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Can't Tie His Tie

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Roger: I've already destroyed this telethon [undoes Stan's bowtie] and untied your bowtie!
Stan: No! You've given me a relaxed demeanor!

It's standard protocol for men to wear either a necktie or bow tie when dressed up formally. But in many cases, the guy just can't do it. Often, if there's a female companion, she will end up doing it for him, although he will not always be happy about it. This is also sometimes used as a form of Ship Tease due to the necessary proximity required, and may or may not result in a Necktie Leash.

Often Truth in Television, since guys these days have the option of clip-on ties or just don't dress up often enough to get used to it, or both (More they don't dress up often enough. Among people who wear ties regularly, spotting a clip-on (especially a bow tie) is really, really easy.).

Another common form is a mother tying her son's tie. Usually accompanied by comments about how handsome he looks, or how grown up he's become.


If a character manages to get their tie but does it incorrectly, then it may be a Wardrobe Flaw of Characterization.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • At the beginning of Blue Exorcist, Rin is lent a suit to apply for a job, but can't work out the tie at all. Similiar to other examples, he claims he's going for the smart-casual look, but Father Fujimoto calls him on it and ties it for him.
  • In one of the many Ho Yay moments in Hetalia: Axis Powers, Austria straightens Italy's tie and Italy whispers, "Austria..." while blushing with roses in the background.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Angelic Days uses this in its final volume. Asuka fixes Shinji's while complaining about how she has to do this, and how Shinji can't, and other things while blushing. The others take it as a sign that their Relationship Upgrade is holding.
  • School Zone has Rei, who's a rare female example. While the school requires girls to wear neckties as part of the uniform, Rei doesn't wear hers. Possibly as a result of this, she's utterly hopeless at tying it when she has to wear it to a school assembly, forcing her best friend Kei to help her.
  • In the Yuri Genre manga I Don't Blame You, one of the two unnamed main characters is another rare female example. She's unable to tie her tie on her own without her kohai's help, but it's implied that she deliberately ties it badly so her kohai will do it for her.

    Comic Books 
  • In Superman: The Wedding Album, Clark is struggling with his bowtie, and Jimmy Olsen says, "Let an expert help with that," before turning out to be Mr Mxyzptlk. (It doubles as a Mythology Gag since the Silver Age Jimmy and Mxy both wore bowties all the time.)
  • After getting his memory rebooted, Tony Stark discovers he can't remember how to tie a tie. His friend Jim Rhodes has to help him.
  • Roxy has to tie Superboy's tie for him when he tries to dress nice for a date with Tana since he never learned how to do so himself.
  • A "Lighter Side of..." strip in MAD magazine had a husband complaining about how hard tying a bowtie was and his wife responding that it was no harder than tying an apron (NOTE: regardless of which is more difficult, tying an apron and tying a tie are very dissimilar techniques). He says if it's so easy then she should do it for him. She does, by turning her back and tying it with him sitting behind her.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Sorority Row, Cassie unties Andy's tie on the pretext that he has put it on wrong and she is going to retie it for him. However, she then pulls him down on to the bed.
  • At the start of 13 Sins, Shelby ties Elliot's tie for him when he goes in for an interview with his boss that he thinks is going to result in a promotion.
  • He is not actually wearing a tie, but Coco straightens Junior's collar and the lapels on his jacket before he leaves to collect the ransom in Judas Kiss.
  • When preparing for his homecoming date, Spider-Man: Homecoming's Peter Parker is shown consulting a Youtube tutorial on the Windsor knot.

