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Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe

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It can even make a dog look distinguished!

"I lit my pipe again. It makes you look thoughtful when you are not thinking."

When a writer wants to show that a character is just a little bit "above" everyone else in the group, in one way or another, he'll give them a pipe. The man with the pipe is usually depicted as being a little bit older, a little bit (or a lot) smarter (often a Professor or a Great Detective), in control, composed, unruffled and dignified. Perhaps even pompous, snooty, aloof or a bit haughty. Properly packing a pipe for smoking requires a bit of skill to judge — too loose, and the tobacco will immediately burn out; too tight and the smoker won't be able to draw enough air through it. When being held, the stem points back at the smoker, drawing attention to them as being the most important; it can also be used by them to point with.

Generally does not apply to hillbilly/sailor corn cob pipe smokers, who usually defy the trope, though there are notable exceptions.

This is Always Male but, as always, Tropes Are Flexible. A key element in the attire of the Quintessential British Gentleman, often enjoyed in a Smoky Gentlemen's Club. Also a key wardrobe accessory for the Standard '50s Father. The smoker is often, but not always, a Good Smoker. Compare Cigar Chomper, Smoking Is Cool. Occasionally revealed as a Bubble Pipe for comedic relief.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ayakashi Triangle: Lippy and Une are both female examples who smoke from kiseru to establish them as refined in a very old-fashioned manner. Both also reference how such is associated with oiran, as Une was created in a Red Light District (and once looked like an oiran herself) and Lippy is an outright embodiment of human lust.
  • ID: Invaded: Hondomachi's avatar has her with a pipe to fit together with her detective-themed outfit.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
  • XxxHolic: Kimihiro Watanuki, who is Yuko Ichihara's assistant, inherits the shop after her disappearance which includes her signature kiseru pipe. Eventually, Watanuki begins to smoke as well using Yuko's pipe and wears similar loose clothing, making him very similar to Clow Reed.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Bruce Wayne smoked a pipe when he first appeared, in keeping with his Idle Rich persona. In fact, the very first panel of his first appearance showed him smoking a pipe in Commissioner Gordon's study. The trait lasted for about a year before vanishing.note 
    • And Commissioner Gordon himself, although depicted smoking cigars in the early years, was soon established as a dedicated pipe smoker. (Batman: Year Two established that Batman himself was responsible for this, having given Gordon a pipe to help him quit cigarettes.) Gordon eventually quit smoking after suffering a heart attack in the late 80s. Flashbacks will sometimes still show him with the pipe.
  • The Incredible Hulk:
    • Bruce Banner smoked a pipe in his first appearance, in The Incredible Hulk (1962) #1. In The '90s when Hulk had Bruce Banner's brain he also smoked a normal sized pipe, which for him was very tiny.
    • A one-shot character in the Hulk series was a brainy college student based very loosely on Richard Loeb; he smoked a pipe as part of his "smartest guy in the room" persona.
  • Our Miss Brooks: An interesting case, where Dell's Comic Book adaptation of the cinematic series finale has Mr. Boynton carrying and smoking a pipe. In the series, the one time Boynton smokes ("Bartering With Chief Thundercloud") he gets sick.
  • Metal Men: Doc Magnus, creator of the Metal Men, is rarely seen without his trademark pipe. Even in the present day he looks like a stereotypical intellectual from The '60s.
  • Piet Pienter en Bert Bibber: Piet Pienter, the smartest and most polite character in this series, smokes a pipe.
  • The Spirit's cohort and sometimes boss, Police Commissioner Eustace "Diogenes" Dolan has never been pictured without a pipe in the mouth!
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1 & Sensation Comics: In the Golden Age Steve Trevor, who was (almost) always the prefect gentleman though generally not terribly distinguished outside of his stellar military record, only smoked when he was stressed but when he did it was with a pipe.

