"I'm Guinan. I tend bar and I listen."Working in a bar is never easy. You have to deal with lowlifes, drunks, soldiers who will harass the female entertainment and some of the clientele with their better armed arsenal, and the average Joe who confesses his life problems to you as you pour him another round. This is the life of The Bartender: he pours a round and just quietly listens and observes the setting. Unless, of course, he's asked for advice. Just how valuable this advice might be depends on the story, but when you're desperate and maybe a bit drunk, it might seem like a good idea. Expect him to hear "I'll Tell You When I've Had Enough!" pretty often. The real weirdos will be the ones who get Drunk on Milk. Depending on the setting, this character may also be a Knowledge Broker, as alcohol tends to loosen lips. Many bartenders are known only by their nickname. They also often take up the duty of a quest givers in any fantasy (or science-fantasy)-themed Tabletop Game.
— Guinan, Star Trek: The Next Generation
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- One Piece:
- Blueno took advantage of this as he disguised himself as one for several years to find any information about an ancient warship.
- Makino owns a bar in Fuusha village.
- In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex TV series, one of the Major's underground contacts is a bartender.
- Bartender, predictably, is an anime centered around a Bartender, his bar and the stories of its patrons.
- Mirajane of Fairy Tail is this for the entire guild.
- Meliodas of The Seven Deadly Sins is the owner of the Boar Hat bar.
- At the center of the Criminal universe is Gnarly, the ex-boxer who runs The Undertow, a dive bar frequented by crooks, con-men and people who just plain run out of luck. Like most bartenders, he has seen and knows a lot more than he lets on, and is extremely judicious in applying it.
- A Nice Guy bartender shows up in one story in Preacher and ends up helping Tulip's best friend with some sage advise while she's feeling down about her (lack of a) love life. And then, because this is a Garth Ennis comic, we get a hilarious (for us, not for him) story about how he ended up chemically castrated after he got mistaken for a child molester by the police.
- Kadies in Sin City usually has waitress Shellie in the role as an earpiece as evident by Dwight's background confessions seen in many stories. Her (and Kadie to a lesser extent) seem to be able to get Marv calmed down, no easy feat.
- Blurr ends up as this in Transformers: Robots in Disguise. His bar is a general hangout for anyone willing to not shoot the other customers, Autobot, Decepticon, or neutral. In Transformers Windblade, the title character goes here to get information on Starscream.
- Tapper Smurf, the Oirish proprietor of Tapper's Tavern, in Empath: The Luckiest Smurf. Interestingly, his name is a Shout-Out to the arcade game Tapper.
- The Infinite Loops: In the MLP loops, once Big Macintosh starts Looping, he takes to building a bar for other Loopers, giving them a place to help cope after harsh loops, as well as just giving them a place to hang out and share stories.
- In Nosflutteratu, when Twilight goes to Sugarcube Corner for advice, she discover's Pinkie has adopted "Sympathetic Bartender" as a persona.
- Kurt Bright in Storms Overhead, who goes undercover as Kurtis, acts as one in the Charming Faeries Inn. It helps him with information gathering, as he exploits the fact that bartenders might be able to get people talking once they've gotten drunk.
- Cheech Marin plays the surly, toothpick-chewing bartender of the local Bad-Guy Bar in Desperado. He didn't even have a name; he was just called "Short Bartender."
- Danny Trejo tended bar in both From Dusk Till Dawn and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. The roles wouldn't be that noticeable if they weren't being played by DANNY FREAKING TREJO!!!
- Brian Flanagan (played by Tom Cruise) learns the fine art of bartending from Doug Coughlin (Brian Brown) in Cocktail.
- The extremely creepy Lloyd of the extremely creepy Overlook Hotel in The Shining.
- Joe in The Sky's the Limit, who is addressed in the movie's Breakaway Pop Hit, "One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)."
- In Keeping The Faith, the Framing Device is the priest (name?) "confessing" to The Bartender.
- In Bunraku, Woody Harrelson's character is a bartender who goes simply by the name The Bartender.
- The Fifth Element. Priest Vito Cornelius is shown pouring out his sorrows at a bar. The Reveal Shot shows the bartender listening to this drunken spiel is a faceless android.
- John Woo plays one in Hard Boiled to give Chow Yun-fat's Cowboy Cop 'Tequila Yuen' advice. He mentions at one point that he also was a cop.
- The bartender from Tapper plays this role in Wreck-It Ralph.
- Anatomy of a Murder has Alphonse Paquette, bartender of the Thunder Bay Inn and one of the witnesses to the murder of Barney Quill.
