"I'm the one black guy. Do you know how precarious that makes my situation?"
Pretty self-explanatory trope: in a film which involves a lot of character deaths, it seems like the Token Minority
will inevitably be the first to go.
In the past this perception was because black leads were kept away from any big-budget films outside of those that focused specifically on race or used it to make a point. Historically moviemakers were generally writing to white audiences, so it was natural (in their opinion) for whites to get more screen time. And if the writers throw in a Token Minority
to give the cast more believable racial balance, who do you think is going to die first, them or the folks who have a bigger role in the script?
Nowadays the film is known more for popularizing Blaxploitation
films, but most of those films were popular with audiences at the time for ignoring this trope altogether. Over time and due to social push, access to higher-paying jobs and relative economical stability began to open up for black people, with more and more prominent black characters and more big-name black actors emerging—many of which were not likely to get killed off quietly. Studios had also finally accepted that white audiences are not generally as racist as was once assumed, and do not need to have a white protagonist. In other words, if you're gonna go after the black man nowadays, you might want to check the credits to see who's playing him. If it's no one you've actually heard of, they're probably fair game. Tony Todd? Go for it. Samuel L. Jackson
? You can take your chances. Rosario Dawson
? Yeah, good luck on that. Denzel Washington
? Bad idea. Morgan Freeman
? You should give up. Will Smith
? Run away and hide.
The character doesn't have to be male, or even strictly black. As long as they're the only minority present, their chances of seeing the end of the movie are rather slim. As minority actors became more common in significant roles, this trope found new ways to stay relevant. Films would take a Scary Black Man
, turn him into The Big Guy
, and kill him off to show how strong the monster is
. In action or horror films, The Hero
(typically a White Male Lead
) might have a Black Best Friend Lancer
that gets killed off or do a Heroic Sacrifice
to show that this is no laughing matter
. 80s horror shows were good at this, and film makers had growing backlash against all the exploitation films.
Compare Bury Your Gays
as well as Red Shirt
and Vasquez Always Dies
As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
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Anime & Manga
- Gorobei is the first to die in Samurai 7. This despite the fact that, in the original Seven Samurai film, the first to die was Heihachi. Gorobei was the only black man among the samurai.
- In Berserk, Pippin is the first named character to die during the Eclipse.
- Inverted in The 08th MS Team with Terry Sanders Jr. Every squad he was in before joining the title MS Team has been completely wiped out and he is not happy about it.
- The Halo Legends short "The Babysitter" follows a four-man squad. The one Ambiguously Brown member doesn't even get a name or dialogue before he dies.
- In another Legends example, the one black Spartan in "The Package" is the first of the bunch to die.
- In Blood: The Last Vampire, the script seemingly goes out of its way to find a black character to kill first (Some monsters had died, but he was the first human to have a graphic onscreen death.) We have an old white woman, running from demons when she runs into a giant black American military man on base. She explains to him that said demons are chasing her, and he starts laughing stereotypically, complete with Giant nostrils and lips. Needless to say, he ends up standing under that one creepy tree, and the demon grabs him by the head. Disemboweled instantly.
- In the Gunsmith Cats OVA, the sole black character, Jody, is the only good guy to die, and he dies because he's Too Dumb to Live.
- Out of the 11 students who died during the attack on the Mars base in the first episode of Blue Comet SPT Layzner, Judo is the both only one who was named and the only one who was black.
- In Bleach, Kaname Tousen is the first of Aizen's inner circle to die.
- In one arc of Full Metal Panic!, Sousuke is sent on a mission with five other soldiers to kill Gauron. Out of the group the first to die is the black team captain.
- Lily C.A.T. averts this trope, by having the only black crew member of the ship die after two other characters bite the dust.
- Averted in Gunslinger Girl. All the girls either explicitly die or are implied to however Triela is the third to die. Even Henrietta dies before her.
- Avdol in Part 3 of Jojos Bizarre Adventure. Twice.
- Black Goliath is the first superhero to die in Civil War. And he wasn't just any black dude, he's a giant black dude. For the record, perhaps four other people died in that conflict.
- His nephew, who became his Legacy Character (but simply calling himself "Goliath"), is a member of the Revengers, a group of heroes with grudges against the Avengers. Goliath got knocked out early into their assault on Avengers Mansion and was the only one of the bunch to be badly hurt.