    Comic Strips 
  • The none-more-British space pilot of the 1950s, Dan Dare, was also sometimes seen smoking a pipe, perhaps as a Shout-Out to the pipe-smoking RAF officers of the Second World War on whom the character was based.
  • A Flintstones print comic has Fred trying to buy such a pipe in a shop, but he's outraged at the price (a shockingly high ten dollars!) and demands something cheaper, so the salesman gives him a water pipe from the sink.
  • FoxTrot: When Jason became a millionaire (by converting all his cash into Turkish lira), he started wandering around in a smoking jacket and puffing on a bubble pipe.
  • Garfield:
  • Mark Trail smoked a pipe until the 80s, when anti-smoking advocates made him quit. The pipe's gentlemanly qualities were the reason he smoked it in the first place, as it gave him a thoughtful, Waldenesque air, and it made it all that much more exciting when he suddenly dispensed woodland justice with his fists.
  • Steve Canyon also smoked a pipe, for almost the exact opposite reason as Mark Trail. Canyon's pipe made it clear that he was more than just the average rough-and-tumble pilot: he was a thinking man's fighter jock.
  • Pat Ryan from Terry and the Pirates was a debonair adventurer who smoked a pipe. Hugh Hefner would say that it was Pat's pipe smoking that inspired him to take up the habit.

    Fan Works 
  • The Bolt Chronicles:
    • In "The Baseball Game," Rhino says he would look distinguished smoking a pipe. Or as he puts it, "Like Mark Twain or J. R. R. Tolkien, actually."
    • Subverted in "The Murder Mystery" when the Sherlock Holmes-style calabash pipe Penny tries to smoke emits soap bubbles.

    Film — Animation 

  • Roger was almost always seen with his trademark pipe in the original animated 101 Dalmatians.
  • Basil in The Great Mouse Detective, as is only expected as the rodent equivalent of Sherlock Holmes.
  • Played with in The Iron Giant. Kent Mansley smokes a straight billiard pipe several times in the film, but it's just a ruse to make himself look suave in order to hide his true paranoid and unpleasant personality.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Professor Brainard in The Absent-Minded Professor (played by Fred MacMurray)
  • Bhupati in Charulata is an upper-class Indian in 1879 Calcutta who is a big fan of British government and culture. He expresses this in various ways, including smoking a very British meerschaum pipe.
  • A teaser trailer for Deadpool has the title character try to smoke one, only for it to drop to the floor because the Merc With The Mouth has no mouth hole in his mask.
  • Subverted in the 1982 film version of Agatha Christie's Evil Under the Sun. One of the murder suspects, Patrick Redfern, is seen with a pipe throughout the film, but it's only at the end that Poirot realises he's never actually been seen smoking it. The reason: he's hidden a stolen diamond in the bowl.
  • In Frieda, Robert smokes one; fitting his role as a dashing RAF pilot and his Pre-War Civilian Career as a schoolmaster.
  • Director Tavington smokes one in Gentlemen Explorers, even casually lighting it as his agents blow up the town of Goldfield.
  • In The Great Race, The Great Leslie smokes a white pipe.
  • If You Believe: Susan's (ex-)husband Peter was present only in one scene, smoking or chewing a pipe. He definitely felt to be above everybody else.
  • Inglourious Basterds: SS Colonel Hans Landa's austentatious calabash pipe is an homage to Sherlock Holmes and indicates Landa's very high opinion of his own sleuthing skills.
  • Bernard Lee's M smoked a pipe in the early James Bond films.
  • Very rare female example: Juno MacGuff is seen sporting a distinguished gentleman's pipe, though not actually smoking it, in Juno.
  • Professor Kirke from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (both film and book).
  • Inspector Harper smokes one in Madhouse (1974). He is the only character in the film to smoke a pipe.
  • Mars Attacks!: Prof. Donald Kessler is a proper English scientist, and his pipe smoking indicates his thoughtful, academic nature.
  • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children: Miss Peregrine is a wealthy and dignified Englishwoman who smokes a pipe.
  • In Mistress of the Apes, Paul Cory smokes one as part of Great White Hunter persona.
  • Part of Jason's gentleman disguise in Mystery Team.
  • Michaleen Flynn in The Quiet Man. Also Father Lonergan and Rev. Playfair.
  • In Return to Oz: Doctor Worley smokes a pipe, and later the Nome King (played by the same actor). Just before his Villainous Breakdown, he hurls his pipe to the ground, creating a small explosion.
  • In Revenge of the Nerds, Lewis smokes one Hugh Hefner-style after having sex with one of the Mus during their party.
  • Sherlock Holmes would probably be the Trope Codifier.
    • Technically, Sherlock Holmes gained his cliche calabash pipe when he made the transition to theatre. He smoked in the stories as well, but his three pipes were a short stemmed brier, a long stemmed cherrywood and a very well-used clay. Starting with William Gillette, actors added the large pipe to make it more clear from the stage what he was doing.
    • The stage actor needed a pipe he could hold easily in his mouth while working with his hands. The famed meerschaum had the balance needed.
    • And although Granada's classic adaptation with Jeremy Brett as Holmes is the only adaptation that remembers this, unless you count nicotine patches, Sherlock switched to cigarettes when pipes went out of fashion.
  • Frisbee smokes one when he's doing his scholarly thinking in A Song Is Born.
  • Stewardess School: When some of the girls crash a fancy party being thrown by an old friend of Pimmie’s, one of the men has a pipe.
  • In Torture Garden, Edgar Allan Poe scholar and collector Ronald Wyatt (Jack Palance) smokes a pipe right through the film.

