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British Stuffiness

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Good luck telling this guy to lighten up.
"No hugs, dear. I'm British. We only show affection to dogs and horses."
Jocelyn Dashwood, What a Girl Wants

The American media often presents people from Britain as overly stuffy and conservative, to the point of being uptight and unable to cope with breaks from the way they believe things should be.

Of course, one need only watch modern British television, with its abundance of drama and open-mindedness, to see this trope averted. Not only averted, but in many cases, inverted. However, rationality in the face of adversity is a British virtue. The British sense of humour can also form a stumbling block; in many cases, it tends to work on ironic understatement and dry wit that can easily fly under the radar of people who aren't used to it.

Compare with Quintessential British Gentleman. Contrast also with Evil Brit, who is often Wicked Cultured and hence more open-minded, whereas the Stuffy Brit may be a protagonist, but is portrayed as merely temperamentally handicapped.

When up against an American for his love's affections in an American work of fiction, expect him to be a Jerkass suitor (assuming she won't Lie Back and Think of England), because All Girls Want Bad Boys. But in the end he'll Just Want Her To Be Happy. For the more positive variant, see Stiff Upper Lip.

This trope also applies more specifically to upper-class British people, and middle-class people who aspire to be like them. Lower-class Brits will often be rowdy and bawdy - unless their Nonconformist or Evangelical religious beliefs are being played up.

It's worth noting that there's something of a continuum of National Stereotypes involved with this trope. Americans themselves may be portrayed as the stuffy ones when contrasted with anyone from the Mediterranean or the Middle East. For the British, the "comically uptight" stereotype often goes to the Germans, and once upon a time to the Japanese.


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  • In an advert for the Aiwa Mini System shown in New Zealand in 1995, some rock music is played so loud that it travels halfway round the globe... and prompts a disgruntled English gent to remark, "Ahem! Could whoever it is over there in New Zealand, with the Aiwa Mini System, please turn it down a bit? Thank you."
  • A commercial for Red Robin features an American couple trying to get a rise out of a stone-faced British Royal Guard.
  • In a meta-example, the most complained about adverts on US TV have all either been grossly misleading and/or offensive. The most complained about advert on British TV was one for Kentucky Fried Chicken, which featured people talking with their mouths full. Bloody Americans, coming over here, polluting British children with their mouth-full-talking ways!

    Anime & Manga 
  • Excalibur from Soul Eater (who's at the very least From United Kingnote ) has a list of 1000 conditions anyone who wants to wield him must follow. As such, there are two known people who could put up with this madness. One of them finally got rid of him because he couldn't put up with his constant sneezing. The other was King Arthur himself. Lord only knows how he did it.
  • The character representing England in Hetalia: Axis Powers is not necessarily "stuffy" as such, but does display a disapproving and often despairing attitude towards his compatriots, with his neurosis usually triggered in reaction to their behavior. He is otherwise a knowledgeable and amiable chap, if a bit irritable. He does at least try to be a gentleman. It just doesn't work out with his real personality. However, the English dub plays this straight, making the character speak with a stereotypical (RP) English accent (apparently), and he sounds much "stuffier'' there.
  • Carla in the dub of Fairy Tail has a light accent, reflecting her initial personality.
  • In Moriarty the Patriot, Mycroft Holmes, Secretary of State of Great Britain is very much The Stoic and the very act of him quietly spilling a few drops of tea while pouring it into a cup is a sign hes majorly shaken up emotionally.

  • A fine example of Britons poking fun at this image are the greeting cards made by Donald McGill. They were traditionally sold at beach resorts and featured saucy Double Entendre images and jokes.

