Tall, Dark and Handsome

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"You will have the tallest, darkest leading man in Hollywood."
Merian C. Cooper to Fay Wray

Well, Everyone Loves Blondes, Heroes Want Redheads, and of course there's the sensual Brunette. But for men, there seems to be one main perceived ideal: Tall, Dark, and Handsome. Sometimes, it's a Tall, Dark, and Handsome Stranger.

Tall, Dark and Handsome Stranger was a pulp fiction trope, particularly in mystery novels. Romance novels still play it straight sometimes. This then led to a Tall, Dark and Handsome casting trope for leading men: Clark Gable, etc. This is also one of the defining attributes of the Latin Lover stereotype. A handsome black man can be described as such too, though anyone with the height and dark hair can pull it off. (After all, Blond Guys Are Evil.)

Being one of the oldest tropes in the book, it's nowadays more often used in subversions and deconstructions. The actual invocation of the trope Tall, Dark and Handsome Stranger is often parodied, or might be played straight but usually isn't highlighted if it is.

Related Tropes named for this trope:

-- Tall, Dark and Bishoujo (Distaff Counterpart)
-- Tall, Dark and Snarky (Combined with Deadpan Snarker or Gentleman Snarker)
Examples of Tall, Dark and Handsome include:


Examples when the trope is invoked, parodied and/or subverted[edit | hide | hide all]

General[edit | hide]

  • Best known example (and, maybe, the Ur Example) would be a Roma fortune teller prophesizing that her female customer will meet a Tall, Dark and Handsome Stranger.


Anime and Manga[edit | hide]


Fanfic[edit | hide]


Film[edit | hide]

  • As noted above, the director of the original King Kong truthfully promised Fay Wray that she would be working with the "tallest, darkest" leading man in the world. Although a bit of a stretch: the actual Kong ligature used for most scenes was only about sixteen inches tall.
  • The Man with the Golden Gun: One of Fransisco Scaramanga's associates describes him in this way to Bond. Bond remarks that his aunt matches that description, too.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • In Good Omens, Anathema Device hoped that the man she was prophesized to meet would be a Tall, Dark and Handsome stranger. Turned out, the stranger in question was Newton Pulsifer. She decided that she could live with two out of three.
  • In Anne of Green Gables, our heroine, who has read too many nineteenth-century romance novels, expresses a desire for this kind of man. And for a year and a half, she has one (did we mention the guy's filthy rich as well?), until she realizes how empty a life with him would be, for he's also dull as powder (to borrow a term from Little Women).
    • Hilariously, the man she had rejected once before but ultimately ended up marrying—Gilbert Blythe—was constantly described in the books as being tall, dark, and handsome.
  • Smasher, a puppy from the Dick King-Smith book of the same name, asks whether his father was like this. His mother says yes, and that Smasher is going to be just like him. However Smasher is actually really ugly and described as looking like the offspring of the Hound of Baskerville.
  • In Victoria Hanley's Light of the Oracle, the love interest of the main character Kiran fits the tall and dark like an animal until he gets a makeover, becoming so handsome that he goes from being snubbed by the Rich Bitch Clea to being pursued by him.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Phoebe from Charmed occasionally describes her love interest Cole this way.
  • Smallville: instead of using their names, Lois describes Clark (at least) once as "tall, dark, and bumbling" and on another occasion as "tall, dark, and single" and Davis/Doomsday as "tall, dark, and scary".
    • When Lois watches a video from her Missing Mom (played by a former Lois Lane), she is told that she will meet someone special, and her mother guesses he will be tall, dark, and handsome.


Music[edit | hide]

  • Heart did a song called Tall Dark Handsome Stranger which is actually a deconstruction of this trope, taking a rather negative view, all about how much better a Nice Guy is. Disturbingly, a search of Youtube shows that this song is being used to celebrate the Tall Dark Handsome Stranger - I guess All Girls Want Bad Boys Viewers are Morons.
  • 19th century tunesmith Henry Clay Work's Buckskin Bag of Gold comes complete with a fortune teller and has great fun taking the wind out of the trope's sails.


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • Jon Arbuckle once asked his cat if he was this. Garfield responded

Maybe if you stand on a chair, turn off the lights, and squint.


