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 You're Not on the List.

From TV and movies, one gets the impression that a bouncer is a large person, whose main job is to turn away the business of people who are insufficiently cool, or to provide an escort out for those customers who have lost their cool after admittance. They also oversee the Wannabe Line.

In truth, most real-life club bouncers have far more prosaic duties; their job consists primarily of checking ID, tossing out rowdy customers and often includes acting as the bar's janitor.

That said, some clubs in New York City do use bouncers to screen incoming patrons for whatever reasons. The practice started with Studio 54 in the 1970s, when the owner empowered his bouncers as doormen and made admission to the discotheque arbitrarily selective (for non-celebrities, at least). This was an intentional ploy to build up the mystique of the club, and it worked like a charm. It was subsequently copied by clubs all over the city and beyond, and the entire practice has become rooted in pop culture as the "usual" way things are done. Which it isn't, of course, since most night clubs can't afford to be picky about their patrons.

Often overlaps with Scary Black Man, and he's sometimes the only person of color on the show.

Examples of Bouncer include:


  • A&W hires one in this commercial.

Anime and Manga

  • Richard Filth, from Baki the Grappler. An American bouncer who fights by letting people hit him until their hands or weapons break. Out of respect, Orochi Doppo challenges him in a suit, and rather than use his karate, stands face to face with him and trades punches in a battle of sheer toughness.


  • The bar Kadie's in Sin City is shown to have a bouncer. About the only thing he gets to do is to fail to realize Marv is a regular and, armed with this piece of ignorance, try to deny him entrance to the bar and insult him. It does not end well for him.


  • Of all tropes, this might've been the least likely to get deconstructed, but it did, in Knocked Up. After enough persistent pestering, the black bouncer takes Debbie aside to confide that he hates his job, as he doesn't enjoy turning away everyone over a certain age, or fitting people into quotas such as "5% black."
  • The main character in Road House is a legendary bouncer who works at a rowdy road house.
  • You have to be some kind of supernatural being or at least psychic to get into Midnite's club in Constantine. The bouncer is armed with a tarot deck, and holds up a card to each patron. You can only get in if you correctly tell him what's on the back, without seeing it. They also seem to check your state of mind. After getting in with no problem earlier in the film, Constantine is refused entry when he comes back seeking Midnite's assistance against the legions of hell.
  • The protagonist of After Hours faces a bouncer who accepts money from him but still won't let him in the club, which the bouncer justifies by quoting Franz Kafka.
  • Budd from Kill Bill worked as a bouncer (and apparent custodian) in a strip club.


  • Detritus the troll, in his earlier appearances in Discworld was a "splatter" for the Mended Drum. (So called because, when Detritus throws you off the premises, you don't bounce).
  • In Steve Perry's The Man Who Never Missed, Dirisha, Sleel and Bork are the bouncers at Khadaji's Jade Flower tavern. To decide who he was going to hire, Khadaji had the tables bolted to the floor, then asked each applicant to move on. Dirisha tried to lift one and failed, stooped down and studied how it was fastened, then set herself and pulled it loose; Sleel tore the top off of his, then used it to batter the base loose; Bork simply reached out and grabbed the base, held it up and said, "Where do you want it?", apparently not even noticing that it had been bolted down at all. Needless to say, with bouncers like that on duty, very few troublemakers stick around the Jade Flower.

Live Action TV

  • Show up a few times on How I Met Your Mother. They're usually portrayed as pretty nice guys, actually.
  • An episode of That 70s Show involved the gang trying to get past a bouncer into a nightclub.

Newspaper Comics

  • One Bloom County series of strips had Opus as the bouncer for the Bloom County New Year's party. At first we just see him whapping Steve Dallas on the head with a ruler, but in the next day's strip he takes down a big burly biker (off-screen, of course), and the storyline ends with him throwing a drunken Steve out the door when he refuses to accept that the party's over and go home.

Video Games

  • Rare female example; King from the Art of Fighting and King of Fighters games. You probably don't want to be the guy who starts trouble at the club she works at (unless you're one of the games' protagonists of course).
  • Naturally, the Play Station 2 launch title The Bouncer by Square Enix is all about this trope...except they don't actually do a lot of bouncing in the game at all.
  • Each location in The Urbs: Sims in the City except for the apartments, has a midnight party in a room guarded by a bouncer. You have to get your popularity high enough to be recognized by the bouncer and let in. You must enter the party to get a Power Social to use against a crook that steals money from people to get him to go away for good.
  • Mass Effect 2 features a Funny Background Event in the Afterlife nightclub on Omega: an elcor doorman, an alien species whose hat amounts to "very patient, very polite gorilla". Of course, Aria maintains a more traditional selection of bouncers/generic goons for actually kicking people out and/or roughing them up, but it's the thought that counts.
    • It becomes less funny when one considers that according to the Codex Elcor can punch through the average non-military starship's hull. It means that he probably can't even throw anyone out (he'd splatter them with a touch) but it does ensure no one tries to pick a fight with anyone under risk of that.

Western Animation

  • In Mission Hill, Andy and his friends create a club in which no one but them can get in because they were turned away by a bouncer at the club across the street. Said "club" (a maintenance closet) is shown to be so exclusive, nobody can get in outside of three extremely hip people and an apparently hip baby. Naturally, this makes it the hottest club in town in no time.
  • The one butch robot clone in the Time Squad episode "Day of the Larrys" acts as a bouncer, preventing the original Larry from entering the gay disco his clones created. He even asks him, "Are you on the list?"

Real Life

  • Mr. T started as a bouncer. His habit of wearing loads of jewelry started with property he pulled off of people he was ejecting from his club.
  • John Goodman of Roseanne fame had a job as a bouncer when he was younger but quit almost immediately when the management began teaching him techniques on how to beat people up.
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