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Nice to the Waiter

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"If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals."

In fiction, you can usually tell the good guys from the bad guys by the way they treat the working class.

Heroic people will treat service staff nicely. Whether they're Spoiled Sweet, a Benevolent Boss or just a super Nice Guy, heroic characters will Pet the Dog by being polite, generous and personable with doormen, waiters, secretaries and so forth. They might remember people's names, exchange pleasantries, tip well, or just generally treat them as human beings worthy of dignity and respect. Even a grouchy Jerk with a Heart of Gold who snaps at all of his social equals can reveal his Hidden Depths by showing kindness and consideration to those below him.


On the flip side, villains can Kick the Dog by abusing their inferiors. Whether they're an Evil Artistocrat, Corrupt Corporate Executive, Mean Boss or garden-variety asshole, they'll treat servants and service staff with callous disregard, if not open contempt. A good way to expose a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing is to show how they treat the staff when no one who matters is around.

The trope can get more complicated when an Affably Evil Villain with Good Publicity carefully cultivates this image, showing superficial kindness to the common man to achieve their own selfish ends. A real hero will expect nothing from their kindness.

The response of the servants can vary widely. Some might feel Undying Loyalty simply for a generous tip, while others might be unimpressed by serving a superheroic boss. Those who foolishly antagonize food staff might get some Laser-Guided Karma causing them to ask, "I Ate WHAT?!" when The Dog Bites Back.


A Mean Boss is a specific version to this trope where the character abuses direct employees. The Obnoxious Entitled Housewife is also defined in part by her needless cruelty towards service workers. See Sympathetic Slave Owner for an even more exaggerated version of someone who is unexpectedly kind to his social inferiors as a telling character trait. Contrast with the Professional Butt-Kisser, who shows kindness to his superiors in hopes of reward. Also contrast Haughty Help, for when the waiter isn't nice to you. Someone who is not nice to the waiter may perform a Bratty Food Demand. See also Interclass Friendship.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • In a nice pay off, the Conductor (actually Claire Stanfield) in Baccano! saves Miria and Isaac because they were good customers on board his train..
  • Kaibara from Oishinbo needs to learn this.
  • Sanji from One Piece effectively demonstrates to Lieutenant Fullbody exactly why one should be polite to waiters.
  • Black Butler's Ciel Phantomhive treats his house staff well, despite the fact the majority of them appear to be useless (at least at first). Alois from the anime's second season however... couldn't be further from this trope.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Seto Kaiba is an interesting variant in that he treats the people who work at his company with cold, polite professionalism. By his standards, this is being downright civil, as he's a complete and total Jerkass to everyone else except his little brother Mokuba. (Though it is only true in the Japanese dub. In the English dub, he's just as rude to them as he is to everyone else.)
  • In Nana, when Sachiko learns that Shouji's girlfriend Nana (nicknamed Hachi) is at the restaurant they both work at, she drops the plate she was carrying. Hachi, who wasn't even at the table Sachiko was serving, gives her a handkerchief since she cut herself. Sachiko is heartbroken because Shouji is cheating on Hachi with her and nearly breaks up with him because of how guilty she feels. Instead, Shouji breaks up with Hachi.
  • One chapter of the Ouran High School Host Club manga has Tamaki scandalized when he sees a patron of a restaurant demand that a waiter be fired for dropping food on her. He is about to complain when his father stops him, telling him it's not his place. Being the kind of guy he is, though, Tamaki's father personally sees to it later that the waiter doesn't lose his job.
  • Code Geass has Sayoko Shinozaki, who was Milly Ashford's maid until Lelouch and Nunnally entered the picture, at which point she was assigned to help take care of the blind, paraplegic Nunnally. Everybody treats Sayoko very nicely, especially Nunnally, and thus she's very loyal to them even though she ends up helping Zero and La Résistance (though she does try to protect the kids when all hell breaks loose in the season finale). In the second season, when Zero unmasks for Sayoko and reveals himself as Lelouch, her reaction is brief surprise followed by a satisfied smile, and after that she becomes his personal Battle Butler.
  • Both Kail and Yuri from Red River (1995). On one hand, Kail handpicks servants who prove themselves to be loyal, and more or less considers them his closest friends. On the other, Yuri views her maids as her best friends and trusts them with everything; in fact, while on a visit to Egypt, the other maids are shocked that she doesn't demand one of them be whipped or starved for spilling water on her dress.
  • In Girls und Panzer, both Miho and Maho Nishizumi are friendly and courteous to the Nishizumi family maids. They are in turn more than willing to talk with Miho about her troubles. When Miho and her friends are troubled over Maho suddenly acting quite aloof and cold after their mother's return, Kikuyo begs them not to blame Maho, saying that Maho is burdened with many things as Nishizumi heiress, indicating a considerable amount of personal respect and sympathy for Maho, as well as possibly knowing that Maho strives to be a good heiress so that Miho can live the way she wishes.
  • In Bokurano, the second pilot reminisces how his father would routinely harass waiters and send the food back for imaginary faults just to see them squirm. The kid actually considers this manner of power play admirable and wants to emulate it. Tellingly, the kid is a utter sociopath who delights in the death and destruction caused by him taking the fight to a heavily populated area, since the destruction will mean more business for his father's construction company. He does not take it well when he ends up crushing his father underfoot.
  • In Pumpkin Scissors, Alice is kind to the working class and common man despite being born into high nobility. When one of her peers threatens to fire a chef for using cheap nuts in his dish due to shortages, Alice steps in and offers to hire the poor chef.
  • While Kaguya from Kaguya-sama: Love Is War can occasionally be needy and ungrateful, she values her bond with her maid Hayasaka above all others (even her relationship with Shirogane) and views her as a sister in all but name.
  • Greed's philosophy in Fullmetal Alchemist is that he should always treat those who work for him with extreme kindness and respect. Since he's, well, Greed, he wants everyone to want to work for him, and he reasons that the smartest way to accomplish this is to make the working conditions great - if his subordinates think well of him, they'll tell other people how good they have it so they want to get in on the action.
  • Katarina from My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! treats everyone as her equal regardless of their social status, in part because her Past-Life Memories as a Japanese schoolgirl means that she doesn't really consider herself to be nobility. There are even several side chapters devoted to how she ended up improving the lives of members of her household's staff just by being a good person. Her late grandfather was also stated to have been this way.
  • In the anime/manga version of The Heroic Legend of Arslan, this is one of Arslan's defining traits. He is kind, friendly and polite to everyone around him, whether it's another prince from a foreign country or when interacting with the lowest soldier. This attitude takes many people back when they first meet Arslan and some people don't believe he is a prince at first.

    Comic Books 
  • In the first issue of Aquaman in the New 52 series, Aquaman stops by a seafood restaurant to have a meal and is attended by a waitress who apologizes to him after rambling for a second about her hectic life, including putting her two kids through college, though mainly she apologizes for looking a bit ragged instead of presentable for a customer. Of course, this being Aquaman ordering a meal at a seafood restaurant, he attracts a lot of attention from other customers, who bug him about several things. Eventually he gets annoyed and leaves without eating his meal, giving the waitress two golden doubloons rather than actual money. When she asks what she's supposed to do with those, his reply is a casual, "Put your kids through college." The first issue of his Rebirth comic has him stopping by the same restaurant to eat and is tended to by the same waitress, their dialogue showcasing how well they get along.
  • Batman Bruce Wayne is usually depicted as treating Wayne Enterprises employees fairly and acting as a kind, if absent-minded boss, as well as spearheading a great deal of charity work out of a genuine interest in the welfare of Gotham City. Being raised by his butler likely influenced him in this manner.
    • This is especially obvious in one issue towards the end of the Murderer/Fugitive arc which covers Bruce reintegrating himself with his day-to-day life after an extended period away. He knows the names of every employee (even the mail boy who he reminds about Wayne Enterprises college programs) and every employee treats him as a genuinely well-liked, if eccentric and slightly dim, employer.
    • Most of the Bat Family are also like this, except for Damian, towards Alfred. Everyone tends to treat him like a friend doing them a favor whereas Damian keeps their relationship to master and servant, calling him Pennyworth and giving orders rather than making requests. He's not mean (well, he kind of was to start with, but he's mellowed since then), he's just not got much in the way of social skills and keeps the relationship professional. A key point in Damian's relationship actually has him saying "thank you" to Alfred. He eventually does start being nice to Alfred, although he's playful enough for some teasing, like using Alfred's head to jump off.
  • Lex Luthor is a complicated example: he goes out of his way to be a friendly, personable boss to the help; in Lex Luthor: Man of Steel, he's polite to everyone from his janitor to the guy who owns the newsstand near his building to Alfred Pennyworth when he meets Bruce Wayne. Of course, this doesn't stop him from being a complete bastard in other respects. Lex appreciates honest, hard work, since he himself comes from a working-class background, and as much of a villain as he is, he's not lying when he says that he has the ultimate well-being of humanity in mind. HE should be the one in charge, but as long as he has that, he does try to give those under him better lives. Lex has a good understanding of how economics work, so he knows that his financial empire is supported by average joes working blue-collar jobs.
  • Harley Quinn: The post New 52 version of Harley tends to be remarkably nice towards the service people she meets, as long as they treat her with respect (a trait shared by her DC Extended Universe incarnation). Anyone who insults, threatens, or tries to talk advantage of her, however...


  • All The Avengers have great respect for their butler Jarvis (another Stark employee, by the way), naming him an honorary Avenger. We most often see this with Captain America.
    • Another Cap example: there is a story told bit by bit to some accountants trying to tally up the damages after a superhero fight by the various Avengers involved in said fight. Some Avengers are rude, some of them annoyed, some cavalier, Thor just hands over a bag of gold, and Cap… Cap hands over filled-out paperwork for the ticketed Quinjet (including the badge number of the officer who wrote the ticket) and the voucher for removing property from a prison. The accountants love him.
    • Another Cap one, from the beginning of the Civil War arc: Cap breaks out of SHIELD's helicarrier by commandeering a jet fighter (including pilot) through the simple expedient of clinging on to the cockpit. Being Cap, he orders the pilot to set down in a not-in-use football stadium and takes them out for a burger, after admonishing one for taking the Lord's name in vain.
  • In Marvel's New York City, restaurant and hotel owners and staff know that Hercules is a loud, demanding, and at times, overly flamboyant customer, but they don't care; he's also a huge tipper.
  • Iron Man:
    • Tony Stark has usually been written as a near-perfect boss who inspires tremendous personal loyalty. When Obadiah Stane stole Stark's company out from under him, most of his employees lined up and quit. (Stark had once used a similar threat to thwart Nick Fury's hostile takeover.) This one goes back and forth Depending on the Writer, the era, and whether Tony is in one of his periodic Jerkass phases.
    • When Tony blows his top and yells at an employee, he usually has a very good reason. Tony once regretted berating the head of his legal department and resolved to apologize, but that was because the guy was doing such a crappy job as the head of Stark Enterprises' legal team. He was fired a couple of issues later after Tony became fed up with his incompetence.
    • In The Movie, he's an honestly thickheaded doofus of a boss. But if Pepper is any example, he at least knows the value of a good employee; she does practically everything for him, so he lets her write her own bonus checks!
  • Played straight in The Punisher. Frank doesn't cook so he always eats out, and it's easier to maintain a balanced diet if he orders from a menu. However, when he is shown eating out he is always very low-key and tips precisely 15%. Being a high or a low tipper would call attention to himself and make him someone people remember, and his crime fighting activities demand a low profile.


  • Diabolik provides a number of examples:
    • The title character may be a murderous thief, but as long as he's not furious or disguised as a Jerkass he's unfailingly polite and respectful to everyone (even if sometimes a bit forceful on people who work for one of his identities), especially his victims (he even complimented the courage of an old woman he had kidnapped to steal her jewels when she openly challenged him to torture her to get the combination to the safe, and didn't harm her in the slightest). This actually bit him back in the ass at least once: he was disguised as a Grumpy Old Man but didn't know the man he replaced was a jerk, so he was recognized by some children because he wasn't rude enough;
    • Eva is genuinely nice with everyone, as long as she's not disguised as a jerkass or you didn't gain her wrath (if that happens, just kill yourself). It helps her mother was working class herself and she had to work for a living for a long time;
    • Ginko being Ginko, he's genuinely nice and respectful with his subordinates and people in general, but also knows the advantages of acting like that (on one occasion a mob boss managed to get him pissed, and Ginko first shoved him in his own pool and then told him to spare himself from pressing charges, as he had twenty cops who would swear he was somewhere else). His subordinates would do anything for him, including breaking the law (when they're all By-the-Book Cops), killing, and dying;
    • Altea may be a member of the obnoxious nobility of Benglait and a member (by her first marriage) of the much hated royal family of Benglait, but she was always nice to everyone, even working as a volunteer nurse during a terrorism crisis and risking her own life to save her butler (actually Diabolik in disguise to steal some of her jewels) when the revolution erupted and a mob tried to lynch her (when she found it was Diabolik, she offered him the jewels he planned to steal as a thank you for saving her. He refused, but she still covered his tracks). That's why, after the violence of the revolution calmed down, she can now return home when she wants and is literally worshipped by the people;
    • King was unfailingly polite to his subordinates... But only if they lived up to his expectations of them being the best criminals in the world in their chosen field, or at least did a serious effort. But if they failed... Well, at least he gave them a quick death. He was Diabolik's father figure.
    • Late kingpin of crime in Clerville Natasha Morgan was polite and nice to her men, if a bit forceful and with no exhitation in putting them in danger. This pays off when, after she retires, her bodyguards die to give her a chance to escape King's men (who, being King's men, kill the last one and kidnap her before she can escape);
    • One-shot characters can be easily recognized as jerks when they aren't nice to subordinates and inferiors. This applies to criminals too, and those criminals who are nice have a better survival rate (that is, Diabolik won't go out of his way to kill them, so they have a small chance of surviving).
  • In #26 of My Little Pony: Friends Forever, Prince Blueblood is shown to follow this kind of thinking, with his diplomatic arsenal including tricks like "befriend the little people around the guy you want to impress, so you'll look good and they'll say good things about you when you're not around." This goes contrary to his fandom perception, which is that of an entitled jerk. Of course, whether he's nice to waiters because he's genuinely nice or just because he wants to look good... is a matter of speculation.
  • Richie Rich and his parents are the world's richest people and are nice to the people working for them.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Beetle Bailey, Sarge is such a loyal customer at Mama Rosa's Pizza that Rosa gives him personalized discounts.
  • In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin always gives a rather flattering compliment to his barber no matter how much he dislikes his haircut. ("Never argue with a guy holding a razor," he says.)
  • In FoxTrot, this is where most of the characters are complete and absolute dicks.
    • Roger has no concept of an appropriate tip, instead tipping the paperboy with a Shiny New Nickel and then wondering why the paper always ends up on the roof or in the rosebushes. (This is sort of a Running Gag for him.)
    • Peter is worse. In one strip, he makes a complex order for a coffee (basically stating one cappuccino without any ingredients), and then pays $5.00 and tells the clerk to keep the change (the amount was $4.97). Peter admits to Jason that he was being annoying, explaining that this was the reason he tipped him. Cue the three pennies being thrown towards Peter's head offscreen.
    • Peter is actually extra mean to his "best friend" Steve when he eats at the pizza place. In one strip, he asks for a pizza that's 499/1000ths pepperoni and 501/1000ths mushroom, and when Steve - who's already busy - brings him a pizza that's exactly half, demands it fixed. (When Jason says Steve is going to spit on it, Pete says, "Steve? No Way! We're buddies!")
    • Jason should talk. He once ordered pizza and requested one with 17/31th cheese, 109/327th sausage, and 86499328/259497984th mushroom. (Roger, who had to pick it up, was given his change all in pennies, and it is implied he will never let Jason order it again.)
    • On the other hand, Paige is such a loyal customer for the ice cream man, he comes when she rings a bell.
  • As seen here, the protagonist of Hägar the Horrible is known as "Hagar the Horrible Tipper" in a restaurant where even Attila the Hun is a regular.
  • Many of the characters in Retail are like this since, being retail workers themselves, they know what it's like to deal with horrific customers. During the series of strips where Marla is on her honeymoon in Cancun, she enters a gift shop and encounters a customer berating the couple behind the counter. She immediately puts the jerk in her place, because she can, and the woman leaves.
    Worker: With pent-up anger like that, you must be a retail worker.
    Marla: [fistbumps him] Solidarity, brother.