Videogames[edit | hide]

"Sunflower" "I know your type: tall, dark and dead"

  • There's a trophy in Blazblue Continuum shift that makes fun of this trope.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Parodied in SpongeBob SquarePants, where Pearl, in one episode, refers to her crush as "long, tan and handsome". Yes, he does turn out to be a complete dork
  • In Disney's Aladdin, when Jasmine distracts Jafar by pretending to be mind-controlled into loving him, she describes Jafar as "tall, dark..." Apparently, calling Jafar handsome would just be too suspicious.
    • Nah, it'd be redundant, since she already did.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Real Life subversion: Fred Astaire was always, always cast as the hero love interest (usually with Ginger Rogers) and was Mr. Fanservice to millions of women, but mostly because of his incredible poise and superhuman dancing skills, capable of literally sweeping women off their feet.[1] He's actually quite short and plain-looking and admitted he probably wouldn't have a career without his dance.


Examples when the trope is played straight: (WARNING: Highly subjective!)[edit | hide]

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • All of the darker-haired males in the Sohma family of Fruits Basket. Except most of them are pale in skin color.
  • Ren Tsuruga from Skip Beat!. He has rather long legs, is very handsome, and has dark hair. Even though he used to be a blond.
  • Kuroudo Akabane from GetBackers—when he's not killing people.
  • Sebastian from Black Butler.
    • Earl Vincent Phantomhive, Ciel's deceased father.
    • And Claude from the second season.
    • And how could we forget William?
  • Susumu, Hijikata, and Yoshida from Peacemaker Kurogane.
  • Code Geass loves this trope. Lelouch in particular stands out.
    • No mention of Li Xingke?
    • Suzaku kinda fits, since he's a bit short compared to other males but is still quite tall for a Japanese male.
  • L from Death Note is obviously tall and dark. Although there is no implication of the fact that he is handsome, and he was deliberately designed as offputting in appearance, he has more fangirl crushes than Light.
  • Allelujah Haptism, Johann Trinity, and Hong Long from Mobile Suit Gundam 00. Setsuna F. Seiei catches up in the second season.
  • A good amount of the male cast in Katekyo Hitman Reborn fit under this trope, all being either Italian or Japanese.
  • Naruto has Sasuke, Neji, and Itachi, among others.
    • Arguably, you could count Kankuro without his make-up.
  • Kurama, Yusuke, and Karasu in Yu Yu Hakusho.
    • Don’t forget about Kuronue. He was also in the possession of a very Nice Hat, which really just cemented the deal.
  • Guts and Roderick from Berserk.
  • Usagi's father Kenji, in Sailor Moon, although much more subdued.
    • Her mother does use these exact words to describe him when he was younger, though.
  • Tyki Mikk and Yu Kanda from D.Gray-man.
  • Tamahome from Fushigi Yuugi. Sue me.
  • Byakuya Kuchiki from Bleach along with Shuhei Hisagi and Shunsui Kyouraku
  • Glen Baskerville from Pandora Hearts' fits better than the aforementioned Gilbert. Specifically, when he was still Oswald.
  • Don't forget Age from Heroic Age!
  • Ichise of Texhnolyze.
  • Hei of Darker than Black.
  • Alucard of Hellsing.
    • This trope is probably one of the main factors that gave him Memetic Sex God status.
  • Shoei Jinnai of Desire Climax.
  • Inugami of Wolf Guy Wolfen Crest.
  • Sen and Swordfish of Under Grand Hotel.
  • Izaya of Durarara!!.
  • Colonel Roy Mustang: while "tall" may be slightly questionable (not short, but both Havoc and Falman are about a head taller), he certainly is dark, and as for handsome, well, he's the series' major Mr. Fanservice.
  • Luka of Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru.
  • Jonathan of Legend of the Blue Wolves.
  • Yamato of Karakuridouji Ultimo.
  • Lantis from Magic Knight Rayearth seems to define this trope. Black haired, handsome, and a height of 1.98 (neck breaker much?).
  • Mamoru and Saphir from Sailor Moon both belong here. This troper - and probably others - also must mention that they resemble each other. A lot. And resemble Lantis from Magic Knight Rayearth. Actually, the resemblances between Mamoru and Lantis are a bit too much (and not only in appearance - armor too).
  • Hagi from Blood Plus is the epitome of this as well. In the novels, Kai muses to himself that even guys like him wouldn't be able to deny how attractive Hagi is.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Lenore the Cute Little Dead Girl has the tall, dark, handsome Ragamuffin, in his human form.
  • Corto Maltese.
  • Bruce Wayne, Batman. Money is not the only reason Bats is surrounded by women.
    • Likewise, Dick Grayson, Batman II, seems to be continuing the trend.
  • John Blacksad is tall, a black cat, and constantly being eyed by most females. Add to that his mysterious nature and you have an archetypal Tall, Dark, And Handsome character.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Charles Boyer in Algiers with Hedy Lamarr.

