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Scary Black Man

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Crook: Prison! Prison!

In many series, there will be a character who is much larger and more intimidating than most everyone else, very strong, often quite quiet, and very often this character will be Black.

Sometimes they can be the Token Minority, sometimes they're from a Proud Warrior Race, and sometimes they're a Gentle Giant. But the fact remains that when you get right down to it, they're a scary black man. Not necessarily evil, just... scary.

Authors will often claim this is not actually done in a racist way (not intentionally, anyway), as most anybody who is so much larger than the other characters will usually be equally scary (unless they're also outgoing or jolly). However, perhaps because of a lack of very large Asians who aren't sumo or very large white people who aren't professional wrestlers in a cameo role, they are often black. (This is the same reason that a Huge Schoolgirl usually isn't mean, either.) However, American media depictions cannot escape the legacy of the Big Black Buck (as featured in such influential films as D. W. Griffith's pro-Klan propaganda film The Birth of a Nation), the savage (noble or not), or modern thug culture. Amongst other reasons, when much of the creating population and the consuming population is not of African descent, then the Black Guy becomes Other, and as such, easier to position as an imposing, scary force.

The black characters in anime are usually some variation on this.

See also Scary Minority Suspect. Often Crosses over with Gentle Giant, Genius Bruiser, Proud Warrior Race Guy, and Token Minority, as noted both above and in the examples below. Compare "Angry Black Man" Stereotype.

Note that the character doesn't necessarily have to be of African descent, just large, imposing, brown/dark-skinned, and have a tendency to make people wet themselves with a single glare. If a Black male character has other characters fearing him after he performs a certain action he is not a Scary Black Man, a Scary Black Man has people fearing him because of his intimidating appearance. Despite some of the Unfortunate Implications associated with this Trope, some of these characters become popular because of how badass they are. The obvious subversion is to make this character not nearly as scary personality-wise as their imposing first appearances might otherwise suggest. Another subversion can be to have the character only act this way in certain specific situations — a man might be a loving father and an otherwise affable and easygoing person... who immediately turns into an enraged Papa Wolf whenever his loved ones are threatened.

Despite the trope name, female examples do exist. But since female characters are rarely portrayed as fighters or overtly threatening in the same way that male ones are, Scary Black Women remain a distinct rarity, and are more commonly portrayed as sassy black women instead. Contrast Intimidating White Presence and Angry White Man.


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Other Examples:

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  • Office rules can be enforced by Terry Tate, Office Linebacker! Sure, he jacks a few fools, but sometimes it's all about the intimidation. The mind games!

