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Clark Gable himself. Accept no substitutes.

"You will have the tallest, darkest leading man in Hollywood."
Merian C. Cooper invoking Exact Words to Fay Wray, prior to working on King Kong (1933)
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Well, Everyone Loves Blondes, Heroes Want Redheads, and of course there's the sensual Brunette. But for men, there seems to be one main perceived ideal: Tall, Dark, and Handsome. Sometimes, it's a Tall, Dark, and Handsome Stranger.

Tall, Dark, and Handsome Stranger was a pulp fiction trope, particularly in mystery novels. Romance novels still play it straight sometimes. This then led to a Tall, Dark, and Handsome casting trope for leading men: Clark Gable, etc. This is also one of the defining attributes of the Latin Lover stereotype.

Historically, "dark" referred to the man's hair and often eyes, not necessarily his skin color. If the man had "dark" skin too, it was meant to refer to a "healthy" or "bronzed" i.e. tanned complexion at best, as opposed to being too pale or "pasty", and connoting an active lifestyle, getting out in the sun and doing proper manly stuff like horse-riding or hunting. By default he was assumed to be white due to society frowning on interracial relationships, to put it mildly. So while the phrase could literally apply to a black man, it's unlikely to be used this way unless it's in a modern work, and thus a slight subversion.

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Most Tall, Dark and Handsome men display an aloof, cold, and distant personality, but they do have a gentle and caring side.

Being one of the oldest tropes in the book, it's nowadays more often used in subversions and deconstructions. The actual invocation of the trope Tall, Dark, and Handsome Stranger is often parodied or might be played straight but usually isn't highlighted if it is.

See Aloof Dark-Haired Girl for the Distaff Counterpart, and Tall, Dark, and Snarky when combined with Deadpan Snarker or Gentleman Snarker.


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Examples when the trope is played straight:

    Anime and Manga 
  • Roger Smith from The Big O has got the look, the personality and the charm that constitutes this character type down pat.
  • Hagi from Blood+ is the epitome of this as well. In the novels, Kai muses to himself that even guys like him wouldn't be able to deny how attractive Hagi is.
  • All of the darker-haired males in the Sohma family of Fruits Basket. Except most of them are pale in skin color.
  • Andrew from Little Witch Academia (2017) has dark brown hair, stands a full head taller than Akko, and is often stated to be quite handsome.
  • Lantis from Magic Knight Rayearth is black-haired, handsome, and stands at 1.98m/6'6" (neck breaker much?).
  • Sinbad from Magi: Labyrinth of Magic, and how. Not only does he exhibit all of the aesthetic features of this trope, his presence itself constantly attracts beautiful girls to the point where just sitting still for a second will get him a harem. This does not go unnoticed by the other, less tall, dark, and handsome characters.
  • Trafalgar Law from One Piece, being 191 cm tall, with dark hair and tan skin. He is one of the most attractive characters in the series and mostly wear dark clothes.
  • In Sailor Moon:
    • Usagi's father Kenji, although much more subdued. Her mother does use these exact words to describe him when he was younger, though.
    • Mamoru and Saphir both. They resemble each other.
  • Ren Tsuruga from Skip Beat! has rather long legs, is very handsome, and has dark hair, though he used to be a blond.
  • Hak and Jaeha from Yona of the Dawn: Both of them are over 6 feet, have dark hair (Hak's hair is black while Jaeha's hair is dark green), and are considered to be the most attractive in the group. The former is a Hunk and Deadpan Snarker while the latter is a Mr. Fanservice and Long Haired Prettyboy.

