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Literature / Jeeves and Wooster

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"You will find Mr. Wooster an exceedingly pleasant and amiable young gentleman, but not intelligent. By no means intelligent. Mentally he is negligible - quite negligible."
Jeeves (from "Scoring Off Jeeves")

Bertie Wooster and his valet Jeeves are fictional characters, created by British author P. G. Wodehouse. They have appeared in many comedic short stories and novels published between 1915 and 1974.

Wodehouse's most famous Upper-Class Twit, Bertram Wilberforce "Bertie" Wooster, is also the character who probably best embodies Wodehouse's gift for language. Bertie may be "mentally negligible", but as narrator of his own adventures he expresses himself with a loopy eloquence virtually unmatched in literature, giving this series its much-beloved Cloudcuckoolander sense of humor.

The plots tend to follow a set formula: life would be just about perfect for our single and very wealthy young man-about-London-town were it not for his inability to say no when his even goofier friends and/or imposing aunts come asking favours. Most often these are tied into typically Wodehousean love affairs, rife with comic misunderstanding and convoluted scheming, meaning that Bertie generally finds himself 'accidentally engaged' at least once or twice a book (in a couple cases, on and off over the course of several books). Of course, always the perfect gentleman (as the stern Code of the Woosters dictates), he would never correct a lady...

...Thankfully, Bertie's Servile Snarker uber-valet (not butler, though if the call comes, he can buttle with the best of them), Reginald Jeeves, is fully as capable as Bertie is ineffectual. With, apparently, the same effort most people put into buttoning their cuffs — and without so much as a flicker in his coolly correct facade — Jeeves steps in when all seems hopeless, rescues Bertie and/or his friends from their entanglements and restores the status quo. Often several times per book... because the fact that Bertie and co. are involved means there's always a chance the best-laid plans will go awry.


Arthur Treacher was Jeeves in two 1930s films, Thank You Jeeves and Step Lively, Jeeves!, with David Niven taking the part of Bertie Wooster in the first of them. In the Sixties, Ian Carmichael (better known for playing Lord Peter Wimsey) as Bertie and Dennis Price as Jeeves appeared in the TV series The World of Wooster. (It is on record that Wodehouse did not care much for any of these adaptations.)

There is also a BBC radio version starring Richard Briers as Bertie and Michael Hordern as Jeeves, possibly the most faithful adaptation of the books, as it preserves Bertie's first-person narration. This series included dramatizations of The Inimitable Jeeves; The Code of the Woosters; Right Ho, Jeeves; Joy in the Morning; Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves; Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit; and The Mating Season. All but the last have been released on compact disc and MP3.

The Jeeves stories were also the basis and inspiration for an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Jeeves, which was released in 1975 and failed so spectacularly both critically and commercially that it's still thought of as Webber's first real flop. However, in 1996 the musical was reworked, rewritten and re-released as By Jeeves, which was far more successful and got generally positive reviews.

Another stage adaptation, Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense, written by David and Robert Goodale premiered in West End in 2013. It was based on The Code of the Woosters and won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy in 2014.

Perhaps most famously, the Jeeves stories formed the basis of the popular early '90s series Jeeves and Wooster, starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, respectively.


Note: The order in which stories were grouped together in collections does not always match with the order of their initial publication. For example, "Jeeves Takes Charge", the third Jeeves and Wooster story, was originally published in a magazine (The Saturday Evening Post) in 1916 but didn't get included in a book until 1925.

  • The Man with Two Left Feet (1917), short story collection featuring one Jeeves story out of thirteen
    • "Extricating Young Gussie"note 
  • My Man Jeeves (1919), short story collection with four Jeeves stories out of eight
    • "Leave it to Jeeves"note , "Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest", "Jeeves and the Hard-boiled Egg", "The Aunt and the Sluggard"
  • The Inimitable Jeeves (1923), short story collection
    • "Jeeves in the Springtime", "Aunt Agatha Takes the Count", "Scoring Off Jeeves", "Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch", "Jeeves and the Chump Cyril", "Comrade Bingo", "The Great Sermon Handicap", "The Purity of the Turf", "The Metropolitan Touch", "The Delayed Exit of Claude and Eustace", "Bingo and the Little Woman"
  • Carry On, Jeeves (1925), short story collection, includes some stories that are rewrites/reprints of stories from My Man Jeeves
    • "Jeeves Takes Charge", "The Artistic Career of Corky"note , "Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest", "Jeeves and the Hard-boiled Egg", "The Aunt and the Sluggard", "The Rummy Affair of Old Biffy", "Without the Option", "Fixing It for Freddie"note , "Clustering Round Young Bingo", "Bertie Changes His Mind"
  • Very Good Jeeves (1930), short story collection
    • "Jeeves and the Impending Doom", "The Inferiority Complex of Old Sippy", "Jeeves and the Yule-tide Spirit", "Jeeves and the Song of Songs", "Episode of the Dog McIntosh", "The Spot of Art", "Jeeves and the Kid Clementina", "The Love That Purifies", "Jeeves and the Old School Chum", "Indian Summer of an Uncle", "The Ordeal of Young Tuppy"
  • Thank You, Jeeves (1934)
  • Right Ho, Jeeves (1934)
  • The Code of the Woosters (1938)
  • Joy in the Morning (1946)
  • The Mating Season (1949)
  • Ring for Jeeves (1953)(aka The Return of Jeeves) — features Jeeves but not Bertie
  • Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit (1954)(aka Bertie Wooster Sees It Through)
  • A Few Quick Ones (1959) — short story collection with one Jeeves story out of ten
    • "Jeeves Makes an Omelette"
  • Jeeves in the Offing (1960)
  • Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves (1963)
  • Plum Pie (1966) — short story collection with one Jeeves story out of nine
    • "Jeeves and the Greasy Bird"
  • Much Obliged, Jeeves (1971)
  • Aunts Aren't Gentlemen (1974)
  • The World of Jeeves (1967) — collection of all the Jeeves short stories except "Extricating Young Gussie"

