"She was six feet of black dynamite! He was a short Hasidic Jew."
A variation on the Odd Couple
, involving a white person and a black person. Usually, the white person is a strait-laced by-the-book type, while the black person is a funky, urban type who doesn't have much respect for authority. Most commonly, they're cops
, assigned as partners
after their old partners die/get disgusted and walk away. Generally, the two make a fairly good team if they can work out the personality clashes
, with the strengths of one covering for the weaknesses of the other
Salt And Pepper seems to be becoming subverted more often today due to increased racial awareness, so that it's the white person who's a rebellious hothead, and the black person is smart and savvy. Another common subversion is for the black
guy to be uptight and the white
guy to be relaxed. An alternate version is a pairing of a white character with a Hispanic character called a Cafe con Leche. Please note, however, that being two different races isn't enough for this trope. There must be some kind of contrast in their personalities for it to work.
For American media, this may be more common
in the movies (Lethal Weapon
, Die Hard 1 2 and 3
) than on TV as television shows often seem more segregated.
See also Black Best Friend
. Irishman And A Jew
is an older variation of this trope. If they're not different races, the trope is All Work vs. All Play
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- A 2006 series of Twinings tea commercials in the UK featured the incredibly English Stephen Fry (the "face" of Twinings since 2005) running a tea shop with a Jive Turkey named Tyrone, who suggested the Earl Grey slogan could be "Feel the zing in your ding-a-ling!"
Anime and Manga
- The anime and manga series Blood+ pairs thin, ultraserious, white David with fat, easygoing, black Lewis.
- However, despite his personality, Lewis tends to be on top of things and surprisingly competent.
- This also features a potential inversion/subversion with the reserved and serious (black) James and the flamboyant and affectionate (white) Nathan. Both are Diva's Chevaliers, but they never actually work together in battle. Still, if all the touching and flirting is anything to go by, Nathan certainly wants them to be an Odd Couple.
- Bleach gives us Urahara and Yoruichi, which play this trope straight and invert it. When it comes to their everyday personalities, Yoruichi is a vivacious flirtatious pepper while Urahara is a hard-to-read trickster salt. However, when it comes to mentoring Ichigo, Urahara is batshit insane white pepper of a Sink-or-Swim Mentor, while Yoruichi is a calm and controlled black salt whose tests, while equally dangerous, are a lot less wacky.
- November 11 and April in Darker Than Black are, respectively, a cool, collected, and impeccably-dressed charmer and an easygoing black Hard-Drinking Party Girl and
dyes her hair bright blue has naturally bright blue hair. They're antagonists, though.
- Iron Fist (white martial arts master raised in an other-dimensional city) and Power Man (wrongfully accused black ex-con living in Times Square and freelancing as a superhero) in the Marvel comic Heroes for Hire. Both were created in the '70s during the kung-fu and blaxploitation crazes. Best Odd Couple ever.
- From the same era are the Daughters of the Dragon: the asian Colleen Wing and black Misty Knight, combining inspirations from Charlie's Angels and Cleopatra Jones.
- And The Defiant Ones gets another nod in the supervillains Hammer and Anvil, a pair of escaped convicts whose powers and lives are linked by the chain that binds them.
- Quantum and Woody (uptight middle-class black guy, street smart white guy, sharing a power ala The Defiant Ones) was a later take on the Power Man/Iron Fist idea by Christopher Priest, who used to write the comic. Quantum and Woody are even briefly shown dressed as Luke and Danny during a costume shop montage.
- Concession skewered this with a fake advertisement.
- Tom and Sarah Dubois in The Boondocks are an inversion. Tom is the straightest-laced character in the show; whereas Sarah, his white wife, is at least naughty enough to fileshare, and is irked by her husband's irrational fear of getting caught breaking the law.
- Marvel's Cloak & Dagger.
- Also from Marvel Comics is Captain America and his former partner The Falcon. They don't team-up as often as they used to but they invoked this trope, although both are very straitlaced.
