Southern Gentleman

Ah say, ah say.

A mythical creature of the male gender, the Southern Gentleman is the Spear Counterpart to the Southern Belle.

Common vices: Racism, drinking and/or gambling, pride.

Common virtues: Well-dressed, well-spoken (even when swearing up a blue streak), charmin', suave and invariably polite to the opposite gender.

Other attributes: White suit of light material (especially in summer), corncob pipe that nevertheless manages to look dignified, mint julep.

Habitat: Romance novels, westerns.

Notes: Subject to severe Values Dissonance for modern audiences, as, depending on time period, he is either a slaveholder or is nostalgic for the era of slavery (even if he doesn't harbor any actual racist views, the romanticism of the south's Golden Age is what matters).

Associated tropes: Dixie accent, Officer and a Gentleman. Villainous portrayals include Fat, Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit and Corrupt Hick.

Status: Nearly extinct. Some are still known to moonlight as simple country lawyers or fast food mascots.


Anime and Manga
  • Guin Rhineford from Turn A Gundam, a literal Southern Aristocrat with a penchant for fine white suits and luxury airships. The trope is somewhat played with in that he's a) Ambiguously Brown and b) one of only five canonically gay characters in all of Gundam (the others being Tieria Erde, Alejandro Conner and Ribbons Almark of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 and Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn's Angelo Sauper), two things which almost certainly wouldn't fly in the Old South, as opposed to the post-apocalyptic future South.


Films — Animated

Films — Live-Action
  • Gone with the Wind: Rhett Butler is the Trope Maker. The whole point of the character was that he wasn't exactly a gentleman, but he still fits the trope.

  • In a lot of black southern folk tales, especially from closer to the time of slavery, the Devil often takes the form of one of these guys. For obvious reasons, considering they were usually also the cruel masters under whom slaves suffered.

  • Drake Morrell from Louis L'Amour's Bendigo Shafter
  • Several patriarchs from the upper-class Sartoris family from the works of William Faulkner. While there is much to admire about these men, they are still clearly presented by Faulkner as racist and, often, lost in the past.
  • Several, most notably Colonel Sherburn, in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
  • Quincy Morris in Dracula.
  • Atticus Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird, who is this trope, a Simple Country Lawyer, and explicitly non-racist.

Live Action Tv
  • Dr Leonard McCoy from Star Trek: The Original Series.
  • Lucas Buck masquerades as one in American Gothic.
  • In Boston Legal, the prosecuting attorney who argues against Alan Shore when he visits New Orleans.
  • Bill Compton from True Blood is a variation, he's probably the most polite vampire ever.
  • The Sports Night episode "Six Southern Gentlemen of Tennessee" includes two characters discussing that this trope as it relates to the Confederate flag and the history of the south. When Isaac points out to Danny that their CEO, Luther Sachs, is a southerner who likes to consider himself a Southern Gentleman. As Isaac puts it, "the difference, Danny, is all the difference"; the implication being that Sachs confuses his own wealth and elitism with the class and personal nobility that is associated with the trope.
  • Occasionally, on Good Eats, if the recipe has definite Southern roots (fried catfish, for example), Alton Brown will dress and speak like one of these, an Affectionate Parody of Col. Sanders. (Brown is, of course, from Georgia.)
  • Blanche's father, who was known as 'Big Daddy', on The Golden Girls. Interestingly enough, one episode reveals that he had a long-term relationship with a black woman.
  • Captain Leroy in Sharpe's Eagle is an unusual example, being an American Loyalist fighting for Britain in the Napoleonic Wars. His family made its money on "slaves, cotton and molasses". The working-class Sharpe calls him out on the first of these near the end of the episode.

  • Satirised in Tom Lehrer's "I Wanna Go Back To Dixie", where the phrase refers to the Ku Klux Klan:
    I wanna talk with southern gentlemen
    And put that white sheet on again
    Haven't seen me a good lynching in years!


  • Senator Beauregard Claghorn of Charleston, South Carolina from The Fred Allen Show; the character who would be the inspiration for Foghorn Leghorn. Most of Foghorn Leghorn's catchphrases (Like "That's a joke, son") originated with Senator Claghorn.

  • Edward Rutledge of South Carolina in 1776. His refined mannerisms are a veneer over his iron control of the Southern delegations, and he forces the removal of the Declaration of Independence's anti-slavery clause after singing the damning "Molasses to Rum," where he points out that Northerners are the ones sailing the slaveships. Also a Man in White in the film.
  • Big Daddy for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Dignified, chivalrous, and autocratic.

Video Games
  • Sinclair from BioShock 2, one of the Voices With An Internet Connection who helps you throughout the game.
  • Clem from The Suffering.
  • Arcturus Mengsk of Starcraft is portrayed as one, with him going so far as to wear clothes resembling a CSA general's outfit. Ironically, the corrupt government he overthrows (only to replace as equally-corrupt) is called the Confederacy, and its flag looks exactly like you'd think.
    • Mengsk's right-hand man and former Confederate general, Edmund Duke, also has a touch of this trope.
  • John Marston of Red Dead Redemption, despite being a former outlaw, can actually fit into this trope, with the clothing being the only other concern (in which case, you could put him in the gambler outfit or the duster).
  • Calm, polite, multiple PHD-having Engineer from Team Fortress 2.
  • In After the End: A Crusader Kings II Mod, the evolution of this trope, combined with a dash of misremembered history, has led to the rise of a new knightly warrior elite in the post-apocalyptic American Southeast.
  • Frank "Hitman" Hennessy from Jagged Alliance is a friendly smooth sweet-talker and notorious for enjoying Charlene 'Raven' Higgens' company a tad too much for Ron "Raider" Higgens, her husband's liking.

Web Comics

Western Animation
  • Colonel Shuffle from the Looney Tunes shorts "Mississippi Hare" and "Dog Gone South". "Ah, magnolia!"
  • Foghorn Leghorn is a parody of such.

Real Life
  • Colonel Sanders cultivated a Southern Gentleman persona for the latter part of his life, and this image now adorns KFC materials all over the place.
  • You'd be hard-pressed to find a version that's more recognizable or admirable than Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain.
    • Except neither Missouri or Kentucky are the South; they're border states.
    • Well, Kentucky is usually considered Southern. Missouri is slightly more complicated. The region of Hannibal was very pro-Confederate, and Twain was briefly enlisted in a Confederate unit.

Alternative Title(s):

Southern Gentlemen