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Pretty self-explanatory trope: in a film which involves a lot of character deaths, it seems like the black actor will inevitably be the first to go.
In the past this perception was because there were few black leads in big-budget films outside of those that focused specifically on race or used it to make a point. Historical moviemakers were generally writing to white audiences, so it was natural (at least in their opinion) for whites to get more screen time. And if the writers throw in a Token Minority to give the cast more believable racial balance, who do you think is going to die first, them or the folks who have a bigger role in the script?
A notable subversion of this trope came from the 1971 film Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song. Nowadays the film is known more for popularizing Blaxploitation films, but most of those films were popular with audiences at the time for ignoring this trope all together. As more black people with money to spend went to theaters, more and more prominent black characters and more big-name black actors emerged-none of which were likely to get killed off quietly. Studios had also finally accepted that white audiences are not generally as racist as was once assumed, and do not need to have a white protagonist. In other words, if you're gonna go after the black man nowadays, you might want to check the credits to see who's playing him. If it's no one you've actually heard of, they're probably fair game. Tony Todd? Go for it. Samuel L. Jackson? You can take your chances. Rosario Dawson? Yeah, good luck on that. Denzel Washington? Bad idea. Morgan Freeman? You should give up. Will Smith? Run away and hide.
As black actors became more common in significant roles, this trope found new ways to stay relevant. Films would take a Scary Black Man, turn him into The Big Guy, and kill him off to show how strong their monster is. In horror films, the afflicted main character might have a sassy Black Best Friend that gets killed off to show that this is no laughing matter. 80s horror shows were good at this, and film makers had growing backlash against all the exploitation films.
Played Straight Edit
Anime & Manga Edit
- Episode 22 of Code Geass R2 has the introduction of the only black Knight of the Round, Knight of Four Dorothea Ernst. However, she only gets a few seconds of screentime before Suzaku blows her Knightmare out of the sky, seconds after the battle starts.
- Gorobei is the first to die in Samurai 7. This despite the fact that, in the original Seven Samurai film, the first to die was Heihachi. Gorobei was the only black man among the samurai.
- In Berserk, Pippen is the first named character to die during the Eclipse. this is true
- Inverted in Mobile Suit Gundam The 08th MS Team with Terry Sanders Jr. Every squad he was in before joining the title MS Team has been completely wiped out and he is not happy about it.
- The Halo Legends short "The Babysitter" follows a four-man squad. The one Ambiguously Brown member doesn't even get a name or dialogue before he dies.
- In Blood: The Last Vampire, the script seemingly goes out of it's way to find a black character to kill first (Some monsters had died, but he was the first human to have a graphic onscreen death.) We have an old white woman, running from demons when she runs into a giant black American military man on base. She explains to him that said demons are chasing her, and he starts laughing stereotypically, complete with Giant nostrils and lips. Needless to say, he ends up standing under that one creepy tree, and the demon grabs him by the head. Disemboweled instantly.
- In the Gunsmith Cats OVA, the sole black character, Jody, is the only good guy to die, and he dies because he's Too Dumb to Live.
- Out of the 11 students who died during the attack on the Mars base in the first episode of Blue Comet SPT Layzner, Judo is the both only one who was named and the only one who was black.
- In Bleach, the black captain dies first. Go figure. Subverted, becuase he is resurrected. Then dies again. Yeah. Though, as a villain, it isn't all that surprising that he dies.
- In one arc of Full Metal Panic, Sousuke is sent on a mission with five other soldiers to kill Gauron. Out of the group the first to die is the black team captain.
- Averted in King of Thorn. The black guy (his name is Ron) is one of the toughest members of a group of ActionSurvivors. In the manga he lives all the way to the end of of the series. In The Movie he is the third member of the group to die, being preceded by two white guys.
Comic Books Edit
- In the Elseworld comic series, JLA: Act of God, Steel aka. John Henry Irons ends up being first hero who bites the dust as he gets stomped to death by a giant robot.
- Who is the first character to die in Midnight Nation? That would be the black guy who tries to clue in heroic detective David Gray about what is really going on.
- Black Goliath is the first superhero to die in Civil War. And he wasn't just any black dude, he's a giant black dude. For the record, perhaps four other people died in that conflict.
- His nephew, who became his Legacy Character (but simply calling himself "Goliath"), is a member of the Revengers, a group of heroes with grudges against the Avengers. Goliath got knocked out early into their assault on Avengers Mansion and was the only one of the bunch to be badly hurt.
- The G.I. Joe comics kill off their black doctor first.
- Set up in The Expendables' parody, where there is a character known only as (even by that character himself) "Muscly Black Dude Who Dies A Gruesome Death", and whose purpose is only to say "You're totally mad, bro!" and "You said it, dude!". He frequently lampshades this behaviour, and even explains how a family photo is the way they chose to give depth to his character. Eventually averted, because the first one to die is Dolph Lundgren's character.
