"Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like MacavityThe male version of the Classy Cat-Burglar may lack the cat jokes and themes, but he makes up for it with roguish good looks coupled with a breeding and style that manifests as a suave and debonair manner. He's usually a charmer, too—think James Bond without the government authorization. He steals for the challenge/pleasure of the job and generally avoids violence while restricting his targets to those who can afford the loss. More importantly for plots, the character will often go out of their way to stop more serious crimes—especially with lives at stake—either on their own or with the help of the police. As such they often adhere to Thou Shalt Not Kill and/or are Technical Pacifists. Murdering your target or stealing from them at gun point is not very gentlemanly. It's not uncommon for the GT to give at least a part of the goods he steals to the poor, often while very cynically commenting on social injustice and how the rich surely got their wealth with dirty methods, so it's only fair to steal from them and then give to those who need it. Like the Classy Cat-Burglar, the Gentleman Thief usually regards the police with a certain amount of disdain and condescension, and frequently leaves behind "calling cards" announcing who performed the crime; especially confident versions may announce their targets in advance to ensure a challenge. With a Worthy Opponent such as a Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist chasing him, they may have a less adversarial relationship, verging at times on friendship such as leaving Big Bad crooks behind for him to take the credit arresting (and when the opponent is of the opposite gender, fraught with UST of the Dating Catwoman variety). They're usually a Badass in a Nice Suit, occasionally doing the Tuxedo and Martini look. As he may not enjoy actual risks, the Gentleman Thief may decide that gambling is beneath him and cheat instead. Expect him to do so with sophistication. If he does gamble, expect him to be almost supernaturally lucky, or a tournament-grade player without peers. In many cases, they steal because they can and for the thrill, not out of an actual monetary need (since they are often rich)—though it may be a way to stave off Rich Boredom. This is also why they will never give up thievery for simple gambling. They do exist in Real Life, yet their most usual technique is not stealing per se, but more like conning the victim. Sometimes overlaps with Phantom Thief or Karmic Thief. See also Scoundrel Code.
There never was a cat of such deceitfulness and suavity
He always has an alibi and one or two to spare
Whatever time the deed took place, Macavity wasn't there!"
There never was a cat of such deceitfulness and suavity
He always has an alibi and one or two to spare
Whatever time the deed took place, Macavity wasn't there!"
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Anime & Manga
- Black Rose, aka Keith Harcourt, from Ashita no Nadja, is the perfect example of the GT with social leanings as he snarks at the idea of philanthropy and noblesse obligue which Nadja and his twin brother Francis supports. Later, however, he decides to give up stealing—because Francis has been mistaken as him and is willing to go to jail for his sake.
- Ijyuin Akira, the Man of Twenty Faces, in CLAMP School Detectives: a young gentleman thief, he steals according to the direction of his two mothers. This character is based on Japanese mystery author Edogawa Ranpo's "Fiend With Twenty Face".
- This character also reappears as "Twenty Faces" in The Daughter of Twenty Faces, who, among other things, steals national treasures that have been mislocated due to war to return them to their rightful place.
- Dark from D.N.Angel is called a Phantom Thief, but he's definitely an example of a Gentleman Thief as well. He steals only works of art, sends a warning letter before every steal, and definitely thinks less of the cops. It's also later revealed that he has a reason for why he steals.
- The title character in From Eroica with Love; the title is actually what he leaves on his calling cards.
- Lunlun meets one of these in the Egypt episode of Hana Noko Lunlun, a charming and stylish middle-aged man who plans to commit quite the robbery of Ancient Egyptian jewels/relics/etc. and tries to use her as his Unwitting Pawn. Uncommonly for this type of character, he is captured by his Inspector Javert—but by that time Lunlun's innocence and kindness has touched his heart, and is last seen keeping flowers in his cellar.
- Phoenix, the male lead in Honey Honey no Suteki na Bouken. Also the Jerk with a Heart of Gold to the female lead's Tsundere Plucky Girl.
- The titular Lupin III is usually portrayed as a chivalrous thief, who only targets those who can afford it, or simply have it coming. But it usually isn't long before he ends up revealing his playful side. Though when it comes to women, he ranges from a chivalrous perv, to a Handsome Lech. Depending on the Writer, that is.
- And, on a related note, we have the Lupin III vs. Detective Conan anime special, where Conan chases after Lupin and Co. and they have to team up to rescue Ran, who's been caught in a massive conspiracy.
- The illustrious Magic Kaito (if he isn't too perverted to count) that sometimes appears also in Detective Conan. However, his exploits are surprisingly mundane, using disguises to escape instead of stylishly flying with his cape/glider. At one point, he even resorts to swimming all the way from a ship to the harbor to escape.
- Hikaru from Medabots anime with his secret alias Phantom Renegade. His Japanese name is, technically, Kaitou Retort, "Phantom Thief/Bandit" Retort. Despite being a thief, he has his own motives to rob medals and he has done some heroic things in the process.
