Unfortunate Implications/Literature

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Important Note: Just because a work has Unfortunate Implications does not mean the author was thinking of it that way. In fact, that's the point of it being unfortunate. So, please, no Justifying Edits about "what the authors really meant." The way an author handles a trope is an important factor here; handling a trope in a clumsy manner can certainly create unintentional impressions for readers. Likewise, if a work intends the offensive message (for example, a piece of Nazi propaganda about Jews), it wouldn't count. Also, for something that may not be offensive to you personally but may offend others in a different culture or time period, see Values Dissonance.


J. R. R. Tolkien and his works (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, etc)[edit | hide | hide all]

  • J.R.R. Tolkien struggled for his entire life with how to reconcile his strict Catholicism (which viewed evil as an inherently uncreative force, and emphasized personal free will) with a race that was Exclusively Evil - namely the Orcs. He never found an answer that satisfied him and apparently Hand Waved the issue by saying that the halfway-decent Orcs are just not the ones we see.
    • Looking broadly, some critics charge Tolkien was racist because of the trend in The Lord of the Rings for western and northern "white" people (Gondor, Rohan) being "good" in opposition to eastern and southern "non-white" people (Harad, Rhun, Khand) being "bad". But a closer and thorough reading reveals the former aren't all or always good and neither are the latter all or always bad. His views on race and evil, both in and out of universe, are better understood after reading The Silmarillion and assorted supplementary material like Unfinished Tales, The History of Middle-earth and especially his Letters.
    • More specifically, some critics have claimed Tolkien was racist because of his description of Orcs in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien: "... they are (or were) squat, broad, flat-nosed, sallow-skinned, with wide mouths and slant eyes; in fact degraded and repulsive versions of the (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types." Other critics have noted Tolkien's modifier "(to Europeans)" meant he recognized different cultures have different standards of beauty (being that Mongolians are the "least lovely" to Europeans). The statement isn't "Orcs are Mongolians" but "Orcs look like degraded and repulsive versions of to-us-unpretty Mongolic physical shape." But any way you slice it, that statement isn't Politically Correct by modern standards.
    • In The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, the author once compared his Dwarves to Jews - "at once native and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country, but with an accent due to their own private tongue." In a radio interview, he said the Dwarf language was modeled to be Semitic. Though he was speaking in specific terms, as a Jewish Journal article has noted, Unfortunate Implications are there for those who want to see them - the Dwarves' main weakness as a race is their lust for riches. However, Tolkien is on record as having praised the Jewish people in a spectacular Take That against Hitler-era German publishers seeking to publish The Hobbit, when they inquired whether he was of Aryan descent: "I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by 'arisch'. I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. ... But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people..."
    • In a letter to his English publisher regarding the above, Tolkien also wrote: "...I have many Jewish friends, and should regret giving any colour to the notion that I subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine".

C. S. Lewis and his works (The Chronicles of Narnia, etc)[edit | hide]

  • The Chronicles of Narnia are more or less permanently under fire for two major issues. One controversy is the Calormenes, evil Arabs/Indians who embody most topical vices.
    • They're also presented as worshippers of—and, in Aravis's case, a descendant of—evil spirits, as Aslan definitely calls the vulture-headed Calormene god Tash "demon" in The Last Battle. Given that Calormenes are based either on Arabs or people from India, this isn't a very tolerant view of Islam or Hinduism.
  • The other major controversy is about Susan Pevensie's absence from Paradise at the end of The Last Battle, sometimes interpreted as "being barred from Heaven for liking lipstick and nylons."
  • A generally patronizing sense of "that's no good for a girl" pervades discussions of Lucy and Susan's participation in battle. Even though in practice, Lucy and Susan are powerful warriors (on par with their male counterparts), a sentiment which becomes more pronounced as the series went on.
  • There seems to be racist implications in Prince Caspian that are possibly worse than the portrayal of the Calormenes.
    • In the scene in Aslan's How, several creatures generally considered "evil" in mythology are brought in to assist Caspian's band of rebels. The fact that they are killed without ever having done anything overtly evil[1] implies that certain races are always going to do something bad.
    • There is an uncomfortable sequence earlier in the book where Caspian first meets the Narnians and some dwarfs offer to introduces him to a couple of ogres and a hag. Caspian flatly refuses and the "good" Narnians agree, saying they don't associate with those sort and wouldn't have Aslan for a friend if they did. (Keeping in mind that in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, "those" sorts were the Witch's minions, and in attendance at Aslan's humiliation and murder.)
    • The dark-haired Black Dwarfs are also depicted as being less honorable and nastier than their redheaded Red Dwarf counterparts.
      • Notably, the movie avert the two previous ones by showing Minotaurs (who were on the White Witch's side in the first movie) as being part of Caspian's rebellion.

Harry Potter[edit | hide]

