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"She was six feet of black dynamite! He was a short Hasidic Jew."
Cleopatra Schwartz, The Kentucky Fried Movie

A variation on the Odd Couple, involving a white person and a black person. Usually, the white person is a strait-laced by-the-book type, while the black person is a funky, urban type who doesn't have much respect for authority. Most commonly, they're cops, assigned as partners after their old partners die/get disgusted and walk away. Generally, the two will make a fairly good team if they can work out the personality clashes, with the strengths of one covering for the weaknesses of the other. And there's a better-than-even chance they'll wind up as unlikely friends before the story is over.

This trope tends to get subverted nowadays due to increased racial awareness, so that it's the white person who's a rebellious hothead, while the black person is smart and savvy. Another common subversion is for the black guy to be uptight and the white guy to be relaxed. An alternate version is a pairing of a white character with a Hispanic character called a Cafe con Leche. Please note, however, that the characters being of two different races isn't enough for this trope; there must also be some kind of contrast in their personalities for it to work.


For American media, this may be more common in the movies (such as Lethal Weapon, Die Hard or Die Hard with a Vengeance) than on TV as television shows often seem more segregated.

Subtrope to Red Oni, Blue Oni. See also Token Black Friend. Irishman and a Jew is an older variation of this trope. If they're not different races, the trope is All Work vs. All Play.

Not to be confused with the 90s hip hop group.



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  • A 2006 series of Twinings tea commercials in the UK featured the incredibly English Stephen Fry (the "face" of Twinings since 2005) running a tea shop with a Jive Turkey named Tyrone, who suggested the Earl Grey slogan could be "Feel the zing in your ding-a-ling!"

    Anime & Manga 
  • Blood+:
    • The anime and manga series pairs thin, ultraserious, white David with fat, easygoing, black Lewis. However, despite his personality, Lewis tends to be on top of things and surprisingly competent.
    • This also features a potential inversion/subversion with the reserved and serious (black) James and the flamboyant and affectionate (white) Nathan. Both are Diva's Chevaliers, but they never actually work together in battle. Still, if all the touching and flirting is anything to go by, Nathan certainly wants them to be an Odd Couple.
  • Blood: The Last Vampire, the Alternate Continuity predecessor of Blood+, features different versions of David and Lewis.
  • Bleach gives us Urahara and Yoruichi, which play this trope straight and invert it. When it comes to their everyday personalities, Yoruichi is a vivacious flirtatious pepper while Urahara is a hard-to-read trickster salt. However, when it comes to mentoring Ichigo, Urahara is batshit insane white pepper of a Sink-or-Swim Mentor, while Yoruichi is a calm and controlled black salt whose tests, while equally dangerous, are a lot less wacky. Of course, Yoruichi's Bankai training for Ichigo was created by Urahara.
  • November 11 and April in Darker Than Black are, respectively, a cool, collected, and impeccably-dressed charmer and an easygoing black Hard-Drinking Party Girl and dyes her hair bright blue has naturally bright blue hair. They're antagonists, though.

    Comic Books 
  • Iron Fist (white martial arts master raised in an other-dimensional city) and Power Man (wrongfully accused black ex-con living in Times Square and freelancing as a superhero) in the Marvel comic Heroes for Hire. Both were created in the '70s during the kung-fu and blaxploitation crazes. Best Odd Couple ever.
    • From the same era are the Daughters of the Dragon: the asian Colleen Wing and black Misty Knight, combining inspirations from Charlie's Angels and Cleopatra Jones.
    • And The Defiant Ones gets another nod in the supervillains Hammer and Anvil, a pair of escaped convicts whose powers and lives are linked by the chain that binds them.
  • Quantum and Woody (uptight middle-class black guy, street smart white guy, sharing a power ala The Defiant Ones) was a later take on the Power Man/Iron Fist idea by Christopher Priest, who used to write the comic. Quantum and Woody are even briefly shown dressed as Luke and Danny during a costume shop montage.
  • Iron Man and his best friend, War Machine. Their roles are subverted since Tony's reckless and flamboyant while Rhodey's a strait-laced colonel in the US Air Force.
  • Concession skewered this with a fake advertisement.
  • Marvel's Cloak and Dagger.
  • Captain America and his former partner The Falcon. They don't team-up as often as they used to but they invoked this trope, although both are very straitlaced.
    • There is also the USAgent and Battle Star, a b-list Anti-Hero Substitute to Cap and his African American partner. Agent is the more violent of the two while Battle Star is more sensible.
  • Górsky & Butch — at one point they argued which of them should be the relaxed one. Generally, Gorsky (who, despite the Polish surname is the black one) tends to be the smarter and more experienced — except for his unfortunate tendency to walk right into every Stereotype Reaction Gag that comes his way.
  • DC's Firestorm can be this all by himself, since he's a fusion of two separate characters in a single body. The writers tend to like to pick distinctly different personalities (who may not even like each other much).
  • In early Robin Series stories two of Tim and Ives friends who are never seen apart are the short, serious, practical Black and Nerdy Keven Hudman and the vaguely Latino/White impulsive, reckless and excitable Hudson. Later writers seemed to forget these were separate characters and merged them into one mostly resembling Hudson.
  • D-List (Or even god damned E-List) The Incredible Hulk villains Hammer and Anvil, he's a white supremacist called Johnny Anvil, and he's a thug down on his luck called Leroy "Hammer" Jackson. Together they're a Chained Heat Super Villain duo with an unbreakable bond gifted to them by an alien (It Makes Sense in Context). They Fight Crime!! note .

