"Why is it that when a black man shaves his head he looks like a super hero, but when a white man does it he looks like a serial killer?"In a show that deals with the police, military, or some other armed force of peacekeeping, there's a very good chance that The Leader of the outfit—or at least the one everybody respects—will be a bald black man. Apparently, there is something about being both bald and black which makes a leader popular enough to be appointed, and that something doesn't work when you only have one of the two. It might be that the image invokes strong masculinity, a no-nonsense "get it done" attitude that lends itself well to the setting. This can also apply to leaders of other sorts of groups as well, as long as those groups are "good." Possibly a form of a Token Minority, if he's the only person of color present. The writers might be hoping to avoid the usual problems of tokenism by making the one black character someone in a position of authority and respect who's essential to the plot every week, but the biggest drawback is that he still isn't the lead; it's not his story being told and there's no guarantee that he will grow and evolve as a character over the course of the series. Of course there are exceptions, with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine standing out by making the Bald Black Leader Guy also the lead role. See also Bald of Awesome. His significantly less bald Distaff Counterpart is the Black Boss Lady. May overlap with Scary Black Man if he's also intimidating. Before adding examples, please make sure the character is actually bald when you post him. The buzz cut is quite popular among black men and is not the same thing as having no hair at all, and thus Barack Obama (for example) would not count unless he were to shave his head at some point in his term. There's a lot of space between "bald" and "afro".
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Joker in AKIRA is bald, black, huge, and the leader of the motorcycle gang known as The Clowns. It's not exactly a democracy, but it still works.
- Dutch in Black Lagoon. Also a Scary Black Man.
- Basque Grand of Fullmetal Alchemist. He's not the leader of the country, but he is a high-ranking officer (a Brigadier-General at the time of his death) and during his time as a Colonel Badass was Roy Mustang's immediate superior during the Ishvalan Civil War, although the "black" part is debatable.
- Lordgenome from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, although he leans a little closer to Ambiguously Brown and started out white and blond.
- Egil is tall, bald, black and has a goatee. He's one of Kirito's trusted friends while trapped in Sword Art Online, and fights as well as he looks with a large battleaxe. In real-life, he owns a bar. Subverted though, he has the leadership qualities, as seen in Progressive/Episode 2, but not seen nor mentioned to lead a party.
- In the comic series Stormwatch, bald white guy Henry Bendix is technically the leader, but for the most part, field commander and bald black guy Jackson King (Battalion) calls the shots. He takes over for Bendix as Weatherman, too.
- Patriot from Young Avengers.
- Ultimate Marvel: Ultimate Nick Fury, who was explicitly based off of Samuel L. Jackson with his permission, and played by him in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (Fury is, of course, white and has hair in mainstream continuity.) Fittingly, the artists started depicting him with a shaved head around the same time that he became the leader of The Ultimates; in his first appearance in Ultimate X-Men, when he was still a S.H.I.E.L.D. field agent, he had a fade haircut.note
- From Marvel's Runaways series, an (evil) example: Geoffrey Wilder, leader of The Pride.
- Luke Cage, in his current bald incarnation, is the leader of the Mighty Avengers, and in the past was the leader of both the New Avengers and the Thunderbolts.
- Still from Marvel, Lieutenant Stone, leader of the New York City Cops team Code: Blue.
- For a non-superhero example, Reverend Harland Pepper of Stuck Rubber Baby.
- Battle Chasers: The Maestro, leader of the Marshal Paladins (which Garrison used to be a legendary member of.)
- In Power Company, there is Josiah Power, who has facial hair, but a bald head.
Films — Animation
Films — Live Action
- Kenneth (played by Ving Rhames) in the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead (2004) is one of the main characters in a large cast and, being a police officer and former Marine, as well as one of the few calm and reasonable people in the mall, assumes something akin to a leadership position with in the group.
- Seen in The Fifth Element, where the President of the Federated Territories is both bald and black (played by former wrestler Tom 'Tiny' Lister).
- The Squad leader from Resident Evil.
