female Sixth Ranger. As of Season 4, the odds have improved considerably, with Bernadette and Amy both being upgraded to main cast status for all the episodes they appear in. They still have a ways to go though: the two don't appear in every episode. Priya is also a major character, and mothers of the main characters (particularly Howard and Raj) are frequently involved.
  • Red Dwarf had an all-male main cast for Series I, II and VI, but Holly had a sex change for Series III, IV and V, while Kochanski was the only main female for most of VII and VIII (Holly reverted to male). For part of Back to Earth, the hologram Katerina takes up the female role, Kochanski being assumed dead.
  • Pick an Idol jury. Pick any Idol jury.
    • They added Kara DioGaurdi in the eighth season, making it two male judges and two female judges. When Paula Abdul left before Season 9 she was replaced by Ellen DeGeneres. Beginning with Season 10 it's back two male judges(Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler) and one female judge(Jennifer Lopez).
    • OK, so pick any jury on any other talent show. So You Think You Can Dance: 2 men, 1 woman. America's Got Talent: 2 men, 1 woman. The Sing-Off: 2 men, 1 woman. The Voice: 3 men, 1 woman.
  • Lampshaded in Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia. In "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis." The gang are trying to figure out their roles within the group and summarise that Mac's the brains, Dennis is the looks, Frank's the muscle, Charlie's the wild card and Dee's the useless chick.
  • The Law and Order universe is always a bit prone to this:
    • On The Mother Ship, the lack of female characters lead to one of the most positive examples of Executive Meddling ever, giving us Anita Van Buren and Claire Kincaid. Ever since, there have been two women (Van Buren and Jack McCoy's current Hello, Attorney! ADA), apart from the single season in which Nina Cassidy was a detective. She was known as Detective Beauty Queen.
    • On Law and Order Special Victims Unit, Olivia Benson is very noticeably the only female detective, which, in a squad which deals with rape victims daily, seems somewhat impractical. This was diluted as the show continued, as the ADA was invariably female, and Melinda Warner was given a Promotion to Opening Titles, but it's still pretty glaring.
      • No she isn't. She is the only female detective in the main cast, except for Jefferies in Season 1 and now Rawlins in Season 13, but it is never said or even implied that she is the only female detective in the unit. Unnamed female detectives can be seen in the background. The ADA is also almost always a woman.
    • On the other hand, Law and Order: Criminal Intent is always very good about having one male and one female partner. For maximum UST.
    • Both leads on Law and Order Trial By Jury were female. And the Les Yay ran rampant.
    • Law and Order Los Angeles had a male dominated police force, though their Captain was a female. While the prosecutors rotated a bit during the season, only the ADA's assistant was ever female, exemplifying this trope in spades.
  • Amanda Keller is the only female cast member on the Australian panel/game show Talkin Bout Your Generation, not counting female guest stars.
  • NCIS stars a set of four investigators, only one of which is female at any one time.
    • They do have Abby, a lab tech who is one of three characters who has been in every episode (the other two being Gibbs and Dinozzo).
  • The X Files: for five seasons, Scully is the only female FBI agent ever seen. After that, female FBI agents are seen only sparingly (Daina Fowley, Leyla Harrison) until Monica Reyes replaces Scully on the X-Files. Scully makes reference to the hardships of working in a male-dominated profession at various points throughout the series.
  • Out of the four leads on Seinfeld, only one (Elaine) is a woman, and she was a late addition to the cast. All four do get roughly equal screen time, though.
  • Inverted on The L Word where the vast majority of the (very large) Ensemble Cast is female and there are only ever one or two major male characters at any time.
  • Constantly played straight and averted in Doctor Who, thanks to the ever changing nature of the show. Because the Doctor is male (although, he could regenerate into a girl, theoretically) writers tend to balance him out by having a female companion. Extra companions will occasionally be brought on, but their gender in completely random. Examples of multi-companion crews have been:
    • First Doctor; 50/50 for the first while. There was the Doctor and Ian, plus Barbara and Susan.
    • Second Doctor had for a while 2 boys (the Doctor and Jamie) plus one girl, Zoe. Another girl, Victoria, occasionally joined them.
    • The third Doctor was a bit of an odd case. Set on Earth, in a male dominated military organisation, there were mostly guys around. Main cast members, however, were the Doctor, The Brigadier, Harry Sullivan, and Sergent Benton, with Sarah-Jane Smith, Dr. Liz Shaw and Jo filling in the female roles.
    • Fourth Doctor companions were Sarah Jane Smith, fellow Time Lady Romana, Leela, Tegan the air-hostess, with the guys being Adric and the robot-dog K9.
    • The Fifth Doctor again had a string of mostly female companions, such as Peri and Tegan. There were guys, however, such as Adric, Turlough and the robot Kamelion.
    • The Seventh's Doctor only permanent companion was Ace.
    • For the majoirity of Nine's run Rose Tyler was the only companion, although the very popular Captain Jack Harkness came on near the end. By the end of the Russel T. Davies era all the companions from the period came back, including Martha Jones, Donna Noble, Sarah Jane Smith and Jackie Tyler for the girls, with the guys including Jack and Mickey.
    • The Eleventh's Team TARDIS could be considered 50/50, so far: You've got the Doctor and Rory, but also Amy and River.
  • |Mission Impossible (both the original and revival) never had more than one female regular at a time (though missions could and did have more than one female agent involved) - the original had Cinnamon in the first three seasons, then a revolving door of replacements in season four, Dana in season five, and then Casey for the final two seasons; in the revival Casey came first, and she was replaced by Shannon.
  • Two episodes of the original Outer Limits, "The Chameleon" and "The Invisible Enemy", have all-male casts.


Music[edit | hide]

  • Unlike other genres, it is still rare for a hip-hop label to have more than one female rapper at the same time, especially for solo acts. These women generally wind up falling into two roles: hyper-sexualized Ms. Fanservices (Trope Codifier Lil' Kim, Nicki Minaj, Trina, Shawnna, and Olivia for Bad Boy Entertainment, YMCMB, Slip-n-Slide, Disturbing tha Peace, and G-Unit, respectively) or projecting a less sexual One of the Boys image (Trope Codifier MC Lyte, Lady of Rage, Yo-Yo and Da Brat for First Priority, Death Row, Lench Mob and So So Def, respectively). Post-Lil Kim, the former category has become more prominent, though, since the late 90s, more female emcees have found a happy medium between emphasizing their vocal prowess and sexual expression (former Flipmode artist Rah Digga and Eve, from Ruff Ryders). The one-girl-to-a-team rule has notably been averted by Murder Inc. (who featured Charli Baltimore, Lil' Mo and Vita), and Def Jam which, for a short period during the 2000s hosted Foxy Brown, Lady Sovereign, Unladylike, Shareefa, and Shawnna, simultaneously.
  • In The Protomen's Mega Man Rock Opera (also known as The Protomen), Dr. Light's girlfriend Emily is the only female character to have lines.


Professional Wrestling[edit | hide]

  • This is especially glaring in WWE where of course there are far more men than women on the roster with several different divisions devoted to the men while having a separate single women's division. For a while they had two different titles for the women (one for Raw, one for Smackdown) but they have since been unified leaving the women with just one title to fight for.
    • In TNA they have a singles and a set of tag team titles for their women but in contrast to WWE, not enough women on the roster to have full fledged divisions for both. Indeed for the majority of 2010, the same woman (Madison Rayne) held the singles title and was one of the tag champions. While she was built up as a strong singles champion, the tag titles were mostly forgotten about and three months went by without the belts being defended at all. When new champions were crowned, one of them actually did not appear on TV at all after winning them and left the company a few weeks later while the other appeared once before also leaving.
  • It's a problem in both WWE and TNA that each episode of their show typically features one women's match. Often, Impact and Raw will feature two women's matches (usually the three hour Raws where there is more time) but mismatched rosters means that Smackdown has about five women while Raw has about eleven and in 2010 most of the time the women were only featured in backstage segments on Smackdown since they had to avoid being too repetitive with matches. Then of course there's the odd time where there won't be any women's matches at all.
    • Raw is a big offender since the most the women usually get for a segment overall is on average five minutes at best. 2010 had an outrageous series of weeks where a match was one minute long, the next week 50 seconds and the week after that less than 20 seconds. Though on the 3 hour Raws, the women will usually get more time for matches.
      • Rectified on the B-Show, at least after it has been established and main eventers give way to those who need more screen time. Women get as much time to wrestle here as like the men and promos as backstage segments are rare.
  • PPVs also fall victim to this since there will often only be one women's match per PPV (apart from Night of Champions when they had two titles so they had two matches; they skated around this in 2010 by having the unification match at Night of Champions) and indeed, as is often the case on the regular TV shows, a mixed tag match will often be counted as the token women's match despite the women usually taking a backseat in those matches.
  • In fairness though, while episodes will normally feature only one match, WWE and TNA do generally try to feature all their women on TV regularly. There have been cases where multiple storylines for the women have taken place at the same time with backstage segments and pairing the women with male Superstars. WWE have recently been quite good at making sure all their Divas are featured on TV regularly (without throwing them all in a multi diva tag match). NXT has been a big help with this.


Radio[edit | hide]

  • I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again featured a primarily male cast, with a single female member who played fairly stereotypical female characters.
  • Dead Ringers featured a primarily male cast, with a single female member. This allowed the male impressionists to stick to the impressions they were good at or otherwise fitted their voices (and on the TV adaptation, appearances), while the sole female impressionist had to be three times better because she had to do ALL the women.