Latter stories authorized by the Wodehouse estate:

  • Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks (2013)
  • Jeeves and the King of Clubs by Ben Schott (2018)
    • Jeeves and the Leap of Faith (2020)

Jeeves and Wooster stories with their own TV Tropes pages:

P. G. Wodehouse's other Jeeves stories provide examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: For Bertie, just about every unmarried woman he's ever met. The more likable female characters he meets, such as Cynthia Wickhammersly or Corky Pirbright, tend to have no particular interest in him beyond basic friendship.
  • Accidental Art: In "Leave it to Jeeves" (included in My Man Jeeves), a pal of Bertie's is having trouble. He wants to paint portraits, but can't get a commission to paint one because he hasn't painted any. He finally gets a commission to paint a portrait of his uncle and benefactor's first baby. It's so horrible that the uncle calls it a fugitive from the funny papers, and cuts the painter off. Jeeves gets the idea that the character in the portrait could be the root of a series on the funny papers entitled "The Adventures of Baby Blobb". It's a hit and the painter becomes rich.
  • Accidental Athlete: In "The Purity of the Turf", Jeeves explains how he came to appreciate a local servant boy's amazing speed thusly:
    Jeeves: I happened to pursue him one morning with the intent of fetching him a clip on the side of the head -
    Wooster: Great Scott, Jeeves! You?
    Jeeves: Yes, sir. The boy is of an outspoken disposition, and had made an opprobrious remark regarding my personal appearance.
    Wooster: What did he say about your appearance?
    Jeeves: I have forgotten, sir. But it was opprobrious.
  • Accidental Proposal: The Jeeves books are made of Accidental Engagements. Add to that the fact that it takes Bertie a long time to finally realize he's happier as a bachelor.
  • After Action Patch Up: In "The Inferiority Complex of Old Sippy", used to faciliate an engagement.
  • The Alcoholic: Bertie's Uncle George.
    I don’t know if you’ve ever met my Uncle George. He’s a festive old egg who wanders from club to club continually having a couple with other festive old eggs. When he heaves in sight, waiters brace themselves up and the wine-steward toys with his corkscrew. It was my Uncle George who discovered that alcohol was a food well in advance of modern medical thought. (from "The Delayed Exit of Claude and Eustace")
  • Artist and the Band: In "Thank you, Jeeves'', Bertie becomes obsessed with playing the Banjolele after watching a performance by a fictional band called "Ben Bloom and his Sixteen Baltimore Buddies".
  • As the Good Book Says...: Bertie often reminds us that he excelled in Scripture Studies, but Jeeves is much better versed in it.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: A non-romantic example is seen with Bertie and Aunt Dahlia.
  • Badass Preacher: It's best not to aggravate The Reverend Harold "Stinker" Pinker. He is/was a star Rugby player and boxer, and tends to see red when struck.
  • Batman Gambit: Many of Jeeves's plans are actually this. He often relies entirely on his victim's reactions - "the psychology of the individual" - but he's never wrong.
  • Berserk Button
    • Young Thomas in "The Love That Purifies" will not take kindly to any acquaintance of his who insults Clara Bow.
    • Anatole the chef has several such buttons.
  • Better with Non-Human Company: Gussie Fink-Nottle finds newts easy, people difficult. Especially women.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Roderick Glossop is equipped with a pair of these.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Jeeves, to a degree. He tolerates and even sometimes encourages minor criminal behavior on Bertie's part, but the slightest deviation from a proper gentleman's dress-code is ruthlessly squashed.
  • Brawn Hilda:
    • Cora Bellinger the opera singer in "Jeeves and the Song of Songs". Often referred to simply as "The Bellinger" as if she were some type of siege engine.
    Bertie: I don't know what it is, but women who have anything to do with opera...always appear to run to surplus poundage.
    • Honoria Glossop passim. Bertie describes her thusly in "Scoring off Jeeves": "She had gone in for every kind of sport and developed the physique of a middleweight catch-as-catch-can wrestler."
  • Breach of Promise of Marriage: One of Jeeves' regular tasks is getting Bertie Wooster out of engagements while avoiding such lawsuits. The very last Jeeves and Wooster short story, "Jeeves and the Greasy Bird", has a con artist scam Bertie into making a faux marriage proposal only to demand a £2000 payoff to avoid just such a suit. Jeeves, naturally, gets Bertie off the hook.
  • Bucket Booby-Trap: In "The Inferiority Complex of Old Sippy", Bertie rigs up a bucket trap filled with flour in order to embarrass an antagonist of his old friend Sippy. Naturally, it winds up falling on Bertie's head.
  • Butlerspace: Jeeves is formally a valet, rather than a butler, but Bertie frequently remarks on how he can "shimmer" into a room without ever being seen to enter.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Repeatedly Inverted: "The Code Of The Woosters" dictates that if for any reason a girl should come to believe that Bertie is in love with or wishes to marry her, he cannot directly tell her "no". This gets Bertie into serious trouble on more than one occasion.
  • Carpe Diem: Motty (Lord Pershore), the only son of domineering mother Lady Malvern, is put up in Bertie's apartment in "Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest". Liberated from his mother for the first time ever, he goes on a series of drunken sprees, much to Bertie's horror. Challenged by Bertie, Motty says "This is the first time I've been let out alone and I mean to make the most of it. We're only young once. Why interfere with life's morning? Young man, rejoice in thy youth!"
    Bertie: Put like that, it did seem reasonable.
  • Catch-22 Dilemma: In "The Artistic Career of Corky" Wooster explains the catch for those wanting to take up portraiture: "you can't start painting portraits until people come along and ask you to, and they won't come and ask you to until you've painted a lot first."
  • Celeb Crush: In "The Love that Purifies", Aunt Dahlia has a bet with a friend that her son Bonzo can behave better than Aunt Agatha's offspring Thomas while a mutual acquaintance is staying with Bertie; Bonzo is toeing the line so he can be worthy of movie star Lillian Gish, who he has a big crush on. Unfortunately, Thomas is behaving even better, because he has a crush on Clara Bow. See Berserk Button for how Jeeves deals with the situation.
