John Wilkes: That will depend, my lord, upon whether I embrace your principles or your mistress.
The Gentleman Snarker is a type of Deadpan Snarker that can say ungentlemanly things as only a gentleman can. This should not be considered the exclusive domain of males, because the Ladies can be just as cunning, and just as well-bred/rich. This trope is about any upper-class person who is exceptionally witty.
They are always polite, except when it is appropriate to be impolite. At that moment, they can deliver their victim an insult as sharp and subtle as a rapier. They spend their time making witticisms, flirting and pulling pranks. This characteristic is well known among those with a Stiff Upper Lip and when done right can be quite awesome. Beware the Gentleman Snarker. If you want your pride punctured, they're the one to do it. This was once almost a necessary part of being a high class person and thus political insults of the past were just as common but at least more interesting.
See also Servile Snarker - though due to Conservation of Competence, one is rarely in the employ of the other. A Gentleman Snarker may apply Sophisticated as Hell, often sparingly. Put two of them in a room together, and Snark-to-Snark Combat becomes almost inevitable.
- Huey Laforet of Baccano! may be unfailingly polite and well-spoken, but he doesn't let that get in the way of mocking or trolling someone.
- From Eroica with Love presents Dorian Red Gloria, Earl of Gloria. A Gentleman Thief who plays cat-and-mouse with German Major "Iron" Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach, the asexual guy who declared that he would capture Dorian.
- Fran, from Katekyō Hitman Reborn!, can piss off the whole Varia squad (or everyone) just by opening his mouth.
- The titular Count Cain, in every detail. Witty but self-centred and lazy? Check. Living on inherited money, with no real job but an eccentric hobby (in his case, collecting and sometimes using poisons)? Check. Flirtatious ladykiller, yet Ambiguously Bi? Very check.
- Death the kid from Soul Eater pulls this gem (among many others) in his first duel with Soul and BlackStar after he shoots them in the most refined way possible:
"Oops. My finger slipped."
- In Brave10, samurai lord Naoe Kanetsugu is extremely sharp-tongued toward everyone equally, offering backhanded compliments and politely-veiled insults indiscriminately.
- Blood and Honor: Sanguis is usually polite and well-mannered, even to her opponents, but she has a wry sense of humor which becomes more evident the longer she spends with Vette. She enjoys flirting with and flustering Quinn and throws out an occasional bit of verbal wordplay.
- A Knight's Tale as Inquisitor: As indicted by her moniker as 'King of Knights', Arturia is very courteous, eloquent, and polite to others at all times, showing professionalism fitting for one such her. However, this doesn't change the fact that the wit that comes out of her tongue tends to be just as sharp as her sword. This actually fits right in with the world she's landed in.
- Captain Amelia, a female version, from Treasure Planet owes her best lines to this trope.
Captain Amelia: Doctor. To muse and blabber about a treasure map, in front of this particular crew, demonstrates a level of ineptitude that borders on the imbecilic. And I mean that in a very caring way.
Captain Amelia: Let me make this as...monosyllabic as possible. I don't much care for this crew you hired; they're... how did I describe them, Arrow? I said something rather good this morning before coffee.Mr. Arrow: A ludicrous parcel of drivelling galoots, ma'am.Captain Amelia: There you go; poetry.
- And later during the same conversation with Doctor Doppler:
- The Grand Duke from Cinderella.
- The Swan Princess has Lord Rogers, Prince Derek's good but sarcastic advisor. For example, after an epic foot-in-mouth scene from Prince Derek:
Lord Rogers: You could write a book. How to Offend Women in Five Syllables or Less.
- Lady Rebecca Gibson is a female example in Plunkett & Macleane. She is described by one observing character to be "very choice, very choosy" when it comes to her long line of unsuccessful suitors, sending one off in the same scene with a particularly barbed remark. Though unheard by the audience, the reaction of the suitor indicates the remark was particularly vicious, though probably deserved.
