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Contemplative Boss

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He's not looking at you, but he sees you all.

"My Lord! I am here to interrupt your 'staring imperiously out of the window' time to inform you that you have a call from a Lieutenant Colonel Leander!"
Lorlara, Grrl Power

He's the Big Boss, the Evil Overlord, or some other higher-up either good or bad. When he receives people in his office, instead of looking at them directly, he talks with his back to them while looking out the window, probably with his arms folded behind him.

Usually intended to convey that the character is so badass he can't be bothered to look at his audience, this is sometimes used to indicate an internal conflict of some sort (depending on his facial expression). Also has the bonus of keeping his identity a secret, up until the Chair Reveal or Shadow Reveal.

If the other character is a trusted lieutenant or confidant, the senior figure may ask them to look out the window and "Tell me what you see" in order to segue into making a point.

As a specific Sub-Trope of "Back to Camera" Pose used to make authority figures look powerful, this may be part of The Faceless. Compare Drama Panes.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Universe criminal boss The Kingpin is prone to doing this in his various forms when in his penthouse.
  • Superman:
    • Lex Luthor has done this many times. A recurring motif across all Superman adaptations is Luthor looking down at Metropolis from his tower like a god looking down at puny mortals, only for it to be spoiled by the sight of Superman floating just a few inches higher looking down on him. A lot of the time he's implied to be trying to catch a glimpse of Superman. He's a little obsessed that way.
    • In the page picture, from 52, he's watching dozens of people plummet to their deaths from the skies of Metropolis. He caused it to happen.
    • In Last Daughter of Krypton, corrupt businessman Simon Tycho spends a long time gazing down at Earth from his satellite base while his underlyings attempt to capture and subdue Supergirl.
    • On the cosmic end of the scale, Darkseid frequently does this in his throne room, gazing out at his dystopian kingdom. Case in point, this one-page story from The Superman Adventures:
      Desaad: What do you think about when you see everything you have accomplished on Apokolips, great Darkseid? What monumental thoughts pass through your head?
      Darkseid: It's not enough.
  • Robin (1993): While ordering the hiding of the illegal human experimentation his company has been up to Lloyd Waite turns to gaze out his office window.
  • Ozymandias in Watchmen proves he's Charles Atlas Superpower incarnate by doing this while fighting two superheroes. When his Right-Hand Cat joins the scene and the fight ends, he continues while walking his corridors.

    Comic Strips 
  • Nodwick: You'd think it would be hard for a non-humanoid, tentacled abomination to pull something close to this pose, yet Orocular manage it in the 2007-12-19 strip.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Similar to a Greatroom scene, where the higher-up gazes into the fire instead of looking at the protagonist, à la The Big Lebowski.
  • Bright Lights, Big City: Jamie's boss at the magazine he works for strikes the pose before lecturing him about a sloppy job he did.
  • Subverted in Elizabeth, where Walsingham (the queen's spymaster) instructs his disciple to look out the window as to start a discussion as per the trope, and in mid-conversation slits his throat.
  • Fearless (2006): Huo Yuanjia's long-estranged friend strikes the pose when turning down a request to lend him money. On a later encounter, their reconciliation is illustrated by his turning from the window to face him as Huo enters the room.
  • Gangland Odyssey has Hoshida staring out the penthouse of his high-rise Hong Kong officer tower in this manner.
  • John Wick: This is how Viggo Tarasov is introduced, looking out over his city, an unreachable god among criminals, while asking Aurelio over the phone, with barely restrained Tranquil Fury, if and why he struck Viggo's son... Aurelio then explains that he did it because Viggo's son stole John Wick's car and killed his dog. Viggo turns away from the city view with a quiet "Oh..." and we see that he is not an unreachable god; he is just another man.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Aragorn is in this pose in Arwen's flashforward vision on the road to the Grey Havens.
  • Major Payne: The eponymous character once enters his office while Stone is sitting at his desk. Payne putters around for a few seconds without apparently seeing him, then stands with his back to Stone and shouts, "WHAT the hell are you doing in my office?!"
  • The Sound of Music: Captain Von Trapp.
  • Space Cowboys: Bob Gerson, after Hawk crashes a third expensive, experimental rocket plane.
  • Star Wars:
  • TRON: Legacy: Clu when he has Sam Flynn brought to him.
  • Watchmen: Ozymandias, while receiving corporate tycoons in his office.
  • The Matrix:
    • Morpheus looks out of a window in this pose right before meeting Neo.
    • Agent Smith oversees the City before interrogating Morpheus.
  • Die Hard with a Vengeance: Simon walks like this when entering the Federal Reserve Bank vault he's about to rob.
  • The opening shot of Dodsworth has the protagonist, a Benevolent Boss, lost in thought, looking out of the window of his office upon the factory buildings.
  • In Fifty Shades of Grey, this is the way in which Christian Grey receives visitors in his office, as seen on the teaser poster.