  • An example from Harry Potter would be that the only canonically gay love is also the only time in the series when the The Power of Love - as opposed to an infatuation like Merope's - is a destructive force rather than a positive. In a series about how The Power of Love is the most powerful magic of all, this comes off as quite an oversight.
    • There's also the whole "Grindelwald was actually manipulating Dumbledore and didn't have romantic feelings for him" thing, which makes it make more sense when you realize that the two "destructive The Power of Love" examples are of unrequited love. Which also manifests itself in Tonks, who becomes weaker because of it. Getting the idea of "Love is awesome, but loving someone who doesn't love you back sucks" out. Which isn't an unfortunate implication.
    • It could be. Some say the love we give away is the only love we keep. Others see willingness to release a person as a noble thing. The Other Wiki has more.
  • The goblins can be compared to the stereotypical medieval European image of Jews, and their historical interactions with the wizards to those between Americans and Brits.
  • The way that Rowling treats muggles in general. Despite the fact that a large portion of the series is dedicated to showing how pointless racism against muggleborns is, all the muggles present in the books are either rude, stupid, or just generally incompetent/lesser compared to the wizards. For example:
    • The British army/police forces isn't shown doing anything in Voldemort's reign of terror.
    • The Minister for Magic thinks an acceptable amount of "communication" with the Prime Minister is showing up in his office every once in a while to tell him about important stuff that terrifies him and he can't do anything about.
      • Additionally, the Minister's reaction to the PM's telling him 'I have a phone call with the President of the United States scheduled for that time, we'll have to reschedule our meeting' is to go 'Oh, we'll just mind-control the President into rescheduling his meeting instead.' So not only are Muggle heads of state free to be mindscrewed for the most trivial convenience of the Ministry, they'll also blithely do it across international borders. as a standard of ethical behavior, this is epically... not.
    • Aurors mindwipe witnesses and cover public incidents up as catastrophic accidents. And we see what happens with a Muggle investigation into a magical murder (the Riddles): nothing. An SAS/auror taskforce would make out like gangbusters, if the Wizarding World got over their patronizing attitude to Muggles long enough to form one.
    • After the villains take over the country and really get down to Mugglecide, there is a mention that some of the good wizards "put protective spells over their Muggle neighbours' homes, with them none the wiser", meaning that even in such dire circumstances nobody as much as entertains a thought that the Muggles deserve to know what is going on and have a say in their own survival. Big Brother will protect you, indeed.
      • Context: the unfortunate implication here is not that none of the wizards want to tell their neighbors, but that wizarding law forbids them to on penalty of 'being locked in a prison where the soul-eating monsters that guard it slowly drive you mad'.
    • When Harry and friends are going to see the Quidditch World Cup a wizard in charge casually wipes a Muggles memories to keep him from wondering about the strange people he's seen lately. It's implied that the wizard has been doing this constantly, to the point its starting to cause visible psychological damage, and no one seems to see anything wrong with this.
    • Then there's the fact that the idea of being a Muggle or a Squib basically amounts to "Oh, so you're non-magical? Too bad for you!"
    • Word of God confirmed that wizards are scared of Muggle's reactions to them, because "in a fight between a gun and a wand, a gun will always win." This explains all the Unfortunate Implications regarding how wizards treat Muggles, though what it says about Muggles...
    • And then there's the Dursleys.
  • Marietta Edgecome betrayed the DA class, after six months of pressure from her mother and never wanting to join in the first place, and told Umbridge. She ends up with "SNEAK" written across her face in boils caused by Hermione's deliberate jinx (which Harry thinks is "brilliant"), and still has them at the start of the next school year, implying that the facial scars are permanent, especially since that's her final appearance. Many readers felt this was Disproportionate Retribution. Furthermore, the jinx bears a very creepy resemblance to the medieval punishment of physically branding the word of a convicted person's crime across their face so that people would read their crime on their faces for the rest of their lives.
    • There's a very strong message throughout the entire series that Good Is Not Nice.
      • This sequence doesn't even fulfill that because a trap you never actually tell anyone about before it springs has zero value as a deterrent, and yet deterrence was Hermione's stated purpose in creating it. It's a purely sadistic measure of revenge, not an actual safeguard against betrayal at all. Dis-turb-ing.

Twilight[edit | hide]

  • There are many offensive racial stereotypes and racist subtext:
    • Diego, one of the vampires in Stephenie Meyer's follow-up novella "The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner," is coded as a minority; he's described as having "dark, dense, curly hair, big, wide eyes, and really full lips," spends a lot of time talking about "life in the ghetto," "junkie hos" and "gang-bangs," and bursts into (incorrect) random Spanish. Yet, when describing his human self being pursued by gang members, Diego has this to say about Riley, the vampire who swoops in and gets between the gang and Diego himself: "I remember thinking he was the whitest guy I'd ever seen." In other words, a minority person is complimenting Riley for being the bravest, noblest person ever...i.e., white, even though vampires in Twilight are abnormally pale.
    • The Mexican vampire called Maria and the superstitious Brazilian maid. That the inferior werewolves are all poor Native Americans and the superior Cullens are white and rich. That the vampires south of North America are referred to as savage and wild. Also, when you realise Jasper served with Texas in the civil war, you realise he was on the side that supported slavery
    • Jacob Black, the series' foremost Native American character, is a reject who gets a leftover.
    • The last book's cover features a white king and a red pawn.
  • There is also a lot of sexist subtext:
    • Leah Clearwater, another Native American character, is the only female character who doesn't get a happy ending; her fate is ambiguous at best. Being appointed the Beta of Jacob's pack would likely keep her from her ambition to "get a job outside La Push and go to community college." She is the only one who doesn't get paired up by the end, and there is no promise that she might be able to produce children either.
    • Leah is the only example of an independent woman in the whole series, and is unable to have children because she is a 'shape shifter'; because of this she is described as 'less of a woman'! It doesn't help that Leah is portrayed in a very unsympathetic light. Here Meyer implies that if a woman is independent and strong (i.e. a shape shifter) she is less of a woman, and if she is unable to have child, she is a disgusting failure in the eyes of nature, and undeserving of sympathy.
    • Compare Leah and Jacob. Leah was dating Sam for a while and the two were in love, then along comes her cousin and within seconds she has been dumped for Emily. Not only that but now she has to see the pair nearly every day and she can hear Sam's thoughts. As a consequence she has become bitter and angry, however the others tell her to be quiet as she's irritating them and repeatedly insult her. Jacob falls in love with a girl he hardly knows, who never actually liked him and made that quite clear but his constant moping after her resulting with him running away is met with sympathy and support. When Leah is unsympathetic she is criticized. Double Standard much?
  • There are the extensive, mind-boggling implications of Bella and Edward's "romance". Girl sees guy, instantly falls in love with him for some reason and won't leave him alone despite quickly revealing that she is, you know, his food. Guy sees girl, becomes obsessed with her for some reason and won't leave her alone, despite knowing that she is his food. Girl abandons everything she cares for and everyone who cares for her, becoming self-destructive without guy, but that's okay because she loves him. Guy does nothing less than stalk and abuse girl, but that's okay because he loves her. Girl would rather become a soulless, bloodsucking monster than grow old, because nothing is more important than being beautiful forever (that becomes moot however, as Bella's Mary Sue powers are beyond equal). None of this is ever presented as anything other than wonderful, beautiful love, and it's even compared to Romeo and Juliet and Wuthering Heights as a compliment.