- In Heat the first member of the criminal gang to get killed is Donald Breedan, played by Dennis Haybert. Doesn't seem fair, since he'd only been a gang member for mere hours.
- In RED, Morgan Freeman dies first, then turns up alive, then is the first to die for real.
- In Aliens Frost is the first major character to go, and Apone isn't far behind him. The original Alien averted the trope, with Parker dying second-last.
- Reversed in Mind Hunters. The white character (played by Christian Slater) built up as the lead hero during the promotions, ends up dying first in the film. While the black character (played by LL Cool J), ends up being one of the last two survivors and a hero.
- In The Island Starkweather Two Delta provides a major hook to the film in his horrific early death, while the very distinctly African Albert Laurent manages to escape the violent deaths that claim most of his team-mates and make a rather significant Heel Face Turn at the end.
- As Michael Bay mentions on the commentary track to the DVD, he actually asked the actor Djimon Hounsou something like "How would you like to be the black guy who doesn't die?"
- The Monster Squad - the only character with any lines to die in the movie is a black cop. How does it happen? Dracula blows him up with dynamite.
- Halloween Resurrection: Averted, as the only black character (Played by Busta Rhymes) survives.
- Corporal Eightball in Full Metal Jacket, sent to do recon, first to be abated.
- In Gremlins, the black science teacher dies first.
- Enter the Dragon plays it straight. Of the three main protagonists, Williams exists only to show off his fabulous afro and be killed by the villain first. However, this did not happen by design. In the original script, Roper died in Williams's place. Executive Meddling switched their roles around.
- Subverted in Night of the Demons in which the Comedy Black Man, apparently a minor character in the beginning, eventually rescues The Final Girl, becomes the hero, and survives the movie.
- In Stargate, the black soldier is not even present during the first alien attack, but is still the first one to die. As it happens, the team had split into two groups, and the group without the black soldier came under attack; however, that group was incapacitated by solely non-lethal means, simply knocked out with hard blows to the head. When the other group (With the black guy) returns, the first thing the aliens do is shoot the black guy, and then proceed to start firing wildly at the rest of the soldiers.
- In United 93, between the two pilots of the aforementioned plane, one is white while the other is black. Give ya three guesses who's the first to get shanked by the hijackers.
- Paul Winfield has had this happen to him in his SF films, including twice in the Star Trek universe (as Capt. Terrell in Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan and as Dathon in Star Trek the Next Generation). In Damnation Alley, he was wasn't the very first to die, but he still gets eaten by killer cockroaches. He's also the first person to die in Mars Attacks!
- In Resident Evil Extinction, the only black guy was the first to be attacked by a zombie, resulting in an ultimately fatal wound. Of course he covers it up and endangers his fellow zombiepocalypse survivors. Not to mention his black girlfriend managed to sacrifice her own life, and on a bus no less. To top it off, the same character managed to survive all the way through the previous movie, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, despite being a minor character and the Ethnic Scrappy.
- In the 90s slasher film Dr. Giggles this is almost exaggerated as the first two teens to die are both black. The film also has a black cop who has a much more prominent role. He still dies at the end though.
- In Virus, the black crew member appears to die halfway through the movie, but in a surprise twist, comes back at the end armed with a rocket launcher to save the hero and the heroine from the monster. Only to die in the process.
- In The Edge, Harold Perrineau is eaten by the bear first.
- Happens twice in the film version of The Crow. The first of T-Bird's crew who Eric encounters and kills is Tin-Tin, the black knife-wielding guy. Then, near the end of the film when Eric is trying to rescue Sarah, Grange is the first to die when Albrecht guns him down.
- Queen of the Damned begins with Lestat waking up from his sleep and drinking a black man's blood dry.
- The first person to die in Alien Nation is Sykes' original partner, who is shot and killed by a shotgun-wielding crook while he's wearing a Bulletproof Vest and crouched behind a car. It turns out the shotgun slugs were armor-piercing.
- 3000 Miles to Graceland has five Elvis impersonators setting out to rob a casino. The black one dies first.
- In B-Movie The Killer Shrews, as seen on Mystery Science Theater 3000, the white protagonist's black friend/employee/servant/Dixieland jazz musician goes outside to take care of the boat during the storm and gets eaten by the shrews first. When the hero finds out, he seems genuinely angry for a moment. Their next victim is a Mexican, who gets much less mourning.
- In Red Dawn, the black history teacher is the first person the Soviets kill after parachuting onto school grounds.
- In Assignment Outer Space, this is why The Captain gets the Heroic Sacrifice. (The Millstone saves the day).
- The Agony Booth recap of Hulk featured the insight "It's not so much that the black guy dies first, it's that the black guy dies first 90 minutes into the movie".
- In the miniseries adaptation of of Stephen King's The Langoliers, the sole black man in the group of survivors dies first. (In the original, he wasn't black, though he wore a Red Shirt.)
- Not a dude, but the first member of the team killed in Hollow Man is the token minority.