  • Celebrity Paradox: In Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, discussing his new facial hair, Bertie argues that David Niven looks dashing and debonair with his mustache. Jeeves replies that he’s enjoyed several of Mr. Niven’s films, but Niven doesn’t look anything like Bertie. One wonders what either of them thinks about the 1936 In Name Only adaptation of Thank You, Jeeves, in which Niven plays the role of Bertie Wooster. (Considering that P. G. Wodehouse hated the finished product, this probably doubles as a Take That!.)
  • Celibate Hero: Bertie never has a serious relationship. He says that on occasion he has gotten carried away and asked a girl to marry him, but he always gets out of it. He seems to want nothing more than to live the life of a well-off bachelor.
    • In earlier stories, Bertie will sometimes fall into mad infatuations and propose Fourth Date Marriages with Florence Craye, Pauline Stoker, and Bobbie Wickham. In later works, Bertie seems terrified of marriage in general.
  • Character Development: As noted directly above, it's subtle, but it's there; Bertie gradually realizes that he doesn't really want to get married to anybody, and stops intentionally proposing to any of the women he becomes entangled with.
  • Characterization Marches On: In "Jeeves in the Springtime", the first of the Bingo Little stories, Jeeves turns out to have been manipulating the situation so that he could break off his engagement to another servant and steal Bingo's girlfriend away from him. Subsequent stories never had Jeeves talk about his romantic life, if any, and Jeeves was never quite so unscrupulous again.
    • In the original magazine version of "Bertie Changes His Mind," the only story narrated by Jeeves, Jeeves referred to Bertie as "the guv'nor" and used other slang terms that suggested his Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness was all an act. Also, Bertie swears. When the story was collected in a book, Wodehouse rewrote the narration to remove these moments:
  • The Chessmaster: Jeeves constructs his stratagems upon 'the psychology of the individual.' He has been known to lose a battle occasionally, but never the war. When events are particularly fast-paced and outrageous, see Xanatos Speed Chess.
  • Chick Magnet: Bertie. Not quite as inexplicable as it seems at first glance; he has a lot of money, he's a generally nice (not to say easily manipulated) guy, and — cover illustrations notwithstanding — is implied to be at least pleasant-looking, hence the casting of Hugh Laurie. The downside is that he tends to attract the domineering sort of girl that Aunt Agatha would approve of.
  • Children Are Innocent: Subverted at every opportunity — if a child appears in a Wodehouse story, nine times out of ten he (it's usually a he) will be an obnoxious grubby little pest.
  • Christmas Episode:
    • "Jeeves and the Yule-Tide Spirit", in which Bertie is invited to spend the holiday at the Wickham residence. He decides to play a trick on fellow guest Tuppy Glossop, but as usual with his schemes, it goes horribly wrong.
    • "Jeeves and the Greasy Bird" has Aunt Dahlia demanding that Bertie play Santa at a children's Christmas party, much to Bertie's horror.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Bertie's Uncle Willoughby, mentioned in first story "Jeeves Takes Charge". Bertie is financially dependent on him. Uncle Willoughby is never mentioned again, as later stories and novels concentrate on Bertie's aunts, Agatha and Dahlia. (There's a invokedFan Wank to the effect that Uncle Willoughby died and left Bertie his money, since Bertie is financially independent in later works.)
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Several, but most notably Madeleine Bassett. She thinks the stars are God's daisy chain.
  • The Comically Serious: Bertie is sometimes annoyed by the fact that nothing can faze Jeeves, who reacts to the craziest situations with nothing more than a slight raise of an eyebrow.
    • In "Episode of the Dog McIntosh" Jeeves reacts to the news that Bobbie Wickham has given Aunt Agatha's dog away with a mild "Most disturbing, sir." Bertie freaks out a little bit: "Oh? And I suppose, if you had been in San Francisco when the earthquake started, you would just have lifted up your your finger and said 'Tweet, tweet! Shush, shush! Now, now! Come, come!'"
    I doubt if he would do much more than raise an eyebrow if, when entering his pantry, he found one of those peculiar fauna from the Book of Revelations in the sink. (Aunts Aren't Gentlemen)
  • Comic-Book Time: Bertie doesn't age over nearly sixty years of stories. It helps that there are little to no references to current events in the Jeeves and Wooster catalog, but the pop culture references that are sprinkled throughout do indicate that quite a bit of time is passing. Yet Bertie remains a young English gentleman throughout.
    • In early short story "The Love that Purifies", Lillian Gish and Clara Bow are mentioned as screen idols. In the last novel, Aunts Aren't Gentlemen, Bertie sees an anti-war rally, and there are jokes about Billy Graham.
  • Compromising Memoirs: Sir Watkyn writes his Memoirs and several parties take offense at the depiction of the now respectable pillars of society as the kind of roaring youths that would not have gone out of place in the Drones Club. Oddly enough, this does not include most of the people so depicted, who seem to like the idea that the youth may realise that they too were young once.
  • Continuity Nod: There are many references sprinkled throughout the canon to other stories. In "Leave it to Jeeves" Bertie has a rueful memory of "the matter of Gussie and the vaudeville girl" (the first Jeeves story, "Extricating Young Gussie"). In "Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest" he remembers that incident again.
    • In "The Inferiority Complex of Old Sippy" Bertie fondly remembers an incident where Aunt Agatha embarrassed herself by falsely accusing a French maid of stealing her pearls. That is the plot of "Aunt Agatha Takes the Count".
    • The same silver cow creamer is a crucial plot point in both The Code of the Woosters and Jeeves in the Offing.
    • Many of the early short stories were actually serials with continuing story arcs. In "Scoring off Jeeves", published in February 1922, Bertie winds up blundering into an engagement with Honoria Glossop. In "Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch", published a month later, he's still engaged to Honoria and wondering how to get out of it. "Aunt Agatha Takes the Count", the next story published after that, finds Bertie vacationing on the coast of France, hiding from Aunt Agatha's wrath after Jeeves got him out of the engagement to Honoria.