    Comic Strips 
  • JumpStart: Inverted with Sunny and her best friend Dexter, since Sunny is definitely the most level-headed of the two. Played more straight with Jojo and his best friend Benny.

    Fan Works 
  • In Keepers of the Elements, there are two notable subversions. With Travis and Milah, Travis is the straight-laced, by the book one and Milah is is the more outgoing, risk-taking one. The other subversion is that of Nasira and Hasim, Nasira being the straight-laced one and Hasim is the fun loving one, who while he doesn't go against the rules, is certainly more flexible when it comes to them.
  • Total Drama Legacy: The Toxic Rat Pups (Storm and Link) are a textbook example. Not only is Storm a black girl and Link a white boy, their personalities contrast each other as well; Storm is Hot-Blooded, athletic, confident, and more of a leader type, while Link is relaxed, geeky, insecure, and more of a follower type.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Trope Namer is 1968 movie Salt And Pepper 1968, starring Peter Lawford (as Christopher Pepper) and Sammy Davis Jr. (as Charles Salt).
  • The 1958 film The Defiant Ones follows escaped, shackled-together convicts Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis, as their mutual hostility slowly turns into an unlikely friendship.
  • Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo in Brian's Song. Brian is the loud goofy one while Gale is the quiet and reserved one.
  • Agent J, played by Will Smith, and Agent K, played by Tommy Lee Jones, from the Men in Black movies and animated series (in the original comic, both were white) are partners. Kay exhibits a very serious demeanor, rarely joking or smiling and giving very matter-of-fact responses. Jay has an energetic, enthusiastic attitude and refusal to strictly follow authority that Kay admired when he first met NYPD officer James Edwards who would become Agent J.
  • Further subversion in the Lethal Weapon series: the by-the-book (and black) Roger Murtaugh is nearing retirement from the police force, while new partner Martin Riggs is the eponymous lethal weapon.
  • Displayed in Rush Hour, except with the white character replaced by a Chinese character (Jackie Chan). Maybe it should be called Pepper and Mustard?
  • Parodied in a fake movie trailer during Major League II called Black Hammer, White Lightning, with a pair of Salt And Pepper-ish Rambo wannabes. Includes an obligatory sampling of Witty Banter:
    White Lightning: Mine fell the hardest!
    Black Hammer: Mine are the deadest!
    Both: ...HAHAHAAA!!
  • Given a Canadian twist in Bon Cop, Bad Cop, with a by-the-book Torontonian cop and a Montreal Cowboy Cop.
  • Blazing Saddles (1974) would have been the first Wilder/Pryor pairing as the Waco Kid and Black Bart, respectively, but Cleavon Little ultimately received the Bart role, with Pryor remaining behind the scenes as co-writer.
  • Reversed in The Man, featuring all-business Samuel L. Jackson opposite trying-too-hard-to-be-cool-and-failing-horribly Eugene Levy, and used straight in two Queen Latifah movies: Taxi, opposite Jimmy Fallon, and Bringing Down the House, opposite Steve Martin.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Tony Stark, irreverent playboy whose approach to life is Screw the Rules, I Have Money!, and his best friend James Rhodes an upright military man who believes in the chain of command.
  • After Steve went back in time, Sam Wilson teamed up with Bucky Barnes for the Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Sam and Bucky are arguably a better example of the trope (than Steve & Sam) because there is a more obvious contrast in their personalities. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier also features a more-or-less Beta Couple version of this trope with the characters of John Walker and Lemar Hoskins.
  • Doctor Strange, whose approach to life is "Screw the rules, I have talent" and Mordo, who is so dedicated to following rules that he leaves the order and goes on a killing spree when he finds out the Ancient One broke them.
  • T’Challa, whose dedication to following Wakanda’s ancient laws borders on Lawful Stupid, teams up with a white American CIA agent who is comfortable with Dirty Business.
  • Ant-Man has ancillary characters that fit this trope:
    • Those Two Guys Kurt and Dave. Kurt doesn’t talk much, and has a very calm demeanor and manner of speaking, while Dave is more expressive and excitable.
    • Detectives Jim Paxton and his partner Gale (who doesn’t get much characterization).
    • It’s implied that Hank Pym and Bill Foster were this when they worked together.
  • Osmosis Jones is this, on a microcosmic level- Ozzy is a white blood cell paired with a cold pill. The voice actors being Chris Rock and David Hyde Pierce make it apparent from first glance this is the trope they were implying.
  • Samuel L. Jackson was paired with Geena Davis in The Long Kiss Goodnight, first as Scary Black Man and Scared White Captive, then it looked like it would be played straight, then it was inverted after Geena recovered her memory of being a pro assassin, and became scarier.
  • James Belushi and Tupac Shakur in Gang Related. Both corrupt cops, but Tupac's character is the more sensible of the two.
  • No less than three sets in King of New York: drug lord Frank White (salt) and his right-hand goon Jimmy Jump (pepper), Frank's Bodyguard Babes Melanie (salt) and Raye (pepper), and Rabid Cops Denis Gilley (salt) and Tommy Flanigan (pepper).
  • John McClane and Zeus Carver in Die Hard with a Vengeance. Subverted in that neither one of them have much of a respect for authority.
  • Pulp Fiction has the duo of Jules Winnfield (a Scary Black Man played by Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent Vega (a soft-spoken, slightly dorky white guy played by John Travolta). Both are prone to moments of deep philosophical insight, leading to a lot of Sophisticated as Hell Seinfeldian Conversation. Just to clarify, "Vega" can be a Russian surname instead of a Spanish one. So this isn't necessarily "Cafe Con Pepper."
  • The 1985 film White Knights was a star vehicle for both the white (Russian/naturalized American) ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov and the black (American) tap dancer Gregory Hines. In a subversion, the black character was much more cautious than the white character, who was bolder and a bigger troublemaker.
  • A good example is The Color of Friendship about Mahree Bok, an snobby white South African who is excited about spending a semester in America and Piper Dellums, her black host family sister who is eager to get back to her African roots.
  • Django Unchained plays this straight on both sides of the conflict. Django, the badass, works alongside Guile Hero King Schultz, and Calvin Candie's slave Stephen is his Dragon-in-Chief. Notably, both villains are disposed of by their same-race counterparts.
  • 1989 short film The Lunch Date focuses on a white woman who learns a lesson after sitting down for lunch at a diner and finding a homeless black man in her booth.
  • The Brazilian movie The Elite Squad features childhood friends Matias and Neto, both are honest, wide eyed idealistic cops, the difference being that Matias is more rational and sensible, while Neto was impulsive and emotional. Following Neto's murder, Matias turns into a Cowboy Cop and becomes more brutal as he is driven to avenge his best friend's death.
  • Tragedy Girls: The titular girls: Sadie is white, McKayla's black. Sadie's the more level-headed, and McKayla's slightly hot-headed. Overall, they're pretty alike though.
  • Ghosts of Mars: Develops in the second half as by-the-book corrections officer Melanie is forced to team up with loose cannon criminal Desolation Williams (played by Ice Cube) to kick Martian zombie ass. The Sequel Hook at the end shows them reuniting and teaming up more formally to lead an all-out guerilla war against the Martians.

