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Similar to The Bechdel Test, a narrative is Deggans compliant when it has:

  1. At least two non-white human characters in the main cast...
  2. a show that's not about race.

If the socially dominant race in the country where the show was made is not white (say, in Japan), the first clause may need to be adjusted accordingly.

It's worth noting that Deggans' Rule doesn't precisely parallel The Bechdel Test: it requires that the characters in question be in the main cast, but the clause about conversation is dropped. Since it was originally proposed during a discussion of The Bechdel Test, this is almost certainly intentional.

Shows that meet this requirement are more common than ones following The Bechdel Test. Many of them do it by being the kind of show with a Token White, though.

Named for St. Petersburg Times TV Critic Eric Deggans (and not of the webcomic Deegans). Compare Five-Token Band.

Examples of Deggans' Rule include:

Live Action TV

  • Scrubs, for Turk, Carla and Laverne.
  • Lost, for Michael, Jin, and Sun, among others (Eko, Miles...). Michael and Jin's very early interactions involved race, but they got past the issue quickly and were soon having Han-Chewie interaction on a regular basis.
  • Power Rangers, usually with one Asian guy and one Black guy in the Five-Man Band. The few times they don't have one of each tend to be (but aren't always) when the core cast starts with a Power Trio instead - and even then at least one of the three is a minority, and there's still room for the Sixth Ranger to be non-white as well. Minorities aren't always Black or Asian, either: Power Rangers Mystic Force in particular has neither, instead having Nick (visually Middle Eastern), Daggeron (Ambiguously Brown), and Xander (Australian - visually white but with the actor's native accent). It's probably also worth noting the show is filmed in New Zealand with Fake Americans these days.
    • What are Madison and Vida supposed to be? The manual says their last name is Rocca...
    • Power Rangers RPM has a weird one with Flynn, a Scotsman. Played by a New Zealander.
    • Power Rangers Samurai follows up with the Mexican-American Antonio. Whose actor is again neither of those ethnicities.
  • The Middleman has Wendy Watson (Cuban) and Noser (African-American). The rest of the cast is pretty white, though.
  • In Star Trek Deep Space Nine, has Sisko, Jake and Bashir. Race comes up exactly ONCE actually, when Sisko expresses that he is uncomfortable with the holosuite recreation of 1960's Las Vegas because it glosses over the actual state of race relations at the time (segregation, the civil rights movement, etc). His (also black) girlfriend argues that it's ok because it's a simulation of how things SHOULD have been rather than an attempt at an accurate portrayal. It's also a bit odd that 99% of the time when Sisko or his son had a love interest on the show, the woman would be also be played by an African American (even if she was an alien). Whether this is an attempt to balance out the mostly white casts of other Star Trek shows or if it implies that race is a greater cultural barrier to relationships than SPECIES is open to debate. Deep Space Nine is actually one of the more racially diverse main casts (at least the characters' races) with only ONE white human (O'Brian).
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, the only nonwhite human character is Geordi. There was also a recurrer Whoopi Goldberg (African-American) and regular Marina Sirtis (Greek parents), both of these characters were human aliens. Weirdly, Worf's backstory has him raised as a human, and he's definitely not white—make of that what you will. Worf was played by an African-American actor, was an alien, but his in-character (adoptive) parents were white.
  • In TOS, Sulu and Uhura aren't white.
  • Voyager only has Chakotay and Kim.
  • Enterprise (Hoshi, Mayweather) all do, though.
  • On NCIS, we have Vance, and . . . Ziva, I guess?
  • Mortal Kombat: Conquest has the Asian Shang Tsung and Kung Lao, and the black Jade (not to mention a few one-shot characters). And this would be okay even with a mostly white cast, if the show wasn't set in ancient China.
  • The American The Office, with Kelly, Stanley, Oscar, and Darryl.
  • Lampshaded in the News Radio episode, "Daydream," when Catherine, the only non-white member of the cast (and who the writers clearly realized by this point they had no idea how to write for) went into the break room for lunch, and was joined by a group of other African American - and at least one Asian - coworkers, where they talk about their day and about how nice it is to work in a place with so many "people of color in it." She then snaps out of her daydream as her blond-haired white actual coworkers ask if they can eat lunch with her, and immediately start talking about Friends.
  • While not completely compliant, the cast of Red Dwarf have noted in interviews how interesting it is that the main character is mixed-race, one of the other major characters is played by a black man, and nobody has ever commented on it because it's a sci-fi series. (They've also noted that being a sci-fi series frees them from having to indulge in racial discussions.)
    • And he's not supposed to be a black human, but an evolved cat.
      • That being said, Cat is a catlike parody of the "ultra-hip black guy" stereotype.
  • Law and Order Special Victims Unit has Detective Odafin "Fin" Tutuola, Dr. George Huang, and Dr. Melinda Warner. While some episodes of the series include race as a theme (when relevant to the crime of the week), the series itself is not about race.
  • Law and Order was compliant with this rule for the last fifteen seasons of its run: After Chris Noth was controversially sacked in 1995, he was replaced with Benjamin Bratt, and from that point forward, there have always been at least two minority characters on the show. One of these was always Lieutenant Anita Van Buren, who joined the 27th Precinct in 1993 and stayed until the end.
  • Gilmore Girls (Lane and Michel).
  • Stargate Atlantis has Teyla, Ford and Ronon. But this can at best be a marginal example, as both Teyla and Ronon are aliens (they're human, they were just born in the Pegasus galaxy), and the overarching conflicts in the Stargate universe has been against several Always Chaotic Evil races over the years. A few episodes would predictably deal with whether peaceful coexistence could be possible (mostly with hybrids, experiments or Orphans - playing off the Nature versus Nurture debate).
  • Firefly has Book and Zoe. There are also the Tams, who are supposedly half-Asian, but in this 'Verse, that's the dominant ethnicity.
    • It seems that Asians are dominant in high society, politics & business in particular. The Alliance military, that one Core hospital we see and the outer planets don't have much in the way of Asians anywhere. Perhaps all the Asian people form a kind of aristocracy?
  • Flashforward has has Dmitri and Stan in the main cast, plus Gough and Vreede who appear in most episodes despite not being starring.
    • Flashforward makes this easily. It's worth noting that the show has an ensemble cast, but only one credited character played by a white, male American. It should get an award for that.
    • The show also mentions race precisely once, in the context of Demetri (Korean-American) planning his wedding with Zoey (African-American); she implies that his parents do not approve of the marriage because she's not Korean. This is never explored or brought up again.
  • The West Wing fails as far as the credited characters are considered in canon. If you count Martin Sheen as Hispanic rather than white, then it squeaks by with a bare pass from the combination of him and Dule Hill. Like Firefly's lack of Asians, a somewhat somewhat strange coincidence for an unabashedly liberal show.
  • The rebooted Battlestar Galactica Reimagined had white, black, Asian, Indian and Latin American actors in a far-away setting where Europe, Africa, Asia, India and Latin America didn't actually exist. Although racism was a theme throughout the show, it somehow never had anything to do with the characters' skin tones.
  • Heroes started out with DL, Hiro, Isaac, Micah, Mohinder, and Simone (and that's not counting recurring characters like Ando and the Haitian). Season 2 promoted Ando and introduced newbies Maya & Monica to the main cast...but after that the series, while still passing, started to get rid of non-white cast members. Season 4 barely features one (Mohinder) and ends in a way that could write out all three.

