In a film which involves a lot of character deaths, it seems like the Token Minority will inevitably be the first person to go and kick the bucket.
In the past this perception was because black leads were kept away from any big-budget films outside of those that focused specifically on race or used it to make a point. Historically, movie makers were generally writing to white audiences, so it was natural (in their opinion) for whites to get more screen time. And if the writers throw in a Token Minority to give the cast a more believable real-world racial balance, who do you think is going to die first, the Token Minority, or the people who have a bigger role in the script?
As minority actors became more common in significant roles, this trope found new ways to stay relevant. Instead of the Token Minority being unimportant Cannon Fodder, they instead became the most important supporting character so their deaths would have most dramatic impact on the plot. Films would take a Scary Black Man, turn him into The Big Guy, and kill him off to show how strong the monster is. In action or horror films, The Hero (typically a White Male Lead) might have a Token Black Friend Lancer that gets killed off or does a Heroic Sacrifice to show that this is no laughing matter. 80s horror shows were good at this, and film makers had growing backlash against all the exploitation films.
Over time and due to social push, access to higher-paying jobs and relative economical stability began to open up for black people, with more and more prominent black characters in films and other media, with more big-name black actors emerging to show off their talents. Studios had also finally accepted that white audiences are generally not as racist as was once assumed, and certainly do not need to have a white protagonist all the time in their favourite media. Obviously this trope is a lot less common nowadays but it's been noted that in action and horror movies even today, the minority guy is shockingly unlikely to survive to the end and may still be the second or third. At least they don't go down easy.
In other words, if you're gonna go after the black man nowadays, you might want to check the credits to see who's playing him. If it's no one you've actually heard of, they're probably fair game. Tony Todd? Go for it. Samuel L. Jackson? You can take your chances, but no promises. Rosario Dawson? Yeah, good luck on that. Denzel Washington? Bad idea. Morgan Freeman? You should give up. Will Smith? Run away and hide.
The character doesn't have to be male, human, or even black for that matter. As long as they're the only minority present, and their chances of seeing the end of the movie are rather slim. Don't bother putting in 'averted' examples. If a black guy doesn't die first (or remarkably early on) then he doesn't die first, end of story.
As a Death Trope, all spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
- Gorobei is the first to die in Samurai 7. This is despite the fact that, in the original Seven Samurai film, the first to die was Heihachi. Gorobei was the only black man among the samurai.
- Pippin is the first named member of the Hawks to die during the Eclipse, going out in a epic You Shall Not Pass! moment to buy Casca time to get to safety.
- Much earlier, there was Donovan, the pedophile among Gambino's mercenary band who bought and raped the young Guts. Guts killed him a little later.
- Inverted in Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team with Terry Sanders Jr. Every squad he was in before joining the title MS Team has been completely wiped out and he is not happy about it.
- Halo Legends:
- The Babysitter follows a four-man ODST squad and one Spartan. The one Ambiguously Brown member doesn't even get a name or dialogue before he dies.
- The one black Spartan in The Package is the first of the bunch to die.
- In Blood: The Last Vampire, the script seemingly goes out of its way to find a black character to kill first (some monsters had died, but he was the first human to have a graphic onscreen death.) We have an old white woman, running from demons when she runs into a giant black American military man on base. She explains to him that said demons are chasing her, and he starts laughing stereotypically, complete with giant nostrils and lips. Needless to say, he ends up standing under that one creepy tree, and the demon grabs him by the head. Disemboweled instantly.
- In the Gunsmith Cats OVA, the sole black character, Jody, is the only good guy to die, and he dies because he's Too Dumb to Live.
- Out of the 11 students who died during the attack on the Mars base in the first episode of Blue Comet SPT Layzner, Judo is the both only one who was named and the only one who was black.
- In one arc of Full Metal Panic!, Sousuke is sent on a mission with five other soldiers to kill Gauron. Out of the group the first to die is the black team captain.
- The native Egyptian Mohammed Avdol in Part 3 of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. Twice.
- The G.I. Joe comics kill off their black doctor first.
- In the Elseworld comic series, JLA: Act of God, Steel, a.k.a. John Henry Irons ends up being first hero who bites the dust as he gets stomped to death by a giant robot. It also overlaps with The Worf Effect, since Steel, being a techology-based hero, was described as being the strongest hero left, after all the superpowered heroes were depowered.
- Who is the first character to die in Midnight Nation? That would be the black guy who tries to clue in heroic detective David Gray about what is really going on.
- Variation in Avengers: X-Sanction. The first Avenger to be taken out by Cable is The Falcon, who is knocked out without a fight and used as bait to lure his teammates into a trap.
- Black Panther is the first hero to be killed on-panel in Age of Ultron (though Thor, Cyclops, and the Hulk were all stated to have been killed prior to the start of the story).
- In the What-If version of Avengers vs. X-Men, Wolverine accidentally kills Storm getting into an argument with Namor. He is understandably horrified at what he did.
- Mettle, the first victim of Avengers Arena is half-black, half-white Jewish. This is made a bit more egregious as in an earlier issue of Avengers Academy his friend lamented feeling like the black guy in a slasher movie.
- Tribe, by African American Larry Stroman, was a short-lived series about the adventures of a predominantly African-American superhero group. Issue 1, page 2, panel 4 features the first death: a black dude getting his neck snapped.
- Ambrose Chase from Planetary is normally Nigh Invulnerable, but had the misfortune of entering an Alternate Universe that was governed by Horror Tropes, including this one. He managed to preserve his body before he died, and gets revived in the final issue.
- The major inciting event behind Civil War II is the death of War Machine at the hands of Thanos.
- A strip at the back of an issue of Squee! parodies Hollywood action movie cliches, including this one.
- Wonder Woman (1987): The first named character to die is Steve Trevor's overly serious black co-pilot Slade, who gets possessed and burnt out to a skeleton by Ares.
- In Frank Miller's RoboCop, an adaptation of Frank Miller's original script for RoboCop 2, the Rehabs started their massacre of the Metro West cops by having a sniper shoot Sgt. Reed. This is also a cause of Spared by the Cut, as one: the Rehabs were saved for RoboCop 3 and two: it was Lewis who was killed and Reed survived the events of that film.
- In Epic, Queen Tara (voiced by Beyoncé) is shot by an arrow from a Boggan soldier, and is the first important character to die on screen.
- Kung Fu Panda uses this trope; the rhinoceros character is played by Michael Clarke Duncan, and he dies first.
- In Wonder Woman (2009) the black-skinned woman pilot is the first human to die outside the flashback opening, in the dogfight above the island.
- Paul Winfield has had this happen to him in his SF films:
- In 300, Leonidas kicks the black messenger down a well.
- 3000 Miles to Graceland has five Elvis impersonators setting out to rob a casino. The black one dies first.
- The first person to die in Alien Nation is Sykes' original partner, who is shot and killed by a shotgun-wielding crook while he's wearing a Bulletproof Vest and crouched behind a car. It turns out the shotgun slugs were armor-piercing.
- In Aliens, Frost is the first major character to go, and Apone isn't far behind him. It's notable in that it's the only entry in the entire series, including Alien vs. Predator, to play this trope straight. The other films have a tradition where the black dude is the last to die in a (attempted) Heroic Sacrifice.
- In Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, a group of five high school students (including one black student) is ambushed by an Alien inside the high school. Guess which one the Alien kills first.
- Alone in the Dark (1982): The first victim of the escaped lunatics is black orderly Ray Curtis.