Lady Rebecca: (to Macleane) You are not a gentleman.Macleane: I'm sorry?Lady Rebecca: No gentleman would stare at a lady like that in public.Macleane: I do beg your pardon. Captain James Macleane, at your service.Lady Rebecca: Oh, so you are a gentleman?Macleane: Yes.Lady Rebecca: What a shame.
- Even with the man she likes, her initial flirting has a particularly snarky and mischievous tone.
- Jeffery Pelt in The Hunt for Red October:
"You've lost another submarine?"
- The French movie Ridicule (often referred to as "Wit" in English-speaking countries) suggests that before the Revolution, the entire French political system revolved around who could do this most effectively.
- After the Revolution, most of the entire political systems in the whole world began to revolve around who can do this most effectively...
- Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music. This characterization of the Captain is largely thanks to Christopher Plummer, who campaigned heavily for more plot development for his character. Apparently, he thought the original stage Captain was a milquetoast. He and costar Julie Andrews later said that they wanted to give the movie some strength and keep it from devolving into all sweetness and light. It worked — stage revivals largely follow the movie's script and not that of the original stage version.
Captain von Trapp: If the Nazis take over Austria, I have no doubt, Herr Zeller, that you would be the entire trumpet section.Herr Zeller: You flatter me, Captain.Captain von Trapp: Oh, how clumsy of me. I meant to accuse you.
- Alfred Pennyworth is a master of this trope. Particularly evident in The Dark Knight.
Alfred: Will you be taking the Batpod, sir?Bruce: (Rushing off to protect Coleman Reese) In broad daylight, Alfred? Not very subtle.Alfred: The Lamborghini, then? (to self) Much more subtle.
- Hobson in the film Arthur. So many snarky lines it is hard to pick one.
Hobson: Thrilling to meet you, Gloria.Gloria: Hi.Hobson: Yes... You obviously have a wonderful economy with words, Gloria. I look forward to your next syllable with great eagerness.
- One of the aspects played up in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes (2009).
Lestrade: In another life, you would have made an excellent criminal.Holmes: Yes, and you, Lestrade, an excellent policeman.
- Charles Xavier has shades of this in X-Men: First Class. He's from an extremely wealthy family, attends Oxford and possesses an absolutely brilliant mind—but he prefers to use his mind-reading abilities and genius knowledge of genetics to seduce women, and seems more interested in drinking than helping mankind. Even when he starts the team, he still possesses a keen wit and sense of fun (which is not to say he is in any way flippant about his beliefs). Only towards the end, when his friendship with Erik is destroyed and he is left paralyzed, does he truly become the mentor and leader we would come to know and love.
- Christopher Riley in Shadowlands is one of these, but it backfires horribly on him when he tries it on Snark Knight Joy Gresham:
Christopher: I regard the soul as an essentially feminine accessory, anima quite different from animus, the male variant. This is how I explain the otherwise puzzling difference between the sexes. Where men have intellect, women have soul.Joy: As you say, Professor Riley, uh, I'm from the United States, and different cultures have different modes of discourse. I need a little guidance. Are you trying to be offensive, or just merely stupid?
- Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service. As a Kingsman he is gentlemanly in all things, including his snarking, whether it be directed towards the Big Bad or against an asshole attendant at a hate-mongering church.
Harry: I'm a Catholic whore, currently enjoying congress out of wedlock with my black, Jewish boyfriend who works at a military abortion clinic. So hail Satan, and have a lovely afternoon madam.
- In The Patriot, General Cornwallis is holding 18 of Benjamin Martin's men prisoner, including his son. Martin meets with Cornwallis under a flag of truce and informs him that if his men aren't released, 18 of Cornwallis' officers will have to dienote .
- In My Favorite Year, the actor Alan Swann tends to speak in quips and with exaggerated nonchalance, just like the Swashbuckler characters he used to play on the silver screen. His mode of speech becomes more normal as he gets to know Benjy, a comedy show writer.
- Sherlock Holmes is highly effective at delivering gentlemanly snarks.
- Jane Austen likes snarkers, and her most beloved and worthy characters never lose their gentleman-like or lady-like upbringing.