- Michael Clarke Duncan does a lot of this.
- Almost any time Samuel L. Jackson is in anything. (Except Pulp Fiction, in which he has glorious hair, and the trope is instead covered by Ving Rhames as Marsellus Wallace.)
- Mace Windu in the Star Wars prequels was the leader of the Jedi Council (while Yoda was the Grand Master of the Jedi Order) until he stepped down to concentrate on kicking ass in the Clone Wars.
- His recurring portrayal of S.H.I.E.L.D. chief Nick Fury in the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, most notably The Avengers.
- Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus in The Matrix. (most of his other roles have him with a buzz cut)
- In Land of the Dead, a big, bald, black zombie leads the other zombies to march on Fiddler's Green.
- The trope is briefly discussed in Facing the Giants when the token minority teacher suggests that the coach may be getting hair plugs since the only white guy who is bald and looks cool is Kojak.
- Avery Brooks in American History X. Yes, there's a theme going here.
- USS Kelvin's commander, Captain Robau in the 2009 Star Trek. His ethnicity isn't given in the movie (the actor is Faran Tahir, a Pakistani-American). Word of God has it that Robau was born in Cuba. Notable in that the character appears for less than 10 minutes and speaks maybe two paragraphs of dialogue, and yet is a full-fledged Memetic Badass.
- Dillon in Alien³. Granted, he's merely a leader of a small group of all-male convicts turned religious zealots, but still.
- Louis Gosset, Jr. as President Gerald Fitzhugh in Left Behind: World At War, and as his military roles in An Officer and a Gentleman and the entire Iron Eagle franchise.
- Major/General Kidd in Prayers for the Assassin
- Kingsley Shacklebolt becomes one at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — he even becomes Minister for Magic.
- Jon Arabin, or The Warwolf, in The Walrus and the Warwolf
- Ajihad from Eragon is the leader of the rebel group.
- Trask from the Fablehaven series.
- Spaceforce's Commander Tobias Judd in the Spaceforce series.
- In Blood Pact, Gaunt's Ghosts get Commissar Usain Edur, a Scary Black Man (actually a pretty cool guy who is also a Deadpan Snarker) assigned to their regiment as an extra commissar. Unsurprisingly, he is also the first named character to die in the next book. While also being awesome, so there is that.
- It seems to be the case in Bone Street Rumba that nobody respects the higher ups in the Council of the Dead. Riley, however, is a Soulcatcher Prime, and Carlos' partner, and one of those who does have respect in the hierarchy.
Live Action TV
- Principal Robin Wood in the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Also, when he leads a Slayer squad in Cleveland.
Gunn: "Heh, what'd you think, I was Prematurely Bald? (beat) I wasn't."
- Gunn, at least in his first few appearances.
- At Angel Investigations he's more like "Bald Black Big Guy". Subverted when he grows his hair out in the fifth season.
- He becomes one again in the comicbook continuation, After the Fall. Albeit an evil, vampire version.
- Dr. Alan Deaton, on MTV's Teen Wolf. He helps the main characters out all the time, comes up with answers and/or plans, and always knows what to do. He is just one badass dude.
- Walter Steele of Arrow is a secondary character, but the CEO of Queen Industries.
- Aglaine the Druid Leader in Merlin though he was killed off pretty quickly. Helios was a villainous example.
- Mr. Moesby from The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.
- Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. In the second half of the show, he's a district judge. Also, in the final season, the Republican Party recruits him to run for another political position, though he decides to drop out of the election. Besides these, Uncle Phil is definitely a strong leader within his family and becomes Will's father figure.
- Avery Brooks as Hawk in Spenser For Hire, from 1985 to 1988, and the spin-off A Man Called Hawk, in 1989.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had Captain Sisko, also played by Avery Brooks, be clean-shaven with a full head of hair to avoid comparisons to Hawk. In the Season 3 premiere "The Search, Part 1" he'd grown back the goatee and had shaved his head in the Season 4 premiere "The Way of the Warrior" once there was a noticeable characterization difference between Sisko and Hawk. (Mainly, Spenser had a series of post-script movies, so Brooks was playing Hawk again; he kept his Hawk look in DS9.)