    Comic Books 
  • Bruce Wayne, Batman. Money is not the only reason Bats is surrounded by women. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree as his adopted sons follow in his footsteps. Dick adds in his magnetic personality, Jason has his Bad Boy charms and Tim is one in the future he's shown in. Damian is the exception since he's still a kid, but in the future, he does get his father's looks.
  • Blacksad: John Blacksad is tall, a black cat, and constantly being eyed by most females. Add to that his mysterious nature and you have an archetypal tall, dark, and handsome character.
  • Corto Maltese.
  • Lenore the Cute Little Dead Girl has the tall, dark, handsome Ragamuffin, in his human form.
  • Lobo, as of the New 52.
  • Superman: despite all that Clark Kenting he does to make himself look geeky and awkward, the true Superman is quite beautiful.
  • X-Men: Colossus is tall, dark-haired and very much a handsome hunk.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • James Bond is described in the original Ian Fleming books as six feet tall, black-haired and cruelly handsome. His eyes are a cold blue-grey instead of dark, though. Fleming also invoked Textual Celebrity Resemblance by having characters say Bond looks like the American musician and actor Hoagy Carmichael — evidently someone who Fleming thought fit the mold in real life.
  • Anne of Green Gables:
    • Gilbert Blythe is described in the books as being very handsome, with dark, curly hair and hazel eyes. He is tall with a lean build.
    • Walter, his and Anne's second son. With "finely modeled features" and expressive gray eyes, the girls fall all over him from childhood onward. Walter, however, is kind of a Clueless Chick Magnet and spends more of his time writing poetry than wooing women.
  • Isaac Asimov's "Satisfaction Guaranteed": The TN-3 model (Tony) was designed to do housework, and US Robots & Mechanical Men decided to make it look attractive as well; building him to an above-average height, perfectly groomed black hair, warm olive skin, and attractive enough to make all of the other housewives in the neighborhood jealous.
    "Tony was tall and darkly handsome" — first line
  • Jerin in A Brother's Price. He is handsome — even women who don't lust after him, for example, his kindly former schoolteacher, warn him that he needs to wear a veil in public, as his good looks could attract kidnappers. His dark hair goes well over his shoulders, so he's also a Long-Haired Pretty Boy. The text implies he's tall as well; he is able to manhandle an adult soldier out of a brook and onto a horse.
  • In Darkness Visible, William Marsh is six feet tall, black-haired, and so annoyingly gorgeous that even the protagonist's mother wants him.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • While few detailed descriptions of his appearance are given, 6'9" Harry Dresden probably counts.
    • Thomas, who is mentioned as being only slightly shorter than him and a White Court Vampire, definitely counts.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Sirius Black is definitely tall, dark, and handsome. The book constantly reminds us of it.
    • Voldemort/Tom Riddle in his teenage years. Of course, he was also evil.
  • The Daemon from The Hearts We Sold is tall, dark-haired, well-dressed, and oddly charming, in his own, otherworldly way. It's suggested he's more of a Pretty Boy than handsome in a traditional, masculine way, however; Dee describes him as "beautiful" in her narration.
  • Gale of The Hunger Games shares Katniss' dark hair, olive skin, and grey eyes and is said to be over six feet tall by Katniss because when they met in the woods when he was only 14, she stated he was already that height. Muscular and good-looking, girls flock to him — Katniss herself says that Gale would have no trouble finding a wife because he's handsome and strong.
  • That Irresistible Poison: Ksar is classically handsome, tall, with dark hair and silver eyes.
  • Lolita: Humbert Humbert tells his readers several times that he's really, really good-looking. Tall, dark-haired, masculine, handsome, and with the appeal of a movie star.
    "I was, and still am, despite mes malheurs, an exceptionally handsome male; slow-moving, tall, with soft dark hair and a gloomy but all the more seductive cast of demeanor."
  • Loyal Enemies: According to Shelena, Veres is tall with black hair and olive skin but decidedly not handsome as she's not attracted to this type of men. After spending a lot of time together and Veres healing after being beaten almost to death, though, Shelena has to admit that he ain't all that skinny anymore and most certainly handsome. He even turns out to be a match for Shelena in snarkiness.
  • Prince Vladimir from the Nightfall (Series) fits all three criteria.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • Although when we first meet Aragorn, he is said to 'look foul and feel fair.' While he is described as "grim" when we first meet him, as the book continues, he is constantly described as "noble", with standard Númenórean good looks. The grimness refers more to his demeanor as a Ranger. Not to mention, of course, that he caught the eye of Arwen, who is supposed to be as beautiful as her ancestor who was the most beautiful elf to ever exist, so he definitely cleans up nicely. And when we first meet Strider in the book, he is a subtle Tall, Dark, and Snarky.
    • Faramir, Boromir, Imrahil and young Denethor all fit this trope. Actually, the Dúnedain of in general are tall and dark with a little elvish touch.
    • Any dark-haired elf would qualify and there are many, particularly in The Silmarillion.
  • Mediochre Q Seth Series: When Charlotte Johnson first meets Joseph Carrion, he is explicitly noted to be tall, handsome and dark-haired. It contrasts with Mediochre, who is short and weedy.
  • Alec Lightwood from The Mortal Instruments shares his mother's good looks and Clary describes him having long limbs like a dancer.
  • Kuroki in Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note is the tallest of the main cast with black hair and jet-black eyes, and is officially noted to be handsome. The Charmer traits add to his appeal.
