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"Why is it that when a black man shaves his head he looks like a super hero, but when a white man does it he looks like a serial killer?"
Chris Rock

This is most often seen in science fiction shows and video games, where (as the title implies) there is a futuristic democracy where the president (or other leader) is a black...and bald guy. The rest of the "council" or "committee" or "parliament" will be completely or almost completely whitewashed, and he will be the only black guy there. Apparently, there is something about being both bald and black which makes a leader popular enough to be elected, and that something doesn't work when you only have one of the two. This can also apply to leaders of other sorts of groups as well, as long as those groups are "good".

A possible reason for this trope is that both baldness and blackness are seen as being hyper-masculine, so if you want your leader to be a Manly Man, you make him bald and black. Baldness is masculine because male-pattern baldness tends to result from high levels of testosterone literally burning out the hair follicles that it stimulates. Blackness is commonly seen as masculine because the definitions of masculinity, much like most things, have become racialized in a way that reinforces certain stereotypes about non-white people. More specifically, the archaic idea that people of African ancestry (of both genders) are better suited to hard, physical labor than the supposedly superior white planters has survived to this day in the form of hyper-masculine imagery of black men (to say nothing of...other stereotypes of black masculinity). Then, of course, there is the notion that black men supposedly -- and frequently do -- pull off the bald look better than white men[1].

One possible reason for the "bald" part of this trope is that for black men to reach positions of authority in the Western world, they usually have to cut their hair very short. When left to grow naturally, a black person's hair can grow into what is normally called the "Afro" style. This hair style is often frowned upon in formal environments such as business or politics. See Funny Afro. As the afro is a natural racial trait for many black people, this can lead to Unfortunate Implications.

Possibly a form of a Token Minority. See also Bald of Awesome. His significantly less bald Distaff Counterpart is the Black Boss Lady.

Please make sure the character is actually bald when you post him. The buzz cut is quite popular among black men and is not the same thing as having no hair at all, and thus Barack Obama (for example) would not count unless he were to shave his head at some point in his term. There's a lot of space between "bald" and "afro".

Examples of Bald Black Leader Guy include:


Anime & Manga

Card Games

  • Teferi, from Magic the Gathering.
    • His baldness only becomes clear during Time Spiral; previously, his hairstyle was unknown due to his Nice Hat.


Comic Books

  • In the comic series Stormwatch, bald white guy Henry Bendix is technically the leader, but for the most part, field commander and bald black guy Jackson King (Battalion) calls the shots.
    • And he takes over for Bendix as Weatherman, too.
  • On a smaller scale, Cleon in The Warriors. Of course, he doesn't last.
  • Patriot from Young Avengers. I don't even think he has eyebrows.
  • Speaking of Marvel, there was also Synch from Generation X, though he wasn't really the leader.
  • Ultimate Marvel: Nick Fury. I don't know if he's officially the highest-ranking person in his organization, but he's clearly the guy calling the shots.
    • Lampshaded in the I'm a Marvel/I'm a DC shorts, where (white, red-haired) Nick Fury curses out his Ultimate replacement on a frequent basis.
    • Given that Ultimate Fury was explicitly based off of Samuel L. Jackson with his permission, AND played by him in the Iron Man movie, I think the man has all the angles covered.
  • From Marvel's Runaways series, an (evil) example: Geoffrey Wilder, leader of The Pride.
  • Luke Cage, in his current bald incarnation, was the unofficial leader of the New Avengers (or at least the main focus) incarnation after Cap died.
  • Still from Marvel, Lieutenant Stone, leader of the New York City Cops team Code: Blue.
  • For a non-superhero example, Reverend Harland Pepper of Stuck Rubber Baby.


Films -- Animation

  • The president of New Africa in The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat.
  • The government agent Cobra Bubbles in Liloand Stitch. Lampshaded near the end of the movie, when one of the aliens reminisces about a past meeting and comments, "You had hair then."