  • In American Indian settings, it will usually be the chief that smokes a pipe (to be passed around as a "Peace Pipe" when making treaties). To some Indian people, smoking together means trust, and "the pipe of peace" is a religious sacrament. Pipes and smoking have many meanings depending on the culture and situation.

  • Why do professors and scientists smoke pipes (if they smoke at all), while politicians and managers smoke cigarettes? A pipe's got a head, a cigarette only a mouthpiece.

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike & Dru: Pretty Maids All in a Row: Sir Nigel Rathbone is an upper-class old man who has a knighthood and smokes a pipe that he never even removes from his mouth, even while speaking. All that smoking also gives him a rather raspy voice, though.
  • Ellery Queen smokes one, although it appears to be one of his affectations that comes and goes according to the story.
  • James Herriot used one, although it only came up once or twice as pipes hadn't acquired the same associations back in the 1930s.
  • Maigret: Commissioner Jules Maigret smokes a pipe in direct contrast to the other characters' cigarette habits. If he's not smoking, he's almost invariably fiddling with his pipe in one way or another.
  • In one of his stories, the humorist Patrick McManus details how smoking a pipe and looking thoughtful and/or bemused improved his reputation in both professional and hunting circles.
  • Murder and the Wanton Bride: Hardboiled Detective Mike Shayne is trying to find Whitey Buford, an escaped criminal. He looks up a high-dollar lawyer named Morton Melrose who caters to gangsters. When he answers the door, Melrose is smoking a meerschaum pipe, Sherlock Holmes-style, and he has the snooty attitude to match.
  • Philip Marlowe sometimes smokes a pipe at home or in his office, though he smoke cigarettes while he's out and about. In Farewell, My Lovely he says in narration that he chooses the pipe to give his hands something to do and that anybody who assumes it signifies that he's a solid and respectable man is going to be disappointed.
  • In the second Trueman Bradley novel, Trueman smokes an e-pipe that only gives off water vapor so he'll look more like Sherlock Holmes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On Barney Miller, Harris tries to invoke this with the author photo on the dust jacket of his book. His squadmates are quick to mock it considering that he's never been a pipe-smoker before (or since).
  • The patriarchal Ben Cartwright on Bonanza was occasionally seen with a pipe.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spoofed in "Storyteller" when Andrew lights up a pipe for his Masterpiece Theatre introduction. Then starts coughing.
  • Befitting his status as one the more mature TV detectives of the time, Cannon smokes a pipe, which makes him seem quite avuncular.
  • Occurs on the show Cheers at times.
    • Kelly Gaines's father Walter is a wealthy, snobbish high-society sort who is frequently seen smoking a pipe.
    • In the episode "Diane's Nightmare," Sam starts acting very sophisticated and debonair, which includes his lighting up a pipe. Then Diane wakes up to discover it was All Just a Dream. When she looks through Sam's desk, she finds an actual pipe, causing her to wonder Or Was It a Dream?... then she examines the pipe more carefully, blows into it and discovers it's a Bubble Pipe.
  • In Doctor Who, the First Doctor, who was certainly haughty and considered himself smarter than everyone, smoked a pipe in his first serial "An Unearthly Child".
  • The Professor on Gilligan's Island, in the beginning. Sometimes other characters, in Dream Sequences.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): Alderman Fenwick is a pipe smoker (as seen in "Is My Very Nature That of a Devil"), which differentiates him from Cigar Chomper Tom Anderson, because Fenwick is older, more serious, and wields more political power than anyone else at the informal Smoky Gentlemen's Club.
