[[caption-width-right:250:Gimme gimme shock treatment.]]

Black Lightning was Creator/DCComics' first black superhero with his own series. He was created by Tony Isabella and debuted in ''Black Lightning'' #1 (April, 1977), although his series only lasted a year before falling victim to a mass cutback that resulted in twenty DC titles being cancelled. He continued to make guest appearances, was a founding member of ''ComicBook/BatmanAndTheOutsiders'', and served with the Franchise/JusticeLeagueOfAmerica. He got another series of his own in the [[TheNineties 1990s]], again written by Tony Isabella, which lasted slightly longer than the first one had. He has continued to make guest appearances since.

Black Lightning was Jefferson Pierce, who grew up in a slum in Metropolis, made good as an athlete, and returned to his old neighborhood to teach at the high school and help the next generation make something of themselves. Finding the neighborhood in the grip of organised crime, he became a costumed superhero equipped with a belt that gave him [[ShockAndAwe electrical powers]]. Later in his career, as so often happens, he developed the ability to manifest the powers without the belt.

Black Lightning did not appear in any other media for many years, with DC on several occasions choosing to create a new character where they might have used him (e.g. Black Vulcan in ''WesternAnimation/{{Superfriends}}'' and Soul Power in an episode of ''WesternAnimation/StaticShock''). This changed when the Outsiders appeared in ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheBraveAndTheBold''. Since then he has also appeared in the animated movies ''WesternAnimation/SupermanBatmanPublicEnemies'' and ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeagueCrisisOnTwoEarths'', the ''VideoGame/DCUniverseOnline'' video game, in a series of shorts for the WesternAnimation/DCNation block (alongside his two daughters, Thunder and Lightning), and in the second season of ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice'' as a member of the Justice League who eventually offers to become the mentor of ComicBook/{{Static}} (who was ironically replacing Black Vulcan).

[[Series/BlackLightning2018 A live-action television series]] featuring the character is currently airing on Creator/TheCW. Black Lightning appears as a premiere skin for [[Franchise/MortalKombat Raiden]] in ''[[VideoGame/Injustice2 Injustice 2]]''.

!!''Black Lightning'' provides examples of:

* AlternateCompanyEquivalent: Tobias Whale, a four-hundred pound crime boss who maintains a death grip on Suicide Slum, is DC's answer to Marvel's Kingpin, a four-hundred pound crime boss who maintains a death grip on Hell's Kitchen.
* {{Archenemy}}: Tobias Whale during the original run.
* BadassTeacher : A school teacher, Olympic athlete and overall badass with or without his powers.
* BewareTheNiceOnes: You won't find many people [[NiceGuy nicer than him]] in the DCU. Piss him off, however, and you'll find out exactly why getting on the bad side of one of the most powerful metahumans on earth is a bad idea.
* ClothesMakeTheSuperman: Black Lightning's powers were initially a property of his costume.
* ColorCharacter: ''Black'' Lightning. Officially the name comes from the fact that the lightning he generates is literally black. Hinted to be somehow related to the Black Lanterns, since he got powered up after ''ComicBook/BlackestNight''.
* ElectricBlackGuy: He [[TropeMaker started the trend]] of black men with electrical powers.
* EvilAlbino: Tobias Whale, the BigBad of the original series, was an albino African-American.
* NotSoDifferent: Black Lightning and the Tattooed Man have a bit of a row in ''ComicBook/FinalCrisis'', having similar origins, being family men born in the ghetto yet ending up being Justice League and AntiVillain respectively. It ends with a HeroicSacrifice.
* TheOneWhoMadeItOut: Jefferson Pierce got out of the ghetto and then came back to help the next generation.
* OOCIsSeriousBusiness: Used for horror at the end of his book in ''ComicBook/FinalCrisis'', where he is [[spoiler: taken by the Anti-Life equation and shouts the praise of ignorance and Darkseid]].
* RememberTheNewGuy: He has recently acquired two never-before-mentioned teenage daughters. It's worse: one daughter was introduced in a semi-believable way, and at the time you could see him being a real father to her because he was retired at the time. But years later ''another'' daughter surfaces out of nowhere.
* ShockAndAwe: The basis of his powers.
* StealthHiBye: In his 1990s series, Black Lightning demonstrates that he acquired this trick from Franchise/{{Batman}}.
* TechnicalPacifist: BL retired from superheroing for awhile when an innocent bystander was killed as he was stopping a villain. He also [[ThouShaltNotKill swiftly objected to Outsiders teammate Katana's willingness to kill.]]
* UpbringingMakesTheHero: Jefferson Pierce's strong moral foundation and community spirit are a big part of his character.