- Mamoru "Tuxedo Kamen" Chiba in the manga and Live-Action version of Sailor Moon, though only to find the Silver Crystal so he can recover his long-lost memories, and he stops when they do find it and becomes solely a superhero. Sailor Moon even comments "He's just like Lupin the Thief! He's hot!" when she first sees him in the manga. It causes severe friction between him and the Senshi in the live-action version.
- Cobra from Space Adventure Cobra is a gentleman thief in a Space Opera setting. Despite being one of the most wanted criminals of the galaxy, he ends up helping the Space Police and battling the Space Mafia more often than not.
- The DCU:
- The Riddler occasionally. His personality varies, actually.
- The Penguin started out this way but eventually settled into a role as a semi-legit restauranteur/arms dealer.
- Subverted with the Gentleman Ghost. He may put on airs at times, but he's a highwayman through and through.
- The anti-villain/anti-hero The Shade has been presented this way since the 1994 series, Starman, though he hasn't done much thieving recently.
- Marvel Universe:
- The elderly criminal the Black Fox. (His schemes usually revolved around making a big score so he could retire from crime.)
- There's also Walter Hardy, father of the Black Cat. Unfortunately, he's something of a subversion in that he keeps retiring because he causes more harm than he intends to. In regular comics continuity and the 90s cartoon, he's tricked into working for Nazis and nearly gets them a Super Soldier formula. In The Spectacular Spider-Man, he became The Atoner after killing Uncle Ben in a moment of weakness.
- Shen Kuei, aka "The Cat" (he even has a tattoo of a cat on his chest), who is both this trope and a rare male example of the Classy Cat-Burglar at times. He's not only a skilled thief, but he also has martial arts skills that rival his arch enemies, Shang-Chi and Iron Fist.
- Fantomex, also from X-Men and the X-Force, who Grant Morrison based on classic pulp characters Fantômas and Diabolik.
- In the first issue of Uncanny X-Force, he raids the Tower of London on a wager with Wolverine and, upon losing (Logan beat him to the vault), agrees to pay Logan with a case of cognac, worth "two million dollars a bottle". It's not about the money, but rather, it's simply "his poison".
- This was heavily implied to be a bet between the two where the loser had to buy a case of alcohol for the winner.
- Gambit, from X-Men: charms the ladies while taking their pocketbooks.
- Casanova Quinn from Matt Fraction's Casanova was one of these for a while... until he became a Martini-and-Absinthe-flavoured superspy.
- From Disney Ducks Comic Universe
- The Black Knight from Don Rosa's comics who is a rather obvious Captain Ersatz of Arsene Lupin.
- Paperinik (Donald Duck superhero alter-ego) started out as this, and his first heist was to steal Scrooge's money-filled mattress as he was sleeping on it. Even now, as a superhero, he's capable of stealing anything, as shown that time he decided to track down the local kingpin of crime by faking an amnesia-motivated Face–Heel Turn to get approached and literally stole half of Duckburg single-handedly (he later gave everything back).
- His in-universe inspiration lord Quackett/Fantomius (of whom Paperinik uses a modified version of the costume and took the gadgets used in the first story) was one in the Duckburg of the Roaring Twenties, to the point the trope name is present on both the title of his own series and the Calling Cards he leaves at every heist. His love for the challenge is so great that, in the second story of his series, his answer to the chief of the police proclaming he wouldn't be able to break out of prison once he succeeded in arresting him was to let himself get arrested and unmasked as lord Quackett, tell the guard that night he was supposed to burgle a safe, break out without anyone noticing, burgle the safe, get back to jail from the main gate and break out again in a way that convinced everyone he wasn't lord Quackett, being extremely polite and gentlemanly all the time (after all, as the second son of an English duke, he actually is a gentleman).
- The Phantom Blot of the '40s, a villain from Mickey Mouse Comic Universe.
- The Mexican comic version of Fantômas, going so far as to wear a top hat, opera cape, and cane while performing his second-story jobs. (He eventually stopped doing that, however.) Not to be confused with the original French character of the same name (see below), who is an utterly evil serial murderer and terrorist-for-no-particular-reason.
- Subverted with Hunter Rose in Grendel, who has all the usual hallmarks (stealthy, cultured, literary, overeducated, has been known to wear a tuxedo at times) but is actually a ruthless organised-crime boss who kills huge numbers of sometimes completely innocent people.
- Fingers from the Lucky Luke story by the same name is an odd example who seems to fit but not really represent the same idea... perhaps a parody or deconstruction. He's an impeccably dressed magician with superficial good manners and suave charm that the ladies automatically love, and as skilled a thief as only a magician can be. He steals things for the sake of doing it and isn't really all that greedy. Yet what he really is is a kleptomaniac with no goal in life who keeps getting into trouble for stealing. One of his problems compared to more straight examples is that he can't help stealing petty things openly.
- The Rogue from The Maze Agency (who never actually appears on stage). His Calling Card is a note informing his victims that their stolen paintings have been selected for his 'Rogue's Gallery' and 'signed' with a cartoon figure (a la The Saint's haloed stick figure).
- Modesty Blaise and Willie Garvin.
