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[[quoteright:250:[[Manga/{{AKIRA}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/okgi6arj_6808.jpg]]]]

->'''Jim''': I'm your only customer. Why are you always polishing a glass?
->'''Arthur''': Trick of the trade. Makes people nervous when a bartender just stands there.
-->-- ''Film/{{Passengers 2016}}''

In fiction, the sole IdleAnimation for [[TheBartender bartenders]] who aren't currently filling a glass is to dry a glass (unless they're the main character, in which case they will never do ''either'' of these things). You'll never see them stocking ice or frequently-ordered drinks, wiping down the bar, or trying to keep customers (who aren't the protagonist) engaged. In real life, bartenders who always have a glass in their hand tend to get fired.

Understandable in TV and movies, where it's an easy barkeeping duty to do in multiple takes, while many other jobs would need undoing before they could be done again and cause continuity problems. Less understandable in other media; it's probably a result of the stereotype.


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}''. In the Lost Agent anime arc, Xcution member Giriko Kutsuzawa works as a bartender. In almost every episode he appears in, at least once he's shown polishing a glass while standing behind the group's private bar.
* The page image is of the unnamed barkeep in the anime version of ''Manga/{{AKIRA}}''; his determination to man his station [[spoiler:gets him killed in the end]].
* An alien barkeep extra can be seen in episode 10 of the second season of ''Anime/SpaceDandy'' doing this, in every single shot he's onscreen.
* Izumo Kusanagi in ''Anime/{{K}}'', despite being a major character and second-in-command of one of the series' factions, still does this a lot when he's behind the bar at his restaurant (and Red Clan headquarters), Bar HOMRA. Used to great effect in episode 3; when Misaki and Rikio crash [[BerserkButton into his bar]], he drops the glass, and as it falls, it reflects his face in TheScream pose.
* Another main character example in ''Anime/HighSchoolStarMusical'': In season 2 episode 3, when Kitahara and Nanjo visit the restaurant where Kuga works as a bartender ([[ImprobableAge even though he's in high school]]), they have a loud conversation about their cocky attitudes towards the audition. Kuga overhears, doesn't like their attitude, and brings them some extremely bitter drinks, on the house. What was he doing when he overheard them? Yeah, drying a glass.

[[folder:Comic Strips]]
* ''ComicStrip/{{Wormy}}'' in Dragon magazine #79. The troll bartender is shown drying a glass as he listens to his customers.
* The ''ComicStrip/MotherGooseAndGrimm'' [[http://www.grimmy.com/images/MGG_Archive/MGG_2012/MGG-2012-11-16.gif comic for November 16th, 2012.]] The dog Grimm is at a bar where the bartender is cleaning a glass with a cloth.
* ''ComicStrip/PardonMyPlanet'' has an occasional strip with a bartender drying a glass and listening to a customer talk.
** The [[http://www.oregonlive.com/comics-kingdom/?feature_id=Pardon_My_Planet&feature_date=2012-11-29 strip for November 29th, 2012]] has the customer complaining about his wife.
** The [[http://www.oregonlive.com/comics-kingdom/?feature_id=Pardon_My_Planet&feature_date=2013-01-12 strip for January 12th 2013]] has a similar scene with a customer talking about pursuing the American dream: life, liberty and the pursuit of happy hour.
** In the [[http://www.oregonlive.com/comics-kingdom/?feature_id=Pardon_My_Planet&feature_date=2013-02-21 strip for February 21st, 2013]] a customer is complaining about his wife not finding it romantic when he holds up her old black lace teddy and says "Let's see if you can still fit into this".
** [[http://www.oregonlive.com/comics-kingdom/?feature_id=Pardon_My_Planet&feature_date=2013-04-18 Strip for April 18th, 2013.]] A man says that when he told his wife that it would be O.K. if she found someone else after he was gone, he meant "gone" as in dead, not "gone" as in "at work".
* ''ComicStrip/HagarTheHorrible''. In the [[http://www.arcamax.com/thefunnies/hagarthehorrible/s-1547021 strip for July 16th 2014,]] Hagar and Lucky Eddie are talking in a bar. The bartender is behind the counter polishing a glass.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* ''FanFic/TheApprenticeTheStudentAndTheCharlatan'' averts this, as almost every bartender seen does something other than simply clean a glass with all of their time.

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/HeavyMetal'' segment "Taarna". When the title character goes into the bar the bartender is drying a glass. When she goes over to get information from him he's still drying a glass.
* This is how we're introduced to VideoGame/{{Tapper}} in ''Disney/WreckItRalph''.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* The bartender in ''Film/BlazingSaddles'' who "always kept things nice and clean" by spitting in them and shining them.
* The bartender at the saloon in ''Film/BackToTheFuturePartIII''.
* ''Film/TheSting''. Just before Billie leaves the lounge of her whorehouse to warn the con men about Snyder, the bartender can be seen drying a glass with a cloth.
* ''Film/ThreeAmigos''. When the German walks into the BadGuyBar, the bartender is polishing a glass.
* The innkeeper in ''Film/MyWeekWithMarilyn'' is fiddling around with a rag and glasses in both of his scenes.
* ''Film/TheFifthElement'': The bartender at the astroport does it, in probably what is a parody considering it's a robot.
* ''Film/TopSecret''. While Nick Rivers is fighting Nigel in the underwater bar, in the background the barkeeper can be seen polishing a glass with a cloth.
* The barkeeper in ''Film/TheBigHeat'' is cleaning glasses when Bannion comes to question him.
* ''Film/TheLeagueOfExtraordinaryGentlemen''. Allan Quatermain first appears in an African bar. It's clear who the bartender is because he's polishing a glass with a cloth.
* In ''Film/TheyDiedWithTheirBootsOn'', the bartender at Fort Abraham Lincoln's canteen is, naturally, cleaning glasses after closing time when Custer comes in.
* ''[[Film/Passengers2016 Passengers]]'' has a [[RidiculouslyHumanRobot robot bartender]] who [[JustifiedTrope justifies this]] as standby mode, perfect stillness [[UncannyValley freaking people out]].
* Bill at the soda shop in ''Film/{{Pleasantville}}'' is introduced wiping down the countertop with a towel when David, thrust into the show's role of Bud, arrives late for his shift working there. Because Bill literally cannot start his duties until Bud arrives, he'd been wiping down the counter long enough, and in the same spot to boot, that it had been worn down into a circular smear.