  • When Sandi Toksvig first appeared on I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue in the 1990s, she remarked how proud she was to be 'in the long line of women who have appeared on the show' (she was the third, and the show had been running for about twenty years at that point.) This provoked considerable laughter from the audience, and a sort of 'oooh' noise from Tim Brooke-Taylor.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • While the Warhammer 40,000 fluff contains a good number of female characters, there are very few of those that can be used in-game.
    • Also, although a number of armies (in particular the Imperial Guard and the Eldar/Dark Eldar) are said to contain large numbers of women, up until recently unless a unit was overwhelmingly female the models wouldn't reflect it. More recent miniatures have started to correct this pattern, with female torsos being available in the Eldar Guardian box sets for example.
    • Space Marines cannot be female. This is handwaved, badly.
  • The fantasy origin of Warhammer 40,000, Warhammer Fantasy Battle is, if anything, worse. While it is set in a medieval society, the only women who show up in the setting are sex demons (literally), Lesbian Vampires, capricious forest spirits, evil witch elves (who abduct young males so they can bathe in their blood to become beautiful), and some nuns(?!) in a spin-off game.
  • Infinity seems to be going out of its way to avert this - most troop types have male and female miniatures available.
  • In AT-43, most armies appear to be equal-opportunity employers going by the background story, but there are basically no models of female regular troops. However, about half the special characters (who are all officers) are female, as are two out of the three released models of medics and one of the three scientist models.


Toys[edit | hide]

  • Across LEGO's various themes:
    • In Bionicle, every major Toa team is composed of five males and only one female. The same goes for the Matoran villagers; the story focuses on six One Gender "Tribes" of Matoran but only the tribe of water is female, and consequently all but two female characters are coloured blue. To make this even worse, most villainous groups of six, such as the Piraka or the Barraki, are entirely male. More Matoran tribes exist and are mentioned in the Expanded Universe: eleven male tribes, three female (Water, Lightning, and Psionics), and a tribe of Light composed of both genders (for what it's worth, the tribe of Plant Life was intended to be female, but a typo set the tribe's male status in stone forever). So it took a while, but the ratio is now somewhere around four-to-one and therefore slightly more balanced than the main ensemble tends to be.
      • When the focus shifted to the Agori race on another planet, it was established that whose tribes don't have the One Gender rule. In theory, there can be more females than there were before since no one role has to be male, and said female could be of any tribe. In practice, only one female character was introduced as a set in the one-and-a-half years of this story...and she was still the blue one. Supporting material discusses this somewhat - the story arc in question focuses on arena gladiators with survival of the race as a whole at stake (not the most feminine profession) and it's mentioned that female gladiators are generally less common because the villagers are less inclined to put their faith in female gladiators, which they perceive to be weaker. Of course, said sole female gladiator introduced really isn't at all fond of the sentiment.
    • In Life on Mars, an older theme from the Turn Of The Century, there is exactly one female character: Cassiopeia, a female Martian (distinguished from the others by her eyelashes).
    • LEGO's recent "Minifigures" series has received criticism for only having two female minifigures per series of 16. It doesn't help that they're stereotypes like cheerleaders and nurses.
      • ...and surfers, snowboarders and cavewomen.
    • LEGO themes in general get this pretty badly - compared to most, BIONICLE actually had it downright good -, to the point that the fanbase tends to get excited by the female minifigs of the Minifigures series so that they can actually have a slightly more feasible number of females in their city setup or whatever. Hell, the theme which had the best ratio was probably the Harry Potter licence, and even it downplayed every female except Hermione (with the next-most important female character, Ginny, only appearing in three sets across the decade of the line's existence; anyone else is lucky to get more than one). When The Clone Wars animated series came along, LEGO's Star Wars licence also started doing a better job with more frequently occurring female minifigs; before that, any female minifig besides Leia was something of a rarity, and even Leia was an uncommon occurrence. In fact, Padme only popped up in her handmaiden disguise until a minifigure of her in her queenly garb appeared in a 2012 set.
  • Before they became animated series, the G.I. Joe and Masters of the Universe toy lines debuted with a single female character each (Scarlett and Teela, respectively). Each added a female villain before long (The Baroness and Evil Lynn). For a while G.I. Joe added one woman per year, plus variations on the existing characters. Masters of the Universe added...one.
  • Transformers series' toy lines. All of them. Though one could argue why alien robots conform to human genders in the first place.
  • Most action toy lines in general follow this trope, generally on the basis that boys won't buy action figures of female characters. This was the reason Katara from Avatar: The Last Airbender never got an action figure despite being an Action Girl on the main cast, while a male character, Jet, who only appeared in a few episodes, managed to get one.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Dragon Quest VIII has Jessica, the only female playable character in a group of 4. She may be the Squishy Wizard but she has some of the more powerful weapon attacks. Though she does have some interesting costume changes. She's also the third character you get and the only one who can throw the big blaster spells. And there's also Princess Medea, but...
  • The Final Fantasy series has played with this trope throughout its entries:
    • Of the six character classes in Final Fantasy I, only the White Mage looks female (and the original White Wizard graphic confirms White mage as a male Bishonen). It's possible to see all of the characters as androgynous to be female and the remakes give most classes both male and female names.
    • Final Fantasy II only has two female playable characters out of ten, Maria and Leila, with the latter being one of the seven Guest Star Party Members. The core group is Two Guys and a Girl.
    • The original version of Final Fantasy III stars the all-male Onion Knights; the remake for the DS make one of them a girl.
    • Notably, every game since Final Fantasy IV has had exactly three female characters in the playable cast, regardless of the total cast size. This is explicitly referred to as the Three Females Rule in Squaresoft fan circles. This even extends to entries that don't follow The Smurfette Principle, like Final Fantasy V (three women, two men) and Final Fantasy X-2 (an all-female party of three). Note that more recent games have gravitated toward a total playable cast size of 6, thus equalizing the gender balance while still following the rule.
    • This is obvious in the crossover Dissidia. Terra is the only female on the protagonist side in the main storyline, besides the goddess Cosmos herself, entirely because the roster is composed of only the main characters of each game, and Final Fantasy VI is the only one to have a female lead. Secret fighter Shantotto does get a storyline all to herself. The side of evil is slightly fairer with Ultimecia and The Cloud of Darkness in their ranks, but the latter is questionable since "she" is technically female in physical form only and tends to talk like an old man. It has the same problem that most of the main villains in the series are male. The upcoming Dissidia Duodecim additions of Tifa Lockhart, Yuna (who was the original pick to represent her game before settling on Tidus), Prishe and Lightning alleviate this somewhat on the heroes' side, but the cast is still overwhelmingly male.
  • In the first Shin Megami Tensei, all of the Seraphim (Michael, Uriel, Raphael, and Gabriel) were presumably male, but the second game reveals Gabriel is a girl, and all subsequent SMT and Persona games featuring Gabriel retain this.
  • Wild ARMs 1 and 3 both follow this trope. Each of the two games has one playable female character (teamed up with two or three males), though Cecilia and Virginia are each portrayed as the one calling the shots.
  • Overall, the major Pokémon characters tend to lean in favor of males; only in Diamond and Pearl was a female Champion introduced, and it took until Black and White to introduce a female Pokémon Professor. In spite of this, the Gym Leaders and the Elite Four are normally reasonably balanced and the player has been able to play as a boy or a girl since Crystal.
  • Ape Escape series, Pink Monkey is one of the Freaky Monkey Five.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog was never character-heavy in its early games, but no female character was even seen until Amy Rose, who looked like a little pink Sonic in a dress. More characters have been introduced as the cast has expanded, but the majority have been male.
    • At one point, Sega tried to produce a series with "Sonic's Sister", but the effort proved unsuccessful. Perhaps because they tried to edit her into Popful Mail for localization of that game.
  • In the first installment of the Nintendo Massive Multiplayer Crossover, Super Smash Bros., the only playable female was Samus Aran (and her gender is pretty much hidden by her armor). In the next, out of 13 new characters, Super Smash Bros. Melee introduced three new females, one of whom teamed with a male character as the Ice Climbers. Super Smash Bros. Brawl didn't add any females to the cast, though it did make the gender of Samus and Sheik more visible.
  • On a related note, many other fighting games fall victim to the same problem, but not because they're drawing from other canons. It is rare to find more than a few female characters available to play out of an otherwise large collection. Generally, the female characters are also notably weaker than the male characters. This is parodied brutally in VG Cats -- here.
    • A pretty notable exception in Melty Blood, which has 14 unique characters (and a bunch of other alternate forms for those characters). Of this large cast, there are four unique males, three of them are antagonists. This may be because Melty Blood is based off of a Visual Novel.
    • Eventually averted by both of Namco's major fighting-game franchises, Tekken and SoulCalibur, which gradually developed more gender-balanced casts as they progressed. Albeit mostly for fanservice purposes...
  • The Super Mario Bros games' only recurring female character was Princess Peach, who was usually a Damsel in Distress. This changed recently, as Princess Daisy and Birdo became full-fledged main characters and the introductions of Toadette, a feminized Toad, and Rosalina, both of which were somewhat less stereotypical than Peach. The ratio still heavily favors males.
    • And Birdo? Actually, fandom and the story bits from various games are conflicted over whether Birdo is a man, woman, or transsexual. In the games it was initially a male cross-dresser, but was retconned into being female.
    • Also, some of the RPGs feature individual female characters from enemy species (e.g. Goombella the Goomba from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Bow the Boo from Paper Mario, and Kylie Koopa from Mario & Luigi: Partners In Time).