- Justin Callahan of the Callahans Crosstime Saloon stories by Spider Robinson.
- "Mac", who runs MacAnally's in The Dresden Files. MacAnally's is one of few places which is neutral ground for supernaturals, so every non-"vanilla human" in Chicago will drop by sooner or later. He doesn't talk much, though.
- Larry Niven's Draco Tavern stories are told from the perspective of the human barkeep to an alien Bar of Weirdos.
- Aberforth Dumbledore, the barkeep of the Hog's Head in Harry Potter.
- The Ship Who Searched by Mercedes Lackey has a scene where the male lead pours out his woes to a bartender and receives some good advice — along with a Lampshade Hanging, as it's revealed that a lot of bartenders in this future setting have received formal training in psychological and relationship counseling because of how often they're in scenes like this.
- In The Shining by Stephen King, Jack talks with Lloyd the bartender, someone he knew before coming to the Overlook, but in this particular case, it's actually the Overlook serving as bartender.
- Xavier runs a bar in Lonesome Dove.
- In The Lord of the Rings Barliman Butterbur hands down private letters among some of his customers and shares with them important information. Though he sometimes errs in giving advice, Gandalf trusts him and makes him his deputy Quest Giver.
- In Soul Music, Hibicus Dunelm, proprietor of the Mended Drum, knows what the routine is when a solitary figure is Drowning His Sorrows. Unfortunately, he tries it on Death, and the resulting conversation leaves him rather uneasy.
- Mr Cheese, the owner of the Bucket, the Watch pub in Men at Arms is described as a good listener. He listens to things like "another beer" and "keep them coming". And he knows what to say: "Certainly, sir" and "Credit? Of course!"
- The bartender at the bar where Silverfish, Detritus and Gaspode are drowning their sorrows in Moving Pictures, on the other hand, has learnt it's best not to say anything. "It may never happen" or "It could be worse" don't go down well with his clientele, because it has and it was.
- In Witches Abroad, this is strictly enforced by Lilith - any bartender not round, red-cheeked, and jovial, willing to listen to the cares of the world, quickly loses his liquor license.
- The Star Wars short story Last Call at the Zero Angle has Florn, a former TIE pilot who had to retire after a crash left him mostly a cyborg. He now runs the Zero Angle, a bar that serves as a hangout for off-duty TIE pilots from both the navy and army, which leads to frequent fights he has to break up. Notably, the pilots from both branches respect him due to the huge number of hours and kills he racked up as a pilot.
Live Action TV
- The Big Bang Theory: Invoked Trope in one episode. When Sheldon sees Penny working the bar, he expects her to act like the typical bartender, pouring drinks for him to drown his sorrows in and offering him sage advice.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In "Beer Bad" Xander gets a job as bartender and looks forward to acting as The Confidant to pretty girls, only to get run off his feet and insulted by arrogant frat boys. When one pretty girl does look ready to pour out her troubles, Xander brushes her off because he's too busy worrying about Buffy getting plastered with those same frat boys. He ends up quitting his job in a huff just because the owner brewed up some cursed beer that turned those drinking it into Neanderthals. Some people just can't be satisfied.
- Cheers: Sam Malone not only tended the bar, he owned it. At least for a while. Both Woody Boyd and Ernie "Coach" Pantusso worked as bartenders at the Cheers bar as well.
- Deadwood: Al Swearengen tended the bar, when he wasn't being the town's crimelord.
- Eastenders: Has The Queen Vic(toria) pub, which is basically the centre of Albert Square. If you run it, you're in charge of the square. Usually, bad things happen to you, too. Several characters fight for the title King/Queen of the Vic.
- Life on Mars (2006): Nelson is an oracle nonpareil who may just be the protagonist's subconscious. He's also a Fauxreigner in that he plays up a Jamaican accent so people don't take him too seriously ("Folks just seem happier with the other Nelson"). He turns up again in the very last episode of Ashes to Ashes, which reveals (MAJOR spoilers): that he's more or less the British coppers' equivalent of St Peter.
- The Love Boat: Isaac "your bartender". Always willing to lend an ear.
- Revolution: In the pilot episode, Miles Matheson, at first, until Charlie Matheson came looking for him.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Quark. While more self-serving than the average example, he genuinely enjoys talking to people and getting to know them, and laments turning down a more profitable career as an Arms Dealer due to it being impersonal.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: Guinan, source of the above quote.
- Star Trek: The Original Series: In the original pilot "The Cage," the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Boyce, has a drink kit to use when he wants to get a patient of his to open up. As he says "Sometimes a man will tell his bartender things he'd never tell his doctor."