  • Robinson Crusoe and Friday are probably the Ur-Example. It should be noted that Friday is actually not black in the original book: he's a Carib Indian from the Orinoco River delta region. (Crusoe's Caribbean island is in the mouth of the Orinoco.) But so many adaptations over the centuries have Race Lifted him as black that most people now think of him as such. Crusoe and Friday also share the traditional characteristics of this trope as a straitlaced, rather stodgy white man and his more vibrant, flamboyant brown sidekick.
  • Detritus and Cuddy (and later Littlebottom) in Discworld are a troll/dwarf partnership. Trolls being naturally stone-cool, and dwarfs being fairly uptight.
  • In the Doctor Who Expanded Universe Chris Cwej and Roz Forrester. Roz is black, and is deeply cynical and usually the by-the-book type. Chris is white, and very idealistic.
  • Stuck's leads, Tre and Nora. He's a black Genius Ditz with a slacker complex, while she's a white Stepford Snarker who can be uptight at times, depending on her mood. They end up in a happy relationship (which has its ups and downs).
  • In Howie Carr's novel 'The Killers,' crime boss 'Bench' McCarthy has a pair of underlings who go by the nickname 'Salt and Peppa' and they are Exactly What It Says on the Tin.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel: Wes and Gunn, who notably reversed roles during the show's run. Wes started out as a strait-laced, tightly-wound British stereotype and evolved into a brooding, morally ambiguous badass, while Gunn started out running a vampire-hunting street gang but later, thanks to some Applied Phlebotinum, became a sharp-suited lawyer.
  • Arrowverse:
    • Oliver Queen, started as an obsessive, single minded humorless vigilante, and quickly teamed up with John Diggle, who keeps him tethered to normality.
    • Joe West, a somewhat grizzled veteran cop was partnered with the younger lighter Eddie Thawne.
    • Firestorm, a Fusion Dance character with older professor Martin Stein, and younger athletic Jefferson Jackson.
    • When cool, athletic James Olsen became the vigilante Guardian, nerdy, anxious Winn became his Mission Control.
    • When tough, impulsive Kate Kane first became Batwoman, her only ally was nerdy, anxious Luke Fox acting as Mission Control.
  • Better Off Ted: Phil and Lem. Got a Lampshade Hanging in one episode, when Ted was using salt and pepper shakers to represent them. They were at first confused about which one was which, but then Lem (the black one) decided he was pepper because he was spicy. Phil agreed that he was "salty, like a sea captain." Not a true example, however, since their personalities are close to identical. (And neither is spicy or salty.) Lem is slightly cooler, but only in the way that Screech might be slightly cooler than Urkel.
  • Black Mirror: Yorkie and Kelly on the episode 'San Junipero.' Yorkie is white, introverted, dorky to the point of wearing glasses she doesn't need in a virtual reality world, and wants to live forever; Kelly is black, outgoing, confident, and wants to live life while it lasts.
  • They're not partners, but the central characters of Brooklyn Nine-Nine otherwise fit the contemporary inversion. Jake Peralta (white) is the wisecracking goofball, and Captain Ray Holt (black) is by-the-book and so stoic he's compared to a statue. The show's marketing particularly plays up their Odd Couple status. That said, Holt isn't entirely humourless and, in the second Halloween episode, epically out-pranks Peralta and revels in it.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Riley and Forrest in Season 4. They're close friends and fellow demon-fighters in the Initiative, but while they start off company men it's Riley who begins to question authority and Forrest who remains committed.
    • Buffy and Kendra are the inversion - Buffy is a Pop-Cultured Badass who does things her way, while Kendra is by-the-book one and doesn't seem to have been allowed much of a life outside slaying.
  • Cape Town: Subverted with the two protagonists: Mat Joubert is a gruff, anti-social white Defective Detective, Sanctus Snook is a black By-the-Book Cop with FBI and DPCI background.
  • Cloak and Dagger has Tyrone Johnson, whose dedication to being perfect is born of his parents’ fear of what could happen to a black man if he ever made a mistake, team up with Tandy Bowen a white petty thief with a drug problem.
  • Common Law: Plays this straight with Detectives Travis Marks and Wesley Mitchell. Travis (black) is unpredictable and frequently ignores the rules, while Wes (white) is straight-laced and by the book.
  • The Daily Show:
    • One funny parody had Larry Wilmore making this a Discussed Trope in regards to Barack Obama's search for a vice presidential running mate. Film clips illustrated how over the years black leads have been teamed up with cops, nerdy guys, dogs, "Gene Wilder...Gene Wilder...Gene Wilder...It was a different time." This leads into a further discussion of the Magical Negro trope (as in The Green Mile, The Legend of Bagger Vance, and Kazaam) as it would apply to Obama.
  • The live-action The Defenders (2017) series has Luke Cage and Iron Fist, but in this take they're more like the modern inversion of the trope. Luke is older, more experienced and is more or less the Team Dad of the whole group. Danny, by contrast, is the youngest and most hotheaded of the Defenders.
  • Degrassi:
    • Had JT and Liberty. JT, the white one in the pairing, was humorous, relaxed, and not very smart. Liberty was a teen genius, didn't have a sense of humour, and was always worrying. They end up falling in love.
    • Also there is the friendship of Jimmy, the cool guy who can rap, dance, and play basketball, with the Spinner who's tough but can't dance because he's white. It's an Averted Trope with Hazle who tries to be just like Paige.
  • Firefly: Wash and Zoe are an inversion. Zoe is a black woman and loyal soldier who cannot be persuaded to stop calling Mal "sir;" Wash is the eminently laid-back white-guy pilot who tells Zoe that if she has a problem with his plan she should tell him instead of just letting Mal call that shots. The two are Happily Married. Interestingly, whether Zoe is salt or pepper is dependent on what's happening and who she's with. With Mal she's the silent deadly warrior while he's the rowdy and adventurous gunslinger.
  • FlashForward (2009): Did a white guy/Asian guy variation on this, with Mark being the introverted and brooding (and unfortunately prone to holding the Idiot Ball) white guy and Demetri being the more Hot-Blooded and impulsive and competent of the pair.
  • Hill Street Blues:
    • Reversed memorably, with the rational, mild-mannered black cop Bobby Hill (played by Michael Warren) teamed with loud, white, redneck Andy Renko (Charles Haid.) These uniformed patrol officers were shot and presumed dead in the 1980 pilot episode, but the charismatic pairing appealed to both the producers and audience. Hill and Renko returned to duty from a prolonged hospitalization in time for the first season of Hill Street Blues and were a mainstay of the series throughout its run.
    • Played with in the case of Detectives John La Rue (white) and Neal Washington (black). Most of the time they were both the hip, wisecracking type: Neal was just better at knowing when to quit while he was ahead and when to keep his smart mouth shut, whereas John's Cowboy Cop tendencies, drinking problem and other personal issues repeatedly put his career on the line.
  • Homicide: Life on the Street: Plays a variation with Pembleton and Bayliss. Black Pembleton is a tightly wound intellectual with an unforgiving set of morals. White Bayliss was nakedly emotional and always wanted to see everyone's viewpoint.
  • Human Target: Inverted Trope by the supporting pair of Guerrero & Winston. Winston's the black retired cop, Guerrero's the white semi-retired criminal. Also opposites in size, since Chi McBride is about a foot taller and a good bit wider than Jackie Earle Haley.
  • LA Heat: Chase is a white Cowboy Cop, a younger risk-taker who likes to live on the edge and is passionate about his job, outside police work he makes metal sculptures, enjoys health food. August is the black more experienced By-the-Book Cop, a Vietnam veteran and former pro boxer, outside police work runs a boxing center for underprivileged kids, and likes to eat hamburgers and bacon to annoy Chase.
  • Law & Order: The seasons featuring Briscoe and Green. And then Fontana and Green. And now Lupo and Bernard. It goes back further than that — the very first A.D.A.s, Stone and Robinette.
    Green: So we're looking for a white guy and a black guy together in New York City.
    Lupo: Well there's us.
  • Listen Up!:
    • This short-lived sitcom played this trope straight with Jason Alexander as an uptight white television presenter (complete with wife and daughter who didn't respect him) and Malcolm-Jamal Warner as his too-hip-for-words black sports star co-host.
    • This was actually based on a real pairing. Alexander's character was based on New York-based sportswriter Tony Kornheiser (who the show's concept happened to be based on) while Warner's character was based on Chicago-based sportswriter Michael Wilbon. The two actual persons have had a show together on ESPN (Pardon the Interruption) for nearly a decade.
