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Black Boss Lady

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Da Chief has a new case for you, gumshoe.

There appears to be a growing trend for making the Da Chief the polar opposite of the old, white man he always was in the past. There's a new boss in town, okay? And the Cowboy Cop, or whatever smart-alec subordinate she has better watch out, because she ain't putting up with any of his crap.

The Black Boss Lady is characterized by being a Twofer Token Minority, both a woman and Black, in charge of probably mostly men in a stereotypically male profession. Right there, you know she's a badass because she must be so good at her job, that even any discrimination which might have been in her way due to either her gender or race was bulldozed flat in two-point-five seconds by her incredible competence.

Because the Black Boss Lady is good, or she wouldn't be where she is today. She's not afraid to take some risk if there is a decent chance of a worthwhile pay off. She presides over her organization with an iron fist, but she's also a Reasonable Authority Figure, and will give the Cowboy Cop (or lawyer, or reporter, etc.) credit where it's due. At first she might seem like a hardass by-the-book type but inevitably they get used to each other, she reveals hidden depths, and the two give each other room to work and come to appreciate the other's strength.

When it comes to drama, her blackness is hardly ever mentioned, her femaleness being the main source of plot. This being so she won't have much of an Urban Accent or have many tropes stereotypically associated with blackness. She almost never slips into Sassy Black Woman, for instance. She's also usually very well-dressed, in a business skirt-suit or slacks (nothing even remotely risque), and it's not uncommon for her clothes to be somewhat masculine. Often she has managed to have her cake and eat it too (mostly) in that she has both a shining career and a family.

One could reasonably consider the Black Boss Lady to be the Distaff Counterpart to the Bald Black Leader Guy, though the main things they have in common are being black and being leaders (though there's technically nothing in the trope that excludes her from being bald too). Is also a subtrope of Da Chief, most of the time, though this trope isn't restricted to situations were she actually is Da Chief, she just needs to be the boss of whatever organization she's running, e.g. being The Judge.


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     Comic Books 
  • Amanda Waller, in DC Comics' ARGUS, Cadmus, Suicide Squad, and related organizations, is widely recognized as one of the few people who can make Batman think twice about messing with her. Heck, she's taken on Granny Goodness (Apocalypse goddess of abduction and right-hand woman to Darkseid) and walked away.
  • In the comic book version of Wanted Wesley's emasculating boss is a black woman.
  • Psiren, the leader of Psi-Cops from Marvel Comics's Warlock.
  • Dominique, the only black character in Scott Pilgrim, is the boss at Steven Stills, and later Scott's, day job.
  • Clark's editor on The New Yorker in Superman: Secret Identity.


  • Lucinda Washington, the editor-in-chief of the Chicago office of the Global Weekly in the Left Behind book series, and mother of Lionel Washington in the spinoff Left Behind: The Kids series. In the 2000-2005 Cloud Ten Pictures film series, Verna Zee filled the role of Buck Williams' boss, being a Composite Character version of herself and Lucinda.
  • Ahuda from the first Provost's Dog book is this for the Jane Street Kennel.note  She gets Goodwin, one of the two best cops in the Lower City, to do what she says. When Beka is mocked for falling into a pile of fish the night before, Ahuda steps into the training yard and amply demonstrates that none of the other trainees are immune to such mistakes either. There's also her Badass Boast to a misbehaving criminal.
    "Here, I am Queen Bitch, and you will muzzle yourself."
  • In Island in the Sea of Time and its sequels, Marian Alston rises from being a minor captain in the US Coast Guard who was about to be quietly retired (and whose command, she suspects, was largely due to her being a black woman rather than the Coast Guard's respect for her abilities) to the Commodore of the Republic of Nantucket's burgeoning navy.