  • Discworld:
    • Vetinari does this a lot as part of his "Evil" Overlord trappings. He particularly likes the "tell me what you see" line while looking over the city, which generally leads to his companion saying something like "fog?" or "a very large bird?" or "a small dog watching a man take a piss in an alley. Sorry, but you chose the wrong moment".
      Vetinari: Had I been taken less literally, you would have said...
    • At the end of Making Money, the Vetinari Ward, filled with people who believe themselves to be Vetinari, has several of them staring out the window at nothing in particular. The newest resident suggests that some kind of artificial skyline might make them happier.
  • There's a scene in Bulldog Drummond where Drummond and the villain Peterson have a conversation where Peterson is looking out his window with his back to Drummond; Drummond considers trying to jump him, but realises in time that Peterson is only pretending to look out the window, and is actually watching Drummond's reflection in the glass.
  • There's a brief instance in A Song of Ice and Fire where Tywin Lannister goes over to the window and does this. However, it's subverted because Tyrion realises that Tywin's only doing this because he has actually been rattled by what's just happened, (it's finally been driven home to him just how dangerously inept and uncontrollable Joffrey has become) and is trying to hide this while he regains his composure.
  • Dracula does this in the epilogue of The Historian in Snagov's flashback.
  • Star Wars:

    Live-Action TV 
  • Used, abused, and parodied by Jack Donaghy of 30 Rock. He has a single window in his office that he needs to look out of (ideally while holding a drink) in order to reflect. On occasion, he will ask people to move aside so he can stand there. On one memorable instance, when a TV set of his office is made, he wraps up the episode by standing at that window even though it doesn't actually face outside.
  • In Breaking Bad, the protagonist Walter White does this pose after contracting Jack and his men to kill Gus's witnesses within a 2-minute window across the prisons in the state, Walt making this as the witnesses are killed in the background. This is mostly done to show (if the writers didn't make this obvious already), that Walt has slipped from an Action Survivor to the full-fledged Big Bad.
  • Farscape
    • Scorpius would occasionally do this with the bay windows overlooking the hangar on his command carrier. A variation occurs during Scorpius' exile aboard Moya: in this case, whenever Crichton bothered to speak to him face-to-face, Scorpius would almost always be lying on his bunk, staring at the ceiling.
    • Grayza did this as well at the climax of "La Bomba".
    • Natira also did this while torturing Crichton, inviting him to take in as much of the view as possible before... well...
  • Michael Scott attempted something along these lines in The Office, but it was more confusing than intimidating.
  • Catherine Weaver displays all the classic signs of this trope in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, launching into long, philosophical monologues while in her office. Most of the time she doesn't even seem to notice the other person is there, and appears to just be rambling to herself. Odd behavior for a T-1001 terminator.
  • An episode of Saturday Night Live featuring Al Gore had a sketch involving the former vice-president visiting the set of The West Wing. He gets caught up pretending to be president, at one point telling Martin Sheen to walk up to him as he's staring out the window of the faux-Oval Office and say "Mr. President, the Joint Chiefs need an answer."
    Al Gore: (Turns from window) Tell them... (dramatic pause) ...we're going in.
  • Angel did this occasionally in the show's fifth season. He wasn't incinerated by the sun thanks to the building's UV-proof, vampire-friendly window glass.
  • Parodied in New Girl when Schmidt and Nick are talking about their invention, RealApps. When they begin their "business meeting," Schmidt is staring out the window of the loft, while they're talking about their item that's just a bunch of utensils glued together.
  • Peter Allen does this in his one scene when cast as (yes) the Big Bad in one episode of Miami Vice, and Crockett and Tubbs walk in on him.
  • Rachel, when we first see her, in Orphan Black.
  • Rare good example: Birgitte Nyborg, the show's protagonist, does this at the end of the credit sequence of Borgen.
  • Star Trek: Discovery: The first time we see Captain Gabriel Lorca, he's standing in his darkened ready room gazing out at the stars, explaining to Michael Bernham that he's sensitive to light, but he makes good use of it. "I like to think it makes me mysterious," he says, lampshading the trope in the process.
  • Leave it to Game of Thrones to make this trope work not only outside but in a pre-modern setting. As the Boltons begin taking hold of the North and consolidating their power, Roose takes Ramsay out to a nearby ridgetop. With his back to the camera, he asks Ramsay what he sees, and after Ramsay's answer explains "the North! It's larger than any other one of the Seven Kingdoms!" and how it will be an ideal power base.
  • Daredevil (2015): Wilson Fisk exerts this pose in various capacities, such as in season 3 when he's brooding in his empty penthouse waiting for news of Vanessa's wellbeing, or when he's being told about his lawyer being beaten up by Matt.