  • Tortall Universe: Jonathan of Conte is described as being very handsome, with black hair and piercing blue eyes, and for a time he and Alanna the Lioness were lovers. One woman in The Immortals lampshades it, saying that most women around the palace are in love with him to one degree or another. Please describe if he's tall.
  • After Bella of Twilight is knocked off her motorcycle, she looks up at Native American Jacob Back and says that he is kind of beautiful.
  • Demetri Belikov from Vampire Academy is described to be extremely tall (2,01 meters/6'7") with chocolate-brown eyes and long, dark hair which he wears in a ponytail. He is also described to be very handsome and rugged in physical appearance with God-like angular, masculine features. In terms of his physique, he is lean, well-built and muscular.
  • Zorro.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Gomez Addams from The Addams Family is suave, mustachioed, passionately devoted to his wife...and just as much a weird Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant as the rest of his family. Not quite the tallest one there, of course, but still.
  • Arrowverse has Ray Palmer, played by Brandon Routh. He's 6'3", muscular, and very good looking.
  • Apollo from both versions of Battlestar Galactica (1978).
  • Anders, Gaius and Helo from Battlestar Galactica (2003).
  • In The Big Bang Theory, Bernadette's Gentle Giant ex-boyfriend Glenn (played by Rick Fox) was this to a T, leading the nerdy Howard to feel incredibly insecure comparing himself to him and inadvertently pick a fight with Bernadette.
  • Bryan Connerty from Billions, played by Toby Leonard Moore.
  • The titular character (played by Gil Gerald) from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: When Buffy first met Angel, he called himself a friend and she said that he was dark, gorgeous in an annoying sort of way. In Angel Cordelia calls him "tall, dark, and broody".
  • Ponch from CHiPs.
  • Chuck: Chuck Bartowski.
  • James Wesley from Daredevil (2015), played by Toby Leonard Moore.
  • Due South: Constable Benton Fraser, played by actor Paul Gross, fits the ideal image of what a Mountie should be, including being handsome, tall and physically fit. Describe whether he's dark-haired. The character is, in some ways, an homage to and a deconstruction of the popular depiction of the Mounties, such as the cartoon "Dudley Do-Right" and Sgt. Preston of the Yukon.
  • Johnny Gage from Emergency!
  • ER had a trifecta of them, each playing pretty much the same role. First Doug Ross (George Clooney), then Luka Kovac (Goran Višnjić), and then Tony Gates (John Stamos).
  • Game of Thrones: All (true) Baratheon males share this trait.
  • Highlander: Duncan MacLeod, in contrast to shorter, dirty-blond Connor MacLeod.
  • Horatio Hornblower:
    • Sailor Horatio Hornblower has got it all: a tall slender figure, brown curly hair, dark eyes, tanned complexion, and a handsome manly face. However, he's really fairly skinny and by no means a Hunk.
    • Captain Pellew has a tall and well-built figure (appropriate for a naval captain), dark eyes and dark hair, his complexion is tanned and slightly weather-beaten (he spends his life aboard a ship after all), and his facial features are very fine. In addition, he's as Officer and a Gentleman.
    • Lieutenant William Bush is an attractive manly man. His amazing blue eyes contrast nicely with his dark brown hair. His actor Paul McGann said that he's in fact quite little and needed a Scully Box, but Mr Bush is tall enough.
  • Harmon Rabb in JAG.
  • Don Draper of Mad Men.
  • Hawkeye Pierce from M*A*S*H, although over the seasons his raven hair gradually became salt-and-peppered until it was almost completely gray.
  • Merlin (2008):
    • Lancelot's coloring makes him a perfect visual counterpoint to golden-haired, blue-eyed Arthur.
    • Gwaine, too.
  • Jason from Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.
  • Detective William Murdoch from Murdoch Mysteries is a classically handsome Badass Bookworm.
  • Philip Boynton, on Our Miss Brooks.
  • John Reese from Person of Interest is tall with dark hair in the earlier seasons (he later gets some grey so the Silver Fox trope is used instead) and is something of a Death Seeker due to his past as a CIA hitman. Detective Fusco once refers to him as "Tall, Dark and Deranged".
  • Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice.
  • Remington Steele, played by Pierce Brosnan, is handsome and mysterious.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock most definitely qualifies. In real life, he's ginger.
  • Dr. Harry Cunningham from Silent Witness, although as a pasty-faced Englishman he's far from tanned.
  • Quinn Mallory in Sliders.
  • In the second episode of the first season of Smallville, Clark smiles down at Chloe and she says, "It's amazing how far that Kent charm will get you."
  • David Starsky from Starsky & Hutch.
  • Star Trek: Picard:
    • Cristóbal Rios is a Dashing Hispanic — tall with dark brown hair and dashingly handsome in a manner which is typical of a gruff Lovable Rogue. Dr. Agnes Jurati finds him attractive and he becomes her boyfriend.
    • Because Rios selected the self-scan option for the Emergency Holograms on La Sirena, they all appear identical to him, and therefore they share his good looks.
  • Stefan and Damon from The Vampire Diaries. They are both sinfully handsome, with dark hair. And they are both of Italian origins.
  • Derek Hale from Teen Wolf is this, complete with a strong jawline, stubble, hypnotic grey eyes and six pack abs. He also broods. A lot.
  • White Collar: Neal Caffrey, played by the beautiful Matt Bomer.
  • Justin Russo from Wizards of Waverly Place. The bookworm type.
  • The X-Files:
    • Agent Fox Mulder is tall, well-built, has brown hair and sad green Puppy-Dog Eyes, tanned complexion, nose... Yes, he's got it all. Being a Deadpan Snarker doesn't hurt.
    • Alex Krycek is a double agent and a dirty rat boy who charms and eventually betrays everyone must be fit and handsome to pull it all off. He has very dark eyes and black hair. Tall, dark, mysterious and very handsome.
    • Assistant Director Skinner is an older sexy guy. Tall and physically fit.