- There is also the USAgent and Battle Star, a b-list Anti-Hero Substitute to Cap and his African American partner. Agent is the more violent of the two while Battle Star is more sensible.
- Gorsky and Butch - at one point they argued which of them should be the relaxed one. Generally, Gorsky (who, despite the Polish surname is the black one) tends to be the smarter and more experienced - except for his unfortunate tendency to walk right into every Stereotype Reaction Gag that comes his way.
- DC's Firestorm can be this all by himself, since he's a fusion of two separate characters in a single body. The writers tend to like to pick distinctly different personalities (who may not even like each other much).
- In Keepers of the Elements, there are two notable subversions. With Travis and Milah, Travis is the straight-laced, by the book one and Milah is is the more outgoing, risk-taking one. The other subversion is that of Nasira and Hasim, Nasira being the straight-laced one and Hasim is the fun loving one, who while he doesn't go against the rules, is certainly more flexible when it comes to them.
- Robinson Crusoe and Friday are probably the Ur Example. It should be noted that Friday is actually not black in the original book: he's a Carib Indian from the Orinoco River delta region. (Crusoe's Caribbean island is in the mouth of the Orinoco.) But so many adaptations over the centuries have Race Lifted him as black that most people now think of him as such. Crusoe and Friday also share the traditional characteristics of this trope as a straitlaced, rather stodgy white man and his more vibrant, flamboyant brown sidekick.
- Detritus and Cuddy (and later Littlebottom) in Discworld are a troll/dwarf partnership. Trolls being naturally stone-cool, and dwarfs being fairly uptight.
- In the Doctor Who Expanded Universe, Chris Cwej and Roz Forrester. Roz is black, and is deeply cynical and usually the by-the-book type. Chris is white, and very idealistic.
- Stuck's leads, Tre and Nora. He's a black Genius Ditz with a slacker complex, while she's a white Stepford Snarker who can be uptight at times, depending on her mood. They end up in a happy relationship (which has its ups and downs).
- Paul McCartney performed three hit duets with an equally famous black performer in the early '80s:
- "Easy Lover" by Phil Collins and Philip Bailey.
- Julio Iglesias has performed the following:
- A mixed gender example: "I Knew You Were Waiting" by Aretha Franklin and George Michael.
- "Riding With The King" by Eric Clapton and B.B. King.
- "Eenie Meenie" by Justin Bieber and Sean Kingston.
- A European pop duo played with this. Calling themselves Milk and Honey,◊ they consisted of the blond, German Anne Ross (Milk,) and the dark-haired Algerian Manel Filali (Honey.) Their video for "Habibi" is probably the best example.
- The two faces of The Prodigy: Keith Flint (salt) and Maxim Reality (pepper).
- Muddy Waters and The Rolling Stones, live in Chicago in 1981.
- Salt And Pepper by Harry Chapin is an aversion, although the title is accurate - just differently interpreted. The Salt is a retired sailor (i.e. an "old salt") and his wife, Pepper, is infamous for her hot temper.
- Sometimes shows up in Hip Hop. Some notable examples include.
- Houston rappers Paul Wall and Chamillionaire
- "Over and Over" Nelly ft. Tim McGraw.
- Bad Meets Evil, composed of Eminem and Royce da 5'9
- The two remaining members of Massive Attack, 3D and Daddy G.
- The A.P.A., Bradshaw and Faarooq are probably wrestling's most most famous example. Bradshaw is the fun loving Boisterous Bruiser from Texas and Farooq is the no-nonsense Scary Black Man from Georgia. When they are not beating people up (usually for money, since their gimmick was being hired muscle), they are most likely seen in the back drinking beer and playing poker.
- The Dudley Boys are another good example and another interesting subversion. Both of them are dumb, bumbling buffoons who are low on social grace and manners. Though in TNA, Bubba in particular does subvert his character even further by becoming somewhat of a Genre Savvy Magnificent Bastard who is able to manipulate the powers that be.