- In American Psycho, The first victim the films shows Patrick Bateman killing is a homeless black man. Of course, it's debatable whether he really did the killing, or if it was just a figment of his imagination - like the other killings in the film.
- In Apocalypse Now, the first member of the boat crew to die is one of the black guys.
- In Assignment Outer Space, this is why The Captain gets the Heroic Sacrifice. (The Millstone saves the day).
- In Baby Driver, the only Asian character, JD is killed by Doc after botching the robbery.
- The Babysitter: Of the cultists threatening Cole, John is the only black character and is the first of them to die.
- In Big Game, Otis, seemingly the only black Secret Service agent aboard Air Force One, is the first one to die.
- The Bucket List, which is about two men diagnosed with terminal illnesses, has Morgan Freeman's character die first at the end.
- Bumblebee: Edwin Hodge's character Danny Bell, the leader of the Sector 7 unit competing with John Cena's battalion in paintball, steps on a trap almost immediately figuratively "dying" in the game. Moments later, when the Decepticons show up, Bell's team is seen getting blown up and the character is never seen again.
- Bushwick: Lucy's Latino boyfriend Jose is the first person we see die.
- Discussed in Canadian Bacon, by Boomer and Karbal who is worried it will happen to him.
- Charlie's Angels (2019): Edgar "Bosley" Dessange, who's black, is the first of the cast to die.
- In Child's Play (2019), the first character to die is the Vietnamese factory worker who, as a final middle finger to his boss, reprograms a Buddi doll to remove its safeguards and then jumps off the roof of the factory.
- In Christine, a black assembly-line worker is the first victim of the eponymous killer car.
- A Christmas Story: When Ralphie gets his BB gun and fantasizes about shooting the villains, the black guy gets shot first.
- In The Old Guard, The first of The Immortals to have stopped regenerating after being mortally wounded is a black man.
- Chronicle, which otherwise does a pretty good job of averting or subverting most sci-fi/superhero tropes, plays this straight. The first character to die by Andrew's hands was Steve, the only black character with telekinesis.
- When The Kid and his gang of bandits ride into town in Cimarron and start shooting the place up, who dies? Not protagonist Yancey Cravat, not his wife Sabra, not their son Cimarron, not the Jewish salesman, not the Miss Kitty character—none of the white people, in fact. The only character killed by the bandits is Isaiah, Yancey's black servant.
- In Richard Stanley's adaptation of The Colour Out of Space, the trope is inverted whereas the hydrologist Ward Phillips, played by Elliott Knight, is the only one who lives to tell the tale.
- In The Dam Busters, the first death is of the only black character in the film: Guy Gibson's black dog, whose name in the film and in real-life was also problematic.
- Dead Air: The security guard at the radio station, while not technically the first on-screen death, is the first of the named characters to die as the Synthetic Plague spreads through the city.
- In Deadpool 2, when the entire newly formed X-Force except for Domino dies in the first minute of their first mission, Bedlam, played by Terry Crews, dies first.
- Happened in Death Wish V: The Face of Death when Tommy O'Shea's goons killed a lesser black worker from the fashion department execution-style.
- Downplayed in The Dirty Dozen: it's the Latino member of the titular Dozen who dies first, while the African-American dies later.
- In the 90s slasher film Dr. Giggles this is almost exaggerated as the first two teens to die are both black. The film also has a black cop who has a much more prominent role. He still dies at the end though.
- The heroic party in Dungeons & Dragons consisted of the heroic white thief, the plucky comic relief black thief, the love interest white mage, and the gruff Scottish dwarf, as well as a black female elf. The black thief dies, though the elf survives the film.
- In The Edge, Harold Perrineau is eaten by the bear first. Roger Ebert, in his review of ''The Edge'', calls this trope the BADF action movie rule ("The Brother Always Dies First").
- Enter the Dragon plays it straight. Of the three main protagonists, Williams exists only to show off his fabulous afro and be killed by the villain first. However, this did not happen by design. In the original script, Roper died in Williams's place. Executive Meddling switched their roles around.
- In Evil Dead (2013), the first cabin member to die is the only non-white member, Olivia, played by a mixed-race actress.
- Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer: The gruff black general is killed by Doctor Doom.
- In Forrest Gump, an unnamed black Red Shirt gets sniped at the very beginning of the ambush in which Bubba, Forrest's best friend, dies. However, Forrest manages to save several fellow squad members, one of whom is also a black man.
- Corporal Eightball in Full Metal Jacket, sent to do recon, first to be abated.
- The first person killed by Morlant when he returns from the grave in The Ghoul is Aga Ben Dragore's Arab servant Mahmoud.
- In the 70s picture, The Great Santini, a black dude does die first, but he manages to kill his killer too.
- In Gremlins, the Token Minority (a black science teacher) is the creatures' first victim.
- Grumpy Old Men: Chuck the black bait shop owner is the first to die.
- In The Hangover Part III, Black Doug is shot by Marshall and is the first character to die in the film.
- In Heat the first member of the criminal gang to get killed during the bank robbery shootout is the getaway driver Donald Breedan, played by Dennis Haybert.
- Not a dude, but the first member of the team killed in Hollow Man is the token minority.
- The Agony Booth recap of Hulk featured the insight "It's not so much that the black guy dies first, it's that the black guy dies first 90 minutes into the movie".
- In The Hunger Games: Catching Fire the first district they go to on the victory tour (District 11) contains the first and only death on the victory tour. That district is predominantly black people.
- In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, Boggs was the first casualty of Katniss' party.
- In The Island, Starkweather Two Delta provides a major hook to the film in his horrific early death, while the very distinctly African Albert Laurent manages to escape the violent deaths that claim most of his teammates and make a rather significant HeelFace Turn at the end. As Michael Bay mentions on the commentary track to the DVD, he actually asked the actor Djimon Hounsou something like "How would you like to be the black guy who doesn't die?"
- The first death in Jurassic World is of an unnamed Latin American-looking man; similarly, when Asset Containment tries to recapture the Indominus rex, the first to die is their Japanese leader Katashi Hamada. In the sequel, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the one of the first two deaths in the film (killed at the same time by the mosasaur) is an unnamed black man.
- Played with in Kill Bill: Vernita Green's death is the first shown, but the second on the Bride's hit list; O-Ren Ishii's name is already crossed out. Part 1 then jumps back to the Bride hunting down and killing O-Ren (and most of her mooks, and a couple creeps back at the hospital). Before Vernita Green was killed, the bride came to, killed two guys in the hospital, recovered, flew to Okinawa in Japan and got a sword. She then flew to the mainland and killed hundreds of Yakuza and O-Ren Ishi. She then dumped Sophia Fatale at the hospital, after which Fatale was reunited with Bill. However, when The Bride showed up at Green's door, she was taken totally by surprise. She was not the first, but apparently, no one cared to give her a heads up and apparently she never watched TV or read a newspaper. Nevertheless: in terms of screen time, Vernita was the first one killed and thus got less screen time than all the others.
- In B-Movie The Killer Shrews, as seen on Mystery Science Theater 3000, the white protagonist's black friend/employee/servant/Dixieland jazz musician goes outside to take care of the boat during the storm and gets eaten by the shrews first. When the hero finds out, he seems genuinely angry for a moment. Their next victim is a Mexican, who gets much less mourning.
- Killer Workout: Rachael, the killer's first victim, is the only black character in the movie.
- The Gaia's Vengeance flick Kingdom of the Spiders plays it straight as well. The one farm in town owned by a black couple is ground zero for the imminent tarantula invasion. The husband is the first human to die after the spiders kill his cattle and dog.