To expand on the "abuse" mentioned above, we have Edward sneaking into Bella's room without her knowledge or permission to "watch her sleep." He belittles her and blames it on her clumsiness; at one point he suggests she can't even do laundry for fear of injury. He tells her where she can go and who she can see (by the end of the first book, she no longer has any friends outside the Cullens), and has her babysat by his family when he can't be with her. At one point, he mentions he would have disabled her car to prevent her from going somewhere. He is constantly reminding her that it's only his sheer will that keeps him from killing her. In the second book, he tells her that if they were ever to be permanently separated, he'd kill himself. And then he leaves her, without any thought to her feelings at all. He also has a tendency in the books to use sex as a bargaining tool (for marriage and college), and makes Bella feel bad for wanting that amount of intimacy with him. He basically manipulates her into marriage, which she had said explicitly that she didn't want, especially at 18. And when she gets pregnant, he conspires to kill the baby against her wishes and pimps her out to Jacob for future baby-making...without her knowledge. And why does he do all of this? Because he "loves her." However, 99.9% of his actions are considered interpersonal abuse by pretty much every mental health professional.

  • Even though Bella and Edward's relationship is legal in Washington (the age of consent being 16), it doesn't make it any less creepy, since Edward is really 109 yet fancying a 17-year-old girl. If a regular really REALLY old man (i.e. non-gorgeous or young looking) began an obviously sexually charged relationship with a teenage girl, even if it was actually legal, people would start complaining. Now if he started breaking into an 18 year old girls room and watching her sleep... Yet because Edward is pretty, people have no problem with the fact that he is old enough to be her great-grandfather.
  • Werewolf imprinting. The pedophilia allusions are impossible to ignore. People can try to argue that it's not a sexual thing, but it's stated to be about best breeding choices, which makes it absolutely sexual. That's arranged marriage type implications. Then there's the fact that Jacob imprints on Renesmee within days of her being born. That's right. Jacob selected his ideal sexual match when she was an infant. No, absolutely no pedophilia allusions here. The fact that imprinting is inherently a sexual process (as stated above), means that Jacob imprinting on Nessie and Quil imprinting on Claire could be seen as child grooming:

Actions taken by an adult to form a trusting relationship with a child with the intent of later having sexual contact. Typically, this is done to gain the child’s trust as well as the trust of those responsible for the child’s well-being.

Imprinting is described as basically Happiness in Slavery turned Up to Eleven for the wolf. The implications if a wolf were to imprint on someone sufficiently amoral or sadistic are pure Fridge Horror. Hell, it's portrayed as a good thing that wolves are expected to commit suicide by giving up their immortality after their imprints die of old age, and actually want to, without exception. At no point do the wolves get any say in whether or not they imprint or who they imprint on, and imprinting eventually amounts to an automatic death sentence for the wolf. And this clusterfuck of magical Mind Rape (that essentially reduces an individual wolf to nothing more than an extension of his imprint) is supposed to be this transcendent and wonderful thing. This fanfic is a brilliant and utterly terrifying example of just this sort of Unfortunate Implications. Warning: do NOT read just before you go to bed.

Other Examples[edit | hide]

  • The Shadow series (a spin-off series from Ender's Game) has tons of sexist undertones. For one thing every single relationship outside of Bean and Petra's always has the woman as a Strangled by the Red String Shallow Love Interest for the more well-developed male characters and literally every couple has to have babies. LOTS and LOTS of babies! It gets really ridiculous with Graff whose love interest doesn't even get a name or a single line of dialogue or make an actual appearance
    • Given that Card is a rather conservative Mormon and his fantasy series was a direct Mormon allegory, this is less a case of unfortunate anything than an actual theme of the story.
    • Also Anton, the (gay) geneticist supergenius who, before he got his own shallow love interest, was extremely depressed. So in other words the book is outright stating that gay, mentally depressed people have to get married and get married to woman as opposed to, you know, going to a professional therapist.
    • It also doesn't help that, by the whole series' logic of "procreation makes you a better person", that a fertile rapist is more moral than a bachelor who helps people.
  • A good argument can be made that H.P. Lovecraft's entire body of work can be traced back to a combined fear of sex, foreigners, and seafood. All this made doubly ironic by the fact that his wife was Jewish. His later work tones down the racism, and now our "genetically inferior" villains are just deformed or inbred.
    • Not all the unfortunate-ness of Lovecraft is implied. On more than one occasion he came right out and made statements showing a degree of racism shocking even for his era. A good (and shocking) example is this passage, the final twist of "Medusa's Coil" (ghostwritten for someone else, but it's his):

"[She] was faintly, subtly, yet to the eyes of genius unmistakably the scion of Zimbabwe's most primal grovellers.... [T]hough in deceitfully slight proportion, Marceline was a negress."