    Fan Works 
  • What Hath Joined Together depicts a blend between the friendship-driven Equestria and a Fantastic Caste System which encourages this trope to social subordinates. Sympathetic characters like Flash Sentry or Princess Celestia exhibit it, with helping his butler with chores and forgiving a major social faux pas respectively, while antagonistic characters like Captain Ironhoof do the opposite.
  • It's a recurring theme in Shadow and Rose that Elissa, the Grey Warden, is unfailingly polite to everyone the group meets. Flemeth refers to her as "the young lady Warden with the polite tongue in her head." As Alistair notes when talking to Zevran, "it's probably saved our lives more than once." Eventually he learns that this is literally true; Morrigan reveals near the end of the story that it's the only reason Flemeth ever gave for saving Elissa from the burning Tower of Ishal back in Ostagar. She rescued Alistair because he would be needed for the dark ritual, but allegedly, she rescued Elissa purely because the young woman had been polite and respectful to her on their first meeting.
  • Naruto in Sekirei? Is that some new species of little sister? apparently tips well enough that the bellhops at his hotel have a waiting line to be able to deliver room service to him and his wife. One bellhop even notes that her tip was more than she makes in a month.
    • Funny enough, this is part of why the bellhops become convinced he's running a sex slave ring: he's clearly buying them off so they won't tell the police.
  • Flannel Man aka Xander's shtick in Colors and Capes is to look out for the little guy. As he told Lois Lane, a waitress having a hundred dollars stolen from her might mean she can't make rent or put food on the table, whereas losing twenty million dollars would only irritate Oliver Queen. As such, he mostly sticks to muggings.
  • Harry Potter in For Love of Magic might be wildly different from canon, but he's still unfailingly polite to his House Elves and at one point uses one as a Secret Test of Character when Narcissa comes to beg his help.
    • The Malfoys not following this rule comes back to bite them later. In a rage over his father being killed in a duel, Draco beats their House Elf to death, which Narcissa merely views as unfortunate - since neither of them has any skill at housework. Even when Narcissa secures Harry's support, he refuses to allow them to buy a new House Elf as he won't knowingly put one through such a situation.
  • As in the above, Harry Potter/Thorson is always considerate of House Elves and servants in Child of the Storm, implied to be partially because of his own abuse at the hands of the Dursleys and partially because he's just that kind of a person.
    • Loki also invokes this trope, sponsoring taxi drivers, cleaners, and the homeless as atonement for his crimes during his Evil Overlord phase and because he now understands that With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility. Of course, being Loki, his generosity has a second layer to it: those groups serve as a spy network for him, as they're invisible, get everywhere, hear everything, are often closely connected, and few people pay attention to them.
  • Viktor accidentally insulted a fan's dream of skating the same ice as him when he asked for an autograph in Rivals Series which resulted in Yuuri's decade long hatred of him and resulted in a fierce rivalry. Since Yuuri was also the love of his life, it tripled the resulting angst from this situation.
    • Yuuri, despite his cold demeanor, makes a point to be nice to his fans part of compassion and partly fearing making his own enemies.
  • For purely practical reasons, Voldemort in Princess of the Blacks is unfailingly polite to his house elf, simply because it makes things easier on him if the elf likes him.
  • In Spellbound, when Professor McGonagall discovers that the Grangers have died in a car accident and Hermione has been taken in by her previously-unknown biological father Tony Stark, McGonagall soon concludes that Tony is a good man because he has been friendly to the Weasleys despite the obvious social gap of his wealth compared to their poverty.
  • In Harry Potter and the Ice Princess, it is frequently noted that Elsa has been taught that being a kind ruler is better than ruling through fear, as fear only lasts until someone stronger comes along where kindness can inspire greater loyalty.
  • In A Thing of Vikings, during Berk's first visit to King Magnus of Norway, Magnus notes to Hiccup that he ruled out the possibility of a marriage between Snotlout and Magnus's sister Wulfhild as a means of formalising their alliance because of Snotlout's poor treatment of Magnus's servants.
  • In Lost in Camelot, Bo and Kenzi swiftly note that Arthur and Morgana show actual consideration for Gwen and Merlin respectively where most of the nobles barely seem to acknowledge the servants beyond calling someone over to pour another drink.
  • In the Adam Winters series, while Dumbledore is suspicious of the similarities in the history of Adam Winters and Tom Riddle, McGonagall swiftly determines that Adam is a good person based on the way he treated her when he was living on the streets and met her in the form of a cat.
  • In A Gem, a Human, and a Baby, Pearl notices that Greg has always been nice to her, even after Steven was born. However, she also notices that he doesn't see her as "a Pearl" - she's his friend.
  • The Tyrant and the Hero has Black Alice, who is on a First-Name Basis with her servants and even helps them out with their duties.
  • In the Twice Upon an Age series, the main reason that Sera decides that Inquisition newcomer Bethany Hawke is all right is because she's "friendly to the girls who did the laundry," and Sera believes deeply in this trope.
  • Guardians, Wizards, and Kung-Fu Fighters: In his first scene, Charles Ludmoore treats Blunk very kindly, even asking after his mother. According to Blunk, Ludmoore is very fair to every Passling he works with.
  • Bakugou ignores this to his peril in The Vigilante Boss and His Failed Retirement Plan. Bakugou unthinkingly badmouths the Support students who make his costume and equipment, which is witnessed by Futaba. So when Futaba goes back to her Department and tells them what Bakugou said about them, they retaliate by giving him their worst service. They make sure that any of Bakugou's requests that is not an emergency is set to their lowest priority and give him the bare minimum of service. Unfortunately Bakugou is so egocentric that he doesn't realize that the Support Department hates him until its pointed out.
  • In The Apprentice, the Student, and the Charlatan, it's one of Nova Shine's more notable character traits. His Establishing Character Moment is buying a homeless pony an apartment out of his own pocket, and later on, Cadance brings up several incidents similar to this, such as buying clothes for a pony he found wearing rags, purchasing food for a homeless shelter, and other things. When asked why, Nova responds, somewhat embarrassed, that he has a soft spot for homeless ponies.
  • Maria Campbell of the Astral Clocktower:
    • Katarina Claes is the daughter of a duke and engaged to the prince who is expected to inherit the kingdom, so she's basically one of the most important people in the kingdom. Whenever she goes to visit the palace, she greets all the servants and guards by name, asking after their children and remembering important events. She's normally an Idiot Hero, but that's just because she doesn't consider schoolwork and her own romance important. She never fails to pay attention to the people around her.
    • Maria herself is quite kind to servants, even if she tends to be a bit too stiff and formal. She takes special effort to learn all the names of her own servants and provide for them whatever they need, and at one point one of them breaks down crying because she's just too generous to them.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Breadwinner: Razaq starts out a bit stern and snippy with Parvana disguised as Aartesh, but the news of his wife's death softens him up considerably and he slides into this. It becomes the basis of their Intergenerational Friendship.
  • Cinderella: The Grand Duke is about to depart when Cinderella, having broken free from being locked inside the tower, asks to try on the glass slipper. Lady Tremaine tries to dismiss her as "just an imaginative child", but the normally beleaguered Duke firmly responds, "My orders are every maiden." He then graciously invites Cinderella to sit on a chair and try the slipper. And when Lady Tremaine destroys the slipper, making him panic, Cinderella repays his appreciation by showing the second slipper to him. When you actually think about it, the Duke's probably the only human being who has sincerely stood up for Cinderella since she was a child.
  • Frozen: Prince Hans is quite nice to Anna when she bumps into him early in the film, despite not knowing she's a Princess of the kingdom he's visiting. When he looks after Arendelle in her absence, he's seen showing a great deal of concern for the common people, distributing warm cloaks and urging them to go into the palace for hot soup. Too bad he's the villain, and it's just an act to get into the people of Arendelle's good graces.
  • In the first The Incredibles movie, Mr. Incredible is nice to the bot in charge of his ship that flies him to Nomanisan. It offers him some mimosa, he accepts, and then he proceeds to graciously thank the bot in question. It's a smaller moment, but it's there.
  • In Incredibles 2, Evelynn Deavour is introduced saddling the servant with all of her packages and clothing and such, but not out of malice; she's just not terribly fond of interacting with people. However, she does turn out to be the Big Bad.
  • In The Princess and the Frog, the first sign that "Big Daddy" LeBouf is an Uncle Pennybags is the way he treats Tiana's mother (a black seamstress who works for him) with genuine respect. He encourages the lifelong friendship between Tiana and his daughter Charlotte, and he and Charlotte are shown being very friendly and respectful to restaurant servers and other service personnel (including Tiana, who is a waitress).
    • Unsurprisingly, "Big Daddy" and Charlotte are actually based off of what the Uptown folks were like in New Orleans. Historically speaking, a notable number of them loved the people in the French Quarters (which were slums at the time and not the tourist destination they would become, because of all this) because of how "useful" and hard-working they were. It also helped that they cooked extremely well, and many of these Uptowners would eat in their restaurants, not just because they were cheap, but because they served good French, Italian, and Creole food.
  • In Zootopia, one of the signs that idealistic performer Gazelle practices what she preaches is that she works alongside stereotypical predator animals like tigers, and doesn't replace them even as anti-carnivore hysteria reaches its height.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In All I Want for Christmas, both Ethan and Hallie are kind and polite to the servants in their mother's home. They also sometimes help out at their father's cafe, essentially being waiters themselves.
  • Patrick Bateman and all of his Yuppie friends in American Psycho are absolutely horrid to the waiters at the various expensive restaurants they go to, which just highlights how evil they are. However, Bateman (being a barely-human serial killer) is the only one who will make such casual threats as "Not if you want to keep your spleen" or "I want to stab you to death and play around with your blood."
  • The Borrowers (1997): Both Ocious Potter and Pete Lender are rushing to the demolitions office in City Hall to try and stop each other, but Mr. Potter got there first. However, he shouldn't have been rude to the secretary as she gives him accurate directions to the office... which involves going around the building like a maze. When Pete asks her nicely, she gives him much simpler instructions.
  • In The Cable Guy, the main character's estranged girlfriend goes on a date with a jerk played by Owen Wilson, who immediately kicks the dog by being a condescending asshole to the waiter. This makes his impending beatdown seem a bit deserved, thereby keeping the Cable Guy from reaching the depths of his villainy quite so early in the film.
    • This trope actually works against the main character. Being nice to the Cable Guy means he ends up having to deal with a crazy, lonely stalker throughout the movie.
  • Caddyshack II: Jack is introduced playing poker with his employees and deliberately losing because he doesn't want to take money from them. By contrast, the snobs at Bushwood have nothing but open contempt for their employees.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the heroes are appalled to find that the people of the island they land on are enslaved and some are being dumped there as sacrifices, and resolve to do something about it. At the end of the film, Caspian admits to being tempted to visit Aslan's country but refuses, on the grounds that he won't abandon his subjects.
  • In Clueless, Cher tells her family's maid, Lucy, that she doesn't speak "Mexican", angering the native Salvadorian into storming off. While seemingly a rude and disrespectful thing to say, in context it's made clear that Cher was guilty of simple ignorance and frustration with her own problems rather than any actual malice towards the maid. Throughout the movie she speaks with Lucy as an equal rather than a servant, and apologizes to her later after realizing her mistake. She also mentions having donated quite a number of old clothes to her, giving Lucy's daughter haute couture fashion on a maid's salary.
  • The Color of Friendship shows a racist Jerkass kicking a black waiter who spills food on him. Later, the film hammers home the wrongness of this behavior by contrasting it with a white American who shrugs off having a milkshake spilled on him by a black waiter and even asks for an order of said shake.
  • In Coming to America, Prince Akeem is extremely polite/respectful to those who serve him, as well as his co-workers at McDowell's, unlike Darryl Jenks, who essentially pushes them around.
  • Zigzagged in Crocodile Dundee. In New York, Mick asks his African-American limo driver what tribe he is from; among the bushmen he grew up with in Australia that would have been a friendly getting-to-know-you remark, but it comes across quite racist in America. Fortunately, not only is the guy not offended, he later helps stop a rather aggressive mugger who harasses Mick. They bond and laugh when he explains that he learned to fight from a gang in his youth, and Mick responds that he knew he was tribal. He also makes friends with the staff at the hotel, including a maid and the doorman, even learning their names and knowing the maid by voice.
  • In The Dark Knight Rises, Bane gives a courteous "thank you" to a Stock Exchange courier who held his helmet while Bane held up the GSE. He's generally nice and cheery to everyone, even when he's about to or is currently beating them to a pulp, or breaking their neck.
  • Don't Bother to Knock: Lyn is disillusioned with Jed in part because of the way he treats people, his rudeness to a hotel photographer being one example. He’s also short with Eddie in an elevator scene where Lyn isn’t with him. He undergoes Character Development on this and a few other fronts throughout the film.
  • Subverted in Downfall, where Adolf Hitler is shown to be kind and gracious to his assistants, while ranting about the evils of mercy and how the German people all deserve to die for failing him in his fight against the Jewish and Slavic peoples.
  • Played with in Ex Machina during a moment when Kyoko accidentally spills some wine while serving dinner. Averted with Nathan, who is horrible to her. This is a clue that he's not as friendly as he seems. By contrast, played straight with Caleb as he immediately tries to reassure her that he's not upset.
  • Subverted in A Few Good Men, where total bastard Colonel Jessup is shown taking time out of holding court at a lunch table (and preparing to humiliate the Navy lawyers who've come to investigate his base) to thank the waiter and tell him the meal was delicious.
  • In the original Friday the 13th (1980), Mr. Christy seems like a possible suspect (at least, he did until everybody knew the franchise's killer was a Voorhees) until he's seen being friendly and generous with the waitress at a diner, establishing that he's a nice enough guy that he's bound to be a victim instead.
  • From Beyond The Grave: In "An Act of Kindness", Christopher Lowe is always generous to the match seller outside the train station because he is a decorated ex-serviceman. Tellingly, his wife Mabel regards the man as nothing more than a beggar.
  • In the biopic Gandhi, as part of his philosophy regarding good will towards others, the titular pacifist helps his servant carry the tea set.
  • Subverted in Goodfellas. Many of the gangsters are very gregarious and generous to common people they encounter, often giving large tips - but this is only because this is a part of the glamorous lifestyle that they lead, not due to any actual compassion on their part. Tommy is willing to kill a waiter because he feels he is being disrespected, and Jimmy's only concern afterwards is the hassle of disposing of the body.
  • The Haunted Mansion:
    • Jim tries to be polite and familiar toward Ramsley the butler, who merely finds him annoying.
    • Ezra and Emma (the footman and cook) got along pretty well with Gracey's fiancee Elizabeth, which is especially emphasized in a deleted scene.
  • A prominent part of The Help is that the nice people who are worth knowing are the ones who treat their domestic servants well.
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug starts with a scene of Thorin stopping for a meal at an inn on a rainy day. Here's a dwarf who spends most of two movies ranging from grumpy to downright rude towards various people in power, who rarely smiles, and whose current trip investigating rumors of his father being in the area has been for naught. Yet when the waitress brings his meal, he offers a nice smile and a sincere "Thank you."
  • Howards End: The selfish, pragmatic and wealthy Henry announces that you should always tip your carver. However, he then immediately explains that he does so because it's a easy way to ensure good service.
  • James Bond films:
    • Dr. No: In his first scene, Bond tips both the dealer and the doorman at Le Cercle with one of his wads of cash winnings, a hint that he doesn't really care about the money, simply the thrill of play.
    • From Russia with Love has a porter in the hotel in Istanbul lightly coughing and asking Bond if he needs anything else, seemingly to remind him of the tip. Bond nonchalantly sticks what is apparently a rather large sum of money in the porter's pocket, saying, "No, only this." The porter is audibly grateful.
    • Throughout Casino Royale (2006), Bond is shown tipping porters, waiters, and drivers serving him. In one scene when Bond gets mistaken for a valet by a Jerkass guest who treats him rudely, he crashes his car,note  and after beating Le Chiffre, Bond gives one of his newly-won casino chips to the dealer (and considering how much they were playing for, that chip probably comes with several zeroes).
  • Used on several levels in Knives Out:
    • Harlan initially hired Marta as a part-time nurse but comes to view her as a friend and confidante. The scenes when he playfully teases her and sacrifices himself for her sake sets up a contrast with his strict behavior as the family patriarch.
    • Blanc is also this as he treats Marta with genuine respect and forms a friendly bond with her.
    • Most of the Thrombeys act nice to Marta and other servants but in a rather condescending manner. They claim Marta is a part of their family but none of them bothered to ask what country Marta's family is from. At one point, Richard calls Marta over to use her as a prop for the casually racist argument he was making. And once it's revealed that Marta is the sole inheritor of Harlan's fortune, they quickly and viciously turn on her.
    • Meg is an ambiguous and complex case. She does appear to view Marta and Fran as friends and is seen enjoying their company. However when push comes to shove and her college tuition fees on the line, Meg turns on Marta too and reveals to her family Marta's secret that her mother is undocumented immigrant as a bargaining chip. She does appear to be remorseful afterwards but it's debated whether she is sincere or putting up a mask of righteousness to try to remain on Marta's good graces.
  • In Laughter in Paradise, Agnes Russell is a terror to her domestic staff. Her On One Condition requires to be employed as a maid in a middle-class household for one month.
  • The Lizzie McGuire Movie has a rare inverted example; Paolo's bodyguard quits when he finds out the pop star is using his fame to bully teenagers. Notably, the concert scene at the ends shows everybody enjoying themselves - including family and teachers, not just the celebrities onstage.
  • In Logan Lucky, Rich Jerk Max Chilblain's Establishing Character Moment is him entering the bar where Clyde works and immediately mocking Clyde for his disability. His patronizing attitude to those he considers to be subservient will come back to bite him.
  • Used in Look Who's Talking when Mollie starts dating several men and discarding them by imagining how they would behave with her son, Mikey, judging on how they treat the waiter.
  • The Man Who Came to Dinner (see also Theatre) - pompous Sheridan Whiteside is unfailingly vitriolic to his unwilling host, but generously tips a railroad porter (with someone else's money) and treats the household help with consideration and respect, to where they happily accept his hiring them away from the host.
  • In Mortal Kombat: The Movie, we get to see how much of a pompous ass Johnny Cage is by his immediately mistaking Liu Kang for a porter and rudely shoves his luggage onto him. Liu responds by dropping it all into the harbor.
    Johnny Cage: Thank God I didn't ask him to park the car...
  • Alex O'Connell from The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor shows us his basic decency by back-slapping with his Chinese laborers and offering bits of encouragement in their native tongue.
  • Murder by Death uses this to set up an Actually, That's My Assistant gag. The group is expecting Jessica Marbles, a great detective, to show up. When she does, it appears that she is a very elderly lady in a wheelchair, being looked after by a middle-aged nurse. In fact, the younger woman is Marbles - she was raised by her nurse, and is now taking care of her in her old age.
  • Subverted in Ocean's Eleven, when Linus notes that the gang's target, ruthless hotelier Terry Benedict, remembers the name of virtually everyone of his staff and their personal details as well — we soon see him arriving at work and greeting the doorman by name, as well as asking about the man's family, specifically to show that Benedict is a Control Freak rather than being generous. Further cementing this is that he only begins his Villainous Breakdown when he feels he is no longer in absolute control of the situation.
  • In The Parent Trap, both Chessy and Martin are treated like family by their respective employers, which shows that they are good people. The fact that Meredith treats Chessy like a talking dog who would be summoned with a bell is a sign of her poor character. Chessy is even treated nicely by Elizabeth, who is intoxicated at the time of their meeting again after years apart.
    Chessy: [upon seeing Elizabeth after so many years] Hi, you probably don't remember me. I...
    Elizabeth: [gives her a kiss on the cheek] Chessy!
    Chessy: I knew I always liked her.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl:
    • Elizabeth seems to be on friendly terms with her maid. When she does scold the maid for being "too bold," it mostly stems from her being unwilling to admit her feelings for Will (the maid is implying that Will would be a good husband for her). When the pirates are looting the mansion, Elizabeth tells the maid to hide and run to safety at the first chance she gets.
    • In an inversion of the trope, Elizabeth chides William Turner for calling her "Miss Swann" instead of her given name. William politely refuses to drop the formality, and Elizabeth's father praises him for having a better sense of propriety than his daughter.
  • Subverted in Reservoir Dogs. The opinionated Mr. Pink (who later turns out to be one of the more levelheaded robbers) doesn't believe in tipping just because "society tells him to", but the rest of the criminals, some of them pretty rough customers, are all united in finding that behavior unacceptable.
  • Star Wars: A New Hope: After he shoots Greedo, Han stops to pay Wuher, the Mos Eisley Cantina bartender, saying "sorry about the mess" as he leaves.
  • A Running Gag in The Thin Man films is that Nick gets along famously with the many criminals he has arrested over the years. Most of his friends are either crooks or former crooks, and none of them hold anything against him for catching them. After the Thin Man even sets up a suspect whose brother Nick sent up the river, and implies that he might be out for revenge... only to have him save Nick's life during the climax because "I don't like my brother. I like his girl."
  • Trading Places: The Duke Brothers don't treat their hired help well, offering only $5 bonuses (total, $2.50 from each) during the holidays. Louis Winthorpe himself doesn't treat hired help, except Coleman, particularly well. While arriving at work, he doesn't even look his helpers in the eye. Until after having lost his wealth, that is. After arriving with Billy Ray Valentine at the World Trade Center, he specifically tells their taxi driver to keep his change upon paying him.
  • The Waterboy: In one game, Bobby Boucher takes a time-out to give the referee a glass of water.
  • The trope runs in both directions in the The Whole [X] Yards films:
    • In The Whole Nine Yards, Bruce Willis's hitman with a heart of gold threatened to violently murder the waitress who took his hamburger order down wrong. The scene also establishes that the habit of Canadians to put mayo on burgers was a Berserk Button of his.
    • In the sequel The Whole Ten Yards, he beats a man senseless for berating his waitress in a restaurant (after, surprisingly, he tries talking to the guy about it calmly), then tells the man's kid to always be kind to people serving you food, and to eat his vegetables. This might have gone to show he'd become a more decent person in the interim.
  • Bullitt features a scene without audible dialogue where Steve McQueen as Bullitt takes his girlfriend to a Chinese restaurant. The waiter nearly pokes his eye with a menu, causing McQueen to pretend to smack a hand over his eye and wince in mock pain, then smile and assure the waiter that everything is fine. The scene is obviously thrown in since it inadvertently characterizes Bullitt as a good guy.
  • This is used as a measuring stick for most characters in Maid in Manhattan. Rachel is very rude to Marissa, even making assumptions that she doesn't speak English. Caroline is much nicer but clearly views Marissa not much more than a servant. Even Chris gets called out by Marissa, as he was completely oblivious to her the first time they met when she was cleaning up his bathroom but he instantly noticed her when she was dressed up in a Dolce & Gabbana coat.
  • Hot Fuzz: George Merchant is fairly courteous to Nicholas and Danny when he drunkenly mistakes them for cabbies after they deposit him at his doorstep.