- The President of Great Britain in a Doctor Who Parallel Universe.
- TJ, the Red Ranger during the second half of Power Rangers Turbo. Also, more in the spirit of the trope, Colonel Mason Truman in Power Rangers RPM.
- In addition to being a surrogate dad, Sesame Street's Gordon will step up during a crisis.
- President Wayne Palmer in 24.
- Any Jaffa leader from Stargate SG-1.
- Onyx Blackman in Strangers with Candy is a Bald Black Despotic Tyrant Guy.
- Ted Shaw, commander of the Antares in Defying Gravity
- Principal Steven Harper in Boston Public.
- Admiral Fitzwallace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on The West Wing.
- Sergeant Major Jonas Blaine, field commander of The Unit, is forced to go bald in a few episodes.
- The President in Heroes is black and bald. He is played by Michael Dorn.
- Special Agent/Colonel Broyles in Fringe
- In The Adventures of Sinbad's second season, Rongar, who had been bald and black all along, was revealed to be a prince (technically, exiled ex-prince) in his home realm.
- Cedric Daniels and Major "Bunny" Colvin on The Wire.
- Captain Roy Montgomery from Castle is this and very much a Benevolent Boss. Also, very awesome.
- Oenomaus/Doctore in Spartacus: Blood and Sand.
- In Chuck, "Big Mike" Tucker is the bald, black manager of the Buy More—though he's really more of a figurehead as he's about as interested in doing any work as the rest of the staff (i.e. not very) and so it's Chuck who ends up doing most of the actual leading, in between saving the world, or the series of evil assistant managers.
- In season 5 of Criminal Minds, when Hotch temporarily steps down, Morgan was briefly the team leader because The Reaper was back to hunt down Hotch.
- Lt. Malcom Barker in season 4 of New York Undercover.
- Captain Marcus Chaplin, commanding officer of the United States Ballistic Missile submarine Colorado in Last Resort.
- A man whose alias is known as Peter Collier on Person of Interest acts as the leader of "Vigilance", a group of organized anti-Government-surveillance Well Intentioned Extremists.
- Crisis has FBI Director Olsen, played by Michael Beach.
- Played with on Brooklyn Nine-Nine:
- Captain Holt is not quite bald, but he has a very short-buzz cut and possesses the standard personality of this character (authoritative, serious, commanding, etc.) By season three, he practically is bald.
- On the other hand, Sgt. Jeffords (Terry Crews) has been bald from the start, but is less imposing and authoritative personality-wise and is a bit more neurotic than the standard example of the trope.
- Monday Mornings: Dr. Jorge Villanueva, mostly known by his InSeries Nicknames "El Gato" or "Big Cat", is a version of this trope from a Medical Drama. He's a legendary trauma surgeon and an excellent diagnostician. He's really a leader of his team and other younger doctors who look up to him. He's sometimes downright fatherly and Papa Bear on people who would mess with his "cubs".
- Captain Trunk, Sledge Hammer!'s long suffering boss, is something of an aversion, ticking all the boxes except for his moderate Afro. Even so, sledge is the sort of subordinate who could cause stress-alopecia in anyone...
- Total Recall 2070: Martin Ehrenthal, both bald and black, is the head of the local division of the CPB. He's an incredibly competent administrator, not afraid to stand up to any Consortium representative or someone from the Assessor's Office trying to browbeat him or his agents to back away from their investigations.
- In the 1970s and 80s, the bald, black "Evil Genius" Lightning Hernandez was the unofficial leader of all the rudos on the Dominican Republic television program "International Wrestling". For the record, the unofficial leader of the tecnicos, Jack Veneno, was also black but not bald, making this overlap with Bald of Evil.
- Ahmed Johnson
- Former Interim Raw GM Jonathan Coachman
- Former Smackdown GM Teddy Long
- The Rock after his 2011 return. The supposed leader of "Team Bring It".