- Set up in The Expendables' parody, where there is a character known only as (even by that character himself) "Muscly Black Dude Who Dies A Gruesome Death", and whose purpose is only to say "You're totally mad, bro!" and "You said it, dude!". He frequently lampshades this behaviour, and even explains how a family photo is the way they chose to give depth to his character. Eventually averted, because the first one to die is Dolph Lundgren's character.
- The G.I. Joe comics kill off their black doctor first.
- In the Elseworld comic series, JLA: Act of God, Steel, a.k.a. John Henry Irons ends up being first hero who bites the dust as he gets stomped to death by a giant robot.
- Who is the first character to die in Midnight Nation? That would be the black guy who tries to clue in heroic detective David Gray about what is really going on.
- Variation in Avengers: X-Sanction. The first Avenger to be taken out by Cable is The Falcon, who is knocked out without a fight and used as bait to lure his teammates into a trap.
- Black Panther is the first hero to be killed onscreen in Age of Ultron (though Thor, Cyclops, and the Hulk were all stated to have been killed prior to the start of the story).
- In the What-If version of Avengers vs. X-Men, Wolverine accidentally kills Storm getting into an argument with Namor. He is understandably horrified at what he did.
- Mettle, the first victim of Avengers Arena is half-black, half-white Jewish. This is made a bit more egregious as in an earlier issue of Avengers Academy his friend lamented feeling like the black guy in a slasher movie.
- Tribe, by African American Larry Stroman, was a short-lived series about the adventures of a predominantly African-American superhero group. Issue 1, page 2, panel 4 features the first death: a black dude getting his neck snapped.
- The page image comes from a strip at the back of an issue of Squee, which parodies Hollywood action movie cliches, including this one.
Films — Animated
- Both Kung Fu Panda movies open with this trope; the rhinoceros characters are consistently played by black voice actors, most prominently Michael Clarke Duncan, and they die (in the first movie, in droves) first.
- In Epic, Queen Tara (voiced by Beyoncé Knowles) is shot by an arrow from a Boggan soldier, and is the first important character to die on screen.
Films — Live-Action
- Discussed in Everworld, as a joke from Christopher to Jalil.
- Subverted in The Host . The one black man present in the human colony does not die first. He does, however, die the only violent death onscreen, when the Seeker shoots him.
- The In Death series: Judgment in Death has a black cop named Kohli be the first murder victim.
- Though not the first death in the series, Ajihad is the first to die in the second book of the Inheritance Cycle.
- The novel Morrigan's Cross by Nora Roberts. It's pretty obvious what's going to happen because (a) he is the only black guy, and (b) there's 4 guys and 2 girls and it's a romance novel, so you have to get another girl in the mix somehow.
- In Percy Jackson and the Olympians's fifth book, Beckendorf is the first to die (in a Heroic Sacrifice, but still). On the one hand The Last Olympian was his debut as a major character (he had been more of a background figure before). On the other, given Bianca and Zoe in The Titan's Curse, he's not exactly the first major character to die in the series.
- Subverted in The Film of the Book—while Grover stays in the Underworld so the others can leave, he returns by the end of the movie, and appears to have had quite a good time with Persephone.
- In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000 novel Ravenor Returned, dark-skinned Zeph Mathuin is the first of Ravenor's warband to die "on camera."
- Tiberius in Robopocalypse, in what appears to be a trap set by the Big Bad to kill the rest of Brightboy squad as they march to Alaska. It slightly works.
- Inverted in Animorphs; Cassie, the black character, is the only one spared by the Bolivian Army Ending.
Live Action TV
- One Tie-In Monk novel, Mr. Monk on the Couch, has a serial killer case where the first victim is a black thrift shop manager.
- Star Trek: There are examples of black Red Shirts all throughout the Star Trek universe who die before their similarly-garbed comrades.
- A Star Trek: The Next Generation example - in "Where Silence Has Lease" an alien face on the viewscreen says that he wants to understand death by way of killing about half the crew and starts by killing the helmsman, the spot normally manned by Wesley Crusher. But he's away from the post at the time, for the only time in the whole episode, replaced by a Red Shirt black guy.
- In an alternate timeline of Star Trek: Enterprise wherein the Xindi are successful in their genocidal bid to eradicate humanity, Travis Mayweather is the first of the main characters to die.
- Averted in at least one episode (TOS "By Any Other Name"), where of the two redshirts reduced to small polyhedrons in the first act, it's the white woman who gets crushed and the black man who's restored.