    Comic Books 
  • Adventures In The Rifle Brigade: Capt. Darcy is the typical stuffy British officer type, or at least tries to keep the front up. Best example, he does his best to maintain a stiff upper lip among all his men, while the German halftrack in which they are currently riding is raped by an elephant.
  • Asterix: In Asterix in Britain the Britons are utterly stiff except in the presence of ball games or young bards who look suspiciously like The Beatles. Averted in the cases of some of them — for example, the Badass Bystander British gardener. Even then, he's only angry because people keep walking on his lawn! (Approximate dialogue.)
    Centurion: Briton! You dare challenge the greatness and authority of Rome?!
    Gardener: My garden may be smaller than your Rome, but my pilum is harder than your sternum!
  • Batman: Alfred Pennyworth often comes across as a Stuffy Brit, which carries over to most adaptations. The most prominent exception is Batman Begins, where he's given a British army sergeant's accent and backstory. In the comics he also had plenty of backstory: at one point it was that he was an SOE agent/saboteur for England during WWII and had a kid with a beautiful French Resistance named Mademoiselle Marie, but that's been dropped because of timeline considerations. (Humorously, one of the standard portrayals of Alfred was on Batman: The Animated Series — where, except for the first few episodes, he was voiced by an American actor!)
  • Superman: Superman: True Brit, an Elseworlds comic where Superman lands in Great Britain, is absolutely loaded with examples and subversions.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Last of the Mohicans: Steven Waddington is contrasted with his free-livin' Amerindian compatriots as Redcoat Maj. Heyward in the American frontier, already a fatal occupation. "With that priggy nose of his!" as one reviewer put it.
  • Commodore Norrington experiences similar problems in Pirates of the Caribbean, and handles them in a similar manner in At World's End.
  • In Tim Burton's version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, he casts James Fox, the stuffiest British person in the world,note  in the role of Mr. Salt.
  • The second decade of Hugh Grant's career, between his dramatic roles and his Evil Brit roles.
  • The whole premise of What a Girl Wants: Amanda Bynes vs. British Stuffiness. Incidentally, the above page quote from this film was reportedly ad-libbed by Eileen Atkins. Ironically, Bynes was known for her squeaky clean and chaste image. In an interview, she also admitted that Britain is "not as different as we portray it in the film."
  • The film Wild Child is looking like a rip-off of What a Girl Wants in which the British Stuffiness will be even worse.
  • Jarvis, the impeccably polite AI that runs everything important in Tony Stark's house in Iron Man sometimes lapses into this.
  • In the James Bond film canon, Q is a rather cranky version of this trope. Also, the original M was quite gruff, with only a few flashes of paternal affection toward Bond. Bond, of course, is the exact opposite of this trope.
    • Well, Bond is sexually uninhibited, at least, but in the movies he never cries or shows much emotion, and in the novels he's much less openly emotional than the Black or American characters (although he does weep on two occasions).
    • While not stuffy, he is definitely less openly emotional... compare him to American counterparts such as Jack Bauer.
  • Carry On Up the Khyber (1968): the climactic dinner party sequence.
  • The Queen is basically about British Reserve encountering the modern age.
  • An American Werewolf in London has more than a little of this. Especially the impossible-to-insult policeman. The xenophobic villagers are also worth recognizing, as is their 'opening-up' via humor (if we decide to like you, we'll make fun of you).
  • In Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, when Death comes to a dinner party to take away the guests, the British host firmly but calmly reprimands him for his bad manners. When the Grim Reaper reveals they were all killed by tainted salmon, all the host's wife can say is "I'm most dreadfully embarrassed".
  • While it is an American/British co-production, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day has an air of this about it. The eponymous Miss Pettigrew is an uptight, strait-laced Vicar's daughter, and her counterpoint is the wild American Delysia Lafosse. Most of the other British characters are also fairly flighty, though, and Delysia's free-spirited nature isn't entirely admirable. It was averted in the original novel, where Delysia is English.
  • In On Chesil Beach, Edward and Florence’s story plays out in England in an era when repressive attitudes toward sex and sexuality were still prevalent.
  • All British people in A Fish Called Wanda, with the exception of George and Ken. Archie does warm up though.
  • In Mel Brooks' Dracula: Dead and Loving It, Jonathan Harker attempts to fend off the lustful advances of new vampire Lucy by politely reminding her, "We're British." However, his reserve crumbles utterly when she presents her breasts (which, she reminds him, are also British).
  • John from Christmas in Connecticut has the plummy RP accent of Reginald Gardiner, is fussy and uptight in an Ambiguously Gay way, and says things like "I say!" when catching his fiancée in the arms of another man.
  • The Carry On franchise made a fortune dwelling on this stereotype. When the series reach the 1960s, the cast always got caught into embarrassing sexual situations and double entendres, and because it was on the big screen they could get away with far more Ms. Fanservice nudity than on TV. While many British people laughed at this Self-Deprecation comedy, others were embarrassed by the success of this franchise. Many who basically were the kind of people satirized in these comedies.
  • The Circle: Elizabeth describes her husband Arnold, an English lord, as "an old woman." He tries to talk her out of leaving him by saying "You might force me to do something rash—and I'd dislike that frightfully."
  • Lynda in Wish You Were Here (1987) calls out the stuffy conventions of postwar English society when she gets on top of a table at the cafe where she works and goes on an epic rant about her pregnancy and sex.
  • Love in the Villa: Lampshaded by Charlie when he's uncomfortable at the American Julie's Inelegant Blubbering.
    Charlie: I'm British. So I don't deal with overt displays of emotion.
  • 7 Days in Hell: Aaron gets away with a ridiculous amount of blatant athletic misconduct, from snorting cocaine during the match to having sex with a pair of streakers on the court, because the British hosts are too polite to point any of this out.
  • Royal Rendezvous: Most of the film's humor comes from the contrast between Cat being an irreverent and sassy Spicy Latina having to cook for a snobbish and stuck-up British royal family who are "scandalized" by her behavior.