     Live Action TV 
  • Chief from Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? (live-action), currently the image provider. Actress Lynne Thigpen was quite good at playing no-nonsense authoritarian types in general.
  • Madeleine Hightower, the second boss the fictional CBI (California Bureau of Investigation) receives in The Mentalist.
  • The Steve Harvey Show had Regina Grier as principal of the school the other main characters worked at or attended. Her secretary even frequently called her "boss lady".
  • Colleen Manus, Regional Director for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida's state police, in The Glades.
  • Lt. Tanya Rice, head of Dwight's Memphis city police squad in Memphis Beat.
  • Jessica Pearson, Harvey's boss and founder of the law firm in Suits.
  • Lieutenant Van Buren, for many years Da Chief in Law & Order. Gets extra bonus points for being a full head shorter than every one of her detectives and still commanding their respect.
  • Lieutnant Laguerta in Dexter also fits the trope in everything except actually being African-American (she's afro-cuban though, so still black). At the start of Season 2, however, she was once demoted in favour of a female Haitian-American officer who proved unable to handle the job because of difficulties in her love life, which is something of a subversion.
  • Also in Detroit 187. This seems also to be common in situations involving social workers.
  • Downplayed by Helen from Drake & Josh, who is black, female, and the manager of the movie theater where Josh works, but is fairly incompetent and, even during her flashes of brilliance, consistently The Ditz.
  • Camille Saroyan from Bones
  • Roz from Raising the Bar, who is the cool, calm and collected head of the PD's office and serves as a contrast to Balco
  • Mrs. Frederick from Warehouse 13.
  • Victoria "Iron" Gates is The Umbridge in Castle after the death of Captain Montgomery. She's not as bad as she seems, though.
  • A lot of characters on ER answer to Dr. Angela Hicks.
    • The last season had Catherine Banfield.
  • Noah's Arc: Brandy.
  • Heylia James from Weeds definitely qualifies too.
  • Captain Claudette Wyms from The Shield. (C.C.H. Pounder again).
  • There have been a number of black lady admirals and high-ranking officers on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
  • America's Next Top Model is created and produced by Tyra Banks. She also serves as The Host and one of the show's resident judge.
  • This is a regular feature in series by Shonda Rhimes.
    • Miranda "the Nazi" Bailey in Grey's Anatomy, particularly in the early seasons when she is in charge of Meredith and the other interns.
    • Scandal: Olivia Pope.
    • Annalise Keating in How to Get Away with Murder, although she is much less polished than most instances of this trope.
  • Sons of Anarchy: The DA. She typically hides her natural hair underneath a straight-haired wig, but removes the wig when it's time to throw down.
  • Doctor Who: The classic series has Brigadier Winifred Bambera and the new series has Captain Erisa Magambo, both high-ranking UNIT officers.
    • And now the nameless Time Lord general, after her regeneration in Hell Bent. She rocks a bald head, however.
    • And Liz 10 (Queen Elizabeth the Tenth), ruler of a future Great Britain relocated to a giant space whale in The Beast Below.
  • Gotham: Capt. Sarah Essen, GCPD: The Captain of the Gotham City Police Department homicide squad and the boss of James Gordon and Harvey Bullock. At the beginning of season 2 she is promoted to Commissioner. Also Maria Mercedes "Fish" Mooney, a nightclub owner and mobster who leads a gang.
  • Forever: Lieutenant Joanna Reece, Martinez' and Hanson's commanding officer at the 11th Precinct. Her culture and childhood come up in one episode about the true authorship of a jazz standard.
  • Blindspot: Assistant Director Mayfair, the FBI higher-up with a mysterious past in charge of Agent Kurt Weller's team.
  • Ms Janine Davies, the Human Resources Manager who is tasked with calling the boys at Caltech to order, speaking very plainly to them about behavioural lapses, and handing out disciplinary sanctions, in The Big Bang Theory.
  • Luke Cage (2016): Inspector Priscilla Ridley, Misty Knight's commanding officer at the 29th Precinct. To a lesser extent, Captain Betty Audrey, before she's pushed out due to Rafael Scarfe's corrupt activities happening on her watch.
  • Hilariously parodied and discussed in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Dennis claims to be a master of impressions, so Dee challenges him to do C.C.H. Pounder (who, as noted by her many entries on this page, is one of the walking embodiments of this trope). Dennis repeats a line from The Shield—"GODDAMN IT, DUTCH! WHAT OTHER ERRANDS DO YOU HAVE US RUNNING FOR THE D.A.?"—and wins praise from Charlie, Mac, and Frank. Dee takes Frank to task, as he doesn't even know who Pounder is; Frank responds that, judging from the impression, her character is "a no-nonsense black broad from the precinct", which is a spot-on summary of the Black Boss Lady in fiction.
  • In Odd Squad, the head of precinct #13579 is Ms. Oprah. She doesn't suffer fools gladly and is genuinely considered scary to some of the agents.
  • On Justified, when Chief Deputy Marshall Art Mullens is injured in the line of duty, he makes Rachel, the only black Deputy Marshall in the office, his interim replacement. It's made clear that he intends for her to replace him when he retires at the end of the year.
  • On Supernatural, when Death is killed, he's replaced by the reaper Billie, a pretty, black lady.

     Western Animation 
  • Amanda Waller, again, in the Justice League and Young Justice cartoons, as head of Cadmus and Warden of Belle Reve penitentiary respectively.
  • The Principal in Sit Down, Shut Up.
  • Steven Universe has the current leader of the Crystal Gems, Garnet, who, despite being a non-organic being, is still coded as a black woman.

     Real Life 
  • This is getting pretty common in some parts of the U.S. Many black women have to be both the major breadwinner and head of household for their families, and have discovered that this can be good training for management positions. Case in point: Washington, D.C., which is a majority African-American city, and which in consequence naturally has a large black component in the federal civil service, the city's largest employer, including supervisory positions.