    Anime & Manga 
  • Joker from AKIRA, leader of the Capsules' rival biker gang, the Clowns. A significant part of his fear factor is his ability to shrug off just about any injury, whether it's wiping out at high speed or taking a spinning motorcycle wheel to his face and still keeping it on.
  • Briareos from Appleseed is a rather hidden example. Although he's almost entirely machine, pictures drawn by creator Shirow Masamune have shown that he was black before becoming a cyborg, and he fits otherwise. It's also worth noting that, based on evidence from the movie Appleseed Ex Machina, the artificial skin under Briareos's armor is literally black — as in, the color of a car tire. In that movie, Briareos is more Asiatic than black, though — the artists wanted him to be a traditional pretty-boy, apparently.
  • Pippin of Berserk is the biggest member of the Band of the Hawk apart from Guts himself, and is a Gentle Giant. Donovan, Guts' rapist from his days as a child mercenary, qualifies as an evil example.
  • Victor Freeman, the protagonist of Blaster Knuckle, is a heavily-muscled black man who fights demons with a gauntlet that fires silver bullets into anything that he punches.
  • Bleach:
    • Kaname Tosen averts this. He is definitely a bad guy, but his slim build and blindness don't make him look that threatening at first glance.
    • Played straight with the likes of Yammy and Zommari from Aizen's Espada. They're very intimidating fellows no thanks to their builds.
    • The Vandenreich has Driscoll Berci, the gigantic and overconfident black man who managed to kill Sasakibe.
  • James Ironside from Blood+. Scary enough when human, but gets a whole lot scarier when he transforms into his chiropteran form.
  • In the fifth season of Case Closed, an old man named Yoshifusa Yamauchi comes back from Brazil to claim his share of his deceased brother's huge inheritance and brings a SBM named Carlos as his bodyguard. It's surprisingly averted: Yoshifusa is actually Dickson Tanaka who is impersonating the deceased Yoshifusa and is Carlos's bodyguard since the supposed Scary Black Man was a harmless Gentle Giant — and Yoshifusa's son with a black Brazilian woman, whom Dickson swore to protect from his friend's Big, Screwed-Up Family.
  • Matt from Chihayafuru seems like this (to the point that he terrifies Tsukuba), but turns out to be a Gentle Giant. If anything, the whole thing reflects much worse on Tsukuba.
  • The main (possibly only) black character in Death Note was hulking Mafia leader Rodd Los, Mello's ally. In the anime, he's white. One of the lesser mafia members, though, is black.
  • Banba of Eyeshield 21 looks and acts the part, despite being ethnically Japanese. It goes along with his team's "Egyptian" theme. His appearance also makes the occasions when he actually acts like a normal teenager all the more hilarious, such as when he challenges Sena... to a pillow fight.
  • Panther Lily from Fairy Tail is a Scary Black Cat, towering over most members of the cast in both height and muscle in his Battle Form, wielding a BFS that can shift size to nearly four times bigger than the aforementioned Battle Form, and has one hell of a deep and intimidating voice even in Sleep-Mode Size. He's actually a pretty Nice Guy on his downtime, but when he was first introduced he was a commander in the military who wouldn't hesitate to kill and he's now partnered with Gajeel.
  • This shows up in Getter Robo. This trope shows up at /least/ in Neo Getter vs. Shin Getter Robo, Getter Robo Armageddon, and New Getter Robo, though it could've appeared in many different mangas. The funny thing is that the gigantic hulking black man is invariably beaten by the main character in the episode they appear in, then never shows up again. They mostly go without a name, too.
  • Parodied hard by the Show Within a Show in Gundam 00: A Wakening of the Trailblazer, where the pilot of the BFG-throwing Gundam Seravee, Tieria Erde, is not the same slender white man wearing glasses but instead a muscular Scary Black Man outright, parodying the common racial stereotype of black men as big muscles in the entertainment media.
  • Subverted in Hajime no Ippo, where rookie boxer Jason Ozma has the perfect Scary Black Man looks... but a cheery and sweet Gentle Giant outside the ring. Hilariously lampshaded when they meet face to face: Ippo, Humble Hero that he is, is terrified at the prospect... and Ozma smiles widely before cheerfully speaking to him, leaving Ippo all dumbfounded.
  • Hello! Sandybell: Jirobi is implied to be French-African (he's part of a drug gang in France and his skin is dark enough to pass as black) and he's a violent gunslinger Covered in Scars who nearly kills two of the anime's main characters.
  • Averted by Cameroon of Hetalia: Axis Powers. He has the (very good) looks and the height, as well as a scar on the back of his head and Stoic Spectacles... but he's actually a very kind and sweet Gentle Giant who likes playing soccer with the children of his land and has a pet lion cub.
  • Played for Laughs in Kaleido Star, when Jerry the Policeman (actually a Gentle Giant) has to go to Japan with Ken to visit Sora. People actually ran away from him in the streets of Tokyo, which got Jerry completely confused as he didn't even understand why they were so scared.
  • Idol Densetsu Eriko: Yuusuke hires two indigenous Chamorro men to kidnap and assault Eriko when she's at the island of Guam. They wait until she's alone at night, then grab her by the arms, and one of them even destroys the Tragic Keepsake her father gave her by stepping on it. If it wasn't for Mr. Uchida hearing her scream and fighting them off, she would have been a goner.
  • Inverted in Lucy-May of the Southern Rainbow. In one episode, the Popple children encounter a dark-skinned Aboriginal Australian man who doesn't wear any clothes (except a loincloth) and is unable to speak their language. Despite this, he's nothing short of sweet and caring, saves Lucy-May from falling into the river and helps them fly a kite.
  • Naruto:
    • Killer Bee looks this and is definitely a scary foe, but is actually one of the more easygoing people in the cast (granted that this is usually expressed by having him rapping during fights.) Though he beats the living tar out of Sasuke when Sasuke attacks him, he then turns around, fools the Akatsuki, and fakes his death, all so he can go on vacation.
    • A, the 4th Raikage — Killer Bee's older brother — is more of a straight example: he's huge, intimidating, and seems to be angry most of the time, which is manifested in his tendency to break furniture and walls.
    • In turn, A's father the 3rd Raikage was even more so. Cooler tempered than A, in possession of an impressive beard, he was an incredibly imposing ninja who could fight with entire armies.
  • Slam Dunk:
    • Takenori Akagi isn't ethnically black (though he's based on Patrick Ewing), but has many traits of this archetype. They're either played seriously or for laughs, depending on the moment.
    • Similarly, there's also his rival Jun Uozumi, though he's much friendlier than his appearance suggests. Unless he's your rival, that is.
  • Agil from Sword Art Online looks the part, but subverts this trope by being a friendly man who stood up for beta testers when they were being blamed for hindering other players. He also helped lower-level players when he wasn't running his shop. He's a pretty good example of why this trope is common in anime: Not only are black men extremely rare in Japan (he's the only one in the entire series), but he's roughly two feet taller than everyone else. It's hard not to be intimidated by someone like that, no matter how nice they are.
  • Bob Makihara from Tenjho Tenge. His physique's not the only thing that's scarily large. Also doubles as the Token Black Friend to Nagi.
  • Colonel Franklin from Transformers: Cybertron initially appears to be a case of this, taking the kids into custody at one point and trying to track down the Autobots for what appear to be nefarious purposes. However, it turns out that the real reason he wants to find them is to thank them for saving his life as a child, and he later becomes a very useful ally.

