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Tall, Dark and Handsome

"You will have the tallest, darkest leading man in Hollywood."
Merian C. Cooper to Fay Wray

Well, Everyone Loves Blondes, Heroes Want Redheads, and of course there's the sensual Brunette. But for men, there seems to be one main perceived ideal: Tall, Dark, and Handsome. Sometimes, it's a Tall, Dark, and Handsome Stranger.

Tall, Dark, and Handsome Stranger was a pulp fiction trope, particularly in mystery novels. Romance novels still play it straight sometimes. This then led to a Tall, Dark, and Handsome casting trope for leading men: Clark Gable, etc. This is also one of the defining attributes of the Latin Lover stereotype. A handsome black man can be described as such too, though anyone with the height and dark hair can pull it off. (After all, Blond Guys Are Evil.)

Being one of the oldest tropes in the book, it's nowadays more often used in subversions and deconstructions. The actual invocation of the trope Tall, Dark, and Handsome Stranger is often parodied, or might be played straight but usually isn't highlighted if it is.

Related Tropes named for this trope:

Aloof Dark-Haired Girl (Distaff Counterpart)
Tall, Dark and Snarky (Combined with Deadpan Snarker or Gentleman Snarker)


Examples when the trope is invoked, parodied and/or subverted:

    open/close all folders 

    General 

    Anime and Manga 

    Fanfic 

    Film 
  • The man on page image is Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) from Gone with the Wind.
  • As noted above, the director of the original King Kong truthfully promised Fay Wray that she would be working with the "tallest, darkest" leading man in the world. Although a bit of a stretch: the actual Kong ligature used for most scenes was only about sixteen inches tall.
  • The Man with the Golden Gun: One of Fransisco Scaramanga's associates describes him in this way to Bond. Bond remarks that his aunt matches that description, too.
  • Loki from Thor. This serves to mildly emphasize the differences between him and the rest of his family. Where they are muscular, swarthy and light-haired, Loki is lithe, black-haired and pale.
  • From Dusk Till Dawn : While at 5'1l" George Clooney might not be quite as tall as others in the trope, Seth Gecko is handsome and mysterious, with a Dark and Troubled Past. Word Of God on the DVD commentary points out that Robert Rodriguez, the film's director, deliberately shot Clooney from underneath, to make him look heroic. This is a subversion in that he's not a romantic lead. The head vampire wants to either eat or enslave him, and Kate makes an overture that is quickly shot down.

    Literature 
  • In Good Omens, Anathema Device hoped that the man she was prophesized to meet would be a Tall, Dark and Handsome stranger. Turned out, the stranger in question was Newton Pulsifer. She decided that she could live with two out of three. Crowley, although he's also a bit Tall, Dark and Snarky.
  • Anne of Green Gables:
    • Our heroine, who has read too many nineteenth-century romance novels, expresses a desire for this kind of man. And for a year and a half, she has one (did we mention the guy's filthy rich as well?), until she realizes how empty a life with him would be, for he's also dull as powder (to borrow a term from Little Women).
    • Hilariously, the man she had rejected once before but ultimately ended up marrying—Gilbert Blythe—was constantly described in the books as being tall, dark, and handsome.
  • Smasher, a puppy from the Dick King-Smith book of the same name, asks whether his father was like this. His mother says yes, and that Smasher is going to be just like him. However Smasher is actually really ugly and described as looking like the offspring of the Hound of Baskerville.
  • In Victoria Hanley's Light of the Oracle, the love interest of the main character Kiran fits the tall and dark like an animal until he gets a makeover, becoming so handsome that he goes from being snubbed by the Rich Bitch Clea to being pursued by him.
  • In the Aunt Dimity series, Bill Willis was introduced with a beard, a paunch and thick horn-rimmed glasses when Lori first met him. He later lost all three, and Lori subsequently describes him as being "quite literally, tall, dark and handsome."

