In fiction, you can usually tell the good guys from the bad guys by the way they treat the working class. If the characters in question are aristocrats, the evil lords and ladies will treat their serfs and servants badly, while the good bluebloods will smile, treat them respectfully and make sure their working conditions are acceptable. If the work is set in the modern day, good characters will tip waitresses and know the names of their doorman or the guy at the newsstand, while bad guys stiff the waiter and treat the cable guy like a slave. In Super Hero works, especially Badass Normal ones, Something Person may be a Rich Idiot with No Day Job, but his employees smile at him on the rare occasion he shows up — he's a scatterbrainedBenevolent Boss, not a forgetful tyrant. The exception is the Affably Evil villain, who can say hello to his receptionist and buy her lunch hours before murdering her entire family.
In situations of more importance, the good man will disclaim credit for good work actually performed by subordinates, while the bad one will hog it. Conversely, the bad man will shove off blame, while the good one will accept, sometimes even when it is not really his fault (because he was in charge, or because their disparate status means his punishment will be less severe).
There's an interesting Real Life dynamic to this trope. It's become accepted wisdom that you can tell a lot about the man or woman you're dating by the way they treat the person waiting on them. This isn't bad advice, but it's become so well-worn that it's probably hard to trust that the person in question is really that polite to the server. At this point, if you're rude to the waiter in the presence of the person you're dating, you probably want to get dumped. (As such, look at who your date thinks s/he can get away with mistreating. Everybody considers somebody their inferior.)
And don't forget self-interest. You can put yourself in a bad place by angering the Almighty Janitor. Fail to tip the guys at curbside check-in and you're likely to find yourself wondering how one of your bags ended up in Argentina while the other is in Zaire. Insult your waiter and you might end up with high urine levels in your soup. And many an investigator has discovered that if you want to know the truth, asking the servants is among the cleverest paths.
This trope probably sprung up out of sympathy. Writing isn't known as a particularly lucrative career except for a very few skilled/lucky people, so until they get published a lot of writers have to work a "real" job—and depending on their education and skill set outside of writing, there might not be much else they can get hired for.
A subtrope of Pet the Dog (or Kick the Dog when the person is rude to the waiter), often used to show Hidden Depths.
Contrast with the self-serving Professional Butt-Kisser, who often reveals him- or herself as a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing once the bosses aren't around. See also We Have Reserves for a specific and military aversion, and The Dog Bites Back for why more villains should take this seriously. This often results in Laser-Guided Karma or I Ate What?. From the point of view of the servants, this may lead to No Hero to His Valet. Somewhat related to What You Are in the Dark (a good indicator of your character is how you treat those you think incapable of retaliation).
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In an nice pay off, the Conductor (actually Claire Stanfield) in Baccano!! saves Miria and Isaac because they were good customers on board his train..
Sanji from One Piece effectively demonstrates to Lieutenant Fullbody exactly why one should be polite to waiters.
Black Butler's Ciel Phantomhive treats his house staff well, despite the fact the majority of them appear to be useless (at least at first). Alois from the anime's second season however... couldn't be further from this trope.
Seto Kaiba is an interesting variant in that he treats the people who work at his company with cold, polite professionalism. By his standards, this is being downright civil, as he's a complete and total Jerkass to everyone else except his little brother Mokuba.
In Nana, when Sachiko learns that Shouji's girlfriend Nana (nicknamed Hachi) is at the restaurant they both work at, she drops the plate she was carrying. Hachi, who wasn't even at the table Sachiko was serving, gives her a handkerchief since she cut herself. Sachiko is heartbroken because Shouji is cheating on Hachi with her and nearly breaks up with him because of how guilty she feels. Instead, Shouji breaks up with Hachi.
One chapter of the Ouran High School Host Club manga has Tamaki scandalized when he sees a patron of a restaurant demand that a waiter be fired for dropping food on her. He is about to complain when his father stops him, telling him it's not his place. Being the kind of guy he is, though, Tamaki's father personally sees to it later that the waiter doesn't lose his job.
Code Geass has Sayoko Shinozaki, who was Milly Ashford's maid until Lelouch and Nunnally entered the picture, at which point she was assigned to help take care of the blind, paraplegic Nunnally. Everybody treats Sayoko very nicely, especially Nunnally, and thus she's very loyal to them even though she ends up helping Zero and La Résistance (though she does try to protect the kids when all hell breaks loose in the season finale). In the second season, when Zero unmasks for Sayoko and reveals himself as Lelouch, her reaction is brief surprise followed by a satisfied smile, and after that she becomes his personal Battle Butler.
Both Kail and Yuri from Anatolia Story. On one hand, Kail handpicks servants who prove themselves to be loyal, and more or less considers them his closest friends. On the other, Yuri views her maids as her best friends and trusts them with everything; in fact, while on a visit to Egypt, the other maids are shocked that she doesn't demand one of them be whipped or starved for spilling water on her dress.
In Girls und Panzer, both Miho and Maho Nishizumi are friendly and courteous to the Nishizumi family maids. They are in turn more than willing to talk with Miho about her troubles. When Miho and her friends are troubled over Maho suddenly acting quite aloof and cold after their mother's return, Kikuyo begs them not to blame Maho, saying that Maho is burdened with many things as Nishizumi heiress, indicating a considerable amount of personal respect and sympathy for Maho, as well as possibly knowing that Maho strives to be a good heiress so that Miho can live the way she wishes.
In Bokurano, the second pilot reminisces how his father would routinely harass waiters and send the food back for imaginary faults just to see them squirm. The kid actually considers this manner of power play admirable and wants to emulate it. Tellingly, the kid is a utter sociopath who delights in the death and destruction caused by him taking the fight to a heavily populated area, since the destruction will mean more business for his father's construction company. He does not take it well when he ends up crushing his father underfoot.
In Pumpkin Scissors, Alice is kind to the working class and common man despite being born into high nobility. When one of her peers threatens to fire a chef for using cheap nuts in his dish due to shortages, Alice steps in and offers to hire the poor chef.
Bruce Wayne is usually depicted as treating Wayne Enterprises employees fairly and acting as a kind, if absent-minded boss, as well as spearheading a great deal of charity work out of a genuine interest in the welfare of Gotham City. Being raised by his butler likely influenced him in this manner.
This is especially obvious in one issue towards the end of the Murderer/Fugitive arc which covers Bruce reintegrating himself with his day-to-day life after an extended period away. He knows the names of every employee (even the mail boy who he reminds about Wayne Enterprises college programs) and every employee treats him as a genuinely well-liked, if eccentric and slightly dim, employer.
Most of the Bat Family are also like this, except for Damian, towards Alfred. Everyone tends to treat him like a friend doing them a favor whereas Damian keeps their relationship to master and servant, calling him Pennyworth and giving orders rather than making requests. He's not mean (well, he kind of was to start with, but he's mellowed since then), he's just not got much in the way of social skills and keeps the relationship professional.
Similarly, Tony Stark has usually been written as a near-perfect boss who inspires tremendous personal loyalty. When Obadiah Stane stole Stark's company out from under him, most of his employees lined up and quit. (Stark had once used a similar threat to thwart Nick Fury's hostile takeover.)
This one goes back and forth depending on the writer, the era, and whether Tony is in one of his periodic Jerkass phases.
When Tony blows his top and yells at an employee, he usually has a very good reason. Tony once regretted berating the head of his legal department and resolved to apologize, but that was because the guy was doing such a crappy job as the head of Stark Enterprises' legal team. He was fired a couple of issues later after Tony became fed up with his incompetence.
In The Movie, he's an honestly thickheaded doofus of a boss. But if Pepper is any example, he at least knows the value of a good employee; she does practically everything for him, so he lets her write her own bonus checks!
All The Avengers have great respect for their butler Jarvis (another Stark employee, by the way), naming him an honorary Avenger. We most often see this with Captain America.
Another Cap example: there is a story told bit by bit to some accountants trying to tally up the damages after a superhero fight by the various Avengers involved in said fight. Some Avengers are rude, some of them annoyed, some cavalier, Thor just hands over a bag of gold, and Cap… Cap hands over filled-out paperwork for the ticketed Quinjet (including the badge number of the officer who wrote the ticket) and the voucher for removing property from a prison. The accountants love him.
Another Cap one, from the beginning of the Civil War arc: Cap breaks out of SHIELD's helicarrier by commandeering a jet fighter (including pilot) through the simple expedient of clinging on to the cockpit. Being Cap, he orders the pilot to set down in a not-in-use football stadium and takes them out for a burger.
Subverted in Lex Luthor: Man of Steel; Lex Luthor goes out of his way to be a friendly, personable boss to the help, from his janitor to the guy who owns the newsstand near his building to Alfred Pennyworth when he meets Bruce Wayne. However, this doesn't stop him from being a complete bastard.
Lex is actually a very complex character when it comes to this trope. Lex appreciates honest, hard work, since he himself comes from a working-class background, and as much of a villain as he is, he's not lying when he says that he has the ultimate well-being of humanity in mind. HE should be the one in charge, but as long as he has that, he does try to give those under him better lives. Lex has a good understanding of how economics work, so he knows that his financial empire is supported by average joes working blue-collar jobs.