Films -- Live Action

  • Kenneth (played by Ving Rhames) in the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead 2004 is one of the main characters in a large cast and, being a police officer and former Marine, as well as one of the few calm and reasonable people in the mall, assumes something akin to a leadership position with in the group.
  • Seen in The Fifth Element, where the President of the Federated Territories is both bald and black.
  • The Squad leader from Resident Evil.
  • The crime lord Kingpin in the Daredevil movie. In the comics, he's white.
    • Obviously, only Michael Clarke Duncan is big and bald enough, and a good enough actor, to pull off the role.
      • Legendary Professional Wrestling Heel King Kong Bundy was going to play the Kingpin. He's six-and-a-half feet tall and weighs four hundred pounds (and he's white). The problem is, he wasn't that good of an actor.
    • In the original comic, the Kingpin was intended to be black. But given that the time he came out in was full of race riots and civil rights protests, the editors felt that a black crime-lord would be inflammatory.
  • Mace Windu in the Star Wars prequels was the leader of the Jedi Council (while Yoda was the Grand Master of the Jedi Order) until he stepped down to concentrate on kicking ass in the Clone Wars. In fact, almost any time Samuel L. Jackson is in anything. (Except Pulp Fiction, in which he has glorious hair, and the trope is instead covered by Ving Rhames as Marsellus Wallace.)
    • Like SWAT!
  • Morpheus in The Matrix.
    • Laurence Fishburne, again, in Event Horizon, this time as the captain of a spaceship.
  • The rebel leader in The Scorpion King. Although that film IS a Cliché Storm.
    • And he WAS played by Michael Clarke Duncan.
  • The leader of the Grammercy Riffs, an especially powerful gang in The Warriors.
  • In Land of the Dead, a big, bald, black zombie leads the other zombies to march on Fiddler's Green.
  • The trope is briefly discussed in "Facing the Giants" when the token minority teacher suggests that the coach may be getting hair plugs since the only white guy who is bald and looks cool is Kojak.
  • Avery Brooks in American History X. Yes, there's a theme going here.


Literature

  • Kingsley Shacklebolt becomes one at the end of 'Harry Potter -- he even becomes Minister for Magic.
  • Jon Arabin, or The Warwolf, in The Walrus and the Warwolf
  • Ajihad from Eragon is the leader of the rebel group.
    • Ajihad is probably the most Egregious example, considering that he is present in a world where nobody other than himself and his daughter are black (making his existence entirely inexpicable), and his only backstory is "he appeared mysteriously one day with his baby daughter, joined the Varden, and eventually became their leader". The only apparent reason for him to exist is purely for the sake of invoking this trope (before having a bridge dropped on him at the beginning of the second book).
      • Resolved in the Brisingr as the Nausuada's people are revealed and several people native to Surda are described as Ambiguously Brown. Of course, the introduction to Nasuada's tribe is a whole 'nother can of worms.
  • Trask from the Fablehaven series.
  • In Blood Pact, Gaunt's Ghosts get a Scary Black Man assigned as an Extra Commisar.no suprise he is also the first named character to die.