- Scream 2. The first two characters to bite it are black, both in horrifying ways. Omar Epps (pre-House), through use of barely audible whispers to draw him close enough to the wall of the toilet to get stabbed in the ear, to Jada Pinkett being stabbed repeatedly in front of hundreds of witnesses who think it's an act and even encourage the killer.
- The black cameraman later points out that "Brothers don't last long in situations like this."
- In American Psycho, The first victim the films shows Patrick Bateman killing, is a homeless black man. Of course, it's debatable rather he really did the killing, or if it was just a figment of his imagination - like the other killings in the film.
- In Deep Blue Sea, the actual first deaths are of white people; however, of the group of survivors trying to reach the surface Russell Franklin (played by Samuel L. Jackson) dies first. The other black character, Preacher, is well aware of this trope.
Preacher: I'm done. Black guys never make it out of situations like this, not ever.
- He lives. One of only two characters who do.
- Interestingly, this film appeared to be following the modern take, with Samuel L. Jackson being the most prominent actor among the cast. It certainly looked like he was the hero/main character right up until his Rousing Speech. His death is essentially a Shocking Swerve. Also, Jackson's character's race was not written in the script; anyone could have been cast in the role.
- Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer: The gruff black general gets killed by the power hungry villain, Doctor Doom.
- Wing Commander: When Paladin and Knight (the black guy) are making a torpedo run on a battleship, Knight blows up even though he took just as many hits as Paladin did.
- In Stealth not only does the black dude die first, he was the one out to avoid the conflict that lead to it.
- The Nature's-revenge flick Kingdom of the Spiders plays it straight as well. The one farm in town owned by a black couple is ground zero for the imminent tarantula invasion. The husband is the first human to die, after the spiders kill his cattle and dog.
- Inverted in the direct-to-video monster movie Frankenfish, where none of the white characters make it to the end.
- Inverted in Night of the Living Dead. The only black guy in the group survives the night, and then gets shot in the morning, after being mistaken for a zombie.
- The original Dawn of the Dead also inverts this trope, but takes a somewhat different tack: this time around, the only black guy is one of the two survivors, and he manages to escape with his life. This was changed at the last minute from the original plot ending, where the last two surviving humans in the mall choose to commit suicide. Meanwhile, the 2004 Dawn remake had two major black characters. One goes crazy when his pregnant wife turns into a zombie, and gets shot. The other survives to the Bolivian Army Ending.
- In the British/Irish horror movie Wilderness, the only black inmate was the first one to die.
- The first death showed in the Saw rip-off Are You Scared was that of a white girl, but when the actual cast of six teenagers was introduced, the obnoxious black guy was the first one to kick the bucket.
- In the 70s picture, The Great Santini, a black dude does die first, but he manages to kill his killer too.
- The heroic party in the Dungeons and Dragons movie consisted of the heroic white thief, the plucky comic relief black thief, the love interest white mage, and the gruff Scottish dwarf, as well as a black female elf. The black thief dies, though the elf survives the film.
- The Sci Fi Channel movie Sand Serpents has the only two black members of a Marine platoon die first, the first eaten by the serpents, the second killed in a car wreck.
- Another SciFi Original, Scream of the Banshee, has the black police officer get killed off first. Otto's actor Todd Haberkorn immediately lampshaded this during the premiere.
- And another one, Ice Age 2012 (not related to Ice Age or 2012) has a giant glacier somehow plow its way across Canada propelled by a bunch of volcanoes erupting, but a black scientist still manages to die first by accidentally flying his helicopter into one of the eruptions.
- The cult film Straight to Hell by Alex Cox averts the trope by leaving only the black guy alive among the film's many male characters.
- Panic in Ticks is only one of the protagonists to die.
- Happened in Death Wish V the Face of Death when Tommy O'Shea's goons killed a lesser black worker from the fashion department execution style.
- In Christine, a black assembly-line worker is the first victim of the titular killer car.
- The first victim in New Year's Evil is the main character's female Black Best Friend.
- The only black character in Spider Baby is killed in the film's intro. Interestingly, from the same director who would later bring us Blaxploitation classics Coffy and Foxy Brown.
- The Mutant Chronicles: Both black guys who appear in the film die by bridge within a couple minutes of each other.
- Magma: Earth's Molten Core has the Jerkass mayor die in on coming lava while screaming "NO!" Or was it him getting buried in hot rocks? It's hard to tell.
- In the Halloween remake, Joe Grizzly is Michael's first "proper" victim after he escapes the mental institution.
- In Super 8, when Colonel Nelec's bus is attacked, he tells one of his soldiers to shoot the attacker with a tracking dart while having the driver open the door. Both are black, and both evidently have seen this movie before, because they both immediately give him a look which just screams "Oh, hell no." Predictably, both die.
- Earlier, the movie actually subverted the trope. There was Doctor Woodward, the black man in the Almost-Dead Guy state after a train crash. You'd think he would die by the time the Air Forces reached him. But nope, the doctor survived the train crash and the capture, then died after the deaths of a sheriff, a shop clerk and a cableman (all white, in that order).