- Pride and Prejudice:
- Elizabeth Bennet loves absurdities and making fun of silly people and their faults, and she very often exaggerates or twists her opinions to be witty. She's arch and very endearing, and always a lady.
- Mr. Darcy is very haughty and proud and he snarks a lot, but he rarely doesn't behave like a gentleman. However, sometimes he can come off as insulting. For example his sneering remark about Elizabeth's beauty (he calls her "tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me") and his aloof behaviour make him very unpopular among Meryton folks.
- Emma is very intelligent and some of her comments are quite smart ass. She especially likes friendly arguments with Mr. Knightley, who is her intellectual equal. She's also quite snarky with Mrs. Weston, her close friend and Parental Substitute, who tends to protest that "you divert me against my conscience." But when one of her witty remarks crosses the line, she deeply regrets that she insulted the lady who was on the receiving end of her sharp and unkind wit.
- Mr. Knightley snarks very nicely, and he always remains the perfect example of the witty British gentleman archetype.
- Pride and Prejudice:
- Following in Jane Austen's footsteps, Georgette Heyer has many heroes (and antiheroes) of this type.
- The Man Who Was Thursday: Sunday is constantly making fun of his comrades, which oddly doesn't detract at all from his being a scary-ass dude. Here's an example from just one conversation:
"I bring you news of no such disgusting spectacles."SUNDAY: You mean Dr. Bullís spectacles? ...Really, to call them disgusting, before the man himself."Look at my face!"SUNDAY: I dare say itís the sort of face that grows on one. In fact, it grows on you.
- Discworld's Havelock Vetinari. The most magnificent Magnificent Bastard ever, he has a title, and if you actually read what he's saying carefully, he's unbelievably snarky. This has become a major point of fear for those forced to frequently tell him things he's not going to like:
Colon: [with genuine dread] Lord Vetinari won't stop at sarcasm. He might use — [swallowing] — irony. He's probably going to be satirical, even ...
- His lines in the council of war in Jingo are quite possibly the best examples.
- Vetinari occasionally says "Please don't let me detain you". Those to whom he says it usually consider exactly what that detention might involve, and then leave immediately.
- Nightfall Series: Prince Vladimir is a villainous example.
- Horatio Hornblower: Horatio Hornblower on one or two occasions when he got older.
- Lord John Grey in the Outlander series is one of these, though generally managing to keep his words to himself. Claire Fraser has her own moments of Gentlewoman Snarkerishness.
- The Wizard Howl from Howl's Moving Castle.
- Bilbo Baggins has a few Gentleman Snarks in The Hobbit.
- Artemis from Artemis Fowl is a prominent example. "Shall I walk? Or will you beam me up?" Classic.
Artemis: [to Blunt] If you were me, then I'd be you, and if I were you, then I'd hide somewhere far away.
- Sir John Babcock in Robert Anton Wilson's Historical Illuminatus Chronicles explains at one point to his Italian wife that the British young gentlemen's schools beat out all overt aggression from the boys, so that when grown up they'll make passive-aggressive insults masked as compliments instead of duelling to death like the Italian noblemen do. The main protagonist, Sigismundo Celine manages to be an excellent snarker himself, despite of his Neapolitan upbringing.
- Jem Carstairs from the The Infernal Devices.
- Compared to the thuggish characters that populate his world, Philip Marlowe has a lot of tact and wit to his snarks.
- Felix Harrowgate, of Doctrine of Labyrinths, is notorious in the court for his nasty barbs— in fact, sarcasm is his default manner of speech, which interferes with his serious relationships.
- Charles Hythloday from Paul Murray's novel "An Evening of Long Goodbyes".
- Psmith. A rather weirder example than most, but still deadly.
- Philo Vance, the hero of S.S. Van Dine's detective stories, is a brilliant polymath who habitually acts like an indolent fop. He has been described as a polymathic Psmith.