- Steve Ditko Deconstructed this Trope in the Mr. A story "Count Rogue".
- Michael Baffle was a one-shot Golden Age foe of Batman (and obvious Expy of Raffles).
- Deconstructive Parody in the Viz strip "Raffles the Gentleman Thug", in which the titular character is a well-spoken, aristocratic Jerk Ass who goes around beating people up for no reason.
- Zagar, by the Italian comic artist Jacovitti. This thief, master of disguises, is a parody of this trope.
- The title character of "The Master Thief" is implied to be one. He surprises his parents by driving up to their old house in a fine carriage, and they mistake him for a nobleman at first.
Films — Animation
- Flynn Rider from Tangled starts out as this.
Films — Live-Action
- Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief follows John Robie (Cary Grant), a reformed Gentleman Thief, as he attempts to discover who has been framing him for a new spate of burglaries. It turns out to be a Classy Cat-Burglar.
- David Niven used to play this type of character frequently.
- A.J. Raffles in the 1939 film adaptation of Raffles.
- "Sir Charles Lytton, the Notorious Phantom", David Niven's (or Christopher Plummer's) character in The Pink Panther movies.
- Niven also plays Colonel Matthews, the titular character of The Brain, where he, two petty crooks, and the mafia attempt to hijack a train transporting the NATO millions to the new NATO headquarters. Hilarity ensues.
- Pierce Brosnan plays a millionaire trying to be a Gentleman Thief in The Thomas Crown Affair (1999). "It's just a game, love; it's just a game." Complete with a literal calling card: a pencil with the name of his firm left plainly at the scene of the final caper!
- And, of course, the original 1968 film starring Steve McQueen.
- Sean Connery's character in Entrapment is just the bearded Scottish version of Pierce Brosnan's Irish Thomas Crown. Except Connery shares his screen time with a Classy Cat-Burglar and the infamous Laser Hallway.
- Robert De Niro's character in Heat, Neil McCauley, is a somewhat more realistic version of the Gentleman Thief.
- Basically every protagonist in Ocean's 11, Ocean's 12, and Ocean's 13, as well as the antagonist "Night Fox" Toulour, though to a lesser extent.
- The nameless Robber (played by William Powell) from Jewel Robbery. He's dressed well and treats his victims with respect.
As a matter of fact, I'm opposed to the American school of banditry. I studied in Paris. You have to work harder but you do acquire a certain finesse that is missing from the stick-em-up and shoot-them-down school.
- The film version of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen boasts the cheeky Cockney rogue Rodney Skinner, 'Genn'lemun Thief', as the Invisible Man, in lieu of the psychotic original Invisible Man, Dr. Hawley Griffin. Skinner apparently stole Griffin's invisibility formula. He kind of fails at the whole "gentleman" part. But he's adorable anyway. He's kind of a Composite Character; he has the powers of Dr Griffin, who was a Sociopathic Hero at best and would have made it nigh-impossible to avoid an M-rating without toning down his character a bit,note and the backstory of A.J. Raffles.
- The titular character of Jean-Pierre Melville's gangster movie Bob le Flambeur (Bob the Gambler) is incredibly well-dressed, stylish, debonair, and gentlemanly.
- Cobb from Christopher Nolan's low budget feature debut, Following.
- Cobb and Eames from Christopher Nolan's later and slightly more expensive feature, Inception.
- Hudson Hawk in Hudson Hawk, who sings showtunes to synchronize his robberies.
- Simon Dermott in How to Steal a Million.
- Nick Wells (Robert De Niro) in The Score. He even owns a jazz club.
- Frank of Robot and Frank is not particularly classy or refined, but still shows aspects of this archetype, such as his meticulous research before each job and his insistence that only "those insurance company crooks" will get hurt from his heists.
- Baron von Geigern in Grand Hotel is a partial subversion. He actually fits the trope quite well—urbane, sophisticated, suave gentleman hotel thief—except for the fact that he's apparently being forced to be a hotel thief due to being deep in debt to bad people.
- In the French comedic World War II movie Papy fait de la résistance ("Gramps Is in the Resistance"), the Super-Résistant takes his inspiration from the Gentleman Thief rather than American superheroes — including the tuxedo, top hat and cape — to fight the Germans in Nazi-occupied France, mostly by ridiculing them.
- The protagonist of Headhunters is an art burglar who refuses to invade occupied homes, moves quickly, and leaves a replica for the owner.
- Fantômas is a literary and cinematic Gentleman Thief from France. He's also kind of a psycho-murderer as well. Crazy name, crazy guy.
- Raffles: Raffles is a character who has been around in literary form since the 1890s. Invented by E. W. Hornung, who meant him to be a subversion of the trope: definitely not a nice guy, and stealing for profit rather than for fun or altruism. (See further discussion under Depraved Homosexual.) It was no use, though; Hornung's readers saw Raffles as glamorous anyway, and later incarnations of the character invariably make him into a hero.
- See the other Wiki for a list of works featuring Raffles. He has also appeared as a minor character in the webcomic Scary Go Round (see below).