  • Lucifer (2016) takes it to cosmic proportions with Amenadiel, who has been a loyal soldier and dutiful son since the dawn of time, and Lucifer who literally invented the concept of "screw the rules".
  • Mad TV: One sketch spoofed this trope in a bit called "Night and Day", about a male black cop forced to partner with an albino woman. They learn to work together while taking cover in the villain's lair, conveniently fronted by a blackboard and whiteboard factory.
  • Miami Vice:
  • Midnight Caller has talk radio host Jack Killian and reporter Deacon Bridges, who sometimes help each other investigate. Deacon is more relaxed and outgoing than Jack, but he takes his job very seriously, which can lead to conflict when Deacon publishes articles that hurt Jack's case.
  • Josh and Brittany in Mr. Meaty. Brittany is an African girl who's very popular, and well-liked. She hangs out with Ashley and Ashley 2. Though she's not as shallow as the two girls, and the smartest of them. Josh is the slacker. he's into making monster films, music, and talking to girls. In the last few episodes before series cancellation, it's revealed he likes Brittany. In subsequent (aired OOO), Brittany speaks to him in school, and he slams his hand in his locker door, then follows after her. They go on a date to the movies, where they make out, and in last episode, Josh refers to her as his girlfriend. He later, in the episode preceding the last, tells her he loves her. She feels the same, and they hug.
  • Northern Exposure: White Chris Stevens and his black half-brother Bernard. The hook being that they are pretty much exactly the same guy, right down to being born on the same day. One episode even revolves around Bernard beginning a relationship with one of Chris's ex-lovers - and she can't detect any difference between them in bed.
  • Power Rangers S.P.D.: Jack and Sky are something of an example here. The African-American's a chaotic former Robin-Hood type, the white guy's excruciatingly by the book in comparison (one episode had him "letting his hair down" in a birthday party setting by unbuttoning the top button of his uniform collar). They're also cops, and frequently have to work together. Keep in mind though, that their personalities were based off Ban Akaza and Hoji Tomasu, respectively, from Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger. Given that it's Power Rangers, it goes a step further with the red/blue motif although it's still important to note that there are three other Rangers on the team.
  • Psych:
    • The main characters are the laid-back, street-smart white Shawn and his uptight, eminently nerdy black partner Gus. This was even played upon in a commercial for the show, where they performed "Ebony and Ivory" together.
    • Also, the "Black and Tan" episode. Gus was Tan, Shawn was Black. And how dare you assume otherwise.
    • The one time Gus was allowed to come up with the aliases, all he could think of was "Gus Brown and Shawn White," as it happens.
    • Shawn is laying out the set-up of a restaurant in "Shawn Gets the Yipps". He says that everyone in the restaurant is an object:
      Gus: Let me guess. I'm the pepper, you're the salt.
  • Red Dwarf: Although this show is set in the far future where contemporary notions of race may not apply, the extremely uptight Rimmer (played by white British actor Chris Barrie) and the laid-back, slobby Lister (played by half-West-Indian half-Irish Brit Craig Charles) fulfill this trope. (You could probably also throw in Holly and the Cat.) However, Lister wasn't written specifically as a "black character". In fact, when the show's creators first wrote the script they imagined him as looking a lot like Christopher Lloyd in Taxi.
  • Scrubs:
    • Turk and J.D, although they're really both giant dorks - Turk is only the "cooler", more grounded one by comparison.
    • There's also Turner and Hooch (a black and white surgeon duo brought together by Turk and J.D. for the pun on their names) and a Cafe con Leche pairing in Elliot and Carla. Season 9 introduced the Salt and Pepper pairing of Captain Melvis Duncook and Lieutenant Frank Underhill, campus security for Winston University.
  • Teachers: The first three series had a variation with Brian, who was white, and Kurt, who was Asian. Kurt was, usually, more intelligent, although Brian seemed to 'wear the pants', probably because he was a lot taller. When they were replaced in the fourth series, we got Damien, who was black, and Ben, who was white, although Damien was Brian's Suspiciously Similar Substitute while Ben was Kurt's, although with the slight difference that Damien was perhaps more intelligent than Ben. Not that it really mattered in the end.
  • Tenspeed And Brown Shoe: This 1980 Stephen Cannell creation starring Jeff Goldblum as Lionel Whitney, a karate-chopping ex-stockbroker private-eye wanna-be that takes all his inspiration and advice from Mark Savage, a fictional character in a series of 40's style detective novels (Stephen Cannel's photograph appeared on the dust jackets as the author of the books). Thrown together in the pilot episode with his co-star, Ben Vereen, playing E.L. Turner a street-wise hustler and con-man, in a caper after E.L. steals a million dollars from the mob, which the mob had gotten by fencing Nazi diamonds. This gets both the mob and the Nazis after him and a confused Lionel, who is about to be married, and whom both groups believe to be E.L.'s partner. 14 episodes were made and this was Jeff Goldblum's only major television role until Raines and Law & Order: Criminal Intent in The Aughts.
  • Community: The episode The Science of Illusion has Annie and Shirley acting as campus security. The joke, however, is that they're both trying to be the bad cop...
  • Merlin: Angel Coulby and Katie McGrath make a striking pair as Morgana and Guinevere. The latter worked as the former's maid-servant, and where Morgana is passionate, high-strung and easily corrupted, Gwen is down-to-earth, practical and calm.
  • The Leverage team of main characters includes Alec Hardison, the unapologetically Black and Nerdy genius hacker with "focus issues" and an unstoppable Motor Mouth, and Eliot Spencer, the rough-around-the-edges Southern-accented "retrieval specialist" who specializes in up close and very physical solutions to dangerous problems. The contrast between the two (and the humorous bickering that usually results) means that they're frequently teamed up together during cons.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Pulled this off (inadvertently probably) with Captain Sisko, the Bald Black Leader Guy, and his second-in-command the Sassy White Woman, Major Kira. In the late 24th century where the show takes place, it's fairly certain race and even gender don't carry the same meaning as they do today, but as with most things Star Trek, they are other parallels within the show reflecting contemporary issues. Sisko is a career Starfleet officer while Kira is a hero of guerrilla warfare. And while initially, they butt heads, they come to find they both are fiercely loyal to justice, and both will tolerate absolutely no crap from anyone. Even each other.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation has an odd variation. In its classic form, this trope involves one partner who is Caucasian and stoic. Data is literally white and incapable of emotion, while his best friend Geordi is a completely normal human who happens to be black. In this 24th century setting, it's Data who is the mistreated minority.
  • The Flip Wilson Show: In 1972, George Carlin was a guest on this NBC show, and he and Flip did one of Carlin's mock news telecasts. Carlin was Harry Salt, Wilson was Phil Pepper, and together they presented The Salt & Pepper Report:
    Pepper: The new movie "Willard" is not doing well in ghetto theaters. Patrons say if they want to see rats, they can stay at home.
  • The Vampire Diaries has a personality reversed version of this with Bonnie and Caroline. Bonnie is the African-American cool-headed capable witch, and Caroline is the short tempered, blonde Girly Bruiser.
  • CHiPs is a Cafe Con Leche example with the strait-laced Jon Baker and the hot-headed Hispanic Frank "Ponch" Poncherello.
  • Mentioned in the Angie Tribeca episode "Tribeca's Day Off", when Geils and Tanner are partners for the day. Lt. Atkins comments that they'll have to figure out how a white man and a black man can work as partners, as if this had never happened before in the history of police work. It turns out that Geils and Tanner have exactly the same taste in music (Public Domain radio), both like "riding shotgun" (so Hoffmann the dog drives the car) and there is no conflict at all.
    Angie Tribeca: And what new spin are you gonna put on a black cop and a white cop working together for the first time?
    Lt Atkins: We'll figure it out!
  • Inverted in Cape Town with the white, anti-social and borderline suicidal Mat Joubert and his clean-cut, black partner (and former Hawks member) Sanctus Snook.
  • Nick and Hank in Grimm with Nick as the level-headed and Hank as the more spicy and sassy character.
  • Boston Public: Principal Stephen Harper and Vice Principal Scott Guber. It's noteworthy that the very large, intimidating Bald Black Leader Guy Harper is the empathetic and diplomatic Reasonable Authority Figure, whereas slightly built, unremarkable, white Guber is the hard-assed but scrupulously even-handed disciplinarian.