- The first person to die in the pilot of Andromeda is a young black officer named Thompson. He's named after Cronan Thompson, a young black internet personality who was involved in many online arguments with the show's creator, Robert Wolfe. Cronan died of cancer at 19, and Wolfe included Thompson in his pilot as a tribute.
- In the New Zealand TV3 docu-series Aftershock, the first person shown to die as a result of the Cook Strait earthquake is a Maori man.
- In BBC's Merlin, they added black knights to Uther's court. The Monsters of the Week seem to love killing them, and if a knight needs to die to establish the threat, it will be the black dude. Being a Black Knight in Merlin appears to be like being a Red Shirt in Star Trek. Heaven help you if you're a black Knight and wearing a red tunic.
- The first major character to be killed in the series was Tom, who is also black.
- However, the first Knight of the Round Table to die was Lancelot, not Elian.
- Also from the BBC is Robin Hood. A couple of faceless Mooks die in the two-part pilot, but the first named character to die (get stabbed in the back, to be precise) is De Fourtnay, the Sheriff's Man-at-Arms. He was played by a black actor in a beret in a show set in 12th century England.
- Brother Tuck was played by David Harewood (black), and was one of the few characters to survive the Everybody Dies finale of the show.
- In Stargate Atlantis, although his death is ambiguous, the first character to leave the main cast is the black Lieutenant Ford.
- In the pilot episode of The Greatest American Hero, the first person to die is Bill Maxwell's black partner.
- In Jekyll Benjamin is Hyde's first (human) kill. After Hyde has tortured, mauled and, um... done other things to people, the first time he actually takes a someone's life is to slice Benjamin's throat for threatening his family.
- Following a number of near-death experiences for various members of the Ashes to Ashes team, the first regular character to truly cop it is black desk sergeant Viv James.
- Technically, given what was revealed in the finale, Viv wasn't the first to die. But he was the only one that ended up in Hell, which is worse.
- Flashpoint: Of the main cast, the first cast member to die is Louis Young, the SRU's sole black officer.
- In the Pro-Life episode of the Masters of Horror series, the black security guard is the first to die.
- In The Outer Limits Revival episode "The Vaccine", the helpful young black man is the first of the group of survivors to die, when feral dogs attack him outside of the quarantine zone and compromise his environmental suit, exposing him to a lethal virus. Ultimately subverted, when he turns up alive at the end; the survivors lived not because they hadn't been exposed to the virus, but because they were immune.
- In the first paintball episode of Community, Troy is the first member of the study group to be "killed." This is shockingly unlampshaded.
- Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps lampshades and parodies this trope in the horror special, "When Janet Killed Jonny". Louise, who is black (and is indeed the first character to die in the episode), comes out with this when creepy things start happening:
(Everyone stares at her)
- In the slasher-esque Masters of Horror episode "Pick Me Up", the black bus driver is the first person to be murdered by one of the killers.
- Doctor Who:
- In The Moonbase, the base is staffed with an international group of scientists, all white except for one black man. He is the first to be killed, getting bumped off in Episode 1 although it is later revealed that he was just kidnapped by the Cybermen and made a partially-converted slave.
- In Time Heist: The Teller's first on-screen victim, Saibra, the only black member of the heist crew and the first to fall by the wayside, appears to be an example until it turns out she survived.
- In Voyage of the Damned, Morvin Van Hoof, the first to die out of the small group of characters the Doctor attempts to lead to safety, is black.
- Reversed in "The Tomb of the Cybermen'', where Toberman, the only non-white character in the story, is the last to die. He sacrifices himself to keep the Cyberleader from escaping from the titular tomb.
- Extant: Molly's ex-boyfriend Marcus, who died before the show even began. It doesn't stop him from becoming a recurring character, though.
- Double Subverted in Agents Of Shield: the first member of the team to apparently die and not be revealed as actually alive before the episode ends is Mack. Towards the end of the next episode, it is revealed to the viewer that he probably survived after all... only for the other black guy on the team, Trip, to die a rather definitive death.
- WWE's The Nexus faction sort of did this. Barring Daniel Bryan's legit firing, the first two guys officially dumped were black (Darren Young [beaten down and thrown out after losing to Cena] and Michael Tarver [taken out by Cena himself]). David Otunga did not leave the Nexus, in fact he was the only original member to still be in the Nexus when it disbanded. Wade Barret split from the Nexus and formed The Corre which had a black guy named Ezekiel Jackson. He was the first to be ejected.
