The sci-fi world is huge. There is no denying that. However, sadly one of the few things we tend to see is a representation of people of color in the sci-fi world.
As a Black nerd myself, I specifically look for representation that I can identify within the genre of television and movies I like. If you are like me and you are also on the lookout have no fear. In honor of Black History Month, I have here, in my opinion, a list of the top 11 Black sci-fi characters of all time.
1. Lt. Uhura – Star Trek – Nichelle Nichols
In the sci-fi world Lt. Uhura had a few firsts. First interracial kiss on TV. The first regular Black character on a sci-fi television series. Let alone the fact that Nichelle Nichols was going to quit the show and was talked into staying by surprise Trekkie Dr. Martin Luther King. Obviously, this was the right decision as Nichelle Nichols is still an integral part of the Star Trek universe on the screen to this day. She is the ultimate Black sci-fi character.
2. Benjamin Sisko – Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Avery Brooks
To begin with, Sisko is the first Black lead of the Star Trek franchise. That is a major thing but not surprising. Since the days of Lt. Uhura, Star Trek was known to be a leader in diversity, so it stands to reason to have a Black man as a lead. Avery Brooks won a lot of us over in the early days playing Hawk on Spencer For Hire but further won fans as the positive single father leading the space travelers in Deep Space Nine.
3. Lando Calrissian – Star War franchise – Billy Dee Williams
This is the character that answered the question that was on the minds of Black people worldwide: Yes, there are Black people in the Star Wars universe. However, Lando Calrissian did follow that old formula of “is the Black character good or bad” before we found out that he was on the side of good.
The Empire Strikes Back brought in Han Solo’s old friend as the administrator of Cloud City who hands our heroes over to Darth Vadar only to turn against the Empire and join the Resistance. Billy Dee Williams was already an iconic actor in his own right, so adding him to the Star Wars cast was the weight the franchise needed to represent Black America.
4. Morpheus – The Matrix franchise – Laurence Fishburne
Morpheus, in some respects, was even more of the star of this franchise than the infamous Neo. He was the one that found Neo and believed that he was the one even when no one else including Neo himself did not believe. In truth, if not for Morpheus the story itself would not have progressed the way it did. Laurence Fishburne’s portrayal of Morpheus brought a certain cool to the character and the movie. While most kids wanted to be Neo, it is a safe bet that most kids of color saw themselves as Morpheus teaching Neo about how to handle life outside the Matrix.
5. Lt Boomer – Battlestar Galactica – Herbert Jefferson Jr
Who? Well, this is old school. Not as old school as Lt Uhura but nevertheless, old school. Boomer was the third-best pilot on the show after Apollo and Starbuck. The thing about this character is that it was the late 70’s early 80’s and most of the Black characters on TV were in comedy shows. Boomer, although not a major character of the show, showed us something different.
I personally had a chance to meet actor Herbert Jefferson Jr at a comic con and he was surprised at my greeting. I was so starstruck to meet him and shook his hand and thanked him for being this Black sci-fi role model on TV when we really did not have any. With a firm handshake, he, in turn, thanked me for what I said. I count this as one of my best encounters at a comic con.
6. Agent J – Men In Black franchise – Will Smith
The premise for Men In Black is a conspiracy theorist’s dream: there are aliens among us living everyday lives and we have no idea they are here with a special force that polices them. The Men in Black are anonymous and need to fit in and have no distinct attributes that distinguish them from the average person. James Darrell Edwards III is recruited to join, and the identity of Agent J is born. Agent J’s every man approach to alien problems is what makes him stand out in the agency. Casting Will Smith who is an action star with perfect comedic timing makes Agent J iconic.
7. Atticus Freeman – Lovecraft Country – Jonathan Majors
This is a series that is not what it seems at first. I legit could not get enough of this show and can not wait for a season 2 of the HBO series. Atticus Freeman is not only fighting cults, mysticism, and demons from his family’s past, but he is also fighting 1950’s racism as a Black man. In the midst of the strange things going on around, Atticus proves to be the leader that everyone needs to get through the ordeals placed in front of them. Jonathan Majors along with other cast members being either nominated for or winning multiple awards tells you the quality of Lovecraft Country.
8. Geordi La Forge – Star Trek: The Next Generation – LaVar Burton
Once again following the formula of promoting diversity in the Star Trek universe, Geordi La Forge is not only a man of color but in The Next Generation, he is the chief engineer of the USS Enterprise-D. To add to the diversity of this character he is given the handicap of being born blind.
Never fear, though, with the technical advances of this future, he is given a VISOR that assists in giving him sight. Throughout the late 80’s through the early 2000’s and beyond in repeats, Geordi is an inspiration to Trekkies of color all over. Who better to bring this character to life than the iconic LaVar Burton, who along with his iconic portrayal of Kunta Kinta in Roots, is no stranger to making characters stand out to make people of color proud?
9. Mace Windu – Star Wars franchise – Samuel L Jackson
We knew there were Black characters in the Star Wars universe, but we did not know how cool they were until we saw Mace Windu sit on the Jedi counsel. With all respects to Lando Calrissian, this guy had his own lightsaber, and he was fierce with it. I think one of the most disappointing parts of the Star Wars prequel films is the supposed death of Mace Windu in such an uncharacteristic way for a Jedi of such magnitude and strength to perish. Having Samuel Jackson play a sci-fi character was out of the ordinary, but it was a perfect fit. This might also be one of the few films where we do not hear him spout the profanity he is known for.
10. Lucas Sinclair – Stranger Things – Caleb McLaughlin
The hit Netflix series about the strange happenings in fictional Hawkins, Indiana, about the trouble kids can get into in the 80’s has us on the edge of our seats every season. In the midst of this is Lucas Sinclair. As Millennials age and we find ourselves in the era of Generation Alpha, the young are introduced to a sci-fi hero they can relate to. With a slingshot in hand, Lucas is usually a voice of reason among the adventurous gang of kids. Still, at the start of his career, I for one cannot wait to see what is next for actor Caleb McLaughlin.
11. Michonne – The Walking Dead – Danai Gurira
I have to admit, when everyone was on The Walking Dead bandwagon, I wanted no parts of it. Then I decided to check it out and for a time I was hooked. What hooked me more than anything was Michonne. This beautiful chocolate Black woman traveling through this sci-fi new norm of zombies fearlessly chopping through with katana in hand. Usually, a quiet conscious voice of reason for those around her, her strength is undeniable. Actress Danai Gurira is known for bringing another great character to life, Black Panther’s Oyoye. With these two strong positive characters, she is well on her way to cementing her place in American Black history as one of our greatest female actresses.