In a good showing of Lex's complex portrayal in this comic, he's very respectful and thankful to one of the scientists working under him on a critical project, but is still willing to sacrifice him in his latest plot to kill Superman (although he does seem regretful about it).
There is an element of Depending on the Writer to this, since there are also many portrayals of Lex that, if they do present this trope, suggest that it is merely a paper-thin facade he maintains to conceal what is actually a ruthless, vicious contempt for anyone he feels is beneath him.
The three main characters and the main comprimary of Diabolik are this: Diabolik may be a murderous thief, but as long as he's not furious or disguised as a Jerkass he's unfailingly polite and respectful to everyone, especially his victims (he even complimented the courage of an old woman he had kidnapped to steal her jewels when she openly challenged him to torture her to get the combination to the safe, and didn't harm her in the slightest); Eva is genuinely nice with everyone, as long as she's not disguised as a jerkass or you didn't gain her wrath (if that happens, just kill yourself); Ginko being Ginko, he's gentle and respectful with his subordinates and people in general, but also knows the advantages of acting like that (on one occasion a mob boss managed to get him pissed, and Ginko first shoved him in his own pool and then told him to spare himself a deposition, as he had twenty cops who would swear he was somewhere else); Altea may be a member of the obnoxious nobility of Benglait and a member (by her first marriage) of the much hated royal family of Benglait, but she was always nice to everyone, even risking her own life to save her butler (actually Diabolik in disguise to steal some of her jewels) when the revolution erupted and a mob tried to lynch her and offering her own jewels to Diabolik (and covering his tracks) when he helped her escape the chaos and possible lynching in the revolution in Benglait.
Richie Rich and his parents are the world's richest people and are nice to the people working for them.
It's a recurring theme in Shadow And Rose that Elissa, the Grey Warden, is unfailingly polite to everyone the group meets. As Alistair notes when talking to Zevran, "it's probably saved our lives more than once."
Used in Look Who's Talking when Mollie starts dating several men and discarding them by imagining how they would behave with her son, Mikey, judging on how they treat the waiter.
Alex O'Connell from the most recent The Mummy shows us his basic decency by back-slapping with his Chinese laborers and offering bits of encouragement in their native tongue.
In The Whole Ten Yards, Bruce Willis's hitman with a heart of gold beats a man senseless for berating his waitress in a restaurant (after, surprisingly, he tries talking to the guy about it calmly), then tells the man's kid to always be kind to people serving you food, and to eat his vegetables.
In the previous movie The Whole Nine Yards, he threatened to violently murder the waitress who took his hamburger order down wrong. This might have gone to show he'd become a more decent person in the interim.
Subverted in Reservoir Dogs. The opinionated Mr. Pink doesn't believe in tipping just because "society tells him to," but the rest of the criminals, some of them pretty rough customers, are all united in finding that behavior unacceptable.
Johnny Cage: Thank God I didn't ask him to park the car...
Subverted in A Few Good Men, where total bastard Colonel Jessup is shown taking time out of holding court at a lunch table (and preparing to humiliate the Navy lawyers who've come to investigate his base) to thank the waiter and tell him the meal was delicious.
Patrick Bateman and all of his Yuppie friends in American Psycho are absolutely horrid to the waiters at the various expensive restaurants they go to, which just highlights how evil they are.
In the biopic Gandhi, as part of his philosophy regarding good will towards others, the titular pacifist helps his servant carry the tea set.
In The Princess and the Frog, the first sign that "Big Daddy" LeBouf is an Uncle Pennybags is the way he treats Tiana's mother (a black seamstress who works for him) with genuine respect. He encourages the lifelong friendship between Tiana and his daughter Charlotte, and he and Charlotte are shown being very friendly and respectful to restaurant servers and other service personnel (including Tiana, who is a waitress).
In Casino Royale, a Jerkass rudely tells Bond to park the car, mistaking him for a valet. Playing along, Bond lines it up perfectly, rams it into the guardrail, then smirks at the ensuing scene.
After beating Le Chiffre, Bond gives one of his newly-won casino chips to the dealer.
In Clueless, Cher tells her family's maid, Lucy, that she doesn't speak "Mexican", angering the native Salvadorian into storming off. While seemingly a rude and disrespectful thing to say, in context it's made clear that Cher was guilty ofsimple ignorance and frustration with her own problems rather than any actual malice towards the maid. Throughout the movie she speaks with Lucy as an equal rather than a servant, and apologizes to her later after realizing her mistake.
In the film of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the heroes are appalled to find that the people of the island they land on are enslaved and some are being dumped there as sacrifices, and resolve to do something about it. At the end of the film, Caspian admits to being tempted to visit Aslan's country but refuses, on the grounds that he won't abandon his subjects.
Subverted in Goodfellas. Many of the gangsters are very gregarious and generous to common people they encounter, often giving large tips - but this is only because this is a part of the glamorous lifestyle that they lead, not due to any actual compassion on their part. Tommy is willing to kill a waiter because he feels he is being disrespected, and Jimmy's only concern afterwards is the hassle of disposing of the body.
In The Dark Knight Rises, Bane gives a courteous "thank you" to a Stock Exchange courier who held his helmet while Bane held up the GSE. He's generally nice and cheery to everyone, even when he's about to or is currently beating them to a pulp, or breaking their neck.
In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Elizabeth seems to be on friendly terms with her maid. When she does scold the maid for being "too bold", it came more from her being unwilling to admit her feelings for Will (the maid was implying that Will would be a good husband for her). When the pirates are looting the mansion, Elizabeth tells the maid to hide and run to safety at the first chance she gets.
In an inversion of the trope, Elizabeth chides William Turner for calling her "Miss Swan" instead of her given name. William politely refuses to drop the formality, and Elizabeth's father praises him for having a better sense of propriety than his daughter.
In The Cable Guy, the main character's estranged girlfriend goes on a date with a jerk played by Owen Wilson, who immediately kicks the dog by being a condescending asshole to the waiter. This makes his impending beatdown seem a bit deserved, thereby keeping the Cable Guy from reaching the depths of his villainy quite so early in the film.
In Waiting, there is a scene which illustrates exactly why you should be nice to the waiter.
Murder by Death uses this to set up an Actually That's My Assistant gag. The group is expecting Jessica Marbles, a great detective, to show up. When she does, it appears that she is a very elderly lady in a wheelchair, being looked after by a middle-aged nurse. In fact the younger woman is Marbles - she was raised by her nurse, and is now taking care of her in her old age.
A Running Gag in The Thin Man films is that Nick gets along famously with the many criminals he has arrested over the years. Most of his friends are either crooks or former crooks, and none of them hold anything against him for catching them. After the Thin Man even sets up a suspect whose brother Nick sent up the river, and implies that he might be out for revenge... only to have him save Nick's life during the climax because "I don't like my brother. I like his girl."
Zigzagged in Crocodile Dundee. In New York, Mick makes a faux pas towards an African-American valet which might have been taken as a racist comment; fortunately, not only is the guy not offended, he later helps stop a rather aggressive mugger who harasses Mick.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug starts with a scene of Thorin stopping for a meal at an inn on a rainy day. Here's a dwarf who spends most of two movies ranging from grumpy to downright rude towards various people in power, who rarely smiles, and whose current trip investigating rumors of his father being in the area has been for naught. Yet when the waitress brings his meal, he offers a nice smile and a sincere "Thank you."
Frozen: Prince Hans is quite nice to Anna when she bumps into him early in the film, despite not knowing she's a Princess of the kingdom he's visiting. When he looks after Arendelle in her absence, he's seen showing a great deal of concern for the common people, distributing warm cloaks and urging them to go into the palace for hot soup. Too bad he's the villain.
Duumvirate uses this trope constantly. Being on good terms with your servants is a mark of competence as a master. The titular characters even use it to decide who to let live at the end of the book.
Jane Eyre: Mr. Rochester is generous to and undemanding of his servants, albeit a bit weird. Then Jane shows up...
In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, one of the signs that Mr. Darcy isn't as bad as Elizabeth had initially believed is that his servants speak glowingly of him to strangers.
This trope is ubiquitous in all of Tamora Pierce's novels. Heroes and their allies are good nobles, who are kind to peasants and servants and care for their needs, while villains are frequently cruel to commoners as well as to animals, abusing their authority over both.
Inversion: The Emperor of Carthak had Daine, the most famous wild-mage in Tortall, travel to his palace just to heal his pet birds—yet he can "send armies to their deaths without batting an eye." This is the first clue as to how messed-up he is.
Eddard Stark is always polite and respectful with his servants. He regularly invites one peasant to dine with him for a night to better understand the needs of his smallfolk.
Catelyn Stark also treats the commoners well. After promising a ship's crew a bonus if they made good time, she paid each oarsman personally rather than give the money to their captain who would have kept it all for himself.
Edmure Tully was the only noble to allow his peasants to take refuge in his castle during the war, a move which the others saw as foolish and soft-hearted. Which is a bit of Artistic License - History combined with Hollywood Tactics; the whole point of having a castle with a large courtyard and big sturdy walls is to protect the commoners during a siege. After all, if they all get killed by the enemy, who's going to take care of your land afterwards?