  • Harry Potter:
    • Vernon Dursley is a prime example, via his portrayal of a member of the aspiring middle classes. Thus feeding the American media, but not a product of it. Vernon may be stuffy and concerned with appearance, but he is very much not reserved, and is implied to be telling raunchy jokes in mixed company with his 12-year old son around.
    • The second film also adds Robert Hardy as Cornelius Fudge, who works him much stuffier than in the book.
    • Percy is pretty stuffy as well, as evidenced by the fact he calls his parents "Mother and Father" rather than "Mum and Dad" like his siblings. Of course, this has more to do with him being a pompous, ambitious prefect with No Sense of Humor who has his eyes set on becoming Minister for Magic rather than his nationality.
  • Aziraphale from Good Omens has cultivated a strong aura of this, in spite of being an angel and therefore not British at all. (Fanon likes to state that he was always like this, and that he actually introduced the concept to Earth.) However, Aziraphale has trouble living up to the above-it-all aspects of this stereotype, and he tends to come off as extremely sensitive and worried on top of being extremely British. As well as... er... something else.
  • Directly referenced in the American Girls book "Happy Birthday, Molly!" when Molly's mother explains to her why the English girl who is visiting is so quiet. Her explanation is that "English children are taught to be reserved—very polite and quiet." Since the girl was one of the Blitz Evacuees watching London be bombed may have something to do with her quietness. Molly's mother also invokes the stereotype at first, and one of Molly's friends also expects Emily to curtsey because that's what English girls do, according to her stereotypes.
  • The Aubrey-Maturin novels are great subverters of this trope. In the Georgian Age (the 18th century through the early 19th century), open displays of emotion were considered much more acceptable in English culture than during the later Victorian and Edwardian eras. In fact, Stephen Maturin gently chides his friend Jack Aubrey on several occasions for being overly emotional, and in his private thoughts and diary entries notes emotionalism as being a weakness of the English psychological makeup. Stiff Upper Lip, though, is in full play, as demonstrated during many sea battle scenes.
  • In Horatio Hornblower, Mr. Bush is perplexed when Lady Barbara notes that he's fond of Captain Hornblower because it's hard to fit such a sentimental notion into his fundamentally British way of thinking (although she's quite right).
  • Sea Catch in "The White Seal" conveys an astounding upper-class stuffiness despite being a seal.
  • Mrs. Herriton and her daughter Harriet are this in spades in Where Angels Fear to Tread. It's Played for Laughs although it has tragic consequences.
  • The passeurs in The Nightingale (Kristin Hannah) comment on the casual reserve and stoicism of the British pilots, which would ordinarily pass for their having a Stiff Upper Lip... but their immediate comparison to the Minnesota Nice Americans and Canadians drops this in the category of negative portrayal.
  • In Emma, when John Knightley and his wife visit Hartfield, he and his brother John greet with a handshake and a simple "how d'ye do" which Austen notes as "the classic English mode" of almost entirely concealing brotherly affection that would have them drop everything the instant the other needed help.
  • Portrait in Sepia: Frederick Williams, who goes from being Paulina del Valle's butler to being her husband in a Marriage of Convenience, possesses this quality, giving the impression of being from English nobility (he does not bother to correct whoever thinks that) and making people wonder what the heck did he see in overbearing Paulina del Valle other than possibly her money. He does warm up to Paulina and her granddaughter Aurora.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Our Miss Brooks: The very British public school headmaster in "Hello, Mr. Chips." While quintessentially British, he's a youngish man who gets around fairly well with everyone at Madison. Mr. Conklin, interesting enough, was expecting a much stricter man and had even dictated that Miss Brooks (and the rest of the faculty) wear funereal black so as not to hurt his sensibilities.
  • The A&E version of The Lost World had both Robert Hardy and James Fox, as feuding professors of paleontology, which causes the VHS copy to smell like tea and tweed and pipe tobacco. However, it starred the somewhat more jovial Bob Hoskins as a sort of adventurer paleontologist, along with some dinosaurs, which lightened the mood somewhat.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
  • The Buccaneers (2023): The English are a cold, unaffectionate people who look down on the American girls' casual and freewheeling mannerisms.
  • The Ted & Ralph sketches from The Fast Show are a British-made example, combining country-squire Ralph's man-crush on Ted, his gamekeeper, with some genuinely moving British stuffiness. Such as when Ralph tries to ask Ted out: "Do you... like Tina Turner, Ted?"... "I wouldn't know about that sir". Best of all, the scene where Ralph must tell Ted that his wife has died, without breaking the rules of the absurd pub-game, because that would embarrass Ted.