- Boaby the Barman at the Clansman in Still Game. It's not clear if his surly attitude is the cause or result of the constant abuse he gets from the clientele.
- One sketch in A Bit of Fry and Laurie involves a bartender that manages to simultaneously offer his customer advice and bar snacks through a Hurricane of Euphemisms.
Laurie: "Let's face it we haven't slept together for years. The best she can hope for is a bit of-"Fry: "Savoury finger?"Laurie: "And naturally, she won't give me so much as a-"Fry: "Good juicy tongue in the back passage!"
- Nick, owner of Nick's Pacific Street Saloon, Restaurant, and Entertainment Palace in The Time of Your Life.
- Bye Bye Birdie has Charles F. Maude of Maude's Roadside Retreat, Sweet Apple, Ohio.
- The bartenders in the Quest for Glory games are usually of the rough, shady, and not very friendly variety. Probably a member of the Thieves' Guild. Pretty much a given, since the Thieves' Guild is under the bar in game 1, in game 2 the bartender is a minion of the most prominent criminal in a corrupt city, and in game 5 the entire bar is owned by that same person; there aren't any taverns in games 3 and 4.
- Telma in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, to The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask's Mr. Barten, the keeper of the Milk Bar in Termina.
- Mass Effect 2:
- A Turian bartender in the Dark Star lounge lampshades the advice-giving portion of the Bartender trope; if Shepard attempts to milk him for gossip, he suggests you ask around before commenting that he doesn't get "why humans always ask him that."
- Another lampshade is hung by Aethyta, the Asari bartender on Ilium, who turns out to be a Matriarch. When the character asks what she's doing tending bars, when Matriarchs are supposed to be councilors and figures of wisdom, her reply is, basically, "that's why Matriarchs make the perfect bartender." The third game reveals that she's Liara's father (no, not her "other mother", her father) and was keeping an eye on Liara's intel-broker activities for the other matriarchs. She moves to a bar on the Citadel once the Reaper war starts.
- In Omega, a Batarian bartender tries to poison Shepard, but since this is Shepard, he fails. Shepard can then either force the bartender to drink his own poison, get a paranoid turian to shoot him or tell him to scram. He's promptly replaced by a salarian.
- The elderly and professional George Watstatt from Reality On The Norm, sometimes replaced by the young and eager Dave Nihilist.
- K from Shin Megami Tensei IV. Formerly a Samurai commander, he became this upon retirement. He mellowed out, but he still helps out the new generation by managing Challenge Quests and, as per trope standard, advice dispenser.
- The Wild West chapter of ''Live A Live" has one, of course. His main purpose in the game is to waste time: you get 8 minutes to set traps to hold off the Crazy Bunch gang, and if you're done early you can have a drink to pass the time faster. While has has a story to tell, he keeps getting sidetracked telling it and it goes absolutely nowhere.
- Podley from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door fills this role quite nicely, being the bartender in the appropriately named Rogueport. He's essential to recruiting one of the members to your party much later in the game.
- Lampshaded in Everblue.
- In The Bug Pond, a bug named Raspberry runs a juice bar where Flash goes to express his woes.
- Crystal of Sluggy Freelance hosts the bizarre cast of the comic in her bar, always ready to comfort them with a smile and a free drink she mixed herself. For your own safety, do NOT try her experimental cocktails.
- Darin of Wapsi Square is the wise, almost fatherly variety. Here is his introduction.
- Bacchus, the protagonist of Nectar of the Gods, is this kind of character, who tends to the bar giving characters advice and serves them a perfect cocktail to soothe their troubles, and practically every other character in the comic is a bartender as well.
- Kendrion from Even In Arcadia spends time pouring his rejected heart out to a barmaid who ends up giving him advice.
- Eric Patterson, from Our Little Adventure.
- In Far Out, one appears behind the bar as the character walks in.
- Inhuman Relations: Slavko the bartender is always ready to dispense wisdom to his patrons. And someday, he just might have some wisdom to dispense.
- In Tower of God, one of Hwa Ryun's jobs is being the clerk in a karaoke bar.
- Moe Szyslak from The Simpsons, voiced by Hank Azaria.
- Futurama has a robot named iZak work as a bartender at times, parodying Isaac from The Love Boat (see Live Action TV).
- In Bravestarr, Handlebar was the resident bartender in New Texas. He fought more than he listened, though.
- Horace, from Family Guy, who is the proprietor of the Drunken Clam in Quahog. Until Jerome accidentally kills him in a softball game, who then purchases the Drunken Clam and takes Horace's place to honor his legacy.
- Arthur: The Brain works part-time at his parents' ice cream shop, filling this role in later seasons.