- There have been instances such as in Elimination Chamber or Survivor Series matches where the black wrestler is the first one eliminated,
- The first named character to die in Metal Gear Solid was the black DARPA Chief, Donald Anderson. Subverted when it turned out that he was an albino disguising himself as Anderson, and then twisted back around again, because the real Anderson was killed off-screen before Snake's arrival.
- Metal Gear Solid 2 is divided into two chapters. In both chapters, the first named character to die is a black man - Scott Dolph in the Tanker portion and Peter Stillman in the Plant portion.
- Apparently averted in Metal Gear Solid 3 when Sigint lived through the end of the game. However, in Metal Gear Solid 4, it's revealed that Sigint was actually Donald Anderson, who was, of course, the first character to die in the very first Metal Gear Solid.
- Metal Gear Solid 4 itself averts this, since the only two black characters in the game, Ed and Drebin, both managed to survive.
- In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, the opening sequence shows an African leader, who was successfully bringing peace to his country after decades of civil war, getting assasinated by the villains of the game whom want to keep the conflict going for their own profit.
- In Fallout 3 the first character to die is the scientist Jonas who was a friend of your character's father. It's his death in fact, that kicks off the main storyline.
- Also, your character's mother at the very beginning, during the birthing sequence. (According to the ingame files, she's African-American)
- In Crysis, the two black and one Hispanic teammates get eaten by aliens in the first couple of levels. One of the black teammates gets better, though.
- Oh, that black guy who got better? His name is Prophet, and he dies first in the sequel. Although he did get better...sort of. It Makes Sense in Context.
- Not only does he get better, but by the third game in the trilogy it's made clear that he's the main protagonist the story is about. Even though he's no longer human.
- In Siren: Blood Curse The black camera man Sol Jackson is the first to be killed. Then everyone goes back in time because Crazy Cult lady's plan got screwed over. Sol is alive again! ...Until he dies first a second time.
- A lot of people died in Dead Space before the Kellion crew (including player character Isaac Clarke) arrived, and he wasn't even the first of the Kellion's crew to die (a pair of redshirts bit it at the start), but Hammond was the first major character to bite it; torn limb from limb by a Brute.
- In Halo, the first major non-gameplay casualties are the black Sgt. Johnson's seven-man squad. Word of God indicates this was originally intended to stick.
- In Win Back for the N64, the main story involves tracking down your fellow squad members from whom you were separated. One of the first to be encountered is Matt, the black squad member, who instantly receives a sniper bullet to the face from Cecile.
- The early Resident Evil games played this straight with the likes of Kenneth J. Sullivan (Resident Evil), Marvin Branagh (Resident Evil 2), and Tyrell Patrick (Resident Evil 3: Nemesis). While technically speaking none of them die first, they don't really contribute much in the story other than get killed as soon as they appear. The most egregious example listed is Marvin, who was actually intended to be an important side-character in the canceled first version of Resident Evil 2 (aka Resident Evil 1.5), but was Demoted to Extra in the actually released version.
- The first named character to die in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey is the token black man, Commander Gore, in the first hour of the game. But he later comes back as the Magical Negro.
- The first member of your squad to die in Blacksite: Area 51 is Mitchell Ambrose, the only black man. He's also introduced by showing you pictures of his family and was also going to ask for leave after this mission.
- In the Chzo Mythos game 7 Days a Skeptic, Barry dies first. The assignment also happens to be the last before his retirement, so he never really stood a chance.
- Also in Trilby's Notes, Abed is the first, and only, character to die. Unless you count the prologue and the flashbacks. Not a typical example since this happens near the end of the game.
- In the suicide mission at the end of Mass Effect 2, Jacob Taylor, the only black party member, volunteers for the first task. If you select him for this task, he gets shot in the face with a rocket. Avertable, if the player is Genre Savvy, or if you didn't upgrade the Normandy's weapons, shields, and/or armor (if any of the three are not upgraded, someone else dies, first). The player can also send ANYONE into the shaft (except Miranda) and get any number of non-black crew members killed. They can also get the entire team out alive, thus sparing Jacob. So really, if Jacob dies first, one could argue that the player is the one enacting the trope.
