troperville

tools

toys

Wiki Headlines
It's time for the Second TV Tropes Halloween Avatar Contest! Details here.

main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Quintessential British Gentleman
Henry Hatsworth: a jolly good example.

TheHelldragon: Shake your fist in angry, British rage, Tom!
NTom64: You can't see it, but my fist is wearing a monocle!

Start with one cup(pa) tea. Mix in a hearty helping of posh, formal, excessively polite-sounding Received Pronunciation accent, or at least how you think it is pronounced. No one (except those pesky British people) will notice. Add some Stock British Phrases for seasoning, wot, wot. Throw it all in a top hat and stir with a monocle over low heat for the 1000+ years in the history of The British Empire. Turn it out carefully, give him a name like "Sir Nigel Featherstonehaugh-Smythe,"note  and Bob's your uncle, you have yourself the Britishiest British man to ever "cheerio" his way into the media-viewing-public's home. And no one (except those pesky British people) will be any the wiser that you're mixing dialectal phrases willy-nilly or throwing British slang around like Frisbees.

The Quintessential British Gentleman is a stock character commonly found in decidedly not-so-British works, who encapsulates everything that non-Brits (most commonly Americans) think of when they think of that funny little island across the pond. Much like the Eaglelander is a Flanderized American, this chap is the Flanderized Brit. Common characteristics include:

  • A top hat or bowler ("derby") and High-Class Glass.
  • A morning coat and striped trousers, or (if on his country estate) a tweed suit, usually with matching flat cap and possibly with plus-fours instead of slacks.
  • Is a Gentleman and a Scholar who loves intellectual pursuits, often Adventurous Archaeology.
  • Lots of tea, and occasionally crumpets.
  • Being either extremely polite and gentlemanly, or so snobbish, pompous and arrogant only the equally snobby can stand him.
  • Using phrases such as "pip pip," "cheerio," and "guv'nor," even though these combine expressions from completely different dialects and from opposite ends of the class spectrum.
  • A Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe, often in the Calabash style (the style that erroneous stereotypes of Sherlock Holmes made famousnote  ).
  • A crazy mustache.
  • Making lots of references to the Queen (God Save Her!), or the King, for anachronism points.
  • An Autoharp or harpsichord playing in the background.
  • A cane or umbrella.

He's not always a product of Critical Research Failure, however. Sometimes, just as an Eaglelander is a gentle poking-fun-at of Americans, so too might this fellow be a humorous, good-natured jab at English - and done well, of course, even the Brits can find it funny. In fact, many of the works listed were created by Britons, casually playing with their own stereotypes (Britons, generally speaking, are good at Self-Deprecation). Some Britons actually act like this, if not in everyday life, then at least recreationally. Because it's funny.

Compare with that Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist from Eagleland, and that bush-hatted fellow from the Land Down Under. By the way, has nothing to do with the Lord British Postulate, but plenty to do with Stiff Upper Lip. The Q.B.G is probably helpless without The Jeeves. See also the Gentleman Snarker, which is what the Quintessential British Gentleman probably was in his wild youth.

Actual British Gentlemanly behaviour is more subtle than speech or dress, involving the virtues of hospitality, rationality and temperance, the avoidance of irrational extremes, devotion to 'things held dear', rebellion against corruption, and courageous composure in the face of adversity. (However, some of these - notably extreme composure - are sometimes seen in trope form).

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Negi Springfield of Mahou Sensei Negima! is a proto-version of this (at least at first), complete with tea. He seems to be drifting in a different direction. After becoming more of a Shonen hero (though not quite a standard one), however, he will still turn a diplomatic talk into a duel of honor between him and The Dragon over an argument about tea.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia: England does act this way sometimes, but he also has a short temper, foul mouth, and drinks, although it should be pointed out that being a gentleman doesn't necessarily equal amiability and huge amounts of tolerance — many a gentleman is also a Gentleman Snarker, and not suffering fools gladly goes hand in hand with this trope. Even the most impeccable gentleman will still occasionally pepper his dialogue with a few well placed "bloody's" and "buggers!". One of his image songs is called "Absolutely Invincible British Gentleman", which is ironically a very modern rock song, complete with Epic Riffs.
  • Hellsing: There are composed and polite gentlemen in expensive suits around the table as the enemies close in on them... in the end Sir Integra proved to be the strongest gentleman of them all.

