Created By: lebrel on January 20, 2012 Last Edited By: lebrel on September 6, 2015

All Butlers Are Named Sebastian In Japan

In Japanese media, butlers are stereotypically associated with the name Sebastian.

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I tried this a long time ago, but neglected it, so here it is again:
In Japanese media, butlers are stereotypically associated with the name Sebastian. Possibly due to the 1960's anime adaptation of Heidi; Clara the Ill Girl's butler Sebastian was a very popular character.

In Real Life Victorian times, butlers, like most servants, were traditionally examples of Only One Name (when on the job). Although lower-ranking servants were addressed by their first names (and even in Real Life frequently were assigned stock names rather than their own names), the highest ranking servants (butler, housekeeper and cook) were dignified by using their (actual) surnames. Sebastian is therefore an unlikely butler name because Sebastian is usually a personal (first) name rather than a family (last) name.

Note: Characters whose first name is Sebastian don't count. They must either have the surname Sebastian or be addressed as Sebastian (and not because of First Name Basis).

Examples:

Butlers actually named Sebastian
  • Black Butler: The titular butler.
  • Tatakau! Sebastian: A drama CD featuring Ookawa Touru as the titular butler.
  • Suikoden 3: Thomas's butlers name is Sebastian.
  • Phi Brain Kami No Puzzle: The old mistress' butler is named Sebastian.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's: There is a brief appearance of a butler named Sebastian.
  • Nier: There is a butler named Sebastian.

Butler-ness associated with Sebastian-ness generally
  • My Girlfriends A Geek: Y-chan, after deciding the protagonist would make a good butler-type, starts calling him "Sebastian", then immediately shortens it to "Sebas", then to "Sebas-Uke".
  • Manga.Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei: One character insists on calling the Itoshiki families' butler Sebastian.
  • Lucky Star: Konata treats Minoru like a butler, and insists on calling him "Sebasian." (This is a parody of a scene in Maria-sama ga Miteru.)
  • Junjou Romantica: Misaki immediately assumes the Usami family butler is named Sebastian (he's not).
  • Mayoi Neko Overrun!: Chise calls her butler "Sebastian, " and he replies, "My name is Tanaka."
Community Feedback Replies: 34
  • January 20, 2012
    animeg3282
    Found in Paradise Kiss- Isabella calls her butler Sebsation. That isn't his name.
  • January 20, 2012
    Jordan
    In the Blandlings stories by PG Wodehouse, there's a butler named Sebastian Beach. Wonder if the Japanese are also Wodehouse fans.

    Something else to note, Sebastian of Black Butler is named after a real guy, a witchhunter named Sebastian Michaelis, so besides fitting the "butler named Sebastian" trope, the name is also a Genius Bonus.
  • January 20, 2012
    X2X
    Lili's butler in Tekken is named Sebastian.
  • January 20, 2012
    chicagomel
    Does Sebastian in The Little Mermaid count? He was pretty much Triton's butler.
  • January 20, 2012
    captainpat
    Inukami:Kei Shindou has a Battle Butler named Sebastian.
  • January 20, 2012
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    • It's neither anime nor manga but Once Bitten has a butler named Sebastian.
  • January 20, 2012
    AgentSeattle
    In Harvest Moon A Wonderful Life, a butler named Sebastian lives in town.
  • January 20, 2012
    nitrokitty
    Eh... another All X Are X trope. Is this really tropable? So far, this is just a bunch of butlers named Sebastian. Yes, aaaaand?
  • January 21, 2012
    TonyG
    @chicagomel: Technically, Sebastian is Triton's composer. Triton gives him the task of watching over Ariel agains his wishes.
  • January 21, 2012
    Bisected8
    Maybe we could expand this to include all generic Butler names (Like Jeeves, etc).
  • January 21, 2012
    randomsurfer
    And chauffeurs will be named James.
  • January 21, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
  • January 22, 2012
    Synchronicity
  • January 22, 2012
    Damr1990
    In the Common Buttler Names, we also may Have Jaime
  • January 23, 2012
    ArtyMorty
    How about a Buttler named Jamessir Bensonmum?
  • January 23, 2012
    Unknown Troper
    Is there a more general "stock names" trope that this could be a part of? This seems too specific.