Danaerys Targaryen frees all of her slaves, treats her servants with respect, and thinks of all of her followers as her children.
Jaime Lannister treats his squires and washerwomen well. This is likely an extension of his being a Father to His Men. He even ships them, and invites a poor raped girl into his household because he can.
In Dorothy L. Sayers' Have His Carcass, Harriet Vane is cleared of suspicion because the police asked her charwoman about her associates; they have found this a reliable way of finding them out.
Also, part of the signal that the murder victim in Whose Body? is a good guy is that he was well-liked by his servants, not just because of this, but also in a more classist way, because he was a "natural gentleman" despite being a Self-Made Man- one point in solving the mystery was that he would always neatly fold his clothing before going to bed.
In the Potterverse, the wizarding world's treatment of sentient non-humans (especially house-elves, who are by nature vulnerable to exploitation) is both an overtly political issue and a sign of personal values.
Hermione and Harry play this trope straight from the beginning. Ron is somewhat blind to the injustice around him after having grown up in the magical world, but earns something special from Hermione when he finally figures it out in Deathly Hallows.
Hogwarts has the largest population of house-elves in the world, but they all wear clean pillowcases with the Hogwarts seal stamped on them, as opposed to the filthy rags other house elves are shown wearing, and Dumbledore allows Dobby to work as hired help rather than an indentured servant and encourages Dobby to insult him in private. His starting offer of wages and vacation days is actually too generous for Dobby, who demands a lower one. Helga Hufflepuff, one of the founders of Hogwarts, gathered house-elves to the school so that they would have steady work (which elves thrive on) and not run the risk of being abused by harsh masters out in the wizarding world.
Sirius Black, source of the page quote, was (according to Dumbledore) kind to house-elves in general but cruel to his own house elf Kreacher, while his evil-aligned family were kind to Kreacher. Sirius is the second type of No Hero to His Valet: he is good, but when cooped up in a house he hates, with a servant who belittles everyone he cares about, giving in to his demons becomes more understandable. This proves to be Sirius' undoing.
As Hermione points out, house-elves tend to absorb and reflect the beliefs of those who are kind to them, so for most of the story Kreacher is racist, classist, and nasty... until Harry and Hermione are kind to him and he slowly begins taking on the beliefs of his new master, albeit quite late in the series.
Ironically, the quote comes from Sirius commenting on Barty Crouch's bad treatment of his house-elf Winky, which is arguably just Crouch desperate to stop the investigation and protect his son.
Dumbledore warns Harry at one point that, at a national level, wizards and witches are being too arrogant and patronizing in dealing with "inferior species" (goblins, house-elves, centaurs, etc), and if they don't start dealing them fairly, they are going to make unnecessary enemies at a time they can ill-afford to do so. There are repeated instances of non-humans being genuinely surprised that Harry and his friends treat them with respect, or becoming increasingly alienated by the Ministry's insensitive behavior.
Umbridge refers to the centaurs of the Forbidden Forest as "filthy half-breeds" to their faces. Their reaction leaves her with a permanent fear of clopping hooves.
Dumbledore's prediction comes fully true in Deathly Hallows: Voldemort grants special treatment to a few particularly violent non-human species he finds useful as weapons, but the rest suffer even more abuse at the hands of the Death Eaters than under the Ministry, and rise against him in outright revolt after Harry's Heroic Sacrifice.
If you want to know what a lady is really like, don't look at her; for she may be too clever for you. Don't look at the men round her, for they may be too silly about her. But look at some other woman who is always near to her, and especially one who is under her. You will see in that mirror her real face, and the face mirrored in Mrs. Sands was very ugly.
In another one, the denouement hinges on the fact that Father Brown talks to the secretary, whereas the employer knows nothing about him besides his name.
In yet another one, the villain's deception only works because his victims don't pay any attention to the waiters serving them. Chesterton was slightly fond of this trope.
In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Necropolis, when the Noble Yetch and the Noble Chass are introduced in Council, Yetch argues that he should be able to evict refugees who have flooded his factory, interfering with production. Against him, Chass says that he liked those people when they raised his production quotas, and they should be permitted.
Chass continued. "If this attack inconveniences our houses, I say: Let us be inconvenienced. We have a duty to the hive population."
It must not have stuck with his daughter: when the attack begins, Lady Chass is caught in a dress store. When she finds that the clerk fled for his life instead of seeing to her safety (bear in mind, the district was being shelled by artillery at the time!), she declares the store will never again have the patronage of her house.
In the historical novel Betsy and the Emperor, a British teenager is surprised to note that Napoleon Bonaparte, who is, as far as she's concerned, the scourge of Europe, is fair and decent towards slaves, allowing them to take a rest break before a noble prisoner is allowed the same privilege.
Similarly, Bertie realizes that Florence Craye truly is a Rich Bitch when he learns how mean she is to servants. According to a comment from Jeeves in the TV version, her downstairs nickname is "Lady Caligula". Both she and Honoriah Glossop have stated their dislike of Jeeves, and Bertie's Aunt Agatha (probably the most class-conscious character around) routinely criticizes Bertie for consulting Jeeves on personal matters.
All of Bertie's friends respect Jeeves' competence and intelligence: Bingo Little regularly relies on Jeeves for help with his romantic problems (often involving women of a lower social class as an added bonus), and Bertie's Aunt Dahlia invites Bertie to stay just to have access to Jeeves for her schemes. Bertie is (usually) the first to recommend Jeeves' advice & opinion, openly admitting that Jeeves is the brains of the pair - "the man practically lives on fish!"
In Sandy Mitchell's Warhammer 40,000 novel Scourge The Heretic, Secundan society is so hierarchical, and superiors are never polite to inferiors, even Inquisition agents have to be brusque to get treated as serious; those who qualify for this trope are taken as inferior.
The Pevensies are kings and queens who treat all of the other beings with respect.
In The Horse and His Boy, when Shasta and Bree find Hwin and Aravis, Bree and Hwin talk. Aravis demands to know why he's talking to her horse, not her. Bree points out that as Talking Horse, Hwin has as much right to speak of Aravis as her human. Aravis finds this unsettling.
Similarly, Aravis gets karmic punishment for her lack of concern over a servant: the servant got a whipping for letting Aravis escape, so Aslan scores Aravis's back with his claws.
Various Calormene nobles are unpleasant to the lower classes, starting with the one who wants to buy Shasta. Archenland's and Narnia's nobles and royalty do much better.
It's worth noting that Frank, the first king of Narnia, treated his horse as if it were a close friend. When Aslan made the horse intelligent and able to talk, Frank was thrilled, seeing it as proof that the horse was as smart (and well-bred) as he thought. Then again, Frank was not exactly posh himself, being a London cabbie before his ascension to royalty.
In Graham McNeill's Horus Heresy novel False Gods, Maggard's vocal cords have been removed because it is unfitting for a bodyguard like him to speak in the presence of his mistress. Unsurprisingly, when Horus praises him highly after a fight, his loyalties are Horus's. When she sees that after that fight, the soldiers respect him more than her, she thinks it wrong and resolves to fix it. Horus assassinates her, while Maggard is off assassinating another obstacle to Horus's plans.
In Swallow's Red Fury, the tech adepts who dazzle Caceus are less concerned about his servant Fenn, which means Fenn has a much clearer idea of them.
Also from Swallow, Faith & Fire, where Vaun hits a medic merely because he is annoyed at the man fussing over his injuries.
In Graham McNeill's Fulgrim, Braxton is enraged that the primarch keeps him waiting, because keeping people waiting is what he does to other people, to demonstrate his superior status.
This is lampshaded in the Ciaphas Cain series by Sandy Mitchell. Cain includes this in his personal survival doctrine as he notices that superiors who treat their subordinates and servants well seem to be blessed with subordinates who are more willing to fight to protect them and are less likely to "Die gloriously for the Emperor" mysteriously having been taken from behind.
It's pointed out that, despite having previously been a very negatively portrayed Straw Character, John Simpson and his wife are greatly respected by the working class people of Magdeburg because of their treatment of their underlings. Despite being a bit of a snob, Mary Simpson is commonly referred to as "The American Lady" because she is unfailingly courteous to her servants, where most 17th century nobles would ignore them completely.
Likewise, in the beginning of the same novel, Cardinal Richelieu is noted to be very polite to his servants, repaying loyalty from them with loyalty in return.
Weapons designer John of Rhodes is the sort of man who's only rude to his social equals or superiors. There's also Kungas, whose character is revealed to Raghunath Rao when he walks into a room, swiftly assesses where he'll need to post guards, curtly gives his soldiers the orders to post those guards, and then leads them slowly and carefully across the room so they won't scuff the floor a servant was polishing just then.
When Eon is being evaluated for the position of Emperor by the Axumite chiefs and warriors one of the most important things they ask is how he treated the servant girls. They all knew he was a notorious ladies man and didn't mind terribly; but what they wanted to know is if he had abused them or unduly pressured them because that was considered a sign of how he would treat his people. Eon passed with flying colors; he was intemperate with his servants but not unkind and that was what they wanted to know.