  • Cool Old Lady: Bertie Wooster's Aunt Dahlia Travers, whom he pointedly refers to as "my good aunt," although she has a scary side.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Bertie is often the recipient of threats of this kind. One such example can be seen here
  • The Ditz: Bertie Wooster, as he himself cheerfully admits in short story "Leave it to Jeeves"—"I'm a bit short on brain myself."
    • Though unlike some of his friends, he doesn't quite achieve full status as The Fool; Jeeves himself comments in Thank You, Jeeves that Bertie "is capable of acting very shrewdly on occasion." In fact, in comparison to some of his friends (notably the epicly cloth-headed "Biffy" Biffen, who can't seem to retain any sort of information in his head) Bertie is a veritable Einstein.
  • Doorstopper: Discussed Trope in Wodehouse's own introduction to short story omnibus The World of Jeeves.
    P.G. Wodehouse: The bulk of this volume makes it almost the ideal paper-weight. The number of its pages assures its possessor of plenty of shaving paper on his vacation. Placed upon the waistline and jerked up and down each morning, it will reduce embonpoint and strengthen the abdominal muscles.
  • Dreadful Musician: If any character in these books demonstrates enthusiasm for a musical instrument, odds are they're terrible at it.
    ...I cannot say whether La Pulbrook's violin solo was or was not a credit to the accomplices who taught her the use of the instrument. It was loud in spots and less loud in other spots, and had the strange quality that I've noticed in all violin solos of seeming to go on much longer than it actually did.
    • The one exception is Bertie himself, whom Jeeves himself considers to have a pleasant baritone. This is played up in the Laurie/Fry TV series, where it's combined with The Cast Showoff.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: In "Extricating Young Gussie", the first Jeeves and Wooster short story, Bertie's personality and his relationship with Aunt Agatha are all in place, but their family name appears to be "Mannering-Phipps" instead of "Wooster" (although this is changed in later prints). More noticeably, Jeeves appears for all intents and purposes to be an ordinary valet, and when Bertie gets in trouble and needs help, he has no idea who to ask. The surname "Wooster" and the personality of Jeeves as we know him today don't appear until the second story, aptly titled "Leave It to Jeeves". (The series doesn't really begin until the next story, "Jeeves Takes Charge", in which Jeeves enters into Bertie's service. Wodehouse himself apparently didn't consider it canon, as it's left out of otherwise comprehensive collection The World of Jeeves.)
  • Eat the Rich: In one short story, "Comrade Bingo", Bertie's Idle Rich friend Bingo is in love with the daughter of a communist revolutionary. He disguises himself and gives speeches with a very Eat the Rich bent to them:
    Bingo: “And the fat one!” proceeded the chappie. “Don’t miss him. Do you know who that is? That’s Lord Bittlesham! One of the worst. What has he ever done except eat four square meals a day? His god is his belly, and he sacrifices burnt-offerings to it till his eyes bubble. If you opened that man now you would find enough lunch to support ten working-class families for a week.”
  • The Edwardian Era: While the stories and novels occasionally have topical references to the time when they were written, the world they portray is very much that of the pre-World War I period when Wodehouse was a young man. George Orwell famously wrote that "Bertie Wooster, if he ever existed, was killed round about 1915."
  • Embarrassing Ad Gig: In "The Spot of Art", Bertie's Girl of the Week paints his portrait for him, but Jeeves doesn't approve — it gives Bertie a "hungry" look. Later, Bertie is forced to take the blame for a motor accident, and faces a lawsuit from a man who happens to own a soup manufacturing company. Trusting Jeeves to sort it out, Bertie leaves town. When he gets back, he finds his "hungry" portrait plastered all over the place on soup advertisements — the soup manufacturer agreed to drop the lawsuit in exchange for the portrait. Bertie is aghast at what his snobbish aunt will think, and promptly decides to leave town again.
  • Embarrassing First Name:
    • Many members of the Drones Club go by nicknames, often for excellent reasons.
    • Presumably the only reason young Mr. Glossop lets his friends call him "Tuppy" is because it's preferable to Hildebrand.
    • Mr. Trotter avoids knighthood for fear of having his first name exposed to public view (it's Lemuel). Rumour has it that his author, Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, avoided knighthood for the same reason.
    • To an extent, Jeeves' first name. It's not so much that 'Reginald' is a particularly embarrassing name or even ill-suited to Jeeves' personality. It's more that he has a first name at all. (Jeeves' first name is not mentioned until the next-to-last novel, Much Obliged, Jeeves.)
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Bertie's middle name is Wilberforce, his Uncle Tom's is Portarlington, and Mr. Trotter's is Gengulphus.
    Bertie: There's some raw work pulled at the [baptismal] font from time to time, is there not?
  • Embarrassing Nickname: In-universe, Aunt Dahlia is not fond of how Bertie refers to her husband Thomas:
    Dahlia: I do wish you would call him something other than "Uncle Tom".
  • Evil Matriarch: Aunt Agatha. Sometimes other evil aunts show up as well, particularly in the earlier stories.
  • Extreme Doormat: Bertie lets himself be talked into just about anything, and usually on the flimsiest of pretexts. In "Bingo and the Little Woman" he admits that he could probably join a monastery and get browbeaten into doing something by a silent monk, purely through mime.
  • Fatal Attractor: Bertie's pal Bingo Little is always falling in love with girls of low social station. Jeeves' scheme to warm up Bingo's uncle to the idea and securing Bingo's allowance through the use of romance novels all focusing on this trope works a little too well, with the uncle marrying his cook and Unable to Support a Wife and keep giving Bingo the same allowance.
    • Likewise, Bertie's Uncle George, Lord Yaxley, has a similiar habit; in one story, he falls in love with a waitress. When Jeeves is recruited by Aunt Agatha to break this up, the plan is to reunite George with the barmaid he fell in love with in his youth. They are quickly married before Agatha can stop them.
  • Fauxlosophic Narration: Purposely invoked for comedic effect.
  • Fiery Redhead: Bobbie Wickham. From "Jeeves and the Yule-Tide Spirit", in which Bobbie eventually sets up Bertie and Tuppy Glossop to play pranks on each other:
    Jeeves: In my opinion Miss Wickham lacks seriousness, sir. She is too volatile and frivolous....I would always hesitate to recommend as a life partner a young lady with quite such a vivid shade of red hair.
  • Finishing Each Other's Sentences: Courtesy of Jeeves, the walking encyclopedia. Lots of characters defer to Jeeves before finishing their thoughts, and he always has ready the exact idiom they were searching for.
  • First-World Problems: But in a very good way. The inhabitants of the Jeeves and Wooster universe are hugely rich without having to work for it, and nobody is ever in serious danger. Even relationship troubles are strictly angst-free, and exclusively caused by social misunderstandings rather than abuse or adultery.
    • In “The Aunt and the Sluggard,” Bertie is forced to spend a few nights in a hotel apart from Jeeves, and is driven to reflect on the sufferings of the less fortunate souls in the world who have to live benightedly without being able to employ a full-time gentleman’s personal gentleman.
  • Forgetful Jones: "Biffy" Biffen in "The Rummy Affair of Old Biffy", who has found the girl of his dreams, but can't remember her last name! He could inquire at the hotel, but he can't remember where she's staying. Or where he's staying. It had a big door, and a sort of roof...
  • French Cuisine Is Haughty: Aunt Dahlia's French chef Anatole tends to be very temperamental and prone to threatening to quit whenever he feels like his work is not being appreciated.
  • Friends Are Chosen, Family Aren't: Bertie is fundamentally incapable of turning really nasty, and definitely believes that blood is Thicker Than Water, but the appearance of one of his aunts can drive him to, by his standards, desperate measures.
  • Genius Book Club: Bertie likes to read mystery novels, while Jeeves prefers the works of the philosopher Spinoza.
  • Gilligan Cut: In "Jeeves and the Song of Songs", after Bertie refuses to sing at a concert:
    "Once and for all, Aunt Dahlia, nothing will induce me to let out so much as a single note."
    And so that afternoon I sent a pre-paid wire to Beefy Bingham, offering my services in the cause, and by nightfall the thing was fixed up.
  • Good Is Dumb: Bertie is a "mentally negligible" Nice Guy, while Jeeves is brilliant but ruthless, sometimes verging on Heroic Comedic Sociopath. George Orwell remarked that the contrast reflects "the widespread English belief that intelligence and unscrupulousness are much the same thing."
  • Grande Dame: Wodehouse (very likely under the inspiration of W. S. Gilbert) devised every variation imaginable for well over sixty years, from the lovable Aunt Dahlia to Aunt Agatha, who "chews broken bottles and kills rats with her teeth."
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Bertie and Jeeves, their official relationship notwithstanding. Several stories open with Bertie defending his habit of deferring to his valet by saying that he considers him more as a "guide, philosopher and friend". And when Bertie overhears Jeeves disparaging his intelligence (see the page quote), his reaction is exactly that of a wounded best pal. We're used to watching Jeeves employ ruthless tactics against Bertie to get his way, but in "Bertie Changes His Mind", as we're getting the story from Jeeves' POV, we're also shown a moment when he almost wavers in his plan out of affection for his boss:
    Jeeves: I am fond of Mr Wooster, and I confess I came near to melting as I looked at his pale, anxious face.
  • Hideous Hangover Cure: In the first story, Jeeves gets the job by curing Bertie's hangover, and afterwards often dispenses the concoction following Bertie's latest night on the town. As in Cabaret, Jeeves' mixture includes eggs and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Honor Before Reason: An attitude that gets Bertie into constant trouble, as he is always getting roped into one wacky scheme or another by his wacky friends, due to Bertie believing he is honor-bound.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: The Rev. Harold 'Stinker' Pinker and his fiancee, Stephanie 'Stiffy' Byng.
  • Humiliation Conga: Bingo Little suffers one in "The Metropolitan Touch".
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Jeeves is this trope personified. However, unlike many instances of this trope, Bertie is fully aware that Jeeves is the smarter one and routinely turns to Jeeves in times of trouble.
  • Hypocritical Humor: In one story, an American matron, described as "the female counterpart to Aunt Agatha", thinks of Bertie as a symbol of England's indulgent and dying aristocracy because he's a high-living socialite who doesn't have a job. She met him in the first place because she was there to see her nephew, who, as far as she knew, was a high-living socialite with no job who he was supporting. She even wanted to try the high life herself. The only real difference is that she thinks Bertie is sponging off the nephew in question by guesting at his house.
  • I Have This Friend:
    • The source of several of Bertie's engagements (notably his on/off saga with Madeline Bassett). Bertie often says this when trying to play The Matchmaker, but the women he's trying to impress on behalf of his friends inevitably assume he's talking about himself.
    • Played with in "Jeeves in the Springtime": when Jeeves is asked where he can acquire a series of romance novels with which Bingo Little can soften his uncle, he replies, "I have an aunt, sir, who has an almost complete set of Rosie M. Banks." There may or may not be such an aunt; certainly Jeeves later shows a great degree of familiarity with their contents.
  • Idle Rich: Bertie, and many of his acquaintances.
  • Idyllic English Village: The books are mainly set in London itself, but Bertie is frequently summoned out to such locations as these to help out with some scheme. The most frequent of these is the town of Market Snodsbury, as his beloved Aunt Dahlia lives nearby. The local inn, the Bull and Bush, is apparently highly praised in the Automobile Guide. On one memorable occasion, Bertie is press-ganged into giving out prizes at the Market Snodsbury Grammar School but is able to get his friend Gussie to give the prizes out instead. This proves to be a terrible mistake.
  • Imagined Innuendo: Bertie Wooster mistakenly creates the impression that he is proposing to/hitting on/in love with various women on a regular basis (when usually he is, in fact, trying to set her up with a friend). Most of the time they aren't particularly interested in Bertie, but end up accepting his "proposal" anyway, for one reason or another - often to provoke the friend's jealousy.