"Come with me to the Casbah. We'll make beautiful music together.

Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Aragorn from Lord of the Rings—although when we first meet him, he is said to 'look foul and feel fair.'
    • While he is described as "grim" when we first meet him, as the book continues, he is constantly described as "noble", with standard Numenorean good looks. The grimness refers more to his demeanour as a Ranger. Not to mention, of course, that he caught the eye of Arwen, who is supposed to be as beautiful as her ancestor who was the most beautiful elf to ever exist, so he definitely cleans up nicely. And when we first meet Strider in the book, he is a subtle Tall, Dark and Snarky.
  • Sirius Black from Harry Potter is definitely tall, dark, and handsome. The book constantly reminds us of it.
    • Voldemort/Tom Riddle in his teenage years. Snape would be an example, too, if the author described him as "handsome".
      • Snape is Tall, Dark and Handsome to his Fan Girls...
      • James Potter also fits this.
  • Bella says that Native American Jacob is kind of beautiful.
  • Mentioned above, Gilbert Blythe fits this trope to a T.
    • Walter, his and Anne's second son, is the epitome of this trope. With "finely modelled features" and expressive gray eyes, the girls fall all over him from childhood onward. Walter, however, is kind of a Clueless Chick Magnet and spends more of his time writing poetry than wooing women.
  • Tales of the Frog Princess gives us Prince Garrid, who is tall and noted to be extremely handsome. He is pale and fair-haired, but the "dark" bit still fits with his mysterious nature.
  • In Darkness Visible, William Marsh is six feet tall, black haired, and so annoyingly gorgeous that even the protagonist's mother wants him.
  • While few detailed descriptions of his appearance are given, 6'9" Harry Dresden probably counts.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]


Mythology[edit | hide]

  • Hades, Dionysus, and Thanatos from Classical Mythology were usually depicted as this; Apollo, as well, arguably, since he was described as having black hair. Don't expect modern works to show this, however; Hades and Thanatos are generally literally demonised (never mind his seduction of Persephone, the goddess of spring), while Dionysus is often depicted as ugly, and Apollo is more often than not blond.


Music[edit | hide]

  • "Sweet Rosie Jones" by Buck Owens (1968) has the narrator lose the love of the title character to a "tall dark stranger." A year later Owens recorded a spinoff/sequel actually called "Tall Dark Stranger" that explored the trope even further.


Video Games[edit | hide]


Web Original[edit | hide]


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Menelaos in Greek Ninja, although he's mostly tall. Very tall.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • A really, really subtle example is Stan from South Park. Subtle, because he's a piece of crappy cartoon. Stan is the calm, collected one in his group, has dark hair, and even joins the Goth kids in one episode. Plus, he's the only one who has had a stable girlfriend for a very long time. It helps that he is South Park's best example of a Cute Shotaro Boy.
    • Another example is Craig. It was speculated that Craig was actually number one on the real list of cutest boys that the 4th grade girls made. He has black hair, too, and even more, he is a true, stoical Deadpan Snarker. He wears high-waisted black pants, making him look taller, and his legs look longer than the other children's.
      • It has been implied in one episode that Craig is actually older than the other kids: that's why they made him look taller.
  • The Dark Ace of Storm Hawks IS this trope. *swoon*
  • All but one of the Prince Charmings in the Disney Animated Canon have black or brown hair and are, of course, handsome and fairly tall. Beast's human form is the only exception, as he has red hair.
  • Xiaolin Showdown's Chase Young.
  • Zuko, Jet, Ozai, and all the firelords from Avatar: The Last Airbender.
    • Not all the Firelords. Sozin is rather short.
      • He's a few inches shorter than Roku, who is seven feet tall. I don't think that counts as short.
    • Mako from the sequel series The Legend of Korra, to the point even his voice actor admitted so.
  • Although he is not tall when he's a teenager, Robin, from Teen Titans, is definitely dark and handsome. He also becomes tall in his thirties as Nightwing.
  • Vince from Recess (according to Word of God).
  • In Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Gaston's three blonde admirers (triplets?) describe him in song as "such a tall, dark, strong and handsome brute".


Real Life[edit | hide]

  1. late in life, he regarded Michael Jackson as a worthy successor of many of his dance moves, ironically enough