- The difference between Raffles as created by Hornung, and Raffles as developed by others was parodied by Jon L. Breen in "Ruffles versus Ruffles", where the no-good crook and the heroic adventurer are brothers: A.J. Ruffles and R.J. Ruffles.
- Arsène Lupin, titular thief of the series of short stories and books written by Maurice Leblanc between 1905 and 1939, and five additional volumes written by Boileau-Narcejac in the 1970s. This Gentleman Thief moonlights as a detective. He was the precursor of Arsène Lupin III, and is pretty much the Trope Namer, as the first collection of short stories on the character is called Arsène Lupin: Gentleman Cambrioleur (Arsène Lupin: Gentleman Burglar). He's also the Trope Codifier, exhibiting many of the tropes associated with this trope and Phantom Thief: Calling Cards, being a Master of Disguise, announcing his crimes ahead of time, fighting evil criminals and displaying a general romantic attitude.
- Flambeau is a clever, strong, joking, and very tall jewel thief of the Father Brown series by G. K. Chesterton. His name means "torch" in French. He liked to use paradoxical disguises (as in The Queer Feet). After several encounters with Father Brown, the trope was deconstructed in "The Flying Stars", in which Father Brown pointed out that he had thoughtlessly left a situation where an innocent person was likely to be blamed for the crime he committed, and persuaded him that it was impossible to remain a honourable outlaw without Slowly Slipping Into Evil. He then reformed and became a private detective.
- Subverted to pieces in the essay Memoirs of a Private Detective by Dashiell Hammett:
Second only to Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is Raffles in the affections of the daily press. The phrase "gentleman crook" is used on the slightest provocation. A composite portrait of the gentry upon whom the newspapers have bestowed this title would show a laudanum-drinker, with a large rhinestone-horseshoe aglow in the soiled bosom of his shirt below a bow-tie, leering at his victim, and saying: "Now don't get scared, lady, I ain't gonna crack you on the bean. I ain't a rough-neck!"
- The Saint, AKA Simon Templar, was such a Gentleman Thief in the original stories (and also mixed race as well, unusual in those days) that the TV series cleaned him up a lot, though not entirely. He doesn't always quite fit the trope, though, in that he was in the habit of murdering criminals as well as taking their money. On one occasion, he tied the villains of the story up in an abandoned house, to which he then set fire, leaving them to burn alive. Granted, they were going to do the same to him and his cohorts, but, stillm — not entirely gentlemanly behavior.
- Nobby Cranton from the Lord Peter Wimsey novel The Nine Tailors pretends to be a Gentleman Thief. The only impediment is that he isn't a gentleman.
- Philip Collin, aka Professor Pelotard, from the various books and short-stories by Frank Heller. One thing that helps make Collin into one of the more memorable gentleman thieves is the fact that his first crimes are the same as his creator's, who, before becoming an author, was a swindler who went into a self-imposed exile in order to escape the Swedish police.
- The Baron was John Creasy's version of The Saint.
- Nick Velvet (from a series of short stories by Edward D. Hoch) is a professional thief for hire, with a peculiar specialty: for a flat fee, he steals only objects of negligible apparent value. Since his first appearance in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine in September 1966, he has stolen such things as an old spiderweb (which he was then obliged to replace), a day-old newspaper, and a used teabag. His original fee for a theft was $20,000. In 1980, he raised it to $25,000 at the urging of his long-time girlfriend Gloria (who met Nick in 1965 when he was burgling her New York apartment); in the 21st century, his fee has risen to $50,000. Unlike many fictional thieves, Nick usually works alone on his thefts—in fact, until 1979, Gloria believed that Nick worked for the U.S. government.
- "Slippery" Jim diGriz, the protagonist of The Stainless Steel Rat. Living in a future where only a genius could ever make it as a crook, diGriz considers himself a public benefactor who spices up the lives of local police and keeps money in circulation.
SmytheTregarth from Elizabeth Peters' Vicky Bliss series.
- Silk, also known as Prince Kheldar, from The Belgariad and the Malloreon, is an excellent example of this. Of course, he is also a spy. And a successful entrepreneur to the point that he can get away with the Mallorean government being aware of him being this trope and a spy (well, an important and very good spy. All Drasnian merchants are assumed to be spies), simply by being so integral to their economy that it'd crash if he withdrew.
- Tortall Universe:
- George Cooper of Song of the Lioness is King of the Thieves and keeps "court", which has rules that he follows. He's a Worthy Opponent to the Lord Provost and has no problem befriending a couple of pages.
- Rosto the Piper in the Provost's Dog books is sometimes speculated to have been a Scanran noble or similar because he's clearly well-educated and considered to be a very sensible Rogue.
- The Thieves Guild in Discworld is said to run special courses for Gentleman Thieves. It's one thing being robbed, but it's annoying to learn that your possessions were stolen by a man in a borrowed suit.