  • Impossibly Delicious Food: People are constantly resorting to bribery, blackmail and outright theft in order to acquire or retain Anatole's services.
  • Ironic Name: Bingo's Communist girlfriend, Charlotte Corday Rowbotham, so named because her father thought it was a good revolutionary name. Anyone familiar with the history of the French Revolution will know that Charlotte Corday was actually an anti-revolution royalist, who assassinated leading revolutionary figure Jean-Paul Marat.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Madeline Bassett and Florence Craye believe that this is the reason Bertie lets them go. With the distinctly awkward result that they're so impressed by his noble nature they keep taking him back whenever their current fiance displeases them. On the other hand, this is the attitude Roderick Spode genuinely has towards Madeline; they eventually do get married, much to Bertie's relief.
  • The Jeeves: Trope Namer, with some shades of Unbuilt Trope. Jeeves is generally seen as a superficially stuffy, etiquette-obsessed example of Haughty Help who only exists as an extension of his employer. This is mostly because Bertie is the POV character, and most of the time, Jeeves is seen "on the clock", as it were. It is mentioned, albeit infrequently, that Jeeves has a large circle of friends and often goes on dates with chorus girls he knows. He is also a keen hunter, skilled shotgun marksman and an excellent card player. He is also not above manipulating his employer to ensure that his employer´s social schedule doesn't interfere with his.
  • Last-Name Basis: Bertie only very belatedly realizes that Jeeves even has a first name. note 
  • Last Girl Wins: If a Wodehouse character has been pursuing the same girl across multiple books, it's almost a given he'll run off with a brand-new female character in the last installment. Augustus Fink-Nottle in Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves is a prime example.
  • Least Rhymable Word: Bingo is frustrated in "The Great Sermon Handicap" when trying to compose a love poem for a girl named Cynthia. He wishes she were named Jane, as that would be much easier to rhyme.
  • Lemony Narrator: Bertie pretty much embodies this concept. Wodehouse's talkative, burbling narration style may well have influenced other British writers, particularly those who went on record as impressed by his work.
    I never know, when I'm telling a story, whether to cut the thing down to plain facts or whether to drool on and shove in a lot of atmosphere and all that. I mean, many a cove would no doubt edge into the final spasm of this narrative with a long description of [the big horse race], featuring the blue sky, the rolling prospect, the joyous crowds of pickpockets, and the parties of the second part who were having the pockets picked, and - in a word, what not. But better give it a miss, I think.
  • Liquid Courage: Wodehouse is fond of this trope, and a particularly notable example appears in Right Ho, Jeeves (see Intoxication Ensues).
  • Living MacGuffin: Anatole, the magnificent French cook, who is first stolen from Rosie and Bingo by Aunt Dahlia. Later, other people keep trying to steal Anatole away from her.
  • Love Freak: Madeline Bassett, who — among other things — considers stars to be God's daisy chain. At one point, convinced he's been pining for a glance at her, she compares a thoroughly befuddled Bertie to a cavalier who traveled across seas to kiss his beloved's hand and then expired.
  • Love Informant: Bertie Wooster repeatedly fills this role, especially for Bingo Little, with varying results.
  • MacGuffin: The most famous is the seventeenth-century English (not Modern Dutch!) silver cow-creamer, the attempted theft of which starts off an entire multi-book uproar in Bertie's love life.
  • Makeup Is Evil: Tuppy uses this to insult Angela.
  • Masquerading As the Unseen: In one story Bertie tries to pretend he's romance novelist Rosie M. Banks, claiming the Rosie name is a pseudonym. The person he's trying to fool is a fan of Rosie who doesn't know what she looks like, allowing the lie to work. Bertie is doing this to help the man's nephew, who wants to get married but needs his uncle's approval. It goes wrong when it turns out the would-be bride actually is Rosie M. Banks. It goes right when this means the uncle approves of the marriage on the basis of his admiration for Rosie.
  • The Matchmaker: Bertie, with help from Jeeves, is often this. Sometimes out of the goodness of his heart, when acting to help one of his old friends get the girl, and sometimes out of self-preservation, to make sure that he doesn't get stuck marrying the girl.
  • Metaphorgotten: Bertie Wooster's internal monologue is absolutely full of these.
  • Mistaken Declaration of Love: An amusing variant pops up in Bertie's love life. Having somehow convinced Madeline Bassett he's desperately pining away for her while actually pleading for Gussie Fink-Nottle, Bertie spends the next several books desperate to keep Madeline and Gussie together lest Madeline decide to make Bertie a "happy" man instead.
  • Moe: The stories have In-Universe examples.
    • Bertie himself has this quality in-universe, which is why he's such a Chick Magnet.
      "I once consulted a knowledgeable pal," I said, "and his theory was that the sight of me hanging about like a loony sheep awoke the maternal instinct in Woman. There may be something in this."
    • Muriel Singer of "The Artistic Career of Corky" is a textbook example—she gets a whole paragraph describing her effect on Bertie.
      Muriel Singer was one of those very quiet, appealing girls who have a way at looking at you with their big eyes as if they thought you were the greatest thing on earth and wondered that you hadn't gotten on to it yourself. ...She gave a fellow a protective feeling, made him want to stroke her hand and say, 'There, there, little one!' or words to that effect. ...What I mean is, she made me feel alert and dashing, like a Knight Errant or something of that kind.
  • My Nayme Is: In "The Spot of Art", Aunt Dahlia is appalled when Bertie tells her he is dating a girl named "Gwladys" with a "w".
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: Bertie, who never uses bad words, is often forced to use complex circumlocutions in order to describe the cursing of other people. Frequently this happens when he's talking about Aunt Dahlia, who is Sir Swears-a-Lot.
    "Her first observation was that L.P. Runkle was an illegitimate offspring to end all illegitimate offsprings." (Much Obliged, Jeeves)
  • Nazi Nobleman: Roderick Spode, although he only inherits the title (as Lord Sidcup) after he's already been in the Dictator business for awhile.
