"When you name your baby Jeeves...you've pretty much set up his career for life. You don't see many hitmen, for example, named Jeeves. "Pardon me sir, but I must whack you now."
— Jerry Seinfeld
The Jeeves is the perfect English butler, valet, or manservant. Always well-dressed, unfailingly polite, devoted to his employer... and usually much smarter or more level-headed than his employer
, too. Usually can manipulate him so subtly that he does not even have to speak With Due Respect
to achieve his ends.
The canonical example is Jeeves himself, from the Jeeves and Wooster
short stories and novels of P. G. Wodehouse
and the Jeeves and Wooster
TV series based on them. The original Jeeves, just for the record, is a valet, not a butler
— that is, he's a personal manservant, not a chief of domestic staff. The same is true of many examples of this trope, as the two roles are commonly confused.
A somewhat common subversion, which began while Wodehouse was still writing, is to have the butler as a brutish thug (and possibly a Battle Butler
). Both the original and the subversion are examples of
an actually useful kind of valet taken to the logical extreme. After all, if an aristocrat
is in fact foolish and incompetent, then a competent valet is an urgent necessity
if they are to survive everyday life. Conversely, an aristocrat
may find it useful to have a brutish thug on retainer to deal with certain... inconvenient problems.
Note that The Jeeves
, even if a valet, is not prone to the No Hero to His Valet
plot, generally having a clear view of his master's faults and virtues, though he may, on occasion, allow his view of the former to jaundice his view of the latter.
Usually a Hypercompetent Sidekick
. Complete opposite of the Bumbling Sidekick
Anime & Manga
- The central premise of Black Butler
- Genji and especially Gohda from Umineko no Naku Koro ni fall into this trope.
- Pagan, the Darlian family butler from Gundam Wing.
- Tokita, the Itoshiki-family butler in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei. He's ultra-competent and seems more sensible than his employers, although since this is a World Gone Mad, he has his own quirks.
- In Wild Rose, Mikhail's butler Bernt is utterly unflappable and appears like a phantom the moment Kiri slacks off in his work.
- Riffael Raffit of Count Cain is an ex-medical-student, beyond competent, devoted to a fault, and always turns up right when his master needs him. Until it turns out he's even more mentally unstable than Cain is, at least.
- Alfred Pennyworth from Batman. And yes, given the title used for a military officer's personal assistant, that makes him Batman's batman. He's also a Battle Butler in several incarnations, with British military and/or espionage training. Keeps Batman from either giving up, or going too far into Knight Templar territory. While he isn't more intelligent or deductive than Batman (though he has his moments), he's certainly wiser than he is.
- Jarvis from The Avengers also fits this trope, considerably more level-headed than his employer, Tony Stark - which one of them, after all, is the alcoholic?
- Cadbury, the butler of Richie Rich.
- From Archie Comics, the Lodge family butler, Smithers.
- Nestor, the butler of Marlinspike Hall in the Tintin series.
- Hobson, Arthur's valet from Arthur, is an uncommonly sarcastic instance of this trope.
- Martin from the 1998 version of The Parent Trap.
- Leonard's butler in Leonard Part Six.
- The Admirable Crichton is about the titular butler doing his level best to keep this role up even when his Upper-Class Twit employers and a handful of staff are stranded on a desert island, and doing a pretty damn good job at it considering the resources available. When they take too many liberties in expecting an impossible level of luxury, he's forced to resign and start his own camp on the other side of the island... which they soon come crawling over to join, entirely unable to fend for themselves.
- Wadsworth, in Clue, is a more scheming variant on this.
- Bates from Top Hat for Horace.
- Bensonmum in Murder by Death, memorably acted by Alec Guinness.
- Jeens in Dark and Stormy Night.
- Mrs. Wilson from Gosford Park turns this to unusual ends.
- Delbert Grady of The Shining, albeit briefly. Jack even calls him "Jeevesy".
- Stephen from Django Unchained provides a very interesting subversion. He isn't British and he isn't a gentleman. He is, however, a genius butler who can fix anything for his idiotic master- with both him and his master being pure evil.
- Subverted, with more than a hint of Fridge Horror by the character of Ulysses Diello, a.k.a. Agent Cicero in 5 Fingers (1952). Diello plays the part of a loyal gentleman's personal gentleman to perfection but is inwardly consumed by resentment at his low social status. If you have ever wondered what Jeeves would turn into should he start to dwell on why a person so intelligent and cultured as himself should be a mere servant, the answer is Diello.
- The Jeeves and Wooster series of short stories and novels by P. G. Wodehouse, later adapted into the popular Jeeves and Wooster TV series.