  • Redwall:
    • The "good guy" species all speak perfectly civil, upper-class English... except for the moles, who have an accent that sounds like that of the West Country, an English region more associated with rural life and stereotypes (and, hence, the working class). The Exclusively Evil vermin? Lower-class, mostly Cockney, slang, for the most part, with the exceptions of mustelids. There are perhaps four vermin who pull the Heel Face Turn in the entire series. Only one of them survives. The upshot is not so much "lower class = bad", but that being working class is okay as long as you have the decency to be a nice, earthy country-type and not some inner-city urban thug.
    • There's also an incident in Loamhedge that is... less than sensitive to wheelchair-users. Martha, who has been confined to a wheelchair all her life, gets up and walks to save the Abbot; she says afterward that she was only impaired by a lack of willpower.
    • A majority of the Redwall books are not too bad, but the most recent, Eulalia, has lots of Unfortunate Implications. Let's see, an innocent vole is forced to dress up like a vermin and used as a trick and the Redwallers badly hurt him. This would be fine if it acknowledged that it was an accident, that because of the disguise they thought he was an enemy, but they justify it because the vole was rude to a protagonist earlier. So even when the Redwallers realize that the vole had no choice he gets treated horribly, and then when he tries to steal the Sword of Martin as revenge for his ordeal... he quickly gets killed off.
  • Sword of Truth:
    • A Noble Savage tribe series are called "mud people", which is (evidently) racist slang for poor Mexicans. There is an innocent derivation in book: they themselves chose the name from their use of mud as camouflage, but, you know, that's why it's Unfortunate Implications: Goodkind probably had no intention of using racist language.
    • Also (giving the benefit of the doubt) Unfortunate: a Sword of Truth novel centres on a society in which there is a fair-haired phenotype of people who are treated as second class by the dark-haired overclass. The fair-haired ones accept their subjugation as atonement for the guilt of their ancestors for having committed horrible atrocities on a genocidal scale on the ancestors of the current overclass. It's later revealed to be a big lie.
  • The Legend of Rah and the Muggles. Not only does the intro casually drop the phrase "ethnically impure" in a book intended to be read by six-year-olds, but the stunted, deformed eponymous creatures are supposed to have evolved from the various "ethnically impure" people left behind After the End. Not to mention the barely touched-upon inferred nuclear apocalypse.
  • Robert Heinlein:
    • He has been accused of racism a few times, which is doubly unfortunate since other stories have had explicit anti-racist themes, such as Tunnel in the Sky, where the protagonist is implied to be black, confirmed by Word of God.
    • Farnham's Freehold demonstrates the evils of racism by showing a future in which blacks are the dominant group and oppress whites in parallel to contemporary oppression of blacks. Unfortunately, the blacks in the story eat whites, which suggests a message that blacks really are savages deserving of oppression, and worse, the black survivors are shown to have built a technologically advanced civilization, which then carries the implication of "this is what could happen if we let the blacks outpace us!" racial hysteria.
    • Another story, The Sixth Column, which describes the Unites States under occupation by Pan-Asians (real-world mutual enemies Japan and China), also has some issues. The heroes save the day by creating a race-selective weapon that kills all yellow people. However, that story idea was from John W. Campbell, and Heinlein supposedly tried to tone down the racism. He was still unhappy with the lingering racist themes.
    • On the other hand, Time Enough For Love includes a speech by Lazarus Long explaining that people who voluntarily emigrate and make it in their new home tend to be smarter and more ambitious than the people they left behind, and have children who are also smarter than the children that those left behind had, and that the result of this over thousands of years is that the Earth is a Crapsack World filled with the dregs of humanity, while the rest of humanity is superior to what Earthbound humanity was before space travel. Think about human migration patterns during our real history, and "Earth" in the story looks like a thinly-disguised analogue for Africa. The same analogy was applied during Heinlein's era to the United States and Europe, with the thesis being that the best, brightest, and most motivated people in Europe emigrated to America, leaving Europe a shadow of itself. The comparison is a variation on the Turner Thesis which was used for much of the 20th century to explain social development on the American frontier and thus can be considered Fair for Its Day, though still pretty America-centric.
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • No couple can live happily ever after until the man is more powerful than the woman, or at least more dominant. Domon defeating Egeanin; Nynaeve marrying Lan after she learns to submit to saidar, and the marriage vows which mean that whichever one gives the orders in public will have to obey in private; Tallanvor and Morgase getting together after she's dethroned and working as a lady's maid; Bryne and Siuan. To name but several.
    • And then there's the spanking...
    • And the fact that most of the women are openly misandrist. Is it any surprise that everyone is dancing The Masochism Tango? The Witch Species Aes Sedai at least have a justification for that: they're members of a Lady Land ivory-tower organization which has dominated the continent for 3,000 years. It'd be just as much a problem if they hadn't lost touch with the common man and made the world more misandrist. (But you'd also think that some of the non-Aes Sedai female characters would have their heads on straight, which is where the Epic Fail comes in.)
    • And the cover of the second book, in which the artist depicted the Exclusively Evil half-animal half-human Trollocs as black men, while the heroes are all very white. Lovely.
  • Gone with the Wind:
    • The white people speak the King's English and all the black people speak in in a highly stereotyped dialect. Especially considering the dialect of the southern aristocracy wasn't even the King's English in Real Life, and while the accents between slaves and the elite would have been different, but not that different. In this case, the book was written by a Southern US author, so to her, the white-southerner accent was standard "unaccented" English,
    • Malcolm X reported being humiliated in the theater at the "I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies" bit. This was probably meant to suggest (in the book) how they simply sounded to the bigoted southerners, but there is also a rather stereotypical view of the white Irish.
  • Inheritance Cycle:
    • You could fill a book with all the unfortunate implications that crop up in Christopher Paolini's books. Most, but not all, of them are related to the elves with whom one cannot argue.
      • Speaking of the elves, all of them are ten times as competent as any human: even concerning strenght, whereas elves in fiction usually tend to be physically weaker than humans.
    • Paolini uses the elves in order to discuss vegetarianism. Some readers felt that the conclusions Eragon drew unfairly painted meat-eaters as incapable of respecting the sanctity of life and morally-flawed.
    • People who put their stock and faith in gods and religion are believing in fairy-tales, and atheists are grounded squarely in reality. In later books, however, the implications are reversed. Word of God says that the books are actually intended to reflect an agnostic position.