- In X Men First Class, Darwin, the only Black mutant/character, is killed after only a few minutes onscreen, before the major battle, and other than the head villain of the film, he is the only mutant protagonist or antagonist to die. His power to adapt to anything to survive really helped him.
- Of course, he may not have been Killed Off for Real, since as Raven says, they "[couldn't] even bury him" and because, well, he's a comic book character.
- It's worth noting that he is not the first character to die, only the first mutant. We see a friend of the protagonists killed a few minutes before Darwin, and dozens of CIA agents are killed in one shot by the big bad before Darwin's death.
- In the hip-hop drama 8 Mile, one of B Rabbit's opponents, Lotto, raps during their freestyle battle: "I'll spit a racial slur honkey, sue me/This shit is a horror flick but the black guy doesn't die in this movie."
- In Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, a group of five high school students (including one black student) is ambushed by an Alien inside the high school. Guess which one the Alien kills first.
- The black character Luther is the first person to die in 1973 film The Sting.
- In Apocalypse Now, the two black guys are the first and second members of the boat crew to die.
- Played straight in the beginning of Jurassic Park. And also in the third movie. Not the first person die, but first on screen.
- A pair of black policemen accidentally fall off a building to their deaths while attempting to pursue a criminal in The Other Guys.
- Noteworthy in that it's Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, the last people you would expect to die.
- Dead Air: The security guard at the radio station, while not technically the first on-screen death, is the first of the named characters to die as the Synthetic Plague spreads through the city.
- This happens twice in Mortal Kombat: Liu Kang's first (black opponent) ends up having his soul sucked out by Tsung after Liu refuses to finish him, and Art Lean ends up dead at Goro's hands.
- This never factored into the Final Destination movies until the fifth, in which the very last scene drops a bridge on the sole surviving cast member, a black guy.
- Will Smith isn't even immune to this trope in a movie he's the lead in. Witness I Am Legend. Sure, 99% of the population has died by the time the show starts, and various Dark Seekers and animals, but Robert Neville is the first immune human to bite it. Admittedly, on his own terms, but still...
- It is notable however that in the Alternate ending, he actually lives, but with a much bleaker look for mankind as a whole.
- The Bucket List, which is about two men who both realize that they are going to die, has Morgan Freeman's character die first at the end.
- Both Kung Fu Panda movies open with this trope; the rhinoceros characters are consistently played by black voice actors, most prominently Michael Clarke Duncan, and they die (in the first movie, in droves) first.
- In Three Hundred, Leonidas kicks the black messenger down a well.
- Real Genius opens with a bunch of military and intelligence bigwigs discussing a space-laser-based assassination system. The one black man at the table gets up, announces that he has moral qualms about the project, and asks to be reassigned. After he leaves the room, one of the other bigwigs says "We may have to liberate him." Another says "Liberate? As in 'liquidate?'"
- State of Play begins with a black thief being shot to dead.
- A Christmas Story: When Ralphie gets his BB gun and fantasizes about shooting the villains, the black guy gets shot first.
- Sanctum is a sort-of case; the first male character to die (a woman dies earlier) is a New Guinea native, dark-skinned but not African.
- Chronicle, which otherwise does a pretty good job of averting or subverting most sci-fi/superhero tropes, plays this straight. The first character to die by Andrew's hands was Steve, the only black character with telekinesis.
- Played straight after the opening scene in Fridaythe13th Part 3. The three bikers are all black, and they get killed off one by one.
- John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars has a triple-header: Braddock, the first of the main cast to die, is black, a woman, and a lesbian.
- Averted in Attack the Block... sort of. The first people to die are a pair of white police officers, but the first named character to die is black, as is every other casualty. All the white characters survive. However, Moses and Biggz both survive and Moses is the one who ultimately saves the day.
- Inverted in Independence Day. The hero is black and sidekick/comic relief is white. The white guy is the first named character to die in the movie.
- Averted in Captain America: The First Avenger. Out of the military group that fights with Steve Rogers, his white best friend ends up dying first, not the black soldier who was equally in danger during the train scene.
- Averted in Battleship, surprisingly enough, given that Cora Raikes is not only black, but a gun toting weapons specialist and the only other female lead in this film.
- In The Call Up Shooter who seems like the most capable one of the group with an actual military background is the first to get killed off.
- In Percy Jackson and The Olympians's fifth book, Beckendorf is the first to die (in a Heroic Sacrifice, but still). On the one hand The Last Olympian was his debut as a major character (he had been more of a background figure before). On the other, given Bianca and Zoe in The Titan's Curse, he's not exactly the first major character to die in the series.
- Subverted in The Film of the Book--while Grover stays in the Underworld so the others can leave, he returns by the end of the movie, and appears to have had quite a good time with Persephone.