  • Inverted in Frasier, where it was the two main American characters who were stuffy and elitist, while most of the British characters who appeared were cheerfully working-class (albeit with a host of mismatched regional accents). Though, in an interesting example of how entrenched the British/stuffy association is in the US, people have been known to refer to Frasier and Niles's posh inflections as "British accents." This is likely because the accents of the Anglophonic nations (Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA) sound more English the more upper-class a character is. All "posh accents" of the Anglosphere sound more similar to original English RP.
    • Although, in one episode, when Roz incredulously questions that Daphne hasn't yet slept with her then-current boyfriend, Frasier simply responds, "She's English."
  • Fawlty Towers' Basil Fawlty, played mainly for comedic effect as he tries to be this but his constant run of bad luck leads to less desirable results, especially in "The Wedding Party". "You know something? You disgust me. I know what people like you get up to, and I think it's disgusting!" In "The Psychiatrist", he suspects a young couple of sharing the same room together despite his rules on keeping unmarried people separate. He even tries to spy on them to catch them red handed.
  • Family Affair:
    • Uncle Bill's valet, Mr. French (Sebastian Cabot), tends to be fastidious and cranky in unfamiliar situations, but overall he is a very polite and virtuous person.
  • Doctor Who:
  • Often lampshaded by Max on The Nanny when he uses this as an excuse for why he is unable to show his feelings. He and his entire family are perfect examples of this, with the exception of his brother Nigel, who has been shown to be very passionate and exuberant, although he was considered the black sheep of the family, and supposed to be the exception that proves the rule.
  • One place that this seems to be inverted, however, is talk shows. On American shows like Letterman or Leno, the host is usually behind a big desk, and everything sounds a little formal (barring certain circumstances like the guest and host being longtime friends, or the guest just being a little wacky, then things will usually go a little off the rails.) On British shows like Graham Norton, the set is made up like someone's living room, there's usually drinks available, and everything seems a little more informal and chatty.
  • Horrible Histories frequently plays this for laughs, although the show's goofy energy, as far from stuffy as possible, always shines through.
  • Lane Pryce, and just about every other British character on Mad Men - with the exception of Jaguar representative Edwin. Lane tries to approach his fellow ex-pat as a kindred spirit, but fails. It turns out he's just as debauched as Roger or Pete, and his idea of a fun night involves visiting a brothel. This backfires spectacularly when Edwin's wife finds out and Lane is the first to hear of the deal being called off.
    Roger: Why would he say anything?!
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation has Captain Jean-Luc Picard, who despite technically being French, still fits the bill, being overly reserved and unwilling to truly connect with the people around him.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise had tactical officer Malcolm Reed, who was noticeably more reserved than his mostly American crew mates. The contrast was particularly noticeable when he became good friends with the very emotive Trip Tucker.
  • Doc Martin: Martin, is almost a caricature of the emotionally repressed Brit. From his stiff as a board posture, to his constant inability to handle emotions (well, positive emotions anyway, he has a better handle on the negative ones).
  • Death in Paradise has Detective Inspector Richard Poole, who sticks out like a sore thumb amongst the residents of fictional Caribbean island Saint Marie. He is even considered stuffy by the vast majority of the other British characters, who downplay, subvert or even avert this trope more often than they play it straight.
  • Are You Being Served?: Captain Peacock walks and talks this trope. He is extremely old fashioned and easily embarrassed about all the things going on in the clothing store. He is also very prone of accidentally touching a female model, a bra or a pair of knickers and only realizing it when it's already too late.
  • The Benny Hill Show: One of the most famous displays of British people poking fun at this image were the sketches of Benny Hill. He was always chasing behind or chasing from cute young women and getting involved in embarrassing situations where people suddenly were exposed in their underwear.
  • Peep Show: Mark Corrigan is this to a T, often getting himself into embarrassing situations because he just won't say how he feels.
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver frequently mentions this, mostly in segments about the United Kingdom but sometimes just when it allows for Self-Deprecation. ("There’s no way I would be happier giving eight hugs a day. I’m English! That’s four lifetimes’ worth of hugs.”)
  • Claire, the British member of Multinational Team Danger 5, is a virginal Ice Queen. The trope is lampshaded when Claire enters a train compartment with a British Field Marshall, and he complains the compartment is stuffy enough as it is.