- The Discworld Assassins' Guild has a large proportion of gentleman members; this is because the Guild runs one of the best schools on the Disc, specialist subjects aside, and many upperclass boys get their education there before going on to other careers. It's not all upper-class males, though; the school now has two all-girls houses, and offers scholarships to prospective students who are too poor to pay the fees but show potential to be really good at killing people. However, they never steal anything — just as they don't expect the Thieves Guild to kill people. There's clear job demarcation.
- Moist von Lipwig may have scammed people out of all their money, but he has never committed a violent crime. Plus, after the challenge of his new job wore off, he turns to breaking into his own building. But the trope is somewhat deconstructed, when Mr. Pump states that, despite Moist's rules and gentlemanly nature, he's still killed 2.338 people, albeit indirectly, by the damage he's done to people's lives.
- In Men at Arms, though, Edward D'Eath seems to think there could be no such thing as a gentleman thief: "If he had trained as a Fool, he would have invented satire and made jokes about the Patrician. If he had trained as a Thief (of course, no gentleman would dream of being trained as a Thief) he would have broken into the palace and stolen something very valuable from the Patrician."
- Seregil and, later, Alec in Lynn Flewelling's Nightrunner books.
- The titular character in the Montmorency series is an interesting twist on this. He is a gentleman and a thief, but not both at the same time at first. He often struggles about which one is his real self and ends up progressing from a common pickpocket to a spy for the British government, at which point he truly becomes a Gentleman Thief.
- The series title of Scott Lynch's Gentleman Bastard (The Lies of Locke Lamora, Red Seas Under Red Skies) gives a nod to this trope and to the nature of the central protagonists. Locke is actually pretty much a deconstruction of this trope: his deeds inspired the legend of the "Thorn of Camorr", who is a gentleman thief, but the real Locke Lamora will not hesitate to kick a few dogs to reach his goals, even if he still have his standards (after all, he is also a priest of the 13th), hence the bastard (singular) in the series title. Because of his intelligence and education, people may expect this of him, even knowing that he is a thief. He speculates about this at one point, after he punches out his elderly woman captor, who apparently never considered that he would do such a thing, to gain an antidote to her poisoning and escape.
- Kelsier and his crew from Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. Breeze however is the culmination of this trope in the group. He lives the fine wines and finer suits, and is the most larcenous of the team, whereas the others are usually a little more hands on and prone to mingling with the skaa.
- Shadows Of Self (second book of Wax And Wayne, sequel to Mistborn): The Marksman sets himself up as this, which is why Wax was willing to leave him to the city watch. But then the Marksman started killing people in the course of his robberies.
- The Jackal, in Catherine Fisher's The Oracle Trilogy, is a pretty good example.
- Jack Foley, an Elmore Leonard character (from Out of Sight and Road Dogs). While he worked as a bank robber, he made a point of never using a gun while robbing more banks than anyone else in the FBI databanks. In the film version of Out of Sight, we get to see him in action, using only the suggestion of violence to rob a bank teller: he even talks politely with the stressed-out girl during the whole ordeal, to the point where she reflexively wishes him a good day when he leaves. It's only when he's dealing with genuine thugs that Foley gets violent. In the follow-up novel, Road Dogs, an FBI agent desperate to arrest Foley is only obsessed with the ex-con because he's worried that the media will some day find out about Foley's story and turn him into a Gentleman Thief anti-hero.
- Eli Monpress of The Spirit Thief is this, and also a wizard. His "light" (it's hard to explain, you have to see it, say all the spirits) makes it so that most spirits will do as he asks without a servant or a slave bond (as the good guys and the bad guys use, respectively), letting him pull off blatantly impossible acts of wizardry. His goal in life is to increase his bounty to one million golden standards (an insane amount, quoted as being more money than exists in the world).
- The In Death series: you can be sure that Roarke became this as he became an adult. He is as suave as they come and is certainly an expert at stealing.
- Nicholas Valiarde (Donatien), a recurring character in Martha Wells's Ile-Rien series and the hero of the novel The Death of the Necromancer, is a master art thief from whom no wealthy collector's mansion is safe.
- Panamon Creel from The Sword of Shannara Trilogy does an amazing impression of one of these, yet at the core he's far more of an Affably Evil highwayman than he is one of these, and he knows it, putting on the act in an attempt at convincing himself that he hasn't wasted his life.
- Quinn/Alex from Kay Hooper's Once a Thief and Always a Thief novels fits this to a T, though he prefers the term "cat burglar".
- Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara has a highwayman who robs travelers of all their possessions and gives them all of their loot from the previous victim.
- Jean le Flambeur from The Quantum Thief is a transhuman version of the character archetype, closely based on Arsène Lupin. He's a master thief in a day and age when upload-collectives rule the Solar System, and minds are a dominant currency.
- Psmith, prone to occasional petty theft under the guise of "practical socialism", goes full-blown gentleman thief in his last installment, Leave It to Psmith, wherein he's hired to steal a diamond necklace. He's hindered by the fact that some rather less-gentlemanly characters have been put onto the same job...
- Male Mistborn have elements of this, due to their status as noblemen in a Deadly Decadent Court. Their female counterparts fall under Classy Cat-Burglar instead.