    Comic Books 
  • Aquaman:
    • Black Manta. This isn't known until he takes his helmet off, but his cunning, utter ruthlessness, and the sheer intimidation he is capable of more than qualify him for this trope.
    • His son, Kaldur'ahm, can also be quite intimidating — however, unlike his father, he's firmly on the side of good.
  • Aquila: Aquila is a giant from Nubia who is so frightening that even his fellow servants of the Devourer fear him.
  • Subverted by Hellhound in Astro City — he is a burly black man with a demonic look, a torn leather jacket with chains, and other scary accoutrements, but is actually one of the nicest heroes around.
  • Black Lightning is an easy-going guy who, despite his incredible power, avoids the trope. His Arch-Enemy Tobias Whale, on the other hand, is a four hundred pound African-American gang boss who runs most of the drugs in Metropolis, almost burned down Gotham City in a Mob War, and has a history of beating people to death with his hands if sufficiently annoyed — though the trope is downplayed both by Tobias's albinism and the fact that his main enemy is himself black.
  • Blacksad is a black cat save for a white patch of fur around his face which makes both the animal version of The Klan and the Black Panthers look down on him. One of the white supremacists tries to threaten him only for Blacksad to stand up and show himself two heads taller.
    Blacksad: Your skin would make a nice coat too, although a small one.
  • The Boys:
  • The second Tattooed Man, a Green Lantern villain, is a huge black ex-Marine (and a member of the Geoff Johns Awesomely Revamped Villains Club). Unlike the previous bearer of the powers, this Tattooed Man knows how to use his powers to maximum effect.
    • Interestingly, the Justice League Unlimited Green Lantern, John Stewart, is also a huge black ex-Marine. He's only scary to bad guys. Though he did start as an angry black man in the comics, and had some shades in the DC Animated Universe.
  • Killer Croc's pre-croc form is typically black. In Joker, he still is mostly just a Scary Black Man with a skin condition and sharp teeth.
  • Uriel in Lucifer is the only black angel (the only non-white angel actually) and sufficiently scary that he spends most of the series in charge of Heaven. Whether he's a good guy or not is a matter of interpretation.
  • Marvel's Luke Cage is the heroic iteration of this trope.
    Spider-Man: Damn, Cage! You took that guy out with a look.
    Luke Cage: That's my trademark.
    Spider-Man: I gotta get a look.
  • The Punisher:
    • Barracuda from Garth Ennis' The Punisher MAX series, a giant black war criminal who speaks entirely in gangster slang, and has swear words stenciled on his gold teeth.
    • This trope is played with in the one-shot, "The Cell" (also written by Ennis). Frank has just entered prison when the corrupt guard points "Squeak" out to him (named so because he doesn't use lubricant), a SBM and "the toughest guy in Rykers" and mentions how he'll soon be "paying Frank a visit". Cue Frank just grabbing the guard's baton and breaking it over Squeak's skull, killing him.
      Frank: Tell them to send the second toughest guy.
  • Double Subversion in Quantum and Woody by Eric Henderson (Quantum); while he is a tall, muscular, and physically intimidating black man, his full-body costume and articulate speaking patterns mean he's inevitably assumed to be Caucasian. People don't really freak out until they find out he's black underneath.
    "You're black? S-word!"
  • Darkseid's human form in Seven Soldiers is a giant black crime boss. Desaad's guise as Shilo Norman's creepy manipulative therapist might also count.
  • Manute from Sin City. He becomes even scarier after he loses an eye and has it replaced with a gold one. He was portrayed in the first movie by Michael Clarke Duncan and the second by Dennis Haysbert.
  • Dr. Sartorus from Steelgrip Starkey and the All-Purpose Power Tool is a broad-shouldered towering black man with dreadlocks. He's actually an eloquent Gentle Giant but has been shown (off-panel) easily fighting off four attackers.
  • Spider-Man: Tombstone is a bizarre example, as, despite being technically black, he's an albino, meaning his skin is chalk white.
  • Suicide Squad: Bronze Tiger. One of the top five martial artists in The DCU, outdone maybe only by Lady Shiva and Cassandra Cain. When someone manages to beat the goddamn Batman fair and square in a pure hand-to-hand battle, they ain't nothin' to fuck with. And, for that matter, neither is his boss, hardass bureaucrat Amanda Waller, one of the very few people Batman and Lex Luthor have long since learned not to take lightly.
  • Subverted in The Walking Dead with Dexter; while he certainly looks the part, he's actually pretty friendly until he's falsely accused of murdering two children, locked up without trial, and when the killer turns out to be someone else, he's simply let out without any kind of apology. He's not so friendly after that.
  • X-Men:

    Comic Strips 
  • Played for Laughs in one early Bloom County comic, where a young black boy named Alphonzo goes looking for a good costume for a black boy only for the storekeeper to tell him there aren't any. Then she suddenly recalls that actually there is one: the "Mr. T Action Kit." Bringing one out, she reads from the blurb on the back of the box: "Now you too can stomp, talk badly, and scare the hell out of white people." The costume, however proves inadequate even to this function with his white friends, much to Alphonzo's disgust.
  • Mandrake the Magician: Mandrake's sidekick Lothar is a large and powerful African man. Initially, this trope was pretty much the extent of his characterization, but he developed a more nuanced personality as the series progressed.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