  • "Some Girls" from The Rolling Stones' Some Girls:
    English girls they're so prissy
    I can't stand them on the telephone
    Sometimes I take the receiver off the hook
    I don't want them to ever call at all

    Puppet Shows 
  • Bizarrely enough, in Thunderbirds (which is a British-made programme), many of the British characters were quite stereotypically uppercrust, like Lady Penelope.
    • "I say, open this door at once; we're British!", Sir Jeremy Hodge, "The Perils of Penelope", a brilliantly bad example.
    • Parker, Lady Penelope's driver and manservant may be a subversion. He affects what he may believe is a "posh" accent, but only indicates his London cockney origins. He's based upon a real man the Thunderbirds production members met running a pub.
    • Jeff Tracy wears morning dress and affects a British accent to go to an airshow in one episode. "Oh, bang on; jolly good show!" Wonderfully wrong. Penny is too pleased to correct him. All the more impressive since Jeff was played by Peter Dyneley, a British actor with a Canadian accent, playing an American trying to affect a stuffy British accent and doing it badly.
    • Not so bizarre when you consider Thunderbirds was an expensive show to make — Lord Grade, as with so many shows he commissioned, saw first showing in Britain as irrelevant compared with lucrative resale to the USA, and insisted it be made primarily with the American market in mind. Therefore all the action heroes speak with American accents and the British characters were tailored to American expectations — toffs and Dick van Dyke cockneys. The Muppet Show was a later example: the guest star was nearly always an American celebrity, often virtually unknown in Britain.

