Main Magical Negro Discussion

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10:51:46 PM Jun 26th 2014
Okay, *raises hand* Suppose a character is intended to look like this trope, doubling up as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl for the White Male Lead. It turns out her "help" was less than altruistic, and the character intended to gain an advantage via I Owe You My Life on the main character. Subversion? Yes. But is it also kind of an enforced/invoked trope? Maybe exploited (though the hero here isn't exactly looking at race here... because he's blind).
11:10:20 PM Jun 26th 2014
I am not seeing how it's not played straight.
07:58:46 PM Feb 6th 2014
What about Mr. Popo?
12:01:23 AM Feb 7th 2014
What about him? I don't know the character.
11:51:10 AM Oct 26th 2014
edited by
Mr Popo is a character from the various Dragon Ball series. He is a Blackface genii and assistant deity to Kami. Mr. Popo is an extremely skilled martial artist who teaches a number of the characters throughout the series.

Even though Mr. Popo is black, I would say he fits more in the Magical Asian trope than the Magical Black Person trope. Most of his focus is on martial arts and martial arts training. It is not until later in the Dragon Ball Z series that Mr. Popo has any Magical Black Person moments, so he might straddle the line a bit. When it comes to tropes such as these, the role a character plays in a story is just as important as their race or ethnicity (otherwise there would not be so many white Magical Black People listed in the examples on this page).
05:20:43 AM Jan 17th 2013
MLP:Fi M needs to be removed. The characters can be considered animals, there is no human race in this show and no evidence of ethnicity.
06:23:41 AM Jan 17th 2013
Yeah. Pulled:

  • Zecora from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic hovers somewhere between playing this straight and subverting it. Technically, she's a zebra, but they're a Fantasy Counterpart Culture for Africa. While everypony is incredibly suspicious of her due to not knowing what she is (evidently, the educational system of Equestria is not very good) in a world with pony-like creatures such as windigoes and creatures capable of assuming pony-form like changelings which are both dangerous emotional parasites and the belief that she's an "evil enchantress", it's discovered that she's actually a friendly herbalist, and from then on she's happy to assist the mane characters. After learning that she is a zebra (Zecora means Zebra) and getting to know her, fear and hostility rapidly evaporate. If there's a problem that needs a magical solution, she's generally got an answer, and also serves largely to warn and advise the protagonists, particularly Twilight Sparkle. Slightly subverted in that there are some problems, like parasprites, even she knows nothing about, and lampshaded when Applejack wonders if she has a "zebra sense" that lets her know when there's problems to be solved.
11:12:14 AM Jul 22nd 2013
I think this image from the episode "Magical Dual" as well as Zecora's role within said episode pretty much puts sold on to the idea of Zecora as the show's Magical Negro. The art style of her cutiemark and the neck stretching rings are all clearly African influenced. Additionally, Zecora is voiced by a black voice actor - - who uses an accent typically associated with people from Africa.
11:20:40 AM Jul 22nd 2013
And pretty much almost everything about her character - - is African inspired.
11:53:01 PM Feb 23rd 2014

Zecora is magical, and she may be African-inspired, but she is not a Magical Negro. The Magical Negro trope is a character whose sole source of magicalness and goodness is derived from an alleged ethnic connection to spirituality.

Zecora, on the other hand, is a shaman (Lauren Faust's original name for her), an African wizard trained in magic and potions. Her magical qualities come from diligent hard work, study, and meditation, not her ethnicity. And since she is a wizard, her willingness to help the heroes is nothing more than a stock mentor trait.
10:13:59 AM Oct 26th 2014
edited by
Training, magical or not, it irrelevant to the trope. Just because a Magical Black Person has had training does not suddenly make them not a Magical Black Person. Training in magical practices simply gives an author or writer a reason to have a character show up at specific time to assist with specific tasks. There are a number of trained and educated characters listed in the examples who use their specific skills and training to assist the more central characters. (And in fact a person does not even have to be a person of color to fulfill this trope, just look at the number of white characters listed in the examples). The description of the trope itself references specifically trained magical and spiritual practices as being part of the trope:

Bonus points if this character is a priest of Vodoun.

The point of the trope is not that a person is magical simply because they are a person of color (thatís the of Magic Native American trope). The point of the trope is:

1) a person with a minority identity, 2) who is not a main character in the story line or series, 3) uses their folksy magic, skills, knowledge, and/or wisdom to 4) support the protagonists of the story in the protagonists endeavors rather than .

Zecora fulfills all the requirements for this trope:

She is of a non-dominant racial identity, in the same way other fantasy settings refer elves, dwarves, orcs, and halflings as races. In the case of MLP:Fi M uses ponies as the normative "racial" identity, with Bison, Cows, Donkeys, and Zebras as examples of other fantasy races . In the case of Zecora, her appearance, residence, and style of speech are designed to reference black African culture and spirituality. The fact that characters have to overcome their initial fear and prejudice against Zecora is just an example of the authors using the Fantastic Racism. In fact, the Bridle Gossip episode is referenced in the Western Animation page for Fantasy Racism (which also supports the argument that in MLP:Fi M the creators are using different species as references to different races).