  • From the Eric Flint novel 1633:
    • It's pointed out that, despite having previously been a very negatively portrayed Straw Character — at least before he got handed a navy and a whacking great dose of character development — John Simpson and his wife are greatly respected by the working class people of Magdeburg because of their treatment of their underlings. Despite being a bit of a snob, Mary Simpson is commonly referred to as "The American Lady" because she is unfailingly courteous to her servants, where most 17th century nobles would ignore them completely.
    • Likewise, in the beginning of the same novel, Cardinal Richelieu is noted to be very polite to his servants, repaying loyalty from them with loyalty in return. (Note that series creator Eric Flint said that Richelieu could easily have been an ally of the USE, but he needed someone fiendishly smart to serve as his primary antagonist and Richelieu fit the bill.)
  • Mr. Weston doesn't treat Agnes like she's invisible just because she's a governess in Agnes Grey, which is strange for the time and proves his kind character.
  • Imperial Radch: Breq, the last surviving Wetware Body of a spaceship AI, knows just what it's like to be treated like an object (which, legally, she is) instead of a person, and so treats everyone with compassion even though she manages to pass as a wealthy human foreigner.
  • Marcus in The Arts of Dark and Light is almost always courteous to foreigners, common soldiers and workmen and even to the slaves. Something that marks him out as unusual in his times is that he always tries to address inferiors by name, rather than insults or condescension. He also abhors mistreatment of anyone under his own power, whether this refers to servants, soldiers, or even captured enemies.
  • In the Ascendance Trilogy, Sage tries to build a rapport with his personal attendant by encouraging him to call him Sage instead of sir and insisting on dressing himself, but only succeeds in making him uncomfortable.
  • In Beastly, one of the signs that Kyle is becoming a better person is that he sees his maid and his tutor as his best friends. Also, the girl he falls in love with worked the ticket booth at prom at the beginning of the book (though he didn't think well of her at the time).
  • In the Belisarius Series:
    • Weapons designer John of Rhodes is the sort of man who's only rude to his social equals or superiors. There's also Kungas, whose character is revealed to Raghunath Rao when he walks into a room, swiftly assesses where he'll need to post guards, curtly gives his soldiers the orders to post those guards, and then leads them slowly and carefully across the room so they won't scuff the floor a servant was polishing just then. Possibly based on the Prince Albert story in the "Real Life" folder below.
    • When Eon is being evaluated for the position of Emperor by the Axumite chiefs and warriors one of the most important things they ask is how he treated the servant girls. They all knew he was a notorious ladies man and didn't mind terribly; but what they wanted to know is if he had abused them or unduly pressured them because that was considered a sign of how he would treat his people. Eon passed with flying colors; he was intemperate with his servants but not unkind and that was what they wanted to know.
    • When Rana Sanga stormed the Malwa capital, his son Rajiv felt pity on a company of hapless mooks about to be cut up and trampled so he rushed out, announced himself and got them to surrender and swear themselves to his service; and had them all lined up safely out of the way when his father came thundering through the gate. Dad feels both great pride and great amusement.
  • In the historical novel Betsy and the Emperor, a British teenager is surprised to note that Napoleon Bonaparte, who is, as far as she's concerned, the scourge of Europe, is fair and decent towards slaves, allowing them to take a rest break before a noble prisoner is allowed the same privilege.
  • In the Black Crown short story Solace, King Flavius clearly doesn't hold a grudge against the working class; despite referring to the peasants in Schism as 'the mob' and 'stallions to be broken'.
  • In Patricia A. McKillip's The Book of Atrix Wolfe, the Scullery Maid Saro is sent to deliver a tray of food to the prince in the haunted and half-ruined hall. She drops it; he takes the blame for startling her, especially after she had braved the ghosts and owls, and offers her a white lily. She goes back to the kitchen dreaming of him.
  • In A Brother's Price, one of the signs that Keifer Porter was evil was that he could "barely be civil" with his younger wives, who had no power over him, but always acted sweet with the elder sisters, whom he could easily charm with his beauty. Jerin Whistler being nice to the children is considered proof of his good personality.
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs:
    • In A Fighting Man of Mars, Tan Hadron pledges to defend a slave who saw a kidnapping and says that what he has to say will not please someone prominent.
    • In The Mad King, the regent and his Mook discuss how Prince von der Tann might have found out they're planning to do away with the king:
      I don't for a moment doubt but that he has his spies among the palace servants, or even the guard. You know the old fox has always made it a point to curry favor with the common soldiers. When he was minister of war he treated them better than he did his officers.
  • In The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer describes his knight as never having spoken rudely to anyone.
  • In Lewis Carroll's Sylvie and Bruno, the Vice-Warden, his wife, and his son Ugugg are all cruel to the poor.
    He was a fine old man, but looked sadly ill and worn. "A crust of bread is what I crave!" he repeated. "A single crust, and a little water!"
    "Here's some water, drink this!" Uggug bellowed, emptying a jug of water over his head.
    "Well done, my boy!" cried the Vice-Warden.
    • Sylvie and Bruno chase after him to give him Bruno's cake — and find he's their father.
    • And, in Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, Alice is kind and polite to everyone she meets. This is in contrast to the White Rabbit, who apparently is upper-class enough for a servant, and whom we see speaking rudely to said "servant" (he mistook Alice for her) and later boot-licking the Queen of Hearts.
    • This is taken to extremes in Through the Looking Glass, where the White and Red Queen expect the newly-queened Alice to be so polite as to formally introduce herself to the dishes at her coronation banquet. She obliges for the first few, but eventually refuses on the grounds that they won't let her eat anything she knows personally and she's very hungry.
  • In Andre Norton's Catseye, Rerne is polite to and talks with Troy; Citizen Dragur babbles about his triumph and only when he has a question manages to remember that Troy is there.
  • Agatha Christie:
    • Interestingly conversed and partially averted in Taken at the Flood. An aristocratic wife manages to treat her servants distantly, though politely - she is dependent on them to take care of her, but never pretends to relate to them. Her maids don't hate her for it, though - in fact they're somewhat fascinated by her glamour and difference.
    • Played straight in The Secret of Chimneys in which the heroine is established as a good person, despite her somewhat flippant manner, when she asks her chauffeur about his wife's health and offers to pay for a trip to the country if the doctors think it will help her.
  • C. S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia:
    • In Prince Caspian, when Caspian is knocked unconscious in the forest and taken in by strangers, his first request, on waking up, is that they look after his horse. They tell him it ran off.
    • The Pevensies are kings and queens who treat all of the other beings with respect.
    • In The Horse and His Boy, when Shasta and Bree find Hwin and Aravis, Bree and Hwin talk. Aravis demands to know why he's talking to her horse, not her. Bree points out that as Talking Horse, Hwin has as much right to speak of Aravis as her human. Aravis finds this unsettling.
      • Similarly, Aravis gets karmic punishment for her lack of concern over a servant: the servant got a whipping for letting Aravis escape, so Aslan scores Aravis' back with his claws.
    • Various Calormene nobles are unpleasant to the lower classes, starting with the one who wants to buy Shasta. Archenland's and Narnia's nobles and royalty do much better.
    King Lune: Never taunt a man save when he is stronger than you; then, as you please.
    • Frank, the first king of Narnia, treated his horse as if it were a close friend. When Aslan made the horse intelligent and able to talk, Frank was thrilled, seeing it as proof that the horse was as smart (and well-bred) as he thought. Then again, Frank was not exactly posh himself, being a London cabbie before his ascension to royalty.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The Phoenix on the Sword" Dion thinks nothing of Thoth-amon because he is a slave.
  • One of the Millers' most scandalous crimes in Daisy Miller is that they *gasp* actually treat their servant Eugenio like a human being instead of a piece of furniture! How could anyone be so vulgar?!
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld:
    • In Unseen Academicals, both Ridcully and Lord Vetinari listen to Glenda, a Night Kitchen cook, reminding us that none of these characters fit any stereotype perfectly. The former is partially because wizards like their food, though he didn't know that she was the one making the incredible pies until about halfway through the conversation.note  Lord Vetinari talks to her because she's a cook—she's a Sugarbean.
    • It's noticeable that Ridcully tends to be a lot nicer to the serving staff than he is to his fellow professors, possibly because he grew up in the Ramtops (at least, he spent a good many summers in Lancre). People in Lancre don't accept notions of class and rank meaning you can be rude to people.
      • It's probably also a commentary on the fact that he was originally appointed Archchancellor because after he finished school he went to live in the country, and they were expecting a bucolic halfwit who wouldn't make waves; he has shown a tendency to repay respect in kind, on both sides of the scale.
    • Taken in an interesting direction with the Duchess in I Shall Wear Midnight. She may be rude or even contemptuous to her servants, but she takes care of them. She considers it a matter of pride that no one who works for her will ever have to beg for food, and in fact, the reason she has so many servants is because a fair number of them are needed to take care of the servants too old to work.
    • Pyramids plays with it. Pteppic would like to be this, but due to cultural issues, his subjects live in mortal terror of their pharaoh trying to Remember Their Name and Put Them At Ease, or worse, Ask Them What They Do. That's the nicer options. Pteppic just politely trying to shake a workman's hand ends in mutilation (it's forbidden to touch the pharaoh, and the offending part is removed. Had he not been stopped, the poor bastard would've cut off his own hand.)
    • Subverted in Going Postal. The villain of the story is Reacher Gilt, and our hero Moist notes that impersonating him in a letter to a maître d' is a surefire way to get himself a table; Reacher's entire public image is an act, and part of the persona he presents involves tipping like a drunken sailor, even though he's a murderous bastard underneath. Moist on the other hand is a good guy (or at least a less evil guy) who cannot afford the expensive meal, and implicitly intends to scam his way out of paying (before Reacher offers to buy it for him).
    • In Snuff, Vimes learns that the previous Lady Ramkin had a policy that the housemaids may not even look at a man while on the job, and must turn to face the wall when one comes by (or flee if addressed). He considers this to be classist bullshit until his wife explains the reasoning; it's to protect the maids. They aren't especially worldly or well educated, and young aristocratic males have a tendency to take advantage of them, so preventing any contact while they are on the job is wise. The maids are otherwise well treated, well paid, and thanks to this policy "have no shame about wearing white on their wedding days".
      • Snuff also reveals that the late Lord Ramkin was this; he was a drunken old sot, but also a very jolly one who had no qualms about throwing money around and drinking with the servants as equals. Another holder of the title tried to avert this by tossing red hot pennies to the gate guards for a laugh, but was usually so drunk that he'd do it with dollars instead, so the servants actually miss the practice.
    • Young Vetinari is nice to the Assassins' Guild porter in Night Watch, although apparently mostly for cynical reasons: being friendly with the porter gives him opportunities to snoop. It seems to be a bit of a strategy of his to get on good terms with the sort of people others don't respect, as when most of the guilds decide they've got an ax to grind with him the Beggars, Seamstresses, and so on are still on his side. This is contrasted against his predecessor, Mad Lord Snapcase, who's gotten all the revolutionary elements on his side because he asks regular folk what they do. In private, Snapcase turns out to be a total arse.
  • In Dragon Bones, the hero Ward is nice to everyone. Including the immortal slave he inherited and cannot set free.
  • The protagonist in The Dresden Files, Harry Dresden, can be counted on to be as nice to the waiter as he is snarky to Queens of Fairy, vampires, and fallen angels. As a rule, the more powerless a being is, the more polite Harry will be.
  • Duumvirate uses this trope constantly. Being on good terms with your servants is a mark of competence as a master. The titular characters even use it to decide who to let live at the end of the book.
  • Enchanted Forest Chronicles: In Dealing With Dragons, Cimorene is technically hired help for Kazul, but the relationship between the two is very much that of close friends. This is notable considering that pretty much all the other dragons ignore their princesses and don't expect much out of them (Kazul even says that princesses are generally only kept as a "minor" mark of social status) while the princesses don't actually do any work and run off with whatever prince comes to rescue them.
    • While King Mendabar isn't very fond of his elven servant, Willin, he is still shown to be a sympathetic character. This is because while Willin means well, he tends to bother Mendabar about stuff the king doesn't need him fussing with. Mendabar does treat his subjects as kindly as he can, which is impressive considering that his kingdom is full of magical creatures who constantly are bickering and enchanting each other and getting into trouble.
  • An inversion occurs in the Ender's Shadow novels, where John Paul warns his son Peter that Achilles is undermining Peter's leadership because Achilles is always kind and friendly with the staff, while Peter tends to ignore them. In this case, though, Peter is the Big Good and Achilles is a murderous psychopath (albeit one who is very good at lying when he needs to).
  • A subversion of sorts from Thomas Dixon's Fall of a Nation: The heroine's family servant thinks the Big Bad is a swell fellow because he tips generously. As it turns out, this is all part of the Corrupt Corporate Executive's plan to become a Villain with Good Publicity.
  • In one of G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown stories, Father Brown explains why he didn't trust the villainess:
    If you want to know what a lady is really like, don't look at her; for she may be too clever for you. Don't look at the men round her, for they may be too silly about her. But look at some other woman who is always near to her, and especially one who is under her. You will see in that mirror her real face, and the face mirrored in Mrs. Sands was very ugly.
    • In another one, the Dénouement hinges on the fact that Father Brown talks to the secretary, whereas the employer knows nothing about him besides his name.
    • In yet another one, the villain's deception only works because his victims don't pay any attention to the waiters serving them. Chesterton was slightly fond of this trope.
  • In Sara Paretsky's Fire Sale, readers are clued in fairly early that Billy, the youngest of the family that turns out to be the Big Bad (they own a Walmart-like corporation), is different from the rest of his family by how he treats the workers kindly and they all are happy to see him.
  • In John C. Wright's The Hermetic Millennia, Larz tells Menelaus that he actually worked for Menelaus, who never noticed the little guys. But Larz is not telling the truth in this scene.
  • Played both ways in Hive Mind (2016). Amber's niceness is shown by her thanking Hannah for cleaning up and making a point of saying that the unit's success is due as much to the support staff as it is to the Strike Team. Fran's Face–Heel Turn is foreshadowed by her telling Amber not to bother thanking Hannah, a mere Level 57 Law Enforcement Office Cleaner.
  • In Holes, Mr. Pendanski initially comes across as the chummy, friendly counselor to contrast Mr. Sir's outright disdain and jerkishness. However, he also makes rather nasty jabs at "Zero", who never talks and is assumed by most of the campers to be too dumb to understand spoken English, which is the main sign that he's actually no better.
  • In Honor Harrington, the good officers/aristocrats are always very polite to subordinates and make sure they get lots of credit for their work, whereas evil ones belittle and tyrannize their underlings and treat servants as air that brings them things.
  • In Andre Norton's Ice Crown, Princess Ludorica remembers a soldier's name even though he was presented to her only once, and when they are traveling as commoners, she shoots down going to a wedding, and proposes a birthing, with them making a wreath along the way, so that her companion comments on how well she knows peasant customs.
  • In Poul Anderson's "Inside Straight", Ganch is repulsed by the way their nice manners extend even to inferiors – in this particular case, a waiter.
  • In the Modesty Blaise novel I, Lucifer, there's a side incident where Sir Gerald Tarrant gets Willie's help to teach a lesson to two particularly unpleasant men at his gentleman's club. He notes that while most of the other members regard these two with distaste, the real sign is that all the club's serving staff hate them.
  • Jane Eyre: Mr. Rochester is generous to and undemanding of his servants, albeit a bit weird. Then Jane shows up...
  • P. G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster books - and the TV show based thereon:
    • This is what makes Bertie worthy of having Jeeves as a valet: although he's an Upper-Class Twit who's always carrying the Hero Ball, Bertie's a really Nice Guy and an ideal employer.
    • Bertie realizes that Florence Craye truly is a Rich Bitch when he learns how mean she is to servants. According to a comment from Jeeves in the TV version, her downstairs nickname is "Lady Caligula". Both she and Honoriah Glossop have stated their dislike of Jeeves, and Bertie's Aunt Agatha (probably the most class-conscious character around) routinely criticizes Bertie for consulting Jeeves on personal matters.
    • All of Bertie's friends respect Jeeves' competence and intelligence: Bingo Little regularly relies on Jeeves for help with his romantic problems (often involving women of a lower social class as an added bonus), and Bertie's Aunt Dahlia invites Bertie to stay just to have access to Jeeves for her schemes. Bertie is (usually) the first to recommend Jeeves' advice and opinion, openly admitting that Jeeves is the brains of the pair - "the man practically lives on fish!"
    • In The Code of the Woosters, both of our protagonists end up perched on furniture in a room with an angry dog. As Alexander Cockburn's foreword noted, Bertie only suggests Jeeves should grab a sheet and stuff the dog into it. He'd never command Jeeves to take the risk.
  • In P. G. Wodehouse's Jill the Reckless, Jill is nice to servants. To such an extent that Freddie warns that her prospective mother-in-law will regard it as undue familiarity.
  • In The Kadin, Lady Janet not only treats her own people well, but when she hires crafters to build her new hall, she makes sure the craftmasters pay their workers as soon as she pays them, something a few of them aren't happy about. Janet also gets regularly called out for being nice to her serfs and servants, not that she cares. Their love for her encourages them to do their best, and her demesne is very prosperous.
  • Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey:
    • In Have His Carcase, Harriet Vane is cleared of suspicion because the police asked her charwoman about her associates; they have found this a reliable way of finding them out.
    • Also, part of the signal that the murder victim in Whose Body? is a good guy is that he was well-liked by his servants, not just because of this, but also in a more classist way, because he was a "natural gentleman" despite being a Self-Made Man- one point in solving the mystery was that he would always neatly fold his clothing before going to bed.
  • In Seanan McGuire's Velveteen vs. The Junior Super Patriots, Velveteen gets new toys to animate by going to Goodwill, animating all the toys they have, warning them about the dangers of going with her, and asking for volunteers.
    • In McGuire's InCryptid series, one of the things that makes Dominic DeLuca realize that cryptids aren't evil monsters is literally that Verity's cryptid cousin Sarah remembers to be nice to her waitress, despite having such powerful telepathic abilities she could have told the waitress to do anything at all and been eagerly obeyed.
