Sassy Black Woman

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I got this black chick that don't know how to act
She's always talking out her neck, making her fingers snap
She says, "Listen, Jiggaman, I don't care if you rap"

"You better R-E-S-P-E-C-T me"
Jay Z, "Girls, Girls, Girls"

Since the era of Jim Crow, black people could be more outspoken—to a point, particularly if they were female. To illustrate this, Sassy "Mammy" figures could scold the family they worked for and playfully berate their employers (to show that Blacks were not being oppressed). As the Civil Rights movement came up in the 60s, black people in media could be more outspoken. And because of feminism, the same thing applied for women. Combine these, and you get the sassy black woman. It started with the heroines of Blaxploitation movies, like Coffy and Foxy Brown (both played by Pam Grier), and continued into the 1980s.

She's defined by her vivaciousness, humor and joie de vivre, and can make a good counterpoint to the more grim or snarky members of the cast. In complete contrast to her other variation, is not only a pleasure to be around, but is also so the go to girl for advice and help. These characters usually make good leaders, because though generally fun, insightful, they are still firm in decisions, trustworthy, and speak their minds. Also like the Spicy Latina, the character will usually be sexually liberated and have no qualms acting in a sexual manner, though usually in a less pronounced manner. The positive version is now portrayed a lot more than the negative version, mainly because of the Unfortunate Implications, that portraying black women in only this way had. It's also rather common for the positive variant to be the Only Sane Woman of a group, in which case her "sass" will be more like "exasperated sarcasm".

The odds that she's a Fag Hag are directly proportionate to her weight. Arguably the Distaff Counterpart to the Scary Black Man, though she can be quite scary herself when pissed off. Might also be a white character's Black Best Friend. Close cousin to the Spicy Latina.

And no real life examples, 'cuz I ain't accepting them, a'ight?

Examples of Sassy Black Woman include:


Advertising[edit | hide | hide all]

  • A fried chicken restaurant in Philadelphia invokes this trope by having the cashier be a sassy black lady who'll insult you if you take too long in ordering, amongst other things. The place has loyal customers, and tourists go just for the experience.

Comics[edit | hide]

Amanda Waller: (While threatening murderous convicts to back down) I am fat, black, and menopausal. You do NOT want to mess with me!

  • One of Black Panther's Dora Milaje (personal bodyguards) was a Sassy Black Woman, introduced giving The Hulk a Character Filibuster about social injustice.
  • T'Challa's sister Shuri, and current Black Panther.
  • Vixen, even on her worst days is a sassy, level headed woman.
    • Which led to interesting verbal conflicts with Amanda Waller, noted above, when they bickered at the time Vixen served in her Suicide Squad.
  • Natasha Irons, Vaporlock, Steel's niece.
  • Ant.
  • Misty Knight, mainly because of her no nonsense attitude.
  • Anissa and Jennifer Pierce (Thunder and Lightning), the daughters of hero Black Lightning.
  • Raquel Ervin, Rocket from Icon.
  • Bumblebee from Teen Titans and Doom Patrol.
  • Agent 355 from Y: The Last Man.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Whoopi Goldberg in many of her roles. Sister Act for example.
  • Any role played by Mo'nique.
  • Queen Latifah in most of her roles. Hell, make that every female rapper who ever appeared in a movie.
  • Domino had a whole crew of bank-robbing sassy black women.
  • As has Set It Off (Including Latifah again).
  • This was played deadly straight with the health insurance lady in 2004's Crash (played by Loretta Divine, another actress famous for this role). Granted, the way the racist policeman treated her, this wasn't "sassyness" so much as perfectly reasonable behavior. However, even the most enlightened viewer couldn't help but wince at the name "Shaniqua Johnson".
  • Wanda Sykes in any role she's ever played. She's a lot like this in real life as well.
  • Abernathy and Kim from the latter part of Grindhouse: Death Proof qualify, Kim more than Abernathy.
  • The 2008 drama Fireproof has an entire posse of these characters working at the hospital. Of course, they spend an inordinate amount of time gossiping about the (white) heroine's love life.
  • Effie White in Dreamgirls
  • The Chorus Girls from Little Shop of Horrors, and their Expies, the Muses in Disney's |Hercules.
  • The Dynamites and Motormouth Maybelle from Hairspray. Extra points since the latter is played by Queen Latifah in the latest film.
  • In National Treasure, Abigail meets one while hiding from a goon.
  • Possible early example: Annie the maid in It's a Wonderful Life, who certainly wasn't shy about speaking her mind. "I heard it; it's about time one'a you lunkheads SAID it!"
  • Mammy, as played by Hattie McDaniel, from Gone with the Wind. She does such an awesome job as Mammy that she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar that year. What a character.
  • Jackie Brown, by Quentin Tarantino. The film is a throwback to movies like Coffy and Foxy Brown and also stars Pam Grier as the epononymous Jackie Brown.
  • Rosario Dawson, who combines this with Badass Spaniard (not to mention Latin Lover), has been called by some the Y-Generation's Pam Grier.
  • Terry from Angels Revenge.
  • Dre's mother in the 2010 remake of The Karate Kid.
  • Tyler Perry's Madea.
  • Ronnie's wife in Halloween: H20.
  • An odd variation, in Psycho Beach Party Chicklet's second Split Personality is one of these... even though Chicklet is a white surfer chick.
  • D.E.B.S. has the team's leader Max.