- The novel Morrigan's Cross by Nora Roberts. It's pretty obvious what's going to happen because (a) he is the only black guy, and (b) there's 4 guys and 2 girls and it's a romance novel, so you have to get another girl in the mix somehow.
- In Dan Abnett's Ravenor Returned, dark-skinned Zeph Mathuin is the first of Ravenor's warband to die "on camera."
- While on the Subject of Dan Abenett. In BloodPact Usain Edur the Black Commisar is the First named Character to die. This stranged considering that he survived the last book. Averted with the only Black Ghost howve who is also the only Verghast scout a scout how ever he is also a very minor charcater.
- Though not the first death in the series, Ajihad is the first to die in the second book of the Inheritance Cycle.
- Discussed in Everworld, as a joke from Christopher to Jalil.
- In Death: Judgment In Death has a black cop named Kohli be the first murder victim.
- Tiberius in Robopocalypse, in what appears to be a trap set by the Big Bad to kill the rest of Brightboy squad as they march to Alaska. It slightly works.
Live Action TV Edit
- A Star Trek the Next Generation example - in "Where Silence Has Lease" an alien face on the viewscreen says that he wants to understand death by way of killing about half the crew and starts by killing the pilot, the spot normally manned by Wesley Crusher. But he's away from the post at the time, the only time in the whole episode, replaced by a Red Shirt black guy.
- In an alternate timeline of Star Trek Enterprise wherein the Xindi are successful in their genocidal bid to eradicate humanity, Travis Mayweather is the first of the main characters to die.
- There are also examples of black Red Shirts all throughout the Star Trek universe who die before their similarly-garbed comrades.
- An aversion: Early in the Star Trek the Original Series episode “By Any Other Name”, the alien Kelvans reduce two Red Shirts to blocks: Lieutenant Shea, a black guy, and Yeoman Thompson, a woman. The Kelvan leader crushes one block, killing that crewmember, and restores the other block; Thompson’s the dead one, and Shea is restored to normal.
- The first person to die in the pilot of Andromeda is a young black officer named Thompson. He's named after Cronan Thompson, a young black internet personality who was involved in many online arguments with the show's creator, Robert Wolfe. Cronan died of cancer at 19, and Wolfe included Thompson in his pilot as a tribute.
- In the New Zealand TV 3 docu-series Aftershock, the first person shown to die as a result of the Cook Strait earthquake is a Maori man.
- In BBC's Merlin, they added black knights to Uther's court. The Monsters of the Week seem to love killing them, and if a knight needs to die to establish the threat, it will be the black dude. Being a Black Knight in Merlin appears to be like being a Red Shirt in Star Trek. Heaven help you if you're a black Knight and wearing a red tunic.
- The first major character to be killed in the series was Tom, who is also black.
- Also from the BBC is Robin Hood. A couple of faceless Mooks die in the two-part pilot, but the first named character to die (get stabbed in the back, to be precise) is De Fourtnay, the Sheriff's Man-at-Arms. He was played by a black actor in a beret in a show set in 12th century England.
- Brother Tuck was played by David Harewood (black), and was one of the few characters to survive the Everybody Dies finale of the show.
- In Stargate Atlantis, although his death is ambiguous, the first character to leave the main cast is the black Lieutenant Ford.
- Lampshaded by Turk in the episode of Scrubs where LaVerne dies. "If this was a horror movie, I'd be afraid I'd be next. They always kill off the black people first." [sic]
- FlashForward, in a surprise twist, Al is the first character to die by jumping off a roof to prove that what happens in a Flash Forward isn't necessary the future.
- In the pilot episode of The Greatest American Hero, the first person to die is Bill Maxwell's black partner.
- In Jekyll Benjamin is Hyde's first (human) kill. After Hyde has tortured, mauled and, um...done other things to people, the first time he actually takes a someone's life is to slice Benjamin's throat for threatening his family.
- The Doctor Who episode "The Time of Angels" wipes out two black guys first.
- In Rise of the Cybermen, when the eponymous robots attack Jackie's party, the black President dies first.
- The order is inverted in Vampires of Venice, The only black characters are the only people to die, a girl followed by her father's heroic sacrifice.
- The only black man on the pirate crew is the Siren's first onscreen victim in "Curse of the Black Spot".
- In the episode "Closing Time", the pre-credits death is that of a black woman, and in the episode proper the Scary Black Man security guard also bites it.
- Following a number of near-death experiences for various members of the Ashes to Ashes team, the first regular character to truly cop it is black desk sergeant Viv James.
- Technically, given what was revealed in the finale, Viv wasn't the first to die. But he was the only one that ended up in Hell, which is worse.
- Flashpoint: Of the main cast, the first cast member to die is Louis Young, the SRU's sole black officer.
- In the Pro-Life episode of the Masters of Horror series, the black security guard is the first to die.
- In The Outer Limits Revival episode "The Vaccine", the helpful young black man is the first of the group of survivors to die, when feral dogs attack him outside of the quarantine zone and compromise his environmental suit, exposing him to a lethal virus. Ultimately subverted, when he turns up alive at the end; the survivors lived not because they hadn't been exposed to the virus, but because they were immune.