  • Detective Arthur Brown plays on this image in the 87th Precinct novels; using it to his advantage. In one of the movies based on the books, he was played by Ving Rhames.
  • Acid Row:
    • Subverted and exploited by Jimmy James. He's a tall, powerfully built black man who has done time in prison and doesn't suffer fools; many residents of Acid Row — especially prejudiced old white people — find him intimidating. However, Jimmy is actually one of the nicest and most heroic characters in the novel, did time for theft rather than anything violent and only gets violent in self-defence or defence of others. He sometimes takes advantage of the stereotype to get people to do what he says, though it causes some problems for him as well, as some people immediately assume he's up to no good when he only has benevolent intentions; while trying to help the injured PC Watson, he gets frustrated when the 999 operator tells him to find a neighbour for help, saying that most of them are paranoid and bigoted old white folks who will never open their doors to a large black man covered in blood, or worse, will assume he attacked PC Watson.
    • Wesley Barber is an extremely violent, out-of-control, drug-taking black teenager whom almost everyone on the estate fears and despises. His own mother despairs of him and urges him to "take Jesus into [his] heart" before it's too late, not that this does any good. Jimmy himself says that Wesley gives black people on the estate "a bad name" with his wild behaviour. Wesley is one of the ringleaders of the youth mob that turns the protest into a riot and ends up being the only one who is charged with criminal behaviour after murdering an old man; besides the evidence against him being particularly strong, it's implied that Wesley being black may have been a factor, given the majority of the other offenders are white.
  • After the Revolution: Roland is a Cyborg Super-Soldier augmented to the gills with military hardware that makes him the deadliest thing on two legs in the North American continent. For most of the book, it is subverted in that being an Undiscriminating Addict with No Social Skills means most people in the early chapters only meet him when he's stoned off his ass, which makes it merely unsettling when he does things like downing Oxycontin pills like it's Tic-Tacs, but when circumstances force him to sober up and take the proverbial gloves off Roland is capable of enough violence to frighten off an army. Which he ends up literally doing at the Battle of Waco: By the time Roland is finished his Kill Tally counter has increased by four digits and the Heavenly Kingdom is in full rout.
  • In the Alamut Hassan, leader of the Ismailis, had a personal regiment of African eunuchs of massive stature bearing maces. They stood within the fortress never saying a word just glaring at people. One thinks Hassan deliberately put them at the top of his extremely tall stairway just to give people a scare.
  • Alamut: The bodyguards of ibn Sabbah are huge, strong, black, and frightening.
  • Subverted in Richard Wright's short story Big Black Good Man, which turns out to be Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Played closer to straight in Native Son by the same author.
  • Black Legion has Lheor, The Heavy from a Legion known for brutality, and with Butcher's Nails hammered into his brain. Goes with the territory, even if he's one of the heroes.
  • The Kolnari of The City Who Fought are the descendants of criminals abandoned on a Death World who evolved truly black skin to protect them from the world's harsh sun. They're depicted as completely savage Social Darwinists, Always Chaotic Evil, and descend on the titular city looking to loot it, kill anyone who resists, and have as much sex as possible, consent not asked for or required. They're also extra strong, hyper-fertile, are regarded as adults at the age of eight, and unlike other humans in the setting start to feel the ravages of age young. And they have keloid scars. While they aren't textually of African descent a lot of their traits are taken from then-contemporary white fears about urban black people but Recycled IN SPACE!, complete with being thoroughly dehumanized by other characters.
  • Albert from Classroom of the Elite and its anime adaptation qualifies as this, being an intimidating Afro-Japanese student that stands much taller than the vast majority of the cast, and mostly acts as a brutish enforcer for Ryuuen, whose orders to inflict violence on others he unquestioningly follows (though it's at least implied he isn't exactly villainous, and takes no pleasure in any of it); this borders on Unfortunate Implications when one character states Ryuuen "tamed" him. It really doesn't help that he looks like he's about forty despite being (allegedly) 16 canonically.
  • In The Comfortable Courtesan, Clorinda's Battle Butler Hector can definitely put on the Scary Black Man when it's required (he was briefly a bare-knuckle boxer before he decided that high-class domestic service was healthier).
  • H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos:
    • Literally with Nyarlathotep, the Black Pharaoh, though for rather unusual reasons. He doesn't usually have the phenotype of a black person, it's just that his skin is so dark that it almost seems to repel light.
    • In Herbert West–Reanimator one of the subjects is a resurrected black man who was fatally wounded after fighting to death in an underground fighting pit. The narrator describes his appearance grimly, comparing his features to that of a gorilla.