- Casper Orillion from Freelancer. He founded The Order, the so-called "terrorist group" that ultimately saved all humans in the Sirius Sector from a certain Nomad cleansing.
- In the Xenosaga games, "Representative Helmer", the leader of Second Miltia, is both bald and black.
- "Sarge" Redford in Battlefield: Bad Company has an unknown level of baldness (He wears a hat, but some hair can be seen otherwise, so he's at least not entirely bald for sure), but leads the rather bumbling squad, sometimes serving as the Only Sane Man alongside Marlowe. Earlier teasers showed him as bald, though.
- Roland in the Borderlands games. By Borderlands 2, he became a leader to the the Crimson Raiders resistance.
- The sort-of-leader of the IRIS rebel network in Beyond Good & Evil, Hahn, is an extremely large, sort-of-black and sort-of-Asian man. (The actual leader, Da Chief, is...elsewhere.)
- Dead Space has Zach Hammond, security officer and leader of your party. Hints are dropped that he might know more than he lets on...until it's shown that it's Kendra who's actually the Mole. Hammond is just as much in the dark as you are.
- Second Sight gives us one of these as the head of the paramilitary organization you're allied with.
- Possibly subverted by DHS agent Brad in Dead Rising. He doesn't seem to have any authority over anyone besides his partner Jessie, and while he may be the one allegedly supplying food and essentials to the growing survivor population in the sealed Security Room, he doesn't hold a candle to Frank, who, blessed with incredible charisma, can lead large posses of frightened people through throngs of the undead.
- Michael Chain of F-Zero-GX, leader of the Bloody Chain gang.
- Prophet of Crysis is your squad leader, spending the entire game giving out orders using the radio.
- In Knights of the Old Republic, the player meets the Hidden Bek gang on Taris, led by one of these. The player and the Bald Black Leader Guy (depending on player choices) can end up helping each other out for mutual benefit. It counts because the Beks are more about security and brotherhood, while their rivals are just trying to take over the under-city.
- Also, Jolee Bindo. Not quite the leader, but as the oldest member of your party, he offers a lot of guidance and still kicks ass.
- Chris Jacobs from Mercenaries.
- In MapleStory, there's Icybyrd Slim, mayor of New Leaf City. While he doesn't seem to be much of an Action Politician, he does seem to be the brains behind every project in the city, which is populated by Bounty Hunters, Adventurer Archaeologists and Ditzy Geniuses.
- Irving Lambert for most of the Splinter Cell series...Yet he managed to get it back in Double Agent.
- Commander Gore from Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey.
- Your commanding officer, General Claibourne, in the JauntTrooper series.
- Josh, the leader of the BSAA Delta team from Resident Evil 5.
- Final Fantasy XII gives us Reddas, the Pirate King of Balfonheim, and ex-Judge Magister under the name of Foris Zecht. He's a bit on the Ambiguously Brown side, but completely bald except for a fluffy white beard.
- Gears of War 3 adds the character of Griffin, an energy-magnate-turned-post-apocalyptic-warlord living in the ruins of a city hit with a Kill Sat some ten years previous. Hypermasculine indeed.
- General Horace Warfield◊ from Starcraft II may or may not be bald (it's hard to tell under the Power Armor), but he is every inch a Four-Star Badass.
- Coach from Left 4 Dead 2 usually acts as the leader of the game's four man ensemble.
- Diablo's Tyrael is one after he voluntarily fell from grace to help humanity.
- Syndicate (2012) has Kris Delaney of the Subverters.
- Fire Emblem Awakening: Basilio is initially the ruling khan of the militant country of Ferox. Though after you beat his champion Marth in Chapter 4, Dark-Skinned Blond Flavia takes his throne.
- Admiral Briggs from Call of Duty: Black Ops II is a four-star admiral in charge of SEAL Team Six, who spends much of the game giving you orders over the radio and chewing you out if you fail the optional strike force missions.
- Subverted with Frank Tenpenny in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: he's bald, he's black, and he's a leader...of an evil band of Dirty Cops.