    • On the villain side, the first evil female was the single girl of the Koopalings, Wendy O. Koopa. Captain Syrup showed up later as Wario's nemesis, and some stage bosses were female (Naval Piranha). Lately the villainous ladies have become more numerous with Cackletta, the Shadow Queen, Princess Shroob and Elder Princess Shroob, Mimi, the Shadow Sirens, and Robirdo.
  • Donkey Kong Country has only a few female Kongs: Candy Kong was the first, a vaguely fanservicey monkey who helps the player. Dixie Kong was introduced as Diddy's girlfriend, simultaneously with the grandmotherly Wrinkly Kong, and Tiny Kong was the only female member of Donkey Kong 64's Five-Man Band.
    • Similarly, the Kremlings were always male in the games, and it wasn't until Barrel Blast that females were finally featured (specifically, Kass and Kalypso).
    • Donkey Kong Country Returns has no apparent females at all.
  • Many games with a four- or Five-Man Band have exactly one female. Guess which role she usually fills. Examples:
    • Billy Hatcher: four main characters, one female.
      • Billy Hatcher also only had one female chicken elder. The rest were male. In fact, her being the only female elder is noted by an NPC.
    • Crazy Taxi has four playable drivers, one woman.
    • Capcom's Dungeons & Dragons arcade series (Tower of Doom, Shadow over Mystara) has the female elf as a Glass Cannon and Lady of War, along with the male fighter, cleric, and dwarf. The latter game includes a Fragile Speedster female thief (and a male magic-user).
    • Final Fight 2 and 3 has Maki and Lucia respectively. Both are Fragile Speedster naturally, but Lucia is actually a bit stronger than Guy (the token speedster in that game).
    • Gauntlet has three male (Warrior, Wizard, Elf), one female (Valkyrie). Sequel Gauntlet Legends averts this by changing the androgynous-looking elf to a female elven Archer. Dark Legacy falls back in when adding four more characters to the exisitng four: three male (Dwarf, Knight, Jester) and one female (Sorceress). As well, the breasts on all the women became about twice the size of their heads. Seven Sorrows then goes back to the original four characters.
      • Get Medieval, a Spiritual Successor by Monolith Productions, kept a 2:2 ration by turning the Wizard into a naughty sorceress whose every line was a Double Entendre. (Okay, some were even single ones...)
    • Both Left 4 Dead games have one female in a group of three males. In the sequel, the two groups meet so it's two girls with six guys. All the NPCs in the game are male, including the zombies until the female version of the Boomer was introduced in the sequel.
  • In the Kingdom Hearts games, while there are a small handful of important female NPCs, when it comes to the playable characters, the three main characters are all male, and there's only one female Guest Star Party Member in each game; Ariel of The Little Mermaid in the first one, and Mulan in the sequel.
    • This is partially due to the constraints of the setting. How many female Disney characters could believably be adapted to combat? Even Ariel was a big stretch...though given that this is a game who managed to make Mickey Mouse a Badass, it's not impossible.
    • Well, let us not forget Organization XIII. Out of thirteen members, there is only one female (maybe Xion, the new character introduced in 358/2 Days, raises the number a little. But since she is nowhere to be seen in Kingdom Hearts II, she was probably killed off for real).
      • Xion's a confusing example, She's a replica, which doesn't even make gender matter, but she also takes the view of the memories of who's viewing her, this makes her female (A memory of Kairi) to Roxas, but Xigbar sees her as male (Ventus).
    • The main characters of Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, Terra, Ven(tus), and Aqua fall victim to this. 2 males, one female. Then it turns out that due to their fates and how the endgame plays out, Terra and Ven become decoy protagonists to Aqua somewhat...
  • Most Super Robot Wars games allow the player to choose between an equal number of male or female original characters. While this doesn't quite help the ratio among the licensed games, it makes for a more or less even mix among characters in the Original Generation series.
  • The Mega Man series, as a whole, does this constantly. There is a grand total of two female characters in the entire original series - Roll, who took until 10 to get a single plot-significant action to her name (and is never playable except as a joke—she's a housekeeping robot), and Mega Man 4's Kalinka, who exists entirely to be kidnapped. As for the villains, they had to be male because of the naming scheme—every Robot Master is called <word> Man. This has changed with the introduction of Splash Woman in 9...then 10 went back to the status quo.
    • The Capcom vs. Whatever games have their own different Unfortunate Implications concerning Roll. In Marvel vs. Capcom 2, she was such an awful Joke Character that she got her own tier. In Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, thanks to the release of Mega Man Powered Up, her moverset has a Stay in the Kitchen theme.
    • In the Ruby-Spears cartoon, Roll was more of a Faux Action Girl than a generic housekeeper. There was still the "vacuum-for-an-arm" complex she seemed to have developed, though...
    • The X series has only a couple, mostly in noncombat roles as well—Iris was Zero's love interest and apparently not a combatant (though she did fight at the end—against him, and she dies by his sword), Alia plays mission control in later games, and a few of the bosses are feminine.
      • X8 changes this slightly, as the three female operators are unlockable as bonus characters, each one emulating one of the main (male) characters to varying degrees of success. Alia isn't all that useful as she lacks X's ability to use different armor parts, but Layer is every bit as powerful (and badass) as Zero, and Palette lacks only Axl's ability to copy enemies (which is mostly used for the purpose of finding items rather than combat).
    • The Zero series began to turn the tables. The series had Ciel (the most important non-player character), Leviathan (one of the four Guardians, a Quirky Miniboss Squad that evolved), Neige, and many of the bosses and Resistance NPCs are female.
    • Finally, each of the ZX games has one male and one female protagonist—a decision that has its own problems, but at least lets girls save the Mega Man world for once.
    • The Battle Network series inherited the same problem as the original, since most of the Navis are based on original-series Robot Masters. However, there are lots of female human characters to make up for it.
      • Actually, one of the no-name NPCs you can talk to in the second game casually mentions "A cute girl like me wouldn't-", despite having a generic Navi NPC sprite ("commercial model", they're called in-game), albeit a red-hued version.
    • The upcoming Rockman Online has four announced characters: X, Zero, Duo, and Cinnamon. Guess which one's the token chick.
  • StarCraft had exactly one named female character: Sarah Kerrigan, who is betrayed but rapidly becomes the queen bitch of the universe as the Queen of the Zerg. The expansion set added the Protoss matriarch Raszagal (the only female Protoss for the next ten years). StarCraft II expands the universe a bit, including adding supporting female human characters, but with Raszagal dead, the role of "only female Protoss" is inherited by Executor Selendis, who will be the protagonist of the second expansion set.
    • Starcraft: Ghost's main character was to be a female Ghost, not unlike Kerrigan. In its cinematic, she sits in the shadows of a Dropship on the way to the battle area. A macho Marine makes a sexist comment, and is silently stared down as she leans out of the shadows and is revealed to be a woman.
  • Many early computer games would let the players choose their gender (as well as, often, other attributes like name, race and age) at the start of the game (unless you were a Featureless Protagonist, of course). As the amount of assets (graphics, voice acting, and sometimes even onscreen actors) needed to portray player characters increased, many studios discreetly dumped this feature. Modern games that let you choose a gender offer varying amounts of plot and gameplay branching as a result of the choice.
  • Fallout allowed you to choose your character's gender, but of the four recruitable NPCs only one was female. In Fallout 2 it got worse, with eight recruitable males, four dogs, a robot...and one female human, who was literally worse than useless (useless in a fight, can't gain levels, takes up a party slot and won't leave unless you kill her or sell her to slavers. The being said, some quests in the game were more easily completed if you were a woman. It is debatable whether this helps, but it certainly won't pass The Bechdel Test.
    • Fallout 3 is somewhat better in this regard, having two female recruitable NPCs who are relatively useful. However, they are still in the minority (there are three male companions, as well as a genderless (formerly male) super mutant, a male dog and a robot with a male voice).
      • Many fans believe Fawkes was a human female.
    • Fallout: New Vegas has two recruitable female characters of comparable use with a formerly female nightkin supermutant (which used to be a sweet old granny.) Four of the remaining five are males, among them a ghoul and a cybernetic mutt.
    • The Fallout Bible mentions Vault 68, populated with 999 men and only one woman, and Vault 69, with 999 women and only one man. It is never mentioned what happened in these vaults, but considering the tone of the games and the other vaults, they probably didn't end well.
  • Mass Effect applies the trope quite strongly—to entire species, not individuals. You never see a female turian or batarian, although female turians are shown in the Mass Effect: Evolution comic. It's difficult to determine the gender of elcor, volus, and hanar, but all the ones we've met have masculine voices and none have been suggested to be female. BioWare has said this was so they wouldn't have to design separate character models for each race.
  • Age of Empires later added in female villagers to the series (villagers may be either gender) in response to a lack of females in the first game. Justified Trope otherwise since virtually all other units were combatants, and everyone knows that very few past cultures allowed women to fight.
  • Rather smurfy is the Warcraft series, especially Warcraft III: Out of twelve heroes, only one, the Priestess of the Moon, is female, and the consensus is that she is the worst of them all. You mean they couldn't at least squeeze a Jaina Proudmoore lookalike in there, given that she's already a custom model representing the hero type? At least there are actually female units, so that could be a step in the right direction.
    • Looking at the races themselves, only the Night Elves have a significant amount of female units. The humans have the sorceress, orcs have nothing at all and the undeads have the banshees. And there are no female neutrals either, unless you count the High Elven archers. Oh, and in the game, the Priestess's icon is a portrait of her tiger, not the Priestess herself, unlike all the other male heroes who have portraits of their faces.
    • A few bones are thrown to the gender-equality crowd in the expansion The Frozen Throne. Three female heroes—the Warden, the Dark Ranger, and the Naga Sorceress—were added, and were at least decent.