  • Near the beginning of Peter Pan, Mr and Mrs Darling are dressing to go out for dinner; Mr Darling can't get his tie to work ("Not round my neck! Round the bed-post! Oh yes, twenty times have I made it up round the bed-post, but round my neck, no!") and has to get his wife to tie it for him.
    "It is an astounding thing to have to tell, but this man, though he knew about stocks and shares, had no real mastery of his tie. Sometimes the thing yielded to him without a contest, but there were occasions when it would have been better for the house if he had swallowed his pride and used a made-up tie."
  • Robert A. Heinlein's Glory Road. Oscar can't tie his tie before his dinner with Star, so his valet Rufo does it for him. Oscar has to lie down, as Rufo learned to do this while dressing bodies in a funeral parlor.
  • In Honor Harrington, the Grayson military's uniforms come with ties, and Honor has to wear them sometimes. She can't do the tie, so her steward MacGuinness does it for her.
  • In Animorphs #21: The Threat, Ax needs to disguise himself as a human Controller, but the disguise includes a tie, which none of the guys know how to tie. Rachel ends up doing it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • As the World Turns: Noah has trouble tying his tie and Luke helps him, leading to their First Kiss, which is the first male/male kiss shown on American daytime.
  • CSI: In the episode "Formalities" at a fancy dinner, Grissom has trouble with a bowtie and grumbles that he needs a clip-on, so Catherine steps in to help with a dry "you need a woman" comment.
  • Adam on CSI: NY has trouble when getting ready to go to the 10th anniversary memorial of Sept. 11, and Lindsay ends up tying his.
    Lindsay: By the time you're done, it'll be the 20th anniversary.
  • Stan on The Golden Girls — Dorothy winds up tying it for him.
  • For one MythBusters test, Jamie and Adam both had to don full tuxedos. Jamie had to get their guest expert to tie his bow tie for him.
  • In the BBC's 2002 production of The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sir Henry struggles with his white tie when dressing for dinner, and Watson finally does it for him.
  • Ryan Atwood of The O.C. cannot tie his borrowed tie on his borrowed suit. He attempts to hide this by claiming he prefers the untied look and Sandy calls him on it, then helps him. A few seasons later this replays with Ryan's brother, Trey.
  • Earl from My Name Is Earl. One time he was going on a job interview and Randy had untied his tie that their grandfather had tied for him who-knows-how-many years ago. Earl complained, but Randy said he wanted to show Earl what he'd look like as a yuppie at a concert (tie tied in a simple square knot around his forehead).
  • Joey from Friends gets others to tie ties for him.
  • In the Dexter TV show, his sister has to tie Dexter's tie on the day of his wedding. Bit of subtext there, since their actors were married to each other at the time.
  • On The Jeffersons, there was a flashback to George getting ready for a meeting with a banker for a loan to start his own cleaners. He put on his suit and was having difficulty with his tie when the banker arrived. George told him he was just taking it off.
  • On Roseanne, David is lamenting the fact that his dysfunctional parents aren't showing up for his wedding, while his older brother Mark argues he shouldn't even care. David, meanwhile, is trying to put on his tie, which Mark eventually does for him. Mark mentions that their father taught him how to do it, but that it's really the only thing he can remember him ever doing for him.
  • Variation on Parks and Recreation. Andy is never shown having trouble tying a tie, but in every scene in which he's shown wearing one, it's always tied too high, leaving a good one-to-two-inch gap. (For reference, a properly tied tie should always touch the belt buckle.)
  • Sometimes used as part of an absent-minded characterisation of the Doctor in Doctor Who:
    • The Second Doctor can tie his bow tie, but never straight or evenly. The knot is correct but askew.
    • The Fourth Doctor almost always ties his cravat incorrectly, although the precise way in which it's incorrect depends on the story itself. He tends to twist it up and just double-knot it, or occasionally just pins it together.
  • Person of Interest. In "Provenance", despite being known as "The Man in a Suit", Badass in a Nice Suit John Reese still needs instruction from Sharp-Dressed Man Harold Finch on how to do up his tie for a Black-Tie Infiltration. Sameen Shaw enters and promptly lampshades the Homoerotic Subtext.
    Finch: It's just like a shoelace, Mr Reese. I find that it helps if you practice on a leg. Or a collarless neck if you're out of practice.
    Reese: I can field strip a .45 upside down in the dark, Finch. I think I can handle a bow tie.
    Finch: Of course. [beat] Is it butterfly or batwing? [Death Glare from Reese] Never mind, take your time...
    Shaw: Hate to interrupt this mildly erotic moment, gents, but the invitation advises us not to be late.
  • NCIS: In "Institutionalized", Gibbs walks into the lab to discover Kasie attempting to tie a necktie. When Gibbs asks her what she is doing, she explains that an old friend has a job interview and doesn't know how to tie a tie. She promised him she would tie it for him, only to discover she doesn't know how to tie one either. Gibbs takes the tie from her, ties it around his own neck, and hands it to her. Kasie's friend later turns to be the main suspect in the Mystery of the Week.

    Video Games 
  • In Heavy Rain, the police chief is shown struggling with a tie, as he usually wears a clip-on to avoid it being used against him by a suspect.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons: Homer Simpson teaches Bart how to put on a necktie by presenting his clip-on: "The hook goes over the top, and these things go in there!"
  • During the opening montage in Up, Ellie is seen straightening Carl's tie. She's seen doing it many times as they grow older.
  • Clumsy has a few fumbles tying his tie in The Smurfs episode "The Golden Smurf Award".
  • In the American Dad! episode "Phantom of the Telethon", Roger sabotages Stan's CIA telethon and then undoes Stan's bowtie which he can't redo.
    Stan: No! You've given me a relaxed demeanor!
  • In one story on Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling, the good wrestlers are helping a friend run a hotel. Hulk Hogan couldn't tie his bowtie and Wendi Richter had to help him.

    Real Life 
  • The Nostalgia Critic: One behind-the-scenes video shows Doug Walker, being unable to tie his trademark red tie, right before shooting his crossover with James Rolfe, The Angry Video Game Nerd. He asks all the men present in the house for help, including the cameraman (his brother Rob), Mike Matei, and even James Rolfe himself, who tries and fails multiple times to tie the tie. In the end, James Rolfe's wife is the only one who is able to do it.
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt cannot tie a bowtie. This proved a problem at the 2013 Oscars. Fortunately for him, his date — Sally Field, who played his mother in Lincolndid know how to tie one. The result was adorable.


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