When Rana Sanga stormed the Malwa capital, his son Rajiv felt pity on a company of hapless mooks about to be cut up and trampled so he rushed out, announced himself and got them to surrender and swear themselves to his service; and had them all lined up safely out of the way when his father came thundering through the gate. Dad feels both great pride and great amusement.
In The Mad King, the regent and his Mook discuss how Von der Tann might have found out:
I don't for a moment doubt but that he has his spies among the palace servants, or even the guard. You know the old fox has always made it a point to curry favor with the common soldiers. When he was minister of war he treated them better than he did his officers.
In Terry Pratchett's Unseen Academicals, both Ridcully and Lord Vetinari listen to Glenda, a Night Kitchen cook, reminding us that none of these characters fit any stereotype perfectly. The former is partially because wizards like their food, though he didn't know that she was the one making the incredible pies until about halfway through the conversation. Lord Vetinari talks to her because she's a cook—she's a Sugarbean.
It's noticeable that Ridcully tends to be a lot nicer to the serving staff than he is to his fellow professors, possibly related to him growing up on the street himself.
It's probably also a commentary on the fact that he was originally appointed Archchancellor because after he finished school he went to live in the country, and they were expecting a bucolic halfwit who wouldn't make waves; he has shown a tendency to repay respect in kind, on both sides of the scale.
Ridcully didn't grow up in the streets, but up in the Ramtops (at least, he spent a good many summers in Lancre). People in Lancre don't accept notions of class and rank meaning you can be rude to people.
Taken in an interesting direction with the Duchess in I Shall Wear Midnight. She may be rude or even contemptuous to her servants, but she takes care of them. She considers it a matter of pride that no one who works for her will ever have to beg for food, and in fact, the reason she has so many servants is because a fair number of them are needed to take care of the servants too old to work.
Subverted in Going Postal. The villain of the story is Reacher Gilt, and our hero Moist notes that impersonating him in a letter to a maître d' is a surefire way to get himself a table; Reacher's entire public image is an act, and part of the persona he presents involves tipping like a drunken sailor, even though he's a murderous bastard underneath. Moist on the other hand is a good guy (or at least a less evil guy) who cannot afford the expensive meal, and implicitly intends to scam his way out of paying (before Reacher offers to buy it for him).
In Snuff, Vimes learns that the previous Lady Ramkin had a policy that the housemaids may not even look at a man while on the job, and must turn to face the wall when one comes by (or flee if addressed). He considers this to be classist bullshit until his wife explains the reasoning; it's to protect the maids. They aren't especially worldly or well educated, and young aristocratic males have a tendency to take advantage of them, so preventing any contact while they are on the job is wise. The maids are otherwise well treated, well paid, and thanks to this policy "have no shame about wearing white on their wedding days".
Snuff also reveals that the late Lord Ramkin was this; he was a drunken old sot, but also a very jolly one who had no qualms about throwing money around and drinking with the servants as equals. Another holder of the title tried to avert this by tossing red hot pennies to the gate guards for a laugh, but was usually so drunk that he'd do it with dollars instead, so the servants actually miss the practice.
In The Secret Garden, Mary's mother wanted her out of the way, and the servants would just try to keep Mary quiet. As a consequence, she quickly learned tantrums and hitting to get what she wanted. Her uncle's servants do not treat her with deference, which helps in her Character Development from Spoiled Brat.
Mary also quickly takes a liking to Martha, Dickon, and their family, along with the gardener. Mostly this is because those are the people who are consistently around, while her uncle is never there. Even when she befriends Colin, she chooses to spend the day with Dickon instead of him at one point.
Conversely Sara Crewe, heroine of the same author's A Little Princess, treats the servants at Miss Minchin's with courtesy. When she's the school's "show pupil", she is kind to scullery maid Becky, realizing out loud, "We are just the same — I am only a little girl like you. It's just an accident that I am not you, and you are not me." And later when she's relegated to the status of servant herself, even when the other servants verbally abuse her she responds with "a quaint civility":
"She's got more airs and graces than if she come from Buckingham Palace, that young one," said the cook, chuckling a little sometimes. "I lose my temper with her often enough, but I will say she never forgets her manners. 'If you please, cook'; 'Will you be so kind, cook?' 'I beg your pardon, cook'; 'May I trouble you, cook?' She drops 'em about the kitchen as if they was nothing."
In one of the adaptations, even when she's a servant and starving, Sara gives her last bit of food to a starving family.
She also, in the book, buys herself a dozen sweet rolls with some money she finds in the street - but gives all but one of them to a homeless waif who's even hungrier than she is.
In the Cuaron adaptation, Sara also promises to return and rescue Becky when she escapes from the boarding house.
One of the Millers' most scandalous crimes in Daisy Miller is that they * gasp* actually treat their servant Eugenio like a human being instead of a piece of furniture! How could anyone be so vulgar?!
He was a fine old man, but looked sadly ill and worn. "A crust of bread is what I crave!" he repeated. "A single crust, and a little water!" "Here's some water, drink this!" Uggug bellowed, emptying a jug of water over his head. "Well done, my boy!" cried the Vice-Warden.
Sylvie and Bruno chase after him to give him Bruno's cake — and find he's their father.
And, in Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, Alice is kind and polite to everyone she meets. This is in contrast to the White Rabbit, who apparently is upper-class enough for a servant, and who we see speaking rudely to said "servant" (he mistook Alice for her) and later boot-licking the Queen of Hearts.
This is taken to extremes in Through the Looking Glass, where the White and Red Queen expect the newly-queened Alice to be so polite as to formally introduce herself to the dishes at her coronation banquet. She obliges for the first few, but eventually refuses on the grounds that they won't let her eat anything she knows personally and she's very hungry.
Part of Wedge Antilles' Establishing Character Moment in Rogue Squadron is his conscientiousness to his mechanic; he smiles and tells the mechanic that his X-Wing looks good as new if not better, putting aside private unease. The mechanic is a Verpine, and there are stories about Verpine mechanics tinkering with craft and forgetting that most pilots don't count in base six or have vision that lets them see microscopic detail. But none of the stories are substantiated. He's also sympathetic to his new astromech when it tells him that its nickname is "Mynock" because a previous pilot said it screamed like one in combat, which was a slander.
Played with amusingly in Wraith Squadron, when Wedge shows up in a rather similar scene to look over twelve shiny new X-Wings, and this time he's not the viewpoint character. This mechanic lies blatantly, saying that these are the worst new ships he's ever seen - factory-new ships tend to have all kinds of untested irregularities - and unless he can pull off a miracle with the extruder valve, they won't be flight-ready for a couple of days. Wedge blinks and gives him those days, apparently completely ignorant of the fact that X-Wings have no extruder valve. He wanders around for a bit, making the mechanics uneasy and meaning that they can't go on break for fear of being written up; they retaliate by loudly telling each other about catastrophic mechanical failures in X-Wings and the resultant loss of life. After he finally leaves, they fix the minor problems and play sabacc. Overestimating the time makes them look good.
In Aaron Dembski-Bowden's Warhammer 40,000Night Lords novel Soul Hunter, the Night Lord Talos finding his shuttle had been attacked, with one slave dying and another kidnapped, treats the slave's injuries, assuring him that what went wrong didn't matter, charges into a stronghold of his enemies to save the other from Attempted Rape, and gives the first slave the best quality augmentics for his body parts injured beyond repair - better than many rich can get. It's not unsurprising the second slave, who had been used as a pawn her whole life before she was Made a Slave, becomes a loyal slave.
In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Lost, Miranda does, in the opening scenes, sacrifice valuable artifacts to save a servant, though she is conflicted over it. Later, after she learns that her Lack of Empathy may be magically induced, and is told that her aerial servants love her, she consciously decides to use persuasion rather than force to get Boreaus to not harm humans, and then instead of flatly refusing to free them, tells the air spirits that she would need them to swear to keep the air spirits from causing harm. They concede that this would be difficult but start thinking about how they could pull it off, grateful for even the chance. Also, when her brother complains of one of her employees speaking his mind, she backs up the employee.
In "The Secret Sin of Septimus Brope," by Saki, there is the following exchange:
"Is your maid called Florence?" "Her name is Florinda." "What an extraordinary name to give a maid!" "I did not give it to her; she arrived in my service already christened." "What I mean is," said Mrs. Riversedge, "that when I get maids with unsuitable names I call them Jane; they soon get used to it." "An excellent plan," said the aunt of Clovis coldly; "unfortunately I have got used to being called Jane myself. It happens to be my name."
Isolder: "You shouldn't do this! The universe doesn't work this way!"
Luke: "What do you mean?"
Isolder: "You—you're treating those beasts as equals. You show my mother, the Ta'a Chume of the Hapes empire, the same degree of cordiality as you give a droid!"
Luke: "This droid, these beasts, all have a similar measure of the Force within them. If I sense the Force, how can I not respect them, just as I respect Ta'a Chume?"
Amy Thomson's Through Alien Eyes has the ultra-wealthy Xaviera family require that all of their children work as servants for three days a week in part to foster this.