    Live Action TV 
  • Phoebe from Charmed occasionally describes her love interest Cole this way.
  • Smallville: instead of using their names, Lois describes Clark (at least) once as "tall, dark, and bumbling" and on another occasion as "tall, dark, and single" and Davis/Doomsday as "tall, dark, and scary".
    Clark: Davis must have done something to her. Chloe would never lie to me if she weren't trapped.
    Oliver: Either that, or she just can't resist tall, dark and Doomsday.
    • When Lois watches a video from her Missing Mom (played by a former Lois Lane), she is told that she will meet someone special, and her mother guesses he will be tall, dark, and handsome.

    Music 
  • Heart did a song called Tall Dark Handsome Stranger which is actually a deconstruction of this trope, taking a rather negative view, all about how much better a Nice Guy is. Disturbingly, a search of Youtube shows that this song is being used to celebrate the Tall Dark Handsome Stranger
  • 19th century tunesmith Henry Clay Work's Buckskin Bag of Gold comes complete with a fortune teller and has great fun taking the wind out of the trope's sails.
  • When they first met, Dean Martin told Jerry Lewis that people would call him “the Boy with the Tall, Dark, and Handsome Voice.”

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Garfield: Jon Arbuckle once asked his cat if he was this. Garfield responded: "Maybe if you stand on a chair, turn off the lights, and squint." A variation was "stand on a chair, turn off the lights, and lie".

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Prince Devitt was one of the most popular foreign wrestlers in Japan but despite being the definition of tall dark and handsome, he was put under a mask and the second Pegasus Kid. When he unmasked, it wasn't too long before he joined the evil Control Terrorism Unit in New Japan Pro Wrestling. However, in some other promotions he was allowed to both use his real Irish identity and remain a beloved crowd favorite, but New Japan was the biggest promotion during his stay there so most people know evil Devitt.

    Videogames 

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in Spongebob Squarepants, where Pearl, in one episode, refers to her crush as "long, tan and handsome". Yes, he does turn out to be a complete dork
  • In Disney's Aladdin, when Jasmine distracts Jafar by pretending to be mind-controlled into loving him, she describes Jafar as "tall, dark..." Apparently, calling Jafar handsome would just be too suspicious.
    • Nah, it'd be redundant, since she already did.


Examples when the trope is played straight: (WARNING: Highly subjective!)

    Anime And Manga 
  • All of the darker-haired males in the Sohma family of Fruits Basket. Except most of them are pale in skin color.
  • Ren Tsuruga from Skip Beat!. He has rather long legs, is very handsome, and has dark hair. Even though he used to be a blond.
  • Kuroudo Akabane from Get Backers — when he's not killing people.
  • Sebastian from Black Butler.
    • Earl Vincent Phantomhive, Ciel's deceased father.
    • And Claude from the second season.
    • And how could we forget William?
  • Susumu, Hijikata, and Yoshida from Peacemaker Kurogane.
  • Code Geass loves this trope. Lelouch in particular stands out.
    • No mention of Li Xingke?
    • Suzaku kinda fits, since he's a bit short compared to other males but is still quite tall for a Japanese male.
  • Allelujah Haptism, Johann Trinity, and Hong Long from Gundam 00. Setsuna F. Seiei catches up in the second season.
  • A good amount of the male cast in Katekyo Hitman Reborn! fit under this trope, all being either Italian or Japanese.
  • Naruto has Sasuke, Neji, and Itachi, among others.
    • Arguably, you could count Kankuro without his make-up.
  • Kurama, Yusuke, and Karasu in YuYu Hakusho.
    • Don’t forget about Kuronue. He was also in the possession of a very Nice Hat, which really just cemented the deal.
  • Guts and Roderick from Berserk.
  • In Sailor Moon:
    • Usagi's father Kenji, although much more subdued. Her mother does use these exact words to describe him when he was younger, though.
    • Mamoru and Saphir both. They resemble each other. A lot. And resemble Lantis from Magic Knight Rayearth. Actually, the resemblances between Mamoru and Lantis are a bit too much (and not only in appearance - armor too).
  • Tyki Mikk and Yu Kanda from D.Gray-Man.
  • Tamahome from Fushigi Yuugi. Sue me.
  • Byakuya Kuchiki from Bleach along with Shuhei Hisagi and Shunsui Kyouraku
  • Glen Baskerville from Pandora Hearts fits better than the aforementioned Gilbert. As Oswald, to be precise.
  • Don't forget Age from Heroic Age!
  • Ichise of Texhnolyze.
  • Hei of Darker Than Black.
  • Alucard of Hellsing.
    • This trope is probably one of the main factors that gave him Memetic Sex God status.
  • Shoei Jinnai of Desire Climax.
  • Inugami of Wolf Guy - Wolfen Crest.
  • Both Sen and Swordfish of Under Grand Hotel.
  • Sinbad from Magi - Labyrinth of Magic, and how. Not only does he exhibit all of the aesthetic features of this trope, his presence itself constantly attracts beautiful girls to the point where just sitting still for a second will get him a harem. This does not go unnoticed by the other, less Tall, Dark and Handsome characters.
  • Izaya of Durarara!!.
  • Colonel Roy Mustang: while "tall" may be slightly questionable (not short, but both Havoc and Falman are about a head taller), he certainly is dark, and as for handsome, well, he's the series' major Mr. Fanservice.
  • Luka of Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru.
  • Jonathan of Legend of the Blue Wolves.
  • Yamato of Karakuridouji Ultimo.
  • Lantis from Magic Knight Rayearth seems to define this trope. Black haired, handsome, and a height of 1.98 (neck breaker much?).
  • Hagi from Blood+ is the epitome of this as well. In the novels, Kai muses to himself that even guys like him wouldn't be able to deny how attractive Hagi is.
  • Roger Smith from The Big O has got the look, the personality and the charm that constitutes this character type down pat.
  • Shinya Kōgami from Psycho-Pass.