    • The hero cannot truly face evil unless all evidence of his scars (both literal and figurative) and trials are swept under the rug and "cured"... and he's a half-elf. On a related note, not having scars makes you better than people who do. Fixed in later novels, though ugly people still need descriptors to denote goodness.
    • What are the two things Nasuada remembers about the (black) wandering tribes? Them talking a lot. And "smoking cardus weed." And when we meet them, they and Nasuada compete for control of the Varden and the tribes with a brutal ritual called "the Trial of the Long Knives," where they cut themselves and see who can endure the most cuts.
  • Even Stationery Voyagers has struggled to overcome issues with this, in spite only a few of its minisodes being published.
    • Gender:
    • Sexuality:
    • Race: Mantithians are only fully compatible with Mantithians sexually. Mosquatlons have dated them, but most attempts to have interspecies children end in failure. Whiteouts are likewise only compatible with other Whiteouts. Ooze Pens with Ooze Pens, etc. Meaning that sometimes, segregation is good! Although, Pens and Pencils of varying subspecies can interbreed, with mixed results.
  • S.L. Viehl's Jorenians are monogamous (and invariably heterosexual) enough to make the Moral Guardians weep with shame. In the second book of the Stardoc series, the vengeful Ktarka -- who's not allowed to marry, because she proposed to someone who turned out to already be engaged -- is making advances on the heroine in between attempts to destroy her. Another Jorenian character seems nearly as shocked at the fact that Ktarka was putting the moves on another woman as at the fact that she had already killed several characters and was planning on killing at least three more, one of them a little kid. (Someone must have called Viehl on it: Later in the series, she paired up the gay secondary character Hawk with a male Jorenian... and tossed in an Anvilicious message about how same-sex marriage is okay.) And that's not even taking Duncan's behavior—the various karmic "outs" he's given aside—into account.
  • In Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, everything is a symbol relating to an overall point about race relations. More than once a character who expresses a view different from Ellison's is revealed to be blind—because they don't see the truth, get it? One can't help but wonder whether the book's ever been printed in Braille...
  • TV series Red Dwarf releases a few tie-in novels. So far so good. First two are published as a single book in America. Also good. What's not good is that, in the cover illustration, the two black characters, Lister and the Cat, are replaced by a white guy and an actual cat, respectively...
  • His Dark Materials:
    • as a Reason.com review pointed out: Its kind of ironic that Phillip Pullman labels other works like Narnia as sexist and full of class snobbery, when Will the male hero, is the one who gets to fight the most and even becomes The Chosen One in control of the mystical Subtle Knife, meanwhile Lyra's greatest feats are accomplished by "feminine" wiles like lying and manipulation; Also the class snobbery manifests in that Lyra is the (illegitimate) daughter of aristocrats and is vastly superior in intellect and wits than his friends in Oxford (who also happen to be the children of servants) and Will being the son of a Royal Marines officer from the beginning.
    • There's also the fact that "all servants" supposedly have dog dæmons, suggesting that they were chosen as servants because of their dæmons; people who don't have dogs as dæmons can't get the job because they are considered too independent. It's not hard to think of racial profiling or job discrimination when it comes to this.
    • Not to mention that all religious people in this serie are portrayed as Knight Templars and bigots that see everything classified good by the serie as evil...
  • Ian Fleming's James Bond novels.
    • Particularly Live and Let Die and Goldfinger. In this case, most of this is not "unfortunate" implications but straight out racism and sexism. Ian Fleming was openly racist and sexist, which was not uncommon for Britons of his era, making it Values Dissonance as well.
    • Live and Let Die features a Scary Black Man as the Big Bad. Acceptable. (He is NOT the Dictator of his own Caribbean island, populated entirely by black people all of whom are apparently in on his evil plot, that's the movie.) The fact that all the black characters except the Big Bad (who's part white and Russian-trained), are depicted as superstitious voodoo believers is unfortunate, as are some of Bond's typical 1950s white guy opinions. However, the book was Fair for Its Day, in that M concedes that black people "Have plenty of brains, ability and guts", at a time when blacks in films were represented by Steppin Fetchitt, that's quite liberal!
    • The "Chigroes", (Chinese-Negro half-castes) in Dr. No, who have "all the vices of the black man plus oriental cunning", on the other hand...
    • And the Rastafarians who worship the white villain in The Man with the Golden Gun (facepalm).
    • Auric Goldfinger's iconic henchman, Oddjob, is a Korean who likes to eat cats. Apparently Fleming was unaware that dogs are considered a delicacy in China and Korea, not cats. Goldfinger also expounds to Bond about how Korean people are the cruelest people in the world and hence make the best evil henchmen.
    • All the lesbian subtext with Pussy Galore in the film? It ain't subtext in the book. Bond literally bangs her straight at the end of the book. At least Pussy's sex with Bond is entirely consensual; she states that a rape by her uncle turned her off men. She goes for Bond because she "never met a real man before". Her actual words, used non-ironically. Add to this, Pussy gets boned by Bond (you're welcome), switches to the straight path and lives. Another woman who falls in love with her stays gay and is contemptuously killed off near the end of the book.
  • The Anita Blake series runs into this more than a few times. The leader of the were-rats just happens to be Hispanic, though at least he's actually a decent guy, and ninety percent of the characters with French names or heritage are amoral or shifty in some way, Narcissus is a Depraved Bisexual as well as being hermaphroditic... On and on. Not to mention the entire Deus Sex Machina plots of later books to the point of Porn Without Plot.
  • Practically every single bit of The Sheik.
    • It contains dead straight-up uses of Rape Is Love, Rape as Redemption, Stalker with a Crush, Stockholm Syndrome played as a good thing (though unintentional, as the term didn't exist at the time of the book's writing). The heroine starts out unusually liberated for her time, a sport-and-hunting-loving tomboy unafraid to travel on her own, with no use for those who would put her in a traditionally feminine box. She's then kidnapped by an almost fetishized stereotype of an Arabic Sheik (who turns out to not even be Arabic, because of course our white heroine could never actually wind up with someone who wasn't really white himself), and raped on a daily basis for around a month. The result of the entire novel is that all that rape not only "tamed" her, it somehow "cured" her cold lack of femininity. The Sheik falls in love with her and decides he needs to send her away so he won't hurt her anymore, and only relents when she decides she would rather shoot herself in the head than be apart from him. Because them thar's some healthy foundations for a stable relationship.
    • Possibly the best (worst?) part is that the Sheik knows it's a terribly unhealthy relationship, and even warns Diana he might not always be able to control his temper around her. (His exact words are "You will have a devil for a husband.") Nothing says love like warning your spouse you might remain an occasionally abusive cretin.
  • The vampires of The Hollows are ruled by their instincts to a great extent. In a stunning example of victim-blaming, after vamp Ivy attacks and almost kills protagonist Rachel in the first book she apologises and gives her advice on how not to activate those instincts again. Sure, it's vampires, they're not real, but it's uncomfortably close to the far-too-common belief that men are ruled by their instincts, and if they rape a woman, it's her fault for turning him on.