In The Problem of Thor Bridge, Sherlock Holmes benefits from this trope when one of his wealthy client's employees comes at the outset to warn him about the client's vindictive nature. Holmes even lampshades it when he points out the insights one can get into a man's character when you see what his employees think of him.
Interestingly conversed and partially averted in Agatha Christie's Taken at the Flood. An aristocratic wife manages to treat her servants distantly, though politely - she is dependent on them to take care of her, but never pretends to relate to them. Her maids don't hate her for it, though - in fact they're somewhat fascinated by her glamour and difference.
In Sara Paretsky's Fire Sale, readers are clued in fairly early that Billy, the youngest of the family that turns out to be the Big Bad (they own a Walmart-like corporation), is different from the rest of his family by how he treats the workers kindly and they all are happy to see him.
In Beastly, one of the signs that Kyle is becoming a better person is that he sees his maid and his tutor as his best friends. Also, the girl he falls in love with worked the ticket booth at prom at the beginning of the book (though he didn't think well of her at the time).
In P. G. Wodehouse's Jill The Reckless, Jill. To such an extent that Freddie warns that her prospective mother-in-law will regard it as undue familiarity.
In the Chivalric RomanceTale of Gamelyn, Gamelyn's attack on his brother does not rouse any assistance for the brother from the servants, because Gamelyn treated them well, and his brother poorly.
In The Kadin, Lady Janet not only treats her own people well, but when she hires crafters to build her new hall, she makes sure the craftmasters pay their workers as soon as she pays them, something a few of them aren't happy about. Janet also gets regularly called out for being nice to her serfs and servants, not that she cares. Their love for her encourages them to do their best, and her demesne is very prosperous.
An inversion occurs in the later Ender’s Game novels, where John Paul warns his son Peter that Achilles is undermining Peter's leadership because Achilles is always kind and friendly with the staff, while Peter tends to ignore them. In this case, though, Peter is the Big Good and Achilles is a murderous psychopath (albeit one who is very good at lying when he needs to).
In John C. Wright's The Hermetic Millennia, Larz tells Menelaus that he actually worked for Menelaus, who never noticed the little guys. But Larz is not telling the truth in this scene.
In Dealing With Dragons, Cimorene is technically hired help for Kazul, but the relationship between the two is very much that of close friends. This is notable considering that pretty much all the other dragons ignore their princesses and don't expect much out of them (Kazul even says that princesses are generally only kept as a "minor" mark of social status) while the princesses don't actually do any work and run off with whatever prince comes to rescue them.
While King Mendabar isn't very fond of his elven servant, Willin, he is still shown to be a sympathetic character. This is because while Willin means well, he tends to bother Mendabar about stuff the king doesn't need him fussing with. Mendabar does treat his subjects as kindly as he can, which is impressive considering that his kingdom is full of magical creatures who constantly are bickering and enchanting each other and getting into trouble.
In Seanan McGuire's Velveteen Vs The Junior Super Patriots, Velveteen gets new toys to animate by going to Goodwill, animating all the toys they have, warning them about the dangers of going with her, and asking for volunteers.
In McGuire's InCryptid series, one of the things that makes Dominic DeLuca realize that cryptids aren't evil monsters is literally that Verity's cryptid cousin Sarah remembers to be nice to her waitress, despite having such powerful telepathic abilities she could have told the waitress to do anything at all and been eagerly obeyed.
Subverted in an anecdote from Perry Rhodan, which has a noble Arkonide acting conspicuously polite towards a mere gardener (of an "inferior" species, at that) who has greeted him in the same way not out of any particular respect or appreciation, but simply to demonstrate that just like everything else his grasp of manners is naturally also superior to that of "such a creature".
In Poul Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions, Alianora rescues Hugi from Duke Alaric's stronghold while Holger fights his way free. Holger is ashamed of himself for not thinking of Hugi's danger himself.
In the Black Crown short story 'Solace', King Flavius clearly doesn't hold a grudge against the working class; despite referring to the peasants in 'Schism' as 'the mob' and 'stallions to be broken'.
In Poul Anderson's "Inside Straight", Ganch is repulsed by the way their nice manners extend even to inferiors — in this particular case, a waiter.
In Andre Norton's Ice Crown, Princess Ludorica remembers a soldier's name even though he was presented to her only once, and when they are traveling as commoners, she shoots down going to a wedding, and proposes a birthing, with them making a wreath along the way, so that her companion comments on how well she knows peasant customs.
In Andre Norton's Catseye, Rerne is polite to and talks with Troy; Citizen Dragur babbles about his triumph and only when he has a question manages to remember that Troy is there.
In Andre Norton's Storm Over Warlock, Garth Thorvald took advantage of his superior position and ability to talk his way out of trouble to abuse Shann.
In Honor Harrington, the good officers/aristocrats are always very polite to subordinates and make sure they get lots of credit for their work, whereas evil ones belittle and tyrannize their underlings and treat servants as air that brings them things.
In the Percy Jackson books, it's the degree to which Percy and Nico are nice to the waiter that is used to contrast them. Percy noticed a little girl stoking the hearth on his first day at Camp Half-Blood, but gave it no other thought. She later reveals herself to be the goddess Hestia, saying that very few people ever stop to speak with her— but Nico did. Later, when they fight the Titan Iapetus and erase his memory (renaming him Bob), Percy never gives him a second thought after Persephone says he'll be taken care of. But Nico visited him periodically and talked to him, and it's Nico putting in a good word for him that causes Bob to save Percy and Annabeth's lives later. Percy is by no means unkind, but he also doesn't go out of his way to help people beyond monster slaying and demigod heroics. When he tells Nico this, Nico tells him it's dangerous not to give people a second thought.
Live Action TV
In the TV show Heat Of The Sun, set in colonial Kenya, the hero (played by Trevor Eve), a detective, stands up for the indigenous Africans, shakes hands with black servants, etc., while his boss, a colonialist jerk, looks down on them.
Subverted when Samantha's client (Lucy Liu) says she judges people by how well they tip, because she used to wait tables for a living. Sam looks distinctly worried as Lucy pulls over the check; however, Lucy is very impressed that Sam tipped 20% and Sam wins the contract.
Inverted with a man Samantha was dating. He had a very close cleaning lady he swore was a lifesaver. She was sickeningly sweet when he was around, but acted out full on Asian Rudeness to Samantha the second he left the house. When Samantha confronted him with this, he dismissed Samantha and sided with the servant.
George Costanza is obsessed with waitresses liking him, and becomes obviously distressed when they don't. He is most definitely not a good person. In another episode, Jerry and Elaine argue over what to tip a baggage handler, with the result that Elaine (who favors tipping low) finds her bags sent to Honolulu.
Played with in another episode where Jerry, George, and Kramer visit LA. Jerry and George run into a guy who favors giving huge tips to the help, but he doesn't turn out to be such a good guy in the end. He's actually a serial killer.
And yet another episode in which George seems very disturbed by the fact that a security guard has to stand all day, and further upset that his fiancee Susan doesn't seem to care. Naturally, his efforts to help by providing the man with a chair just makes things worse—he falls asleep on duty and the store is robbed.
Played straight in an episode of the British sitcom The New Statesman: Alan B'Stard and one of his cronies deliberately get waiters fired from a restaurant solely for idle amusement. To add further insult, one of the waiters later attacks the duo with a knife and is dispatched with contemptuous ease. (Amusingly, the crony and the waiter are played by Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.)
Played with in an episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun. At first, Dick doesn't tip just because he doesn't know he's supposed to. But even after being informed (NO WONDER MY COFFEE ALWAYS TASTES LIKE SPIT!), he still doesn't seem to catch on, setting ludicrous standards for giving tips (Starting with some sum and deducting whenever anything, including those things the waitress isn't guilty of, goes wrong). He just doesn't understand why he needs to pay them extra when they already have a salary, and sees no reason why a number of services have now had an arbitrary 15% price jump. note He's not the only one to have this problem. Ever wondered why European tourists have a reputation for being poor tippers? It's because our waiters and waitresses get paid the same minimum wage as people who don't have the opportunity to get tipped, and would be genuinely shocked to learn how things work in the US.
Even better, he added a small amount of money to the tip after something went right, amongst all the times he took away from it.
In another episode, the aliens attend a murder mystery dinner and think it's real. When they get the idea that The Butler Did It, Tommy gets worried that he'll be the next victim because he was rude to the butler earlier.
In Coupling, Jane ignored Oliver Morris' advances until she saw how well liked he was by Mrs. C and Mrs. M (whose name was actually Barker - Oliver had unintentionally nicknamed her after the mole on her face), the cashiers at the supermarket Oliver had been shopping at for three years while Jane had been shopping there for five.
House, while giving a eulogy at his father's funeral professes his belief that the test of a man's character is how he treats those over whom he has total power. He notes his complete lack of surprise that all the military officers present are his father's rank or higher, and tells the audience that his father failed the test, and that maybe if he had been a better father, House would have been a better son.