- Played straight in Clive Barker's Jericho, where the Firstborn explodes two party members before the final battle. It actually targets Cole for trying to analyze it, but Jones stands closest to her and gets gibbed along with her. And true to the trope, Jones is blasted to chunks just one instant before Cole.
- In the 1st Degree has only one character die. His name is Zachary Barnes, and he is a black guy shot dead by his white business partner James Tobin. Fortunately, the point of the game is to make sure Tobin goes all the way down for Zack's murder.
- In the Soldier of Fortune series, Hawk is the first named sympathetic (player's side) character to die.
- In Front Mission Evolved, Captain Hamilton is the first major NPC to die after being Impaled with Extreme Prejudice.
- In Final Fantasy VI, General Leo is the first character to be seen killed by Kefka, who is black in the Yoshitaka Amano design. Whether or not it is evident in the sprite is left for the individual to assume.
- In Silent Hill 4, Cynthia, a Hispanic/Latina and the sole minority character, is the first to die in-game but also the first to be turned into a ghost.
- In the Mech Commander intro, who is the first target of the Mad Cat? The black guy (Hardcase) piloting a Hunchback. He survives, barely, by ejecting from his stricken 'Mech.
- Justified, in that he had the biggest gun. The Mad Cat's pilot likely felt it was prudent to take the Hunchback and its massive cannon out of the equation as quickly as possible.
- The first casualty of the entire World War 3 in Red Alert 2 is the black guy who refuse to launch the nuclear missile in the opening cinematic.
- Inverted in The Walking Dead where Lee, the main character is the last person to die.
- In Call of Duty: Ghosts, Ajax, the first member of the titular team to die, also happens to be the only black member of the group.
- Averted in Dino Crisis. Not only is Cooper, a white guy, the first to get the axe, but Rick is the only character in the game besides Regina herself who can not die in the game.
- The very first mission in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 begins with the scene of a black African soldier burning to death. The player then spends the entire mission killing a bunch of black Africans just to get information on where to find and rescue Woods. The fact that you're helping another black African leader who's excited about fighting and killing doesn't discredit the trope.
- The tutorial mission of Just Cause 2 literally starts with this trope in spades. First the spunk blonde falls out of the helicopter - but is saved at the last minute. Then the black guy gets shot and falls out. For bonus points you get to jump out and skydive to his corpse (with the blonde telling you over the radio "yep, definitely dead, no point in trying to save him"), take the valuable object from his body, then use your parachute and leave the corpse to fall the rest of the way down.
- In Erfworld, Lord Manpower the Temporary is killed on page 2, and is black at the time. (Later, he's green, like the rest of the uncroaked.) Technically, though, he was the last of Stanley's warlords to die. Just the first dead character in the story proper.
- Superman: The Animated Series, episode "The Hand of Fate". First demon to spring from the giant hole goes straight for the black dude.
- Wolverine and the X-Men: Swat team flees from faceless terror in the middle of a blizzard. Black guy gets dragged off.
- In the Justice League Unlimited episode Dark Heart, Billy the rock climber gets eaten by the alien first.
- The Wonder Woman movie's first loss on the good guys' side is the black guy.
- In Batman: Assault on Arkham, Black Spider is the first member of the main cast to get injured.
- On Total Drama Island, neither DJ nor Leshawna gets killed first during the horror movie challenge—-but, DJ is the one to get voted off. The same thing happens in Action.
- On Pahkitew Island, Beardo is the first contestant to be voted off.
- In Spaced Out a black Krach Industries suit got dissolved by acidic pulp, which security aimed at an escaped experimental organism that had to be taken out at all cost.
- Young Justice:
- Averted in season 1. Artemis, not Aqualad, is the first one to die in the episode "Failsafe". She's later the first member of the team to be Faking the Dead.
- Played straight in season two. Aqualad is the first member of the Team to have something unequivocally horrible (and potentially irreversible) happen to him on screen when he's rendered catatonic by M'gann.
- Later it gets subverted. Not only does Aqualad come out of his catatonic state, his plan is the major reason the heroes were able to OutGambit the villains by the end of the season.
- Kid Flash (Wally) dies and remains dead for good.
- Subverted TWICE in Motorcity:
- During the zombie plague episode, 'Going Dutch', the Burner's black member, Dutch, is the only one not infected, and ends up saving the day.
- During the episode 'Mayhem Night', both Dutch and Chuck were the only Burners not infected by the Terras' hallucinatory, fear inducing gas, though Chuck is a Non-Action Guy.
