Watchworthy

The Best African American Characters in Film 

Ranker Film
Originally by
Updated July 4, 2020 16.4k votes 1.5k voters 117.1k views 122 items

List Rules Only film characters who are African American (so, Lando Calrissian doesn't count). Upvote the greatest characters in any movies.

A list of the all time greatest African American characters in film, ranked as the best in film history by movie lovers everywhere. This list has the best African American characters in film and includes photos and the film in which they appeared. Who are the all time best Black characters in film?

From classic films like The Green Mile, Shaft, and The Help, the characters on this list are also some of the best characters in film history. Many of the actors who portrayed these classic African American male and female film characters received numerous awards for their notable performances.

Characters on this list include Alonzo Harris, Morpheus, Blade, Sherriff Bart, Jules Winnfield, John Shaft, and Captain Rhodes. Cast your votes for the African American characters listed here that you believe are the best of all time. If the African American characters you think are the greatest are missing from the list, add them below to complete the list.

 

Data-driven recommendations based on voting from over 40 million monthly visits to Ranker. Try the free app
list ordered by
1
Malcolm X is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best African American Characters in Film
Denzel Washington in Malcolm X
2
John Coffey is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best African American Characters in Film
Michael Clarke Duncan in The Green Mile
3
Alonzo Harris is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best African American Characters in Film
Denzel Washington in Training Day
4
Tina Turner is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best African American Characters in Film
LanaYoshii added Angela Bassett in What's Love Got to Do with It
5
Ray Charles is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best African American Characters in Film
Jamie Foxx in Ray
6
Apollo Creed is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best African American Characters in Film
Carl Weathers in Rocky IV
7
Ellis Boyd 'Red' Redding... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best African American Characters in Film
Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption
8
Jules Winnfield is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best African American Characters in Film
Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction
9
Celie is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best African American Characters in Film
LanaYoshii added Whoopi Goldberg in The Color Purple
10
John Shaft is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best African American Characters in Film
Samuel L. Jackson in Shaft
11
Kunta Kinte is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best African American Characters in Film
LanaYoshii added Kunta Kinte LeVar Burton in Roots: The Gift
12
Coach Herman Boone is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best African American Characters in Film
Denzel Washington in Remember the Titans
13
Principal Joe Clark is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best African American Characters in Film
LanaYoshii added Principal Joe Clark Morgan Freeman in Lean on Me
14
Morpheus is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best African American Characters in Film
Laurence Fishburne in Sex and the Matrix
15
John Quincy Archibald is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best African American Characters in Film
John Quincy Archibald Denzel Washington in John Q
16
Aibileen Clark is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best African American Characters in Film
Viola Davis in The Help
17
Minny Jackson is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best African American Characters in Film
Octavia Spencer in The Help
18
Axl Foley is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best African American Characters in Film
Axl Foley
19
Roger Murtaugh is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best African American Characters in Film
Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon 4
20
Benjamin Buford "Bu... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best African American Characters in Film
Benjamin Buford "Bubba" Blue Mykelti Williamson in Forrest Gump
21
Agent Jay is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best African American Characters in Film
Will Smith in Men in Black
22
Mammy is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best African American Characters in Film
LanaYoshii added Hattie McDaniel in Gone with the Wind
23
Blade is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best African American Characters in Film
Wesley Snipes in Blade: Trinity
24
Virgil Tibbs is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best African American Characters in Film
Sidney Poitier in In the Heat of the Night
25
Tiana is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best African American Characters in Film
Anika Noni Rose in The Princess and the Frog