Max: Who's your best friend?
Amy: You are my best friend.
Max: And what did I say to you the very first day at the Academy?
Amy: That's my bunk, bitch.

  • Honey, Frozone's wife from The Incredibles.
  • Maggie from 13 Ghosts, who spends most of the film being an annoying and ineffectual baby sitter but accidentally saves the day in the end.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Mammy from Gone with the Wind is awfully outspoken, especially considering the fact that she's a slave in the first part.
  • Topsy and Cassy from Uncle Tom's Cabin.
  • Lula in the Stephanie Plum novels.
  • Older Than Print: Perhaps the most unlikely example of this is the eponymous Brunhild the Moor, official prosecuting attorney for the goddess Venus, in a 15th century German poem, Die Mörin, who spends most of the poem shamelessly abusing the author-hero, Hermann von Sachsenheim.
  • Jessica in the Undead And ... vampire series. Also the heroine's Black Best Friend.
  • Ray Epps' wife in the novelization of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen fits this. Also a bit of a Crowning Moment of Awesome in that she managed to get the good guys a piece of very vital, hard-to-relay-without-getting-caught information under the guise of wanting her husband to pay for plastic surgery.
  • While only half black, Kyra Davies from the Allys World series fits the trope, but is portrayed almost unwaveringly positively.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • There was a Saturday Night Live skit about The View where "Barbara Walters" was calling out all the stereotypes that the hosts fit into. Star Jones was "a sassy black woman like I've seen on TV."
    • Maya Rudolph has been known to play this type of character. She tends to go beyond merely being "sassy" and just be downright rude.
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun further combines this with Sassy Secretary, and Nina is the result.
  • Tara, the Black Best Friend from True Blood.
    • Lafayette is a male version.
  • Noah's Arc: Similar to the Lafayette example above, the feminine, outspoken, sassy Alex fits the trope flawlessly.
  • Deputy Raineesha Williams from Reno 911!
  • In Ugly Betty, Ignacio's case worker is a sassy black woman who falls in love with him, much to his chagrin.
  • Mahandra from Wonderfalls.
  • Harriet Winslow, the elevator operator, in Perfect Strangers. Family Matters was originally supposed to be a show centering on her, since she was a particularly popular Sassy Black Woman. It didn't work. Seems to be a family trait, because both Estelle Winslow ("Mama" Winslow) and Laura are textbook examples of the Sassy Black Woman Syndrome.
  • Patti in Eli Stone (also a Sassy Secretary).
  • Willona Woods of Good Times - the Trope Codifier.
  • Helen of Drake and Josh.
  • Nurse Laverne Roberts of Scrubs. (mmmmmmmhmm!)
  • Rochelle, the mom, from Everybody Hates Chris. Tichina Arnold's character on Martin was pretty much the same.
  • Heylia in Weeds. One episode begins with her busting Conrad's balls about something and segues directly into Nancy lecturing Shane. It's made clear that Heylia gives Conrad less space than Nancy gives Shane, even though Shane's eleven and Conrad's a grown man.
  • Original Cindy on Dark Angel.
  • The Chief from Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? is a non-Jive Turkey-ing version of this. Lynne Thigpen was good.
  • Rosita from the 2008 Doctor Who Christmas special.
  • Destiny in One Life to Live; one of the more positive examples as he was introduced as a Foil/girlfriend for Matthew just as he's going through a very grim plotline.
  • Prosecutor Caroline Julian on Bones, in all her scene-stealing glory, is very much this.
  • Saaaaaandra Clark on 227.
  • Regina and Lovita on The Steve Harvey Show.
  • Mercedes, of Glee.
  • Bunifa Latifah Halifah Sharifa Jackson on Mad TV
    • Also, the hosts of Reality Check and the mother from That's My White Mama.
  • Rose, of Lost.
  • Two episodes of Frasier feature "Dr" Mary Thomas, initially hired as a part-time producer for Frasier's own show but whose witty interruptions, humorous asides and home-spun wisdom quickly come to dominate his show. Much mileage is wrought from Frasier's procrastination over putting a stop to this as he's terrified of being thought of as racist.
  • Arguably, Clarice from Boston Legal - even though Clarice was just a persona (and costume) adopted by super-shy man Clarence, Clarice was pretty much a stereotype of a sassy black woman.
  • Shirley in Community (when she's not overdosing on cute). Unlike most Sassy Black Women, she's quite well-rounded (especially for a half-hour Sitcom). Referred to as such in S01 E22 . "Oh No! Sassy Black Schmitty is out of the group"
  • Angie, Tracy Jordan's wife on Thirty Rock, is one in spades.
  • Marion Moseby's niece Nia in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.
  • Roxy from Hannah Montana.
  • Judy, Robert's partner on the police force in Everybody Loves Raymond, is an example of this trope.
  • Monk had Sharona get a friend from her creative writing class to replace her temporairly while she was suffering from a murderer's plot to make her think she was crazy. This woman was a bitchy sassy black woman who came almost close to be on the level of The Scrappy for being so damn annoying and unaccommodating to Monk and the rest of the cast.
  • Basically everyone on Girlfriends at one time or another, but mostly Toni.
  • Mrs. Freeman, Will's boss' secretary on Will and Grace
  • Aunt Viv on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, although more when she was played by Janet Hubert-Whitten than when she was played by Daphne Maxwell Reid. Never as much as her sister Helen:

Aunt Janice: (about her white fiance) I guess I was hoping...no one would notice?
Aunt Helen: Honey, who'd you think you was bringin' him home to, Stevie Wonder?

  • Roz of Night Court partially subverted this, being, basically the Scary Black Woman. She was more of a Deadpan Snarker, but could be quite sensitive and shy compared to Cloudcuckoolander Bull.
  • The Parkers are made of Sassy Black Women.
  • From what little we see of Doakes' family (his mother and sisters) in the TV version of Dexter, they're all sassy.
  • One of the earliest examples on TV was Geraldine Jones, a recurring character played by Flip Wilson (in drag) on his 1970s sketch comedy show. She originated the expression "What you see is what you get."
  • Tasha Mack on The Game. In a rare display on this trope, she's repeatedly called out and mocked for her behavior. Though everyone who does is only doing it in jest, there is at least one example of her sassyness causing her multi-episode relationship to fall out.
    • Also to be noted is that Tasha Mack is easisly the most negative version of this trope there is. Not only is she loud, she's also negative, jeolous, profane, ignorant, racist, over bearing, and generally a Bitch, as stated above.
      • Pretty much any sitcom with a predominently African-American cast(I.E.-Moesha, All Of Us, Eve, My Wife And Kids, The Bernie Mac Show, The Hughleys, For Your Love, One On One, Half And Half, etc) has at least one example of this trope.
  • Maxine, Khadijah, and Regine, from Living Single
  • The black women on Reality Shows tend to be of this variety, especially those on MTV (Gladys from Road Rules: Latin America stands out in particular, as she was booted early in the show for fighting). It's harder to find black female roommates/contestants who don't fit this stereotype.
    • Alicia Calaway from Survivor is another notable example. This famous scene pretty much exemplifies her sassiness.
      • Other Survivor alums of note include Sherea of China, Ghandia of Thailand, Candace of Tocantins, Yasmin of Samoa, and three-time competitor Cirie, though Cirie tends to be portrayed more often as friendly and sweet but quippy than outright sassy, and is also given considerable character depth.
      • Naonka of Nicaragua is one of the extreme negative versions, having taken an instant and vocal (to the Confession Cam) dislike to Jud (dubbed "Fabio" by his tribe, a male Dumb Blonde but a nice guy) and Kelly (who had her leg amputated at birth).
  • Mother and daughter Mary Lou and Ivy are both Sassy Black Women on Good Luck Charlie though Ivy has a bit of an edge on her mother since Mary Lou likes jigsaw puzzles and likes to sing "Row Row Row Your Boat" in German.
  • Cheryl, Kenan's mother on Kenan and Kel is fairly mellow but she shows signs of this in the episode where Chris moves into the house.
  • Raven from That's So Raven though it got cranked Up to Eleven when she guest starred on The Suite Life as the same character. Loca from Alana's Girl Posse manages to be both this and a Brawn Hilda as well.
  • Dr. Curtis Brumfield from Body of Proof is a Sassy Black Man.
  • A sketch on Mad TV titled "Be-bitched", parodying the TV series Bewitched, has Samantha (Nicole Sullivan) morph into a "bitchy" Debra Wilson whenever she performs magic.