- Jeeves is the Trope Namer, of course.
- Sebastian Beach, the butler supreme of Blandings Castle.
- Subverted with Voules, Reggie Pepper's manservant. Reggie Pepper was a scatterbrained aristocrat who was later Expied into Bertie Wooster, and Voules at first appears to be a cool, calm forerunner of Jeeves...until he turns out to be an angry, drunken Jerk Ass who betrays his master. Characterization Marches On, what?
- Also subverted with Brinkley who Bertie hires when Jeeves is temporarily working for someone else. Brinkley turns out to be an incompetent, violently alcoholic Communist who ends up setting the house that Bertie is staying in at the time on fire.
- Jeeves the eponymous robotic Battle Butler for Clan Korval in the Liaden Universe, a rehabilitated decommissioned war machine who it turns out actually adopted his name and manner specifically from certain ancient novels (after having suffered at the hands of a character who is entirely coincidentally named Roderick Spode).
- Henry from Isaac Asimov's Black Widowers stories: these are puzzle-mysteries in which a group of men discuss a mystery or conundrum over dinner and fail to solve it; the solution is always offered by their humble and devoted waiter Henry.
- Lord Peter Wimsey's valet Bunter is not, in fact, smarter than his amateur-detective employer, but he does have a number of useful skills that his boss doesn't — like knowing how to develop a photograph.
- The meaningfully-named Jock Strapp of the Charlie Mortdecai series is written as the subversion type, and is actually described as the anti-Jeeves. He's crude Dumb Muscle and completely loyal to his cunning employer, the titular Villain Protagonist (or anti-hero on a good day).
- Butler, the Battle Butler of the Artemis Fowl series has some resemblance to the subversion, but is well-spoken enough to resemble The Jeeves.
- Vimes' butler Willikins in the Discworld books encompasses both this trope and its subversion: normally, he is the perfect Jeeves (minus the subtle manipulation of a wayward master), but in his childhood or when the situation demands, he was and becomes a thug.
- Indeed, in Jingo he switches from one to the other in mid-sentence. "Let 'em 'ave it right up the... oh, is that you, Sir Samuel?"
- In Thud!, he keeps acting like the perfect Jeeves even after personally eliminating half of a commando squad attacking the Vimes home, and then hosing down their invasion tunnel with a flame-thrower.
- Also in the same book, Willikins admits to having been a street gang member (in a gang even Vimes, a gang kid and possibly the Disc's dirtiest fighter, describes as a tough, mean lot) in his youth, favoring a cap-brim lined with sharpened penny coins. We also see him assisting the watch as a volunteer reservist later. Vimes marvels at the difference in Willikins' working-class background and his current highbrow butler status.
- In Snuff, Vimes insists that Willikins come with the family to the country manor. Willikins acts as personal manservant, preparing drinks and getting the manor's staff to respect their new master, and bodyguard, heavy on the latter. While the examples above could fall into service or self-defence, some of Willikins' actions are very shady, things Vimes may want to but won't order, such as shooting at an old lady while making a gang think one of their own did it, making them definitely in the wrong and giving the police an opening; and killing the Psycho for Hire when he escapes for a second time, rather than delivering him to the police.
- The Igors are pretty much this for the Mad Scientist type. Although they are willing to work for non-mad scientist types.
- Stevens in Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day is a deconstruction of this, what with all the realising that his life has been meaningless and the Nazis and everything.
- In Robert Asprin's Phule's Company books we have Beeker, the batman of Willard J. Phule. Whilst his insanely rich employer is busy inspiring his Ragtag Bunch of Misfits troops (and he does — no Upper-Class Twit here), he's the one who frequently has to pull his arse out of the
line of fire.
- Because he apparently hated butlers (going so far as to say they had their own circle of hell, where kitchen-maids and journalists could watch their torments from Heaven), Hilaire Belloc wrote a different kind of subversion in The Emerald of Catherine the Great. The butler acts like The Jeeves around his master (except his schemes don't work), but is thuggish to the other servants. He even switches between posh dialect and Cockney, depending on whether there are toffs around or not.
- Poul Anderson's Dominic Flandry series has Flandry's valet, Chives, who is a clear Shout-Out to Jeeves. Even if he is not human. (And starts out as a slave.)
- Miss Feng in Charles Stross's short story "Trunk And Disorderly", which is a pastiche of the Jeeves novels relocated to an indeterminate future.
- Ruggles Of Red Gap which was also made into a play and a movie.
