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Characters / Black Books

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Bernard Ludwig Black

Played By: Dylan Moran

The reclusive owner of the eponymous bookstore. He is a misanthropic, pessimistic, belligerent Irish alcoholic who hates both the job and the customers.

  • The Alcoholic: He drinks so much alcohol that his entire demeanor gives off the impression of a slurring drunk.
  • Alliterative Name
  • Badass Bookworm: Bernard is capable writing a 1,000 page novel with a deeply complex plot, characters and themes in the space of one night using two typewriters. He also throws knives and shoots miniature crossbows at invisible monsters.
  • Bad Boss: He forces Manny to do all of the work, never praises him, demeans him all he can, and hardly pays him.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: He can write a thousand page novel in one night and is obviously very well-read but is fairly content to just sit around drunk and bitter.
  • Burger Fool: In a season 1 episode... for about three minutes.
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  • Cold Ham: There's something compelling about Bernard's slurring madness. Crosses over to Large Ham whenever he flies off the handle.
  • Completely Missing the Point
  • The Cynic: He makes Dr House look like a fluffy optimist.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He has a very bitter and cynical sense of humor and can deliver some very cutting insults, mainly towards Manny and his customers.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Things Bernard Black has ingested - a coaster, slug pellets, oven cleaner, a jar of coffee, a teacup - are less about nutrition and more absentmindedness, dead tastebuds and rage.
  • Fighting Irish: While not outright after a fight, Bernard often resorts to violence at the slightest provocation.
  • Freudian Excuse: Averted. He claims his girlfriend dying is one but, given that she faked her death to get away from him, it's likely he wasn't all that much better before. Or he may have gone into Sickening Sweethearts mode like he did with Alice.
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  • The Gambling Addict: A little flutter on the Grand Nationals horse races gets him hooked for life. Or for the episode, at least.
  • Genius Slob: Extremely well read but too drunk and misanthropic to apply himself. His hygiene is so poor that the suit he wears only appears to be black when it is in fact an exceptionally dirty white suit.
    • Shown that he cares more about books than people in the first episode when he denies selling a man some books because he doesn't care about the stories, but rather just their leather-bound covers.
  • Grammar Nazi: Occasionally.
    Manny:Let's par-
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: When you're Bernard, life is just a long series of Berserk Buttons.
  • Jerkass
  • Kavorka Man: Subverted, he gets girls but they disappear pretty quickly once they catch a glimpse of how much of a sleazebag he is.
  • The Lost Lenore: A great part of Bernard's cynical outlook stems from the loss of his beloved several years prior to the show. She is, unbeknownst to him, very much alive and happy to be away from him.
  • Manchild: You wonder how he keeps the place going for so long. The man has the maturity of a six-year-old.
  • Man in White: That black suit he always wears is actually just exceptionally dirty.
  • Meaningful Name: Matches his cynical personality.
  • Messy Hair: To the point it has edible mushrooms in it.
    • Manny also cuts clumps of it off with a bread knife.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Got his middle name in Beethoven's honor.
  • The Nicknamer: Calls Manny by a variety of names, including Bigfoot, Gandalf, and Thor.
  • No Social Skills: "Do you eat dinner? So do I! ...Would you like to do it in the same room sometime?"
  • No Sympathy: It's a foreign concept to him.
  • The Pig Pen: Bernard's hygiene standard is practically non-existent. He rarely cleans himself up and is quite content with living in his own filth.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Averted. He smokes like an industrial chimney but his immature personality and drunkenness negate any possibility of him being cool.
  • The Snark Knight: To the repulsion of many customers.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: He's read every book in the shop, and he's got the mouth of an Irish drunk.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: He's such a massive jerk that you end up wanting bad things to happen to him.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: At certain points, he treats Manny like his child. Culminates in him screaming, "HOW COULD YOU DO THIS? MY OWN SON!"

Manny Bianco

Played By: Bill Bailey

Bernard's shop assistant and flatmate. He is a skilled businessman, well liked by the customers.

  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!
  • Badass Beard: He has a nice one.
  • Bumbling Sidekick: Or so Bernard likes to tell him. Manny's a little odd but he's generally more competent than Bernard himself.
  • Butt-Monkey: Treating Manny like shit is one of Bernard's few reasons to get up in the morning.
  • The Cast Show Off: Just watch him play piano!
  • Desk Jockey: At the very start of the series.
  • Fictional Disability: Manny has a condition called "Dave's Syndrome", which causes "bad things" to happen if his body temperature hits 88 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Foil: To Bernard. Even his name means "white".
  • Genius Ditz: possesses remarkable talents such as being able to play a piano melody after hearing it on the radio once.
  • Hidden Depths: He's an extremely talented musician, artist and writer as evidenced when he helps Bernard write a thousand page novel in one night.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: While perhaps not brilliant, he is far better at the financial and customer-service aspects of bookselling than Bernard.
  • Instant Expert: He is able to perfectly imitate piano music after listening to it once and even master Jazz just as quickly, which Fran's piano teacher finds impossible to believe.
  • Looks Like Jesus: The long hair and beard and is even mistaken for Jesus by Bernard in the pilot.
  • Meaningful Name: Bianco is the Italian term for 'white', signifying Manny's idealistic and positive outlook to Bernard Black's endlessly sour cynicism.
  • Nice Guy: Kind to customers, supportive of his friends, and generally wasted in the shop.

Fran Katzenjammer

Played By: Tamsin Greig

Bernard's best and oldest friend. In the first season owned a gift store next to Black Books, but the business went bankrupt and she was unemployed from then on.


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