The Proud Elite
This man is of elite status, often due to heritage, wealth, or both. Most people are willing to bend over backward to please him. He is tall, fit, and good looking. He carries himself with elegance and acts with sophistication. He is highly intelligent and quite competent at his pursuits. And he knows all this. He treats almost everyone around him with a thin veneer of polite disdain, coming off as cold, arrogant, and uncaring. He values rationality and logic and cares little for people and emotions. Kindness is beneath him. At least on the outside. While some Proud Elites are truly that cold, hard-hearted, and arrogant, with no redeeming features, most Proud Elites have a carefully hidden warmer, kinder side. Their gentler, nicer side will generally only come out around certain people or in situations where they can pretend a disinterested or self-serving rationale for their kind actions. Occasionally, a Proud Elite is not deliberately maintaining his cold, arrogant outer persona; he unintentionally comes off that way, generally due to shyness or some other form of social awkwardness. This character type, when set up as a romantic interest, generally appeals to the All Girls Want Bad Boys idea, in that the Proud Elite appears "bad" in his aloof arrogance, but generally has a warm heart underneath which allows him to fall in love. Frequently used in Japanese works, although by no means exclusive to them. Japanese examples will frequently be bishonen. Often overlaps with Tall, Dark and Handsome, Byronic Hero, Jerk with a Heart of Gold, Magnificent Bastard, Insufferable Genius, and Tall, Dark and Snarky. Compare the Ice Queen.
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Anime and Manga
- Kuchiki Byakuya is a noble and a Captain, and he comes across as cold and arrogant. However, he has a deeply engrained sense of honor and cares passionately for those few people who make their way into his heart.
- Ishida Uryuu is the last Quincy, the number one student in his class, and very proud of both. That pride plus his unwillingness to appear soft can make him difficult to get along with, and although he often pretends he cares little for the rest of his group, he has always come through for them.
- In Ouran High School Host Club, Ootori Kyoya is the brain behind the Host Club. He acts as though he cares only about the bottom line and what will benefit himself, as he feels befits the third son of the Ootori family, but he has been shown to have a well-hidden altruistic streak.
- Sebastian Michaelis from Black Butler is a suave but aloof demon currently posing as the butler to the Earl Phantomhive. He is quite intelligent and there is very little he cannot do. Being a demon, he is one of the few examples who don't have a warmer side; he truly does care nothing for humans beyond their use as tools and food.
- Kaoru from ...Virgin Love is known for two things at work: his unfriendly, brutally honest behaviour and for being extremely bishonen. He starts to defrost a little by the end of the first story.
- Death Note: Namikawa Reiji, the member of the Yotsuba Group who Light initially contacts, is cold, calculating, and very intelligent. He's at the top of the business world and keeps everyone around him at a reserved distance.
- Seto Kaiba of Yu-Gi-Oh! is one of the world's leading industrialists, young, intelligent, one of the leading players of Duel Monsters, and incredibly aloof.
- Bruce Wayne is handsome, and, while charming, tries to be aloof enough that he makes people think he's a bit arrogant. However, when he catches criminals as Batman, he'll get them jobs at Wayne Enterprises. Even the Ventriloquist got a second chance once on an episode of New Batman Adventures.
- Reggie Mantle from The Archie Comics. He comes from a well-to-do family, gets high grades, is captain of whatever sports team is the focus of the story, tends to have women swooning over him, and boy does he know it. Hilariously, he's a triple-layered jerk: Aloof and rude to people in general, beneath that a fun-loving prankster Jerk Ass to his circle of friends, and beneath that has a genuine heart and sincerely cares deeply about his friends.
- Emma Frost of the X-Men. As a member of the Hellfire Club, she was literally one of the most influential people in the world, and is known to be incredibly wealthy. She herself says she has the best body money can buy, and is a very powerful telepath, and since she got together with Cyclops, she's basically second-in-command of the X-Men, third if Wolverine happens to be around. She's also a complete bitch who can't go a day without acting like one. But no matter her flaws, she genuinely cares for all her students, and genuinely loved Cyclops.
- Jorge in The Secret Life Of The Backyard Kids. He's handsome, rich, charismatic, a preteen version of the Latin Lover, and a bit of a snobbish jerk, but quite the Broken Bird (despite being male)—and post-panther transformation (It Makes Sense in Context), he's Troubled, but Cute. He's shown to be a sympathetic character and much, much better than Tiffany.