    Music 
  • "Sweet Rosie Jones" by Buck Owens (1968) has the narrator lose the love of the title character to a "tall dark stranger." A year later Owens recorded a spinoff/sequel actually called "Tall Dark Stranger" that explored the trope even further.
  • Jim Morrison in spades.

    Video Games 

    Webcomics 
  • Lackadaisy: Mordecai Heller is drawn as a tall, anthropomorphic tuxedo cat. Asa refers to Mordecai as "swarthy" due to his black fur. The way several women react to Mordecai suggests that he's considered attractive in-universe. His human form definitely qualifies as dark and handsome.
  • Reunion (2021): Shiro is tall, dark-haired, brown-skinned, and brooding and mysterious. He's also considered good-looking in-universe, with random girls commenting on his attractiveness. Rhea wonders if his mysteriousness draws women to him.

Examples when the trope is invoked, parodied and/or subverted:

    General 
  • Best known example (and, maybe, the Ur-Example) of the convention being invoked would be a Roma fortune teller prophesying that her female customer will meet a tall, dark and handsome stranger.
  • Since it's simply taken for granted that the trope in its classic usage refers to white men, any tall, dark-haired and handsome man who is not white in modern media can be considered an unspoken subversion of it, the "darkness" now possibly referring to his skin tone due to non-white ethnicity as well as his hair.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Ranma ½: Tatewaki Kuno has dark hair (black in the manga and dark brown in the anime), is one of the tallest characters in the cast and is very Hunky in appearance. In the watermelon chapter and its anime adaptation, Kuno even introduces himself as "Strikingly handsome, dark and tall." Despite Kuno's own thoughts, he's actually the Lord Error-Prone rival to the led.

    Fan Works 
Tolkien's Legendarium
  • During the course of The Heart Trilogy, Smaug gains a human form that is physiqued like a warrior, about seven feet tall, and dark-haired. His face would be considered handsome if he didn't have a condescending personality, fiery golden eyes, and around his mouth cruel lines that make it look like he has spent his entire life sneering at people unworthy of him.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Disney's Aladdin, when Jasmine distracts Jafar by pretending to be mind-controlled into loving him, she describes Jafar as "tall, dark...well dressed..." Apparently, calling Jafar handsome would just be too suspicious.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • DC Extended Universe: The title character of Aquaman (2018) courtesy of Jason Momoa. Notably a subversion twice over, in the sense that due to a Race Lift of Aquaman and his father, he's now Ambiguously Brown, looking part Hawaiian or Pacific Islander instead of the default white (due to his mother who is not human, yet resembles a white human woman), and in the sense that he's dark-haired whereas his comics counterpart is blond (and would thus not normally count as "dark").
  • From Dusk Till Dawn: While at 5'11" George Clooney might not be quite as tall as others in the trope, Seth Gecko is handsome and mysterious, with a Dark and Troubled Past. Word of God on the DVD commentary points out that Robert Rodriguez, the film's director, deliberately shot Clooney from underneath, to make him look heroic. This is a subversion in that he's not a romantic lead. The head vampire wants to either eat or enslave him, and Kate makes an overture that is quickly shot down.
  • The director of the original King Kong (1933) truthfully promised Fay Wray that she would be working with the "tallest, darkest" leading man in the world. Although a bit of a stretch: the actual Kong ligature used for most scenes was only about sixteen inches tall.