  • Sometimes shows up in Hip-Hop. Some notable examples include:
  • "Over and Over" Nelly ft. Tim McGraw.
    • Bad Meets Evil, composed of Eminem and Royce da 5'9
    • The two remaining members of Massive Attack, 3D and Daddy G.
    • Jedi Mind Tricks, comprised of Vinnie Paz (salt), Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind (salt), and Jus Allah (pepper).
    • Taken up to eleven with Vinnie Paz's supergroup Army of the Pharaohs:
      • Salt: Esoteric, Apathy, Celph Titled, Vinnie Paz
      • Pepper: Reef the Lost Cauze, Crypt the Warchild, Jus Allah, Des Devious, Planetary, Doap Nixon, Demoz

    Pro Wrestling 
  • The APA, Bradshaw and Faarooq are probably wrestling's most famous example. Bradshaw is the fun-loving Boisterous Bruiser from Texas and Farooq is the no-nonsense Scary Black Man from Georgia. When they are not beating people up (usually for money, since their gimmick was being hired muscle), they are most likely seen in the back drinking beer and playing poker.
  • The Dudley Boys are another good example and another interesting subversion. Both of them are dumb, bumbling buffoons who are low on social grace and manners. Though in TNA, Bubba in particular does subvert his character even further by becoming somewhat of a Genre Savvy Magnificent Bastard who is able to manipulate the powers that be.
    • Starting about 2010, this all changed when the brothers split and Bubba (now known as "Bully Ray") experienced a Face–Heel Turn. Now Devon (the black one) is a thuggish but still pretty cool guy, while Bully Ray is a loudmouth and coward whom everybody hates. Their racial contrast is no longer important, other than the fact that Devon is now good friends with the Jive Turkey D'Angelo Dinero (at least until the latter messed with his kids).
    • Subverted again, after Bully Ray revealed himself to be the Big Bad of the biker gang Aces&8s, of which Devon was already a member.
  • At ECW November to Remember 95, there was a tag team match with the Sandman (Salt) and 2 Cold Scorpio (Pepper) vs. the Public Enemy (Salt and Salt). Before the match, there was a dance contest. Scorpio danced well. Sandman...didn't. Although, in his defense, this was clearly intentional.
  • Ivory (Lisa Moretti) as the manager of the black Face tag team of "Sexual Chocolate" Mark Henry and D'Lo Brown.
  • For a surprisingly long time, Booker T and Goldust were a successful tag team, with Booker (the black one, if you didn't know) playing the more serious half, while Goldust was, well, Goldust.
  • In Future of Wrestling, viewers were presented with the pairing of Antonio Banks(Pepper) and Punisher (Salt), who also doubled as Big Guy, Little Guy, even though Banks wasn't that little just because Punisher was so big. Banks was the more outspoken and sarcastic of the two, plus he had Malcolm X tattooed on his chest, playing this trope pretty much straight.
  • In WWE, The World's Greatest Tag Team. A subversion in that Shelton Benjamin (the black one) is the relatively straight one (though he's still an insufferable self-centered ass), and Charlie Haas (the white one) is a veritable Jive Turkey (to quote Rory, one of the Highlanders, "I didn't know Charlie Haas was black!"). When they were working for Kurt Angle, however, their personalities were pretty much interchangeable.
  • Several times in the National Wrestling Alliance, including many of the other examples listed on this page. One of the more successful examples also worth mentioning are world tag team champions Skull Krushers, who competed with the straight pepper Dark City Fight Club. Keith Walker the more serious salt to pepper counterpart, Rasche Brown, Jon Davis being the more series pepper to another pepper Kory Chavis.
  • The All Night Express in Ring of Honor, especially after Rhett Titus (salt) and Kenny King (pepper) left Austin Aries and started interacting more with the aforementioned World's Greatest Tag Team. However, outside of the team, Titus was/is much goofier than King, as he is a bow tie wearing Casanova Wannabe.
  • Averted by LayCool, the heel Diva team of Layla El and Michelle McCool that terrorized SmackDown! from 2009 to 2011. Although Layla was of mixed race (North African and European) and Michelle was white, as a team they more or less behaved the same way (snobby and obnoxious). Before they teamed up, however, they each played the trope rather straight: Michelle was prim, while Layla was spunky.