  • Fat White Vampire Blues has its share of this. The main premise of the first book appears to be that black vampires (whose very existence is treated as a bad thing; the fact that they're eeeevil drug dealers is secondary) are muscling in on the lily-white New Orleans vampire community. Nearly all of the (white) main characters (with whom we're presumably supposed to sympathize) come off as at least borderline racist (the eponymous protagonist, who's essentially a less-articulate, bloodsucking Ignatius J. Reilly, is not above attempting to "recruit" white supremacists for a vampire army). And every black character is a Jive Turkey stereotype. It gains points back for the fact that the most sympathetic character in the book is a cross-dressing vampire who's opposed to the plan with the white supremacists (he ends up thwarting it) and couldn't give two shits about whether or not there are black vampires, and then flipped on its head when that the black woman that the protagonist killed for her blood at the beginning of the book was characterized as pretty much The Messiah later in the book, and finding this out prompts a My God, What Have I Done? from the protagonist, leading him to try and find a way to sustain himself without killing people. And the main villain is not so much evil because of his race as because of his Disproportionate Retribution against the main character for percieved racism.
  • The House of Night novel "Marked" (2007) has some.
    • As soon as Aphrodite introduces herself, main character Zoey Redbird goes into a mental tirade on what kind of egomaniac would pick such a name. The name Aphrodite is relatively popular among modern Greeks and also the name of an Orthodox saint. It may be rendered Afroditi in modern English transliterations but the Greek spelling remains the same: Αφροδίτη. The disdainful reaction seems to condemn such use. (Of course, it's possible that Zoey wasn't aware of this.)
    • That's just the tip of the iceberg. Zoey goes on a rant about how degrading it is for a woman to give a man a blowjob, and that anyone who does is a trashy ho. Coming from the same character who has no fewer than five dudes after her in the series, and has feelings for four of them at one point or another, sometimes at the same time, yet she's NOT a trashy ho! She's just confused! Not to mention that in the blowjob incident, it was made obvious Eric did not want it. But that's fine because Rape Is Okay When It's Female On Male.
    • Loren Blake's flirting with Zoey in Betrayed and Chosen is supposed to come across as sexy and get Zoey to feel like an adult. Given that there was virtually no interaction between the two before it began, it comes across like a sleazy guy trying to get into a young girl's pants. And yes, that's how it ends up, but without knowing the motives, it reads like "A man is trying to take advantage of his beautiful, powerful, talented student for no reason at all" rather than "A man is taking advantage of a student because his lover is telling him to". Not to mention the fact that Zoey is completely unaware of why a teacher/student relationship would possibly cause problems for them, which makes it come across like Blake is taking advantage of a girl who is too naive to know any better.
    • Zoey has two male friends who are gay, which is all fine and dandy, except between the two of them, they demonstrate every single gay stereotype out there. Not to mention that both gay characters are described as being very soft-spoken, doe-eyed, and generally submissive. The straight men are pretty much all dominant and outgoing. We never see any heterosexual men who are quiet or reserved, and we never see any gay guys who are masculine or forward.
    • No matter what's going on, if it's mentioned that a character smokes pot, Zoey and her friends will pause to rant about how nasty and uncool pot-smoking is. In Betrayed, we find out that Neferet specifically chooses students to feed to the red-eyed vampires just because Zoey ratted them out to her as having used pot. When the police confront Zoey about the deaths, Neferet tries to blame it all on the victims falling in the river after being high, which sounds uncomfortably like "they were asking to die a brutal death!" And while Neferet is the bad guy, Zoey in no way ever contradicts or debates that argument.
  • The first Flora Segunda book seems to paint its pseudo-Aztecs, the Huitzils, as Exclusively Evil cannibals. Not great, but the book is from Flora's point of view, and she's a military brat whose parents fought against them in a war (her father, particularly, was a POW and was subjected by them to largely undefined horrible things that left him an unstable alcoholic), so maybe she's an Unreliable Narrator. Besides, at the end she finds out that at least one of them is not so bad ... Then comes the second book, in which the single not-so-bad Huitzil proves to be just as evil and manipulative and untrustworthy as any other (if not even worse, since he pretended to be good rather than being outright baby-eatingly evil), so we're left once again with a race of entirely horrible people. Also, the war crimes on the Califan (i.e. culturally pseudo-European) side were totally justified and necessary, whereas the war crimes on the Huitzil side were just undeniably awful. Again, this might be a question of getting it all from Flora's POV, but there's really no indication that the reader is supposed to disagree with her.
  • Frank Herbert clearly had serious issues with homosexuality; Big Bad Baron Harkonnen in Dune is a Depraved Homosexual who even lusts after his own nephew, and even his henchman Piter is briefly said to have a vaguely feminine personality. Then The Dosadi Experiment features the omniscient narrator discussing how gay people make ideal suicide bombers, an aside that comes right the hell out of nowhere and never even has any impact on the plot.
  • Blubber, by Judy Blume. Poor Linda gets mercilessly bullied and tries to solve the problem by dialogue, not by punching back. This attitude show her maturity and yet she is considered to be a weak person who deserves no compassion. Even when Jill has learnt the hard way that being bullied hurts, she still seems to think that Linda somehow deserved what she got. Oh, and Wendy got no punishment.
  • William Golding, the author of Lord of the Flies didn't include female characters on the island, and explained this as being because he believed that women would have exerted a civilizing influence and prevented the boys' society from collapsing. Coupled with the book's Family Unfriendly Aesops on the nature of humanity, the book is saying that if women don't posses any political power, those evil and stupid men will ultimately destroy themselves, and their society. He also didn't include any adults for this reason except for the Navy ship that shows up at the end. The Simpsons episode "Das Bus" shows that the story can be easily adapted to include female characters, as well as being a case of Society Marches On.
  • Forgotten Realms:
    • R.A. Salvatore's novel Gauntlgrym contains one of the first, if not the first openly bisexual character in the Forgotten Realms novels. The character, Dahlia Sin'felle, was the victim of rape when she was a child, is a sexual sadist, a serial killer, and a rapist in her own right.
    • Salvatore's most popular character, Drizzt Do'Urden, is a heroic dark elf who ventures to the surface world and experiences racism. However, every other dark elf in Salvatore's story is pure evil (With the exception of the Neutral Evil mercenary Jarlaxle). Though Salvatore's intent is to criticize racial prejudice, the Aesop becomes broken when racists are still right 99% of the time.
  • The Sea of Trolls and its sequels:
  • One that isn't the author's fault: The covers of the Mercy Thompson books tend to look like porn. This includes the one with a very sensitively-handled subplot about the long-term psychological effects of rape.