- Konstantin Bothari from the Vorkosigan Saga fits as one of the tropes' subversions. He plays batman to Aral Vorkosigan in the Barrayaran army, and later young Miles Vorkosigan after his release from service, but his primary qualities are his loyalty to the Vorkosigans and his martial abilities as a body guard. Later Miles acquires the suave and Jeeves-like Armsman Pym, who more closely embodies the original trope. Both Bothari and Pym are examples of the Battle Butler.
- From The Kingdomsof Evil, Mr. Skree
- In Death: Summerset, a butler who is naturally British. However, he doesn't seem interested in manipulating his employer Roarke very much.
- Mr. Butler from the Phryne Fisher novels. He keeps Phryne's eccentric household running like clockwork and is never put out by any request, no matter how odd.
- Played with every which way in George MacDonald Fraser's McAuslan story The Servant Problem: zigzagged by MacNeill's grandmother, who intimidates her employers; played straight by John, footman to a baronet who is the perfect manservant; and completely, utterly defied by every one of Lt. MacNeill's successive batmen, not to mention MacNeill himself.
- Most of the stewards of the Royal Manticoran Navy. Not so much the part about being smarter or more level-headed, but definitely the part about manipulating the captains, commodores and admirals they serve into being properly dressed and fed, and at providing proper hospitality even at the most awkward times or when the most unusual and unexpected guests show up.
- In an episode of Even Stevens. Louis comes into enough money to hire his own Jeeves, called Chives, for a week. this is likely a parody of this trope.
- Massively defied by Edmund Blackadder in Blackadder the Third, who constantly manipulates his self-confessed "thick as a whale omelette" employer for his own ends. Interestingly, his employer is portrayed by Hugh Laurie, who also played Wooster.
- Geoffrey from the sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
- And his spiritual ancestor, Benson DuBois of Soap.
- Frasier hires one of these in one episode of the show named for him, although he only plays up the British Stuffiness when on the clock, and is happy to discuss Man Utd with Daphne in the kitchen.
- Niles from The Nanny
- Actually, Niles mostly fits the Trope. He's British, polite, sophisticated, and loyal to his employer... For the most part. Eventually, however, he becomes somewhat of a Deadpan Snarker and the Only Sane Man in the cast, thinking Maxwell somewhat stubborn for his reluctance to admit his true feelings to Fran. Eventually, in a late season, he gains enough backbone to finally tell his boss off and speak his true mind about it, and this finally convinces Maxwell to propose to Fran, and it sticks.
- There is Frik from the mini-series Merlin. He is the polite and well-mannered servant to Queen Mab who horribly mistreats him. He often tries to serve as the voice of reason only to be ignored and is often the one to actually carry out her plots. He leaves her employ/is fired when Mab kills the woman he loves. He then helps Merlin destroy her.
- He defines his role and the trope perfectly when Merlin meets him at the end saying: "There will always be a need for the perfect gentleman's gentleman, and I was and always will be one of the best."
- Kryten of Red Dwarf is named after the Admirable Crichton, although he's The Woobie as much as The Jeeves.
- Hudson from Upstairs Downstairs, who often puts duty and rectitude before compassion or flexibility, or even his own selfish needs. In one story, he panics when he is seen by Sir Richard at a restaurant entertaining relatives from Australia because he thinks he is aping his betters and thus deserves to be sacked. He is quite shocked when Bellamy doesn't get rid of him, though Bellamy's brother makes him squirm quite a bit.
- Carson from Downton Abbey. Only World War One can stop him from running the house perfectly.
- Speed definitely comes off this way in Two Gentlemen of Verona; he's a cheerful Servile Snarker with an unbelievably quick wit, as likely to rib his master for being in love as he is to help him put his gloves on.
- Tranio in The Taming of the Shrew—a Gentleman and a Scholar who's willing to do literally anything to help his master out. (And, incidentally, to help himself to some of his master's power.) Lucentio never does a thing without consulting him.
- Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat: In the song "Go, Go, Go, Joseph", the Pharaoh's butler is referred to as "the Jeeves of his time".
- The Admirable Critchton appeared before even Jeeves. Though he plays Hypercompetent Sidekick to an entire family of Upper Class Twits (and single-handedly saves the day when they end up on a Deserted Island), he still believes that it's wrong for the upper and lower classes to mingle too much and maintains that, as a mere servant, he should know his place.
- In Laura Bow: The Colonel's Bequest, there is a butler named Jeeves.
- In World of Warcraft, engineers can craft a device that requests the presence of Jeeves, the perfect gentleman robot butler, who will attend to your needs for 10 min. Jeeves allows players to repair their armor and weapons, sell unwanted items, buy reagents for spells and grants bank access to skilled engineers. Truly a gaming gentleman's gentleman.