- Possibly intentionally lampshaded in another deep-sea creature feature, Leviathan (1989): Ernie Hudson bravely survives 90 minutes of battling the unholy result of a top-secret Soviet experiment on the bottom of the sea... after which, as he, Peter Weller and The Girl make it to the safety of the surface, the monster returns and offs him 2 minutes before the end credits. Still a good way to go, especially considering who avenges his demise.
- In the Dracula spoof Love at First Bite, a black guy is literally the only person to die in the entire movie, and he does it before the film even starts.
- Magma: Earth's Molten Core has the Jerkass mayor die in oncoming lava while screaming "NO!" Or was it him getting buried in hot rocks? It's hard to tell.
- Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier subverts this: Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson) SEEMS to die, but he's actually Faking the Dead, in fine MCU tradition. (The other major black character, Sam Wilson a.k.a. the Falcon, does perfectly fine.)
- Also subverted in Captain America: Civil War - thanks to Trailers Always Lie, Colonel Rhodes aka War Machine is played up at the major casualty of the event. He's hit way harder than Nick Fury, but remains alive.
- In Avengers: Infinity War, a film in which half of every living being in the universe is killed by Thanos, the very first hero to die is Heimdall, played by Idris Elba. And it all goes downhill from there.
- Maximum Overdrive: The first solo death scene belongs to the black customer (played by Giancarlo Esposito) in the arcade room.
- Midsommar: Josh, the black anthropology student, is the first one to die against his will onscreen. They all observe a ritual sacrifice and all three non-white members of the core group disappear before this happens. Josh's death is the first confirmed murder in the film.
- In The Monster Squad, the only character with any lines to die in the movie is the black cop who serves as partner to Sean's dad. His consolation prize, at least, is that he'll have one damn good story for St. Peter: Dracula blows him up with a stick of dynamite.
- In The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Madame Dorothea, played by CCH Pounder, is the first named character to kick the bucket courtesy of Demonic Possession.
- This happens in Mortal Kombat: The Movie: Liu Kang's first (black opponent) ends up having his soul sucked out by Tsung after Liu refuses to finish him.
- Mr. Holland's Opus: Black drum student Louis Russ (played by Terrence Howard) is the only person to die in this movie. He gets killed in Vietnam and they all attend his funeral.
- The Mutant Chronicles: Both black guys who appear in the film die by bridge within a couple minutes of each other.
- The first victim in New Year's Evil is the main character's female Token Black Friend.
- One of the three hit men killed by The Man at the end of the opening sequence of Once Upon a Time in the West is black, the only black character in the entire film.
- A pair of black policemen jump off a building to their deaths while attempting to pursue a criminal in The Other Guys.
- Psychos: If one doesn't count the rat that JJ sliced with a razor as a character, then Michael is the first of the human cast to die when Larry bashes his head in with a baseball bat.
- Queen of the Damned begins with Lestat waking up from his sleep and drinking a black man dry.
- Real Genius opens with a bunch of military and intelligence bigwigs discussing a space-laser-based assassination system. The one black man at the table gets up, announces that he has moral qualms about the project, and asks to be reassigned. After he leaves the room, one of the other bigwigs says "We may have to liberate him." Another says "Liberate? As in 'liquidate?'"
- Red Dawn (1984) is an extreme example. In the storyline, millions of people die offscreen. Dozens of white people die on screen. Only one black guy is seen to die in the whole movie, but he's dead within the first two minutes!
- In Resident Evil: Extinction, the only black guy was the first to be attacked by a zombie, resulting in an ultimately fatal wound. Of course he covers it up and endangers his fellow zombie apocalypse survivors. Not to mention his black girlfriend managed to sacrifice her own life, and on a bus no less. To top it off, the same character managed to survive all the way through the previous movie, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, despite being a minor character.
- In the final fight of RoboCop (1987), Joe P. Cox is the first guy in Clarence Boddicker's gang to be shot by RoboCop.
- Scream 2. The first two characters to die, Phil and Maureen (played by Omar Epps pre-House and Jada Pinkett, respectively), are both black, and true to series form, they ruthlessly lampshade it early on, with Maureen complaining about what she sees as a lack of representation for black people in horror. First, Phil is drawn to the wall of a toilet stall through the use of barely audible whispers and gets stabbed through the ear by Ghostface in the neighboring stall. Then, Ghostface kills Maureen in the theater while disguised as Phil. After that opening, however, the rest of the film subverts this trope with Sidney's black friend Hallie. She makes it far longer, being the last character to die before The Reveal of Ghostface's identity (and the second-to-last overall), and in the original script she was one of the killers.
- In Serenity, Shepherd Book goes first.
- In The Shining, Dick Halloran (Scatman Crothers) ends up being the ONLY character Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) kills throughout the entire film. (It's also a case of Death by Adaptation.)
- Among Sinbad's crew in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger is the party-loving Maroof. He is the first (and only) member of the crew to get killed by the bad guys. Guess what skin color he has? Some guards were killed by Zenobia and the Minotaur near the start, and Maroof escapes from a giant walrus while one of his comrades gets stepped on; Maroof dies only a few minutes from the end of the film.
- In Slaughter High, black janitor Digby dies first.
- The first person to die in Sleepy Hollow High is a black jogger.
- Discussed in Someone Great. Upon learning that Jenny has been dumped and is spiraling, Erin (who is black) compares it to the opening of a disaster movie: the moment after the black girl dies and the white girl worriedly looks up at the sky.
- The only black character in Spider Baby or, the Maddest Story Ever Told is killed in the film's intro. Interestingly, from the same director who would later bring us Blaxploitation classics Coffy and Foxy Brown.
- In Stargate, the black soldier is not even present during the first alien attack, but is still the first one to die. As it happens, the team had split into two groups, and the group without the black soldier came under attack; however, that group was incapacitated by solely non-lethal means, simply knocked out with hard blows to the head. When the other group (with the black guy) returns, the first thing the aliens do is shoot the black guy, and then proceed to start firing wildly at the rest of the soldiers.
- At the beginning of Star Trek Into Darkness, the film shows a black father desperate to save his bedridden daughter who is suffering from some fatal sickness. He's approached by John Harrison, who tells the man he can save his daughter if he does something for him first. The black man commits a suicide terrorist bombing that kills hundreds of people and sets the movie's main plot.
- State of Play begins with a black thief being shot to death.
- Stealth has 3 pilots on 3 advanced fighters against the rogue AI one. White romantic interest male and female, and a black dude. So guess who gets killed as a first named-character casualty?
- The black character Luther is the first person to die in 1973 film The Sting.
- The first major character to die in The Substitute is the black teacher friend, Mr. Sherman. The first commando to die is also the black member of the team, Wellman.
- Super 8 subverts this with Doctor Woodward, the man who derails the train at the start of the movie. It seems like he's died but actually survived, having merely been mistaken for dead.
- In Tekken, Eddy Gordo is the first combatant to be eliminated from the tournament, making it a subversion of the trope, since this means he's no longer competing when Kazuya changes the rules to make every remaining bout a death match.
- Terminator Salvation has a blink and miss shot of an unnamed black soldier among debris towards the beginning who seems to have died recently.
- Ticker: Not counting the flashback at the beginning, which has very little bearing on the rest of the plot, Fuzzy is the first named character to die.
- Panic in Ticks is the only one of the protagonists to die.