    • The earlier games in the series had no female characters in the game. At all. Until Beyond The Dark Portal, and then you got only one: Alleria Windrunner, a unique unit and Sylvanas's elder sister.
      • Warcraft 1 had a half-orc, half-human (who was later retconned into half-Dranei) girl. Garona Halforcen was present in one mission of Warcraft 1. The Smurfette Principle in full force.
    • The Orc gender balance was also acknowledged in World of Warcraft in that the orcs actually were sexist. Despite being every bit as aggressive and strong as the men, women were denied combat roles. Thrall changed that between WC3 and WoW.
    • And that is before getting into their outfits.
  • Contrast EverQuest, where female characters seem to outnumber male ones. Both Everquest and Everquest 2's main characters, Firiona Vie and Antonia Bayle respectively, were female. Firiona's nemesis, Lanys Ty'Val, was female as well.
  • The Star FOX games follow the principle. The original game, and its remake, Star Fox 64, featured an all male membership in the title team (bad jokes about Slippy's Ambiguous Gender notwithstanding) and only one female character period—sometime ally Katt, who assisted you in Zoness and Sector Z. It wasn't until Star Fox Assault that the team gained a permanent female member: Krystal from Star Fox Adventures.
    • The unreleased Star Fox 2, however, would have added two female characters to the roster - Genki Girl Fay and Action Girl Miyu.
    • And in Command, there are a solid 4 females: Krystal, Kat, and newcomers Lucy (Peppy's daughter) and Amanda, Slippy's female love interest. There is even an all-girl mission.
    • Then we have the 1993 Nintendo Power comics with Fara Phoenix, Fox McCloud's future Love Interest.
  • All three entries of the Mother series has had three guys and one girl in the main party (or in Mother 3's case, two guys, a girl and a dog), the girl being the psychic powerhouse.
  • Four main playable characters in The World Ends With You, and you can count how many of them are female on the single hand of a blind butcher.
  • Sengoku Basara spinoff fighting only had Oichi as the only "true" playable female character of the sausage fighting fest. The rest of the girls are delegated to backup.
  • The first iteration of Street Fighter II had only one female warrior out of twelve fighters, Chun-Li. This gradually changed through the course of the series with the introduction of Cammy in Super Street Fighter II; Rose, Sakura, R. Mika, Karin, Juni and Juli in the Street Fighter Alpha series; Ibuki, Elena, and Makoto in the Street Fighter III series; and Crimson Viper and Juri in the Street Fighter IV series.
    • One of Chun-Li's win quotes in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom (which has a roughly even male/female mix) makes fun of this: "I remember when I was the only girl on the roster."
    • The cast of crossover characters from Final Fight initially featured four characters, all male, but this changed with the addition of Maki (from Final Fight 2) in the portable versions of Alpha 3.
    • Final Fight Revenge features an all-male cast, excluding (or including) Poison. As made fun in one fansite, "Ohh, and there's only one girl...Ohh wait, Poison is a transexual. Yep, there's no girls in this fighting game."
  • The Fatal Fury series introduced its first female fighter with the ninja girl Mai Shiranui in Fatal Fury 2. Blue Mary was introduced in Fatal Fury 3 to balance things out, followed by Li Xiangfei in Real Bout 2 and Tsugumi Sendo in Wild Ambition. Mark of the Wolves only had two female fighters (B. Jenet and Hotaru) out of a roster of 14 characters.
  • The Art of Fighting trilogy has a total of only five female fighters in the entire series. In the first installment, King, the sole female fighter in that game, is disguised as a male bouncer until her shirt is torn in battle. Wonder why her gender was revealed that way?
  • Despite being the flagship Action Girl of the video game world, Samus Aran of Metroid fame managed to become the Smurfette in her own series in Metroid Prime: Hunters. Six new bounty hunters were introduced, all of them male or ambiguously so. She's also the only Hunter without a unique weapon, unless you count the fact that her missiles home—but this may be due to the tendency of game heroes not to specialize than any smurfiness. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption was more fair, as one of the three new hunters was another woman.
  • In Bully, each social clique has only a single female member versus about half a dozen male members.
  • While Fire Emblem has a diverse cast of genders in most games, some of them have this problem with the villains. General Petrine of Daien is the only woman among the Four Riders, and the only other female villain in the game is Ena, who pulls a Heel Face Turn after the heroes defeat her at the capital. Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones had only Selena on the villains roster and even then Selena remains loyal to her homeland, not being one of the 3 truly evil generals. Fire Emblem (aka Rekka no Ken) was a little more balanced, though it still had more male villains than females and two of the "females" (along with one of the "males") are explicitly genderless.
  • At one time to some people, Spyro the Dragon was classified as a sexist game because there were no important female characters at first. But then along came Bianca and Elora, with the first being a sort of villain and the other just a love interest. And then there was Sheila, a female kangaroo. Even in the Legend of Spyro series, Cynder is the only important female, with no other females present, which leads to this trope heading for some very Unfortunate Implications, although false allegations of Cynder being a Mary Sue are over powering what bizarre ideas could be drawn from a universe of mostly male dragons.
  • Both Star Wars Battlefront I and II feature at least four factions and have as much as three female characters, the generic Rebel Sniper class (which is excluded in a few maps), Princess Leia, and Aayla Secura, the latter two both hero class characters limited to appear in as much as four maps (if you count Hero Assault).
    • If you own the Xbox version there is Asajj Ventress hero character from the DLC.
  • Wolfenstein 3D has one single female in both series, who is a boss that looks almost exactly like her brother and has a low voice.
  • In Diablo I, only one of the three (the Rogue) classes was female. Diablo II evened the gender balance a bit with three female classes and four male ones. Diablo III removes the problem entirely by allowing the player to be either gender for all classes.
    • Diablo I was either more or less balanced with the inclusion of the Hellfire expansion depending on how you approach it. It added the male monk class by default, plus mildly altered remakes of the Warrior and Rogue that could only be unlocked by futzing with a system file.
  • Torchlight has the same gender ratio as Diablo I (not surprising, considering the similarity between the two games and many of the same developers). Also like Diablo, the lone female happens to be the physical ranged damage dealer.
  • Every Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War game has one female character (the Eldar Farseer) and one female unit (the Howling Banshees, also Eldar), with Dark Crusade adding the Harlequin and Soulstorm introducing another female unit and the Sisters of Battle. This is justified for the explicitly all-male Space Marines and the genderless aliens, though for the other factions...not so much.
    • Somewhat misleading also, as female Farseers in lore are actually a minority, and howling banshees are 50% male (though they still wear female armor and refer to themselves as the daughters of...some elder crone chick from their mythology. Reverse is true for the other aspect warriors, it's just not obvious.)
  • Nezumi Man has Wave Nezumi, the only female boss of the eight. Kind of a coincidence then that her powers are the same element as Splash Woman's.
  • City of Heroes both plays this straight and subverts it. The main cast of NPC heroes, the Freedom Phalanx, has only two females, Numina and Sister Psyche, who ended up marrying one of the others, Manticore. The game's Teen Titans Expy, the Vindicators, is all female except two.
    • The villian groups in Paragon City are almost all male, with two exceptions (there seems to be a pattern here...), the Carnival of Shadows and the Knives of Artemis.
  • The only females in the entirety of Half-Life are the black-clad assassins that never speak and only appear in two areas. Half-Life 2 however has an equal distribution of genders amongst the random civilians and La Résistance members as well as the inclusion of Alyx, who with Episode One and Episode Two has been elevated to Main Character status alongside Gordon.
  • The playable characters in both Left 4 Dead and its sequel consist of three men and one woman - neither is The Chick, however, and they are both distinctly different from each other. This is explained as the gene to be resistant to The Virus is recessive and carried on the x-chromosome. Women need two copies of the gene, while men only need one, explaining the genetically sound 3:1 ratio.
  • Let's see, Mortal Kombat... For the first game, the creators realized they didn't have any female fighters in their roster, so they changed the character of male Kurtis Stryker into female Sonya Blade (Stryker would become a fighter after all in the third game). This made her the only female out of 7-8 playable characters and 10 fighters overall. Later games have made sure to include female playable characters from the start, with the ratio male:female about 5:1. As for the various factions and species, most of the time there are more (known) male characters than females, the exceptions being the saurians (1:1 or 1:2), the demons (2:5), and the vampires (0:1 or 1:1). Interestingly in case of the vampires, initially there were supposed to be a female and male vampire introduced in Deadly Alliance, but the male was dropped because of time constraints.
  • Drakengard: Aside from professionally Damsel in Distress Furiae, the only female character of note is Arioch. Who is a deranged, barren elf who eats children. She isn't even the worst person in the party, which includes a sociopathic mass murderer who routinely kicks his own allies in the head, a senile, racist old man, a pedophile, and a six-year-old boy who dooms the world out of petty spite.
  • Several of the Ultima games have a less-than-favorable ratio. While the eight "Companions of the Avatar" had a 4:4 ratio, the females generally had worse stats. (By design in Katrina's case, as Shepherds by design aren't supposed to excel.) The trio of Iolo, Dupre and Shamino (all male) also kept gaining prominence over other characters as the game went on. The 8th and 9th games even disallowed playing as a female main character!
  • The Metal Gear Solid series fits this trope well. In the first game, Sniper Wolf is the only female foxhound member. In the 2nd game, Fortune is the only female Dead Cell member. In the 3rd game, The Boss is the only female Cobra unit. In MGS4, Meryl is the only female member in Rat Patrol 01. And Lastly in MGS Peace Walker, Paz, Amanda and doctor Strangelove are the only female members in the MSF in terms of storyline, although you can recruit more female soldiers into your unit to even the balance.