She is a background character in the series with no true agency of her own. She does not go on adventures.

She uses her wisdom, knowledge, and skills almost exclusively in support of the more prominent characters. For the most part, she never actually fixes the big problems, but instead supplies the main characters with the knowledge they need to do so. There are over a half dozen episodes in which Zecora does this, with Magic Duel, where Zecora teaches Twilight Sparkle the magic needed to best Trixie, being the most blatant examples of Zecora playing Magical Black Person.

At this point it looks like people are just splitting hairs.
11:39:16 AM Dec 2nd 2012
Bonnie from Vampire Diaries is the epitome of this trope. Even if she does occasionally save the day- well she usually does, it's never acknowledged. She has the worst storyline- her love interests are usually plot-related and end up using her and her whole purpose is basically to Help Elena Do Whatever, Fix Elena and the Vampires' Mistakes. While in other shows, witches like Willow were multidimensional while still doing a lot of witchy legwork..this isn't so much the case.
12:30:58 PM Jun 26th 2012
edited by Aquillion
Is Uncle Tom actually an example? He primarily devotes himself to helping black people, not white people — he's a Christ figure, sure, but he primarily helps the downtrodden and oppressed (that is, his fellow slaves, by helping them escape, covering for them, preaching to them, teaching them salvation, etc.) That completely subverts the Unfortunate Implications of the trope (which is about a minority who devotes their talents purely to serving a privileged member of the majority.)
09:48:15 AM Jul 22nd 2010
Are the Crows from Dumbo such a good example, really? They're just there to make fun of Dumbo because they think he's funny and are as surprised as anyone else when their bullshit actually works.
04:05:24 PM Jul 2nd 2010
This trope is irellevant.Take Morgan Freeman for example.If you swap his colour to white his roles are nothing extraordinairy .We have seen a lot of white people playing angels and Gods and scientists helping the protagonist AND nobody says anything about the Magical White Man.What, if Gandalf was played by Morgan Freeman (a similar of his roles) THEN it would be a magical Negro?Reverse Racism Anyone?
12:35:44 AM Sep 25th 2010
I absolutely agree. This trope is being invoked for half of the afro-american characters who are noticeably clever, helpful or otherwise impressive. To take up your example: Morgan Freeman in the Batman Begins movies is highly intelligent, helpful and an employee of Bruce Wayne, which or course makes Wayne his "master" (insert head-desking here). But pretty much everyone in that movie is very exceptional. Scarecrow is super-intelligent and mixes up a "magical" poison which causes character-specific hallucinations. Clearly a hint towards voodoo! Magical negro! Oh wait, wrong ethnicity. But there's this magical mentor full of ancient wisdom showing confused Bruce Wayne a path and basically starting his career as Batman! Magical neg... oh wait, no. The butler! He even calls Bruce Wayne "master"! No, foiled again.

The trope page looks as if every really impressive, cool afro-american character immediately gets classified as this. What does that leave? Afro-americans can be either delivery men or other minor characters (which is of course racist) or scientists, fighters, good friends, which is racist too because it's this trope?
04:26:05 PM Nov 22nd 2011
You're not getting it. The "Mystical Negro" trope doesn't apply when a highly skilled or talented Black character does anything at all that helps a white character improve his performance or be a better person. The "Mystical Negro" (1) really does have supernatural powers OR superhuman levels of humility, patience, and generosity, but he focuses them on helping the white main character only, and (2) often does so to his own detriment (up to and including his own death). The main question that he raises in your mind is "If he could do all of this, why didn't he help himself, or help other black people deal with Jim Crow/slavery/racism?!" So Morgan Freeman's character in the "Batman Begins" series doesn't fit this mold at all, nor would a black Gandalf. Who does? Bagger Vance. John Coffey ("The Green Mile"). Noah Cullen ("The Defiant Ones"). Dick Hallorann in The Shining (the book, not the movie). The list goes on. But the people you've named aren't on it, nor is this trope meant to somehow demean talented or skilled Black characters. Somehow you've gotten it twisted.

11:38:15 AM Dec 2nd 2012
Reverse racism!? There is no such thing as reverse racism. Are you joking?
12:33:38 AM Jan 9th 2013
"Really, just Morgan Freeman. If you're looking for a pure-hearted mentor chock-full of folksy wisdom, who may or may not have magical powers, you can't do much better".

This entry should be removed entirely. Which part of "no real life examples, please" did the poster NOT understand? Not to mention the the fact that some of Mr. Freeman's recent remarks might cause one to question his suitability for inclusion even if real life examples were permitted.
02:22:42 AM Jan 9th 2013
That's not a real life example. What it's saying is "If you want a Magical Negro in you movie, hire Morgan Freeman, that's his speciality".
06:08:26 PM Jun 6th 2010
SPOILERS for Army Wives:

Would Harry from Season 2, Episode 3 of Army Wives be considered a Magical Negro? He appears at random whenever Claudia Joy seems to be down, and his purpose in the story is to help her move on with her life after the death of her daughter Amanda.
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