  • In the "Flowers for Charlie" episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Charlie begins taking intelligence-enhancing pills, and starts using a big, elaborate pipe, while expounding on War and Peace, though the pipe is clearly not lit. The pipe being purely for show foreshadows the fact that the pills are placebos, Charlie has merely convinced everyone he's growing smarter. Including himself.
  • The 1986 BBC production of Dorothy L. Sayers' Strong Poison. Lord Peter Wimsey smokes cigarettes (he offers one to the father of the murder victim while interviewing him), yet when he's trying to defend his last working hypothesis to Inspector Parker, he says, "Give me the statutory dressing gown and an ounce of shag and I'll dispose of that in a brace of shakes." The next scene depicts Wimsey smoking a pipe during an all-nighter of study, with open volumes of toxicology and forensic medicine strewn about. He reverts to a cigarette in the early hours of the morning as he discusses the case with Bunter one last time. This has the superiority bit, since Wimsey is proving the police have arrested and tried the wrong person (a trial that thanks to Miss Murchson ended in a hung jury) by building a case against someone else. It's also clearly a reference to Holmes, and it doesn't hurt that Wimsey is an aristocrat (younger son of the Duke of Denver).
  • My Name Is Earl: In "Bad Earl" Earl's friend Ralph is taking advantage of an old woman with bad eyesight and even worse memory loss by pretending to be her long dead husband, sitting around in his old clothes smoking a pipe. Earl then takes over the gig.
  • Played with in a sweet way on The PacificSledge doesn't take up smoking cigarettes, like nearly all the other Marines, but he does take to smoking a pipe. When his friend back home teases him about it, he explains that he finds the process calming. (In real life, Sledge's widow was so taken with Joe Mazzello's performance that she sent him her late husband's real pipe as a gift.)
  • Discussed by Bill Bailey on QI, who observes that a tradesman who's puffing on a pipe looks much more knowledgeable and trustworthy than one who's taking drags on an Instant Dogend. Fed by Stephen Fry himself being, arbitrarily, the last Pipe Smoker of the Year, an honour which he has mentioned on a few occasions. Became something of a Running Gag, with Bill Bailey pretending to have a pipe to invoke this trope. Taken to its logical extreme when, in the episode "Green" in Series G, he brought in an actual pipe and pretended to smoke it.
  • Kramer on Seinfeld switches to a pipe every time he tries to pass himself off as a doctor.
  • Sherlock gave its titular character a nicotine patch habit due to 21st century London's stringent smoking laws. The show's adaptation of "The Abominable Bride" had Sherlock and Watson puffing away on pipes due to the episode's Victorian settingnote .
  • Granada Television's legendary Sherlock Holmes adaptation subverted this by having him switch to cigarettes later on, as per the books.
  • Data smoked one in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where he used a Sherlock Scan to figure something out, until Picard told him to put it away.
  • Played straight during a Season 10 news segment on Top Gear (UK) when the presenters try out Porsche-designed pipes. Everyone starts laughing when they see how natural James May looks when smoking a pipe (especially because they were using old armchairs on the set that series) and he immediately plays up the old-gentleman mannerisms for laughs...before everything gets completely averted by Jeremy Clarkson ten seconds later when he burns his tongue after putting the wrong end of the pipe in his mouth (it's a Porsche, so the hot bit's supposed to go in the back).
  • Alan Harper from Two and a Half Men, while staying at Lindsey's home, finds her ex-husband's pipe and starts using it to look more distinguished. Unfortunately, he leaves it too close to the drapes and burns the house down.
  • Ultraman: Captain Muramatsu (or Mura in the dub) can sometimes be seen smoking a pipe, befitting of his stern but respecting father-like personality.