    Comic Books 

    Fanfiction 

    Film 

    Literature 
  • Aragorn from Lord of the Rings - although when we first meet him, he is said to 'look foul and feel fair.'
    • While he is described as "grim" when we first meet him, as the book continues, he is constantly described as "noble", with standard Númenórean good looks. The grimness refers more to his demeanour as a Ranger. Not to mention, of course, that he caught the eye of Arwen, who is supposed to be as beautiful as her ancestor who was the most beautiful elf to ever exist, so he definitely cleans up nicely. And when we first meet Strider in the book, he is a subtle Tall, Dark and Snarky.
    • Faramir, Boromir, Imrahil and young Denethor all fit this trope. Actually, the Dúnedain of in general are tall and dark with a little elvish touch.
    • Any dark haired elf would qualify and there are many, particularly in The Silmarilion.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Sirius Black is definitely tall, dark, and handsome. The book constantly reminds us of it.
    • Voldemort/Tom Riddle in his teenage years.
    • Snape is an aversion. The author doesn't describe him as "handsome". Snape is however Tall, Dark and Handsome to his rabid Fan Girls.
    • Harry is almost a carbon copy of James (except for his mother's Green Eyes), he might fit in as well. He's described to be REALLY skinny, but by the epilogue he might have grown into his looks.
  • After Bella of Twilight is knocked off her motorcycle she looks up at Native American Jacob Back and says that he is kind of beautiful.
  • Mentioned above, Gilbert Blythe is described in the books as being very handsome, with dark, curly hair and hazel eyes. He is tall with a lean build.
    • Walter, his and Anne's second son, is the epitome of this trope. With "finely modelled features" and expressive gray eyes, the girls fall all over him from childhood onward. Walter, however, is kind of a Clueless Chick Magnet and spends more of his time writing poetry than wooing women.
  • Tales of the Frog Princess gives us Prince Garrid, who is tall and noted to be extremely handsome. He is pale and fair-haired, but the "dark" bit still fits with his mysterious nature.
  • In Darkness Visible, William Marsh is six feet tall, black haired, and so annoyingly gorgeous that even the protagonist's mother wants him.
  • While few detailed descriptions of his appearance are given, 6'9" Harry Dresden probably counts.
    • Thomas, who is mentioned as being only slightly shorter than him and a White Court Vampire, definitely counts.
  • Zorro.
  • Gale of The Hunger Games shares Katniss' dark hair, olive skin, and grey eyes and is said to be over six feet tall by Katniss because when they met in the woods when he was only 14, she stated he was already that height. Muscular and good-looking, girls flock to him - Katniss herself says that Gale would have no trouble finding a wife because he's handsome and strong.
  • Alec Lightwood from The Mortal Instruments, he shares his mother's good looks.
  • In the Tortall Universe Jonathan of Conte is described as being very handsome, with black hair and piercing blue eyes, and for a time he and Alanna the Lioness were lovers. One woman in The Immortals lampshades it, saying that most women around the palace are in love with him to one degree or another.
  • Joseph Carrion from the Mediochre Q Seth Series. When Charlotte Johnson (the viewpoint character) first meets him, he is explicitly noted to be tall, handsome and dark-haired. It contrasts with Mediochre, who is short and weedy.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Constable Benton Fraser, played by actor Paul Gross, on Due South fits the ideal image of what a Mountie should be, including being handsome, tall and physically fit.