  • In Robert Browning's "My Last Duchess" that is the unnamed duke's complaint about his late wife.
    "She thanked men,—good! but thanked
    Somehow—I know not how—as if she ranked
    My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
    With anybody’s gift."
  • In the Percy Jackson books, it's the degree to which Percy and Nico are nice to the waiter that is used to contrast them. Percy noticed a little girl stoking the hearth on his first day at Camp Half-Blood, but gave it no other thought. She later reveals herself to be the goddess Hestia, saying that very few people ever stop to speak with her — but Nico did. Later, when they fight the Titan Iapetus and erase his memory (renaming him Bob), Percy never gives him a second thought after Persephone says he'll be taken care of. But Nico visited him periodically and talked to him, and it's Nico putting in a good word for him that causes Bob to save Percy and Annabeth's lives later. Percy is by no means unkind, but he also doesn't go out of his way to help people beyond monster slaying and demigod heroics. When he tells Nico this, Nico tells him it's dangerous not to give people a second thought.
    • Nico also shows the dead more care than most would—when he's calling up ghosts under the tutelage of King Minos, he uses a McDonald's Happy Meal and a Coke as an offering to make them strong enough to manifest. Minos complains that it's unnecessary, any sort of food and drink, or even animal blood, will do, but Nico answers that if he's going to do it, he's going to offer something that, in intent, is kind and comforting.
  • Subverted in an anecdote from Perry Rhodan, which has a noble Arkonide acting conspicuously polite towards a mere gardener (of an "inferior" species, at that) who has greeted him in the same way not out of any particular respect or appreciation, but simply to demonstrate that just like everything else his grasp of manners is naturally also superior to that of "such a creature".
  • This trope is ubiquitous in all of Tamora Pierce's novels. Heroes and their allies are good nobles, who are kind to peasants and servants and care for their needs, while villains are frequently cruel to commoners as well as to animals, abusing their authority over both.
    • Subverted by the Rogue of Port Caynn, Pearl, in Bloodhound, who likes dogs and threatens people who hurt them. Bekka knows she has no other redeeming characteristics, but this still makes it harder than it was before.
    • Inversion: The Emperor of Carthak had Daine, the most famous wildmage in Tortall, travel to his palace just to heal his pet birds — yet he can "send armies to their deaths without batting an eye." This is the first clue as to how messed-up he is.
  • In the Potterverse, the Wizarding World's treatment of sentient non-humans (especially house-elves, who are by nature vulnerable to exploitation) is both an overtly political issue and a sign of personal values, though we only ever get to see Wizarding Britain's stances on it:
    • Hermione and Harry play this trope straight from the beginning, both being raised in the Muggle world (though Harry was a bit slow to catch on regarding the elves, only realizing the consequences in Half-Blood Prince, and Hermione may have played it too straight due to naivete in the beginning). Ron is a bit more difficult to categorize. He is a good person like his friends, but he hasn't gotten as much chance to interact. The only hesitance he has shown is a wariness toward giants (which, to be frank, is understandable given their size and history of violence, to which Hagrid can attest). He also acts as a bit of a foil toward Hermione about house-elves, but has nothing against them. However, he seems to be even more unaware than Harry of the potential consequences of the isolating behavior. He does earn something special from Hermione when he advises that they order the House-Elves to retreat, finding the idea of ordering the elves to die for them abhorrent.
    • Hogwarts has the largest population of house-elves in the world, but they all wear clean pillowcases with the Hogwarts seal stamped on them, as opposed to the filthy rags other house elves are shown wearing, and Dumbledore allows Dobby to work as hired help rather than an indentured servant and encourages Dobby to insult him in private. His starting offer of wages and vacation days is actually too generous for Dobby, who demands a lower one. Helga Hufflepuff, one of the founders of Hogwarts, gathered house-elves to the school so that they would have steady work (which elves thrive on) and not run the risk of being abused by harsh masters out in the wizarding world.
    • Sirius Black, source of the page quote, is (according to Dumbledore) kind to house-elves in general, but he can't stand his own family's house elf Kreacher when stuck trapped in the same house for a year while hiding in Order of the Phoenix, while his evil-aligned family were kind to Kreacher. Sirius is the second type of No Hero to His Valet: he is good, but he views Kreacher as an embodiment of everything he loathed about his childhood and family traditions, resulting in a very negative relationship (not to mention the implications he and Kreacher never got along even back when Sirius was a child). This proves to be Sirius' undoing.
    • As Hermione points out, house-elves tend to absorb and reflect the beliefs of those who are kind to them, so for most of the story Kreacher is racist, classist, and nasty... until Harry and Hermione are kind to him and he begins taking on the beliefs of his new master, albeit quite late in the series.
    • Ironically, the quote comes from Sirius commenting on Barty Crouch Sr.'s mistreatment and dismissal of his house-elf Winky, as Crouch needed to stop the investigation that would've exposed how he'd broken his own son out of Azkaban and then used the Imperius Curse to keep him under house arrest. But the quote itself also illustrates a picture of just what sort of man Crouch Sr. was when he was head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.
    • Dumbledore warns Harry at one point that, at a national level, wizards and witches are being too arrogant and patronizing in dealing with "inferior species" (goblins, house-elves, centaurs, etc), and if they don't start treating them fairly, they are going to make unnecessary enemies at a time when they can ill-afford to do so. There are repeated instances of non-humans being genuinely surprised that Harry and his friends treat them with respect, or becoming increasingly alienated by the Ministry's insensitive behavior.
      • Umbridge refers to the centaurs of the Forbidden Forest as "filthy half-breeds" to their faces. Their reaction leaves her with a permanent fear of clopping hooves.
      • Dumbledore's prediction comes fully true in Deathly Hallows: Voldemort grants special treatment to a few particularly violent non-human species that he finds useful as weapons, like the Dementors and the werewolves, but the rest suffer even more abuse at the hands of the Death Eaters than they did under the Ministry, and rise against him in outright revolt after Harry's Heroic Sacrifice.
      • Beautifully shown in The Deathly Hallows. After the house-elf Dobby's death, Harry, Ron and Dean dig his grave by hand to show the depths of their gratitude and grief. The goblin Griphook notices this and remarks to Harry that goblins and house-elves are not used to being given this sort of respect from wizards, and it helps him decide to aid Harry in his quest. Without him, it would have failed.
  • In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, one of the signs that Mr. Darcy isn't as bad as Elizabeth had initially believed is that his servants speak glowingly of him to strangers.
    • In Emma, this trope is abundant with Emma and her father, who have earned the devotion of their servants - it's particularly true of Serle, the cook, who patiently puts up with Mr. Woodhouse's peculiarities and contributes to the security of the household as well as cooking things exactly the way he wants them made. Mr. Knightley is also highly regarded by those who work for him. Conversely, the stuck-up Eltons are shown in one scene to actually be quite rude to Mr. Knightley's maid.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Lost, Miranda does, in the opening scenes, sacrifice valuable artifacts to save a servant, though she is conflicted over it. Later, after she learns that her Lack of Empathy may be magically induced, and is told that her aerial servants love her, she consciously decides to use persuasion rather than force to get Boreaus to not harm humans, and then instead of flatly refusing to free them, tells the air spirits that she would need them to swear to keep the air spirits from causing harm. They concede that this would be difficult but start thinking about how they could pull it off, grateful for even the chance. Also, when her brother complains of one of her employees speaking his mind, she backs up the employee.
  • In The Secret Garden, Mary's mother wanted her out of the way, and the servants would just try to keep Mary quiet. As a consequence, she quickly learned that tantrums and hitting would get her what she wanted. Her uncle's servants do not treat her with deference, which helps in her Character Development from Spoiled Brat.
    • Mary also quickly takes a liking to Martha, Dickon, and their family, along with the gardener. Mostly this is because those are the people who are consistently around, while her uncle is never there. Even when she befriends Colin, she chooses to spend the day with Dickon instead of him at one point.
    • Conversely Sara Crewe, heroine of the same author's A Little Princess, treats the servants at Miss Minchin's with courtesy. When she's the school's "show pupil", she is kind to scullery maid Becky, realizing out loud, "We are just the same — I am only a little girl like you. It's just an accident that I am not you, and you are not me." And later when she's relegated to the status of servant herself, even when the other servants verbally abuse her she responds with "a quaint civility":
      "She's got more airs and graces than if she come from Buckingham Palace, that young one," said the cook, chuckling a little sometimes. "I lose my temper with her often enough, but I will say she never forgets her manners. 'If you please, cook'; 'Will you be so kind, cook?' 'I beg your pardon, cook'; 'May I trouble you, cook?' She drops 'em about the kitchen as if they was nothing."
    • In one of the adaptations, even when she's a servant and starving, Sara gives her last bit of food to a starving family.
      • She also, in the book, buys herself a dozen sweet rolls with some money she finds in the street — but gives all but one of them to a homeless waif who's even hungrier than she is. At the end she learns that this act inspires the baker, who witnesses it, to adopt the waif in question, giving her both a home and a job.
    • In the Cuaron adaptation, Sara also promises to return and rescue Becky when she escapes from the boarding house. And she does.
  • In "The Secret Sin of Septimus Brope", by Saki, there is the following exchange:
    "Is your maid called Florence?"
    "Her name is Florinda."
    "What an extraordinary name to give a maid!"
    "I did not give it to her; she arrived in my service already christened."
    "What I mean is," said Mrs. Riversedge, "that when I get maids with unsuitable names I call them Jane; they soon get used to it."
    "An excellent plan," said the aunt of Clovis coldly; "unfortunately I have got used to being called Jane myself. It happens to be my name."
  • In The Problem of Thor Bridge, Sherlock Holmes benefits from this trope when one of his wealthy client's employees comes at the outset to warn him about the client's vindictive nature. Holmes even lampshades it when he points out the insights one can get into a man's character when you see what his employees think of him.
  • In Josepha Sherman's The Shining Falcon, Ljuba is quite frustrated at how Finist is so concerned with the welfare of the peasants and other commoners.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Eddard Stark is always polite and respectful with his servants. He regularly invites one of his household members to dine with him for a night — ranging from the steward to the blacksmith to the old servant woman — to better understand the needs of his smallfolk.
    • Arya Stark, Eddard's younger daughter has inherited this from him, as she was very close to the household servants growing up — to the point they called her "Arya Underfoot" — and befriends and regards the smallfolk as equals. She also becomes fiercely protective of the downtrodden after witnessing the abuse of commoners during the war.
    • Catelyn Stark also treats the commoners well. After promising a ship's crew a bonus if they made good time, she paid each oarsman personally rather than give the money to their captain, who would have kept it all for himself.
    • Edmure Tully was the only noble to allow his peasants to take refuge in his castle during the war, a move which the others saw as foolish and soft-hearted. This is a bit of Artistic License – History combined with Hollywood Tactics; the whole point of having a castle with a large courtyard and big sturdy walls is to protect the commoners during a siege. After all, if they all get killed by the enemy, who's going to take care of your land afterwards?
    • Daenerys Targaryen frees slaves, treats her servants with respect, and thinks of all of her followers as her children. Harming them is a surefire way to make her very, very angry.
    • Jaime Lannister treats his squires and washerwomen well. This is likely an extension of his being A Father to His Men. He even ships them, and invites a poor raped girl into his household because he can.
    • Tyrion Lannister starts off this way, treating the prostitutes he sleeps with respectfully and even teaching one how to read; but as the books go forward he becomes more callous, and by the fifth book he treats them like garbage.
  • In the Spaceforce novels, society in the Taysan Empire is strictly stratified along caste and class lines. In the first book Jay is, at considerable personal risk, masquerading as swordbearer caste when he is in fact of lowly origins. When he treats a servant with unnecessary politeness and consideration, it's enough to draw attention to himself.
  • Miryem in Spinning Silver has no time for the excuses and evasions of her debtors—with good reason, because many are lying about their ability to pay and they're all antisemetic. However, when she drafts Wanda in to pay her father's debt by working as a servant, Miryem deals with her fairly, teaches her how to be an assistant in collecting, lets her eat with the family, and then provides more help and advice when she realizes the situation Wanda would be in without the job. This is why Wanda is later willing to risk her life to save Miryem from the Staryk King.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Part of Wedge Antilles' Establishing Character Moment in Rogue Squadron is his conscientiousness to his mechanic; he smiles and tells the mechanic that his X-Wing looks good as new if not better, putting aside private unease. The mechanic is a Verpine, and there are stories about Verpine mechanics tinkering with craft and forgetting that most pilots don't count in base six or have vision that lets them see microscopic detail. But none of the stories are substantiated. He's also sympathetic to his new astromech when it tells him that its nickname is "Mynock" because a previous pilot said it screamed like one in combat, which was a slander.
    • Played with amusingly in Wraith Squadron, when Wedge shows up in a rather similar scene to look over twelve shiny new X-Wings, and this time he's not the viewpoint character. This mechanic lies blatantly, saying that these are the worst new ships he's ever seen - factory-new ships tend to have all kinds of untested irregularities - and unless he can pull off a miracle with the extruder valve, they won't be flight-ready for a couple of days. Wedge blinks and gives him those days, apparently completely ignorant of the fact that X-Wings have no extruder valve. He wanders around for a bit, making the mechanics uneasy and meaning that they can't go on break for fear of being written up; they retaliate by loudly telling each other about catastrophic mechanical failures in X-Wings and the resultant loss of life. After he finally leaves, they fix the minor problems and play sabacc. Overestimating the time makes them look good.
    • In The Courtship of Princess Leia, Luke's adherence to this trope upsets and disturbs Prince Isolder.
      Isolder: You shouldn't do this! The universe doesn't work this way!
      Luke: What do you mean?
      Isolder: You– you're treating those beasts as equals. You show my mother, the Ta'a Chume of the Hapes empire, the same degree of cordiality as you give a droid!
      Luke: This droid, these beasts, all have a similar measure of the Force within them. If I sense the Force, how can I not respect them, just as I respect Ta'a Chume?
    • Thrawn proves himself as a combination of this trope and Benevolent Boss in an Establishing Character Moment. Two crewmembers on his Star Destroyer were responsible for trying to capture Luke Skywalker, but failed. The one who made excuses was punished. The one who made an honest effort, tried something innovative, and accepted responsibility when it failed was promoted for his creativity and hard work. It's noted by Pellaeon that after this (and after Bad Bosses like Vader), the crew would be willing to die for him.
  • The Stormlight Archive, book 2, Words of Radiance:
    • Before the Parshendi assassinated her father, Jasnah was paying assassins to spy on people, including her own family. While said assassins were mildly annoyed they weren't killing anyone, the fact that she showed them more respect than most nobles (and paid well) meant that they were actually surprisingly fond of her.
      Jasnah: Assassination is a dirty business. So is taking out a chamber pot. I can respect the people who do the job without caring for the job itself.
    • Zigzagged with the Bitch in Sheep's Clothing Brightlord Amaram. He is pleasant to his darkeyed house staff, even remembering the random serving girl's name and plans for the evening, and assuring her that she'd be taken care of when she marries. On the other, he has an entire squad of his men murdered in sickbay so he can claim a Shardblade from one of them without looking like he'd extorted it from him.
    • The Order of Edgedancers are focused on helping the small people of the world; their second and third oaths are remembering the forgotten and listening to the silenced. When the Radiants disbanded centuries ago and their fortress abandoned, the Edgedancers focused on helping their servants and staff relocate now they were out of a job.
    • Prince Adolin turns out to be this. While he lives and believes in a very classist society, thinking that lighteyes ruling and darkeyes serving to be natural order, he still believes in treating everyone with respect and dignity. In Rhythm of War, he regularly goes out drinking with the rank-and-file, and not only remembers the bartender's name, but gets him a wedding gift and congratulates him on the marriage. Kaladin, his darkeyed friend, realizes that where Kaladin remembers the names and likes of everyone in his command, Adolin remembers everyone.
  • In Andre Norton's Storm Over Warlock, Garth Thorvald took advantage of his superior position and ability to talk his way out of trouble to abuse Shann.
  • Sword of Truth: In Blood of the Fold, one of the cleaning maids in the Palace of the Prophets remarks that most students never notice her, but Richard always had a kind word to say. Verna, whom she later helps escape captivity, likewise treats her kindly. Also, a cook from the Confessors' Palace shares a few stories about Kahlan growing up.
  • In the Chivalric Romance Tale of Gamelyn, Gamelyn's attack on his brother does not rouse any assistance for the brother from the servants, because Gamelyn treated them well, and his brother poorly.
  • In Poul Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions, Alianora rescues Hugi from Duke Alaric's stronghold while Holger fights his way free. Holger is ashamed of himself for not thinking of Hugi's danger himself.
  • Amy Thomson's Through Alien Eyes has the ultra-wealthy Xaviera family require that all of their children work as servants for three days a week in part to foster this.
  • In the Village Tales novels, anyone who isn't this is clearly a villain. Even so, the ducal family and the Rector stand out particularly as being this. (Those with less power and influence and rank than has he, are the only people to whom the Duke isn't rude.)
  • In the first book of the series, Jake at one point gives up his chair to an older henchman of his Evil Mentor Basilisk's, helping solidify his status as an Anti-Villain.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Necropolis, when the Noble Yetch and the Noble Chass are introduced in Council, Yetch argues that he should be able to evict refugees who have flooded his factory, interfering with production. Against him, Chass says that he liked those people when they raised his production quotas, and they should be permitted.
      Chass continued. "If this attack inconveniences our houses, I say: Let us be inconvenienced. We have a duty to the hive population."
      • It must not have stuck with his daughter: when the attack begins, Lady Chass is caught in a dress store. When she finds that the clerk fled for his life instead of seeing to her safety (bear in mind, the district was being shelled by artillery at the time!), she declares the store will never again have the patronage of her house.
    • In Brothers of the Snake, when the Princess Royal tries to object to a Flashed-Badge Hijack of her car, a bodyguard points out that they are, after all, Space Marines. She hits him hard enough to knock him over. The dying Inquisitor sees to it that the Marines are not harmed by her complaints to their Chapter Master.