One of the reasons for President Jed Bartlet's popularity with viewers of The West Wing was most likely this trope, as Bartlet was consistently shown to be a kindly, supportive and genuinely caring person with those who worked for him. It was particularly apparent in his fatherly relationship with his personal aide Charlie. He didn't always remember their names, but he never failed to treat them well. This is also true of all of his senior staff with the notable exception of Toby, who hates working with anybody who can't write up to his standards or annoys him in the slightest, and wants everyone to know it. He is, however, very protective of the ones who manage to stick it out. And interestingly, most of the baddies on the show seem to have very loyal staffs of their own.
Like Sara in A Little Princess, the Japanese drama Shokojo Sera has the main character Seira being very kind and friendly with everyone around her, whether they are the same rank as her or not. Back in India, she treats all her servants amiably and they in return love her very much. She approaches Kaito (Becky's Spear Counterpart) when no one else does and drops off books for him to read. Even when she loses her fortune and everyone is out to make her life miserable, Seira still smiles and bows politely to them.
Prince Arthur flip-flops with this in regard to Merlin. While he clearly assumes he's the superior and constantly insults and berates Merlin while Merlin's trying to do his job, he has shown that he cares about the common people and occasionally shows Merlin some measure of affection and respect. He's also willing to risk his life to protect or save Merlin without a second's thought.
Princess Mithian, along with all of her other admirable traits, genuinely tries to befriend Merlin and treats him far better than Arthur does.
On Ghost Whisperer, Delia declines a second date with a guy who completely freaks out and berates a waiter for spilling something on Delia (far more than the poor guy deserves). The date was otherwise perfect, but she explains that her mother always told her never to date a man who was rude to waiters.
An episode of Will and Grace had Will on a date with an arrogant man. At the end of the date, they began to argue over which of them should pay the bill. Will gets the waiter to give him the bill with the promise that "I'll tip you."
Previously, Will mentions playing the "Be Nice To Waiters" game. He says, "If you win, you get to not go to hell."
In Doctor Who, the Doctor usually goes out of his way to find the names of and be kind to the random people he meets on his travels. His companions are pretty good about this as well. In the second episode of the new series, Rose is thanked by an employee on a space satellite, because the former gave the latter permission to speak. Inversely we see that in an alternate universe, Jackie Tyler dismisses Rose's attempts to repair her failing marriage because "You're just staff!" Of course, given that Jackie and Rose had been getting along well previously, it could have been that she was embarrassed that a strange waitress was giving her marriage advice.
To emphasize this, alternate universe Jackie gets assimilated into the Cybermen, whilst her alternate universe father, who is nice to her, lives.
And when it doesn't happen, it's noteworthy enough to be called out: see the late 10th Doctor episode "Midnight" and the stewardess of the tour shuttle he and several strangers are on.
In A Christmas Carol, the Doctor asked a rich Scrooge-Expy who a young woman is, and he answers "Nobody important". The Doctor acts amazed; in all his years he's never met someone who wasn't important.
In Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry annoys practically everyone he meets but is shown on multiple occasions to be a friendly and kind boss, giving employees generous bonuses at Christmas, though he seems to dislike Jason Alexander's generous tipping, if only because he refuses to tell Larry how much he tips.
In the premier episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, a criminal gives an insultingly small tip (measured in spare change) to a skycap when he picks an associate up at the airport. This comes back to bite him later when the cops come around and the skycap remembers him.
Played with on Gilmore Girls— Emily is never outright rude to her servants, but has ridiculously high standards and changes maids every couple of weeks for reasons that Lorelai finds absurd.
Endgame: Arkady Balagan despises the upper management of the Huxley Hotel, and they would really like to shift him out of the penthouse suite he's occupying, but he is generally nice to the staff.
Happens in an episode of MacGyver, where he is in a casino and sees a woman yelling at a waitress for accidentally spilling a drink on her dress. MacGyver decides to use her as a distraction. The distraction involves the woman's dress falling down in front of everyone
Used in How I Met Your Mother. The first sign that a woman Ted briefly dates is awful is her yelling at a waiter and demanding a free appetizer. Furthermore, the gang is always nice to Wendy the waitress, who is something of a Sixth Ranger to them.
Seemingly accidentally used with the main cast as well. Barney is shown to usually be nice to his servers (he inevitably learns the names of his cabbies and converses with them like friends), while Lily isn't (referring to a server by the wrong name after he told her his correct name, for example).
In Scrubs Turk is incredibly rude to a parking valet, only to find out that it was actually Carla's brother. Did we mention this takes place at their mother's funeral? If Turk had just been nicer then his relationship with his in-laws would have been a lot less funny.
In an episode of Stargate SG-1, the team finds a village where they use creatures called Unas as slave labour. While attempting to barter for one Unas in particular, resident nice guy Daniel thanks an Unas who serves them drinks. The trader they're bartering with expresses surprise at this and Daniel, in an attempt to keep up appearances as a slave trader, claims that he's merely using positive reinforcement to better train the Unas.
In Hustle, the marks are invariably rude to waiters, the hired help, their own employees and anyone else lower than them on the social pecking order.
Played very straight in Arrested Development when it's revealed that Lucille has never even looked at a waiter in her life. This means that she doesn't notice when her own son is pretending to be a waiter at the restaurant she goes to. Said son had also been hitting on mature socialites as part of his act. Hilarity Ensues.
In the 4th Season, it's shown that Lucille and George Sr. think it's racist to tip black people. They continue in this delusion even after Michael attempts to disabuse them of the notion.
Downton Abbey. Every person of nobility is considered decent if they treat their servants well.
Played with in Mad Men; Joan makes it a point to be exceptionally nice to the phone line operators, to the point of bringing them flowers and presents. It's made clear that this is not out of kindness, but because being on an operator's bad side will make it impossible for you to do your job.
Roger needs to have his shoes shined but the man who shines shoes in their office building is absent so he offhandedly asks his secretary to inquire what happened to the man. His dutiful secretary calls up the man's home and finds out that he died. The man's family is extremely touched that Roger seemed to care so much about the well being of the man who shined his shoes that they send him the dead man's shoe shining kit as a keepsake. Roger is amused by the misunderstanding but it gives him an epiphany and it helps him deal with his mother's recent death.
Tywin Lannister has a few Pet the Dog moments with Arya Stark and treats her with a surprising amount of respect, though he does warn her to "be careful" when she steps over the line.
Daenerys Targaryen treats her servants with a great deal of respect.
King Renly Baratheon shows concern for the lowborn soldiers in his army, making the effort to remember their names (Gerald in the episode) and the nature of their injury if they have one.
The bad guy in one episode of Murder, She Wrote is first shown to be a Jerk Ass when he doesn't recognize Jessica, assumes she's nobody important, and treats her very rudely. He makes it worse by trying to apologize later, explaining that "I didn't realize you were somebody." She coolly informs him that in Cabot Cove, it's standard procedure "to be polite even to nobodies."
In The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Homes is usually an Insufferable Genius, even with those in powerful positions, but he's typically nice to servants, constables and working people, especially innkeepers, always tipping generously. This serves him well, because those people usually end up being the most helpful. He is also (usually) very polite to Mrs. Hudson, the landlady, who serves his meals and tidies up the flat.note While in the books Holmes is implied to be fond of Mrs. Hudson, most of his behavior toward her in the Granada series was a result of the affectionate real-life friendship between Jeremy Brett and Rosalie Williams.
Scandal: President Fitzgerald Grant, according to Morris the guard.
Played both ways in The Thick of It. The ministers in charge treat their subordinates horribly, and Malcolm and Jamie have no problem hurling truckloads of abuse towards their own underlings (though these almost always deserve it). The Caledonian Mafiosos are both however kind and friendly to non-politicians, such as cleaners and drivers, and seem to concentrate their abuse on those who make it clear they're only in it for themselves.
On A Different World, at their first meeting, Whitley mistakes Dwayne's mother for a housekeeper. The woman never lets her forget it, and later tells Dwayne it's not being mistaken for a maid that bothered her so much as how rude Whitley was to someone she thought was merely a servant.
On Suits, Daniel Hardman made the mistake of badly tipping the staff at a hotel where he was having clandestine rendezvous with his mistress. More than five years later, they still remember him and are willing to testify about the affair. Within the law firm of Pearson-Hardman being rude to the secretaries and paralegals is pretty much career suicide to anyone who is not already a senior partner. And even they respect Donna.
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: Recurring Extra Drops bought his Nanny and her daughter each separate apartments, the former for raising him and his sister, and the latter was his girlfriend. When the cops release him to find out the nanny's killer, Drops meets his Number Two who runs his nightclub, he's very friendly, and even gets the guy to smuggle him a device to jam the GPS (that the police use to keep tabs on him) on his ankle. When he get's arrested for murder, his lawyer proves the crime was self-defense (it was), and he remarks that he thought he was paying him too much and says he's alright.
On Kitchen Nightmares, Gordon Ramsay is always nice to the staff that doesn't deserve to be yelled at. A good example is the "Oceania" episode, where he's almost apologetic to have to send the waitress back with the food. In "Amy's Baking Company", he is duly appalled when he learns that one of the owners takes all of the tips given to the waiters/waitresses and when a waitress is summarily fired for asking a simple question. He makes sure to tip the waitress directly and tries to stand up for them by telling the customers about their tips being stolen and how they deserve those tips.