- In Unfriended: Dark Web. When the deep web hackers called the Circle start killing off the main cast, the first to go is the token Asian character Lexx as a Sacrificial Lion to the rest of the cast.
- In United 93, between the two pilots of the aforementioned plane, one is white while the other is black. The black pilot is the first one killed.
- In Vantage Point, the first named character to die is the TV reporter played by (pre-fame) Zoe Saldana.
- In Varsity Blood, Linda—the only black cheerleader on the squad—is the first one killed during the massacre at the farmhouse.
- In Baz Luhrmann's William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, Mercutio, played by a black guy, dies first. (Mercutio dies first in the play as well.)
- Wing Commander: When Paladin and Knight (the black guy) are making a torpedo run on a battleship, Knight blows up even though he took just as many hits as Paladin did.
- Discussed in Everworld, as a joke from Christopher to Jalil.
- Subverted in The Host . The one black man present in the human colony does not die first. He does, however, die the only violent death onscreen, when the Seeker shoots him.
- The In Death series: Judgment in Death has a black cop named Kohli be the first murder victim.
- The novel Morrigan's Cross by Nora Roberts. It's pretty obvious what's going to happen because (a) he is the only black guy, and (b) there's 4 guys and 2 girls and it's a romance novel, so you have to get another girl in the mix somehow.
- In Percy Jackson and the Olympians's fifth book, Beckendorf is the first to die (in a Heroic Sacrifice, but still). On the one hand The Last Olympian was his debut as a major character (he had been more of a background figure before). On the other, given Bianca and Zoe in The Titan's Curse, he's not exactly the first major character to die in the series.
- Subverted in The Film of the Book while Grover stays in the Underworld so the others can leave, he returns by the end of the movie and appears to have had quite a good time with Persephone.
- In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000 novel Ravenor Returned, dark-skinned Zeph Mathuin is the first of Ravenor's warband to die "on camera."
- Tiberius in Robopocalypse, in what appears to be a trap set by the Big Bad to kill the rest of Brightboy squad as they march to Alaska. It slightly works.
- Mira Grant novella Final Girls has the unnamed technician, described as having dark skin, become the first victim of one of the killers. But the story is an Homage to the rules that dictate horror movies so it's a low key lampshade including it.
- In The 100, the first primary cast member to die is Wells, the only black character among the Earthen main cast.
- In the New Zealand TV3 docu-series Aftershock, the first person shown to die as a result of the Cook Strait earthquake is a Maori man.
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
- Double Subversion: the first member of the team to apparently die and not be revealed as actually alive before the episode ends is Mack. Towards the end of the next episode, it is revealed to the viewer that he probably survived after all... only for the other black guy on the team, Trip, to die a rather definitive death.
- Lampshaded in the season 5 premiere "Orientation (part 1)": when the team suggests splitting up in a mysterious base to look for their missing members, Mack shoots down the idea because of this trope.
Daisy: We should split up, well cover more ground.
Mack: Oh no! Have you not watched any alien movie ever? Besides, we split up and we all know whos going out first...
- Discussed in the Alphas episode "Gaslight". Hicks compares the evacuated hospital to the setting of a horror movie and warns Harken to be careful because of what tends to happen to black men in horror movies. Harken is not amused.
- The first person to die in the pilot of Andromeda is a young black officer named Thompson. He's named after Cronan Thompson, a young black Internet personality who was involved in many online arguments with the show's creator, Robert Wolfe. Cronan died of cancer at 19, and Wolfe included Thompson in his pilot as a tribute.
- In the first Paintball Episode, Troy is the first member of the study group to be "killed". This is shockingly unlampshaded.
- Inverted during the Zombie Apocalypse in "Epidemiology", where Abed consciously averts this trope by sacrificing himself for Troy, making the latter not only the last member of the study group to be zombified, but the guy who ends up saving the day and curing everyone.
- The first named character to die is Simon Donahue after he's eviscerated by one of the show's monsters.
- Episode eight has a shootout at a gas station. Simon's daughter Meg is killed outright while Zane and Lou (who are white) last a bit longer.
- Angel is the first Big Brother housemate to die in Dead Set after dying from a zombie bite gained in the first episode.
- Villainous version in The Defenders (2017): The first of the six Big Bads to die permanently is Sowande, in episode 5 out of 8.
- Doctor Who:
- "The Moonbase": The base is staffed with an international group of scientists, all white except for one black man. He is the first to be killed, getting bumped off in Episode 1 although it is later revealed that he was just kidnapped by the Cybermen and made a partially-converted slave.
- "Evolution of the Daleks": The first casualty in the Daleks' attack on Hooverville is the black leader, Solomon. The Doctor did try to persuade him not to try and negotiate with the Daleks, but was unsuccessful.
- "Voyage of the Damned": Morvin Van Hoof, the first to die out of the small group of characters the Doctor attempts to lead to safety, is black.
- "The Vampires of Venice": Black girl Isabella is the first person to die. Her father Guido then blows up himself and five white women converted into "vampires".
- "Time Heist": The Teller's first on-screen victim, Saibra, the only black member of the heist crew and the first to fall by the wayside, appears to be an example until it turns out she survived. However, a black man is the first to be shown having his brains melted by the Teller.
- "Under the Lake": Moran, who is black, dies first.
- In Emerald City, the Witch of the East, who is portrayed by a black woman, is the first character to be killed off.
- Extant: Molly's ex-boyfriend Marcus, who died before the show even began. It doesn't stop him from becoming a recurring character, though.
- Flashpoint: Of the main cast, the first cast member to die is Louis Young, the SRU's sole black officer.
- In the pilot episode of The Greatest American Hero, the first person to die is Bill Maxwell's black partner.
- In Jekyll Benjamin is Hyde's first (human) kill. After Hyde has tortured, mauled and, um... done other things to people, the first time he actually takes someone's life is to slice Benjamin's throat for threatening his family.
- In the miniseries adaptation of Stephen King's The Langoliers, the sole black man in the group of survivors dies first. (In the original, he wasn't black, though he wore a Red Shirt.)
- Masters of Horror:
- In the slasher-esque "Pick Me Up", the black bus driver is the first person to be murdered by one of the killers.
- In "Pro-Life", the black security guard is the first to die.
- In BBC's Merlin, they added black knights to Uther's court. The monsters of the week seem to love killing them, and if a knight needs to die to establish the threat, it will be the black dude. Being a black knight in Merlin appears to be like being a Red Shirt in Star Trek. Heaven help you if you're a black Knight and wearing a red tunic. The first major character to be killed in the series was Tom, who is also black.
- One Tie-In Monk novel, Mr. Monk on the Couch, has a serial killer case where the first victim is a black thrift shop manager.
- A team (white woman, white man, black man) enters a building in search of a killer. While they are all shot, the black man doesn't survive.
- In another episode, two Coast Guard officers (white man, black man) scan a ship. Shots ring out and the black officer is killed.
- Agent Reeves dies after Taking the Bullet for Abby when they're accosted by a mugger.
- In The Outer Limits (1995) episode "The Vaccine", the helpful young black man is the first of the group of survivors to die, when feral dogs attack him outside of the quarantine zone and compromise his environmental suit, exposing him to a lethal virus. Ultimately subverted, when he turns up alive at the end; the survivors lived not because they hadn't been exposed to the virus, but because they were immune.
- Painkiller Jane: Steve Ford is the first character (and member of the team) to die.
- The Purge: Jane is the first of the show's main characters to be killed.