    In Western media, we have Jeeves as the great Stock Butler Name - this has even been lampshaded by a few comedians. (Can't remember who, but I know someone said something like "naming your child Jeeves is really setting him up for it." Help, anyone?)
  • January 23, 2012
    lebrel
    @nitrokitty: The point of the trope as proposed is the unusual prevalence of this one name, despite its implausibility; Sebastian is an unlikely butler name in Real Life because Sebastian in Real Life is usually a first name, but butlers are normally addressed using their last name. (For instance, Sebastian Beach from the Blandings stories is addressed as "Beach", not "Sebastian".)

    We could do a "stock servant names" thing if people like that instead, but it might be a bit long and floppy to explain all the various aspects on one page (e.g., Jeeves in the original is not a butler but a valet, etc.).
  • January 23, 2012
    TonyG
    Perhaps if you changed the name to All Japanese Butlers Are Named Sebastian, it would make the point of this trope clearer.
  • January 23, 2012
    randomsurfer
    ^^^Jerry Seinfeld did that on his eponymous sitcom while showing him to be a stand up comedian. Of course the fact that Jeeves is Jeeves' last name renders the joke pretty stupid. Not that it was all that funny even if you don't know that.
  • January 23, 2012
    Jordan
    Just remembered something. If this is going beyond the Japanese "Sebastian" one, in 18th century English fiction, maids were often named Betty, not sure why.
  • January 23, 2012
    AgentSeattle
    I agree with Tony G, adding "Japanese" to the title would make the point of the article clearer.
  • January 24, 2012
    Ryuuma
    As much as I love Japan and everything nipponesque, I have to say that this seems an extremely restricted trope. Anyway, if you think it's fine...
  • January 24, 2012
    JonnyB
    Perhaps expand it to stereotypical butler names?

    In America, it's stereotypical to have the butler named "Jeeves" (or to call him Jeeves, even if that's not his name). Hence the internet search engine "Ask Jeeves" (which later became Ask.com), who's mascot was a butler.
  • January 24, 2012
    Ryuuma
    ^ As for Italy, the typical Butler name (usually in jokes) is "Battista". I think that maybe we could expand this trope a bit.... maybe...
  • January 24, 2012
    Jordan
    Regarding the comment about first name examples not counting, I assume that in all of the Japanese examples, Sebastian is the first name- while the "correct" way is for a butler to be called by their last name, those works aren't actually following that.
  • January 24, 2012
    lebrel
    @Jordan - In most of the works that I'm familiar with, it's not specifically stated that Sebastian is the surname, but that would be the implication (since Japanese works usually refer to people by their surnames anyway). The Japanese typically aren't too clear on how Western names work in general, so I don't think the creators of these works are necessarily aware that Sebastian is not usually a surname.

    Anyhoo, it looks like this might work better as a Common Servant Names trope, let me work on writing that up.
  • August 31, 2015
    jormis29
    Bump
  • August 31, 2015
    Illemar
    In The Wallflower, Ms Nakahara's butler is called Sebastian. He's genuinely English, which bothered the mangaka when she learned they were casting a Japanese actor for the drama until she learned which actor.
  • August 31, 2015
    Snicka
    Other stereotypical butler/servant names are Alfred (including the character in Batman), and, at least in Hungarian jokes, Jean (as 19th century Hungarian nobility often spoke French and hired butlers from France). Last names often end with -worth (i.e. the above mentioned Alfred Pennyworth from Batman and Duckworth with Duck Tales).
  • August 31, 2015
    acrobox
  • September 6, 2015
    aurora369
    In Russia, the stock butler name in jokes is "Barrymore" (because of the internationally popular Soviet TV series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson).
  • September 6, 2015
    Bisected8
    ^^ The Jeeves is a Character Archetype, it doesn't have anything to do with their actual name, does it?
  • September 6, 2015
    acrobox
    you might be right about that. I guess this trope is common names for The Jeeves,
  • September 6, 2015
    jamespolk
    Tagging as not tropeworthy. "Stock Butler Names" isn't tropeworthy, especially as there doesn't seem to be a prevailing stock butler name, and "stock butler names in Japan" definitely isn't tropeworthy.
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