Richard Castle may be a wealthy millionaire mystery writer and playboy, but he's constantly seen being nice, polite and friendly to people who earn less than him. Even outside of the main detectives he works with in the police precinct, the way he acts around the other cops suggests he's well-liked and respected.
Parodied in one episode set in the Hamptons, where the bad guy of the week ends up engaging in a Motive Rant while holding a hostage at gunpoint about how much he hates wealthy people like Castle who own big houses at the beach and act like they're better than the locals. Castle's response is a wounded, defensive and genuinely shocked "I don't think I'm better than you!"
The Banks family (and Will) in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air treat Geoffrey, the butler, with varying degrees of niceness versus taking him for granted.
Philip generally tries to keep his relationship with Geoffrey professional, but sometimes takes him for granted or talks over him, and pays him less than he'd like. On the other hand, he's been very generous to him on occasion; he paid his mother's medical bills, and in the final episode, upgraded his airline ticket to first-class and gave him his spring bonus.
Vivian and Ashley are undoubtedly the nicest. In fact, any time Geoffrey has extra time off, it's usually thanks to Vivian.
Carlton and Hilary take Geoffrey completely for granted, especially Hilary, who makes demands of him nonstop. Nicky can be a bit of this, too, but he's also only five.
Will often takes Geoffrey for granted. However, when Geoffrey has personal problems, Will is the first person to have his back.
The Addams Family treat Lurch the butler and Thing the... thing... more like members of their family more than servants. There was even one episode where, worried that Lurch may be getting overworked, Pugsly made a robot to help him. (It ended up getting destroyed because Lurch didn't want it to take his place.)
During a stint in Friends where Joey worked at the coffee shop as a waiter, one of the tips he gets from Rachel was that if a customer's ever rude to you, you spit in his muffin. When Ross (who during all this has been repeatedly asking Joey to take his order) loses his patience, Joey tells him that he'll throw in a free muffin along with his coffee.
David Palmer in 24 is often distinguished by his extremely respectful attitude to secret service agents, particularly Aaron North, and those at CTU, making his later death a very personal moment for everyone.
Subverted in one episode of Frasier. Niles praises Daphne for not being nice to the waiter (or the electrician, in this case).
In Two Gentlemen of Verona, Valentine treats his servant, Speed, as a trusted friend and companion, while Proteus is verbally abusive toward his servant, Launce. Unsurprisingly, Valentine turns out to be a Nice Guy and a faithful lover, while Proteus is a heel who deserts his girl and tries to steal Valentine's.
The Importance of Being Earnest: Despite the fact that the main characters are deceiving each other and acting ridiculous, we know we like them because they are nice to their staff.
This trope is used interestingly in Dragon Age: Origins. The dwarves have a Fantastic Caste System, and two opponents fight to become the next king. The Evil Prince Bhelen, who poisoned his father (the last king), killed his eldest brother, made the second-eldest into the fall guy, and wants to be king simply because he wants to rule, is for expanding rights for the lower castes and caste-less and supports economic reforms for expanding surface trade rights for the merchants. He even married a caste-less for love. His opponent, Reasonable Authority Figure Harrowmont, was the former king's best friend who is running to honour his Last Request, and fought to maintain the innocence of the Dwarf Noble if you picked that origin. He is also a traditionalist who supports the current caste system, favours the nobles and soldier castes, and dislikes caste-less.
The Dwarf Noble can have this relationship with Gorim, their second, even demanding that their elder brother Trian apologise after he insulted Gorim for being from an "inferior caste". The Female Dwarf Noble and Gorim can even have a secret relationship on the side, though it can't be made official as the other nobles would skin Gorim alive for dallying above his station.
During the Dwarf Noble origin, they can also invoke this choosing dialogue options that make them come across as a Wise Prince (and avoiding those which act like a Royal Brat). This includes defending a scribe who has earned the ire of a fellow noble by writing an unflattering (but true) book about his Paragon ancestor, showing kindness towards Rica when she assumed they were Bhelen coming to meet her in his bedchamber, and rebuking Gorim several times for being rude towards the various merchants in the Diamond Quarter.
The Human Noble has a chance to do this during his/her origin as well, when interacting with Nan, the head of the kitchen in Castle Cousland, and also with some soldiers who are playing cards while guarding the treasury.
In a similar vein, in Dragon Age II Hawke has several opportunities to be Nice to the Waiter when dealing with various people, including bartenders, quarrymen, prostitutes, and the servants in his/her own noble household.
According to the CDs in Mega Man & Bass, Flash Man's strength is that he's "kind to his subordinates". But the CDs are best taken with a grain of salt (Flash Man is also accused of doing "evil things in the bath", presumably with his Time Stop power).
In Super Mario 64 DS, you can talk to the Toads around the castle as each of the four playable characters. You'll notice that Mario, Luigi, and Yoshi are all well-liked... and everyone is terrified of Wario.
Girl Genius: One characterization of having medical labs all about Heterodyne Castle, is so the body doesn't have to be lugged far.
Moloch:I think it shows a bit of respect for the working man.
And Zola admits that Gil treated her nicely even when she seemed just a chorus girl to him.
In the Novel of the Comic Gil also treats Wooster, his valet/assistant, less formally than he should, such as giving him a cup of tea instead of expecting him to serve and stand back. He also shows genuine affection for Zoing, a construct servant. Gil in general treats subordinates better than one would expect the son of the dictator of Europe would.
In contrast, the Jägergenerals relate how the Heterodynes always earned the trust of the Jägermonsters, hence their loyalty; Lucrezia, however, is shown to be very rude to the Jägers, who only serve her for Bill's sake. So when Lucrezia turns out to be the Other, there's no fear that the Jägermonsters will join her.
Edge: A brilliant mind like mine, and I have to rely on a dumb dog for brain surgery. Florence: A brilliant mind would not insult the dog before surgery.
In at least a couple of the Ayla stories, it's pointed out that Tansy Walcutt is horrible to the help, and is fairly anvilicious about never emulating that. Just to drive the point home, the author contrasts this with Ayla who is always kind to the help and gets huge bonuses because of it.
Ayla also has a good reason for it. If you aren't nice to the help, you'll end up without any help. And good work deserves good pay. It's just good business.
The "Awesome Customers" tag on Not Always Right is for customers who are nice to the employees. Otherwise, the site is dedicated to unpleasant customers, whether by stupidity, malice, or derangement.
...Of course, the nature of the site being what it is, the opposite also shows up. Witness this little interaction between a Navy Lieutenant and the waiting staff at a restaurant. Never has Laser-Guided Karma been so sweet.
One of the ultimate examples of this trope is Mr. Burns on The Simpsons He frequently mistreats and abuses his employees to almost comical degrees, such as laughing maniacally when a window washer's platform collapses right outside his window. He abuses no one more than Smithers, who turns a blind eye to it.
Smithers: Oh my God, Mr Burns is dead! Why must the good always die so young?
Avatar: The Last Airbender : You can easily use this trope to see the difference between Zuko and Azula. Sure, Zuko comes off as a bit of a Jerk Ass at first, but he does save the life of one of his Red Shirts in "The Storm." Azula's Establishing Character Moment, meanwhile, includes threatening to throw her ship's captain overboard and let him drown because he's reluctant to bring the ship in to shore during a period of dangerous tides.
Further driven home in the third season, where we see Zuko and Azula interacting with their respective servants. Zuko is unfailingly polite to his servants and they seem happy to work for him. In contrast, Azula's servants are terrified of her (rightfully so) and the first sign of her Sanity Slippage is when she banishes one of them for leaving a pit in her cherries.
The events surrounding the Agni Kai that left Zuko scarred and banished worked as both a straight use and a inversion of this trope. Zuko protested a plan that would have led to the pointless deaths of many loyal soldiers, but by doing so, he ticked off his father and was forced to duel. The inversion comes from the Fire Lord: if he was willing to brutally scar his own flesh and blood just to show everyone who's boss, he certainly wasn't going to be a good tipper. And considering Iroh's own habits (including befriending his own prison guard, and making sure she was not present during his escape), we know where Zuko learned a lot of it.
In "The Terrible Trio," an episode of Batman: The Animated Series, Bruce Wayne gets berated by golfing buddies (in particular one Upper-Class Twit, Warren Lawford) for thanking his caddy and ask him if he thanks the garbage man for picking up the trash. Bruce responds: "If I happen to run into him" in a tone that reflects confusion at the twit's attitude. The Upper-Class Twit who laughs at him for being polite to the help goes on a crime spree because he's boredand tries to kill his girlfriend after she finds out.
It is usually played straight with popular kids and Timmy in The Fairly OddParents. Timmy is sometimes nice to Tootie and is friends with Chester, a poor kid. Trixie has been nice to Timmy sometimes too. The other popular kids and villains are not.