  • The Dresden Files: Sanya is a Twofer Token Minority of this and Husky Russkie. He's big and powerfully built, both of which help with his job of being a modern-day Paladin. The real deal, with a holy sword and everything. He's not very intimidating once you get to know him as he's generally a kind, positive guy, prone to cracking jokes and loves helping people (it's why he became a Paladin despite being agnostic). Of course, he's also aware of how he can come across, and at one point advantage of both tropes to get a captured mook to talk by threatening (in an exaggerated Russian accent) to break him in half and throw him into an incinerator.
  • Simon from Durarara!! is a huge, black Russian man living in Japan that tends to scare off people simply by existing. Damn shame, too, because he really just wants to sell sushi.
  • Antar, The Hero of the Arabian epic The Epic of Antar is a descendant of African slaves who becomes a great desert warrior in Arabia.
  • Malcolm from Jonathan Wood's urban fantasy Hero series. Malcolm is part of a vigilante paranormal investigator group called the Weekenders. They're a trio composed of Aiko, Jazmine, and Malcolm. Aiko is a conspiracy nut first-grade teacher, Jazmine is a teen-aged dropout and then there's Malcolm... Malcolm was in the military and was dishonorably discharged, and then he was with the Blackwater PMC and he got canned from them too!
  • Thresh from The Hunger Games. Katniss believes that he would be a nice guy if left to his own devices. Under the circumstances, however, he's not above smashing people's heads in with rocks.
  • Maya's uncles from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings definitely qualify. When you're the most likely suspect for killing your niece's rapist, you are this trope.
  • Bobby Clark in Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak novels. A Vietnam vet who is no less scary for the fact that is missing both legs from the knee down.
  • Pagan from David Gemmell's King beyond the gate. When Pagan is cornered by Joinings (Werebeasts) He single-handedly kills nine before being brought down. Added to this the nearest kill count by one person is three
  • One of them wants to mug Ephraim Kishon when he's in NYC. Kishon manages to confuse him by speaking Hebrew and acting clueless about the mugger's intention. When he tells his relative how he was not-mugged and what he did she is shocked.
  • Maccomo from Lionboy hails from Africa, and while he isn't the Big Bad, he is still one of the most dangerous, cunning, and cruel characters in the entire series.
  • 'Big Billy' Crane from The Mental State is the biggest and strongest inmate currently serving time in the state prison. Practically all the other prisoners are afraid of him. In fact, they only obey his brother's commands because they do not want him to set Billy on them.
  • Peter and the Starcatchers: African Mook Lieutenant Cheeky O'Neal once ripped a man's hair out by the roots, and threatens to throw his men into a volcano when they take a break from tossing vegetation into it for a smoke signal.
  • Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird is treated this way by the public after being accused of raping a white woman. Of course, the accusation is false and Tom is not really intimidating in any way..
  • Pavalo Payal from The Traitor Son Cycle. He's a giant of a man and an excellent swordsman, who's introduced to the story when he comes out of nowhere and slaughters four men who have cornered Blanche. The people of Alba, most of whom have never seen a black man in their lives, initially think he's a demon she's summoned.
  • Espelho/Fernando in Vampiros do Rio Douro is an African slave that, alongside five Portuguese men and a Spaniard, made a Deal with the Devil to become a vampire. While he can be very fearsome due to his imposing stature, red eyes, and sharp fangs, he does have a softer side being a Reluctant Monster or feeling bad about kidnapping Eliana to be Inverno's bride.
  • Sagramore in The Warlord Chronicles is a Scary Black Man... In 5th Century Britain. He's actually a friendly if taciturn man and a good friend — but he's also a terrifyingly effective warrior, and because of his dark skin his Saxon enemies believe him to be a demon.
  • The Wheel of Time plays with this. Most dark-skinned characters (Juilin, Siuan, Leane, and many, many others) aren't villains, with the exception of the sadist Forsaken Semirhage, the resident Scary Black Woman.
  • Showing that even the subversion of this trope is as old as feudalism, in Yvain, the Knight of the Lion (written around the 1170s), Yvain is traveling in search of adventure and comes across a very large and scary-looking Moor. The man is so large and frightening that Yvain outright asks if he's some kind of ogre. Mildly insulted, the Moor instead says he's a man just like Yvain, and politely explains that he is a humble cow-herd tending his flocks. Yvain asks if there are any good adventures worth having for a knight to have in the region. The Moor doesn't know what he means by "adventure", so Yvain explains that knights ride around looking for great fights to get into with strangers (an inaccurate description, because knights are also supposed to defend the weak). The Moor says that sounds like a pretty silly way to live, but does helpfully suggest that he could probably find some good challenges in the forest of Brocéliande up ahead, and sends Yvain on his way.
  • In the school story "The White Feather" by P. G. Wodehouse, the protagonist's final opponent in the boxing championship is Peteiro, who's introduced as "a sturdy youth with a dark, rather forbidding face" and explicitly stated to be mixed-race. His reputation as a boxer is such that one character fakes an injury rather than face him in the ring.