  • Bleak Expectations:
    • A Running Gag with the series' narrator, Sir Phillip Bin, who shrugs off any acknowledgement of his awful youth by saying he ignores it, often via drinking, and that this is "the British way". Curiously, his past self is not usually an example of this, often being very emotive. Except in one instance when his sister is being a Mood-Swinger, which makes Pip declare his desire to "go down to the pub with a crossword and not talk to anyone for a month" in response.
    • Also played for laughs with Harry Biscuit, after apparently fixing his marriage in series 4, series 5 begins with him and his wife on the outs, which Harry explains is because as an English gentleman, it's taken him fifteen years to process his emotions, and now that he has, he's broken up. Note that Harry is as far from a "typical" English gentleman as it's possible to be.
    • Also also done when one of Big Bad Mr. Benevolent's schemes is to have British explorers melt the Antarctic, by exposing them to London call girls — their embarrassed awkwardness is what's going to melt the ice.

  • In Anne of the Thousand Days, the French-educated Anne looks down upon Englishmen as barbaric, lacking in culture, and too secretive on the subject of sex.
  • On a Clear Day You Can See Forever averts this with eighteenth-century England. "You know, it's funny," Daisy says, "I thought the British only got sexy lately."
  • Alistair Foot and Anthony Marriot's play "No Sex Please, We're British" sums this trope up best. It's fitting that this farce also was turned into an Awful British Sex Comedy later.

    Video Games 
  • Mostly averted, especially in beat 'em ups, where the British female characters, including Cammy from Street Fighter, Ivy from the SoulCalibur series, Christie from Dead or Alive and of course Lara Croft, are all easily amongst the most fanservicey. All of them tend to be fairly no-nonsense in demeanor however, and speak with the applicable RP accent, so perhaps not a complete aversion of this trope. However, when it comes to the men, Brits Dudley and Eagle (both Street Fighter) fit the bill perfectly.
  • Whether or not Miles Edgeworth is an example of this is the subject of much debate in the Ace Attorney fandom. He spent part of his childhood in America and his teen years in Germany, but there's room to suggest he was born British, and his behavior and speech patterns certainly fit. His voiceover in Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice even has the right accent. Also, he can get quite emotional but usually keeps it under wraps unless it's sheer exasperation.
  • Assassin's Creed: Valhalla: Joking invoked by Shaun Hastings when talking about Loki and his mistress Angrboda, saying they got up to things he's "too British to mention" (meaning having sex. Lots of sex). Not that Shaun is usually that stuffy, just snarky, even making a crack about what his wife said about their wedding night.
  • 80 Days: Fogg plays this trope fairly straight, preferring to communicate via slight eyebrow movements and dry remarks.
  • Subverted in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, where Zero at first seems cold and snarky like this trope, but as time goes on he's shown to be really quite emotional (shown especially in him eventually becoming a Stalker with a Crush in Metal Gear Solid 4 and Peace Walker), and kind of a Cloud Cuckoo Lander. The last part's probably based on the other stereotype of the British sense of humor.