  • Rachel Parker in the Resistance series is the only female recurring survivor.
    • Somewhat subverted with Resistance Retribution where the major issue is fighting an army of Female Chimera along with the typical Chimera mooks.
  • Chizuru, Shermie and Shion are the only female boss characters you will face in The King of Fighters series, in 96/2003, 97 and Xi respectively.
  • The Ace Combat series is a pretty bad offender (but then again, they are gaming equivalents of Top Gun):
    • Ace Combat 2 had a single significant female character, namely the optional wingwoman Kei Nagase. The other potential wingman was a Scary Black Man and the Player Character Featureless Protagonist is referred to as male.
    • The un-macekred Japanese version of Ace Combat 3 Electrosphere is, thus far, the biggest aversion of this trope in the series. In addition to the Ill MacGuffin Girl Rena Hirose, it gave us the Fitzgerald sisters, Cynthia and Fiona, who pretty much determine the late-game missions in the Neucom path. With Erich Jager, Keith Bryan, and Abyssal Dision on the male side, Electrosphere comes as close to gender parity, as an AC game can.
    • Ace Combat 04 Shattered Skies gave us Yellow 4, the Doomed Love Interest of the hero's rival, and the only female in her squadron.
    • Ace Combat 5 The Unsung War featured the other Kei Nagase, the only female in the entire game until the brief late-mission appearance of Bartlett's old flame.
    • Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War goes for a Token Enemy Female again and gives us Marcela Vasquez, the only female boss-level ace and the only woman to get her own interview. Also, out of 169 named aces in the game, only 9 are female. That's about 19 to 1 male-to-female ratio.
    • Ace Combat 6 Fires of Liberation tried to address this issue by showing a part of the story through the eyes of Melissa and Ludmila, two female refugees wandering the war-torn Emmeria, looking for their daughter and fiance, respectively. Also, it had a Token Enemy Female, Irena Dvornik, as well as allied pilot Lanner.
    • Ace Combat: Assault Horizon follows the suit with only one female character of Nominal Importance and speaking role, Janice Rehl. A Nagase lookalike is present in some cutscenes but that's sadly just a non-speaking cameo.
      • On a more meta level, Janice is so far the only playable female character in a twenty years-old series. And only for half a mission.
  • Noble Team in Halo: Reach has only one female Spartan, unless you make Noble Six female.
  • The only female in Modern Warfare is your fellow Cobra pilot "Deadly" in the first game. Obviously justified by the fact that it's a military game.
  • Anya Stroud is the only female who fought alongside Marcus in Delta Squad in Gears of War 3.
  • Depending on the game, Zelda may be the only important female character in the series. However, it is named after her.
  • In Rage, Elizabeth is the only known female Resistance member.
  • Of the gang of playable characters in Borderlands, three are male, with a fourth man driving the truck, and one is female - introduced as "The Siren," which is barely a gnat's whisker away from simply calling her "the token girl." The vast majority of enemies will be male, too. Or arguably, in the case of the skags, not sexually dimorphic.
  • A pub in Dishonored. Cracked.com's The 6 Most Bizarre Ways to Lose Popular Video Games describes it as containing "Havelock the leader, Piero the geeky inventor, and Callista the woman."


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • This is lampshaded early on in the Insecticomics where Kickback claims that viewers had complained that the comic didn't have any female characters and uses this as a justification to vote to change Laserbeak's gender to female. Somehow.
  • A Lampshade Hanging occured in this Exterminatus Now strip, along with heavy mocking and a fourth wall breakage.
  • The Order of the Stick's eponymous group consists of four males (all of whom are better in melee than ranged), one female (ranged), and an elf (whose androgyny is a Running Gag, and who isn't very good at physical combat at all), though other female characters have since become prominent supporting cast.
    • O0TS may have started out this way, but a large portion of the most recent stories have shown the personality conflicts between two very different female protagonists: Haley and Celia.
  • Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name has an almost all-male cast, with only one of the main characters a girl and another woman being a recurring villain.
  • Erin is pretty much the only female character in the Magic the Gathering webcomic UG Madness. Then again, it IS a webcomic about a game with a predominantly male player base. Erin herself is very much aware of this, and thus has a very strong drive to prove herself.
  • Inverted in Amazoness!, which is set in the mythical Amazon city of Themiskyra in which men are not allowed to step foot. The only men who have shown up so far are nameless mooks who exist only to be killed by the Amazons in battle. There is the matter of Eutropia who is biologically male but psychologically female.
  • The entire cast of Eight Bit Theater contains a grand total of four female characters (White Mage, Kary, Bahamut's witch girlfriend, and princess Sara), only one of which is a major one. She is also the White Magician Girl, not quite a main character and by a wide margin the least powerful character. However, this is almost undoubtedly a result of the source material or a deliberate parody thereof.
    • However, in the end she kills the Big Bad without the help of the men, who were too incompetent to do it themselves. This does not change the fact that every other important character is male, save one villain.
  • Inverted in Questionable Content, where Marten was for a long time the only male character in the main cast, with five female characters all making frequent appearances. The cartoonist tends to Lampshade Hanging this in the Shout Box whenever a new female character shows up: "Because all I need is another female character".
  • In Ctrl Alt Del, of the 4 people (and one penguin) living in the main characters' house, Lilah is the only female.
  • The first two arcs of El Goonish Shive are basically just Elliot and Tedd doing stuff with Sarah appearing once or twice. However, this ends up massively subverted in the end as the next three major arcs introduce five more characters, only one of which is male.
  • Inverted heavily in Drowtales, where the female characters heavily outweigh the male ones both in numbers and importance. This is a deliberate attempt to correct the male-heavy presentation of the Drow in the Forgotten Realms setting, despite their matriarchal society. It also easily demonstrates just how flexible female characterization can be at its best, and how unnecessary this trope tends to be.
  • Linda Concarne is the only female regular in Triangle and Robert. Of course, no one can accuse her of being Ms. Fanservice, since the characters are all shapes. She's a rectangle.
  • Terra the earthworm in 1/0. This is lampshaded by the fact that the Interactive Author initially didn't want any female characters because he wanted his male characters to remain romantically frustrated. When it became clear Ho Yay would be the inevitable result, he relented and added her — and made her a lesbian, so the guys would still be frustrated.
  • Six Pack of Otters is something of an interesting case. We have not yet been introduced to all six of the Otters that the title implies...but of the five that we have met, four are male. And the fifth, female Otter's presence is felt mostly by the other four (male) cast-member's reaction to her: she's not unseen, but she hasn't had a whole ton of screen-time either. Made unusual because the author of the comic is female, and the setting is a college campus (i.e. there's no particular reason that the setting should include few females).
  • Early on in Sluggy Freelance, Zoë was the only female character in the cast, and played the role of Only Sane Man compared to the zany Riff & Torg and the Sociopathic Hero Bun-bun. Later on, however, Zoë's friend Gwynn joined the cast, as did female alien Aylee and female talking ferret Kiki. Combined with plenty of women being among the Loads and Loads of Characters, this trope hasn't been in effect for some time.
  • To the extent that Xkcd has regular characters at all, Megan is the only female one. (And since it's a Stick Figure Comic, if she weren't called by name now and then the only way to tell would be by her hair.) Though by the same token, there's no way of knowing the stick figures with no indicated gender are male either.
  • Homestuck does an excellent job of averting this. Of the twenty major characters, exactly half are female. This tends to hold true for minor character groups (such as the Denizens and, to a lesser extent, the guardians) as well. The only places where it's in effect are the Midnight Crew (0:4) and the Felt (1:14).


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Chain of Hearts tends to have a large imbalance of the male-to-female ratio. Granted, there are plenty of female characters (as the cast is massive), though this is overshadowed by the fact that the most powerful characters are male.
    • Inverted in the recent arc "The Watchers". The title organization has about nine members, and only one of them is male. He's the second-in-command, and is often teased by the female members for being the only guy. But this is probably the author's subversion and attempted attack on the Smurfette Principle. It seems to go against the themes of previous arcs, but The Watcher arc is written by a different author (the other arcs alternate between three other guys).
      • Oddly, the author behind The Watcher arc has a tendency to make fun of the other three authors by writing characters that are presented as male at first, but turn out later to be female...
  • Homestar Runner has Marzipan as its only female character. The fact that it uses such a Minimalist Cast makes her the only female character in the universe. She lampshades this fact in the page quote, found here. The creators of have repeatedly tried to add another female to the cast, but have never been satisfied that they've found a good enough concept to justify it, aside from the sake of adding another girl. This was spoofed in a special feature on the "Everything Else vol. 2" DVD, Why Come Only One Girl?.
    • The commentary to Why Come Only One Girl? points out that Teen Girl Squad eventually became their "new female outlet".
    • The Cheat Commandos, as a parody of '80s cartoons, do this explicitly with "Foxface", whose action figure boasts "Lady Type!" and "Not One of The Guys!!" The latter is a direct reference to the token females of G.I. Joe. Even then, Foxface has never had a speaking part (though Crack Stuntman's girlfriend got a brief speaking part as a character in one episode.)
  • In Red vs. Blue, Tex is very much aware that she's the only girl, until another is introduced in the fifth season. She also gets notably huffy when Donut is mistaken for a girl because of his new pink armor, and her teammates imply that she's not a "real" girl. She's also, undoubtedly, the biggest Badass of the show.
  • The Nostalgia Chick talks about this in a video titled "The Smurfette Principle". At that point, she was also an example of it, though two other women joined the site at the same time, and That Guy With The Glasses, as a site, has gone on to build a larger female cast.