  • Chicago Blues singer Howlin' Wolf was 6'3" and 275 pounds and had a voice that made him sound like he was fifteen feet tall. His physical presence and raw, dark, intense vocal style were well known for scaring the living bejesus out of his audience.
  • The Jim Croce song "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" is about a 6 foot 4 man from the South Side of Chicago, who is considered "The baddest man in the whole damn town."
  • The original Scary Black Man was "Stagger Lee", the murderous protagonist of an African-American Murder Ballad from the late nineteenth century, who made the Devil himself soil his pants and took over from him and remains a major presence in American culture.
  • Female example in the Spice Girls. Mel B was dubbed 'Scary Spice' due to her larger-than-life personality, and she was the only black member of the group.
  • Sabaton's "Hellfighters", about the US Army 369th Infantry Regiment—also known as the Harlem Hellfighters, a unit of mostly black and Latino volunteers from New York City, a unit so determined they never had any prisoners taken nor lost any ground. It's easily the darkest and most brutal track on The War to End All Wars.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Abdullah the Butcher, a professional wrestling pioneer. He had scars on his forehead from frequently being cut and since he hailed from Sudan, he doubled as a Foreign Wrestling Heel.
  • Jack Veneno and Lightning Hernandez, rivals who were pushed as "new stars" during the 1970s on the Dominican Republic television program International Wrestling. "Poison" Jack had fist tape apparently cursed by a Dominican sorcerer while Hernandez liked to whip his opponents with a belt that had spurs fitted on it.
  • Bad News Brown a.k.a. Bad News Allen. Real name Allen Coage, 1976 Olympic bronze medalist in judo, generally considered one of the most legitimate badasses in pro wrestling history...the best story about him involves the time his friend and fellow badass The Dynamite Kid got jumped by the Rougeau Brothers backstage at a WWF event in the '80s...after jumping Dynamite with brass knuckles, Bad News saw what was happening and came after them...with a 2-on-1 advantage and brass knuckles, they were terrified to mix it up with Bad News and ran away...
  • Professional Wrestling's best example: New Jack: he's a former bounty hunter with four confirmed kills, oh and that isn't Kayfabe. In an interview he says his favorite match was the Mass Transit Incident where a 17-year-old who had absolutely no wrestling training, having lied about both his age and background in order to get hired by ECW, was almost killed. He also had a big scar on the top of his head, which invoked memories of a certain someone.
  • Former WWECW wrestler Big Daddy V is 500 pounds(!) of half-Scary Black Man, half-The Giant; of course, the one thing (well, two things... possibly three) that's even scarier than his power and his quietness are his gargantuan man-boobs. Nelson Frazier, the man behind V, started with WWE in 1993, first as the rapper Mabel, then as the aristocrat King Mabel, then the gothic Viscera, and then as the world's largest love machine. However, he has always been a scary black man, as anybody who saw him break The Undertaker's face in 95 can tell you. Though at least, in those incarnations, he had a shirt.
  • WWE wrestler Mark Henry is a few inches shorter and 100 lbs lighter than Frazier, but, at 6'1", 380 lbs, he's still a whole lot of Scary Black Man, and is certainly more effective at the role. Not to mention he's the World's Strongest Man and is well aware of that fact.note  If he ever comes back from an injury, turns face, or turns heel, you better stay the hell out of his way for a while. The latest and greatest example of this has been his "Hall of Pain" monster heel push in late 2011, where he dominated several other big men, (kayfabe) broken their legs, tossed anyone of smaller status and stature around like rag dolls, effortlessly kicked out of Starship Pain, and even beat Randy Orton clean TWICE for the World Heavyweight title. At Vengeance 2011, this almost-40-year-old absolute mountain of a man became only the second person to ever superplex Big Show and IMPLODE THE RING! Some would say he's WWE's best-booked heel in years.
  • Amazing Kong/Awesome Kong/Kharma is a Scary Black Woman. In actuality, Gail Kim had never seen her in gear or character before their first match in TNA — so when Kong made her entrance, Gail could be seen mouthing "oh shit" on camera.
    • Also her mentor/inspiration Aja Kong, monster of Japanese women's wrestling in the 90s (as well as a brief run in the WWF, most notably Survivor Series 1995). Half-black, half-Japanese, all badass. As her awesome theme song put it:
      God made the devil just for fun,
      When He wanted the real thing, He made Aja Kong.
    • Another Scary Black Woman of wrestling is Jazz, who wasn't much taller than most of the other wrestlers (as opposed to the last two examples), but was more muscular than the other "divas" and often came out of nowhere to attack people in no shape to defend themselves. WWE notably was the only promotion she never played a face in — and was presented entirely as an intimidating heel.
  • "The" Brian Kendrick had Ezekiel Jackson, a Scary Black Man called "the Guyanese Goliath", as his bodyguard. So far it has been played straight, although he was shown reading The Cat In The Hat for no apparent reason. He has also quoted Sun Tzu, so take that as it stands. Zeke made it to the ECW brand and eventually joined William Regal's "Ruthless Roundtable", where he was pushed to the point of becoming the last ECW Champion, then alternated between inactivity and mostly squashing lower-midcarders as a face, before really resurfacing on Smackdown as a member of the Corre who would routinely bodyslam and even once suplexed The Big Show.
    • Ezekiel Jackson had an Expy in Dolph Ziggler and A.J. Lee's associate Big E. Langston, who boasts a near-800-pound deadlift. And, no, that's not Kayfabe, either. Langston was even more impressive on NXT, when he used to squash people so dominantly he decided to take up the old 5-Count Pin (of King Kong Bundy fame) gimmick for emphasis.
  • Courtesy of The Nexus, Michael Tarver looks scary as hell, especially when he wears his facemask. And he knocked out John Cena.
    • Speaking of NXT, Brodus Clay fit this when he was still a heel.
    • The Boogeyman, a face-painted, gyrating, worm-eating, smashing-clocks-with-his-own-head madman.