    Web Animation 
  • Zero Punctuation:
    • In his review of Bayonetta, Yahtzee admits to this. This doesn't save him from Freudian Slipping several times throughout the review.
      Yahtzee: Fortunately, being English, and therefore utterly repulsed by the slightest sexual urge in myself and everyone around me, I am immune from any callous attempt to touch my heart via my wrinkly undercarriage, and Bayonetta looks about as sexy to me as a pencil stuck through a couple of grapes.
    • During a Let's Drown Out of the adventure game Normality, Gabriel got him to crack up by simply singing a fake lyric.
      Yahtzee: It's my oppressive British upbringing.
      Gabriel: All this intellect, all this analysis, all this critique, brought to its knees by "boobie boobie bum bum." He's literally crying!

    Web Comics 

    Web Videos 
  • Left POOR Dead: Reginald and Tippy have this in spades.
  • Outside Xbox:
    • The crew often parody this trope in their gaming discussions. Their... imaginative interpretation of the Ninji family, from their "Mario Golf" videos, is a particularly triumphant example.
      Andy: What are we to do with you, Ninji?
      Mike: Military school?
      Andy: Oh, we tried that!
      Luke: We tried that first! We've tried absolutely everything except a hug. There are some lines I won't cross.
      Andy: Used to be if a chap had a son like this, you could just pack him off to the clergy and you'd be done with him. But it's not the done thing apparently.
      Luke: I think Ninji could be a man of the cloth.
      Mike: Man of the latex.
    • On the other hand, some of their own attempts to keep a Stiff Upper Lip while playing horror games, or refusing to take the bait of a Double Entendre, can wind up in this territory instead.
  • Titli of Titli's Busy Kitchen parodies these tendencies in several of her videos.
  • In Todd in the Shadows' One Hit Wonderland episode for "The Monster Mash", he mentions that the BBC banned it for being too macabre — "And people say the Brits have a stick up their ass! Pshaw!"
  • Tear of Grace channels this in one of his Middle-earth: Shadow of War videos where he throws an Uruk off a sheer cliff for refusing to introduce himself before or during their fight.

    Western Animation 
  • The Flintstones: When Fred Flintstone attempted to pass himself off as uppercrust and well-mannered, he affected a British accent.
  • One episode of Danny Phantom where the Fentons have the usual stiff British butler.
  • Owen Burnett, Xanatos' butler on Gargoyles. This was totally on purpose, though, since Puck copied his alter ego from another, equally-wooden, majordomo and just slapped on an accent for better effect.
  • The "Dapper Crackhead" from The Boondocks: "Sir, Sir! There is no need to be rude! I paid good money for this crack, and it is all burnt up, look!"
  • Mr. Herriman (pictured above), from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends has never been to Britain, but has a British accent from pure stuffiness.
  • Pumbaa's "smart" version from Timon & Pumbaa (which Timon accidentally turns the "normal" Pumbaa into in the episode "Beetle Romania" by plugging his brain back in) rather-fittingly combines this trope with Insufferable Genius; needless to say, Timon is hilariously-visibly annoyed by Smart Pumbaa's arrogance.
  • Sarah, the British journalist and later American immigrant from Liberty's Kids is initially like this.
  • Samuel the camel from Willa's Wild Life.
  • Family Guy's use of "high-class British porn".
    British Man: You know Margaret, we could have sexual intercourse right now.
    British Woman: Yes, yes we could.
    British Man: Hm, but let's not. [goes back to reading his novel]
  • Ferb Fletcher from Phineas and Ferb is a subversion. He's got plenty of warmth, fun, and weirdness in him, he just doesn't show it very often.
  • Spike in My Little Pony (G3).
  • Inverted in the 2015 version of Danger Mouse when Danger Mouse meets his American Distaff Counterpart, Jeopardy Mouse. She is much more serious and no-nonsense than he is, which becomes a point of conflict between them. She even points out that he's not a very secretive "secret" agent if he's on a billboard doing a cereal ad.
  • Balthazar Cavendish from Milo Murphy's Law is the uptight Straight Man to Vinnie Dakota's Wise Guy. This doesn't stop him from going full Agent Mulder in Season 2.