- In The Iron Teeth web serial, the Robin Hood like bandit leader the White Raven is an example of this trope. He was apparently honorable, charming, and rarely killed anyone.
- Drenai saga:
- Bowman, a Robin Hood-esque outlaw from Legend.
- Scaler from its sequel.
- Hugenay (Huganay?), the art thief from the kid detective series "The Three Investigators" is a borderline case. Began as Faux Affably Evil and choose to drop the faux later (even co-working with the heroes sometimes). In any case, he's still at large.
- Walter Jon Williams's Drake Maijstral series is entirely based on this trope. Drake is an "allowed burglar", which is actually a legal profession in the far future galactic empire. You may legally ply burglary as your trade if and only if you are a gentleman thief. You must always behave as a gentleman (or woman). Violence is forbidden. When you steal something, it doesn't become yours for 24 hours, and if you do get caught during that time, you must surrender politely or risk losing your license. And the thing you stole must stay under your control or that of a subordinate for the full 24 hours—no hiding it in a drainpipe and hoping nobody finds it. You are also expected to steal classy things. Which is not to say that you can't steal cash from a bank vault. But if that's all you steal, you may be in trouble. Allowed burglars are literally judged on style.
- The Crimson Shadow: Oliver deBurrows, a charming and chivalrous "highway halfling".
- Leighton, the villain of The Thinking Machine story "The Missing Necklace", is a master jewel thief that Scotland Yard has been pursuing for years.
- Dennis Stanton, a Recurring Character in Murder, She Wrote, was a Gentleman Thief in his first appearance, although in later appearances, he used his skills as an insurance investigator. He worked by three rules: he never steals from anyone who can't afford it, he never steals anything with sentimental value, and he makes sure that everything he steals is insured by the company who refused to pay for his late wife to have a lifesaving operation.
- Another episode featured an art thief who eventually proved to be this: once exposed by Jessica he quite politely and affably admitted to his crimes, explained his motive, noted that he only stole insured works and he even returned the last work that he'd stolen (he'd fenced the rest). Of course, there was the matter of the murder committed during one of the thefts of which he was innocent.
- Jerry Fagin, an international jewel thief who made a single appearance in Cagney & Lacey solely to challenge Cagney to a duel of wits. His first action is to pull a heist and plant evidence all over the scene that points to the police department itself. When this becomes clear, Cagney immediately says, "Jerry Fagin! Nobody else would do this with such unmitigated . . . style!"
- Autolycus, the King of Thieves of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess fame.
- The Cat from the Funky Squad episode "Diamond's Are a Cat's Best Friend".
- Remington Steele was this kind of character before taking over his role as a private investigator.
- Hustle likes to play with this one. It's Albert's favourite character, despite him being a former cobbler. Mickey tends to be suave and debonair, as well. The others, not so much...
- It Takes a Thief was about a second generation Gentleman Thief who was caught and given the choice of prison or helping the government. He chose helping the government. Inspired by, though not based upon, the 1955 Cary Grant motion picture To Catch a Thief (see above). Notable for starring Robert Wagner as the thief and Fred Astaire!!! as his father, who says at the start of every third season episode, "I've heard of stealing from the government, but stealing for the government?".
- Subverted in the Psych episode, "Extradition: British Colombia." Pierre Despereaux seems to be one of these, but as it turns out it's actually an elaborate art-insurance scam: the owners let Desperaux steal the art (who then presumably sells it on the black market or perhaps keeps some of it himself), so the cash-strapped owners can collect the insurance money rather than having to sell the art themselves (which is rather embarrassing).
- Played straight when he comes back in later episodes. He lives up to his previously fake legacy, and really is an amazing thief and escape artist.
- Archie Leach, played by Richard Chamberlain was Parker's mentor and appears to still be effective despite being retired. He is almost never without his canes, one has a 6-inch stiletto blade and the other is a taser capable of delivering 10,000 volts. He once stole an ancient Chinese artifact by getting into a fancy party dressed as a waitstaff pushing a cake, which is hollow, past security before putting on his suit and walking about. A simple swap, after using the taser cane to make the lights go off, real sword into the cake and fake handle in the place, and he walks out without a second glance.
- The main crew plays with this idea. While they always are the Brains, Grifter, Hitter, Hacker, and Thiefnote , the victims they are helping never know their roles, and the bad guys are sometimes made to believe that the roles have been switched. Sometimes that's the plan, and sometimes it's in response to a thrown curve-ball. Nathan, as the Brains, does play Gentleman Thief at times, as have the rest of of them every so often. Some of the best episodes come when the team are forced into roles that are far outside their comfort zone.
- Neal Caffrey from White Collar presents himself like this but comes from a blue collar background and a large payout is his primary motivation for committing crimes. Flashbacks also show that if he is low on funds, he is not above doing basic street-level cons.
- Mamoru Chiba, aka Tuxedo Kamen, in the Live Action Adaptation of Sailor Moon.