  • Phil from Avatar Adventures. Not actually a scary person (he is an angel after all), but he won't hesitate to kick some ass.
  • Marcus from Darwin's Soldiers fits this trope. Huge, black, muscular, and can take ludicrous amounts of punishment.
  • Survival of the Fittest has a few examples from versions one and three, most notably Marcus Roddy, Darnell Butler, and Bobby Jacks. Marcus Roddy and Darnell Butler are made slightly less scary by the fact they're Gentle Giants, but Bobby Jacks is a professional boxer who has few qualms about playing the game to win, Marcus is one of the biggest students on the island during version one, and Darnell happens to be his school's most skilled fighter on top of being a star athlete, and strong enough that he is said to have once picked up a 6'11", 300-pound player on an opposing football team and slammed him to the ground.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech had Khan Lincoln Osis of Clan Smoke Jaguar. He was an Elemental, a genetically engineered — super infantry warrior who stood more than eight feet tall. He was also Hot-Blooded, impulsive, and aggressive — when he was in charge of his Clan, he tried to fix their perpetual resource problem by simply raiding all their neighbors. Subverted by Santin West, who was Khan of Clan Nova Cat. Also an Elemental and of similar stature to Khan Osis, Santin West was known for being calm, level-headed, and fairly congenial.
  • Panther in Exalted is large, black, angry and is remarkably good at scaring the shit out of people.
  • Pathfinder has Linxia Benzekri, who's essentially a Gender Flip of this trope. She's effectively Seelah's shadow archetype — and even somewhat resembles her, at least in terms of being a tall, sinewy, serious-faced (Seelah seems to default to Determined Expression, Linxia to Death Glare) Garundi woman who goes around in heavy armor—but she's shaven-headed in lieu of Seelah's Braids of Action, has the emblem of her Hellknight order tattooed on her forehead, wears blued-steel armor with a tattered purple cape (in contrast to Seelah's Knight in Shining Armor look), and is canonically Lawful Evil (albeit with Anti-Villain cred).
  • A non-human example from Warhammer would be the Black Orcs. Notably they are still green-skinned, although considerably darker than normal Orcs, and they do wear heavy black plate armor. The Chaos Dwarfs were sick of their Orcs slaves fighting and killing each other all the time, so through a combination of breeding, training, and dark magic they created a strain of Orcs that were stronger, smarter, and better disciplined than normal. It worked, and the Black Orcs immediately Turned Against Their Masters. Black Orcs are the Soldiers to the normal greenskin Warriors, being both more disciplined and tougher, as well as actually capable of patience and strategic planning and far less prone to infighting and rowdiness (and even sometimes able to intimidate normal orcs into staying in line). Black Orc warlords are unsurprisingly some of the most fearsome generals in the setting.
  • Warhammer 40,000 features the Salamanders, a Space Marine chapter from a Death World with high UV levels, whose already dark skin eventually turns pitch black (accompanied by glowing red eyes) due to a quirk of the Marines' genetic enhancement. Their armies are famed and feared for their expertise with flamers, melta weapons, and thunder hammers, as well as the masterwork quality of their wargear in general. And ultimately the Salamanders are a subversion of this trope and a rare example of unquestionable heroism in 40k's setting of Black-and-Gray Morality — during the Third War for Armageddon a Salamanders commander nearly started a feud with another company of Space Marines after striking their officer for ordering a bombardment on a refugee camp under Ork attack, and while other chapters sought glory on the battlefield, the Salamanders also lent their technical expertise to repairing Armageddon's infrastructure, saving uncountable civilian lives.