- Starting about 2010, this all changed when the brothers split and Bubba (now known as "Bully Ray") experienced a Face-Heel Turn. Now Devon (the black one) is a thuggish but still pretty cool guy, while Bully Ray is a loudmouth and coward whom everybody hates. Their racial contrast is no longer important, other than the fact that Devon is now good friends with the Jive Turkey D'Angelo Dinero (at least until the latter messed with his kids).
- Subverted again, after Bully Ray revealed himself to be the Big Bad of the biker gang Aces&8s, of which Devon was already a member.
- At ECW November to Remember 95, there was a tag team match with the Sandman (Salt) and 2 Cold Scorpio (Pepper) vs. the Public Enemy (Salt and Salt.) Before the match, there was a dance contest. Scorpio danced well. Sandman...didn't.
- Ivory (Lisa Moretti) as the manager of the black Face tag team of "Sexual Chocolate" Mark Henry and D'Lo Brown.
- For a surprisingly long time, Booker T and Goldust were a successful tag team, with Booker (the black one, if you didn't know) playing the more serious half, while Goldust was, well, Goldust.
- In Future Of Wrestling, viewers were presented with the pairing of Antonio Banks(Pepper) and Punisher(Salt), who also doubled as Big Guy, Little Guy, even though Banks wasn't that little just because Punisher was so big. Banks was the more outspoken and sarcastic of the two, plus he had Malcolm X tattooed on his chest, playing this trope pretty much straight.
- In WWE, The World's Greatest Tag Team. A subversion in that Shelton Benjamin (the black one) is the relatively straight one (though he's still an insufferable self-centered ass), and Charlie Haas (the white one) is a veritable Jive Turkey (to quote Rory, one of the Highlanders, "I didn't know Charlie Haas was black!"). When they were working for Kurt Angle, however, their personalities were pretty much interchangeable.
- Averted by LayCool, the heel Diva team of Layla El and Michelle McCool that terrorized SmackDown! from 2009 to 2011. Although Layla was of mixed race (North African and European) and Michelle was white, as a team they more or less behaved the same way (snobby and obnoxious). Before they teamed up, however, they each played the trope rather straight: Michelle was prim, while Layla was spunky.
- TheLastOfus: Ellie and Riley
- Zip and Alister in Tomb Raider: Legend.
- Jonathan Ingram (white) and Ed Brown (Black) in Policenauts, as direct reference to Lethal Weapon. Ed is older, but other than that they're pretty much exactly as wacky as each other.
- The Tales Series loves to play around with this one, which is fitting as several of its games really get into the guts of race, and discrimination, tropes and often end up subverting or deconstructing the crap out of them.
- Tales of Eternia features the mages Keele, a Deadpan Snarker who always has to have the last word and more or less exemplifies The Smart Guy and Meredy, the ditzy seven year-old living in a teenage body. Eventually deconstructed when it's revealed that a) Meredy knows a lot more than anyone realises: she just doesn't "get" Inferian culture (due to coming from a world that's very far down the "Emotions" side of Emotions vs. Stoicism), and b) the reasons as to why she became such a Cloudcuckoolander are horrifying. Her family was betrayed and she was forced to watch her mother cross the Despair Event Horizon: becoming an Eldritch Abomination possessed by a God of Evil.
- Tales of Destiny has multiple examples:
- Tales of Destiny 2 gives us another inversion. Kyle is a Hot-Blooded white Kid Hero who will not stop harping on about how he's going to be a true hero some day. Loni is a much calmer Chivalrous Pervert Big Brother Mentor Black Best Friend who generally tries to keep Kyle out of trouble with mixed results. Loni has a similar dynamic with his love interest, the Fiery Redhead Nanaly.