* In ''Literature/HarryPotter'', Aberforth Dumbledore's first appearance involved him wiping a glass that seemed to be getting dirtier. The barkeep washing glasses is an obvious cover for his eavesdropping. Two books later, the stereotype falls away altogether as he becomes a full-blown [[JerkWithAHeartOfGold Rick Blaine type.]]
* Lampshaded in ''Discworld/GuardsGuards''. Sham the bartender is constantly cleaning glasses, which always confuses Vimes because the glasses never seem to be ''clean''. A possible (and obvious) answer to TP's dilemma offered by -- who else? -- Creator/DouglasAdams is that the cloth is actually dirtier than the glasses, resulting in an opposite effect where the alcohol kills whatever germs have peacefully been living on the towel.
* Mac, the proprietor of [=McAnally's=] Pub in ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'', is always either wiping glasses or polishing the bar. It's implied to be an InvokedTrope-- Mac is ''seriously'' taciturn (he speaks an average of one sentence per novel) and always having a task to hand deflects social attention.
* Late in ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'', there's a brief mention of a barkeep who does this and is generally obsessive about keeping his place clean. The story kind of pokes fun at this trope by pointing out that the bartender gets so worked up with cleanliness that it actually unnerves customers and drives away business, because people who go in for a little DrowningTheirSorrows don't want to feel like they're stepping into an immaculately kept palace or museum.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* In ''Series/{{NCIS}}'', a barkeeper questioned by Tony (about [=DiNozzo=] Sr.'s whereabouts) is seen cleaning while answering. More justified, though, since the bar has yet to actually open.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons''
** Adventure I6 ''Ravenloft''. The barkeep of the "Blood of the Vine" tavern mindlessly cleans glasses one after the other. When they're all clean, he starts over. He only stops doing this to take drink orders and serve drinks.
** The TabletopGame/{{Planescape}} setting adventure ''In the Abyss''. The [[AdjectiveAnimalAlehouse Grinning Imp]] is a small tavern in the city of Sigil that sells drinks from all over the multiverse. When the {{PC}}s enter the tiefling bartender will be polishing mugs.
* ''TabletopGame/KoboldsAteMyBaby'' 3rd edition. The sample village of West Bumble has the [[AdjectiveAnimalAlehouse Screaming Unicorn Tavern]]. The barkeeper is washing the three unbroken glasses in the place.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'' supplement ''Acute Paranoia'', adventure "Botbusters". When the barbot (bartender robot) Jonesie receives a message from The Computer, he's standing around polishing some glasses.
* ''Dangerous Journeys''/''Mythus'' main rules sample adventure "High Time at the Winged Pig". When the Heroic Personas ({{PC}}s) enter the title inn, they see the man behind the bar (barkeeper) drying a mug.
* ''It Came from the Late, Late Show''. Extras include bartenders, who seem to spend a lot of time polishing glasses.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}'' 2nd Edition main rules. In the Contacts section, the picture of the Bartender shows him polishing a glass.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Brewster the bar-tending pigeon in the later ''VideoGame/AnimalCrossing'' games, which feature his café.
* The bartender in ''VideoGame/PaperMarioTheThousandYearDoor'' is doing this.
* The bartender in ''VideoGame/MonkeyIsland2LeChucksRevenge'' is always cleaning the glasses... with his spittle.
* The default animation for the bartender at the Chicken Kitchen in ''VideoGame/GhostTrick''.
* The bartender in ''[[VideoGame/DarkForcesSaga Jedi Knight II]]'' invokes this, cleaning a glass as an excuse to ignore Kyle Katarn. Once Kyle slams his lightsaber on the bartop he [[OhCrap tosses it over his shoulder]] and switches rapidly to obsequious mode.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Catherine}}'' Boss, owner and barman of the Stray Sheep, is frequently seen polishing glasses.
* Grillby in ''VideoGame/{{Undertale}}'' is always seen behind the bar of his tavern/restaurant in Snowdin, polishing a glass.
* In ''VideoGame/StarshipTitanic'', Fortillian O'Perfluous, the [=BarBot=], is seen cleaning a glass as his idle animation behind the bar of the titular space cruise liner. The first time you talk to him, he actually gives you the glass he was cleaning.
* ''VideoGame/SpaceAdventureCobra'' on the Sega CD has a bar as the first area. The bartender isn't cleaning a glass, but he ''is'' endlessly shaking a cocktail.
* Bernie at the Squishy Juice Bar in ''VideoGame/JumpStartAdventures5thGradeJoHammetKidDetective''. Ironically, he's not very good at making drinks there, but people still come anyway.
* Creator/{{Infocom}}'s ''VideoGame/{{Cutthroats}}''. Whenever you enter The Shanty tavern, the bartender will be polishing glasses with a worn towel.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Moe Szyslak does this all the time on ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''. One episode even suggests that the rag is his CompanionCube.
* The bartender in ''WesternAnimation/RootyTootToot'' is seen cleaning a glass during the flashback to his testimony, and even wipes the ''witness stand'' when he's done.