Live Action TV

  • Gunn from Angel, at least in his first few appearances.
    • He becomes one again in the comicbook continuation, After the Fall. Albeit an evil, vampire version.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has Captain Sisko. Interestingly, Sisko started out not being bald; he shaved his head around the same time he was promoted from Commander to Captain. The initial presence of hair on his head resulted from Executive Meddling, as the production team didn't want Sisko confused with Brooks' previous work as Hawk on Spenser For Hire.
    • And he shaved his hair and got the goatee back because he was doing Spenser TV movies at the time.
  • Avery Brooks as Hawk in Spencer For Hire, from 1985 to 1988.
  • The President of Great Britain in a Doctor Who Parallel Universe.
  • TJ, the Red Ranger during the second half of Power Rangers Turbo. Also, more in the spirit of the trope, Colonel Mason Truman in Power Rangers RPM.
  • President Wayne Palmer in 24.
  • Pretty much any Jaffa leader from Stargate SG-1.
    • Although there are several white and Asian leaders as well.
  • Onyx Blackman in Strangers with Candy is a Bald Black Despotic Tyrant Guy.
  • Parodied by Stephen Colbert, who once cited black presidents as the number one threat to America. Showing clips from 24 and Deep Impact, he claimed that clearly, whenever a black man is president, "something terrible happens".
  • Ted Shaw, commander of the Antares in Defying Gravity
  • Sgt. James Doakes from season 2 of Dexter.
  • Principal Steven Harper in Boston Public.
  • Admiral Fitzwallace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on The West Wing.
  • Sergeant Major Jonas Blaine, field commander of The Unit, is forced to go bald in a few episodes.
  • The President in Heroes is black and bald.
    • He is played by Michael Dorn
  • Special Agent/Colonel Broyles in Fringe
  • In The Adventures of Sinbad's second season, Rongar, who had been bald and black all along, was revealed to be a prince (technically, exiled ex-prince) in his home realm.
  • Cedric Daniels and Major "Bunny" Colvin on The Wire.
  • Mr. Moesby from The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.
  • Captain Roy Montgomery from Castle is this and very much a Benevolent Boss. Also, very awesome.
  • Principal Robin Wood in the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • Oenomaus/Doctore in Spartacus: Blood and Sand.
  • Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. In the second half of the show, he's a district judge. Also, in the final season, the Republican Party recruits him to run for another political position, though he decides to drop out of the election. Besides these, Uncle Phil is definitely a strong leader within his family and becomes Will's father figure.
  • In Chuck, Mike Tucker is the bald, black manager of the Buy More—though he's really more of a figurehead as he's about as interested in doing any work as the rest of the staff (i.e. not very) and so it's Chuck who ends up doing most of the actual leading, in between saving the world.
  • In the fifth season of Criminal Minds, when Hotch temporarily steps down, Morgan was briefly the team leader because The Reaper was back to hunt down Hotch.


Video Games

  • Casper Orillion from Freelancer. He founded The Order, the so-called "terrorist group" that ultimately saved all humans in the Sirius Sector from a certain Nomad cleansing.
  • In the Xenosaga games, "Representative Helmer", the leader of Second Miltia, is both bald and black.
  • "Sarge" Redford in Battlefield: Bad Company has an unknown level of baldness (He wears a hat, but some hair can be seen otherwise, so he's at least not entirely bald for sure), but leads the rather bumbling squad, sometimes serving as the Only Sane Man alongside Marlowe. Earlier teasers showed him as bald, though.
  • The sort-of-leader of the IRIS rebel network in Beyond Good and Evil, Hahn, is an extremely large, sort-of-black and sort-of-Asian man. (The actual leader, Da Chief, is...elsewhere.)
  • Dead Space has Zach Hammond, security officer and leader of your party. Hints are dropped that he might know more than he lets on...until it's shown that it's Kendra who's actually the Mole. Hammond is just as much in the dark as you are.
  • Second Sight gives us one of these as the head of the paramilitary organization you're allied with. On the plus side, you also get a Mexican as the weapons specialist, albeit one with a thick accent who's the first to get shot.
  • Possibly subverted by DHS agent Brad in Dead Rising. He doesn't seem to have any authority over anyone besides his partner Jessie, and while he may be the one allegedly supplying food and essentials to the growing survivor population in the sealed Security Room, he doesn't hold a candle to Frank, who, blessed with incredible charisma, can lead large posses of frightened people through throngs of the undead.
  • Michael Chain of F-Zero-GX, leader of the Bloody Chain gang.
  • Prophet of Crysis is your squad leader, spending the entire game giving out orders using the radio.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, the player meets the Hidden Bek gang on Taris, led by one of these. The player and the Bald Black Leader Guy (depending on player choices) can end up helping each other out for mutual benefit. It counts because the Beks are more about security and brotherhood, while their rivals are just trying to take over the under-city.
    • Also, Jolee Bindo. Not quite the leader, but as the oldest member of your party, he offers a lot of guidance and still kicks ass.
  • Chris Jacobs from Mercenaries.
  • Irving Lambert for most of the Splinter Cell series...Yet he managed to get it back in Double Agent.
  • Commander Gore from Shin Megami Tensei Strange Journey.
  • Josh, the leader of the BSAA Delta team from Resident Evil 5.
  • Captain Anderson of Mass Effect is pretty much one of these. He can even end up leading Humanity
  • Final Fantasy XII gives us Reddas, the Pirate King of Balfonheim, and ex-Judge Magister under the name of Foris Zecht. He's a bit on the Ambiguously Brown side, but completely bald except for a fluffy white beard.
  • Gears of War 3 adds the character of Griffin, an energy-magnate-turned-post-apocalyptic-warlord living in the ruins of a city hit with a Kill Sat some ten years previous. Hypermasculine indeed.
  • General Horace Warfield from Starcraft 2 may or may not be bald (it's hard to tell under the Power Armor), but he is every inch a Four-Star Badass.
  • Coach from Left 4 Dead 2 usually acts as the leader of the game's four man ensemble.
  • Diablo's Tyrael is one.