    Video Games 
  • Emperor Uriel Septim's bodyguards, The aggressive and on-edge Imperial named Glenroy and calm and friendly Redguard named Baurus, in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
  • Half-Life 2 and sequel episodes: Gordon Freeman and Alyx Vance (although by her facial complexion, Alyx's mother could have been white or Asian). Gordon is the Strong Silent Type; Alyx is a tomboy who does all the talking.
  • Splatoon 2 has Off the Hook, consisting of the pale Pearl and the dark-skinned Marina. The typical dynamic is reversed—Pearl is the loud, impulsive, and short-tempered one, while Marina is her calmer and more polite foil.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Whateley Universe:
    • Roommates black Toni Chandler (Chaka) and white Nikki Reilly (Fey). Chaka is also way more relaxed about their mutual problem, while Fey is wound tight enough that she accidentally pops out hobgoblins regularly.
    • Also Chaka (smart-alecky black girl) and Bladedancer (Tao-driven Oriental girl), most blatantly when Bladedancer went home with Chaka for Christmas.
  • Doris & Mary-Anne Are Breaking Out of Prison has features the white Doris and the black Mary-Anne. Doris is a Talkative Loon whose escape plans frequently slip into outright insanity. Mary-Anne is The Stoic who can only sit in reserved silence as her cellmate rambles. At the end, Doris serves her full sentence, and Mary-Anne is implied to break out.