  • Nice Guy: Bertie Wooster, who may be dimwitted, but is affable and good-hearted and a loyal friend.
  • The Nicknamer: Bertie, who uses shorthand for everything. The entire Drones Club is this, to an extent, since everyone there goes by their nickname; Bertie's is one of the few to be derived from his actual first name.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Jimmy Mundy, the Christian reformer who is an important plot point in "The Aunt and the Sluggard", is an obvious analogue to real life evangelical crusader Billy Sunday.
  • No Indoor Voice: Bertie's Aunt Dahlia, who spent her youth hunting foxes on horseback, and who is regularly described by Bertie as addressing people in front of her as if they were two fields away and surrounded by barking dogs.
  • Oddball in the Series: Short story "Bertie Changes His Mind" is the only piece of writing in the Jeeves and Wooster canon narrated by Jeeves. The other work not narrated by Bertie is Ring for Jeeves, in which Bertie doesn't appear at all and the story is told in third person.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Bertie observes in "Leave it to Jeeves" and in other stories that Jeeves is rarely observed to enter or leave a room; he simply appears. In other stories Bertie describes how Jeeves "shimmers" from place to place. One stage adaptation implements this by having Jeeves leave at one side of the stage, only for Bertie to call him back. He enters at the other side.
  • Once per Episode: Especially in the early stories, Jeeves zeroes in on a particularly tasteless item Bertie has dared to acquire without his advice — be it a cummerbund, checkered suit, various hats, purple socks, or a hideous mustache — and conspires to destroy it utterly. Meanwhile Bertie is equally resolved to put Jeeves in his place by brazenly wearing same. Most stories will end with Bertie admitting defeat as a reward for Jeeves' latest bit of brilliance, only to be told that the offending item has already been destroyed or given away.note 
  • Operation: Jealousy: Bertie attempts this on more than one occasion, usually with disastrous results. Also a common-enough reason for why women - particularly Angela - announce their plans for marrying Bertie, Gussie, or some other third party.
  • Opposites Attract: To Bertie's constant annoyance, high-powered and brainy women seem to find him, or at least the prospect of whipping him into intellectual shape, romantically irresistible.
    Jeeves: Possibly it may be Nature's provision for maintaining the balance of the species, sir.
  • Origins Episode: "Jeeves Takes Charge", later collected in Carry On, Jeeves, tells the story of how Jeeves came to work for Bertie.
  • Outlaw Couple: In "Aunt Agatha Takes the Count", Aunt Agatha meets a nice-looking young lady and her pleasant brother and decides that Bertie will marry the lady. The supposed brother and sister turn out to be an Outlaw Couple of thieves and con artists. Jeeves saves the day, and Bertie savors a triumph over Aunt Agatha.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: A regularly-appearing plot development.
  • Perpetual Poverty: Every time Bingo appears, he's short of money and desperately trying to raise some more cash, usually so he can bet it on a horse. This continues even after he's Happily Married to Rosie, as he is too proud to ask her for money.
    Bingo: I say, you don't know how I could raise fifty quid somehow, do you?
    Bingo: Work? What, me? No, I shall have to think of some way.
  • Place Worse Than Death: Totleigh Towers. Which is really too bad, because it's utterly beautiful; the TV series uses the same house for exterior shots that would later play the title role on Downton Abbey.
  • The Plan: Jeeves' schemes to save Bertie frequently shade into this trope; he rarely comes out of them badly.
  • Powder Gag: Attempting a Bucket Booby-Trap on a friend's boss, Bertie sets up a bag of flour in the ceiling. When they change plans, Bertie forgets to take it down. He later activates the trigger and it wounds up falling on him, coating him in flour.
  • Produce Pelting:
    • Happens to Tuppy Glossop in "Jeeves and the Song of Songs" when he is the fourth person in a row to sing "Sonny Boy" at a charity concert.
    • Inverted in "The Metropolitan Touch". Bertie's dimwitted buddy Bingo is putting on a children's play in a small rural town. It involves a musical number in which the kids sing about oranges and throw oranges into the crowd. Unfortunately for Bingo a prankster replaces the foam prop oranges with real oranges, and the kids in the show go to town, pelting the crowd with produce.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: In "Jeeves and the Song of Songs". Aunt Dahlia tells Bertie that Tuppy Glossop is breaking her daughter Angela's heart. After a nonplussed Bertie says "Breaking Angela's heart?", Dahlia shoots back with "Yes...Breaking...Angela's...HEART!"
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Makes adapting Wodehouse's work to TV or film no easy task.
  • Retcon: A few minor instances, in which plot elements such as "Bertie grows a mustache and Jeeves does not approve" or "Bertie impersonates a friend while the friend impersonates Bertie", that appeared in the short stories, were later reworked into the plots of the novels without anybody noting the strange repetition of events. This may instead qualify as an Alternate Continuity.
  • Rugby Is Slaughter: Tuppy Glossop finds this in the aptly-named "Ordeal of Young Tuppy" in Very Good, Jeeves. Of course, he's playing a weird local game in which The Points Mean Nothing and it's all about Small Town Rivalry.
    Bertie: I'm a bit foggy on the rules of this pastime. Are you allowed to bite [the other team]?
    Tuppy (brightening at the idea): I'll try it, and see what happens.
  • Running Gag: Bertie evidently has two achievements to show for his entire life: a prize for Scripture Knowledge that he won when he was in school, and an article he wrote for Aunt Dahlia's magazine called "What the Well-Dressed Man Is Wearing".note  He mentions these two things over and over again.
    • Bertie narrating that Jeeves often seems to appear in rooms, and describing his entrance and exit in some poetic manner, like "streamed in".
  • Sacred Hospitality: In "The Ordeal of Young Tuppy", Tuppy explains he is motivated by this — really — when he wants to give an Irish water spaniel to the daughter of the house.
  • Separated by a Common Language: In "The Aunt and the Sluggard", Miss Rockmetter, Rocky's scary American aunt, comes to visit. After Bertie says tea "bucks you up" and "makes you fizz", the aunt says "I don't understand a word you say. You're English, aren't you?"