    • In Sandy Mitchell's novel Scourge The Heretic, Secundan society is so hierarchical, and superiors are never polite to inferiors, even Inquisition agents have to be brusque to get treated as serious; those who qualify for this trope are taken as inferior.
    • In Graham McNeill's Horus Heresy novel False Gods, Maggard's vocal cords have been removed because it is unfitting for a bodyguard like him to speak in the presence of his mistress. Unsurprisingly, when Horus praises him highly after a fight, his loyalties are Horus's. When she sees that after that fight, the soldiers respect him more than her, she thinks it wrong and resolves to fix it. Horus assassinates her, while Maggard is off assassinating another obstacle to Horus's plans.
    • In James Swallow's The Flight of the Eisenstein, other Death Guards, having jeered at Garro for following the old custom that preserved Kaleb's life as his equerry — to Kaleb's face — proceed to stop Kaleb in the corridors and heckle him until another Death Guard interrupts. He admits to this one that Garro uses him to feel out the morale; no one notices him as he moves about.
      Guess who remained loyal and who proved a traitor?
    • In Swallow's Red Fury, the tech adepts who dazzle Caceus are less concerned about his servant Fenn, which means Fenn has a much clearer idea of them.
    • Also from Swallow, Faith & Fire, where Vaun hits a medic merely because he is annoyed at the man fussing over his injuries.
    • In Graham McNeill's Fulgrim, Braxton is enraged that the primarch keeps him waiting, because keeping people waiting is what he does to other people, to demonstrate his superior status.
    • This is lampshaded in the Ciaphas Cain series by Sandy Mitchell. Cain is an extremely self-centered survivalist who is nonetheless always kind to his subordinates. He wryly notes that commissars who operate by the book have a tendency to die heroically for the Emperor even when the enemy is suspiciously far away. However, he is genuinely fond of his aide, Jurgen. The man might have the hygiene of an ogryn and the sense of humor of a particularly stupid rock, but he is steadfastedly loyal to Caine, and has saved Caine's life more than anyone can count. At one point, one of Caine's female conquests (who happens to be a noble) talks down to Jurgen and treats him like a slave. Caine is quick to correct her attitude, defending his aide as he would any other friend.
    • In Aaron Dembski-Bowden's Night Lords novel Soul Hunter, the Night Lord Talos finds his shuttle had been attacked, with one of his two slaves dying and another kidnapped. He treats the slave's injuries, assuring him that what went wrong didn't matter, charges into a stronghold of his enemies to save the other from Attempted Rape, and gives the first slave the best quality augmentics for his body parts injured beyond repair - better than many rich can get. It's not unsurprising the second slave, who had been used as a pawn her whole life before she was Made a Slave, becomes a loyal slave. He also allows his slaves to question him—maybe not defy him, but they're all allowed to ask him why he's doing what he's doing, or things they want to know, and voice their own opinions like they're people.
      • A further example, Talos—who had a good memory even for an Astartes—warns a newly-recruited Raptor off of tormenting a random crewman by introducing them; he cites the human crewmember's name, his exact number of years of service, and how many battles the ship had seen during his service. The undertone of the conversation is this man is valuable and we do not mistreat valuable people.
  • In Wolf Hall, Thomas Cromwell is an active and conscientious landlord at his estate, Austen Friars. He frequently takes in urchins and orphans, giving them employment in the house and picking out anyone with intelligence and ability, as well as a widow who refused to work at an abbey because they would have separated her from her children. At one point he volunteers to help his butcher (who is scandalized and refuses). It doesn't take away from his role in the downfall of Thomas More and Anne Boleyn, but he's consistently decent to people of lower social station as he came from there himself.
  • In Holes, Mr. Pendanski appears to be the friendly and relatable one of the camp counselors - he's polite, jovial, and makes an effort to get on the boys's level. What reveals this to be an act is that he has absolutely no problem making fun of Zero, who never talks to anyone and therefore can't fight back (and Pendanski thinks that Zero isn't even smart enough to know he's being insulted).
  • The Odyssey:
    • Odysseus disguises himself as a beggar upon returning to Ithaca in part for this reason: in general, those who treat him kindly in his alter-ego are loyal, while those who mistreat him have betrayed him. Eumaeus the swineherd, who lets the beggar into his house when he requests shelter and slaughters a pig so they can have something nice to eat, remains loyal to his old king. Melanthius, who insults the beggar, calls him a lowlife, and kicks him in the back, is a traitor. Philoetius, who asks the beggar if he's doing alright? Loyal. Antinous, who tries to kick him out and throws a stool at him? Traitor. Telemachus, who defends the beggar's right to stay? Loyal. Arnaeus, who is also a beggar but still has the nerve to scream at him to leave? Traitor. Penelope, who calls out the suitors for their cruelty and lets the beggar have a go at a contest for her hand in marriage? Loyal.
    • Housekeeper Eurycleia cautions Odysseus before he goes on his Roaring Rampage of Revenge not to kill everyone involved with the parasitical suitors- she's willing to vouch that a bard and shepherd alongside them were strong-armed into serving, and never disrespected the house's servants. Meanwhile, maids who took advantage of the suitors' affections to order around their fellows and mistress are punished almost as harshly as the suitors themselves. Both nobles and servants are held to high standards.
  • Schooled in Magic: Word gets around that Emily is extremely kind to servants.
  • In the Trueman Bradley series, the Non-Idle Rich proagonist is an extremely generous tipper.
  • Tsumiko and the Enslaved Fox: Tsumiko's kindness and thoughtfullness towards all of her newfound staff quickly earn her the friendship and confidence of Michael, Sansa, and Gingko and eventually Argent, despite resisting and distrusting her kindness with all his might.
  • Subverted in the Colin Forbes' novel Terminal when someone sees a waiter spill a drink on a professor and rush to clean it up. The professor's response is to have no reaction whatsoever, meaning he has either extraordinary self-control or is seriously psychotic.
  • Zigzagged with Wax in Wax and Wayne. Wax is an aristocrat who left to become a Cowboy Cop in the Roughs, before unexpectedly becoming the head of House Ladrian. His experience living independently in the Wild West splits this trope; he's good to the people who work for him in general, but ignores them on a persona level. Wax is sympathetic to commoners and does much to help the people his house employs, raising the wages of factory workers, trying to prevent firings when they're almost bankrupt, and cracking down on abusive managers. The only reason why he's willing to live a stifling life as a nobleman is because letting his house go bankrupt would put everyone he employs out of work. However, since he's used to doing everything himself, he's uncomfortable with having servants to cook and clean for him, but since he's also used to not having to worry about anyone but himself and his friends, he often flies off without warning to save the day, letting his servants pick up the pieces. It's implied that Ladrian servants have a high turnover rate.
  • In The Rise of Kyoshi, one sign that Fire Lord Zoryu is a nice guy is that he still speaks fondly on Yun despite knowing that he wasn't really the Avatar. One sign that his half-brother Chaejin is a jerk is that, when recounting the people killed in Yun's attack, he lists the VIPs but not the two guards.
  • Bazil Broketail: Don't let her aristocratic background fool you — she is a very down-to-earth girl who has zero trouble interacting and hanging out with low-class citizens such as Relkin (judging from her parents' behavior, it runs in the family) and is quite kind with them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun:
    • At first, Dick doesn't tip just because he doesn't know he's supposed to. But even after being informed ("NO WONDER MY COFFEE ALWAYS TASTES LIKE SPIT!"), he still doesn't seem to catch on, setting ludicrous standards for giving tips (Starting with a sum and adding and deducting money for a wide range of circumstances that are often unrelated to the waitress's service). He just doesn't understand why he needs to pay them extra when they already have a salary, and sees no reason why a number of services have now had an arbitrary 15% price jump.
    • In another episode, the aliens attend a murder mystery dinner and think it's real. When they get the idea that The Butler Did It, Tommy gets worried that he'll be the next victim because he was rude to the butler earlier.
  • David Palmer in 24 is often distinguished by his extremely respectful attitude to secret service agents, particularly Aaron Pierce, and those at CTU, making his later death a very personal moment for everyone.
  • This gets discussed in Adam Ruins Everything, noting how the concept of tipping is really only an American thing where as servers in other countries make a wage where tipping isn't necessary to survive, and how it was created mainly so restaurants could keep down costs by not paying servers a decent wage. At the same time, Adam points out that despite this, you should still tip your server because if you don't, you come off as an asshole.
  • The Addams Family treat Lurch and Thing less like servants and more like members of their family. There was even one episode where, worried that Lurch may be getting overworked, Pugsly made a robot to help him. (It ended up getting destroyed because Lurch didn't want it to take his place.)
  • Played very straight in Arrested Development when it's revealed that Lucille has never even looked at a waiter in her life. This means that she doesn't notice when her own son is pretending to be a waiter at the restaurant she goes to. Said son had also been hitting on mature socialites as part of his act. Hilarity Ensues.
    • In the 4th Season, it's shown that Lucille and George Sr. think it's racist to tip black people. They continue in this delusion even after Michael attempts to disabuse them of the notion.
  • The Duke of Wellington in Blackadder may be the king of averting this trope. He may zigzag between Jerkass and Jerk with a Heart of Gold, but it is implied that he treats his servants like absolute shit. Case in point: he punches George, while the latter is disguised as Blackadder, for every mistake he makes, but when George tries to tell him the truth of how he is actually the Prince, Wellington shoots and kills him. Even Blackadder, who's no saint himself, thinks that Wellington's methods are too much, but that's more likely out of sympathy for Wellington's own servants rather than for George, as he's more than happy to punch George a few times.
  • Boiling Point (the 2005 MTV show): They secretly set up people to see how long they could remain civil to people who were being unreasonable with them. An episode tested which of three college-age customers could remain at least civil with the waiter for fourteen minutes during which MTV would call the customer before he or she had started eating, have the server clear the table in his or her absence, have the plate brought back with bits of garbage stuck to it, and insist the customer pay full price anyway. This particular bit was notorious because the only one of the three who failed was a certain (then-unknown) Stefani Germanotta.
  • In a Flash Forward in Breaking Bad, Walt gives a fast-food waitress a hundred-dollar tip. Keep in mind that it was a free meal to begin with, and he didn't even eat it because he was only there for a deal. This is meant to imply the radical changes Walt goes through over the course of the time difference... as well as the fact that he knows he doesn't have long to live.
  • Subverted in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While the Mayor is evil and manipulative, he is also very nice to everyone he meets, including vampires and demons. The only demand he makes of his staff is that they take his hygiene advice.
    • Subverted also with Mr. Trick. When the drive-thru guy hands Trick his diet soda and says to have a nice night, his response is a genuine smile and "Right back at you." A minute later, though, he unexpectedly gets hungry (for blood), yanks the poor sod out the window, and makes a meal of him.
  • Burn Notice: One villain is introduced with a lovely scene where he trips a busboy at a restaurant for no particular reason.
  • Carnival Row: Sophie Longerbane is friendly and kind to her Faun maid, which tips off Jonah that her anti-Fae bigotry is just an act to get in good with her father's political party. At the same time however this shows she's willing to back actions that would hurt her own maid, as a Fae, for power, subverting the trope somewhat.
  • Castle: Richard Castle may be a wealthy millionaire mystery writer and playboy, but he's constantly seen being nice, polite and friendly to people who earn less than him. Even outside of the main detectives he works with in the police precinct, the way he acts around the other cops suggests he's well-liked and respected.
    • Parodied in one episode set in the Hamptons, where the bad guy of the week ends up engaging in a Motive Rant while holding a hostage at gunpoint about how much he hates wealthy people like Castle who own big houses at the beach and act like they're better than the locals. Castle's response is a wounded, defensive and genuinely shocked "I don't think I'm better than you!"
  • This is an Establishing Character Moment in the first few minutes of Community. Jeff Winger is a sleazy former lawyer planning to cheat his way through college and pick up hot blondes, but when a lunch lady says he forgot to pay for lunch he immediately apologizes and pays up. He's a jerk, but he's not that much of a jerk.
  • In Coupling, Jane ignored Oliver Morris' advances until she saw how well liked he was by Mrs. C and Mrs. M (whose name was actually Barker — Oliver had unintentionally nicknamed her after the mole on her face), the cashiers at the supermarket Oliver had been shopping at for three years while Jane had been shopping there for five.
  • The Crown (2016): Prince Charles is shown to be very nice to the Palace staff as a child. "Paterfamilias" shows him cheerful and friendly around them contrasting the cold relationship he has towards his parents. This attitude persists into adulthood.
  • CSI: Recurring Extra Drops bought his Nanny and her daughter each separate apartments, the former for raising him and his sister, and the latter was his girlfriend. When the cops release him to find out the nanny's killer, Drops meets his Number Two who runs his nightclub, he's very friendly, and even gets the guy to smuggle him a device to jam the GPS (that the police use to keep tabs on him) on his ankle. When he gets arrested for murder, his lawyer proves the crime was self-defense (it was), and he remarks that he thought he was paying him too much and says he's alright.
  • In Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry annoys practically everyone he meets but is shown on multiple occasions to be a friendly and kind boss, giving employees generous bonuses at Christmas, though he seems to dislike Jason Alexander's generous tipping, if only because he refuses to tell Larry how much he tips.
  • On A Different World, at their first meeting, Whitley mistakes Dwayne's mother for a housekeeper. The woman never lets her forget it, and later tells Dwayne it's not being mistaken for a maid that bothered her so much as how rude Whitley was to someone she thought was merely a servant.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor usually goes out of his way to find the names of and be kind to the random people he meets on his travels. His companions are pretty good about this as well.
    • "The End of the World": Rose is thanked by an employee on a space satellite, because the former gave the latter permission to speak.
    • "Rise of the Cybermen"/"The Age of Steel": An alternate-universe Jackie Tyler dismisses Rose's attempts to repair her failing marriage because "You're just staff!" Of course, given that Jackie and Rose had been getting along well previously, it could have been that she was embarrassed that a strange waitress was giving her marriage advice.
      • To emphasize this, alternate universe Jackie gets assimilated into the Cybermen, while Rose's alternate universe father, who is nice to her, lives.
    • "Army of Ghosts": Yvonne Hartman, the head of Earth defense organization Torchwood, is shown as this. She may be leading a Conspiracy dating back to Victorian England seeking to reinstate the British Empire as ruling body of the Earth through exploitation of stolen alien technology, but she is courteous to her employees and goes out of her way to learn all of their names.
    • And when it doesn't happen, it's noteworthy enough to be called out: see the late 10th Doctor episode "Midnight" and the stewardess of the tour shuttle he and several strangers are on.
    • In "A Christmas Carol", the Doctor asked a rich Scrooge-Expy who a young woman is, and he answers "Nobody important". The Doctor acts amazed; in all his years he's never met someone who wasn't important.
  • Downton Abbey. Every person of nobility is considered decent if they treat their servants well. The Granthams tend to go above and beyond what many employers of the time would have done.
    • Lord Robert Grantham pays for their cook to get eye surgery, as opposed to firing and replacing her as many would have
    • Lady Mary rushing her maid Anna to a London doctor in the middle of the night to keep her from miscarrying, among other things. Mary can be quite nasty, especially to her sister Edith, but she's always polite to Anna and takes very good care of her; Anna is one of a very few people whose opinion Mary actually values, and whose advice she will seek when she's uncertain. In the movie, she explicitly calls Anna a good friend.
    • The Dowager Countess, Robert's mother, skillfully misleads the local doctor to giving two of the family's staff medical excuses to not be drafted into the army during World War I. After William is badly hurt and dying, she makes the local pastor into performing William's deathbed marriage to a girl he cares about.
    • Matthew plays with this in his first few episodes. As he is born to the upper-middle class, he didn't have a valet or butler to help him get dressed, and doesn't see the reason for it. So he tries to be nice and not need the help of the Mosely, the butler the Granthams hired to help run the cottage Matthew and his mother move into on the estate. Robert takes him aside and notes that this is Mosely's chosen profession and his years of training should be taken into account and respected. After this Matthew starts allowing Mosely to do his job.
  • Endgame: Arkady Balagan despises the upper management of the Huxley Hotel, and they would really like to shift him out of the penthouse suite he's occupying, but he is generally nice to the staff.
  • Enemy at the Door: Von Bulow, the title character of "The Prussian Officer", appears at first to be a gentleman, but is rude to the waiter, treats his valet terribly, and is basically a dick to anyone he considers a social inferior. He's such an awful person he makes the SS officer look like a human being.
  • Frasier:
    • Subverted in one episide when Niles praises Daphne for not being nice to the waiter (or the electrician, in this case).
    • Frasier himself zig-zags on this. While he will initially make every effort to be polite and genial, if the slightest thing throws him off, he often goes straight to totally insufferable. The problem is exacerbated when you realize that much of what does throw him off is stuff that most working class people wouldn't know. For example, he once insulted a waitress when she didn't know the difference between two vintages of the same wine. That said, once his boorishness is pointed out to him, he does usually apologize and try to make up for his behavior.
    • Niles himself also zig-zags this. He is less directly insufferable to waiters and baristas, but behind their back is every bit is stuffy as Frasier - one episode has him getting very worked up when his overcomplicated coffee order is messed up, angrily ranting how in some countries the offending barista's hand would be cut off. This might have something to do with Niles being far less confrontational than his brother. Another episode has Frasier point out, when Niles is trying to act like this, that he once made a major scene because a bag boy put ice cream on top of his veggies, up to and including accusing him of being on drugs.
  • The Banks family (and Will) in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air treat Geoffrey, the butler, with varying degrees of niceness versus taking him for granted.
    • Philip generally tries to keep his relationship with Geoffrey professional, but sometimes takes him for granted or talks over him, and pays him less than he'd like. On the other hand, he's been very generous to him on occasion; he paid his mother's medical bills, and in the final episode, upgraded his airline ticket to first-class and gave him his spring bonus.
    • Vivian and Ashley are undoubtedly the nicest. In fact, any time Geoffrey has extra time off, it's usually thanks to Vivian.