  • Captain Robert Brown of Abney Park, a gentleman pirate, smokes a pipe.

    Myths & Religion 


    Tabletop Games 
  • Elminster of the Forgotten Realms setting is rarely ever seen without his fancy smoking pipe, which he often uses as a focus for magical spells.

  • In Waiting for Godot Pozzo, the character with the highest status, spends many minutes talking about the proper way to smoke a pipe.

    Video Games 
  • As you take the bathysphere down to Rapture in BioShock, you see a filmreel advertising the city. The first image shown? Andrew Ryan with a pipe.
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony: Kaito holds a large kiseru in his official art.
  • The Great Ace Attorney: It's part of Sholmes' trademark look, though outside of promotional material, the pipe itself never actually touches his mouth.
  • Persona 2: Eternal Punishment: Daisuke Todoroki is skilled detective and a devil summoner that also carries a pipe.
  • In Return of the Obra Dinn, Aleksei Toporov is one of the seamen in the firing line, and he often carries his trademark tobacco pipe, which he smokes on one rare occasion—-a hint that his identity can be deduced.
  • Not quite a distinguished gentleman as much as a Cool Old Guy, Ujiyasu Hojo is often shown smoking an old- clay pipe in Samurai Warriors 3 cutscenes. He's also one of the Kanto region's premier warlords, widely respected as a wily leader and its most steadfast defender, and A Father to His Men besides, thus giving him a lot of weight in social standing as well.
  • In StarCraft II, the Battlecruiser unit portrait smokes one, though his Stop Poking Me! suggests he's more of an old drunk guy.
  • Team Fortress 2: Currently five classes can sport a pipe with specific items, namely the Soldier's 'Lord Cockswain's Novelty Mutton Chops and Pipe', the Sniper's 'Outback Intellectual', the Pyro's 'Bubble Pipe', the Medic's 'Nine-Pipe Problem', and the Demoman's 'Bearded Bombardier'. All of them even come with the 'Genteel Smoke' effect.

    Web Original 

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Graham Chapman was fond of smoking pipes, so much so that he flew into a rage when fellow Monty Python member John Cleese stole one of his as a prank. Chapman described himself in interviews as a Manly Gay, and the pipe added onto that image, to the point where, when recounting the stealing incident, Cleese speculated that it was a direct physical representation of his masculinity.
  • Harold Wilson, British Prime Minister of the 1960s and 70s, actually invoked this trope on himself. He preferred to smoke cigars in private, but was usually seen with a pipe in public precisely because of the qualities of wisdom/experience and so on mentioned in the description as associated with pipe smokers. Also, cigars are for the upper-class - Wilson was a socialist.
  • Also deliberately invoked by Joseph Stalin. He preferred cigarettes over pipe tobacco, but he had a small problem. In Russia at the time cigarettes were seen as glamorous and for the upper classes, while pipes associated with commoners and the inteligentsia. So Stalin opted for a pipe, but he packed it with rolling tobacco instead. That way he could appear as an intellectual and champion of the proletariat while and not give up his bourgeois preferences. He never cleaned his pipes, instead smoking one until it was unusuable than starting a new one.
  • A rather interesting play on this trope is Stephen Fry, who officially holds the last ever "Pipe Smoker of the Year" award, despite being a usual cigarette smoker at the time who happened to grab a pipe when he couldn't find his smokes on the way out of his house one day. Someone spotted the him with the pipe and he was soon contacted to receive the award.
  • Charles Nelson Reilly, American actor, voice actor, comedian, and stage director best known for his role as one of the regular celebrity panelists on the 70's game show Match Game, was a known pipe smoker and he can be seen on a number of episodes of Match Game smoking a pipe.