    Real Life 
  • The image of British stuffiness goes back to the days of Victorian Britain, when many upper and middle class people expressed prudish attitudes. A degree of reserve was perhaps also linked to the military success of the British Empire; at a time when weapons were becoming increasingly lethal, less technologically advanced enemies might come in overwhelming numbers, and battlefield medicine still left a lot to be desired, soldiers (and especially their officers) had to cultivate stoicism as a virtue, or their lines would have collapsed. Since the Empire was so huge, many locals across the world witnessed this British attitude and the stereotype stuck.
  • The general behaviour has been explained by anthropologist Kate Fox, author of Watching the English, as partly down to the fact that the British - especially the English - are actually chronically shy. Discussing the weather, for instance, is so common because it's a safe and non-confrontational ice-breaker (as it changes roughly every fifteen minutes).
  • The erotic novel Lady Chatterley's Lover, written by an Englishman DH Lawrence, was famously banned in the United Kingdom for more than 30 years!
  • Even in the 1960s, The Beatles' song "I Am The Walrus" (1967) didn't receive airplay on the BBC merely because the word "knickers" was mentioned. Censor-crazy British Moral Guardians like Mary Whitehouse have also fed this stereotype.
  • The Video Nasties media scare of the early 1980s is another example. Many Exploitation Film pictures were put on a black list because they supposedly depicted gory violence, rape or extreme sexual imagery. A lot of these pictures were forgettable garbage and not half as offensive as their outrageous titles would suggest. But because of Moral Guardians, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and campaigns by British tabloids to "protect the children" they all got banned note  anyway.
  • Oddly enough, Europeans - or at least, the French - also have the impression that the English often are far more lewd in their private lives. The French idiom for "to spank", for instance, is literally "Le Vice Anglais" (translation: "The English Vice"). The British, meanwhile, are firmly convinced that the French are all debauched libertines. However, there is some basis for this - many Britons with a dignified, stuffy, chaste, conservative public image are often caught in surprisingly saucy sex scandals. Historical examples are John Profumo,note  Stephen Milligan note  and John Majornote . While British tabloids exploit these stories to death the foreign press is especially interested in them. Not because they are above this sort of thing either, but "because it's those "stuffy Britons" we're talking about."
  • The whole thing teetered dangerously on the brink of becoming a Dead Horse Trope in September 1997, in the immediate aftermath of the death of Princess Diana. The British population were polarized by her passing. It appeared that one half descended into a crazed grief-frenzy and couldn't stop crying or leaving flowers at any point that had even a tangential relationship with the sainted deceased. The other half, that simply couldn't see what all the fuss was about, retreated into the Stiff Upper Lip as a kind of reaction to all the appalling and unprecedented sentimentality that was going on over the wretched bloody woman, who wasn't even a Royal when she died, so we fail to see what all the fuss is about, do pull yourselves together, for goodness' sake! Abuse and recrimination was freely hurled by both sides. It is perhaps safest to say that while the wall is crumbling, enough of the British people still adhere to the old ways.
  • This sort of response is particularly noteworthy in reaction to terror attacks - in attacks on Britain, the attitude tends to be stubborn determination of the “Keep Calm and Carry On” variety, though mixed with grief (see the response to the Manchester Bombing and the way that “Don't Look Back in Anger” became the slightly wry anthem) and defiance. Attacks on allies, however, (particularly the French) tend to arouse a far greater fury, one that blows this trope apart - see the way that after the Paris Bataclan attacks of 2015 an explosion of pure rage from everywhere north of Calais got Britain off the fence and involved in campaign against ISIS in Syria (which it had previously been reluctant to commit to). This is probably because the former is a “don't let them see you blink” attitude, while the latter is a show of solidarity with an ally.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Stuffy Brit, British Dont Show Emotions


Captain Amelia

Captain Amelia is the no nonsense, snarky, sophisticated, battle hardened, acrobatic and cat-like captain of the RLS Legacy.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (18 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheCaptain

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