- The Jeeves robot, however, has the look of a clockwork gnome and lacks the British stuffiness of a true Jeeves. A closer approximation to The Jeeves in-game is the raid boss Moroes inside Karazhan. He's in charge of the grand dining hall, and is unflaggingly polite to you even when he's trying to kill you. Even when you kill him, he maintains his stuffy cool, saying only "How terribly clumsy of me."
- Lawrence is one of these to Dr. Nefarious in the Ratchet & Clank series.
- In Fallout 3, when you get a house (either in Megaton or Tenpenny Tower), you are given a robotic butler to help explain the house's functions, give you fresh water, and tell you jokes. Both possible butlers speak with a British accent and have remarkable manners.
- In Pokemon Platinum (and Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver), Darach is this to Caitlin. Just look at him His title is Castle Valet, and he battles you in place of Caitlin, who is implied to have tantrums when she loses. Darach is polite and proper, and he also says En garde! Caitlin is also a powerful Psychic who can't control her powers, so you can see why she doesn't battle. Doesn't stop her from Taking A Level In Badass and becoming an Elite Four member in Black and White.
- Haskill from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. It's telling that when his master is the god of madness, and he lives in a dimension where everyone is insane, he's the Only Sane Man.
- After he won the lottery, Robbie of PvP hired a butler named Butler who plays this to the hilt and can solve any problem the other characters have if they ask him to.
- ... And apparently LolBat in his spare time.
- Alumik Edrok, father of Evan Edrok, from Tower of God, the butler of Princess Jaina Repellista Zahard. He's got the dress code right and generally is more mature than all the Princesses we meet. Also, he knows many of these Princesses so well that he knows exactly what they want.
- In No Rest for the Wicked, Perrault effectively runs his master's life. Until he decides he's bored; and even then setting guidelines for continued success while he's gone.
- In Girl Genius, Gilgamesh Wulfenbach's assistant Wooster is a complete aversion of this trope, considering that he works for British Intelligence. Gil knows about this.
- Considering the man's name, it's not much of a surprise.
- Despite being a spy with his own agenda and a university friend rather than someone hired as a professional manservant, he does seem to be good at his cover job. And given who his employer was, having a batman with non-traditional talents probably came in handy.
- Mr. Deeds of SCP-662.
- In the Show Within a Show Caleb Rentpayer from the Homestar Runner cartoons, Caleb is a young slacker who somehow came into a lot of money. From the brief snippets of the show we've heard, his hapless butler Tuxworth seems to be half Jeeves, half Butt Monkey.
Caleb: You throw like a girl, Tucksworth.
Tuxworth: Caleb, that suitcase was heavy!
- In Gargoyles, Xanatos' secretary/butler/manservant/majordomo/whatever Owen Burnett (who chose this life over... Nah, that would be telling).
- And Preston Vogel, whom Owen modeled his personality and current form on.
- Duckworth from DuckTales.
- One of Gromit's many household roles in Wallace & Gromit. Usually the cause of his misfortune.
- One episode of The Fairly Oddparents had Timmy getting a butler named Jensen. There didn't seem to be a problem with him seeing Cosmo and Wanda.
- An episode of Danny Phantom had Danny getting rich and getting a butler named Hopkins.
- An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes had Beezy getting a butler who literally lived his life for him.
- Archer has a butler named Woodhouse (get it?) who is definitely more down-to-earth than his employer. Unusually, in contrast to the norm wherein The Jeeves is the one "really in charge", Archer treats Woodhouse like shit (although we frequently get hints that the valet has his own little ways of getting revenge).
- In Adventure Time, Princess Bubblegum has Peppermint Butler. Like many examples of this trope, he's got plenty of Hidden Depths—he's even friends with Death.
- Daphne's butler Jenkins in A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. Dawson, who responds to Daphne's call when Jenkins isn't available, also counts.
- Jenkins' services seems to extend to Daphne's friends as well. He responded when Velma accidentally called him in one episode.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Spike the dragon tries to be this. In practice, he vacillates between being Twilight Sparkle's (ignored) voice of reason and being just as bad. Maybe he'll have better luck when he's older.
- In the Family Guy episode "Road to Rupert", Stewie has an English butler named Crone who serves him while he's in the middle of a ski race.
- James is this to Arktos in Tabaluga. He is a very elegant penguin with a monocle on his eye and he is much smarter than Arktos who always claims that all James's ideas were his ideas However, James sometimes seems to be a bit to concerned about his master's welfare.