    Western Animation 
  • Tom and Sarah Dubois in The Boondocks are an inversion. Tom is the straightest-laced character in the show; whereas Sarah, his white wife, is at least naughty enough to fileshare, and is irked by her husband's irrational fear of getting caught breaking the law.
  • On The Simpsons, there are two main Salt and Pepper pairs:
    • Chief Wiggum's right-hand cops Eddie and Lou. Inverted in that Lou is more competent and Eddie doesn't talk much.
    • Also inverted with Homer's friends Lenny and Carl. Lenny is a slacker and Carl is more controlled.
    • KBBL disc jockeys Bill and Marty. Bill is reasonably intelligent, competent and cynical, Marty is more of a Kindhearted Simpleton that Bill openly describes as dead weight.
    • The Simpsons also had another pair on the show within a show "Police Cops".
    • Also Rainier Wolfcastle's series of McBain movies had McBain and Skowie.
    • Played for a one-off gag when Bart is convinced to enroll in a class by a stereotypically cool black guy who promises it will turn him "from sloppa to proper." It's called "The Proper Young Man" and is taught by a middle-aged, very British woman. When Bart complains, she replies "Are you accusing my husband of misleading you? Good heavens, I should bust a cap in your ass."
  • Parodied in Futurama, with a Jive Turkey robot cop named URL, partnered to a white human named Smitty.
  • Parodied when one episode of Clone High involved the Gandhi clone and the George Washington Carver clone making a buddy cop movie, in which they played strait-laced, Harvard-educated Leon Black (Carver) and Tandoori Jones (Gandhi), "...a typical Indian cop who plays by his own rules: none! Together they are Black and Tan!"
  • Numbuhs 2 and 5 of Codename: Kids Next Door; though 5 is general the street-wise and straight one, with 2 largely being a book-smart wannabe.
  • Justice League features the inversion with uptight ex-marine John Stewart/Green Lantern paired up with goofball Flash.
    • Stewart also ends up in a (maybe) temporary relationship with Boisterous Bruiser Hawkgirl.
  • On Total Drama, the lanky white nerd Harold with Sassy Black Woman Leshawna, though they were never a team until Total Drama Action. He also has a huge and obvious crush on her which she seems to eventually reciprocate.
  • Parodied as well as being a Shout-Out to Men in Black on Johnny Test with (white) Mr. Black and (black) Mr. White.
  • Static Shock with Static being the funky, quick-tongue, while Gear was the more calculative and nerdy one.
    • They were both pretty nerdy actually, and Richie only became smarter with his power, whearas before Virgil was much smarter.
  • There are more than a few shades of this on Galaxy Rangers when Goose and Doc are paired up. It also helps that Doc is a high-class gentleman and The Smart Guy while Goose is an Artificial Human designed for combat.
  • X-Men: Evolution had a rivals version of this trope between the calm but less formal black Storm and the ladylike but tantrum-prone white—or rather, light blue—Mystique.
  • Ready Jet Go!: Jet's best friends, Sean and Sydney. Sean is the Salt — he's a neurotic, uptight, fact-driven white guy. Sydney is the Pepper — she's an imaginative, laid-back, fun-loving black girl. Despite their wildly different personalities, Sean and Sydney are great friends.