  • In Animorphs, near the end, many disabled teenagers are recruited by the (teenage) main cast (that's not the bad part. The team didn't have days to surveil every single prospective member of the new recruits they needed, but they knew The Puppet Masters wanted fully functional bodies.) What's bad is (a) the fact that the ones who were healed by morphing were immediately made leaders (so in the Very Special Episode about the disabled being worth as much as anyone else... legs, not brains, are the only criteria used to decide who leads.) Then, there's (b) the way they're used later, in the last two books: they're all shot from above by the main villain when used as a distraction by the main heroes. We don't even get a headcount of which of the (few) named members who are left, either, just a mention of how "not many of them made it."
  • Patch, the male love interest of Hush, Hush puts Edward Cullen to shame in the harassment and threats department. From his very first conversation with Nora, almost every word out of his mouth is nothing but sexual innuendos and various other things that humiliate her. Of course, come the end of the novel, she's totally in love with him. Remember, it doesn't matter if a guy stalks you and scares and humiliates you, so long as he's good-looking!
    • Patch is also described as being tall, dark, and swarthy, with a very Italian last and a love of hanging out in less savory parts of town. In other words, he's pretty much the perfect stereotype of an ethnic gangster.
    • On the topic of the harassment, at several points in the novel, Nora is told by the school guidance councilor that Patch is not safe to be around and that she highly recommends that Nora does not hang around Patch off school property or by herself. The advice is perfectly logical, given that Patch is scaring Nora with his behavior, but Nora instantly is suspicious of the advice. And then the end of the book proves Nora's suspicions right, by having the councilor be a Clingy Jealous Girl who wants to drive her away from Patch.
  • The Sound and the Fury, written by William Faulkner, is so loaded with Unfortunate Implications that it is hard to figure out where to start. The book takes place in the Deep South in the early 1900s (we have a warning sign here, folks). One theme prevalent throughout the book is the trope Women Are Wiser, because Caddy is the true protagonist of the story (so Word of God says), and that she is on higher moral ground than her brothers and the men around her will ever be. There is the African-American cook, Dilsey, who is a Magical Negro. There is the My Girl Is Not a Slut trope in Quentin's backstory, where he claimed to have engaged in incest with Caddy. He lied, because he was trying to protect her and get his parents to think that she was not sleeping around. Yes, the Compsons actually think that pre-marital sex is worse than incest! Benjamin has severe autism and is treated like he is inferior and subhuman. In fact, it seems that the entire point of Benjamin is that Dumb Is Good. Benjamin seems to be the only Compson who can get along just fine with the African-American servants. What kind of message does that send? That only dumb Caucasians can have civil, healthy interactions with African-American people. Nice.
  • The Kane Chronicles has two protagonists. A Brother-Sister Team who discover that the Egyptians myths are true. The US covers show both siblings in an appropriate environment. The UK covers show the male protagonist fighting a monster while his sister is completely absent from the cover.
  • Spy High kills off Chinese-American Jennifer in the third book, and replaces her with Bex, a white girl. Also serves to make Cally the Token Minority since she is the only non-white team member after this.
  • Skulduggery Pleasant has the threat of The Americans coming in and "helping out" the Irish magical community when they show weakness, and never leaving. While this could be based on common fears/stereotype of American Imperialism, one of the two American characters in the series is Billy-Ray Sanguine, a Texan with a stereotypical accent, who just happens to be a complete sociopath who works for the highest bidder. His dad, Dreylan Scarab,[2] is even worse, and tries to blow up an entire stadium with tens of thousands of people in it to break The Masquerade. Just for comparison, Sanguine's counterpart, Tesseract, is a massive, stoic Russian assassin with a twisted sense of honor, and, as we find out in the end of the Mortal Coil, he has a cat. Sanguine and Scarab have no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
  • Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels:
    • While this series is entertaining, it does have a number of Unfortunate Implications. The book Free Fall portrays Japan as a Third World Country, one that has parents that sell their daughters to countries like the USA for 500 American dollars, one that has old people considering cities to be evil, one that has old people considering the USA "the place of the golden roads", one that has at least one old couple smoking opium, and one that has at least one village that is set up in a way that would be unlikely in Japan. You can be sure that people who live in Japan would find such a portrayal either hilarious or offensive.
    • Similarly, Spain in the book Hide And Seek is portrayed as a Third World Country. The Vigilantes are hiding out in a mountain compound in Spain, and a cable car brings them to a village that appears to have Noble Savage written all over it. People living in Spain would find this portrayal either hilarious or offensive.
    • This series has Double Standards. For instance, a number of reviewers of the book Weekend Warriors stated that they could not sympathize with the Vigilantes because they gave three rapists the John Wayne Bobbit treatment. One reviewer did point out that if a male character did this to the three rapists, then readers would sympathize with him. So it's okay for male characters to do this, but not female characters?
  • Sweet Valley University decided to kill off Todd's Asian girlfriend Gin-Yung to pave the way for him to get back together with white, blonde, perfect-size-six Elizabeth. Made worse by the derailment that Gin-Yung went through to set up the return of Todd/Elizabeth, and especially by having Gin-Yung tell Todd on her deathbed to get back together with Elizabeth.
  • The Time Traveler's Wife.
    • First, we have the central premise of the novel. An adult man has a very special relationship with a little girl, which involves telling her that he's destined to be her husband, informing her how in love with her he is and grooming her to fall in love with him. Oh, and she can't tell anyone else about this special relationship, because they won't understand. Also, said special relationship involves appearing to her naked. It's no wonder that Alonso Duralde dubbed the film adaptation "To Catch a Time-Traveling Predator."
    • At one point, Henry has sex with Clare while she's asleep. Nonviolent or no, this smacks of Marital Rape License, made all the worse because neither of them seem to find anything wrong with it.
    • Henry wants to convince a skeptical doctor that he's a time-traveler, so he tells said doctor that his unborn son has Down Syndrome despite screenings to the contrary; that way when the doctor's son is born, he'll believe. Fair enough. The problem is that he tells the doctor in such a melodramatic, over-the-top manner that it seems more suited to telling him that his child will be stillborn or have a condition incompatible with life. The doctor's rage, depression and disappointment when the child is actually born also seem to be more on par with a stillbirth than a developmental disability. The implication is that having a kid with Down Syndrome is one of the worst things that can possibly happen to a parent. To make matters worse, when Henry delicately asks if the doctor would have aborted his son if he'd known, the doctor grumbles, "My wife and I are Catholic, so I imagine the results would have been the same." Implications: There's no non-religious reason not to abort a disabled child! If you're Catholic, you have no reasons for not aborting other than a wishy-washy "Well, we're Catholic"! And if you're disabled but your parents didn't abort you, please know that their choice was grudging and reluctant! Although we later see the son as part of the doctor's happy family, for many a reader with a Down Syndrome child in the family, that scene was too little, too late.