- The Admiral in Sunless Sea. A particularly important figure in London's admiralty, and the closest thing to a boss you'll have for a good chunk of the game, possibly all of it if you'd rather bring London to greatness than certain other factions.
- Roy in The Order of the Stick is black in a family of bald men and the leader of his team, although he's a bit more hammy and much more snarky than usual examples of this trope. The King of Nowhere also qualifies (which is one of the reasons Roy was confused with him at on point), for what we seem of him in a flashback panel.
- In The Gamer's Alliance, Ismail is a bald, black man who becomes the captain of the Black Guard of Vanna.
- Tech Infantry has Abdul Johnson, Chairman of the Grand Council, and Rashid King, head of Internal Security and the power behind the throne. Both are Black Muslims, although their hairstyle is never quite made explicit.
- The fan-made Star Trek video Prelude to Axanar has Admiral Marcus Ramirez, Chief of Starfleet. He's bald, black, and fearless against the Klingon Empire.
- The Venture Bros. episode Tag Sale - You're It! begins with such a guy leading a squad of OSI agents. They're careful not to anger him, perhaps out of fear that he'll make them wear frilly dresses, which he seems quite intent on doing.
- Justice League - After a galaxy-rocking (literally) breakup with Shayera at the end of season two, Green Lantern John Stewart shaved his head in time for Unlimited. The first episode of the revamp put him in leading a small team of greener heroes, and his status as founding member frequently made him a go-to guy in a crisis.
- South Park parodies examples of this in "Ass Burgers", which lampshades the frequency of the trope:
- In Thunder Cats 2011, Old Soldier and Four-Star Badass Panthro takes on this role in his debut. Having singlehandedly rescued the rest of the ThunderCats from a tight spot, he's incredulous at their lack of "adult supervision" and young king Lion-O's impulsiveness, in particular. Panthro demands they defer to him on a shared mission and refuses to acknowledge Lion-O as his liege until Lion-O proves himself in battle.
- Michael Jordan, is black and bald and was the uncontested leader of his team, his league, and, well, his sport's history. And after retiring (the second time), he became a team president with the Washington Wizards, ended up making another comeback with his new team, then later became first a minority owner and then the majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, who coincidentally made the playoffs for the first time in their brief team history the year that he became majority owner. So yeah, he probably qualifies.
- Other top NBA players who fit the trope include Charles Barkley, Shaquille O'Neal, and Kevin Garnett. Kobe Bryant comes pretty close, but he usually has at least a little fuzz going on. (Basketball would seem to have an edge over other team sports for this trope due to the lack of headgear.)
- Some leaders of African countries who fit this trope:
- Howard Jones, best known for his tenure as lead singer of Killswitch Engage.
- As seen above, Ving Rhames, Tommy Lister Jr and the late Michael Clarke Duncan made their careers playing this archetype.
- Of all places, ice hockey gives us an example; Calgary Flames right winger Jarome Iginla. One of the NHL's true black superstar players, he's a six-time all-star, and in 2003 was named team captain of the Flames, the first black team captain of a major hockey team. At the time of his appointment, he had an Obama-like close buzz cut; now he has something more akin to a clean scalp.
- Winnipeg star Evander Kane may also count, though he isn't a captain, he is the team's offensive leader.
- New York Knicks former head coach Mike Woodson.
- Former Mayor of Newark, NJ and current U.S. Senator from New Jersey (and, after an especially Rousing Speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, one of the national rising stars of the Democratic Party) Cory Booker. He backs it up with some real-life heroics, too; most famously, while Mayor of Newark, he stopped his car on his way to work to save a woman from a house fire, suffering smoke inhalation and second-degree burns on his hands.
- South Carolina Senator Tim Scott.
- A number of black film directors are this, among them Keenen Ivory Wayans, John Singleton, and Antoine Fuqua.
- Darius Rucker, lead singer of Hootie & the Blowfish.
- Kelvin Swaby, lead singer of British indie rock band The Heavy.
- Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, although his hair was cut extremely short.
- Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall, who is currently running for Mayor of Atlanta