  • Most videos on Cracked.com have a single female.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender suffered this trope in its first season, where the only female character of any importance was Katara, while the other heroes, villains, and vast majority of minor characters were male. This was fixed in the second season, with the introduction of more female characters, including another girl joining the core group, making an even ratio of two males to two females...not counting the (male) team pets, Momo and Appa. Early production notes for the series indicate that they just barely dodged this trope - Toph, Azula, and pretty much everyone besides Katara was male in the original draft. Remember that large male earthbender in the opening who never appeared in the show? That was supposed to be Toph.
    • They later made an effort to keep it that way because after Zuko completed his Heel Face Turn and joined the Gaang; just three episodes later Suki joined them too.
      • On a smaller scale, Toph Bei Fong appears to be the only female competitor in the Earth Rumble VI.
      • In the spinoff series The Legend of Korra. Even if most of the cast is male, the lead is female, something that is pretty rare for an action-oriented children's series aimed at a general audience. Other female characters in Korra are Tenzin's two daughters Jinora and Ikki, his non-bender wife Pema, Da Chief of Republic City Police, who is Toph's daughter, and at least one appearance of old!Katara. Badass Normal women also exist, and even Korra's polar bear-dog Naga is a female.
  • Examples from Hanna-Barbera:
    • All of H-B's Talking Animal characters were male until Cindy Bear was introduced.
    • Penelope Pitstop was the only woman not only in Wacky Races, but also in her own series.
    • The animated series of The Little Rascals consisted of four boys and Darla Hood, although this is probably a legacy from the original shorts, where the boys were firmly in their "Girls Have Cooties" stage.
    • For the first season of Shirt Tales, Pammy Panda was the only female in the group. When the show channel hopped for its second season, a female kangaroo was added to the cast.
    • Jonny Quest
      • In the original series, Jezebel Jade was the only female character to appear in at least two episodes. Several episodes had all-male casts.
      • The 1980s version introduced Jessie Bradshaw to the all-male cast of the original series. She was meant to be a recurring character, but only appeared in the last episode before the series' cancellation. She would return in the two follow-up made-for-TV animated movies, which retconned/revealed her to be Race Bannon's daughter. In the 90's update, she was made a main character.
        • Unfortunately, it also reinforced the stereotypes about women as motherly and men as inept parents when it turned Dr. Quest from a loving, nurturing father into an odiously stereotypical "clueless male" dad who could not possibly be nurturing specifically because he was not a female.
  • In most series in the Superfriends franchise, Wonder Woman was the only female hero. The creators of Justice League tried to rectify this by adding Hawkgirl rather than Hawkman in the opening season. When Justice League Unlimited rolled around, the writers made sure the new, obscure characters included were both male and female.
    • The Superfriends in Season 1 attempted to mitigate this a little by adding Wendy. But she was the Smurfette of her heroes-in-training subgroup. Marvin and Wonder Dog, so named as an honorific to Wonder Woman, are both male.
      • It's notable, however, that Wendy was usually the more competent detective of the trio, being very much the Velma to Marvin & Wonderdog's Shaggy & Scooby.
    • In the subsequent seasons, Jayna of the Wonder Twins was added, but she was still the Smurfette of her own subgroup, as co-Wonder Twin Zan and Team Pet Gleek were also both male.
  • Looney Tunes tried repeatedly to add female characters to the cast, with little success, for reasons noted above.
    • That's not to say that there were no female characters originally. Tweety's owner is always referred to as Granny. In fact, she had a classic WB cartoon named for her, "Tugboat Granny". So, she is a named character and is an important part of the Warners mythos. Most notably, in modern adaptations, she's the caretaker of the Baby Looney Tunes.
    • Poor Penelope Pussycat. No one ever remembers her name...
      • That's because she didn't have a name in the original Pepe Le Pew cartoons—or rather, she did, but it changed every cartoon. She was "Fabrette" on "Really Scent," Fifi in "Two Scents Worth," and other times, she was just a nameless cat who got painted and is left to be chased and harassed by this horny skunk.
      • The only time she was named Penelope during The Golden Age of Animation Looney Tunes was in 1954's "The Cat's Bah" (which is where they got the name of Penelope for her when she was brought back in "Carrotblanca.")
    • Don't forget Witch Hazel!
    • Petunia Pig is Porky's girlfriend, but she had a much more prominent role in the Looney Tunes comic books and merchandise than she ever did on screen, having only ever appeared in a handful of animated shorts.
    • Then there's Mama Bear in Chuck Jones' "Three Bears" series (there pretty much had to be.) She's passive and deadpan (compared to her violent husband and idiot son), but that's what makes her hilarious.
    • More success was found with its successor shows, Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs, and Histeria!: The first has Babs Bunny, who was Buster's equal in every way, as well as Shirley The Loon, Fifi LaFume, Merrie Melody, and so on. The second had Dot Warner (who was, of course, the only female Warner sibling, but she went to some effort to make sure she was not forgotten by adding "...and the Warner sister, Dot!" whenever an opportunity came up), and Slappy Squirrel. (Interestingly enough, the Warner Brothers were originally supposed to be a trio of brothers (Smakky, Wakky, and Yakky), with a mischievous little brother character instead of Dot, who was only supposed to be a minor recurring character of "the Warner Cousin". A woman on the production team finally asked that the characters be two male and one female and Wakky and Smakky were merged into Wakko.) And the third had Miss Information, Charity Bazaar, Aka Pella, Pepper Mills, Cho-Cho, Susanna Susquahanna, Lydia Karaoke, and the World's Oldest Woman in their regular cast.
      • A first season episode of Tiny Toons, "Fields of Honey", actually revolved around Babs trying to find a female Looney Toon who could serve as her mentor. It turned out to be a black-and-white era character, Honey, whose comic schtick was not unlike hers; she had simply been forgotten. But note that in Real Life, Honey existed—and she was merely Bosko's girlfriend and was nothing like the one portrayed here.
    • Still around, though not really successful: Lola Bunny, introduced in Space Jam. Most classic Looney Tunes fans have a lot of not-so-nice things to say about her, mostly because her addition into the otherwise all-male Looney Tunes roster feels so forced. The Looney Tunes Show has improved this.
      • Her predecessor, Honey Bunny (no relation to Bosko's girlfriend Honey), was a staple of the old Gold Key and Whitman Looney Toons comic books for years and years. Sadly, Honey seems to have been largely forgotten since Lola was introduced.
  • Most of the older Disney cartoon canon are male, and the females are often just stereotypical female versions of existing male characters, such as Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck. Minnie's The Chick alright, but Daisy is pretty cool for her time, kinda Tsundere-like.
    • In the 1980s, Disney briefly tried to revive the classic Disney characters through such madness as making Donald a skateboarder and Goofy a fighter pilot a la Top Gun. However, there was a considerable upshot to this: Minnie Mouse became a far more interesting character than she'd ever been after fifty years of being "Mickey's girlfriend". As a matter of fact, she mimicked the young Madonna (in a kid-friendly way, of course). She had her own "Totally Minnie" album (much Better Than It Sounds), her own television special, and...very quickly and sadly devolved back into The Chick once this was all scrapped and Disney fired up the cutesy-poo "Minnie and Me" merchandise line, where she once again donned her polka-dot dress and giggled over Mickey. Sigh...
    • Minnie got revamped again for the House of Mouse series, and while Mickey was still the "boss", as the club's owner and emcee, more often than not Minnie was the one giving him orders, being the show producer and club accountant, and very competent at the job. Sadly, again, this didn't last, and once the next series came around, she was again The Chick. House of Mouse also resurrected Clarabelle Cow as a recurring character, and commonly featured female musical guests, though the ratio was still heavily in favor of the guys.
  • In Transformers, you can count the female Transformers who appeared more than once in a series on both hands. A list of all female Transformers can be found here.
    • This isn't helped by long-time Transformers comic writer Simon Furman, who writes Transformers as having no gender and has publically stated that he hates the idea of female Transformers. This, combined with the fact that Jhiaxus' experiments in giving Transformers gender made Arcee both a female and Ax Crazy brings up some Unfortunate Implications.
    • Admittedly, it is a show about alien robots who technically wouldn't have genders. This is however not a good excuse for cutting out the characters designed to look female, or cancelling their toys. Also, Furman seems to think "no gender" means male by default. Literally, it would mean that there's no reason Optimus Prime can't be female!
    • On a smaller scale, Animated Starscream's female clone (named Slipstream, according to Word of God) is the only female in a flock of five. No, they won't tell us why.
    • The Allspark Almanacs have added a few more girls, but they also include the Omega Sentinel roster - out of twelve "Greek-letter-Supremes", only one confirmed female, and she was assigned to a rearguard action for most of her lifespan.
  • Despite the fact that market research indicated that the female characters were among the most popular characters in G.I. Joe, a project to add a black woman to the team was dropped when Hasbro decided that "female action figures would be poor business". In the end, the character didn't even get a name.
    • However, the GI Joe Reloaded comic series did have a black woman—which they achieved by taking one of the few black characters, Doc, and making him into a her, bringing the total of the female characters in the series to four. Nice conservation of minority slots, Devil's Due.
    • Devil's Due's G.I. Joe: Declassified series also (sort of) added a black female member to the Joe team. One of the early Marvel G.I. Joe comics showed someone looking at a list of team members on a computer, including the never-seen "Shooter" (an in joke based on the name of Marvel's then editor-in-chief, Jim Shooter). Over 20 years later, the Declassified series revealed that Shooter was actually a black woman, who was the original G.I. Joe team's sniper. Her presence on the team was so top secret that even the other Joes didn't know about her...and consequently didn't realize they were leaving her behind as they fled an about-to-explode Cobra base at the end of their first mission. (She got shot moments before the base exploded, so the Joes weren't directly responsible for her death.)