Pro Wrestling Edit
- WWE's "The Nexus" faction is sort of doing this. Barring Daniel Bryan's legit firing, the first two guys officially dumped were black (Darren Young [beaten down and thrown out after losing to Cena] and Michael Tarver [taken out by Cena himself]). Also David Otunga looks to be the next guy to leave.
- Otunga split from the Nexus and formed The Corre which had another black guy Ezekiel Jackson. They were the first to be ejected, though at least Otunga was against their will.
- In a Fatal 4 Way elimination match in 2004, the first diva eliminated was Jazz but more infamously, when champion she was the first to be eliminated in the battle royal Gail Kim debuted in, because Victoria kicked her a little too hard, ensuring the title would change hands. Guess her ethnicity.
Video Games Edit
- The first named character to die in Metal Gear Solid was the black DARPA Chief, Donald Anderson. Subverted when it turned out that he was an albino disguising himself as Anderson, and then twisted back around again, because the real Anderson was killed off-screen before Snake's arrival.
- Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty is divided into two chapters. In both chapters, the first named character to die is a black man - Scott Dolph in the Tanker portion and Peter Stillman in the Plant portion.
- Apparently averted in Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater when Sigint lived through the end of the game. However, in Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns of the Patriots, it's revealed that Sigint was actually Donald Anderson, who was, of course, the first character to die in the very first Metal Gear Solid.
- Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns of the Patriots itself averts this, since the only two black characters in the game, Ed and Drebin, both managed to survive.
- In Fallout 3 the first character to die is the scientist Jonas who was a friend of your character's father. It's his death in fact, that kicks off the main storyline.
- Also, your character's mother at the very beginning, during the birthing sequence. (According to the ingame files, she's African American)
- In Crysis, the two black and one Hispanic teammates get eaten by aliens in the first couple of levels. One of the black teammates gets better, though.
- Oh, that black guy who got better? His name is Prophet, and he dies first in the sequel. Although he did get better...sort of. It Makes Sense in Context.
- In Siren: Blood Curse The black camera man Sol Jackson is the first to be killed. Then everyone goes back in time because Crazy Cult lady's plan got screwed over. Sol is alive again! ...Until he dies first a second time.
- A lot of people died in Dead Space before the Kellion crew (including player character Isaac Clarke) arrived, and he wasn't even the first of the Kellion's crew to die (a pair of redshirts bit it at the start), but Hammond was the first major character to bite it; torn limb from limb by a Brute.
- In Halo, the first major non-gameplay casualties are the black Sgt. Johnson's seven-man squad. Word of God indicates this was originally intended to stick.
- In Operation Winback for the N64, the main story involves tracking down your fellow squad members from whom you were separated. One of the first to be encountered is Matt, the black squad member, who instantly receives a sniper bullet to the face from one of the game's later bosses.
- The early Resident Evil games played this straight with the likes of Kenneth J. Sullivan (Resident Evil 1), Marvin Branagh (Resident Evil 2), and Tyrell Patrick (Resident Evil 3 Nemesis). While technically speaking none of them die first, they don't really contribute much in the story other than get killed as soon as they appear. The most egregious example listed is Marvin, who was actually intended to be an important side-character in the canceled first version of Resident Evil 2 (aka Resident Evil 1.5), but was Demoted to Extra in the actually released version.
- The first named character to die in Shin Megami Tensei Strange Journey is the token black man, Commander Gore, in the first hour of the game. But he later comes back as the Magical Negro.
- The first member of your squad to die in Blacksite: Area 51 is Mitchell Ambrose, the only black man. He's also introduced by showing you pictures of his family and was also going to ask for leave after this mission.
- In The Chzo Mythos game 7 Days a Skeptic, Barry dies first. The assignment also happens to be the last before his retirement, so he never really stood a chance.
- Also in Trilby's Notes, Abed is the first, and only, character to die. Unless you count the prologue and the flashbacks. Not a typical example since this happens near the end of the game.
- In the suicide mission at the end of Mass Effect 2, Jacob Taylor, the only black party member, volunteers for the first task. If you select him for this task, he gets shot in the face with a rocket. Avertable, if the player is Genre Savvy, or if you didn't upgrade the Normandy's weapons, shields, and/or armor (if any of the three are not upgraded, someone else dies, first). The player can also send ANYONE into the shaft and get any number of non-black crew members killed. They can also get the entire team out alive, thus sparing Jacob. So really, if Jacob dies first, one could argue that the player is the one enacting the trope.
- Inverted in Metroid: Other M. Anthony Higgs is the only member of the federation crew to survive the bottle ship incident.
- Played straight in Clive Barker's Jericho, where the Firstborn explodes two party members before the final battle. It actually targets Cole for trying to analyze it, but Jones stands closest to her and gets gibbed along with her. And true to the trope, Jones is blasted to chunks just one instant before Cole.