- Scream: Resurrection has a mostly black cast, so it inverts this trope by having the first two victims (after the opening kill of Deion's twin brother Marcus) be two white guys. The white goth girl Beth also lampshades it when she tells Deion and Kym that, in a horror movie, they would have a very short life expectancy. She should know, since she's the killer.
- In Stargate Atlantis, although his death is ambiguous, the first character to leave the main cast is the black Lieutenant Ford.
- Star Trek: There are examples of black Red Shirts all throughout the Star Trek universe who die before their similarly-garbed comrades.
- A Star Trek: The Next Generation example - in "Where Silence Has Lease" an alien face on the viewscreen says that he wants to understand death by way of killing about half the crew and starts by killing the helmsman, the spot normally manned by Wesley Crusher. But he's away from the post at the time, for the only time in the whole episode, replaced by a Red Shirt black guy.
- A dark-skinned alien guy is the very first person to die in Star Trek: Picard.
- In the Supernatural episode "Simon Said" (S02, E05), Dr. Jennings is the first to die.
- Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps lampshades and parodies this trope in the horror special, "When Janet Killed Jonny". Louise, who is black (and is indeed the first character to die in the episode), comes out with this when creepy things start happening:
- The Walking Dead:
- T-Dog laments and lampshades this situation frequently (see page quote) to the point where it even becomes a paranoid belief when he's sick with a fever. Though he does eventually die mid-way through Season 3, over two seasons after the character was introduced, he does in fact outlive at least seven of his initial companions, including Amy, Ed, Jim, Dale, Jaqui, Sophia, and Shane.
- The prequel spin-off Fear the Walking Dead played this very straight, to the point where it drew heavy criticism. The first scene of the series shows an already-dead black man being eaten by a walker. After that, the first episode introduces three black, male character; all three of them are dead by the end of the second episode.
- The West Wing - In the second ever episode of the show we're introduced to a sweet, funny military doctor who's been specially requested by the President. He gets on really well with him, and has just popped in to give him a check-up before flying to an overseas teaching hospital for a couple of weeks. Not only is he black, he has a wife he adores and a lovely newborn baby girl whose picture he shows everyone. He is of course dead by the end of the episode (terrorists blow up his plane), and his death is used as a plot point to explore how the President deals with a military situation despite not having the experience. First person to die in a series that racked up quite a few corpses over the years.
- The Wire: At the end of the first episode Gant, the project maintenance man who had testified against D'Angelo in the Cold Open only to see him acquitted because the other witness recants, is found shot dead, the first character we've seen onscreen alive in the series to be killed.
- In an episode of Without a Trace, two FBI agents and the witness they're transporting are ambushed by gunmen. Although one of the agents is badly wounded and nearly dies himself, it's the witness, an African immigrant, who is killed.
- SyFy Channel Original Movies
- Sand Serpents has the only two black members of a Marine platoon die first, the first eaten by the serpents, the second killed in a car wreck.
- Scream of the Banshee, has the black police officer get killed off first. Otto's actor Todd Haberkorn immediately lampshaded this during the premiere.
- And another one, Ice Age 2012 (not related to Ice Age or 2012) has a giant glacier somehow plow its way across Canada propelled by a bunch of volcanoes erupting, but a black scientist still manages to die first by accidentally flying his helicopter into one of the eruptions.
- WWE's The Nexus faction sort of did this. Barring Daniel Bryan's legit firing, the first two guys officially dumped were black (Darren Young [beaten down and thrown out after losing to Cena] and Michael Tarver [taken out by Cena himself]). David Otunga did not leave the Nexus; in fact he was the only original member to still be in the Nexus when it disbanded. Wade Barrett split from the Nexus and formed The Corre which had a black guy named Ezekiel Jackson. He was the first to be ejected.
- There have been several instances such as in Elimination Chamber or Survivor Series matches where the black wrestler is the first one eliminated.
- Assassin's Creed: Rogue: The first major target Shay kills after leaving the Assassins is the Afro-French Le Chasseur (if only because he'd tell the Assassins Shay is alive).
- The tutorial level of Battlefield 1 has the player as part of the 369th New York Regiment, aka the "Harlem Hellfighters", an African-American National Guard regiment that was "loaned out" to the French Army during the final months of World War I. The only way to progress through and finish the level is for the first four player characters to be killed.
- The first member of your squad to die in Blacksite: Area 51 is Mitchell Ambrose, the only black man. He's also introduced by showing you pictures of his family and was also going to ask for leave after this mission.
- In Borderlands 2, Roland is the only one of the vault hunters from the first game who dies in this one. He also happens to be the only black male among them.
- In Call of Duty: Ghosts, Ajax, the first member of the titular team to die, also happens to be the only black member of the group.
- The very first mission in Call of Duty: Black Ops II begins with the scene of a black African soldier burning to death. The player then spends the entire mission killing a bunch of black Africans just to get information on where to find and rescue Woods. The fact that you're helping another black African leader who's excited about fighting and killing doesn't discredit the trope.
- In the Chzo Mythos game 7 Days a Skeptic, Barry dies first. The assignment also happens to be the last before his retirement, so he never really stood a chance.
- Also in Trilby's Notes, Abed is the first, and only, character to die. Unless you count the prologue and the flashbacks. Not a typical example since this happens near the end of the game.
- Played straight in Clive Barker's Jericho, where the Firstborn explodes two party members before the final battle. It actually targets Cole for trying to analyze it, but Jones stands closest to her and gets gibbed along with her. And true to the trope, Jones is blasted to chunks just one instant before Cole.
- In Crysis, the two black and one Hispanic teammates get eaten by aliens in the first couple of levels. One of the black teammates gets better, though.
- Oh, that black guy who got better? His name is Prophet, and he dies first in the sequel. Although he did get better...sort of. It Makes Sense in Context.
- In Dead Space 2, the Dead Space Ignition protagonist Franco Delille dies within seconds of the game starting.
- In Front Mission Evolved, Captain Hamilton is the first major NPC to die after being Impaled with Extreme Prejudice.
- In Halo, the first major non-gameplay casualties in the first game are the black Sgt. Johnson's seven-man squad. Word of God indicates this was originally intended to stick, but Johnson's popularity with the fans meant he was retconned into surviving.
- In Fallout 3 the first character to die is the scientist Jonas who was a friend of your character's father. It's his death in fact, that kicks off the main storyline.
- Also, the Player Character's mother, who is seen at the very beginning, dies shortly after giving birth. Her ethnicity is deliberately kept ambiguous in-game, but examining her character in the game files shows her to be African-American.
- In the 1st Degree has only one character die. His name is Zachary Barnes, and he is a black guy shot dead by his white business partner James Tobin. Fortunately, the point of the game is to make sure Tobin goes all the way down for Zack's murder.
- The tutorial mission of Just Cause 2 literally starts with this trope in spades. First the spunk blonde falls out of the helicopter - but is saved at the last minute. Then the black guy gets shot and falls out. For bonus points you get to jump out and skydive to his corpse (with the blonde telling you over the radio "yep, definitely dead, no point in trying to save him"), take the valuable object from his body, then use your parachute and leave the corpse to fall the rest of the way down.
- In the suicide mission at the end of Mass Effect 2, Jacob Taylor, the only black party member, volunteers for the first task. If you select him for this task, he gets shot in the face with a rocket. note The player can also send anyone into the shaft (except Miranda) and get any number of non-black crew members killed. They can also get the entire team out alive, thus sparing Jacob. So really, if Jacob dies first, one could argue that the player is the one enacting the trope.
- Technically so in Mega Man Zero 1. The first of the Four Guardians to die is Hidden Phantom, the one who wears black armor.
