Bernard Ludwig Black
Played By: Dylan Moran
The reclusive owner of the eponymous bookstore. He is a misanthropic, pessimistic, belligerent Irish alcoholic who hates both the job and the customers.
- The Alcoholic: He drinks so much alcohol that his entire demeanor gives off the impression of a slurring drunk.
- Alliterative Name
- Badass Bookworm: Bernard is capable writing a 1,000 page novel with a deeply complex plot, characters and themes in the space of one night using two typewriters. He also throws knives and shoots miniature crossbows at invisible monsters.
- Bad Boss: He forces Manny to do all of the work, never praises him, demeans him all he can, and hardly pays him.
- Burger Fool: In a season 1 episode... for about three minutes.
- Cold Ham: There's something compelling about Bernard's slurring madness. Crosses over to Large Ham whenever he flies off the handle.
- Completely Missing the Point
- The Cynic
- Extreme Omnivore: Things Bernard Black has ingested - a coaster, slug pellets, oven cleaner, a jar of coffee, a teacup - are less about nutrition and more absentmindedness, dead tastebuds and rage.
- Fighting Irish: While not outright after a fight, Bernard often resorts to violence at the slightest provocation.
- The Gambling Addict: A little flutter on the Grand Nationals horse races gets him hooked for life. Or for the episode, at least.
- Genius Slob: Extremely well read but too drunk and misanthropic to apply himself. His hygiene is so poor that the suit he wears only appears to be black when it is in fact an exceptionally dirty white suit.
- Grammar Nazi
- Hair-Trigger Temper: When you're Bernard, life is just a long series of Berserk Buttons.
- Kavorka Man: Subverted, he gets girls but they disappear pretty quickly once they catch a glimpse of how much of a sleazebag he is.
- Lethal Chef: "MY OVEN CAN COOK BITS OF OVEN!"
- Man Child: You wonder how he keeps the place going for so long. The man has the maturity of a six-year-old.
- Man in White: That black suit he always wears is actually just exceptionally dirty.
- Meaningful Name: Matches his cynical personality.
- Messy Hair: To the point it has edible mushrooms in it.
- Manny also cuts clumps of it off with a bread knife.
- Named After Somebody Famous: Got his middle name in Beethoven's honor.
- The Nicknamer: Calls Manny by a variety of names, including Bigfoot, Gandalf, and Thor.
- No Social Skills: "Do you eat dinner? So do I! ...Would you like to do it in the same room sometime?"
- No Sympathy: It's a foreign concept to him.
- The Snark Knight: To the repulsion of many customers.
- Sophisticated as Hell: He's read every book in the shop, and he's got the mouth of an Irish drunk.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: He's such a massive jerk that you end up wanting bad things to happen to him.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: At certain points, he treats Manny like his child. Culminates in him screaming, "HOW COULD YOU DO THIS? MY OWN SON!"
Played By: Bill Bailey
Bernard's shop assistant and flatmate. He is a skilled businessman, well liked by the customers.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!
- Bumbling Sidekick: Or so Bernard likes to tell him. Manny's a little odd but he's generally more competent than Bernard himself.
- Butt Monkey: Treating Manny like shit is one of Bernard's few reasons to get up in the morning.
- The Cast Show Off: Just watch him play piano!
- Desk Jockey: At the very start of the series.
- Foil: To Bernard. Even his name means "white".
- Genius Ditz: possesses remarkable talents such as being able to play a piano melody after hearing it on the radio once.
- Hidden Depths
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: While perhaps not brilliant, he is far better at the financial and customer-service aspects of bookselling than Bernard.
- Nice Guy: Kind to customers, supportive of his friends, and generally wasted in the shop.
Played By: Tamsin Greig
Bernard's best and oldest friend. In the first season owned a gift store next to Black Books, but the business went bankrupt and she was unemployed from then on.
- Annoying Laugh: Sometimes it involves snorting, sometimes it's incredibly loud and throaty, sometimes it's really high pitched...
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!
- Deadpan Snarker: You have to be when you hang out with Bernard so much.
- The Hedonist: Fran drinks and smokes with abandon. In one episode, a hippie friend attempts to straighten Fran out, getting her to go vegan and try yoga. The only thing that really winds up rubbing off on Fran is the self-righteousness.
- The Immodest Orgasm: To the sound of the shipping forecaster's voice. She even has to call him so she can finish.
- Lady Drunk/Hard-Drinking Party Girl
- Meaningful Name: Katzenjammer is a German term for a hangover. note
- Only Sane Woman: You know your social circle is a mess when Fran is this person.
- Prodigal Family: Meets her long-lost family in one episode, and they proceed to use her for free rides around town.
- Women Are Wiser: Averted. She's about as crazy as the rest of the cast.
- Wrong Genre Savvy