All right! You've gotten your Ensemble Cast but something's missing. Something... funky. A character to provide kickass quotes to be tossed around the Internet. Apparently Samuel L. Jackson is interested in the project. Yes.
Enter Soul Brotha. This man is a badass. He is pure coolness. He speaks in a slang at once incomprehensible and utterly groovy, and he sho can groove. He usually is calm and laid back but he is nothing to play with; he doesn't tolerate disrespect and he never backs down from a fight, he can defend himself pretty well whether he has to defend himself physically or with weapons, most of the time he comes out the one winning the fight. If he dies (and he probably will) it will be in the coolest way imaginable. He may or may not have an afro, but he will certainly be Black. You can also expect this character to be The Casanova. It's rare the creators make this character faithful to one woman. Expect him to ask where all the white women are.
Most of the time this character is not the protagonist. He is usually the The Lancer and if not, you can expect him to be in part of a duo with a white guy who is not as nearly as cool as him. Sometimes this character is just a Token Black Friend to the protagonist, or a cool guy version of Uncle Tomfoolery. If he is the protagonist it's usually in a film or series which the cast is mostly black. These characters were most popular in The '70s, during the height of Blaxploitation. This character would also usually be American, or occasionally Jamaican.
According to this trope, Black men are somehow inherently cooler than their non Black neighbors. Part of this is the fact that most American music developed in the 20th Century has roots in the African-American community: Jazz, Blues, Soul, Hip-Hop, Funk, Rock & Roll, and yes, even Country Music. Although the aesthetic of cool itself has had a long history worldwide, the term "cool" itself was also first used by Black people.
- Parodied in the extreme by Excel Saga's Nabeshin, who was described to his English dub actor as "like Shaft, but white".
- From Coyote Ragtime Show, we have the silly version (the radio pirate Super-Soul) and the badass version (space-pirate-turned-James-Brown-dancing-priest Brother Swamp).
- Afro Samurai has Samuel L. Jackson voicing two of them: Afro, a samurai who's calm, stern, and an unstoppable killing machine; the other is Ninja Ninja, Afro's companion and the guy who doesn't do much more run his mouth to deliver exposition. Guess which one falls under the trope.
- TK from Angel Beats! fits every single one of these traits apart from being black, but still a Funny Foreigner in a Japanese high school.
- Naruto brings us Killer Bee, the Rapping Ninja.
- Masa-san from My Bride is a Mermaid.
- Subverted in Why I Hate Saturn with Token Black Friend Ricky:
Anne: Yeah, Mike, why is Ricky doing the Black column?
Mike: We wanted an outsider's perspective.
Anne: I don't know how to tell you this, Mike, but Ricky's Black.
Ricky: I know what he means. Any black man who's educated and speaks articulately is not considered "really" black.
- Luke Cage: Hero for Hire: Luke Cage during his Heroes for Hire days, though what started as being characterized as a flamboyant hustler has since changed to a more stern nature in modern comics. He's often part of a Salt and Pepper duo with Danny Rand, aka Iron Fist, with distaff counterparts in the Daughters of the Dragon (Misty Knight and Colleen Wing)
- When Marvel wanted to reinvent Nick Fury for the 21st century in the Ultimate Marvel line, they went to Samuel L. Jackson and asked for likeness rights.
- Br'er Rabbit in Coonskin. Being voiced by Philip Michael Thomas, the same actor who would later play Rico in Miami Vice sure helps.
- Morkupine Porcupine in Chicken Little.
- MotoMoto in Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.
- If you ignore the fact he's a White Blood Cell, Osmosis Jones, voiced by Chris Rock.
- Frozone in The Incredibles. When he makes his first appearance in his street clothes when he enters the Parr family residence, "cool" is the first thing that comes to your mind, which is appropriate, given his ice powers. Being voiced by Samuel L. Jackson may have something to do with that. And he has 'Fro in his name. All together now: "Where is my super-suit?"
- Scat Cat in The Aristocats. Voiced by the above-mentioned Scatman Crothers.
- Eddie Murphy in Disney's Mulan, despite being set in imperial China.
- In Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild, the character of Reeko the skunk (voiced by Wayne Brady).
- As noted before, Samuel L. Jackson can pull this role off with his eyes closed. See Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction. He was even able to pull it off when he voiced the white Gin Rummy in The Boondocks. Him playing Nick Fury in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has an interesting story behind it; see "Comics" above.
- Undercover Brother in the film of that name, which is basically this trope exploded into two hours of ethnic-related hilarity.
- Will Smith in Men in Black, Wild Wild West (where his modern black slang was the spice in the Anachronism Stew), and Independence Day, Bad Boys although he eased off this in I, Robot and I Am Legend.