Web Original

  • In The Gamers Alliance, Ismail is a bald, black man who becomes the captain of the Black Guard of Vanna.
  • Tech Infantry has Abdul Johnson, Chairman of the Grand Council, and Rashid King, head of Internal Security and the power behind the throne. Both are Black Muslims, although their hairstyle is never quite made explicit.


Western Animation

  • The Venture Brothers episode Tag Sale - You're It! begins with such a guy leading a squad of OSI agents. They're careful not to anger him, perhaps out of fear that he'll make them wear frilly dresses, which he seems quite intent on doing.
  • Green Lantern John Stewart in Justice League Unlimited.
  • South Park parodies examples of this in Ass Burgers, which lampshades the frequency of the trope:

 Leader: The world around us has turned completely to shit, but aliens are putting out a brainwave that keeps most people seeing a false reality.

Stan: Aliens?

Leader: ...or robots from the future. Whatever.

[Later]

Leader: (Firing shotgun) You vampire sons-of-bitches!

  • In ThunderCats (2011), Old Soldier and Four-Star Badass Panthro takes on this role in his debut. Having singlehandedly rescued the rest of the Thundercats from a tight spot, he's incredulous at their lack of "adult supervision" and young king Lion-O's impulsiveness, in particular. Panthro demands they defer to him on a shared mission and refuses to acknowledge Lion-O as his liege until Lion-O proves himself in battle.


Web Comics

  • Roy in Order of the Stick.
    • Also, the King of Nowhere, who happens to look almost identical to Roy.
      • And the king of the Empire of Tears, who also looks very much like Roy. One begins to notice a pattern.
      • Except that, considering the somewhat minimalistic art style, all it means is that any given Bald Black Leader Guy may bear a resemblance to another Bald Black Leader Guy. Because they're bald. And black.


Real Life

%Do not add Barack Obama as an Aversion% %This is an admin request%

  • Michael Jordan, arguably, is black and bald and was the uncontested leader of his team, his league, and, well, his sport's history.
    • And after retiring (the second time), he became a team president with the Washington Wizards, ended up making another comeback with his new team, then later became first a minority owner and then the majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, who coincidentally made the playoffs for the first time in their brief team history the year that he became majority owner. So yeah, he probably qualifies.
  • Some leaders of African countries who fit this trope:
  • Samuel. Leroy. Motherfucking. Jackson. That is all.
  • Howard Jones, lead singer of Killswitch Engage.
  • As seen above, Ving Rhames, Tommy Lister Jr and Michael Clarke Duncan have made their careers playing this archetype.

%Do not add Barack Obama as an Aversion% %This is an admin request%

Notes

  1. especially given that totally shaven heads on white guys can have scary subcultural associations
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