    Video Games 
  • LeChuck is introduced doing this in The Secret of Monkey Island. He's still doing it when Guybrush sneaks into his cabin later in the game. Must be a nice view.
  • The trailer/opening for The Matrix MMORPG has Morpheus with his back to the camera at all times during the opening narration, looking out windows and rooftops, and jumping away when the camera gets close, at least three times.
  • Lord Galcian from Skies of Arcadia does this a lot.
  • In Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army, when you encounter Munakata for the last time, he spends quite a length of time turned away from you as he speaks, only turning to you to pull off The Reveal.
  • Colonel Halcyon and Commodore Tolwyn in Wing Commander 1 & 2, respectively.
  • Mass Effect 2
    • When he isn't looking at you with his creepy, creepy eyes, The Illusive Man does this a lot. Can't blame him though, his view is awesome. He's looking out at a dying star, which has to be seen to be believed. He continues this habit in the third game, and is very annoyed when you're in his chair looking at the view.
    • Anderson is also fond of staring out over the Presidium, although in his case he's wearily leaning on his balcony railing rather than standing tall.
    • Aria spends part of her initial conversation with Shepard like this, staring out over the Afterlife nightclub while s/he is getting scanned. Once Aria confirms Shepard's identity, though, she warms up (relatively speaking) and turns to face him/her.
  • Lacroix once in Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, before revealing he posted a bloodhunt on Nines.
  • Entering Crime Boss Maximo's office in the High Roller Lounge in Grim Fandango, the player will him him standing at the window looking at the cat races. However, he will turn to face Manny if you start a conversation with him.
  • Luke Skywalker in Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast.
  • Judge Dredd: Dredd vs. Death: Dredd is introduced watching over the city from the balcony of the Grand Hall of Justice with his arms folded behind his back. Hershey and Anderson come to see him, but he doesn't turn to look at them throughout the conversation.
  • Principal Wells in Life Is Strange does this in Episode 2 after Kate's (attempted) suicide.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Lampshaded by Flame King in the Adventure Time episode "Red Throne", as he stares out over his kingdom from a window after re-taking it from his daughter Flame Princess.
    Flame King: Man, I love staring out over things.
  • Star Wars Rebels: Canon Immigrant Grand Admiral Thrawn, just like his above-mentioned Legends counterpart, is almost-always in a Reverse Arm-Fold stance while making observations — and often in his private, art-filled chambers.
  • The Simpsons does it all the time:
    • Mr Burns lives on this. He once tempted fate by saying he'd donate a million dollars to the local orphanage "when PIGS FLY!" Commence porcine air torpedo, and a snarky comment by Smithers. Burns just kept staring. And kept the money, too.
    • Whenever Principal Skinner gets started on his time in the Vietnam War, he turns to the window and does this, while his voice drops in somber remembrance. About how a Vietcong elephant ate the rest of his platoon while they were trying to escape. Or that time he swore revenge on Principal Kahotek.
  • Wakfu: Nox at the end of season 1 episode 24, contemplating the Sadida kingdom he's about to attack from the window of his giant clockwork mecha.
  • Lampshaded by minister Wallet in Ben's City who strikes the pose when he says his career is likely over.
    Ben: Don't say things like that
    Wallet: Come on, what did you expect from someone who looks by the window with his arms behind his back to say?
    Ben: Well sure-
    Wallet: I'm not gonna say "I forgot to remove the door-hangers again".

    Real Life