- Vorkosigan Saga:
- Byerly Vorrutyer from A Civil Campaign. He's Vor-class, "is notoriously without visible means of support", makes sarcastic quips at everyone else's expense, and is very interested in what his newly male cousin looks like without clothes. Subverted in that he's actually a high ranking civilian Imp Sec agent, though he doesn't fit Rich Idiot with No Day Job exactly because his bratty and decadent personality is more than a pose.
- Ivan Vorpatril is another example of this trope, though he tends to act like an Upper-Class Twit to the degree that it was years before his cousin Miles Vorkosigan realized his first name wasn't "That Idiot."
- Lord Peter Wimsey keeps up a running stream of babble that makes the uneducated believe him to be an Upper-Class Twit, but which references disparate subjects from the classical canon to campanology.
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Willy Wonka has a gift for elegant snarking, with put-downs that whiz right over his targets' heads at times. When Veruca Salt asks him "Who wants a beard, for heaven's sake?" when he's explaining the purpose of Hair Toffee, he replies "It would suit you very well, but unfortunately the mixture is not quite right yet." (Though he is much more direct when arguing with her mother at one point: "My dear old fish, go and boil your head!") The 1971 film and 2013 stage takes on the character follow suit. (The Wonka of the 2005 film has No Social Skills and is more awkward and childish in his snarking.)
- This is particularly common in A Song of Ice and Fire: most of the Lannisters are good at producing zingers, but Lady Olenna Tyrell makes it into an art form.
- Midshipman Alexis Carew is a daughter of landed gentry who produces many zingers. Her first night aboard Merlin, an older midshipman, Roland, makes a "gay sailor" Double Entendre about Alexis' bunkmate Philip Easley, wondering if she took the top bunk or the bottom bunk.
- Roland: Likely the top. Given young Easely, after all. Can't imagine him on top! ... Though I'm a topman, myself, and always will be!
Alexis: I'm quite sure that Mister Easely would acquit himself with distinction, no matter the position.
Roland: Mayhap. But you'll never find me on the bottom, I assure you.
Alexis: I'm sorry to hear your repertoire is so limited, sir. Perhaps with more experience, you'll achieve some versatility. (everybody else bursts out laughing)
- Lady Lucy Fitzmartin from The Pearl and the Carnelian.
- Simon Tam is the stand-out example of the show.
Simon: "I'm sorry, Dad. I would never have tried to save River's life if I had known there was a dinner party at risk."
- In "Safe", Simon feels his father is too worried about the family's social status and not worried enough about River's well-being.
Simon: "I can't keep track of her when she's not incorporeally possessing a spaceship, don't look at me."Simon: "Well, my sister's a ship. We had a complicated childhood."
- In "Objects in Space", he's held hostage by Jubal Early who's trying to capture River for the bounty on her head. Even though he knows Simon is biding his time and waiting for a chance to try and turn the tables on him, Jubal is still astonished by Simon's laid back attitude to being held at gun point while a mentally unhinged bounty hunter takes over the ship. ("Doesn't anybody care that I'm holding a gun to this boy's head?!")
- In "Shindig", much of the episode occurs during a high society party where wit and snark abound.
Distinguished Old Man: Why, Banning Miller! What a vision you are in your fine dress. It must have taken a dozen slaves a dozen days just to get you into that getup. 'Course, your daddy tells me it takes the space of a schoolboy's wink to get you out of it again.
- A distinguished old man comes to Kaylee's aid when she is being mocked by an Alpha Bitch for the store-bought dress that she wore:
Sir Warrick Harrow: Now, you're going to have to rely on your winning personality to get women. God help you.
- His Lordship Sir Warrick Harrow has great fun bringing his hated peer, Atherton, down a peg or two:
- Simon Tam is the stand-out example of the show.
- Frasier and Niles Crane are the masters of this trope. In fact, the more viciously snarky they are, the politer and more refined their language becomes. And since most of their remarks are aimed at each other, the show has some amazing Snark-to-Snark Combat
- Higgins often did this to Magnum in Magnum, P.I.. He can't do it as well as some.
- Clayton Webb is often a sarcastic gentleman.
- The Sudanese peopleís poet Professor Dobotu in the fourth season episode "Embassy" who is a Gandhi-like pacifist.