- Metal Gear:
- Metal Gear Solid: The first named character to die was the black DARPA Chief, Donald Anderson. Subverted when it turned out that he was an albino disguising himself as Anderson, and then twisted back around again, because the real Anderson was killed off-screen before Snake's arrival. That said, Master Miller was also killed off-screen before Snake's arrival (being impersonated through the whole game by the Big Bad), and the player is never made privy to which happened first.
- Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is divided into two chapters. In both chapters, the first named character to die is a black man - Scott Dolph in the Tanker portion and Peter Stillman in the Plant portion.
- In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, the opening sequence shows an African leader, who was successfully bringing peace to his country after decades of civil war, getting assassinated by the villains of the game who want to keep the conflict going for their own profit.
- Of the seven playable characters in ObsCure II, the Asian sisters Mei and Jun Wang are the only ones who are non-white, and also the first to die. Jun gets mauled by a monster in the dormitory building, either outside her dorm room if Mei and Sven don't get to her in time or in the basement if they do, while Mei gets her head crushed flat by a mutated Kenny while her boyfriend Corey is Forced to Watch.
- In Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, Gore is the first major character to bite the big one. Double subverted when he comes Back from the Dead; he either gives you his knowledge of the Schwarzwelt before passing on for good (Neutral) or is killed in combat with the Protagonist (Law and Chaos), and in neither case does he outlive you or the other alignment representatives.
- In Silent Hill 4, Cynthia, a Hispanic/Latina and the sole minority character, is the first to die in-game but also the first to be turned into a ghost.
- In Siren: Blood Curse, the black camera man Sol Jackson is the first of the protagonists to be killed, before you even get a chance to play as him. Then everyone goes back in time because Crazy Cult Lady's plan got screwed over. Sol is alive again! ...Until he dies first a second time. Even worse is that another character is shown to be in the exact same predicament that presumably kills Sol the second time around, yet he's shown to be perfectly fine later on.
- In the Soldier of Fortune series, Hawk is the first named sympathetic (player's side) character to die.
- While Until Dawn is a game that can end with everybody either dead or alive depending on how one plays it, the lone black character Matt is one of the first characters who one can potentially get killed. What's more, it's likely that many first-time players will get him killed, due to the fact that, unlike Jessica, the one character who can die before him and whose fate hinges on the player successfully passing quick-time events, the decisions that lead to an inescapable death for Matt — being nice to Emily, choosing to head to the fire tower, using the flare gun to signal for help — may seem logical at first.
- In Virtue's Last Reward, Alice is the only black character and she's the first to die on most routes of the game, except for her own, Sigma's, and the Golden Ending. Even in her and Sigma's routes, she dies along with everyone else when Dio's bomb goes off.
- Watch_Dogs 2 plays this one pretty hard; not only is Horatio the group's only black member before the arrival of the player-character, he's also the only member of the group to die in the course of the plot.
- In WinBack for the Nintendo 64, the main story involves tracking down your fellow squad members from whom you were separated. One of the first to be encountered is Matt, the black squad member, who instantly receives a sniper bullet to the face from Cecile.
- The producers of Final Fantasy VII purposefully averted this trope for Barret Wallace. When they decided one of the main characters should die, they chose to kill Aerith instead because they felt Barret would be too obvious. Whether to avert this trope, Big Guy Fatality Syndrome, or both is unclear.
- Unintentionally inverted, Barret winds up being the only surviving member of his AVALANCHE unit. Consisting of two white men and one white woman.
- This turns into a meta-joke in Final Fantasy VII Remake where during its Cosmic Retcon, Sephiroth impales Barret the same way he killed Aerith in the original game. Only to immediately get resurrected since he wasn't supposed to die.
- Played straight in Pinkie Pie's Exciting Adventure, where the first character to die is a Demoman in Part 3.
- In Erfworld, Lord Manpower the Temporary is killed on page 2, and is black at the time. (Later, he's green, like the rest of the uncroaked.) Technically, though, he was the last of Stanley's warlords to die. Just the first dead character in the story proper.
- Afrostar in Sidekicks gets featured on the chapter title along with his sidekick and is one of the superheroes that is actually genuinely a Nice Guy. Come the fight against the villains, he's the first (and only) superhero to get a confirmed onscreen death.
- Inverted in The Non-Adventures of Wonderella: in a world where superheros die and come back to life (often enough that they throw a party every time someone does), the black Queen Beetle is literally the only one not to have died. (Well, and Rita, but Rita's just a sidekick.)
- Compare that to her father, Black Beetle, the only one of the first generation superheroes to be missing, presumed dead. Uncle Slam was still kicking at least until 2016 (and Wonderella says he'll come back to life) and Titania (the first Wonderella) is still alive and retired (and she was among those that wore grey jeans, signifying that they've died and come back to life before, so...).
- Superman: The Animated Series, episode "The Hand of Fate". First demon to spring from the giant hole goes straight for the black dude.
- Wolverine and the X-Men: Swat team flees from faceless terror in the middle of a blizzard. Black guy gets dragged off.
- In the Justice League Unlimited episode "Dark Heart", Billy the rock climber gets eaten by the alien first.
- In Spaced Out a black Krach Industries suit got dissolved by acidic pulp, which security aimed at an escaped experimental organism that had to be taken out at all cost.
- In at least two episodes of Teen Titans Go! Cyborg is the first to die.
- In Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, the first deaths are two park workers who try to warn the kids. One is black and the other is white. When the Indominus rex sneaks up on the two men and gets them, the black guy is the one she goes for.
- When Ambrose Chase dies in Planetary, the Genre Savvy villain comments that "this is science fiction movie. The black guy always dies in the science fiction movie." (They were in a reality-warping field that made reality follow movie cliches, so this was, literally, the reason he died.)
- Parodied in a comic by Jhonen Vasquez describing the worst movie ever made.
"In classic tradition, ethnicity means a deathmark, and a reason to motivate that noble white guy."
White guy: AAARGH!! YOU KILLED BLACKY!!
- In Kyle Baker'snote war comedy Special Forces the opening splash page of the very first issue is the black squad member's head exploding and the main character actually lampshading this quote in her narration.
- Gorilla Girl from Avengers: The Initiative sums it up perfectly during Secret Invasion (which she surives and is noted in the epilogue as having retired from heroing to become a judge on a successful reality show):
Gorilla Girl: I'm black, I'm female, and nobody's ever heard of me. I might as well have "Cannon Fodder" stamped on my forehead.
- Set up in The Expendables' parody, where there is a character known only as (even by that character himself) "Muscly Black Dude Who Dies a Gruesome Death", and whose purpose is only to say "You're totally mad, bro!" and "You said it, dude!" He frequently lampshades this behavior, and even explains how a family photo is the way they chose to give depth to his character.
- In a 1999 The Boondocks strip, Huey writes an e-mail to George Lucas saying how excited he is that Samuel L. Jackson will be playing a Jedi Master (Mace Windu, for the uninitiated) in The Phantom Menace (and very formally so). He then pauses, and with a grim expression, writes "...but he had BETTER not be the first one to die."
- Defied in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, where Chef has joined the military, and is in an all-black battalion - the only one there, in fact. The General wants to use them as "Operation: Human Shield" in conjunction with everyone else in "Operation: Get Behind The Darkies". Chef seems to be the only one to notice how much of a raw deal they're getting, and gets the rest of his group to abort the mission, leaving the soldiers behind to get blown up, though.
Chef: Operation Human Shield, my ass!