  • Near the end of David Mamet's Edmond, the main character ends up being the victim of Prison Rape by one of these.
  • Brutus Jones in Eugene O'Neill's The Emperor Jones is an escaped convict who murdered his friend and escaped from prison after killing a guard before taking over the island where the play is set.
  • Monostatos from The Magic Flute meant to be this, with a side of Where da White Women At?.
  • The titular character in Othello is seen this way by his enemies, and (apart from the quiet part) can be played this way even. By his friends too one would assume. Othello is a soldier and after all, it is a soldier's job to be scary so one would assume his friends would like to think him good at his job even if Othello wasn't scary to them personally.
  • Shakespeare also gives us Aaron the Moor from Titus Andronicus, an over-the-top Card-Carrying Villain who happens to be on what might be the less-evil side.

    Web Animation 
  • Big Black Guy Named Ben, a parody ad, advertizes a scary black man called Ben as a car burglar deterrent. Whenever someone gets too close to the car, Ben would simply step out of the car to tell them to get away.
  • Eddsworld Tom in Hello Hellhole has one of these. His Hell is a black man. "Ahh, a black man!" "Wait a minute, I'm not racist." Then the black guy says he's from "OUTER SPACE!!"
  • Grim Reaper Flag-chan! stars one named Billy. However, he is actually friendly and one story reveals that he's much weaker than he looks.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • There's a web meme that involves photoshopping the face of a black man into a dark area of an image where it's difficult to spot him and captioning the image with "When you see it you'll shit bricks".
  • Strongly averted with Avery in GhostsinQuicksilver; not only is Avery not a man, but there's nothing particularly intimidating about them other than being tall and Black. In fact, the most common reader reaction is to find them incredibly hot. (Slightly reconstructed with their alarming tendency to be cryptic and mind-reading powers, but even then, they're more of a dork than anything else.)
  • Grue from Worm is six feet tall and obviously fit, and he's also a supervillain with darkness powers. Granted this is just how his enemies see him; to his allies and in his civilian life, he’s a Nice Guy.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • As Told by Ginger:
    • Miranda Killgallen is more manipulative and cunning than most examples (she's the Beta Bitch to Lovable Alpha Bitch Courtney Grippling) — but she's notably taller than the protagonists and sold as very intimidating in her early appearances. It's later revealed the attitude comes from a Drill Sergeant Nasty of a father. Interestingly enough, the character was originally conceived as white, and only changed to accommodate her voice actress Cree Summer.
    • Another female example in Ms Zorski from the high school episodes. Unlike her cousin, she's an intimidating Sadist Teacher who stresses Ginger out so much she develops a caffeine addiction.
  • The Boondocks:
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog heavily implies that Mad Dog is one of these with his extremely brown fur color, his highly stereotypical "muscular brute" physical build, his "job" as an incredibly misogynistic thug/gangster, and the fact that his existence has apparently inspired Kitty to wear the show's version of a Ku Klux Klansman uniform. Did we mention how much of an All-Stereotype Cast Courage The Cowardly Dog has?
  • Lothar from Defenders of the Earth and teenage son Lothar Jr. have the looks, but they're very much on the side of good otherwise.
  • Justice League Unlimited:
    • Devil Ray could qualify; while he is never shown unmasked, he is voiced by Michael Beach, and he is a replacement for Black Manta, who couldn't be used due to a then-present Aquaman-related character embargo, and who also happens to be this trope in his own right. As for Devil Ray, he's actually WORSE than Black Manta, who is despicable in his own right. Easily one of the most disgusting characters on the show, he's a sadistic, bloodthirsty, remorseless mercenary who rarely kills his targets on the spot, instead preferring to let them suffer.
    • The show also gives us Amanda Waller, the head of CADMUS and a powerful government operative in her own right. In her Establishing Character Moment, she does an Unflinching Walk through a pack of her guards, and is cunning enough to rattle Batman, of all people, by subtly hinting that she knows his secret identity by smirking and calling him "rich boy." Waller is repeatedly shown to be one of the only people who's strong and scary enough to unnerve heroes and villains alike; this characterization carried over into other DC animated media.
  • Buster from Kenny the Shark is a black, fierce-looking orca whale. Though his voice actor is unknown, he has the deep voice of an African-American like Michael Clarke Duncan for example.
  • Drederick Tatum from The Simpsons is a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Mike Tyson, a huge, burly heavyweight boxing champ whose scariness and unstoppability in the ring are his selling points — he's The Dreaded among Simpsons characters, able to stop a prison riot just by quietly asking everyone to shut up, and is sometimes portrayed as genuinely short-tempered and a bit nuts. On the other hand, he's also frequently shown as a Nice Guy when he's not fighting, so to a certain extent it depends on the episode whether he's really a Scary Black Man or it's a persona.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man. Not only is Tombstone a scary black man, but he's also a villainous albino with shark teeth.
  • John Henry Irons/Steel from Superman: The Animated Series. (Though he was quickly established as a Genius Bruiser, he's no less scary for it.)
  • Panthro, a burly Old Soldier Covered with Scars and sporting a spike-studded vest, is this in both of ThunderCats (1985) and ThunderCats (2011) — he actually once threatened someone with, "I'm gonna rearrange your bones for you, too!" in the original cartoon and in the 2011-remake, his fellow ThunderCats are very hesitant to even speak to him.
  • Total Drama: Chef is a great example of this, snapping at contestants and intimidating the vast majority of them.
  • The Venture Bros.: Parodied with Mandalay in the episode "The Incredible Mr. Brisby". He is a tall silent scary guy with a turban. But when Brock faced off against him, he walked away because he wasn't getting paid enough to get into a fight to the death.
  • Young Justice (2010):
    • Black Manta. He's masked, but he actually manages to achieve his goal when raiding Atlantis, later filling the spot of a disgraced Ocean Master in The Light. Like his comic counterpart, he's also a ruthlessly pragmatic mercenary who doesn't really have any lines he won't cross to finish the job, in addition to having a suit of powered armor that's positively bristling with extremely powerful and dangerous weaponry.
    • Not to mention Aqulad/Kaldur'ahm, who can be very, very intimidating when he wants to. Especially when he's pretending to be evil. He's also Black Manta's son, so it seems to run in the family.
    • Black Beetle from the same show is a scary black alien.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Big Scary Black Man, Scary Black Woman, Scary Black Men


If you mess with Rory...

...he'll kill ya.

Despite his silly appearance, nobody who knows him ever doubts Rory Breaker for a second when he threatens them. The fact that he doesn't even need to raise his voice makes him even more scary.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / ScaryBlackMan

Media sources: