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
Common virtues: Well-dressed
(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
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- 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.
- Gone with the Wind: Rhett Butler is the Trope Maker, but also a subversion, just as Scarlett O'Hara does for the Southern Belle trope. The whole point of the character was that he wasn't exactly a gentleman.
- Ashley Wilkes, the other object of Scarlett's affection, is a more conventional example of the trope.
- Buck Cantrell from the Bette Davis film Jezebel is a classic example.
- Hatfield from Stagecoach is a down-on-his-luck example. After the end of the Confederacy he went west and makes a living as a gambler, but recognising Mrs. Malory as the daughter of his late commanding officer, he immediately starts to fuss over her. In a slight deconstruction of the trope, he is very class-conscious and thus his courtesy to women emphatically does not extend to Dallas (implied to be a prostitute). He also has a marked difference of opinion with Doc Boone, a veteran of the Union Army, as to how the, um, late unpleasantness should be referred to.
- Like Hatfield, Sergeant Beaufort in Fort Apache is a "fallen" example. A former Confederate officer, he enlisted in the U.S. Cavalry as a private after the Civil War. While not exactly conforming to the stereotype visually — he is played by Pedro Armendáriz — he is easily the most polished of the regiment's non-coms (some of whom had been officers in the Union army).
- John Henry Holliday, better known as Doc Holliday from Tombstone and other films. Also a real-life example.
- "The Captain" from Thank You For Smoking, right down to the mint julep on his coffin
- Lots of this is lampshaded throughout Maverick.
- Django Unchained (being set during the Antebellum South) features two particularly vicious deconstructions: Spencer "Big Daddy" Bennett and Calvin J. Candie. Both are plantation owners and slavers, and Deliberate Values Dissonance is in full effect with their monstrously brutal treatment of slaves.
- Big Daddy (pictured above) is seen having young girls whipped for accidentally breaking eggs, and heads a gang of proto-Klansmen called the Regulators. Also, he's Don Johnson in a white suit.
- Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) manages to be even worse: his hobbies include the study of the racist pseudo-science of phrenology and forcing his slaves to fight each other to the death in “mandingo” fights for his amusement. We also see him having a slave unwilling to fight torn apart by hungry dogs.
- Lionel Barrymore plays one in The Little Colonel, which is set in the 1870s. He's a Grumpy Old Man nostalgic for the Old South and full of hatred for "Yankees". Then Shirley Temple comes along and cheers him up.
- 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.
Live Action Tv
- 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.
- 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.
- A couple of times, The Nightly Show has poked fun at this trope. When discussing Mississippi's attempts to maintain a ban on gay adoption, Beechum Grady (played by Rory Albanese) personifies this role during an interview in which he explains Mississippi's "pro-yesterday" policies. This is later extended in a different segment about a state senator's Christmas cards featuring the Confederate flag that features an entire table full of Southern Gentlemen (including one who doesn't seem to realize slavery's been abolished) going over Christmas card designs that all feature Confederate flags, with Mike Yard playing the Only Sane Man at the table.
- 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.
- 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.
- Colonel Shuffle from the Looney Tunes shorts "Mississippi Hare" and "Dog Gone South". "Ah, magnolia!"
- Foghorn Leghorn is a parody of such.
- The unnamed Southern Colonel, the last person cocky Homer challenges to a duel in the Simpsons episode "E-I-E-I-(annoyed grunt)".
- 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.