    Film 
  • Almost any character ever played by Terry-Thomas. Just look at the character's names:
    • Sir Percy de Courcy (Spanish Fly)
    • Arthur Critchit (The Vault of Horror)
    • Archibald Sinclair Beachum (The Persuaders)
    • Clennery Tubbs (Arthur! Arthur!)
    • Sir Percy Ware-Armitage (Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines)
    • Sir Cuthbert Ware-Armitage (Those Daring Young Men in Their Jaunty Jalopies)
    • Smythe Farquardt (The Red Skelton Show)
    • James Franklin-Jones (Comedy Playhouse: The Old Campaigner)
    • Sir Harry Washington-Smythe (Rocket To the Moon)
    • Brig. Zachary Zilch (The Daydreamer)
    • Lt.Col. J. Algernon Hawthorne (It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World)
    • Captain J. (Jeroboam) Barker-Rynde PI (Kill or Cure)
    • Lt. 'Piggy' Wigg (Operation Snatch)
    • Cadogan de Vere Carlton-Browne (Carleton-Browne of the F.O.)
    • Captain Romney Carlton-Ricketts (Blue Murder at St. Trinian's)
    • Charles Boughtflower (The Green Man)
      • Note that despite being very British, a lot of these characters are decidedly not 'Gentlemen': Terry-Thomas was famous for his peerless performances as the Gentleman's antithesis, the despicable bounder and cad.note 
  • Jack Lemmon's French policeman character in Irma la Douce adopts another identity as one of these, so that he'll be his Hooker with a Heart of Gold love interest's only client.
  • James Bond, at least when played by Roger Moore.
  • Grp. Cpt. Lionel Mandrake, one of the characters played by Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove
  • The Mercedez Benz team in The Gumball Rally, played by J. Pat O'Malley and Vaugn Taylor.
    Andy McAllister: Sedately Barney, as befits our years and station in life.
    [Barney squeals tires as they leave the parking lot]
  • The Beatles encounter one during their train ride in A Hard Day's Night.
    John: Knock it off, Paul, you can't win with his sort. After all, it's his train, isn't it, Mister?
    Man: And don't take that tone with me, young man. I fought the war for your sort.
    Ringo: I bet you're sorry you won.
  • Mr. Banks from Mary Poppins. At least, until Mary's message gets through.
  • Pickering from My Fair Lady is very much a gentleman.
  • In A Bridge Too Far, a German officer walks up to the beleaguered British paratroopers under a flag of truce, and says "Be reasonable, gentlemen. Things cannot carry on like this. We need to discuss surrender terms." A British officer spurns him with contempt. "Absolutely not! We simply do not have the facilities to take you all prisoner!"

    Jokes 
Things to do after buying yourself a classic Triumph:
Grow and wax a mustache.
Drive the Triumph to a poorly lit, dark-wood-paneled private club in Kensingtonworthshire or North Haddockbrooktonworth.
At the private club, sit in a deep leather chair and make pithy conversation with the other club members while using some kind of obscure tobacco product and sipping either tea or scotch.
Hold forth on a variety of topics, including the day's hunt, the newest radical in Parliament, hand-tooled shotguns, the laughably gauche Americans, the state of the Empire, and the relative merits of the Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire.
  • Or the following:
    Do you want to buy yourself a Rover? It comes with a flat cap, pipe and and a whippet.

    Literature 
  • Sir Leigh Teabing from The Da Vinci Code. Not that it stopped him from being evil Teabing?
    • "Teabing" is an anagram of "Baigent." The Authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, Michael Baigent and Richard Liegh (notice anything?) sued Dan Brown for ripping off a theory presented in the afore-mentioned book by them for use in The Da Vinci Code. They lost.
  • In the Redwall series, some hares fall underneath this classification, especially the Long Patrol. The author is British though, so this isn't as Flanderized as some other examples.
  • The be-monocled Ronald (or Rupert) Psmith is a recurring character in the comedies of P. G. Wodehouse. A refined gent of wit and eloquence: an eccentric of the first water. (The 'p' is silent, as in 'pshrimp'.)
    • In fact, just about any of the older male characters in Wodehouse's work fit this trope. Bertie Wooster, while still rather young in the books, is a perfect example.
  • Lord Peter Wimsey from the Dorothy L Sayers books about him.
    • And Sir Henry Merrivale, from the Carter Dickson books which spoof Lord Peter by creating an aristocrat who is nothing like Lord Peter, except for the 'brilliant detective' part.
  • Captain Isambard Smith of the Space Captain Smith series of books by Toby Frost is placed neatly between this trope and Richard Sharpe, with a healthy dose of buffoonery thrown in for good measure.
  • Although Sherlock Holmes himself does not really fit this trope, a few of the supporting characters from his stories do, particularly the clients he takes among the upper classes (such as the Duke in "The Adventure of the Priory School").
  • Phileas Fogg, the protagonist of Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days, of course. His favourite hangout is a gentlemen's club in London.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bernard Fox also did this very well:
  • Version from the UK itself: John Steed from The Avengers, though only after the series was tweaked in an attempt to make it more appealing to American audiences.
  • Giles and Wesley from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and any number of visiting English watchers. Giles lampshades it right away:
    Giles: ...I'm a bit fuzzy, however, on the details. It may be that you can wrest some information from that dread machine.
    [Everyone stares at him.]
    Giles: That was a bit... British, wasn't it?
    Buffy: Welcome to the New World.
  • The Doctor was always noticeably British (or at least Anglophile) in his tastes and attitudes, but it's arguably the Eighth Doctor from the (American-made) Made-for-TV Movie who comes closest to this trope ("He's... British." "Yes, I suppose I am!"). The Third Doctor also reveled in the trope.
    • Peter Davison described the Doctor as being alien, but also an honorary Englishman, which is one of the reasons he settled on a cricket sweater as part of his attire; what could be more British than cricket?
  • This was done quite a bit on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. For example, in one episode where Geoffrey's long-lost comes to visit (who claims that he has plans to attend Butler School) Carlton becomes fascinated to the point where he begins to imitate the British Gentleman stereotype, bowler hat, pip pips and all.
  • Many sketches from Monty Python's Flying Circus parodied the stuffy British stereotype that their parents' generation more closely embodied.
  • John Oliver (himself British) from the The Daily Show finds one in Britain while covering the royal wedding.
    John Oliver: You are the most English thing I have ever seen.
  • Johnathan Quayle Higgins in Magnum, P.I..