    • Carlton and Hilary take Geoffrey completely for granted, especially Hilary, who makes demands of him nonstop. Nicky can be a bit of this, too, but he's also only five.
    • Will often takes Geoffrey for granted. However, when Geoffrey has personal problems, Will is the first person to have his back. It reflects in how Geoffrey treats them as well: he is insulting towards Phil, kind towards Ashley and Vivian, is dismissive of Carlton and Hilary, and generally tries to take Will under his wing and treats him almost as a wayward son.
  • During a stint in Friends where Joey worked at the coffee shop as a waiter, one of the tips he gets from Rachel was that if a customer's ever rude to you, you spit in his muffin. When Ross (who during all this has been repeatedly asking Joey to take his order) loses his patience, Joey tells him that he'll throw in a free muffin along with his coffee.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Tywin Lannister has a few Pet the Dog moments with Arya Stark and treats her with a surprising amount of respect, largely because he is amused by her and obviously enjoys the company of a bright youngster more than that of his rather pedestrian retainers and warlords, though he does warn her to "be careful" when she steps over the line. Of course, this doesn't stop him casually giving her over to the monstrous Gregor Clegane once he has to leave.
    • Daenerys Targaryen treats her servants with a great deal of respect.
    • King Renly Baratheon shows concern for the lowborn soldiers in his army, making the effort to remember their names (Gerald in the episode) and the nature of their injury if they have one.
    • In a flashback, Lyanna is shown to be kinder to Hodor (then Wyllis) than Ned was at the time, giving the boy some tips on how to spar with Benjen.
    • Robb is even nice to enemy soldiers outside of combat. As far as Robb's concerned, being King is no excuse for being a dick.
    • What separates Arya from Sansa is her visible lack of snobbery and kindness to everyone regardless of their class. She remembers the violence committed on the poor like Mycah and Lommy Greenhands long after most people have forgotten them. It also hurts her when Gendry gives her a reality check that if they were to return to safety, Arya would go back to being a highborn daughter while Gendry will be a mere commoner again and they would not enjoy the close friendship they had known until then.
    • Tytos Lannister had his kennelmaster (the grandfather of Gregor and Sandor), knighted for saving his life from a lioness — thus making the latter the forebear of House Clegane. Though typical for the series, this one act of kindness led to killing machines Ser Gregor Clegane and Sandor Clegane when they enter the Lannister service as loyal hitmen.
    • Even though her mother despises Ser Davos, Shireen considers him her friend, and resolves to teach him to read.
  • On Ghost Whisperer, Delia declines a second date with a guy who completely freaks out and berates a waiter for spilling something on Delia (far more than the poor guy deserves). The date was otherwise perfect, but she explains that her mother always told her never to date a man who was rude to waiters.
  • Played with on Gilmore Girls — Emily is never outright rude to her servants, but has ridiculously high standards and changes maids every couple of weeks for reasons that Lorelai finds absurd.
    • That said, Lorelai and Rory aren't particularly nice to the waiter either. While they treat the maids better than Emily does, that's a rather low standard, and Lorelai isn't above putting them on the spot for the sake of taking a potshot at her mother. And when Rory is put in charge of a DAR event, Paris (temporarily poor and working for her) is quick to point out that Rory doesn't mingle with the "help."
    • Emily's Character Development in A Year in the Life is demonstrated by her treatment of her maid. Not only does she keep the maid for the entire year, she winds up unofficially adopting her family and takes them along when she moves. She can't understand them (and isn't even sure what language they speak), but she cares for them and treats them like family.
  • The Good Guys: In "The Little Things", a pizza manager is quick to reveal information about a customer who Jack and Dan tell him is an Identity thief because the man has ordered over a thousand pizzas without ever tipping.
  • Gran Hotel:
    • When Alicia first enters the hotel, she thanks one of the maids who comes to take care of her and refers to her by name, an early indicator of her kindness. It's later revealed that she knows everyone who works there by name.
    • This is subverted by Teresa. While she's courteous to the hotel staff, and will reward them if they help her, she ultimately only sees them as a means to satisfy her own needs, and has no problem dispatching of them once they've stopped being of use to her.
  • In Heat Of The Sun, set in colonial Kenya, the hero (played by Trevor Eve), a detective, stands up for the indigenous Africans, shakes hands with black servants, etc., while his boss, a colonialist jerk, looks down on them.
  • Gregory House, while giving a eulogy at his father's funeral, professes his belief that the test of a man's character is how he treats those over whom he has total power. He notes his complete lack of surprise that all the military officers present are his father's rank or higher, and tells the audience that his father failed the test, and that maybe if he had been a better father, House would have been a better son.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • The first sign that a woman Ted briefly dates is awful is her yelling at a waiter and demanding a free appetizer.
    • The gang is always nice to Wendy the waitress, who works in their favourite pub.
    • Barney is shown to usually be nice to his servers (he inevitably learns the names of his cabbies and converses with them like friends). He does a variety of less-nice things like yelling at a receptionist until she cries, however. Basically, whether anyone in the gang is nice to the waiter depends on Rule of Funny.
    • Lily is referring to a server by the wrong name after he told her his correct name. Bitch in Sheep's Clothing in that episode.
  • In Hustle, the marks are invariably rude to waiters, the hired help, their own employees and anyone else lower than them on the social pecking order. In one episode, Albert is watching a potential mark at a restaurant. One of the other people at the table leaves a generous tip for the waiter which the mark then pockets for himself when the others leave. At this point, Albert decides that he is definitely their next target.
    • In "Big Daddy", a pit boss gets fired as a result of failing to stop the crew ripping off the casino. When he opens his locker to clean it out, he discovers the crew have left a huge pile of cash for him as compensation.
  • On Mystery Diners, a mystery diner is sent in to test a waitress with an attitude problem. he is perfectly nice to her about the order being not what he wanted. After some gratuitous rudeness she expresses anger that she has to get a fresh burger set up. Back in the kitchen(but watched by a Hidden Camera), this fat sweaty waitress deliberately puts the burger bun inside her top, rubbing it against her breast and armpit before returning it to the plate - and serving the hapless customer.
  • On Kitchen Nightmares, Gordon Ramsay is always nice to the staff that doesn't deserve to be yelled at, who in turn are typically the most honest in regards to the restaurant's problems. A good example is the "Oceania" episode, where he's almost apologetic to have to send the waitress back with the food. In "Amy's Baking Company", he is duly appalled when he learns that one of the owners takes all of the tips given to the waiters/waitresses and when a waitress is summarily fired for asking a simple question. He makes sure to tip the waitress directly and tries to stand up for them by telling the customers about their tips being stolen and how they deserve those tips.
  • In the premiere episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, a criminal gives an insultingly small tip (measured in spare change) to a skycap when he picks an associate up at the airport. This comes back to bite him later when the cops come around and the skycap remembers him.
  • Happens in an episode of MacGyver, where he is in a casino and sees a woman yelling at a waitress for accidentally spilling a drink on her dress. MacGyver decides to use her as a distraction. The distraction involves the woman's dress falling down in front of everyone.
  • Mad Men:
    • Played with when Joan makes it a point to be exceptionally nice to the phone line operators, to the point of bringing them flowers and presents. It's made clear that this is not out of kindness, but because being on an operator's bad side will make it impossible for you to do your job.
    • Roger needs to have his shoes shined but the man who shines shoes in their office building is absent so he offhandedly asks his secretary to inquire what happened to the man. His dutiful secretary calls up the man's home and finds out that he died. The man's family is extremely touched that Roger seemed to care so much about the well being of the man who shined his shoes that they send him the dead man's shoe shining kit as a keepsake. Roger is amused by the misunderstanding but it gives him an epiphany and it helps him deal with his mother's recent death.
  • Merlin
    • Prince Arthur flip-flops with this in regard to Merlin. While he clearly assumes he's the superior and constantly insults and berates Merlin while Merlin's trying to do his job, he has shown that he cares about the common people and occasionally shows Merlin some measure of affection and respect. He's also willing to risk his life to protect or save Merlin without a second's thought. Especially after a bit of Character Development, he moves firmly into Vitriolic Best Buds territory with Merlin-he respects and appreciates Merlin, but would never admit that out loud short of severe torture. However, he still shows continues to show a bit of cluelessness as to the actual difficulty of being a servant.
    • Princess Mithian, along with all of her other admirable traits, genuinely tries to befriend Merlin and treats him far better than Arthur does.
    • Prior to her Face–Heel Turn, Morgana is incredibly kind and respectful to both Gwen and Merlin, and even after said event, there are moments where it seems like she still has some respect for them.
  • In the "Upper-Class Twit" sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus, one of the tasks required of the contestants is abusing a waiter.
    • The couple in the "Dirty Fork" sketch maintain their décor while the restaurant staff all go ballistic over said cutlery.
  • A visiting writer in one episode of Murder, She Wrote is first shown to be a Jerkass when he doesn't recognize Jessica, assumes she's nobody important, and treats her very rudely. He makes it worse by trying to apologize later, explaining that "I didn't realize you were somebody." She coolly informs him that in Cabot Cove, it's standard procedure "to be polite even to nobodies." (However, he didn't commit the murder despite looking for the whole episode like he or his sleazy assistant did.)
  • In My Name Is Earl, ex-wife Joy shows her true colors by responding to a rant in Spanish with "Excuse me, I don't speak maid!" The rant itself is a Bilingual Bonus, which translates to "I want to acknowledge the Latin public that follows us every week. And for those that are not Latin, I congratulate them for learning another language."
  • The Nanny:
    • Fran Fine grew up in a working-class family, so it's expected, but it deserves special mention since it's frequently contrasted with the snooty blue-bloods she usually deals with. In fact, the first person from the Sheffield household to truly accept her was the butler Niles, with whom she becomes close friends throughout the series. During "The Strike", she explicitly refuses to cross a picket line of striking busboys and had to be forcibly dragged by Maxwell, spinning into a scandal by the paparazzi. In another episode, "Personal Business", when she dates an obnoxious soap star, she addressed the driver by name whereas her date only called him "Driver."
    • In "The Butler, the Husband, the Wife and Her Mother", Niles has to pretend he's Maxwell Sheffield and married to Fran as an attempt for Fran's mother Sylvia to one-up her brother-in-law Jack and his daughter Marsha, which goes well until Maxwell and the Sheffield children comes back... and then the Butler's Association arrives to judge Niles's performance. Once the scheme backfires and the representatives are ready to give Niles a horrible appraisal, Maxwell points out that if a family is willing put on that kind of performance for their butler, he must be a truly spectacular butler indeed and that Niles is, basically, family. Also, after learning that Fran's the nanny for the Sheffields, Marsha starts gloating about Fran "only" being the nanny, till the usually timid Maggie says "Who asked you anyway, you big green cow!?", and Sylvia, whose ego started this mess, finally says "At least she's got a job. I wouldn't trade my Fran for all the Marshas in Miami.".
    • C.C. Babcock is in no way nice to Niles, and she pays dearly for it. Some of the things that are seen or mentioned during the show: swapping out her lip balm for glue stick, putting dishwater in her coffee, switching some labels on breath spray and pepper spray, leaving her trapped in a malfunctioning wheelchair spinning out of control, squirting lemon juice into her eye, handing her a scalding hot teapot, and in general, Niles plays hacky-sack with her mental and physical health the entire series. And she is especially ill-mannered towards Fran, who she sees as a rival for Maxwell's affections. C.C. is very condescending to Fran, undermines her and tries to manipulate her in one way or another, but Fran usually has the last laugh.
  • Played straight in an episode of the British sitcom The New Statesman: Alan B'Stard and one of his cronies deliberately get waiters fired from a restaurant solely for idle amusement. To add further insult, one of the waiters later attacks the duo with a knife and is dispatched with contemptuous ease. (Amusingly, the crony and the waiter are played by Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.)
  • Leslie on Parks and Recreation is generally extremely outgoing and friendly with almost everyone, so it's unsurprising that she nice to and often beloved by lower level workers, both in and out of government. In an notable example, the crew at the local airport see a very unpleasant reporter trap her into an embarrassing interview, and when he travels, the bag with his tapes mysteriously goes missing.
  • Scandal: President Fitzgerald Grant, according to Morris the guard.
  • In Scrubs Turk is incredibly rude to a parking valet, only to find out that it was actually Carla's brother. Did we mention this takes place at their mother's funeral? If Turk had just been nicer, his relationship with his in-laws would have been a lot less funny.
  • Seinfeld:
    • George Costanza is obsessed with waitresses liking him, and becomes obviously distressed when they don't. He is most definitely not a good person. In another episode, Jerry and Elaine argue over what to tip a baggage handler, with the result that Elaine (who favors tipping low) finds her bags sent to Honolulu.
    • Played with in another episode where Jerry, George, and Kramer visit LA. Jerry and George run into a guy who favors giving huge tips to the help, but he doesn't turn out to be such a good guy in the end. He's actually a serial killer.
    • And yet another episode in which George seems very disturbed by the fact that a security guard has to stand all day, and further upset that his fiancée Susan doesn't seem to care. Naturally, his efforts to help by providing the man with a chair just makes things worse — he falls asleep on duty and the store is robbed.
  • Sex and the City
    • Subverted when Samantha's client (Lucy Liu) says she judges people by how well they tip, because she used to wait tables for a living. Sam looks distinctly worried as Lucy pulls over the check; however, Lucy is very impressed that Sam tipped 25% and Sam wins the contract.
    • Inverted with a man Samantha was dating. He had a very close cleaning lady he swore was a lifesaver. She was sickeningly sweet when he was around, but acted out full on Asian Rudeness to Samantha the second he left the house. When Samantha confronted him with this, he dismissed Samantha and sided with the servant.
  • In Sherlock Holmes, Holmes is usually an Insufferable Genius, even with those in powerful positions, but he's typically nice to servants, constables and working people, especially innkeepers, always tipping generously. This serves him well, because those people usually end up being the most helpful. He is also (usually) very polite to Mrs. Hudson, the landlady, who serves his meals and tidies up the flat.note 
  • Like Sara in A Little Princess, the Japanese drama Shōkōjo Seira has the main character Seira being very kind and friendly with everyone around her, whether they are the same rank as her or not. Back in India, she treats all her servants amiably and they in return love her very much. She approaches Kaito (Becky's Spear Counterpart) when no one else does and drops off books for him to read. Even when she loses her fortune and everyone is out to make her life miserable, Seira still smiles and bows politely to them.
  • In an episode of Stargate SG-1, the team finds a village where they use creatures called Unas as slave labour. While attempting to barter for one Unas in particular, resident nice guy Daniel thanks an Unas who serves them drinks. The trader they're bartering with expresses surprise at this and Daniel, in an attempt to keep up appearances as a slave trader, claims that he's merely using positive reinforcement to better train the Unas.
  • On Suits, Daniel Hardman made the mistake of badly tipping the staff at a hotel where he was having clandestine rendezvous with his mistress. More than five years later, they still remember him and are willing to testify about the affair. Within the law firm of Pearson-Hardman being rude to the secretaries and paralegals is pretty much career suicide to anyone who is not already a senior partner. And even they respect Donna.
  • Played both ways in The Thick of It. The ministers in charge treat their subordinates horribly, and PR enforcers Malcolm and Jamie have no problem hurling truckloads of abuse at politicians and civil servants, but the Caledonian Mafiosos are both markedly more patient with- as well as friendly and polite to- "normal people" like cleaners and drivers. They seem to reserve their ire for those who make it clear they're only in it for themselves and arguably deserve it.
  • In Trust, Little Paul is the only member of the Getty family who treats the elder Getty's butler Jahangir like a human being. The others can't even be bothered to learn his name; they all call him Bullimore, which was the name of Paul Getty's first butler God knows how many years earlier.
  • One of the reasons for President Jed Bartlet's popularity with viewers of The West Wing was most likely this trope, as Bartlet was consistently shown to be a kindly, supportive and genuinely caring person with those who worked for him. It was particularly apparent in his fatherly relationship with his personal aide Charlie. He didn't always remember their names, but he never failed to treat them well. This is also true of all of his senior staff with the notable exception of Toby, who hates working with anybody who can't write up to his standards or annoys him in the slightest, and wants everyone to know it. He is, however, very protective of the ones who manage to stick it out. And interestingly, most of the baddies on the show seem to have very loyal staffs of their own.
  • An episode of Will & Grace had Will on a date with an arrogant man. At the end of the date, they began to argue over which of them should pay the bill. Will gets the waiter to give him the bill with the promise that "I'll tip you."
    • Previously, Will mentions playing the "Be Nice To Waiters" game. He says, "If you win, you get to not go to hell."
  • Why Women Kill: Played with as part of Simone's Jerk-to-Nice-Guy Plot. She's never shown being outright mean to minimum wage workers, and had rather humble beginnings herself, but is haughty, demanding, and absurdly self-centered at first. She's not cruel to those working for her because she barely notices them at all. However, she becomes genuinely selfless and kind over the course of the series, though she still has her moments. When Karl collapses in their front yard, not a single one of the neighbors will help him, because he has AIDS. A gardener, however, rushes over to help him to his feet and allows him to lean against him as he and Simone help him to the car. She's genuinely grateful, thanking him profusely and offers to hire him to work for them. Karl, who is significantly more down-to-earth than his wife, dryly informs her that he does work for them, and has for six years. Simone, a little embarrassed, asks the gardener his name and thanks him once more.
  • Wolf Hall
    • Thomas Cromwell treats most people with decency and respect until they give him reason not to; he pulls up a chair for the near-fainting Princess Mary when her mother tells her to stand out of courtesy and is kind to his subordinates. He is still, however, the man who orchestrated the Kangaroo Court and execution of Anne Boleyn and her purported lovers.
    • Anne Boleyn's habit of not doing this plays a major role in her downfall. She's irritable and insulting to her ladies-in-waiting and goes so far as to strike Lady Rochford in the face. Rochford exacts revenge by telling Cromwell that Anne and her brother George Boleyn are sleeping together.