    Literature 
  • In the Aunt Dimity series, Bill Willis was introduced with a beard, a paunch and thick horn-rimmed glasses when Lori first met him. He later lost all three, and Lori subsequently describes him as being "quite literally, tall, dark and handsome."
  • Played with in Dragon Bones. Alizon, the king's half-brother is described as very handsome, tall and slender like a wolf, and, occasionally, dark-haired. He dyes his hair, which is apparently already going grey, and seems fond of trying out new colors.
  • Parodied in Good Omens. Anathema Device hoped that the man she was prophesied to meet would be a tall, dark and handsome stranger. As it turned out, the stranger in question was Newton Pulsifer, who's tall (in a thin, rolled-out sort of way) and dark-haired, but not particularly handsome. She decides that she could live with two out of three.
  • In Victoria Hanley's Light of the Oracle, the love interest of the main character Kiran fits the tall and dark like an animal until he gets a makeover, becoming so handsome that he goes from being snubbed by the Rich Bitch Clea to being pursued by him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel. One of the many nicknames Spike dubs Angel with is "Tall, Dark and Dreary".
  • Batwoman (2019)
    • At the end of the pilot episode, a female radio announcer ponders whether Mr. Tall, Dark and Unavailable has returned after an absence of three years. The joke being that what they think is Batman was actually Kate Kane in a batsuit.
    • In "Grinning From Ear To Ear", Kate quips that she got her information on the Villain of the Week from "Bat-sources". Luke Fox suspects she's been seeing Crow Security agent Sophie Moore despite his advice, and asks if those Bat-sources were the "tall, dark and girlfriend-material variety".
  • In Crisis on Infinite Earths, Lucifer Morningstar does a cameo and says that John Diggle reminds him of his brother Amenadiel. "Tall, dark, and annoyed by me."
  • Iron Fist (2017). Misty Knight dubs Ward Meacham as "Tall, Dark and Arrogant."
  • The Professionals. Thus spoke Bodie: "I believe in me because I was born tall, dark and beautiful... and engagingly modest of course." He's tall, has dark hair and a troubled past as a mercenary in Africa.
  • Smallville:
    • Instead of using their names, Lois describes Clark at least once as "tall, dark, and bumbling" and on another occasion as "tall, dark, and single" and Davis/Doomsday as "tall, dark, and scary".
      Clark: Davis must have done something to her. Chloe would never lie to me if she weren't trapped.
      Oliver: Either that or she just can't resist tall, dark and Doomsday.
    • When Lois watches a video from her Missing Mom (played by a former Lois Lane), she is told that she will meet someone special, and her mother guesses he will be tall, dark, and handsome.

    Music 
  • When they first met, Dean Martin told Jerry Lewis that people would call him "the Boy with the Tall, Dark, and Handsome Voice."
  • The narrator of "Answer" by They Might Be Giants is trying to sweet-talk a girl and convince her he's "the answer to all your prayers", even though he admits in the last verse he's neither talk, dark, nor handsome.
    You wanted tall
    I came in under five-foot-four
    Then you asked for dark
    I tend to sunburn a lot
    And as for handsome, well
    Can't help you there
    So make of it what you will

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Garfield: Jon Arbuckle once asked his cat if he was this. Garfield responded: "Maybe if you stand on a chair, turn off the lights, and squint." A variation was "stand on a chair, turn off the lights, and lie".

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Prince Devitt was one of the most popular foreign wrestlers in Japan but despite being the definition of tall, dark, and handsome he was put under a mask and the second Pegasus Kid. When he unmasked, it wasn't too long before he joined the evil Control Terrorism Unit in New Japan Pro-Wrestling. However, in some other promotions, he was allowed to both use his real Irish identity and remain a beloved crowd favorite, but New Japan was the biggest promotion during his stay there he ended up founding so most people know evil Devitt. He ended up leaving the CTU stable and becoming part of a face tag team for a few years, so NJPW fans know the babyface also, but then he turned heel again and formed the Bullet Club at the end of his tenure. Then he went to WWE NXT and became the Good Is Not Nice / Dark Is Not Evil babyface demon king Finn Bálor.

    Video Games 
  • During the music video of Plants vs. Zombies:
    "Sunflower" "I know your type: tall, dark and dead"

    Web Videos 
  • CollegeHumor, "Meet Cute with a Ghost": Jess's character meets a really cute ghost during a seance. She originally wanted to contact her dead grandfather, but the ghost turns out to be "tall, muscular, with dark hair" and a doctor to boot. Jackpot!

    Western Animation 

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