- In the 1st Degree has only character die. His name is Zachary Barnes, and he is a black guy shot dead by his white business partner James Tobin. Fortunately, the point of the game is to make sure Tobin goes all the way down for Zack's murder.
- In the Soldier of Fortune series, Hawk is the first named sympathetic (player's side) character to die.
- In Front Mission Evolved, Captain Hamilton is the first major NPC to die after being Impaled with Extreme Prejudice.
- Defied in Until Dawn. If you're going for an Everyone Dies playthrough, the first person you can get killed (by failing a bunch of QTEs) is Jessica, a sexy college babe. Matt, the black guy, can die second.
Web Comics Edit
- In Erfworld, Lord Manpower the Temporary is killed on page 2, and is black at the time. (Later, he's green, like the rest of the uncroaked.) Technically, though, he was the last of Stanley's warlords to die. Just the first dead character in the story proper.
- In Order of the Stick, Roy was the first PC to die.
Western Animation Edit
- Superman: The Animated Series, episode 'The Hand of Fate'. First demon to spring from the giant hole straight to hell goes straight for the black dude.
- Wolverine and the X-Men: Swat team flees from faceless terror in the middle of a blizzard. Black guy gets dragged off.
- In the Justice League Unlimited episode Dark Heart, Billy the rock climber gets eaten by the alien first. Given that he's not only black, but male, this overlaps with Men Are the Expendable Gender.
- The Wonder Woman movie's first lost on the good guy's side.
- On Total Drama Island, neither DJ nor Leshawna gets killed first during the horror movie challenge---but, DJ is the one to get voted off. The same thing happens in TDA.
- In Spaced Out a black Kratch Industries suit got dissolved by acidic pulp, which security aimed at an escaped experimental organism that had to be taken out at all cost.
- Lampshaded in the DVD extras for The Incredibles. In the "commentary" for an episode of an in-universe cartoon about Mr. Incredible, Frozone complains when his character is injured... "The black superhero gets it first". When Mr. Incredible reminds him that he had already complained about the show making "him" white, he amends it to "The TAN superhero gets it first!"
- Averted in the animated Transformers movie where Jazz is actually one of the few classic Transformers from the G1 franchise to actually survive the film's events. However, due to the death of his actor Scatman Crothers, Jazz mysteriously disappears by the time the third season premiered.
Comic Books Edit
- When Ambrose Chase dies in Planetary, the Genre Savvy villain comments that "this is science fiction movie. The black guy always dies in the science fiction movie." (They were in a reality-warping field that made reality follow movie cliches, so this was , literally, the reason he died.)
- Parodied in a comic by Jhonen Vasquez describing the worst movie ever made.
"In classic tradition, ethnicity means a deathmark, and a reason to motivate that noble white guy."
White guy: "AAARGH!! YOU KILLED BLACKY!!"
- In Kyle Barker's war comedy Special Forces the opening splash page of the very first issue is the black squad member's head exploding and the main character actually lampshading this quote in her narration.
- Evolution comically named this trope, but actually avoids it with a verbal Defied Trope. Since it's a rather light-hearted comedy, almost Everybody Lives.
- The guy who said it (Orlando Jones) had actually originally used the line in a Mad TV sketch.
- Parodied and defied in the first Scary Movie: after the Scream parody that opens it, a line of reporters discuss the story in front of the school. The last one is from BET (Black Entertainment Television), and the reporter declares "white folks are dead, we're gettin' the fuck outta here!" - at which point he and his crew jump into their van and speed off.
- Which was actually based off of a similar occurrence in Scream 2, where a black guy leaves town after a few bodies pile up. He lives.
- Also, it's discussed fully in another scene, with text to this effect:
"The worst thing a brother can do is to party with white people, 'cause you know you're gonna die first. You should all get out of here."
"W-what about me?"
- Lampshaded again in Scary Movie 2, when it's suggested they split up.
Brenda: Uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh UH! Now wait a minute, hold up! How come when anytime this scary shit happens, and we should stick together, you white people always say "let's split up"?
Theo: She's right, we should stick together.
Dwight: She's right. Okay.
[points to the white people in the group]
Dwight Hartman: You three, follow me!
[the three black people are left alone]
Shorty: Ain't that a bitch.
[the three of them begin to cry]
Brenda: We gonna die, y'all.
- Undercover Brother's Conspiracy Brother complains about this trope.
"Hey black man, turn on the power there's dinosaurs running around. Hey black man, look out he's got a gun!"
- The movie Canadian Bacon features a scene in which this theory is discussed, and various examples are given. It ends with the one black guy looking really nervous. He not only survives, though, he goes on to prove that black athletic superiority extends to hockey, too.