  • The Spoon song "The Underdog" addresses someone who pays no attention to their social inferiors, something that will lead to that person's downfall.
  • There's a David Wilcox song called Rule Number One about this very thing.
  • In "Tacky" by "Weird Al" Yankovic, the list of tacky behaviours includes "Think it's fun threatening waiters with a bad Yelp review."

  • In The Mahabharata, one of many scenes that depict Krishna's compassion for all beings is when he stops in the middle of a warzone (with Arjuna providing cover fire) to rub down his chariot horses and heal their wounds.
    He has tears in his eyes that they were hurt.
  • In Classical Mythology we have Zeus—King of Olympus who casually flits between Anti-Hero and Jerk Ass Gods, but one of his few consistent decencies is enforcing the rules of etiquette. You are to follow his example and always be polite to your party guests unless they start trouble, you always show appreciation for your servants, and you never take advantage of your hosts. Because if you do, he fully reserves the right to shove a lightning bolt up your anal cavity.

  • Mystery Show: Starlee has a habit of striking up friendly conversations with everybody she encounters.
    • In episode two, Starlee encounters a cab driver who once drove Britney Spears and speaks glowingly of her.

  • In The National, a BBC radio drama based on the founding of the National Theatre, Sir Laurence Olivier is characterised by remembering the names of everyone in the company, and at the end of part two impresses the importance of this on his successor, Sir Peter Hall. Part three opens with Sir Peter unable to even remember the name of his assistant, although he is at least a bit apologetic about it.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The more heroic Space Marine chapters, like the Blood Angels, Salamanders, Space Wolves, and Ultramarines, in Warhammer 40,000 tend to treat their Chapter Serfs (unaugmented humans who serve non-combat roles alongside the Marines) as equals and respect their jobs as being necessary for the Space Marines to do their job. The more jerkish ones just sort of ignore them, and the complete assholes (including most traitor legions) abuse their serfs.