- Steve McBride, who is also known as a middle class thief (James McAvoy's character in series 1-2 of Shameless).
- Carlton Dial from Fortune Hunter was a gentleman thief on the side of the angels.
- The Kings go after a gentleman thief in the Breakout Kings episode "One for the Money".
- The Pontiac Bandit inBrooklyn Nine-Nine isn't technically a gentleman, but he's pretty much this trope in almost every other respect (or at least as close as a car thief who only ever jacks Pontiacs can get). He's an incredibly affable, friendly and likeable guy who clearly likes Detective Peralta, the police officer trying to catch him... but who clearly likes playing mind-games with Peralta and outwitting him to get away scot-free even more.
- Mission: Impossible: In "For Art's Sake", the IMF have to shut down a murderous gentleman thief and recover his store of stolen art.
Myth and Legend
- Robin Hood, in his usual classic portrayals, robs from the rich and gives to the poor. In some versions, he is a former Noble, making him more literally a Gentleman Thief.
- Sly Cooper is a cartoonish, raccoon, video game equivalent. He even has his own Worthy Opponent in the form of Carmelita Fox, with whom UST is a pronounced, recurring theme.
- Balthier from Final Fantasy XII is the embodiment of this trope.
- Mr. L, Luigi's Brainwashed and Crazy alter-ego from Super Paper Mario.
- Mask☆DeMasque, from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials & Tribulations, who carries out his thieving with Don Quixote-esque enthusiasm. The personality is not there, however, as Ron DeLite is a Nervous Wreck Cowardly Lion who steals primarily to support his wife's expensive habits-he's an unemployed ex-security guard.
- The Yatagarasu in Investigations, except the calling card is always sent after the theft...and what the Yatagarasu steals is the "truth". In other words, they (yes, they) uncover, steal, and deliver to the media incriminating information regarding people who otherwise can't be touched by the law, so that they'll actually be forced to pay for their crimes. The Yatagarasu's signature music is even CALLED Gentleman Thief.
- Trilby, from the Chzo Mythos and its platformer Gaiden Game, Trilby: The Art of Theft, all by Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, of Zero Punctuation fame, who stole his hat. This is most pronounced in The Art Of Theft: He only steals from the rich or other criminals, doesn't like resorting to lethal force, leaves his calling card with a picture of his hat, and anonymously donates one of his prizes to science. He'll even abandon heists if he's done too much damage (e.g. knocked out too many guards). After the events of 5 Days a Stranger, he Goes Mad From The Revelation and is captured and made to work for the government.
- The Gentleman Thief from Zork I, naturally.
- Risque the thief, from Dokapon Kingdom. He acts similarly to Boo in the Mario Party series, but instead of a ghostly cackle, he has a roguish laugh and a Nice Hat.
- Skye from Harvest Moon DS has—are you ready for this?—a "Maiden Chick Beam" that freezes women so that he can steal from them (of course, they're usually too busy swooning to stop him anyways). He also leaves a note before he steals, informing his targets of when he will arrive.
- Sky Pirate Johnny from Guilty Gear.
- The Elder Scrolls
- Throughout the series, when playing the Thieves' Guild quest line, it is often encouraged for the Player Character to be one. The Guild is generally violence averse, and several of the games offer greater rewards when Thieves Guild quests are completed without bloodshed, encouraging Actual Pacifism. You can also choose to dress in fancy clothing and rob only the rich outside of your quests and, since you generally make a lot of money easily in these games, you'll rarely ever have to steal for an actual living.
- In Morrowind, Thieves Guild Master Thief Gentleman Jim Stacey is one. He dresses in a full suit of "extravagant" clothing, speaks tactfully, and wants to revive the Bal Malogmer, an ancient group of Just Like Robin Hood thieves practice Karmic Thievery.
- In Oblivion, the Gray Fox serves as leader of the Thieves Guild. Once the curse on his Gray Cowl is lifted, he is revealed to be a literal example: Count Corvus Umbranox, Lord of Anvil.
- The late former Guildmaster Gallus in Skyrim definitely counted when he was alive — he once formed a steadfast friendship with a guy while he was robbing him.
- P.B. Winterbottom from The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom. It's always pie but still, he never paid for it.
- Dragon Age II has Varric, a Merchant-Prince. He's even introduced stopping a pickpocket from robbing Hawke, pinning the thief to the wall with a crossbow bolt, then while he's trapped casually offers some advice on how to rob people;
Varric: You know, I once knew a guy once who could take every coin out of your pockets just by smiling at you! But you, you don't have the style to work Hightown, let alone the Merchants' Guild! [takes the coin back] You might want to find yourself a new line of work? [punches him and pulls out the bolt] Off you go!
- Hawke also falls into this role, at least in Act I where they're doing mercenary work and in the "Mark of the Assassin" DLC where s/he assists a beautiful assassin in stealing a priceless jewel. Well, not really, but they are trying to recover something valuable.
- What Colm from Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones grows into in his solo ending. If you get him to marry Neimi through supports, he gives it up to protect his new family.
- The Phantom class from MapleStory.