- Mr Feeny in Boy Meets World.
- Bernard Thatch of the White House Visitor's Office in The West Wing:
Bernard: [The painting] was on loan from the Musee d'Orsay to the National Gallery. The President, on a visit to the gallery, and possessing even less taste in fine art than you have in accessories, announced that he liked the painting. The French government offered it as a gift to the White House. I suppose in retribution for EuroDisney. So here it hangs, like a gym sock on a shower rod.
C.J.: You're a snob.
- Babylon 5:
- Mr. Morden is something of a villainous version of this.
- Mr. Bester is an even better example.
Bester: So, you think of me as something bright and colorful, filled with candy and toys for small children? Thank you, Mr. Garibaldi. That makes me feel so much better about our relationship.
- After Mr. Garibaldi states he'd like to "Play pinata" with him:
- Major Charles Emerson Winchester III of M*A*S*H. A distinguished member of the American Proud Elite who has sarcasm for everybody.
- Robert Gilliaume in Soap and Benson.
- Ianto Jones from Torchwood develops into something of this in later series.
- In the Horatio Hornblower mini-series, his Lordship Major Edrington is a Gentleman Snarker par excellence, which contributes greatly to his fan popularity. He's always cool and he always utters snide remarks while smirking. He also makes sure everybody knows he's better than them, yet he remains a perfect British aristocrat and gentleman.
Edrington: [watching Horatio try in vain to get on a horse] I can see why you chose the Navy.
- Jeeves from Jeeves and Wooster. Doubles as a Servile Snarker. Of course, he's played by Stephen Fry, who could himself be considered a Gentleman Snarker ...
- Servile Snarker Niles from The Nanny certainly qualifies as this.
- Ben Stone, of Law & Order, is very much a WASP. God help you if he calls you "sir".
- Mycroft Holmes of Sherlock. His brother Sherlock is more the Tall, Dark, and Snarky type.
- The eponymous Inspector Lynley.
- O'Hara from Nurse Jackie is a female example.
- Harold Finch of Person of Interest.
- Raylan Givens in Justified. Boyd Crowder is no slouch either.
- Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl. He does have a job, but keep in mind that he's an eighteen-year-old hotelier who spends more time drinking, having sex, and playing mind games with everyone he knows. His excuse? "I'm Chuck Bass." He's also not the eternal bachelor, but if he can't have Blair he seems determined to have every prostitute and easy girl in New York instead.
- Dick Stuart-Clark from Doctor in the House and its sequels comes from old money (as his double-barrelled surname hints), with his medical studies funded on a per year basis by a wealthy relative's will (he coasts along doing as little work as possible so that "per year" lasts as many years as possible). He would much rather spend his time drinking and pursuing women than practising medicine. He is intelligent and savvy, but is far more likely to use that to engage in scams and schemes than in doing well at his job.
- Tommy Lascelles of The Crown.
- The iconic cleric of Dungeons & Dragons 3.5, Jozan, has this trope down to a fine art. He doesn't preach or sermonize at people whose behavior he disapproves of so much as he snarks at them. At one point he Stealth Insults an entire town so well that they actually have to collectively pause to decide whether he was cheering them on or rebuking them.
- Anna and Claire of Boston Marriage are female examples, and written by David Mamet no less.
- Cyrano de Bergerac's wit is as sharp as his rapier, which is saying something.
- In The Moon Is Blue, the Idle Rich David Slater talks like this, though he freely admits that much of his behavior is not worthy of a gentleman.
- John Dickinson of 1776. He's a refined, well-dressed landowner who wins a snark-off with Benjamin Franklin thusly:
Franklin: But to call me [an Englishman] without those rights is like calling an ox a bull—he's thankful for the honor, but he'd much rather have restored what's rightfully his.
Dickinson: When did you first notice they were missing, sir?
- The Mrs Hawking play series: Clara Hawking, though she is a lady, and Justin Hawking as well. Their scenes together are a complete battle of well-bred wits. Nathaniel also becomes more so as the stories go on.