- Chris Tucker in most of the movies he is in but the most notable one is the first Rush Hour.
- The title character of the movie Shaft. Right On.
- Detective Rico Tubbs of the Miami Vice Squad.
- Parodied in Not Another Teen Movie, which has
athe black character pop up with unrelated phrases like "bling bling!" (Yeah!?) out of nowhere, then disappear again.
- Inverted/parodied in Amazon Women on the Moon, which features a parody commercial for a charity to help black people born without soul. Another commercial parody advertises an album by Don "No Soul" Simmons, a character played by David Alan Grier who's exactly what he sounds like.
- Cooper from Event Horizon. Referred to as the "funky spaceman".
- Black Dynamite, the eponymous hero, both parodies and personifies this trope.
- In Training Day, Denzel Washington plays Alonzo Harris, an evil version of this trope.
- Soul Plane features Snoop Dogg, who is a Soul Brotha himself, playing a funky pilot by the name of Antoine Mack.
- Jazz fulfills the role in the 2007 Transformers movie once again, although the only thing left of the Jive Turkey is a more of a Mythology Gag. He introduces himself with a friendly "what's crackin', little bitches?" and a breakdancing move.
- Nino Brown in the movie New Jack City portrayed by Wesley Snipes is another evil version of this character.
- Lando Calrissian in Star Wars fits this trope really well with him being very smooth and good with the ladies.
- Willie Beamen the cocky NFL player who is played by Jamie Foxx in the Any Given Sunday.
- The protagonist in the movie SuperFly named Youngblood Priest who is a drug dealer.
- Django, another Soul brotha played by Jamie Foxx, in Django Unchained is an unusual example of one since he's a slave.
- Wesley Snipes does it again as the title character of the film series Blade.
- Eddie Murphy as Slide in the movie Tower Heist.
- Pam Grier, which is what you would expect when Hollywood's first Action Girl is an African-American woman.
- Special mention in The Warriors goes to the Riffs, an entire gang of Soul Brothas.
- Death Proof:
- Kim is a female example; a badass stunt driver and Action Girl, who's also a Boisterous Bruiser. Unsurprisingly, Quentin Tarantino wrote her to be a female Samuel L Jackson.
- Downplayed with Jungle Julia, who's the charismatic radio DJ and Ms. Fanservice of the group. She's however portrayed as something of an annoyance to her friends, and it's hinted she's not as cool as she thinks she is.
- Gunn in Angel is a streetwise, badass monster hunter who's popular and well known in the LA black community. He's definitely cooler than his white coworkers at Angel Investigations.
- Power Rangers uses it occasionally, including Zack in the original Mighty Morphin' team and Will in Operation Overdrive.
- Det. Neal Washington in Hill Street Blues, kind of; he's definitely got the mannerisms down but his accent and slang don't really stand out enough to qualify as this trope.
- Huggy Bear from Starsky & Hutch.
- Garth Marenghis Darkplace pokes fun at the racism inherent in this trope via copious amounts of Stylistic Suck - one main character is (from the dialogue) clearly supposed to be written as one of these and even gets a rap verse in someone's song, but Garth Marenghi cast his own publisher in the role, apparently assuming that because he is black he'd be able to pull it off. The fact that he is extremely uncool in appearance, voice and mannerisms, and is easily the worst actor in the entire cast, significantly diminishes the effect.
- Blackish: The Grandfather (real name Earl Johnson but the main characters call him Pops), who is played by Laurence Fishburne. He acts more like a stereotypical Black male in a cool manner (despite being elderly) compared to most of the male main characters in the series.
- Back in the '70s,"The Soulman" Rocky Johnson was the very embodiment of this trope. He passed along a generous quantity of his coolness to his son — a guy you might know as The Rock.
- Indy wrestler Human Tornado is this trope. He can step dance and break dance. He can shoot threes and dunk. He's a pimp! And he's so manly he's immune to nut shots.
- The Junkyard Dog, who was the first black wrestler to be the top star in a promotion when he worked for "Cowboy" Bill Watts' Mid-South Wrestling in the early 1980s.
- Ron Simmons one-upped JYD when he defeated WCW World Heavyweight Champion Big Van Vader to become the first African-American World Heavyweight Champion.
- As Miss Texas in 1993, Jacqueline was the first woman to be ranked in the Pro Wrestling Illustrated "PWI 500" rankings. She was the inaugural USWA Women's Champion and held the title 14 times. Under her own name, she was also the first African-American WWE Women's Champion, the first African-American wrestler of either gender to win the WCW/WWE World Cruiserweight Titlenote and the first African-American woman to be inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame. She has a black belt in Taekwondo, and, early in her career, once finished a match after separating her shoulder.