- Tales of Rebirth is another inversion. Eugene, the closest thing the 'verse has to a Scary Black Man, looks like the pepper but turns out to be an extremely sane Team Dad. The whites, on the other hand, are varying degrees of Idiot Hero, Hot-Blooded and Leeroy Jenkins. This evades the potential Mary Sue problem, however, through the fact that the naive idealism of the latter ends up saving the day just as many times as the former's logic. Furthermore, after the Disk One Final Boss, Eugene becomes infected with its negative emotions and it's revealed that his wise, stoic personality is being deliberately invoked by him to try and desperately suppress the rage that's building up due to all of the Fantastic Racism.
- It's different planets as opposed to ethnic backgrounds in Tales of Symphonia, but Lloyd Irving, who is steadfastly committed to his principles of goodness and righteousness, and Zelos Wilder, a Chaotic Neutral Chivalrous Pervert, clearly have the makings of this trope going on. In the same vein, so do Love Freak Colette and Action Girl Sheena.
- In terms of race, the elf Genis is the salt to Lloyd's pepper. This dynamic continues even after Genis is revealed to be a Half-Elf.
- Yet another villainous example occurs in Tales of Legendia. Interestingly enough, both are Big Bads but don't work together so much as one plays off the other's mistakes to further their goals; making for an exploitive inversion of how the trope is usually meant to work. Of the two, Vaclav is the Ambiguously Brown brawler who has no regard for even the rules of his own country, never seems to have much of a plan beyond "Kill 'em all and let the flames sort it out" and has a much more relaxed attitude (although he's far from Affably Evil). The pasty-skinned Maurits, on the other hand, is a textbook chessmaster who exploits the flaws in Vaclav's plans to lay the foundations for advancing his own goals. A straight, heroic example would be Jay and Moses.
- Tales of Vesperia gives the the cool, calm and collected white hero Deadpan Snarker Yuri and his Sixth Ranger, the Ambiguously Brown Chivalrous Pervert Raven. This dynamic is flipped around when it's revealed that Raven is The Mole and is actually the Badass Stoic Captain Schwann. Or Schwann is his Split Personality... Yeah, it's kinda hard to pin down.
- For exactly the same reasons as Lloyd and Zelos, Jude and Alvin are an inversion. Played straight with Milla and her Loony Fan Ivar, although ultimately deconstructed as her being so salty results in her refusing to take him seriously due to his extremely peppery nature, resulting in what is basically the mother of all fuck-ups as the Dragon with an Agenda's Batman Gambit goes off without a hitch. They both learn from it.
- Dragon Age II plays it straight with the naive but well-meaning and culturally-loyal (well, from her perspective) Merrill and the Ambiguously Bronze pirate Isabela, who is both savvy and totally unconcerned with anyone's rules but her own.
- Even though 90% of its characters are Petting Zoo People, Breath Of Fire 2 still has a straight example with Nina and Katt. The former is a lawful, almost Caucasian-like Black Magician Girl while the latter is a darker-furred Hot-Blooded Action Girl. She averts being her universe's equivalent of a Sassy Black Woman, however. She's too busy being a heroic Blood Knight.
- Aya and Daniel in Parasite Eve.
- In Ambition, the black Yale cheats on his white wife Helen with the also white Angie.
- Half-Life 2 and sequel episodes: Gordon Freeman and Alyx Vance (although by her facial complexion, Alyx's mother could have been white or Asian). Gordon is the Strong Silent Type; Alyx is a Tom Boy who does all the talking.
- Roommates black Toni Chandler (Chaka) and white Nikki Reilly (Fey) in the Whateley Universe. Chaka is also way more relaxed about their mutual problem, while Fey is wound tight enough that she accidentally pops out hobgoblins regularly.
- Also Chaka (smart-alecky black girl) and Bladedancer (Tao-driven Oriental girl), most blatantly when Bladedancer went home with Chaka for Christmas.
- On The Simpsons, there are two Salt And Pepper pairs — Lenny and Carl, and Lou and Eddie. Though none of them seem to be funky or by the book; they're more "barely competent" and "not that bright all around".
- Inverted with Lenny and Carl, in that Lenny is a slacker and Carl seems to have it more in control.
- There is also Richard and Lewis, two of Bart's playground friends from school.
- The Simpsons also had another pair on the show within a show "Police Cops".
- Also Rainier Wolfcastle's series of McBain movies had McBain and Skowie.
- Played for a one-off gag when Bart is convinced to enroll in a class by a stereotypically cool black guy who promises it will turn him "from sloppa to proper." The class turns out to be called "The Proper Young Man" and is taught by a middle-aged, very British woman. When Bart complains, she replies "Are you accusing my husband of misleading you? Good heavens, I ought to bust a cap in your ass."
- Parodied in Futurama, with a Jive Turkey robot cop, partnered to a white human.
- Josh and Brittany in Mr Meaty. Brittany is an African girl who's very popular, and well-liked. She hangs out with Ashley and Ashley 2. Though she's not as shallow as the two girls, and the smartest of them. Josh is the slacker. he's into making monster films, music, and talking to girls. In the last few episodes before series cancellation, it's revealed he likes Brittany. In subsequent (aired OOO), Brittany speaks to him in school, and he slams his hand in his locker door, then follows after her. They go on a date to the movies, where they make out, and in last episode, Josh refers to her as his girlfriend. He later, in the episode preceding the last, tells her he loves her. She feels the same, and they hug.
- Parodied when one episode of Clone High involved the Gandhi clone and the George Washington Carver clone making a buddy cop movie, in which they played strait-laced, Harvard-educated Leon Black (Carver) and Tandoori Jones (Gandhi), "...a typical Indian cop who plays by his own rules: none! Together they are Black and Tan!"
- Numbers 2 and 5 of Codename: Kids Next Door; though 5 is general the street-wise and straight one, with 2 largely being a book-smart wannabe.
- Justice League features the inversion with uptight ex-marine John Stewart/Green Lantern paired up with goofball Flash.
- Stewart also ends up in a (maybe) temporary relationship with Boisterous Bruiser Hawkgirl.
- On Total Drama Island, the lanky white nerd Harold with Sassy Black Woman Leshawna, though they were never a team until Total Drama Action. He also has a huge and obvious crush on her which she seems to eventually reciprocate.
- Parodied as well as being a Shout-Out to Men In Black on Johnny Test with (white) Mr. Black and (black) Mr. White.
- Static Shock with Static being the funky, quick-tongue, while Gear was the more calculative and nerdy one.
- They were both pretty nerdy actually, and Richie only became smarter with his power, whearas before Virgil was much smarter.
- There are more than a few shades of this on Galaxy Rangers when Goose and Doc are paired up. It also helps that Doc is a high-class gentleman and The Smart Guy while Goose is an Artificial Human designed for combat.
- Since 2009, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. One might even call this an Invoked Trope, since Biden was seen to bring wisdom and experience to Obama's energetic "Change"-based campaign. On the other hand, Obama is the one known for measured speaking and compromise, while Biden is known for a chronic case of foot-in-mouth disease.
- Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin, the (white) starting quarterback and (black) top wide receiver for the 1992 Dallas Cowboys football team. Aikman liked country music and beer, while Irvin was into hip-hop and marijuana (plus a few other things probably best left unmentioned here!). But they had a real rapport both on and off the field, inspiring Aikman to quote the lyrics to Paula Abdul's then-popular song "Opposites Attract" to explain their relationship.
- Brigadier General Robin Olds, USAF. An Ace Pilot who flew P-38s and P-51s in World War II, he went on to fly F-4 Phantoms in The Vietnam War, alongside his wingman, a black pilot (and future four-star general) named Daniel James, Jr. They had the nickname of "Blackman and Robin." Together, they were responsible for Operation Bolo, a mission where F-4 Phantoms would pretend to be F-105 Thunderchiefs on bombing missions, pouncing on North Vietnamese MiGs that thought they had an easy kill coming. The success of this operation lead to the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing being known to this day as the Wolfpack. James was the more straight-laced of the two, with Olds being a legendary Military Maverick...hence James reaching a higher rank before retiring.