In King of the Hill, Buck Strickland does nothing to run his own business and treats the entire thing like a personal piggy bank (he frequently takes money out of the safe to buy strippers). Capping that off, he's dismissive of his employees and doesn't care what they have to say. The only man under him he seems to care about his Hank (who's the only reason Strickland Propane isn't bankrupt), but even then he blows off many of his warnings and has him do his dirty work. In one episode, we see Buck's idea of tipping his pool boy is throwing large bills into the pool and laughing as he swims for them.
Both Mallory and Sterling Archer treat their hired help at ISIS like crap, though Mallory treats Sterling just as bad (if not worse) as the rest of her ISIS employees, not to mention is far more sympathetic towards Woodhouse (Sterling's manservant and male nanny) than her son is. Mallory summed it up quite well when she was Mistaken for Racist
Mallory: I treat every servant the same regardless of skin color! If anything that makes me an elitist, but not a racist.
Family Guy uses this trope frequently with regard to Lois's parents. Lois's father once sits next to his gardener on a bus and fails to place him.
Carter: I didn't recognize you without my lawn underneath you.
Gardener: I don't take the lawn with me when I go.
Carter: I was right to trust you with it, then.
Twilight Sparkle, upon her arrival in Ponyville, politely and sincerely thanks the Royal Guardsponies that had been pulling her chariot, even calling them "sirs" (to which they react very positively). This is despite the fact that Twilight is currently in a very sour mood over being sent to Ponyville in the first place. Until this moment, viewers could be forgiven for assuming that Twilight is an asocial, self-centered Jerk Ass (especially in light of her earlier treatment of Spike), but her being nice to ponies who are nothing more than temporarily-assigned servants proves that she is a good pony at heart - if a bit obsessive and thoughtless at times.
CEOs call this the Waiter Rule. Humor columnist Dave Barry once wrote "A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person." This is exactly the form that Raytheon CEO Bill Swanson wrote in his booklet Swanson's Unwritten Rules of Management. Swanson says that the Waiter Rule is the only one that never fails. note "Such behavior is an accurate predictor of character because it isn't easily learned or unlearned but rather speaks to how people were raised, says Siki Giunta, CEO of U.S. technology company Managed Objects."
Journalism schools teach their students to butter up secretaries, as they tend to be the gatekeepers for important people.
Similarly, one piece of jobseeking advice is to get on the secretary's good side, as they can prevent you from seeing the person in a position to hire you.
Whether or not he's nice to them consistently isn't known, but Rush Limbaugh constantly leaves tips in the 50% range when he dines out.
One thing it would seem to illustrate is G.K. Chesterton's contention that those who are most extreme in their opinions are commonly the most pleasant in personal relationships. During his tenure, Jesse Helms had an excellent reputation for treating his staff well. Ted Kennedy had one too.
Adolf Hitler's secretary, Traudl Junge (while admitting that Hitler was evil) said that he was "a pleasant boss and a fatherly friend". Since there are few — if any — Card Carrying Villains in reality, Hitler's Pet the Dog moments actually made him more terrifying.
However, Josef Stalin plays this trope straight. He ordered the execution of people who disturbed his morning routine, shouted and cursed at his generals, then had many murdered. Laser-Guided Karma caught up with him, though, when he had his doctors thrown in the Lubyanka... with the result being that no one could warn him of the massive stroke for which he was heading. The General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union died half-paralyzed, lying on his bedroom floor in a puddle of his own piss. Even worse for him, his corpse was left like that for several days since he instilled such fear in his subordinates that it took some time before they could strike up enough courage to check on him.
Subversion: Winston Churchill. He is generally agreed to be a great leader, but he was terrible to his secretarial staff. On the other hand, he was genuinely affectionate to his childhood nanny.
The 2005 MTV show Boiling Point, secretly set up people to see how long they could remain civil to people who were being unreasonable with them.
An episode tested which of three college-age customers could remain at least civil with the waiter for fourteen minutes during which MTV would call the customer before he or she had started eating, have the server clear the table in his or her absence, have the plate brought back with bits of garbage stuck to it, and insist the customer pay full price anyway. This particular bit was notorious because the only one of the three who failed was a certain (then-unknown) Stefani Germanotta.
Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, was gracious to everybody he met. There is one biography of the Queen which notes that the palace servants all loved Prince Albert; if he walked into a room where the maids were scrubbing the floor, he would take off his hat and smile and apologize for disturbing them.
King George III, during his sane periods, was beloved by many commoners, especially compared to his son (a total prick to waiters). He had a reputation of touring the villages on his estates and being a Friend to All Children. Indeed, the popular American view of him as a dissolute tyrant comes more from offloading hatred of various obscure British ministers onto the more easily identifiable King.
Caused a minor scandal during the 2004 US Presidential election when John Kerry called one of his Secret Service detail a SOB after the latter ran him over while they were snowboarding.
TheodoreRoosevelt knew all the White House servants by name and when he visited the White House during Taft's term he looked up the servants who had worked for him and spent time catching up with them.
The "Waitress Test" is used as one of the warning signs to see if someone is in an abusive relationship. The idea is that when a person starts dating an abuser, said abuser will treat the waitress, store clerks, and other such people the way that they will treat the person in six months' time.
It's even more basic than that. Go on any website listing common dating dealbreakers, whether silly or serious in nature, and "was a dick to the waiter" will, without fail, be one of them.
The biggest bunch of flowers at David Niven's funeral was sent by the porters at Heathrow Airport. The note with it read: "To the finest gentleman who ever walked through these halls. He made a porter feel like a king."
Burt Lancaster, although a Nice Guy, experimented with how much he could get away with on sets. He would complain about everything, sometimes very loudly, and yet people still loved him and hated to see him go. He never understood it.
Former UK PM Margaret Thatcher (AKA "The Iron Lady"), while widely hated for her policies and attitudes, and feared by her colleagues and opponents, was unfailingly and instinctively nice to the help, even once blurting out a "sorry" to a waitress who dropped a tray.
Similarly, Tony Blair, despite his very controversial premiership post-Iraq, was still given a sad and fond farewell by the Downing Street staff.
On a similar note, if your pizza delivery guy is prompt and polite, tip him more than 50 cents. Delivery drivers tend to move even FASTER when they know they'll get a good tip, whereas if they know you'll stiff them, they might make a stopover on the way to your house to get an oil change, do some grocery shopping, maybe solve world hunger so that you never order from them again, you cheap bastard.
Similarly, Keanu Reeves is known to be incredibly friendly towards crew members. Stories have arisen of his incredible generosity, such as giving the stunt performers Harley Davidson motorbikes during the shoot of The Matrix Reloaded.
Russell Crowe, in spite of his hot-headed reputation, is apparently a very personable guy on set and with waitstaff. Famously, while visiting a Wales pub while filming Robin Hood (2010), he not only left a £600 tip, but visited with the kitchen staff, signed autographs, and even performed an impromptu musical set.
Staff Member: "We were like: 'Did that just happen?'"
Uwe Boll, of all people, is apparently a surprisingly pleasant and undemanding guy to work for on set.
Gangster Lou "Pretty" Amberg was very nice to those who served him, often tipping with $100 bills.
Similar to the above example, Frank Sinatra was famous for tipping valets and porters in excess of $100. This was at a time when someone working a job like that might make that much in a couple of WEEKS.
George W. Bush is extremely personable and gracious to waitstaff, as many in the DFW area can attest. He likely learned it from his father, who is also a very friendly man, especially post-retirement.
Military officers in general tend to try and maintain a positive relationship with their soldiers, at least within the US Armed Forces. Lack of rapport with one's troops can ruin a career in pretty short order, and here's a case-in-point.
The more an officer's well being and career is dependent on his enlisted subordinates, the nicer he is to them. This is especially true for pilots.
Until about a century ago, the word 'condescending' actually meant this trope. Only later did it pick up the meaning of putting on a facade of being nice, while making it clear that you consider yourself to be bending over backwards to extend undeserved generosity to your inferiors.
Tom Hiddleston, renowned as a Nice Guy, has said his first job was working as a waiter at a country club. After being disgusted by how rude people could be, he has since always made an effort to be polite, especially to "people kind enough to be serving me food".
Shaquille O´Neal is known to tip more than his meal costs as long as the service is decent and to be wonderful around serving staff.
A woman named Taylor Chapman learned this the hard way with a viral video of her at Dunkin Donuts yelling, cursing, and using racial slurs at an employee over a missing receipt. She was demonized all over the Internet because of her rudeness, forcing her to remove her Facebook and LinkedIn profiles; she was also fired from her job. What was particularly damning about the video was the fact that she herself recorded and uploaded it, expecting people to sympathize with her.
Freddie Mercury from Queen was remembered fondly by his crew (i.e. roadies, assistants, drivers, etc.), even though most of them acknowledged he did have some tantrums and was in general quite demanding ('he wanted everything done by yesterday'). However, he was still friendly, polite and massively generous — even to other people's staff (e.g., he bought his bandmate's technician a very expensive Christmas present in May just because he thought that particular gift would suit him well) — to the point where everyone was willing to overlook his diva moments. Tea-boys and tea-ladies at the studios where he recorded have also told stories about how nice he was. The rest of the band had a great reputation too.