- In at least two episodes of Teen Titans Go! Cyborg is the first to die.
- When Ambrose Chase dies in Planetary, the Genre Savvy villain comments that "this is science fiction movie. The black guy always dies in the science fiction movie." (They were in a reality-warping field that made reality follow movie cliches, so this was, literally, the reason he died.)
- Parodied in a comic by Jhonen Vasquez describing the worst movie ever made.
"In classic tradition, ethnicity means a deathmark, and a reason to motivate that noble white guy."
White guy: "AAARGH!! YOU KILLED BLACKY!!"
- In Kyle Baker'snote war comedy Special Forces the opening splash page of the very first issue is the black squad member's head exploding and the main character actually lampshading this quote in her narration.
- Gorilla Girl from Avengers: The Iniative sums it up perfectly:
- In A Day In The Life OFA Commissar, two Guardsmen see Commissar Steve get gassed. One trooper, horrorstruck, wonders who's going to be the first to die. His buddy says "we should go by the movie rule that states the black guy always dies first." They're relived that none of their troops are black. But then one trooper says, "wait, I'm half-black!" and is promptly blown to pieces.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- Evolution comically named this trope, but actually avoids it with a verbal Defied Trope. Since it's a rather light-hearted comedy, almost Everybody Lives.
- The guy who said it (Orlando Jones) had even originally used the line in a MADtv sketch.
- In Scream 2, a black guy decides to defy it when he leaves town after a few bodies pile up. He ends up surviving the entire ordeal.
- Scary Movie:
- Parodied and defied in the first movie. After the Scream (1996) parody that opens it, a line of reporters discuss the story in front of the school. The last one is from BET (Black Entertainment Television), and the reporter declares "white folks are dead, we're gettin' the fuck outta here!" - at which point he and his crew jump into their van and speed off.
- Also, it's discussed fully in another scene, with text to this effect:
"The worst thing a brother can do is to party with white people, 'cause you know you're gonna die first. You should all get out of here."
"W-what about me?"
Brenda: Uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh UH! Now wait a minute, hold up! How come when anytime this scary shit happens, and we should stick together, you white people always say "let's split up"?
Theo: She's right, we should stick together.
Dwight: She's right. Okay.
[points to the white people in the group]
Dwight: You three, follow me!
[the three black people are left alone]
Shorty: Ain't that a bitch.
[the three of them begin to cry]
Brenda: We gonna die, y'all.
- Undercover Brother's Conspiracy Brother complains about this trope.
- Canadian Bacon features a scene in which this theory is discussed, and various examples are given. It ends with the one black guy looking really nervous. He not only survives, though, he goes on to prove that black athletic superiority extends to hockey, too.
- Preacher of Deep Blue Sea is well aware of this trope, and records his legacy - the perfect omelet recipe - in anticipation of his death. He lives all the way to the end, although the other black character does die mid-way through the film.
Live Action TV
- Wayne Brady on an episode of Whose Line is it Anyway during a game of Questions Only set at the Bates Motel, and also during a game of Themed Restaurant, with the theme being horror.
Wayne: "Am I going to be the first one to die, like I always am?"
- Wayne nearly always lampshades this trope in any game that involves horror movies.
- Wayne also lampshaded it on a ninth season episode of How I Met Your Mother, although the death is not...death. He sacrifices himself by talking to the old people so Barney and Robin can sneak away and not have to talk to them.
- In an episode of Psych parodying slasher films, Gus refuses to leave the house because "I've seen enough slasher movies to know that when the brother goes off to the woods, he doesn't even sorta come back!" Ironically he not only survives, but is the ONLY person to best the killer in a one-on-one fight.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 7, the following exchange occurs after some of the potential slayers (including Rona, who is black) are "killed" in a training exercise:
Spike: OK, these two are dead. Why?
Rona: 'Cause the black chick always gets it first?
- In an episode of Married... with Children, Al, Jefferson, and Griff join the National Guard and have to quell a garbageman strike. They've holed up inside a truck during a riot and Jefferson orders Griff to get out and do something.
Al: See? We both lose.
- Discussed by Turk in the Scrubs episode "My Long Goodbye".
"If this were a horror flick, I'd be so scared that I was next. They always kill the black folks off first. Now I'm not really worried about it, 'cause there's still Snoop Dogg Resident and Leonard the security guard... y'know, when you think about it, this is a white-ass hospital." (beat) "I'm gonna miss you. You take care, okay?"