- A non-lethal variation in the Pixar short film Mr. Incredible and Pals (a companion piece to The Incredibles), which is a highly corny In-Universe cartoon starring Mr. Incredible (who's white) and Frozone (who's black — or lightly tanned in the cartoon's style). When they confront the villain Lady Lightbug, Frozone is restrained by her "radioactive silk" and taken out of the action immediately. It's lampshaded by Frozone in the commentary that he and Mr. Incredible do on the cartoon. He's quite annoyed by the poor showing his fictional self makes.
- Evolution comically named this trope, but actually avoids it with a verbal Defied Trope. Since it's a rather light-hearted comedy, almost Everybody Lives. The guy who said it (Orlando Jones) had even originally used the line in a MADtv sketch.
- Scary Movie:
- Parodied in the first movie. After the Scream (1996) parody that opens it, a line of reporters discuss the story in front of the school. The last one is from BET (Black Entertainment Television), and the reporter declares "white folks are dead, we're gettin' the fuck outta here!" - at which point he and his crew jump into their van and speed off.
- Also, it's discussed fully in another scene, with text to this effect:
"The worst thing a brother can do is to party with white people, 'cause you know you're gonna die first. You should all get out of here."
"W-what about me?"
- Lampshaded again in Scary Movie 2, when it's suggested they split up. Dwight decides to invoke it.
Brenda: Uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh UH! Now wait a minute, hold up! How come when anytime this scary shit happens, and we should stick together, you white people always say "let's split up"?
Theo: She's right, we should stick together.
Dwight: She's right. Okay.
[points to the white people in the group]
Dwight: You three, follow me!
[the three black people are left alone]
Shorty: Ain't that a bitch.
[the three of them begin to cry]
Brenda: We gonna die, y'all.
- Ultimately defied in all the movies, though: The only main characters to survive the original movie, besides Cindy, are the three black characters despite seemingly being killed earlier and Ray was actually the last to (apparently) die. They also survive the second movie, though all of the characters do that time. The third movie is an interesting case: Brenda is apparently killed early in the movie by the Samara expy, complete with a funeral and everything, only to return alive and well, with no explanation, in the next movie.
Cindy: Brenda? I thought you were dead!Brenda: Oh, I thought you were dead, too.
- Undercover Brother's Conspiracy Brother complains about this trope.
"Hey black man, turn on the power there's dinosaurs running around. Hey black man, look out he's got a gun!"
- Canadian Bacon features a scene in which this theory is discussed, and various examples are given. It ends with the one black guy looking really nervous. He not only survives, though, he goes on to prove that black athletic superiority extends to hockey, too.
- Preacher of Deep Blue Sea is well aware of this trope—"I'm toast! Brothers never make it out of situations like this! Not ever!" and records his legacy - the perfect omelet recipe - in anticipation of his death. He lives all the way to the end, although the other black character does die mid-way through the film. It is remarkable that Preacher was indeed supposed to die according to the original script, just near the end rather than at the beginning. However, test audiences hated that, so it was changed.
- In the hip-hop drama 8 Mile, one of B Rabbit's opponents, Lotto, raps during their freestyle battle: "I'll spit a racial slur honkey, sue me/This shit is a horror flick but the black guy doesn't die in this movie."
- In Scream 2 (which ironically, offers a classic, lampshaded example of this trope, described above), Gale's black cameraman Joel notes that "brothers don't last long in situations like this." To that end, he quickly leaves town — and survives.
- In the commentary track for Snatch., the actor who plays Vincent notes this trope's tendencies and appreciates that this film averted it. Despite its two-digit body count, its black main characters all survive (though they get nicked for a murder they technically didn't commit).
- Wayne Brady on an episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway? during a game of Questions Only set at the Bates Motel, and also during a game of Themed Restaurant, with the theme being horror.
Wayne: "Am I going to be the first one to die, like I always am?"
- Wayne nearly always lampshades this trope in any game that involves horror movies.
- Wayne also lampshaded it on a ninth season episode of How I Met Your Mother, although the death is not...death. He sacrifices himself by talking to the old people so Barney and Robin can sneak away and not have to talk to them.
- In an episode parodying slasher films, Gus refuses to leave the house because "I've seen enough slasher movies to know that when the brother goes off to the woods, he doesn't even sorta come back!" Ironically he not only survives, but is the ONLY person to best the killer in a one-on-one fight.
- In another episode, this one set during Halloween, Gus has a list of rules for entering the old insane asylum. He doesn't enter the room first, he doesn't enter the room last, and he leaves if anything spooky happens. Naturally, his foot gets stuck in a hole in the floor, and Shawn leaves him there. And then shows back up with the villain's voice modulator.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 7, the following exchange occurs after some of the potential slayers (including Rona, who is black) are "killed" in a training exercise:
Spike: OK, these two are dead. Why?
Rona: 'Cause the black chick always gets it first?
- In an episode of Married... with Children, Al, Jefferson, and Griff join the National Guard and have to quell a garbageman strike. They've holed up inside a truck during a riot and Jefferson orders Griff to get out and do something.
Griff: Haven't you ever seen a war movie? The black man always gets it first! ...Jim Brown in The Dirty Dozen, Laurence Fishburne in Apocalypse Now, Bubba in Forrest Gump! Any black man in Star Trek! We go in, test the waters, get killed, and you white guys go home to your families.Al: See? We both lose.
- Discussed by Turk in the Scrubs episode "My Long Goodbye".
"If this were a horror flick, I'd be so scared that I was next. They always kill the black folks off first. Now I'm not really worried about it, 'cause there's still Snoop Dogg Resident and Leonard the security guard... y'know, when you think about it, this is a white-ass hospital." (beat) "I'm gonna miss you. You take care, okay?"
- A skit on Fridays called "The Moral Majority Variety Hour" included a magician who made the only black man in the audience disappear.
- In one rather funny moment on Smart Guy Moe and Marcus are sitting down to watch Scream 2. Marcus' girlfriend objects to the violence, Moe says he's only watching it for Jada Pinkett. Marcus and his girlfriend get into an argument about something else, and are suddenly cut off by loud screaming. Moe, oblivious to the argument, moans "Oh no, Jada's in the beginning. Black folks always get killed early in these things!" Seconds later, a woman's scream is heard in the movie and Moe says flatly "There goes Jada."
- Mentioned by Liz Lemon in 30 Rock.
- During Community's Zombie Apocalyptic Halloween special "Epidemiology" this trope is lampshaded with an attempted defiance. Abed sacrifices himself to make sure that Troy escapes.
Abed: "Troy, make me proud. Be the first black man to get to the end."
- Parodied in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy:
Damon: Why am I always the decoy?
- Inverted in the Key & Peele sketch "Suburban Zombies". The white guy (Kevin Sorbo) is killed and eaten first, and it later turns out that the zombies intentionally spared the black protagonists because they're afraid of black people.
- Nicole Beharie, who played Lt. Abigail Mills in Sleepy Hollow is well aware of this trope, and has said one of the major reason the show appealed to her was because unlike most other horror or fantasy narratives, the black woman isn't just the white heroine's Token Black Friend who ends up getting murdered. Sadly, this became much Harsher in Hindsight when her character became increasingly sidelined by her white male co-star's plotlines after the first season and was Killed Off for Real at the end of the third season after she decided to leave the show.
- In an episode of Are You There, Chelsea?, Dee Dee and Olivia are watching horror movies. Olivia says "There are no black people in this movie, so I don't know who dies first!"