- Dr. Nero, headmaster and founder of the eponymous school in the H.I.V.E. Series, fits this to a T. Always dressed in expensive suits and conducting himself as the successful man that he is and wants his students to emulate, it is only after six books that we find out he is a Hurting Hero, who lost Elena, "the only woman he ever loved" to Anastasia Furan, her own sister. This Tragic Villain status is foreshadowed only by his numerous references to having watched many other G.L.O.V.E. members die through a variety of circumstances he obsessively tries to avoid. He spends an entire chapter in book two drowning his sorrows, but never lets his weakness be seen to his students.
- Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice is perceived as extremely arrogant and completely uncaring of those around him, to the point that even those who acknowledge his good looks and wealth dismiss him as someone not worth getting to know. However, this impression is unintentional, and he is, in actuality, a morally upright, deeply caring man who is very socially awkward, and a tiny bit of a snob.
- Denethor from The Lord of the Rings is a man of high lineage and status, tall, intelligent and competent. He also comes off as arrogant, cold and disdainful.
- The Mortal Instruments:
- A female example: Isabelle Lightwood, who has Raven Hair, Ivory Skin, is extremely cold and proud, and actively partakes in Shadowhunters' Fantastic Racism. She defrosts rather quickly, though.
- Raphael Santiago is in some cases an even better example than Isabelle, but it's played with as while he's certainly proud and he does see himself and vampires as elite, the magical world (re:the Clave) does not see them as so.
- Ian Kabra from The 39 Clues fits this trope perfectly. He's dark, described in the books as being very good-looking, and is extremely full of himself. He starts off pretty evil, but turns out to have hidden morals.
- Adrian Ivashkov from Vampire Academy, has shades of this. He is arrogant, flaunts his wealth and royal connections. He speaks in a flippant tone and puts on an air of smug superiority. However, he barely hides a more friendly and emotional side.
- Sherlock: Benedict Cumberbatch's portrayal of Sherlock Holmes has a bit of this: he's a tall, aloof, stylishly dressed Insufferable Genius who can be pretty offputting in how he relates to others, but there are people he genuinely cares for.
- Horatio Hornblower: Majorly Awesome Major Edrington, from the episode "The Wrong War" (also known as "The Frogs and the Lobsters") in series one, starts as a very stuck-up character, asking the freshly promoted young Lieutenant Horatio to address him "my lord" instead of "major" as Edrington is in fact Earl of Edrington, and insulting Horatio and his friend Archie with sneering comments about their crew. However, he's a very capable leader and soldier, and his words and actions show he has other redeeming qualities: he acknowledges Horatio's status as a higher officer of the Navy and the competence of the sailors, and he comes to care about sailors with common origin, such as Horatio, on a personal level.
- Mash: Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester III comes from a distinguished American old-money Boston family, which is the American version of Blue Blood. He's an extremely competent surgeon, Insufferable Genius and Dr. Jerk, though frequently revealed to be of the Jerk with a Heart of Gold variety. He had several Pet the Dog moments and often showed his softer side (his love for his dearest sister, helping Korean orphans in one Christmas Episode, or secretly helping Hawkeye so that he could take a leave).
- In the 2013 stage adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka becomes an example of this trope. He's fabulously successful and fiercely proud of his achievements as a chocolatier Renaissance Man, and is far more interested in showing off the wonders of his factory and keeping the Golden Ticket tour group on schedule than getting to know them. And when the brats in the group get themselves into trouble despite his warnings, he has No Sympathy even when the consequences look to be lethal! However, there is a sugary heart under the ice: His strange, beautiful factory, indeed all that he creates, is borne of a drive to make the world a lovelier place; he doesn't care if a given "work" will make him money or not. He sees his imagination and artistic drive as what make him truly elite, and when the adults on the tour pester him as to what the Chocolate Room is specifically for (as opposed to a personal work of art), he's rather hurt. And as it turns out, he engineered poor Charlie Bucket's Golden Ticket find after meeting him while disguised as a tramp and realizing the boy might be a kindred creative spirit — his frosty treatment of the boy is a facade.
- In Final Fantasy VIII, Squall Leonhart is a tall, dark, handsome, proud, stoic, quietly dismissive Jerkass (although he has a compelling Freudian Excuse). When it comes to Rinoa, however, he gets all squishy and emotional. And when he finds out his True Companions are Not Quite Dead, he's visibly pleased.
- Koon from Tower of God is as cocky as they get. Hatsu loves to call him out for this. Problem is, Koon has something to back up his attitude.