  • Serial Romeo: Bingo Little. He eventually settles down after getting married, although even then he constantly needs help.
  • Series Continuity Error: Besides the inconsistencies listed in Early-Installment Weirdness above, Bertie mentions in the short story "Bertie Changes His Mind" that he has a sister with three daughters. In Thank You, Jeeves he says he has no sisters.
  • Serious Business:
    • Although Jeeves likes working for Bertie, he hates Bertie's tendency to be seduced by the latest trends in style and fashion. Bertie is constantly buying colorful bits of clothing or art, which causes the disgusted Jeeves to treat him coolly until Bertie finally relents and allows him to destroy it as a reward for services rendered.
    • The time at the Drones Club where Tuppy Glossop dared Bertie to swing over the pool by swinging from the hoops, only for Bertie to discover that Tuppy had looped the next-to-last hoop into the last one, forcing Bertie to drop into the pool in evening clothes. Bertie will mention this every time he meets Tuppynote , usually while improbably claiming that the memory doesn't bother him at all.
  • Servile Snarker: Jeeves, naturally.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Jeeves has a tendency to wear out a dictionary, driving Bertie and others to distraction with his long-windedness and fancy words.
  • Small Town Rivalry: In his short story "The Ordeal of Young Tuppy" the towns Upper Bleaching and Hockley-cum-Meston have a heated rivalry which is expressed in the form of an annual rugby game known for its violence and injuries.
  • Smoky Gentlemen's Club: The Drones is one of the archetypical examples. Sir Watkyn is also a member of a much older one.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Bertie's narration style fits this trope, being an interesting combination of witty prose, attempts to quote from the classics and Latin or French phrases with what is essentially Buffy Speak.
    Old Pop Kipling never spoke a truer word than when he made that crack about the f. of the s. being more d. than the m.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Jeeves, from a rather awed Bertie's point of view. He frequently describes his valet as "shimmering" from place-to-place.
  • Stealth Insult: Jeeves again.
  • Strictly Formula: The stories, and especially the novels, tend to have a formula about them. There will be at least one young couple, possibly two, with one or both of the women in the couples being an old girlfriend of Bertie's. There will be comic misunderstandings blown up into Serious Business that results in the young couple breaking up, often because of Bertie's attempts to be The Matchmaker. There's a good chance that Bertie will blunder into an engagement with one of the young women. There will be a second plot thread with either Aunt Dahlia or Aunt Agatha giving Bertie some sort of urgent mission, which he will also bungle. The bungling will probably be because Bertie ignores Jeeves' advice and decides to fix things himself. Finally, after Bertie is "in the soup" and turns to Jeeves for help, Jeeves will save the day.
  • Supreme Chef: Anatole, legendary cook to Bertie's Aunt Dahlia. All Dahlia has to do to bend Bertie to her will — up to and including stealing the aforementioned cow-creamer for her husband — is threaten him with banishment from her table.
  • Take That!:
    • Rodrick Spode is a parody of the real-life British fascist Oswald Mosely.
    • "You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound." (from "Jeeves Takes Charge")
  • Talks Like a Simile: A staple, although Bertie can be counted on to forget at least half of the example on his way to the point.
    And presently the eyes closed, the muscles relaxed, the breathing became soft and regular, and sleep which does something which has slipped my mind to the something sleeve of care poured over me in a healing wave.note 
  • Title Drop: Thank You, Jeeves, Right Ho, Jeeves, The Code Of The Woosters, Joy In The Morning.
  • Thunder Equals Downpour: "There was a roll of thunder and the rain started to come down in buckets." (from "Jeeves and the Impending Doom")
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Friends who appreciate Bertie's willingness to inconvenience and humiliate himself for their benefit are the exception, not the rule.
  • Unnecessary Roughness: In "The Ordeal of Young Tuppy", Tuppy gets involved in the yearly rugby grudge-match between two rival villages; the event quickly proves to be an excuse for the participants to beat on each other.
  • Unusual Euphemism: One rather amusing example is Sir Roderick Glossop's identification as a "nerve specialist," which it's noted is just an elevated term for a "loony doctor." Most of Bertie Wooster's conversation can be viewed as an extended roller-coaster ride through this trope.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Yes — oh, yes. Many of Bertie's friends make him look like Jeeves by comparison.
  • Verbal Tic: Bertie's habit of reducing his words to initials. Hence comments like "took the w. right out of my s." See Sophisticated as Hell above for another example.
  • The 'Verse: Most of Wodehouse's works, including just about everything that he wrote after the Jeeves and Wooster series took off, share a continuity. The "Drones Club" series includes not just Bertie's club but several characters from Jeeves stories, like Bingo Little and Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright. Pongo Twistleton from the Uncle Fred stories is mentioned in Right Ho, Jeeves. Bobbie Wickham is a distant niece of Mr. Mulliner, and is featured in three of his stories. Sir Roderick Glossop visits Blandings Castle.
  • We Named the Monkey "Jack": Bertie's Embarrassing Middle Name is the name of a horse his father won money on.
  • The Wicked Stage: Several stories deal with some acquaintance or other falling in love with a chorus girl, and the resulting familial disapproval. note 
  • World of Snark: A more idealistic example than most - perhaps more a World of Witty Quips - but still. Even Bertie gets to snark.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Bertie has to remind himself that a proper gentleman never hits a lady, when he deals with girls like Bobbie Wickham.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Although Jeeves prefers to use the Unspoken Plan Guarantee, he is also masterful in making the best of rapidly changing circumstances.
  • Zany Scheme: Jeeves, albeit in his case the zany is motivated mostly by the implausibility of the situations Bertie & Co. have gotten into in the first place. Aunt Dahlia loves hatching them as well, invariably dragging in a reluctant Bertie in the process.

Alternative Title(s): Bertie Wooster, Jeeves