    • And, of course, the ending. After Henry's death, Clare finds a note in which he tells her that he'll time-travel to the future to see her when she's old. The last scene is of her as an old woman, wearing the outfit that he described in the note, which she's done every day for an unspecified period of time in hopes that today is the day. If this were described as unhealthy or codependent, it would be fine, but the very end of the novel is a quotation about how Penelope and Odysseus, implying that this behavior is hunky-dory and, indeed, deeply romantic.
  • Tom Clancy's books can have these as well, especially on the subjects of race. In his early books, where the enemy was mostly the Soviet Union, the villains were shown to be competent, often with sympathetic traits. But later books, most notably The Bear and the Dragon and Debt of Honor tend to show the non-White villain nations as little more than mustache-twirling, evil-for-the-sake-of-evil incompetents. Even to the point that there are glaring inaccuracies in order to make them so. For instance, in Debt of Honor the Japanese Government decides to bring back the Empire without even so much as a brief mention of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, and there are numerous errors in The Bear and the Dragon regarding the Chinese Military. It's especially glaring when it comes from a man who accurately depicted the interior of U.S Submarines from sheer guesswork, and one of the biggest indicators of the unfortunate truth that most of his later works are ghostwritten by other authors.
    • To be fair, the real-world Japanese extreme nationalist party never mentions Article 9 either whenever they talk about wanting to do what they want to do. Clancy's consistent plot device for creating an enemy nation is to go "OK, what if the worst possible people in their political system actually won a majority?" and then run from there. Russia, China, and Japan all go the same way in his storyline, even if two of those nations didn't actually have elections.
  • Love in the Time of Cholera has Florentino Ariza get raped on a boat by an unknown woman. This just turns him into a Loveable Sex Maniac and doesn't appear to have any negative effects. Add to that the lighthearted tone of the book and you'll have at least one person feeling incredibly uncomfortable with the implications.
  • When Isaac Asimov was accused of sexism, he pointed to Dr. Susan Calvin of his I Robot stories as an example of a strong female character. While she is a strong character, she is also a shrewish, misanthropic Insufferable Genius who is feared and disliked by her colleagues. This could imply that a woman cannot be strong and likable at the same time.
  • The God Project by John Saul: The story reveals that the U.S. government is trying to create super soldiers that will dominate the battlefield simply because they cannot die. The process of creating these supersoldiers involves manipulating some hormones and trying to get babies born as super soldiers. This process killed a lot of children, boys and girls. In fact, only two boys at the end of the story have successfully survived the process and experiment. A number of reviewers have pointed out that this sends the message that only boys can be super soldiers, but not girls. Samus Aran of Metroid would beg to differ on that matter.
  • The Girl Who Played With Fire: For an author with such an open perspective on sex and sexuality, there's an interesting perspective on bondage in the books. Nils Bjurman is a rapist and a sadist. The reader knows this first hand after seeing him rape Salander. This is kept a secret by Salander, as she chooses her own methods of revenge. Later on, the police discover Bjurman's murdered and mutilated body (not done in that order). At first they think he's just a hapless victim, but later start to believe he may actually be a pervert and a sexist because they found pornographic images of women in bondage no his computer. The odd part is not that they come to this realization, but how it's done. It's not presented as "We suspect he may be a pervert and a sexist. Oh, and look, he has a bondage fetish," but as, "We suspect he may be a pervert and a sexist. After all, remember he has a bondage fetish." Salander does engage in consensual bondage with a lesbian partner, but given the previous scene and the fact that many of the villains of the series are rapists who engage in bondage, it almost seems as if it takes for granted that all men who like women in bondage are sadistic rapists.
  • Enchantress From the Stars supposedly portrays a "strong female charachter". However, at close look, this is a very unflattering portrayal. The book starts with one woman, Ilura, killed by TheEmpire in an absolute idiotic manner (she throws a knife at them to distract them from the ship and then just stands here and gets incinerated). Further, the heroine, depite having some cool Psychic Powers, never gets to use them at the enemy (at first, it is justified by The Masquerade, but later even this doen't hold). Instead, she teaches this technique to a native lad Georyn (with whom she promplty falls in love despite the fact that her fiance is on the planet with her), gets captured due to her own idiocy, is nearly broken after just one night in captivity (after telling her father that she surely can endure everything that The Empire does to her), is told to commit suicide by her father, and attempts to do so. Luckily for her, Georyn saves her Just in Time by using the very same technique she taught him (but never used herself) which convinces the Imperials to leave them (and the planet) alone. So in summation Georyn and Jarell (an imperial doctor who helps her along) save the day by doing important things, while the strong female charachter saves the day... by being helpless and putting herself in harm's way, just so that her Love Interest can rescue her (and also brings Jarell to help her case by being such a cute Damsel in Distress ). Great role model to follow, girls and ladies!
    • The Author once complained in an interview that people often think Elana is 13-14 or so (her explicit age is not given in the novel), when she is actually envisioned as being just over 18. Well maybe people wouldn't envision your heroine at 14 if she didn't behave like a silly rebellious teen all the time! Is this how 18 years old people should behave in an advanced society?
    • Then there is the fact that her father, when aksed by her whether this suicide instruction is an order, declines, and then sends Evrek, her fiance, to sneak in the Imperial camp and either liberate or kill her, only stopping the plan at the last second and not even telling her about that until much later . Just how little does he trust her?
    • And then there is her fiance, Evrek. The chemistry between them is exactly zero, and the fact that she just casually fell in love with some local doesn't seem to change things in the slightest between them. So either this is an Arranged Marriage (again, great way to portray an advanced, utopic society), or somehow the way people in the future express love is extremely different from today's standards.
  • You can spot an occasional example in The Desert War, Alan Moorehead's famous collection of World War 2 dispatches. On one occasion he praises an Australian unit for the fact that they "worked like blacks". What he meant of course was that they were hard working which is a virtue both in a free citizen and a soldier. But it has the unfortunate implication of not taking slavery seriously.
  1. other than try to kill Caspian, Doctor Cornelius and Trufflehunter out of hand as soon as they are denounced for necromancy
  2. who is hinted to have been released by the Americans early in order to cause a crisis among the Irish