    Music 
  • Professor Elemental evokes one of these, with a mix of upper crust British accent, adventurer's outfit, Sherlock Holmes pipe and raps about tea and mad science experiments. Sometimes he plays the trope straight for humor, but on "I'm British" he both evokes and subverts it in pride of his culture and country.
    • And mustn't forget his frenemy Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer, though he dresses in a more 1920's version of the trope. The two used to have a "beef" in the form of a few dis songs ("A Piece of My Mind" and "Fighting Trousers"), but they seem to get along now.
  • The Wayfarers: "Deck the Sheds" is based on the idea that an audience of these is being treated to an Australian version of "Deck the Halls". At first they're enthusiastic about it, with lines like "Spiffing!" After it turns out the song has "Rip a bloody hugey, bonza mate!" instead of the traditional fa-la-la, they're...less wowed.
  • Sting's song "Englishman in New York" is basically this trope; the musical. With lyrics like "I don't drink coffee I take tea my dear", "A walking cane here at my side, I take it everywhere I walk" and "Modesty, propriety can lead to notoriety".

     Professional Wrestling 
  • Lord Steven Regal/William Regal. While in WCW as Lord Steven, he had a manager/valet in 1995-1996 who was even named Jeeves.
  • CHIKARA has featured Jervis Cottonbelly, who wears a derby, walks with a cane and is very polite and elegant. He also has a mustache, though in his case it's drawn on his mask.

    Theatre 
  • Anything Goes's Evelyn Oakleigh. Or Sir Evelyn Oakleigh, in the 1962 version. Or LORD Evelyn Oakleigh in the 1987 version.

    Video Games 
  • The last boss, Sir Richard Rose, in the 1991 side scrolling action game Sunset Riders. His two lines of dialogue are "Cheerio, old chap!" and "I say, bit of bad luck."
  • Professor Layton:
    • Layton is actually fairly tame... but he is very polite and smart, and he does love his tea. He also stresses — frequently — the correct behavior expected of a gentleman.
    • Luke covers the areas of Britishness that Layton can't as well.
  • Henry Hatsworth In The Puzzling Adventure:
    • Taken to comical extremes with monocle-wearing, mustache-bearing, tea-guzzling Adventurer Archaeologist protagonist. When he drinks tea, he summons a giant robot to help him. Yep, this is a Western Widget Series, all right... The voice natter that accompanies his dialogue is literally nothing but an endless series of 'pip-pip, cheerio'-style sounds. No words, just raw unadulterated Britishness. The rest of the cast encompasses the various variations on this trope; his archnemesis, for instance, is a Steampunk Willy Wonka lookalike who uses a giant mechanical top hat as his vehicle.
    • Henry's sidekick has three legible words in his voice natter. The words are "guv'na", "righto" and "jimeney". The game doesn't just embrace the trope, it dances a waltz with it.
  • Kolorado, the Adventurer Archaeologist in Paper Mario.
  • Captain Ash, from the Timesplitters series.
  • The Street Fighter series has two (of its three male British characters in the series; Birdie is more of a stereotypical British punk): Eagle from the the original Street Fighter, some ports of Street Fighter Alpha 3 and Capcom vs. SNK 2 is a man wearing a dress shirt and suspenders with a moustache who attacks with two clubs. Dudley from Street Fighter III wears a similar costume except with a bow tie and boxing gloves. He is very much like a mixture of Eagle and Balrog in that he is a gentlemanly Brit, but is also a black boxer. With his curly moustache and neat hair, he is definitely the more stereotypical of the two...and he can also somehow drink tea while wearing boxing gloves.
  • Jade Empire: Sir Roderick Ponce von Fontlebottom the Magnificent Bastard is here to educate all of you heathens in the proper manner of wearing trousers, drinking tea, debating, and shooting off overpowered flintlock rifles. His clothing and armor, however, are more Spanish in style.
  • Major Zero in the Metal Gear series is a slightly less blatant example, only hitting a few of the above traits. Subverted, ironically, when he becomes the leader of the Patriots.
  • Sidney Nettleson from Jagged Alliance. His bio reads "Whether sharing a Spot of Tea with English bluebloods or putting a .38 slug into an unwanted nuisance, Sidney does everything with poise and dignity. Years of avid cricket-playing have also given him a much feared throwing-arm."
  • Carl Clover and Rachel Alucard from BlazBlue.
  • The titular character from The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom isn't a nice version of these. He always wants something for himself and do whatever whatever he needs, even at the expense of others. He gets better.
  • Arlon the Serene from Kid Icarus: Uprising, complete with mustache and monocle.
  • League of Legends has the champion Cho'Gath, The Terror of the Void. This horrific monstrosity has a skin that turns him into this. Gentleman Cho'Gath has a top hat, monocle, and a high-class British accent.
  • Fossil Fighters: Champions has Professor Scatterly, who seems determined to out-British anyone who tries to British his way. (He even sneaks in a few naughty British words.) There's also Rupert, who, while preteen, is on his way to being this.
  • Borderlands 2 has Sir Hammerlock, a comically anachronistic Gentleman Adventurer.

