Stroke the Beard

"When I stroke the beard thusly, do I not appear more... intellectual?"
Lt. Commander Data while trying on a fake beard, Star Trek: The Next Generation

This is the need for either Old Masters or Wicked Cultured villains to stroke their Bad Ass Beards/Beards Of Evil as a compulsion. Evil types usually do this while preparing their Evil Plans, sipping A Glass of Chianti, and indulging in Villainous Slouching. This version is somewhat discredited today.

These people don't necessarily need an actual beard, as even placing their hand on their chin where a beard would be while in thought can suffice.

This trait has several faces; the meticulous planning and deep thought this trope usually suggests tends to be associated with evil. The good type usually suggests a zen-like peacefulness. Some also liken it to shrinks stroking their Freud-like beards. The overarching theme with this trope is intellectualism (or at least sneakiness).

Compare Putting On My Thinking Cap.


Examples:

Anime and Manga

Fanfic
  • In Plan 7 of 9 from Outer Space, Tumok tells of how he consulted a Hermit Guru on Olympus Mons. Lacking a beard, the guru strokes the icicle clinging to his chin.

Film
  • Pai Mei of Kill Bill was awesome at this.
  • Robin does this in Robin Hood: Men in Tights while pondering an archery contest. Then flicks his fingers clean.
  • Star Wars: In the prequels, Obi-Wan Kenobi usually strokes his beard meditatively just before doing something totally Bad Ass. He and Anakin Skywalker spend a good minute stroking their chins, signaling to each other on how they should make their getaway from General Grievous in a deleted scene from Revenge of the Sith.

Literature
  • Judge Dee often does this.
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms: Guan Yu is one of the earliest examples. Just watch any Chinese opera show featuring him as a character.
  • In Dragonlance, a dwarf stroking his beard is considered an insult to the party he's speaking to.
    " Stroke your beard the wrong way, and the dwarves will bar the gates to the mountain once again." - Tanis Half-Elven
  • Archeologist Radcliffe Emerson had a beard when he met Amelia Peabody, but not after they married; he still strokes his chin meditatively as an action-equivalent to a Catch Phrase. The habit has even been picked up by other characters, including his daughter-in-law.
  • Some Discworld characters have done this, including Vetinari, Abrim, and some of the older and wiser dwarves, who of course all have beards.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire. Grand Maester Pycelle would stroke his long white beard to give himself an air of wisdom. Unfortunately after Tyrion Lannister has Shagga forcibly shave it off during an interrogation, he loses this implied authority, just looking like a sickly old man.

Live-Action TV
  • The quote above comes from an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, where Data tried to emulate Riker Growing the Beard. The end result was so ridiculous that Troi had to excuse herself before she completely broke down, and Geordi only did a marginally better job of holding back his laughter.
  • The Pushing Daisies episode "Oh, Oh, Oh, It's Magic!". The magician does this when he tells Emerson in a very dramatic voice that he needs his help in solving the murders of his assistants.
  • In an episode of Modern Family, some of Manny's friends draw a beard on his face with magic marker while he's asleep. He strokes his drawn-on beard this way while plotting his revenge.

Newspaper Comics

Stand-Up Comedy

Visual Novels
  • Ace Attorney:
    • A certain Mr. Phoenix Wright is always doing this in court while thinking.
    • In Investigations, Quercus Alba does it when cornered

Video Games

Web Original

Western Animation
  • Sokka of Avatar: The Last Airbender does this almost continuously while in his Wang Fire disguise, whether he's pondering something or not. (Though since he is the idea guy and an engineering genius, it's probably safe to assume that there's something planning-related going on in that head of his.)
  • Tenzin from Sequel Series The Legend of Korra is prone to doing this. This would make his Uncle Sokka so proud of him.
  • Papa Smurf in The Smurfs can be found doing this.


Alternative Title(s):

Evil Beard Fixation