    • The character is, in some ways, homage to and a deconstruction of the popular depiction of the Mounties, such as the cartoon "Dudley Do-Right" and Sgt. Preston of the Yukon.
  • Detective William Murdoch on Murdoch Mysteries is a classically handsome Badass Bookworm.
  • Justin Russo from Wizards of Waverly Place. The bookworm type.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: When Buffy first met Angel, he called himself a friend and she said that he was dark, gorgeous in an annoying sort of way. In Angel Cordelia calls him "tall, dark, and broody".
  • The X-Files:
    • Agent Fox Mulder. Tall, a well-built body (he works out!), brown hair and sad green Puppy-Dog Eyes, tanned complexion, Cleopatra Nose... Yes, he's got it all. Being a Deadpan Snarker doesn't hurt.
    • Alex Krycek. A double agent and a dirty rat boy who charms and eventually betrays everyone must be fit and handsome to pull it all off. He has very dark eyes and black hair. Tall, dark, mysterious and very handsome.
    • Assistant Director Skinner is an older sexy guy. Tall and physically fit.
  • Don Draper of Mad Men.
  • Chuck Bartowski.
  • Jason from Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.
  • Remington Steele, played by Pierce Brosnan, is handsome and mysterious.
  • In the second episode of the first season of Smallville, Clark smiles down at Chloe and she says, "It's amazing how far that Kent charm will get you."
  • Lancelot from Merlin, whose colouring makes him a perfect visual counterpoint to golden-haired, blue-eyed Arthur.
    • Gwaine, too.
  • Hawkeye Pierce from M*A*S*H, although over the seasons his raven hair gradually became salt-and-peppered until it was almost completely gray.
  • Gomez Addams from The Addams Family. Suave, mustachioed, passionately devoted to his wife...and just as much a crazy, weird Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant as the rest of his family. Not quite the tallest one there, of course, but still.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes most definitely qualifies. In real life, he's ginger.
  • Apollo from both versions of Battlestar Galactica. Anders, Gaius and Helo from the re-imagining version also qualify.
  • Ponch from CHiPs.
  • David Starsky from Starsky & Hutch.
  • Johnny Gage from Emergency!
  • The titular character (played by Gil Gerald) from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.
  • Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice.
  • Harmon Rabb in JAG.
  • Quinn Mallory in Sliders.
  • Horatio Hornblower:
    • Sailor Horatio Hornblower has got it all: a tall slender figure, brown curly hair, dark eyes, tanned complexion, and a handsome manly face. However, he's really fairly skinny and by no means a Hunk.
    • Captain Pellew has a tall and well-built figure (appropriate for a naval captain), dark eyes and dark hair, his complexion is tanned and slightly weather-beaten (he spends his life aboard a ship after all), and his facial features are very fine. In addition, he's as Officer and a Gentleman. Delightful man.
    • Lieutenant William Bush is an attractive manly man. His amazing blue eyes contrast nicely with his dark brown hair. His actor Paul McGann said that he's in fact quite little and needed a Scully Box, but Mr Bush is tall enough.
  • Stefan and Damon from The Vampire Diaries. They are both sinfully handsome, with dark hair. And they are both of Italian origins.
  • Highlander's Duncan MacLeod, in contrast to shorter, dirty-blond Connor MacLeod.
  • Dr Harry Cunningham from Silent Witness, although as a pasty-faced Englishman he's far from tanned.