    Webcomics 

    Web Originals 

    Western Animation 
  • Ferb's grandpa on Phineas and Ferb, albeit with that show, it's more like a parody of the stereotype than anything else.
    • Lawrence Fletcher (Ferb's dad) has this to say on the trope in the episode "Just Desserts" (while exaggerating his accent):
      "Oh yes, and I'm British, so you think I'm supposed to like bird-watching. Ooh, I'm British, so I'll be in the conservatory with a cup of tea and a crumpet! I'm saying that, ironically, but actually, that sounds quite good. So, I'm going to do that. Ta!"
  • Every non-real-life-celebrity British character on Family Guy.
    • Props for also depicting their very real pervy side, though.
    • Notably taken Up to Eleven with The New Yorker employees in "Brian Goes Back To College" through covering pretty much every variety of this trope in a matter of seconds:
    Wellesley Shepherdson: ...and this is our writer's lounge where you'll meet some of our contributors: Fielding Wellingtonsworth.
    Wellingtonsworth: [sipping tea from teacup and saucer] Hello.
    Shepherdson: Livingston Winstofford.
    Winstofford: [lights a cigar, wears a monocle, has a large mustache] Yes?
    Shepherdson: Amelia Bedford-Furthington-Chesterhill.
    Chesterhill: [smoking a cigarette in a long holder, swills brandy in snifter] Good day.
    Shepherdson: And James William Bottomtooth.
    Bottomtooth: [has comical underbite, terrible teeth, speaks unintelligibly]
  • Lord Monty Fisk from Kim Possible fits the trope to a T in his first appearance before his Face-Heel Turn.
  • Mr. Herriman from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends has a top hat, monocle AND a mustache. However, being imaginary, he's not really British.
  • Anti-Cosmo from The Fairly Oddparents speaks in a British Accent, is intellectual, wears a monocle and derby hat, and loves sipping tea. Of course, being an anti-fairy, he's not British. Plus he's doing things For the Evulz.
  • Lord Chumley in the Transformers Generation One episode "Prime Target". He even has his own Butler.
    "I say, Dinsmore, may I have some tea?"
  • The titular star of Around the World with Willy Fog.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: The character Fancypants in the episode "Sweet and Elite". While all of the other upper-class ponies in Canterlot appear to be snobby and elitist, he is revealed to be a very kind, and polite gentleman. He even appreciates Rarity's less-than-fancy friends and the simplistic dress that she made for Twilight Sparkle.

    Real Life 
  • Stephen Fry is often placed in this trope in people's minds, something he admits to willingly going along with
    Fry: ...it fits my self image, or at least that image others have of me that I have rather weak-mindedly allowed to become my self image.

Mean BritStock British CharactersThrifty Scot
OirelandEurope IndexThe Mean Brit
Puddle-Covering ChivalryAlways MaleRebel Prince
Princely Young ManAn Index of Ladies and GentlemenRegal Ringlets
Overly Polite PalsA Polite IndexPet the Dog
Quick NipCharacterization TropesRaised by Wolves
Proper LadyThe Edwardian EraBécassine
The Mean BritNational Stereotyping TropesSmart People Speak The Queen's English
Gentleman AdventurerImageSource/Video GamesHeretic

alternative title(s): Quintessential British Gentlemen
random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
61529
2