- Lampshaded and subverted in South Park Bigger Longer and Uncut, where Chef has joined the military, and is an all-black battalion - the only one there, in fact. The General wants to use them as "Operation: Human Shield" in conjunction with everyone else in "Operation: Get Behind The Darkies". Chef seems to be the only one to notice how much of a raw deal they're getting, and gets the rest of his group to abort the mission, leaving the soldiers behind to get blown up, though.
Chef: Operation Human Shield, my ass!
- Preacher of Deep Blue Sea is well aware of this trope, and records his legacy - the perfect omelet recipe - in anticipation of his death. He lives all the way to the end, although the other black character does die mid-way through the film.
Live Action TV Edit
- Wayne Brady on an episode of Whose Line is it Anyway during a game of Questions Only set at the Bates Motel, and also during a game of Themed Restaurant, with the theme being horror.
Wayne: "Am I going to be the first one to die, like I always am?"
- In an episode of Psych parodying slasher films, Gus refuses to leave the house because "I've seen enough slasher movies to know that when the brother goes off to the woods, he doesn't even sorta come back!" Ironically he not only survives, but is the ONLY person to not only survive a one-on-one fight with the killer. And he also WINS.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 7, the following exchange occurs after some of the potential slayers (including Rona, who is black) are "killed" in a training exercise:
Spike: OK, these two are dead. Why?
Rona: 'Cause the black chick always gets it first?
- In an episode of Married... with Children, Al, Jefferson, and Griff join the National Guard and have to quell some kind of riot. They've holed up inside a truck and Jefferson orders Griff to get out and do something (I forget what). Griff flat-out refuses, not wanting to be the one black guy to get killed while the white guys go home to their wives. Al, being Al, replies with "Sounds like we all lose."
- Lampshaded by Turk in the Scrubs episode "My Long Goodbye"
- A skit on Fridays called "The Moral Majority Variety Hour" included a magician who made the only black man in the audience disappear.
- In one rather funny moment on Smart Guy Moe and Marcus are sitting down to watch a scary movie. Marcus' girlfriend objects to the violence, Moe says he's only watching it for Jada Pinkett. Marcus and his girlfriend get into an argument about something else, and are suddenly cut off by loud screaming. Moe, oblivious to the argument, moans, "There goes Jada. Black folk always die first."
- During Community's Zombie Apocalyptic Halloween special Epidemiology this trope is inverted when Abed sacrifices himself to make sure that Troy escapes, though Troy gets infected only a scene or two later.
Abed: "Troy, make me proud. Be the first black man to get to the end."
- Parodied in Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy:
Damon: Why am I always the decoy?
Web Comics Edit
- In Bad Guy High a corrupted Super Dan killed jacob the black member of the team and its lamshaded
- Sort of referenced in this Captain SNES Halloween special, despite several people having died already.
- One of many horror movie cliches parodied in the "KITTEN" arc of Sluggy Freelance.
- Discussed in Ansem Retort, where Zexion notes that as long as the black dude is alive, the rest of them are safe. Then Namine points out that racism aside, they don't have a black dude.
Ooh, right. Yeah, we're gonna die. Painfully, too.
Web Original Edit
- This chart on GraphJam detailing the life expectancies of horror film characters.
- In SOTF-TV, the first character to die is Anthony Rollins, who is, well, black. He actually hangs a lampshade on this right before he dies.
"Really? I'm the black guy that dies first? I knew I could've done more for this fucking show working the camera."
- And this shows even polar bears are subject to this trope.
- Tobuscus lampshades this in his literal trailer of Shark Night, when the black man Malik is attacked.
- "She can't believe that THAT guy died first."
- The idea is repeatedly and viciously lampshaded in SF Debris review of the episode of the the Star Trek Enterprise Review of the aforementioned "Where Silence Has Lease".
"...And naturally there'd be no shortage of volunteers [From red-shirted black men for bridge positions]. People who've seen Science Fiction know the black dude dies first. And people who've seen the original series know the guy who beams down in a red shirt dies. So, black dude pluse red shirt equals get a bridge job as fast as you can and hope an alien doesn't show up on the view screen looking to kill people for no reason."
- and later. He does the voices of the various cast members to summarize the scene:
Negilum: "Now would be a good time to learn about death by killing one of you."
Riker: "Oh, no!"
Picard: "Oh, no!"
Troi: "Oh, no!"
Data: "Oh, no!"
Black Red-Shirt: "MOTHER FUCKER!" *dies*
Picard: "Send another red-shirted black fellow to the bridge."
Western Animation Edit
- Parodied in an episode of South Park, itself a parody of the movie The Core. In the original, a black scientist dies after engaging a switch deep while in almost direct contact with the Earth's mantle; in the parody, Cartman explicitly picks Chef as "the black man who will sacrifice himself". This is subverted, however, as Chef safely makes his way through the crowd of Hippies, does what was asked, and gets back... only for Cartman to keep going on as though Chef had died.
- The episode of The Simpsons with the infamous MENDOOOZZAAAAA! scream features Mc Bain's black partner getting killed.
- The animated series Funny Face has the black watermelon as the first and only character to die.