- King's Quest's Prince Alexander is usually more The Comically Serious towards the absurd situations he ends up in than anything, but every so often he shows a very dry, subtly snarky sense of humor delivered with the same quiet poise he says everything else. This is especially true in The Kings Quest Companion, where it gets combined with Sophisticated as Hell and Expospeak Gag.
- Marvel: Avengers Alliance has Doctor Strange, who is also often The Comically Serious with a healthy dose of Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness, but occasionally holds his own against even Tony Stark and the other snarkers that abound.
Ghost Rider: You're like a demonic employment agency. Anyone who fights you gets a job with some lesser lord of Hell.Dr. Strange: Joke if you must, O man named Johnny Blaze with a flaming skull head.Ghost Rider: You making fun of—?Iron Man: Pointing out irony. Not the same as making fun. But Strange, snark is my department. From you, we need a briefing.Dr. Strange: There are demons on the doorstep. Mephisto stirs. The threat of Dormammu lingers. Anything else?
- BlazBlue's Rachel Alucard is a rare female example, and quite funny one at that.
- Tales of Destiny 2: While Leon was a bit too hot-headed for this, by the second game, Judas has matured into this trope.
- Star Wars: The Old Republic: Tharan Cedrax certainly seems to see himself his way, tossing off dryly sarcastic commentary about the situations he finds himself in while tagging along with the Jedi Consular. One of the best way to gain affection with Dr. Cedrax is to engage in sarcasm yourself, often by pointing out just how stupidly some Drunk on the Dark Side Sith or Imperial is behaving.
- Red vs. Blue has Delta, an AI which is supposed to be the pure embodiment of logic, and who typically has a very blandly friendly and overly formal and polite personality. He's also the Bond Creature to a very, very snarky soldier. The end result personality mix is rather entertaining, especially when the two Vitriolic Best Buds are snarking at each other.
- Eli from Lapse is genuine one, considering from what time period he's from.
- Walter "Doc" Hartford from Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers definitely came from money, judging from his extensive education (including charm school) and mannerisms. And while the other three Rangers indulge in sarcasm from time to time, Doc can probably license his as a deadly weapon.
- Defenders of the Earth: Mandrake is evidently one of the wealthiest inhabitants of Central City, though how he came by his wealth is never revealed. What is clear, however, is that on more than one occasion throughout the series, he is heard to make the kind of wry, occasionally sarcastic, comments associated with snarkers.
- Whilst being a Jedi precludes being an actual gentleman, Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: The Clone Wars has the gentlemanly demeanour and reserved attitude of the trope - as well as making some truly cutting putdowns and snarkery in the most polite way possible. Not for nothing does a compilation of his best lines (https://youtu.be/H2sjvbtk1kw ) label him 'the Master Of Trolling', yet not once in the whole video is he outright rude.
- Field Marshal Mannerheim. He could intimidate Hitler himself, possibly partly because of his Death Glare.
- Oscar Wilde is almost entirely known for his sharp witticisms. Ironically, he is often claimed to have said "sarcasm is the lowest form of humor". If he had ever said that (he didn't), he would almost certainly have been saying it sarcastically. Here is one of his quotes:
"A true gentleman is one who is never unintentionally rude."
- Several American Presidents, especially Abraham Lincoln. An excellent example: Lincoln thought that his General McClellan was reluctant to engage the enemy, and once sent him a note asking that, if McClellan wasn't using the army, perhaps Lincoln could borrow it for a couple of months?
- Tomás Rivera Schatz, President of the Senate of Puerto Rico, once said of another senator: "She reminds me of Mary Magdalene."
- The boisterous British House of Commons, which Robin Williams once called "[The US] Congress with a two-drink minimum", has featured many gentleman snarkersnote in the past (some mentioned above) and more than a few today. Just watch the live feed for a while when they are discussing a contentious issue and there are sure to be at least a couple of them on opposite sides having at each other.
- As well as often playing this sort of character, George Sanders was born into the Russian gentry, and was technically a real-life example too.