    Mythology 
  • Hades, Dionysus, and Thanatos from Classical Mythology were usually depicted as this; Apollo, as well, arguably, since he was described as having black hair. Don't expect modern works to show this, however; Hades and Thanatos are generally literally demonised (never mind his seduction of Persephone, the goddess of spring), while Dionysus is often depicted as ugly, and Apollo is more often than not blond.

    Music 
  • "Sweet Rosie Jones" by Buck Owens (1968) has the narrator lose the love of the title character to a "tall dark stranger." A year later Owens recorded a spinoff/sequel actually called "Tall Dark Stranger" that explored the trope even further.

    Video Games 

    Web Original 
  • Some slideshows came up that show Tall, Dark and Handsome is very much alive in the minds of some women. Just read the comments.
  • Ares in Thalia's Musings. His half-brothers lean more toward Bishōnen.
  • Menelaos in Greek Ninja, although he's mostly tall. Very tall.
  • The Autobiography of Jane Eyre: Mr Rochester is Tall, Dark and Mysterious. He's not super handsome, but he's a bit of a muscular Hunk with funky striped socks, expensive clothes and watch, mysterious tattoos and Perma Stubble. Jane, your viewers will crush on your boss pretty soon.
  • The Lizzie Bennet Diaries:
    • William Darcy. Emphasis on tall. Mentioned several times as Damned by Faint Praise. Needless to say, Darcy is Tall, Dark and Handsome in all versions.
    • Bing Lee. Race Lift give us an Asian version of this trope. Even male viewers expressed their man crush on Bing. He was considered adorable and cute, thanks to dating Jane and being Sickening Sweethearts.
    • Fitz Williams, a black and gay version. He's fun character and lacks the brooding or mysterious part of the appeal.

    Western Animation 
  • A really, really subtle example is Stan from South Park. Subtle, because he's a piece of crappy cartoon. Stan is the calm, collected one in his group, has dark hair, and even joins the Goth kids in one episode. Plus, he's the only one who has had a stable girlfriend for a very long time. It helps that he is South Park's best example of a Cute Shotaro Boy.
    • Another example is Craig. It was speculated that Craig was actually number one on the real list of cutest boys that the 4th grade girls made. He has black hair, too, and even more, he is a true, stoical Deadpan Snarker. He wears high-waisted black pants, making him look taller, and his legs look longer than the other children's.
      • It has been implied in one episode that Craig is actually older than the other kids: that's why they made him look taller.
  • Thomas "Tom" Sloane from Daria is a good example of this as well.
  • The Dark Ace of Storm Hawks IS this trope. *swoon*
  • All but one of the Prince Charmings in the Disney Animated Canon have black or brown hair and are, of course, handsome and fairly tall. Beast's human form is the only exception, as he has red hair.
  • Xiaolin Showdown's Chase Young.
  • Zuko, Jet, Ozai, and all the firelords from Avatar The Last Airbender.
  • Mako from The Legend of Korra, to the point where even his voice actor admitted so.
  • Although he is not tall when he's a teenager, Robin, from Teen Titans, is definitely dark and handsome. He also becomes tall in his thirties as Nightwing.
    • The Newly re-designed Aqualad certainly qualifies. The girls instantly fall for his dashing good looks.
  • Vince from Recess (according to Word Of God).
  • In Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Gaston's three blonde admirers (triplets?) describe him in song as "such a tall, dark, strong and handsome brute".
  • Professor Utonium of The Powerpuff Girls fits quite nicely. And by this Logic, Samurai Jack also qualifies.

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