- A skit on Fridays called "The Moral Majority Variety Hour" included a magician who made the only black man in the audience disappear.
- In one rather funny moment on Smart Guy Moe and Marcus are sitting down to watch Scream 2. Marcus' girlfriend objects to the violence, Moe says he's only watching it for Jada Pinkett. Marcus and his girlfriend get into an argument about something else, and are suddenly cut off by loud screaming. Moe, oblivious to the argument, moans "Oh no, Jada's in the beginning. Black folks always get killed early in these things!" Seconds later, a woman's scream is heard in the movie and Moe says flatly "There goes Jada."
- Mentioned by Liz Lemon in 30 Rock.
"Word of advice: If the will says you have to spend the night in a haunted house you better hope that everybody else there is black guys and sluts
- During Community's Zombie Apocalyptic Halloween special "Epidemiology" this trope is inverted when Abed sacrifices himself to make sure that Troy escapes, though Troy gets infected only a scene or two later.
Abed: "Troy, make me proud. Be the first black man to get to the end."
- Parodied in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy:
Damon: Why am I always the decoy?
- Inverted in the Key And Peele sketch "Suburban Zombies". The white guy (Kevin Sorbo) is killed and eaten first, and it later turns out that the zombies intentionally spared the black protagonists because they're afraid of black people.
- Nicole Beharie of Sleepy Hollow is well aware of this trope, and has said one of the major reason the show appealed to her was because unlike most other horror or fantasy narratives, the black woman isn't just the white heroine's best friend who ends up getting murdered.
- In an episode of Are You There Chelsea, Dee Dee and Olivia are watching horror movies. Olivia says "There are no black people in this movie, so I don't know who dies first!"
- In a 1999 The Boondocks strip, Huey writes an e-mail to George Lucas saying how excited he is that Samuel L. Jackson will be playing a Jedi Master (Mace Windu, for the uninitiated) in The Phantom Menace (and very formally so). He then pauses, and with a grim expression, writes "...but he had BETTER not be the first one to die."
- This chart on GraphJam detailing the life expectancies of horror film characters.
- In SOTF-TV, the first character to die is Anthony Rollins, who is, well, black. He actually hangs a lampshade on this right before he dies.
"Really? I'm the black guy that dies first? I knew I could've done more for this fucking show working the camera."
- And this◊ shows even polar bears are subject to this trope.
- Tobuscus lampshades this in his literal trailer of Shark Night, when the black man Malik is attacked.
- "She can't believe that THAT guy died first."
- The idea is repeatedly and viciously lampshaded in SF Debris review of the aforementioned "Where Silence Has Lease".
"...And naturally there'd be no shortage of volunteers [From red-shirted black men for bridge positions]. People who've seen Science Fiction know the black dude dies first. And people who've seen the original series know the guy who beams down in a red shirt dies. So, black dude pluse red shirt equals get a bridge job as fast as you can and hope an alien doesn't show up on the view screen looking to kill people for no reason
- and later. He does the voices of the various cast members to summarize the scene:
Negilum: "Now would be a good time to learn about death by killing one of you."
Riker: "Oh, no!"
Picard: "Oh, no!"
Troi: "Oh, no!"
Data: "Oh, no!"
Black Red-Shirt: "MOTHER FUCKER!" *dies*
Picard: "Send another red-shirted black fellow to the bridge."
- This poster of Red Tails.
- From the "Letters to Mr. Potter" tumblr:
Thank you for not being the first one to die.
Sincerely, Black People Everywhere
- The Nostalgia Critic dubs the thoughts of the only black guy in Jaws 3D: "All I can say is, I'm worried. We're in a lousy horror movie and I'm the only black person around. Clearly I need to hire more black people." He does, and just as planned, they get eaten by the shark instead. Success!
- Parodied in an episode of South Park, itself a parody of the movie The Core. In the original, a black scientist dies after engaging a switch deep while in almost direct contact with the Earth's mantle; in the parody, Cartman explicitly picks Chef as "the black man who will sacrifice himself". This is subverted, however, as Chef safely makes his way through the crowd of Hippies, does what was asked, and gets back... only for Cartman to keep going on as though Chef had died.
- The episode of The Simpsons with the infamous MENDOOOZZAAAAA! Skyward Scream features McBain's black partner getting killed.
- The animated series Funny Face has the black watermelon as the first and only character to die.