Music[edit | hide]

  • The band role of Scary Spice aka. Mel B of the Spice Girls.


Musical[edit | hide]


Professional Wrestling[edit | hide]

  • Sharmell Huffman, Booker T's wife, was this in her initial face persona. "Can you dig it, sucka" sounded so much better when coming out of her mouth.
    • This made it all the funnier when, after Booker became King of the Ring, the two of them tried to pass themselves as Upper Class Twits.
  • Naomi Night on NXT season 3 who went so far as to call out Michael Cole.
  • Jacqueline Moore, when she actually spoke, managed the cigar smoking, beer chugging, poker playing APA and joined in just as well. In TNA she was also with their carbon copies Beer Money Inc.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Toejam and Earl III features Latisha, who's a Sassy... Blue Alien, which is close enough, since she's from a planet whose hat is Funk/Hip-Hop culture.
  • Rochelle of Left 4 Dead 2.
  • Sagitta Weinberg/Cheiron Archer from Sakura Wars can be this at times.
  • I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream has Ellen, whose sassy vernacular creates considerable cognitive dissonance in an incredibly bleak game about the end of the world. When confronted with a disembodied jumpsuit taking on the identity of her former rapist, Ellen calls him a "muthuh" and punches him out, to considerable Narm effect.
  • In Baten Kaitos Orgins Half of Guillo's voice is composed of one, the other half being a Samuel L. Jackson sound-alike. This works rather well for Guillo's near constant snark.
  • Jade from Mortal Kombat can be a variation of this, especially in the ninth installment.


Webcomics[edit | hide]


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Chaka of the Whateley Universe, who fits the positive example described above to a "T". And her mother. And her grandmother.
  • Keisha Fabo.
  • The titular bear in the second of the two infamous Purity Bear videos.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

Roger: What's goin' on? I can't hardly see! Hey Easter Island, move your fat head!

    • Also in an episode, they made fun of the sassy black woman in the workplace stereotype. An overweight black woman named Lorraine, displays all the negative stereotypes in an extreme sense, resulting her throwing acid in Francine's face.
  • Cassidy Williams uses this as her act as Angel Dynamite in "Scooby Doo Mystery Inc".
  • Rita the Afghan hound from Oliver and Company.
  • Donna and Roberta of The Cleveland Show. While Donna is a more straight example, Roberta is more of a variation.
  • Lampshaded in one episode of Batman Beyond, Terry's best friend Max gets kidnapped by Kobra (No not that Cobra). And Terry, in camouflage, overhears Max's kidnappers:

Kobra Advisor: She's rude, she's sarcastic, and she has absolutely no respect.
Terry: Gotta be Max.

  1. Odd bit of background on this one: the executives tried to tone her down, but most of her characterization came from her voice actress, Miss Kittie. The execs didn't have the sheer Balzac it took to ask a black woman to act less like herself to her face, and dropped the issue.