- Da Soul Touchaz, best known for their appearances in CHIKARA, are a whole Power Stable of these, five brothas ("The Urban Sensation" C-Red, "Hot Chocolate" Acid Jaz, "M-80" Marshe Rockett, "The Urban-American Dream" Willie "Da Bomb" Richardson and "The Ghetto Gladiator" Trauma) and a sista ("The Urban Jewel" Dymond).
- In the musical Passing Strange, there actually is a song named "Soul Brother", in which the young, middle-class Youth starts a punk rock band with his friends. They sing lines such as "My mother stands in doorways beggin' me to conform/Be a good, football playin' snazzy-dressing brother/so the sisters can be able/ to tell you to from the others" and "So Roots blew your MIND?! I learned that shit in third grade... in Ms Madeira's class".
- Drebin in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots fits this trope to a T. Somewhat made weird though in that he still monologues to you just as much as anyone else, often with an insane level of detail.
- Starcraft II
- Marauders, Black Power Armor-wearing infantry that launch grenades, and talk like a stereotypical player.
- DJ Professor K, host of the titular pirate radio station in Jet Set Radio. For bonus points one of the songs is called "Sweet Soul Brother", it's rather funky.
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: While the way he dresses is up to the player, there is no denying that Carl Johnson is very much badass, almost single-handedly turning the Grove Street families from laughingstock to top gang in Los Santos, all while purging the city of crack dealers.
- Lúcio in Overwatch is a Brazilian Nice Guy who happens to be a world-touring DJ and still find the time to support his local community, have a Jet Set Radio inspiration, and strives to make the world a better place.
- Jazz and Blaster in the original Transformers cartoon were the two Autobots most into Earth music and culture. Naturally, they both were voiced by black actors (trivia: in Jazz's case, by awesome character actor Scatman Crothers). In the IDW comic series, where the Autobots are shown using holographic avatars, that used by Jazz is, naturally, a black man.
- The version in Transformers: Animated is also a ninja and uses nunchucks. A pair of nunchucks.
- Spoofed with URL, the robot cop occasionally seen on Futurama along with his Fry-soundalike partner Smitty, who talks like one.
- Frylock, of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, has aspects of this. In other ways, however, he is a huge nerd.
- Bobby Proud on The Proud Family is a cross between this and Disco Dan.
- Barry the Bear from The Angry Beavers. He even tells a story in "Pass it On" that's a Blaxploitation Parody.
- Barry White: Nobody has a voice as cool and smooth as Barry's.
- James Brown: Cool singer, cool dancer, many catchy one-liners, had his entire band under his tight control, manages to get everybody into the groove and says it loud that he is "black and he's proud!" He even referred to himself as "Soul Brother Number One, and no other musician has influenced American music like him ."
- From the late 1960s on Johnny "Guitar" Watson started becoming this trope by wearing Cool Shades, dreads, talking more jive-like while still playing like a "real mother for ya!"
- Former West Indies cricketer and commentator Michael Holding, especially as impersonated in the Twelfth Man series. ("The Aussies love listening to me, mahn. I sound so cool.")
- So cool is he, in fact, that he even managed to live down the time a commentator said "The Batsman's Holding, the Bowler's Willey".
- Snoop Dogg he is so cool he even created his own slang.
- Nigerian musician and political activist Fela Kuti was also very much cooler than cool. Beaten up by government police, jailed several times, but still standing up against them while making groovy tunes.
- Isaac Hayes: He was the creator of the theme song for Shaft and performed it also, he even voiced a soul brotha character on South Park.
- Julius "Dr.J" Erving the EX-NBA basketball player might not have been the greatest NBA player ever but he is one of the greatest and and no doubt he is the coolest. His appearance matched the South Brotha look with the big afro not to mention his smooth persona and his cool game style. He was cool enough to co-host his own computer game, One on One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird.
- You can easily say ex-football and baseball player Deion Sanders fits this trope with his cockiness and confidence, his flashy appearance off and on the field, and also not to mention his high quality performance when he plays, and having the nickname "Prime Time" helps him fit this trope even more.
- You can't say retired NBA player Allen Iverson doesn't fits this troupe for his persona on and off the court some say he helped the cornrows become more fashionable.
- Muhammad Ali was able to be one despite not speaking in fluent street.
- Jack Johnson the boxer had style in boxing that no one had before which helped him become the first Black heavyweight, not only did he have boxing style no boxer had before he had the cocky egotistical persona no athlete had before especially by a Black athlete since the years when he was boxing was a few decades after slavery was abolished.
I'm just talkin' about Shaft! Can you dig it?