    Real Life 
  • Since 2009, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. One might even call this an Invoked Trope, since Biden was seen to bring wisdom and experience to Obama's energetic "Change"-based campaign. On the other hand, Obama is the one known for measured speaking and compromise, while Biden is known for a chronic case of foot-in-mouth disease.
  • Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin, the (white) starting quarterback and (black) top wide receiver for the 1992 Dallas Cowboys football team. Aikman liked country music and beer, while Irvin was into hip-hop and marijuana (plus a few other things probably best left unmentioned here!). But they had a real rapport both on and off the field, inspiring Aikman to quote the lyrics to Paula Abdul's then-popular song "Opposites Attract" to explain their relationship.
  • Brigadier General Robin Olds, USAF. An Ace Pilot who flew P-38s and P-51s in World War II, he went on to fly F-4 Phantoms in The Vietnam War, alongside his wingman, a black pilot (and future four-star general) named Daniel James, Jr. They had the nickname of "Blackman and Robin." Together, they were responsible for Operation Bolo, a mission where F-4 Phantoms would pretend to be F-105 Thunderchiefs on bombing missions, pouncing on North Vietnamese MiGs that thought they had an easy kill coming. The success of this operation lead to the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing being known to this day as the Wolfpack. James was the more straitlaced of the two, with Olds being a legendary Military Maverick...hence James reaching a higher rank before retiring.