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The Greatest Black Characters in Film History 

Ranker Film
Originally by
Updated January 16, 2020 11.5k votes 980 voters 34.8k views 118 items

Virgil Tibbs, "Red" Redding, Jules Winnfield... This is a list of the all time greatest black characters in film, ranked as the best in film history by movie lovers everywhere. This list has the best black characters in film, portrayed by award-winning actors and featured in some of the greatest films ever made. Who are the all time best black characters in film?

From classic films like Hotel Rwanda, The Color Purple, and Jerry Maguire, the characters on this list are also some of the best characters in film history. Many of the actors who portrayed these classic black film characters received numerous awards for their notable performances. This includes some of the best black actors of all time, such as Denzel Washington and Sidney Poitier.

Cast your votes for the black characters listed here that you believe are the best of all time. And, if the black characters you think are the greatest are missing, add them below to complete the list.

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list ordered by
1
Jules Winnfield is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Black Characters in Film History
Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction
2
Ellis Boyd 'Red' Redding... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Black Characters in Film History
Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption
3
John Coffey is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Black Characters in Film History
Michael Clarke Duncan in The Green Mile
4
Django is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Black Characters in Film History
tc11 added
5
Morpheus is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Black Characters in Film History
Laurence Fishburne in Sex and the Matrix
6
Apollo Creed is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Black Characters in Film History
Carl Weathers in Rocky IV
7
Agent Jay is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Black Characters in Film History
Will Smith in Men in Black
8
Storm is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Black Characters in Film History
FranciscodeSouza added Halle Berry in X-Men
9
Malcolm X is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Black Characters in Film History
Denzel Washington in Malcolm X
10
Virgil Tibbs is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Black Characters in Film History
Sidney Poitier in In the Heat of the Night
11
Frozone is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Black Characters in Film History
Samuel L. Jackson in The Incredibles
12
Minny Jackson is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Black Characters in Film History
Octavia Spencer in The Help
13
Roger Murtaugh is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Black Characters in Film History
Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon 4
14
Axel Foley is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Black Characters in Film History
RobLein added Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop III
15
Detective Lt. William So... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Black Characters in Film History
Morgan Freeman in Seven
16
Captain Steven "Ste... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Black Characters in Film History
Will Smith in Independence Day
17
Tina Turner is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Black Characters in Film History
FranciscodeSouza added Angela Bassett in What's Love Got to Do with It
18
Benjamin Buford "Bu... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Black Characters in Film History
RobLein added Benjamin Buford "Bubba" Blue Mykelti Williamson in Forrest Gump
19
Nick Fury is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Black Characters in Film History
Tom Islava added Samuel L. Jackson in Ultimate Avengers
20
Black Panther is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Black Characters in Film History
Jeffrey D. Sams in Ultimate Avengers 2
21
Oda Mae Brown is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Black Characters in Film History
FranciscodeSouza added Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost
22
Gunnery Sergeant Emil Fo... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Black Characters in Film History
Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley
23
Lando Calrissian is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Black Characters in Film History
slaft added Billy Dee Williams in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
24
Winston Zeddemore is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Black Characters in Film History
Marina Figueroa added Ernie Hudson in Ghostbusters
25
John Shaft is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Black Characters in Film History
Samuel L. Jackson in Shaft