- Daroach, leader of the eponymous gang of thieves in Kirby: Squeak Squad, certainly gives off this vibe, what with the Nice Hat and scepter. It's lampshaded in a few of his hints in Mass Attack.
- In Monaco: What's Yours is Mine this role is filled (Naturally) by The Gentleman.
- The Purple Zephyr in Wario: Master of Disguise. At least until Wario stole the magic cane which powered his transformations into his alter ego.
- In Mass Effect 3 Citadel DLC's casino mission, you come across a self-professed turian "con artist" on the prowl. He insists he is not a "con man", as those leave their marks angry. He, like other con artists, leave their marks smiling.
- Carmen Sandiego of the self-titled gaming franchise is a female variant. She's cultured and suave but is the world's best thief nevertheless. She was one of the best a star ACME agents until she took a Face–Heel Turn due to boredom.
- Invoked by the heroes of Persona 5, who moonlight as fancily dressed thieves who leave Calling Cards and target the wealthy and powerful who have exploited their positions to hurt others. Further, the Protagonist wields an Anthropomorphic Personification of his own psyche styled after Arsène Lupin, the Trope Codifier.
- Monsieur in Bandette is a highly-cultured, impeccably-mannered antiquarian book dealer, who is also a cat burglar who steals antiques and art objects from people who don't appreciate them enough.
- Scary Go Round occasionally features "Raffles", who lives the trope so determinedly that he may well be designed as an Intercontinuity Crossover from the original Raffles stories (see above under Literature), despite the different time period.
- Jeremy Archer from Shadow of the Templar. He uses non-lethal weapons to avoid killing people during his thefts, has sexual tension with Simon, the FBI agent chasing after him in the first novel (which stops being tension soon after), and acts as an occasional consultant for Simon's team on cases involving more dangerous criminals or that involve his area of expertise.
- The trope is kind of subverted in that, while he's extremely charming, any time he charms a woman, he does it with tongue firmly in cheek. It's implied that basically everyone knows he's gay (the team doesn't know because Jeremy doesn't want to mess up Simon's life). According to Word of God, he's bisexual with a preference toward men.
- It's also played with in that he falls pretty well under Classy Cat-Burglar (what with the Spy Catsuit and the Dating Catwoman with Simon), despite being male.
- The Onion: Bad Boy Fencing Star Implicated In Daring Jewel Heist.
- Roman Torchwick of Rooster Teeth's RWBY. Well dressed in a white jacket and ascot, with a cigar and derby hat completing the look, full of snappy witticisms with a cane/RPG for a weapon.
- Stan's real father in American Dad!.
- The one-shot character Malloy from The Simpsons. After being caught at the end of the episode, he graciously returns the items he has stolen—immediately followed by tricking the entire town of Springfield into searching for his buried stash while he escapes their jail.
- Phantom Limb from The Venture Bros. is another example. It is canon that Phantom Limb is the descendant of Fantômas.
- Barack Obama, John McCain, and the rest of the thief club in the South Park episode "About Last Night". Trey and Matt mention that Ocean's Eleven was their inspiration for their theft plot, so that helps.
- Le Poodle from Teamo Supremo.
- Red X from Teen Titans. He also has a bit of a Worthy Opponent relationship with Robin that occasionally delves into Friendly Enemy at certain points, with Red X deliberately placing himself in situations where he might be caught in order to help Robin (and, by extension, the rest of the Titans). It's made most obvious in the episode "Revved Up" when the two are racing on their motorcycles (and against other villains) in order to be the first to steal an already once-stolen case that is incredibly important to Robin. After a stray bomb throws Red X from his bike, Robin saves Red X's life by grabbing him out of mid-air and pulling him onto Robin's own motorcycle.
Red X: The briefcase really means that much to you?Robin: [grimly] You have no idea.Red X: Then go get it. [leaps off the back of the R-Cycle]
- Popeye encounters one of these in "Choose Yer Weppins".
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Pinkie Pie describes Donut Joe as a Gentleman Thief expy of James Bond when she accuses him of eating the desserts on the train. It Makes Sense in Context. Twilight Sparkle is very quick to correct her.
Twilight Sparkle: Joe is not sleek, stealthy Con Mane! He's big, gruff, and messy!
- In Episode 53 of Kaeloo, Kaeloo and Stumpy pretend to be Gentleman Thieves.
- In his memoirs, badass early-1900s detective Frederick Porter Wensley refers to the Spider, a brilliant Gentleman Thief who turned to a life of crime for a sense of adventure.
- The "Dean of American Bank Robbers", Harvey Bailey.
- Son'ka the Golden Hand (Сонка Золотая Ручка) was a famous lady thief and con artist of Imperial Russia during the late 19th century, who casually robbed the rich bourgeoisie of tens of thousands of rubles, posing as an aristocrat.
- John Dillinger counted.
- There was a period when the fashion for stage magicians included exploiting this image. When performing for wealthier groups, part of the act would usually include mingling with and pick-pocketing from the audience (and ostentatiously returning the loot).