Web Original

  • The Descendants features Kareem (Iranian) and Laurel (African American). If one wants to split hairs, you can add Alexis (described as Romani), and Warrick (Italian American).

Western Animation

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: The main cast includes people based on Inuit, Indians, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Tibetans, and a few more. While there is antagonism between nations and personal conflicts, race is not brought up as an issue.
  • Futurama, with Hermes Conrad and Amy Wong. And that's just if you only count the human members of the cast.
    • Though surely the point of this rule is not to discriminate against different races. Thus it is contrary to only list cast members of the human race.
      • On the other hand, Robots are the new, hip future minority. And there is only one of them in the main cast. So, if viewed from the culture that it's set in, it's not Deggan's compliant.
      • But mutants are also a oppressed minority, so Leela would also count toward Deggan's.
      • Not that it comes up a lot, but Bender, as well as being a robot, is Mexican (his full name is "Bender Bending Rodriguez").
        • Then again, in the setting of Futurama, Mexico is known as "America's Heartland"
        • And yet another yet again, Fry is from a different time period which is sometimes treated as a minority group since there have been other characters who were frozen.

Anime and Manga

  • Fullmetal Alchemist is based in Amestris, which is basically the Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Europe. In addition to the normal ethnic Amestrians, we've got Xingese Lin, Lanfan, Mei, and Fuu; "black" Amestrians like Jerso and Paninya; Ishvalan Major Miles and Scar. Also, if being ethnically Xerxian counts, we've also got Edward and Alphonse Elric, Hohenheim, and Father.