  • The only female in Winnie the Pooh is Kanga, a mother, who isn't seen nearly as much as her own son. Although this makes perfect sense, given the fact that it's based on a little boy's stuffed animal collection.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987 has the character of April O'Neil, their female friend who sometimes helps out the four superheroes but generally just gets kidnapped. Later, there was an attempt to add a female turtle named Venus to the franchise, but she wasn't received well and has been soundly ignored ever since. The 2003 series gives April a much more action-oriented role (as well as that of Cool Big Sis to the Turtles) as the series progressed, with her wisely taking lessons from Splinter.
    • In the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures published by Archie and loosely inspired by the old cartoon, April was far less damsel-y, even to start, and eventually received lessons from Splinter as well. In later issues she was more than once depicted as competent fighter. Another major female character, Ninjara, is also worth a mention as an exception to this trope.
    • April's Action Girl role was fully realized in the CG movie. While not nearly as in the spotlight as the turtles, she was now considered a fully trained ninja, fighting alongside the turtles and Casey Jones with a katana.
      • In addition the character of Karai was given a significant role, adding another female warrior to the cast.
    • The Fast Forward series also features only one girl, Starlee.
  • The animated film of Watership Down cut three bucks from the starting main cast and included a doe named Violet. Nonetheless, the only purpose of her existence is to show that things are, indeed, serious by being caught by a hawk. The television series "addresses" the gender imbalance by making the clever one, Blackberry, a doe.
    • In the original book, the gender issue was dealt with as just the way rabbits think. They're not human. They can't wrap their minds around a board that floats on the water. They pass countless dangers and finally locate the perfect new home, settle down to start a colony, and realize, "Oh, damn, we forget to bring any women." Which is the impetus for the second half of the story ("Shoot, we better find someone to bear our kits").
    • It's also worth noting that in the sequel, Tales from Watership Down, some females do get larger roles. A story about a doe-led warren is told, and the doe Hyzenthlay becomes co-leader of the Watership Down rabbits. This was author Richard Adams' specific response to complaints that the first book was too testosterone-centric.
  • For all their perfection, one major complaint about Pixar is the lack of films that have passed the test:
    • Toy Story's main cast includes a young boy's toy collection, with predictably male-oriented rather than girls' toys. Bo Peep was the only female in the cast, a domestic woman and Shallow Love Interest with no part in the main action. The second and third films even out the gender inequality, though not by much.
      • Even though Toy Story 3 had many more female characters than the other two, I think it should be worth mentioning that Andy got rid of Bo Peep.
    • A Bugs Life, despite having a few female royalties, is guilty of the Insect Gender Bender; biology dictates its protagonist should have been female. The Seven Samurai-esque troupe has a 3:1 (6:2) male-to-female ratio.
    • The only major female characters in Monsters, Inc. are a little girl with limited dialogue, the forgettable love interest Celia, and Roz the undercover CDA agent, who has little screen time. The ratio is 4:2.
    • Finding Nemo has 9:3.
      • The writer explains on the DVD commentary that in fact Dory was originally male until he saw Ellen DeGeneres on television and realised that was the sweet-but-scatty tone he was looking for.
    • The Incredibles averts this by being demographically balanced (main cast: two female, two male; supporting cast: one each; villains: one each). Also, each of the adult females are shown to be independently competent, and the main villain finds out that treating his female ally like an expendable resource will have consequences.
    • Cars: the ratio is 9:3.
      • In the first film, the racecar sponsoring RevNGo is actually the only female competing in the Piston Cup, and in the sequel, Carla Veloso, the Brazilian racecar is the only female competing in the World Grand Prix.
    • There are no female rats in Ratatouille (at least not any with a speaking role). Remy's family consists of a father and a brother. The major human female character, Colette, is very much aware that she is the only female chef in the restaurant and in a definite minority in the profession in general. She was forced to claw her way up and as a result, feels that she has to be tough and defensive to succeed in a career she worked so hard for. However, when her protégé, Linguini (and secretly Remy the Rat as well), make it clear that they deeply respect her expertise, she softens to become a good friend and more later on.
      • Truth in Television for the culinary profession—pro kitchens are still very male and beyond that the work environment encourages people to be...brusque is a good word. It's not a job for shrinking violets.
      • A female rat does speak to Remy at the end of the film. She only gets one line, though.
    • WALL-E has 4:2, plus a male-sounding text-to-speech program for the autopilot.
      • Actually, there is a third female character in WALL-E. D-Fib has been confirmed as female in obscure media.
    • Up has 4:2 (4:1 living).
    • Brave (in development) has 1:3. However, this will be Pixar's first movie with a main female protagonist.
  • The 80s cartoon series He Man and The Masters of The Universe followed this trope, having only two females (Teela and the Sorceress) in the main cast of heroes (the villains had one too: Evil-Lynn). They were also the only inhabitants of the planet immune to the steroids in the water supply.
    • Heck, in the original comics that came with the toys, before the cartoon series, Teela WAS the Sorceress.
    • Its spinoff series She Ra Princess of Power was basically the same show with the gender ratio reversed to appeal to female viewers. Oddly enough, the one male (Bow) was dramatically less muscular than the weakest character in He-Man. Apparently an all-female planet had no need for steroids.
  • On Dragon Booster, the main cast is made up of three males (Artha, Parm, and Lance), and one female (Kitt). Though initially a rival to Artha (and with potential to grow as a character), Kitt eventually devolved into a cheerleader for Artha who was consistently beaten in any kind of race (despite the fact that she had more experience at racing than Artha, who didn't want to race at all at the start of the series) and only ever did anything plot-wise by getting mind-controlled or kidnapped. There were other female characters, including a few crew leaders, but, like Kitt, they took a back seat to the males.
    • The "Kitt can never win" issue might have some strange connection to the advertising trope where you can't show a girl winning a board game, for fear that it'll be less appealing to boys.
  • Inverted in the Italian cartoon Winx Club: even if there are some important male characters among the Bad Guys (Darkar and Valtor above all), good male characters that attend the Specialist school usually serve as Love Interests for one of the extra powerful fairies for the most part, even if they are given much more space and development than your usual Smurfette in male shows. There's even a magical race (the Pixies) composed entirely of females (they are generated by a Magical Tree). Specialists are totally forgotten by toy manufacturers.
  • The Railway Series, the series of books on which Thomas the Tank Engine was originally based, featured just two female engines, Daisy and Mavis, neither of whom were exactly strong characters. The TV series added more female engines in later series, such as Emily, Molly and Rosie, but they are still by far the minority.
    • However, coaches such as Annie and Clarabel were always female. Which, given that the coaches couldn't even move without an engine's help, made things worse.
  • Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! began with Nova as the sole female, adding Jinmay later. But this may have been intentional as the show was a partial Homage to super robot anime's Five-Man Band style, and Chiro's love interest couldn't very well be a monkey.
    • This led the fangirls of the four monkey males (especially Antauri) to pair themselves up with them by creating robot monkey Author Avatars. Which leads, on the other hand, to loads of Die for Our Ship (or pairing her up with the other male monkeys) towards Nova (if the fangirl pair herself up with Sparx), and a few Crossover Ships.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers had up to five female main characters: Gaia the Spirit of the Earth, Eastern European Planeteer Linka, Asian Planeteer Gi, Mad Scientist Dr. Blight, and Evil Poacher Mame Slaughter.
  • Legion of Super Heroes started the show with female Legionnaires Saturn Girl, Phantom Girl, and Triplicate Girl. And then, in Season 2, the powers that be decided that male viewership would be put off by so many girls, so the girls were incapacitated and/or inexplicably sidelined for many episodes. Particularly irritating, as the Legion has Loads and Loads of Characters with a fairly even gender—and species—balance, and the comics have always averted this trope even all the way back to The Silver Age of Comic Books! The addition of Shrinking Violet in the same season was a very small counterbalance.
  • The final season of The Batman featured the Justice League of America, so every other episode was a crossover with a League member. Unfortunately, the League was a boy's club; no Wonder Woman, Black Canary, Vixen, Huntress, or any other DC heroine. Worse, Batman always brought Robin along on these adventures; never Batgirl, despite her being his first sidekick (in this show anyway), and older to boot. Granted, they at least wanted to have Wonder Woman, but the rights to the character were not available.
  • Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light, which had Galadria on the heroic Spectral Knights, and Virulina on the evil Darkling Lords.
  • In The Land Before Time, the ratio of male to female was originally going to be 4:1. The character Cera was originally going to be male, thus being a basic rival for Littlefoot, while Ducky would have been the only female and a fairly stereotypical one at that. However George Lucas realised that Cera's gender had no real bearing on the plot and asked if Cera could be a female—but keeping the character's personality exactly the same. The result was a memorably less clichéd female character and an unusual (for the time) male/female rivalry.
  • Rocko's Modern Life had no major female characters outside the wife of the Cranky Neighbor, Bev Bighead, until Affirmative Action Girl hook-for-a-hand-pirate-style Dr. Hutchinson was created as a love interest for Filburt. They wanted a female with a hook, you see.
  • Cheetara of the Thundercats. There was also Wily-Kit, but she was a pre-teen Wondertwin, one of a pair of Tagalong Kids.
    • Another female, Pumyra, was added in Season 2...along with two more male characters.
  • In Spiral Zone, the heroic Zone Riders and evil Black Widows have one female member each.