- Referenced on Mock the Week, for the category "Unlikely Things to Read on a Health Insurance Form":
"Are you the only black guy in a horror film"
- In Living Color! had a couple of comedy skits starring Jim Carrey and David Alan Grier called Sidekicks and Sidekicks In Nam. The skits would parody the war movies and how they make the black character look silly and incompetent, before he's the first one to die, leaving the white best friend to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
- An episode of The Hughleys which had the gang staying the night in a haunted house and Darryl flipping out when the Caucasian Dave and Sally apparently fell victim to the killer:
"What kind of movie is this when the white people get killed before the black people?!"
- In reference to what happened to his character Rhodey in Captain America: Civil War, Don Cheadle commented in an appearance on the 11/08/16 episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert that he wouldn't want to be the first black man on Mars "because then I'd be the first to go."
- In the Alphas episode "Gaslight", the main cast finds themselves in a classic horror movie scenario inside a mental hospital, which prompts Hicks and Harken to discuss horror movie tropes. Harken notes that this one probably won't be happening to him, given his Super Strength and FBI training.
- Michael Wilbon once alluded to this trope on Pardon the Interruption in explaining why he never watches horror movies.
- Busdriver references this trope in "Unemployed Black Astronaut":
Oh my / sorry I / left my acceptance speech / in the back of the private car / and I rewrote the Hollywood ending / fluxed the motion picture screen / made it so the black guy doesn't die by the opening scene
- When Leah Von Dutch to go ghost hunting on "LVD TV" following a dream wave event, Moose protests on the grounds of being black but later volunteers to accept his fate when she comes across an unlit room and refuses to go farther.
- In A Day in the Life of a Commissar, two Guardsmen see Commissar Steve get gassed. One trooper, horrorstruck, wonders who's going to be the first to die. His buddy says "we should go by the movie rule that states the black guy always dies first." They're relived that none of their troops are black. But then one trooper says, "wait, I'm half-black!" and is promptly blown to pieces.
- In The TRANS-Formers, Offendatron (Megatron with boobs) press-gangs a random black guy into the Offendacons, all the while berating him for not feeling oppressed enough. Prowl vaporizes him seconds after he's introduced.
- In Bad Guy High a corrupted Super Dan killed Jacob, the black member of the team, and it's lampshaded.
- Sort of referenced in this Captain SNES: The Game Masta Halloween special, despite several people having died already.
- One of many horror movie cliches parodied in the "KITTEN" arc of Sluggy Freelance.
- Discussed in Ansem Retort, where Zexion notes that as long as the black dude is alive, the rest of them are safe. Then Namine points out that racism aside, they don't have a black dude.
"Ooh, right. Yeah, we're gonna die. Painfully, too."
- This chart on GraphJam detailing the life expectancies of horror film characters.
- And this◊ shows even polar bears are subject to this trope.
- This poster of Red Tails.
- From the "Letters to Mr. Potter" tumblr:
Thank you for not being the first one to die.
Sincerely, Black People Everywhere
- The Dorkly article, "These Eight Characters are Definitely Going to Die", includes in the list, "The Black Guy".
- In SOTF-TV, the first character to die is Anthony Rollins, who is, well, black. He actually hangs a lampshade on this right before he dies.
"Really? I'm the black guy that dies first? I knew I could've done more for this fucking show working the camera."
- Tobuscus lampshades this in his literal trailer of Shark Night, when the black man Malik is attacked.
"She can't believe that THAT guy died first."
- The idea is repeatedly and viciously lampshaded in SF Debris's review of the aforementioned "Where Silence Has Lease".
"...And naturally there'd be no shortage of volunteers [from red-shirted black men for bridge positions]. People who've seen Science Fiction know the black dude dies first. And people who've seen the original series know the guy who beams down in a red shirt dies. So, black dude plus red shirt equals get a bridge job as fast as you can and hope an alien doesn't show up on the view screen looking to kill people for no reason."
Negilum: Now would be a good time to learn about death by killing one of you.
- Later he does the voices of the various cast members to summarize the scene
Riker: Oh, no!
Picard: Oh, no!
Troi: Oh, no!
Data: Oh, no!
Black Red-Shirt: MOTHER FUCKER! *dies*
Picard: Send another red-shirted black fellow to the bridge.
- The Nostalgia Critic:
- The Critic dubs the thoughts of the only black guy in Jaws 3D: "All I can say is, I'm worried. We're in a lousy horror movie and I'm the only black person around. Clearly I need to hire more black people." He does, and just as planned, they get eaten by the shark instead. Success!
- Lampshaded by Malcolm in The Shining review.
- Atop the Fourth Wall:
- Linkara created several X-COM squad members based on That Guy with the Glasses contributors. The one based on The Rap Critic was the first to die. Read about it here.
- Speaking of Linkara, during the storyline segment of his review of A Nightmare on Elm Street: Paranoid #2, when Viga is told of the current supernatural situation in their house, she immediately grabs a suitcase and says "Nope!" precisely due to this trope.
- Achievement Hunter:
- Parodied in one Let's Play when Ray Narvaez Jr. is the first to be downed in an FPS game, he, as a Puerto Rican, gripes that it's the "brown guy who dies first".
- Newer AH member Alfredo Diaz is also aware of this trope. In one Things to Do in Halo 5, he's the second one downed and gripes, "Shit like this never works out for the fucking ethnic guy!"
- In a "Let's Watch" of Layers of Fear 2, newest member Fiona Nova is startled by Matt Bragg making a sudden movement. She immediately yells, "Matt, don't pull that white people shit!"
- During the Two Best Friends Play episode featuring Dead Space 2, Pat wonders out loud if Franco's death is "the fastest black guy death in a video game ever".
- In a Halloween special of Analog Control involving Slender The Eight Pages, MJTR confided in his current, mixed-race cohost Trey that at least one of them would survive. If Slenderman started pursuing them, he'd be too busy killing Trey to get MJTR.
- In the Ghost Recon: Future Soldier prequel film Ghost Recon Alpha, the one black member of the squad, Chuck, is the only one to die. Especially apparent in that the film replaces the Bald, Black Leader Guy Ghost Lead from the game with some random white guy, despite the rest of the squad being unchanged between the film and game.
- Parodied in the 50% OFF Halloween special, in which Makoto suggests Nagisa would be the first to die in a horror movie. Keep in mind that this is an Abridged Series of an anime, so Nagisa still looks like a Keet, he just sounds like a Scary Black Man.
- South Park
- Parodied in an episode itself a parody of The Core. In the original, a black scientist dies after engaging a switch deep while in almost direct contact with the Earth's mantle; in the parody, Cartman explicitly picks Chef as "the black man who will sacrifice himself". This is subverted, however, as Chef safely makes his way through the crowd of Hippies, does what was asked, and gets back... only for Cartman to keep going on as though Chef had died.
- Played straight however in Season 20, where of all the Internet trolls the only one to die was the lone black guy, MLKKK, burned alive by a man whose daughter he made fun of.
- The episode of The Simpsons with the infamous MENDOOOZZAAAAA! Skyward Scream features McBain's black partner getting killed.
- The animated series Funny Face has the black watermelon as the first and only character to die.
- In the Stripperella episode "The Bridesmaid", Molly Lumpkin picks a hostage to murder first, only for said hostage to immediately call her out on trying to play this trope straight. She tries prove to him that she's not bigoted by murdering one of her other hostages, except they're all minorities (part-Native American, Jewish, gay, and an Eskimo, in that order), frustrating her.