  • Gargoyles had Elisa Maza (a human) as the only main female character for a long time, and Demona its sole female antagonist. Both are pointedly not The Chick however, and more female characters were added throughout the show's run (Angela, Fox, Titania, etc.)
  • In Back at the Barnyard, there are only two cow characters that are biologically deserving of the udders they all retain. Naturally, they're left out of most of the action, instead mainly offering level-headed advice that no one takes to.
    • As well as Ella, Maddie, and a number of female extras.
  • The Fairly OddParents-Wanda is the only female in the Comic Trio. She either nags or offers advice. Cosmo and Timmy don't treat her very well (marriage jokes, gets called a nag etc).
    • Sometimes it depends on the writer, since some episodes show Timmy as The Hero but Wanda as the one who gets to say "I told you so!" Besides, with the many girl characters for Timmy to be paired with (Tootie, Trixie, Veronica, Vicky for some people), Timmy's mom, the principal Ms. Waxoplax, the ratio is probably about even (if anyone was willing to count it!)
  • Oban Star Racers: Odd example played straight. The only prominent female character is Eva/Molly, the main character. This is somewhat justified among the humans because of Race Manager Don Wei's belief that women shouldn't be racers. However, Eva is strong willed and independent, and the few flashbacks we see of her mother show us that Eva's mom, a star racer killed in a crash, was also strong willed.
  • Batman the Brave And The Bold suffers from this heavily. The only female characters we've seen by the end of the first season have been Fire (who barely had a full minute of screentime), and Katana who appeared in one episode and didn't speak until the end.
    • The series' director addressed this in an interview on Toonzone recently; since the series would have an accompanying toy line (see trope description way back up at the top) they consciously focused on the male heroes for the first 13 episodes. The second season not only includes Huntress, but Black Canary as well.
  • Shao Lin is the only female monkey on Captain Simian and The Space Monkeys, with the exception of Lilith, who was in fact an android so she doesn't count. The number of female cast is very low, so that when a female character appears she is very noticeable. Interestingly enough Shao Lin is a bona fide Action Girl, the most skilled in martial arts and The Captain's second-in-command.
  • Susan/Ginormica is the only woman in the main cast of Monsters vs. Aliens ("We are in the presence of the rare female monster."). However, she is the main character and has the most Character Development of anyone else, going from The Chick to Action Girl. The rest of the female characters are in small, stereotypical roles, with the exception of the girl making out in a car, which reverses the usual role by being more assertive than her milquetoast boyfriend.
    • The jury is still out on whether Insectosaurus is female or not, since he/she has eyelashes in his/her final form as a butterfly. Even so, the ratio of female monsters to male would still be 2/5.
  • Storm Hawks has one girl (of the Closer to Earth variety) on the Five-Man Band. However, it mitigates the trope with a female recurring character who has been invited to join the team several times (she's something of a Sixth Ranger), and a female Big Bad as well as one major female minion (but the male Dragon gets the most villain screentime).
  • Danny Phantom is actually pretty good about balancing the main and/or important characters between genders. We get the males Danny, Tucker, and Jack. The female range are Sam, Valerie, Jazz, and Maddie—none of whom fits in the stereotypical The Chick role and are strong female characters in their own rights. If you want, you can also add in males Lancer and Dash, but slightly balanced with Paulina. Though this only counts for the good guys. The villains have more males then females.
  • Street Sharks had Lena, who acted as a spy and collected information for the guys (and sprung them from traps whenever they got kidnapped). She mostly vanished towards the end though.
  • El Tigre is really bad about this. The only regular female character is the considered highly annoying Frida Suarez, and all the male characters frequently display cliche Latino machismo in all its glory. (For example, "Rivera men never back down", 'COWARDS?!, and of course, the "Rivera...Super...Macho...BLITZ!") Maria is either a timid, hyperventilating Damsel in Distress or a crazy Knight Templar, the Flock all pine over the Rivera man of their particular age group, and no one honors the female Riveras in Dia de los Muertos. It still rocks, though. And I guess it gets points for the most powerful villain being a (long dead) woman.
  • Xiaolin Showdown - Kimiko is the only female on the Xiaolin side, while Kannappe, Wuya, Clay's sister, and the evil mermaid make up the Heylin (evil) side. This almost seems to imply that Kimiko is the only female member because she is the exception to the rule of females automatically calling for the side of evil.
  • Phineas and Ferb sort of counts: despite a half-dozen Fireside Girls, Isabella is the only girl in Phineas and Ferb's group with any significant personality. The creators have since developed the Fireside Girls a bit more, and there are plenty of other notable female characters, particularly Candace, Stacy, Linda, and Vanessa.
  • KaBlam!!'s male cast (that was included in over three episodes) consisted of Henry, Mr. foot, and Mr. Stockdale (starting Season 4). "Over three appearances" girl? June. However, she wasn't the stereotypical chick, as she was just originally a dumber, over-excited, female version of Henry.
    • Action League NOW's only main female was Thundergirl, and Justice (the dog) since it switched from male to female in some episodes.
  • The cartoon adaptation of Martin the Warrior averted this by changing the normally 3:1 ratio to 2:2, by making Pallum the Hedgehog a girl.
  • On Jimmy Two Shoes, Heloise is the only regular female character. This is noteable in the title sequence, where she's the only female in the final group shot at 5:1. Recurring characters Saffi and Jez ease this a bit, but they still tend not to have much of a role.
  • The extent to which the principle is used in The Simpsons is debatable. The family itself definitely doesn't suffer, with more females than males. However, aside from the Simpsons and Bouviers, Mrs. Krabappel is the only female character whose development and importance in the overall series (e.g, the number of episodes in which she is a main character) is on par with the dozens of supporting male characters. All the other women are wives, mothers, or classmates of more important characters. This can be overlooked, though, as there are a lot of female guest stars and one-time characters.
  • The BOTS Master has this too. The good guys have two girls in their ranks: Blitzy, ZZ's kid sister, and Swang, the only (confirmed) female boyzz out of twenty. There was once another female introduced, Momzz, but she semi-died by the end of the episode. The bad guys are a bit better in that respect. With only three individuals in the core group, the one female among them has a relatively bigger input.
  • Hero: 108's Mystique Sonia is the only confirmed female member of First Squad.
  • Played straight on Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, as Niko was the Action Girl, and had the stereotypical Psychic Powers. Series creator Robert Mandell attempted to compensate by keeping the Distress Ball evenly passed and by throwing in some awesome guest characters, such as Daisy O'Mega and Audra Miles. The Big Bad of the series was a case of God Save Us From the Queen, and a truly dangerous threat.
  • WITCH inverted this heavily, though the animated version of the series was not as bad as the comic version. By the time the cartoon ended, there was a 1:1 ration for guys/girls (Will, Irma, Cornelia, Taranee, Hay Lin/Caleb, Blunk, Matt, Mr. Huggles, Napoleon). The comic is a 5:1 ratio (The girls to Matt) - it was 5:2, but then the Oracle was Put on a Bus. The rest? Caleb's also Put on a Bus, Blunk doesn't exist here and Mr. Huggles died early on.
  • Played with in the "You Got F'ed in the A" episode of South Park, when Stan is putting together his dance team.
  • The two recent Disney films, The Princess and the Frog and Tangled are ostensibly aimed at girls, and have female lead characters, but otherwise they both have 1:3 female-to-male ratio—female lead, male Love Interest and co-lead, two male (animal) supporting characters. Then one woman in a supporting role (a mentor in Princess, a villain in Tangled). Princess does slightly better, featuring Tiana's mother and her supportive friend, Charlotte.
  • Until the very end of the premiere of Young Justice there are no females, and for several episodes thereafter there's only Miss Martian. Even with Artemis there's still a pretty noticeable disparity. Although the group's "den mother" and combat trainer is Black Canary, and an aged-down Zatanna has appeared as a Guest Star Party Member for a few episodes.
  • Men in Black: The Series had Agent L. Few other female agents were seen, fewer still had any dialogue.
  • For the entire first season of Regular Show, there was only one female in the cast: Margaret the cardinal. She only appeared in three episodes, one of which was only via dream sequence. However, Season 2 has introduced another female character, and both of them are getting considerably more screen time.
  • The Venture Brothers is generally a boys' club—the only female character to appear semi-regularly is the villainess Dr. Girlfriend (whose gender is sometimes debated for some reason), Dark Mistress / The Dragon to The Monarch . The series also has Molotov Cocktease as a villainess/Brock's love interest who appears at least once a season, but has possibly been Killed Off for Real at the end of Season 4. Triana Orpheus is popular with the fanbase but rarely appears and as of Season 4, no longer lives in the Venture compound.
  • Family Guy Presentslaugh It Up Fuzzball spoofed how few major original trilogy Star Wars characters were women.

Chris/Luke: A sister! Who is it?
Herbert/Obi-Wan: Who do you think it is? Who's the only goddamn woman in the galaxy?


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Reversed in Federal Civil Service, with some agencies like the Forest Service being 70% or more female due to Affirmative Action. Ironically due to executive meddling of another kind in 1993, qualifications were waived for the typical middle and high level manager in most agencies, resulting in more than half of Federal Civil Service not meeting the educational requirements and/or time in grade required in 2011. The typical situation under the Clinton Administration was to give National Forests, BLM Districts, Field Offices and similar high level positions to secretaries and aides, raising them as many as 11 paygrades overnight. It's not uncommon for entire offices to be women and to have them composed of "scientists", "engineers" and so on that do not have a degree in the field they represent.
  • Venus, the only planet named after a goddess.
  1. Attract causes foes of the opposite gender to fall in love with them.