    Video Games 
  • In Disgaea Infinite, the Netherworld Database states that Flonne is kind to the Prinnies, who in turn have formed a fan club.
    • In Disgaea Dimension 2, the heroes acquire the services of a knight named Barbara, who seems to have no free will of her own and lives only to follow orders. Flonne berates the others for taking advantage of this and making Barbara perform mundane tasks for them...but even she has been using Barbara to record her Toku shows for her, so she doesn't have to remember to do it herself.
  • Dragon Age uses this trope a lot:
    • Dragon Age: Origins:
      • It's shown that the dwarves have a Fantastic Caste System, and two opponents fight to become the next king. The Evil Prince Bhelen, who allegedly poisoned his father (the last king), killed his eldest brother, made the middle sibling into the fall guy, and wants to be king simply because he wants to rule, is for expanding rights for the lower castes and casteless and supports economic reforms for expanding surface trade rights for the merchants. He even marries a casteless woman for love. His opponent, Reasonable Authority Figure Harrowmont, was the former king's best friend who is running to honour his Last Request, and fought to maintain the innocence of the Dwarf Noble if you picked that origin. He is also a traditionalist who supports the current caste system, favours the nobles and soldier castes, and dislikes caste-less.
      • The Dwarf Noble can have this relationship with Gorim, their second, even demanding that their elder brother Trian apologise after he insulted Gorim for being from an "inferior caste". The Female Dwarf Noble and Gorim can even have a secret relationship on the side, though it can't be made official as the other nobles would skin Gorim alive for dallying above his station.
      • During the Dwarf Noble origin, they can also invoke this by choosing dialogue options that make them come across as a Wise Prince/Princess (and avoiding those which act like a Royal Brat). This includes defending a scribe who has earned the ire of a fellow noble by writing an unflattering (but true) book about his Paragon ancestor, showing kindness towards Rica when she assumed they were Bhelen coming to meet her in his bedchamber, and rebuking Gorim several times for being rude towards the various merchants in the Diamond Quarter.
      • The Human Noble has a chance to do this during his/her origin as well, when interacting with Nan, the head of the kitchen in Castle Cousland, and also with some soldiers who are playing cards while guarding the treasury. It's also implied that the characters' parents are this way toward servants, soldiers, and commoners, which is a big part of why the people of Highever are so loyal to the Cousland family.
    • In a similar vein, in Dragon Age II Hawke has several opportunities when dealing with various people, including bartenders, quarrymen, prostitutes, and the servants in his/her own noble household.
    • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, it's revealed that there's an entire spy network built on this principle. Servants in noble households who are treated badly by their employers will frequently tip off the Friends of Red Jenny about those same employers' less-than-savory behavior, and the Jennies use this information to make life more difficult for those nobles. The nobles who treat their employees well are generally not subjected to retaliation by the Jennies, since their servants have fewer complaints. Sera, a companion of the Inquisitor who belongs to this group, often reminds the player character not to "punch down" on the people supporting them from underneath.
  • According to the CDs in Mega Man & Bass, Flash Man's strength is that he's "kind to his subordinates". But the CDs are best taken with a grain of salt (Flash Man is also accused of doing "evil things in the bath", presumably with his Time Stop power).
  • In the Kill Killbane ending for Saints Row: The Third, The Boss (an unrepentant gangster whose crimes are too high to list) apologizes for taking over the newscast after he declares Steelport a city-state.
  • In Super Mario 64 DS, you can talk to the Toads around the castle as each of the four playable characters. You'll notice that Mario and Yoshi are well-liked, Luigi is made fun of for being in his brother's shadow... and everyone is terrified of Wario.
  • Zagreus of Hades pays little attention to social station when interacting with others, approaching mortals, servants, and even convicts with just as much respect and good faith as he does other gods. This winds up getting Dusa into trouble for regularly "bothering" him when he casually strikes up a friendship with her without realizing she's not supposed to speak to him outside her professional capacity as a maid.
  • In Ghost of Tsushima, Jin is this, compared to his uncle, as he remains polite and courteous to even the lowliest commoner he runs into, so long as they show him at least a nominal degree of respect due to his station, but once he likes you, he'll even let that slide. It's telling that his childhood friend is the commoner Ryuzo and he becomes closer to the thief Yuna and the blacksmith Taka than any other noble. Even in his childhood, Ryuzo is his only friend mentioned, making it likely that Jin was like this at a young age.
  • In Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King, King Orchid and his brother Crocus are polar opposites on this front. A book in the library notes how a young Orchid would donate many pairs of his shoes to the downtrodden in Blossom Town, and in the present he's The Good King who lets people from all walks of life into the Knights. Crocus, in contrast, is infamous for forcing the castle staff to undertake grueling chores for him.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: Countess Umbranox is considered one of Anvil's best rulers in centuries and has an excellent reputation among the common people of her city, with several lower-class NPCs commenting that she takes the time to greet them personally.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Seven Kingdoms: The Princess Problem, not only can you learn a lot from how any given character treats the servants, other characters will just as easily draw their own conclusions about you based on the same thing. In one case in the first week, how you treat a servant while no one else seems to be around turns out to be a Secret Test of Character on the part of one of your fellow delegates.
  • In Fate/hollow ataraxia, Caster isn't particularly nice to the serving staff, feeling that if they had any actual worth, they wouldn't be in the serving industry. It doesn't help that the waiter she interacts with is Lancer, who delights in trolling her.
  • A Little Lily Princess: The students in the high-end Boarding School include the protagonist Sara, who loves books, and Ermengarde, who doesn't like books much. One of the indications of Ermengarde being a nices person is her regifiting a book in French her father sent her not to Sara, but to Sara's French maid Mariette. Mariette points out that very few of the students would have tought of giving the book to her rather than a fellow student.

    Web Animation 

  • In Erstwhile, the bride in "Maid Maleen" is hostile to the servants.
  • Freefall:
    • Florence explains the practicalities of it to Edge.
      Edge: A brilliant mind like mine, and I have to rely on a dumb dog for brain surgery.
      Florence: A brilliant mind would not insult the dog before surgery.
    • Later, Mr. Ishiguro acknowledges that Kornada's misuse of his personal assistant Clippy has left the latter seriously traumatized, and wonders where he's going to find psychiatric help for a robot.
  • Girl Genius:
    • One reason for having medical labs all about Heterodyne Castle is so the body doesn't have to be lugged far.
      Moloch: I think it shows a bit of respect for the working man.
    • And Zola admits that Gil treated her nicely even when she seemed just a chorus girl to him.
    • In the Novel of the Comic Gil also treats Wooster, his valet/assistant, less formally than he should, such as giving him a cup of tea instead of expecting him to serve and stand back.note  He also shows genuine affection for Zoing, a construct servant. Gil in general treats subordinates better than one would expect the son of the dictator of Europe would.
    • In contrast, the Jägergenerals relate how the Heterodynes always earned the trust of the Jägermonsters, hence their loyalty; Lucrezia, however, is shown to be very rude to the Jägers, who only serve her for Bill's sake. So when Lucrezia turns out to be the Other, there's no fear that the Jägermonsters will join her.
  • No Rest for the Wicked:
  • Played with here in Questionable Content, where being kind to the waitress gets Steve a date with the waitress.
  • In Sandra and Woo, Larisa gives this as the first of three pearls of wisdom. She was supposed to give three teachings of Aristotle but the teacher gives her an A+ anyway.
  • TRU-Life Adventures: Darby has admitted to using this test on at least one date.

    Web Original 
  • Chakona Space: Goldfur and her family tend to treat every new stranger in their lives with smiles and hugs, regardless of their status. This is in spite of their sheer wealth in terms of utterly powerful connections to, and definitely not limited to: a space admiral, a sentient battleship, two black ops retirees, and the strongest psychic in the series. They only treat child-killers like crap.
  • The Knights of Fandom encourage this as part of their modus operandi - the idea is to treat everyone with, at the very least, basic decency and respect, regardless of their station in life.
  • The "Awesome Customers" tag on Not Always Right is for customers who are nice to the employees. Otherwise, the site is dedicated to unpleasant customers, whether by stupidity, malice, or derangement.
    • ...Of course, the nature of the site being what it is, the opposite also shows up. Witness this little interaction between a Navy Lieutenant and the waiting staff at a restaurant. Rarely has Laser-Guided Karma been so sweet.
    • The wife of this university president was widely known among the catering staff for averting this trope. Finally, she throws a public and loud fit (and a plate) during a banquet for big-money donors because the waitress dared to serve her husband before her. One donor tipped the waitress directly, and said the school wouldn't get a penny more from him. Apparently several other donors had the same reaction, because the president announced his resignation within one week.
    • A student on a work-study job at a museum learns that none of the other students— or even most of the museum staff— interact with the cleaning crew. Who turn out to know more about the building than the curators do.
  • Whateley Universe: In at least a couple of the Ayla stories, it's pointed out that Tansy Walcutt is horrible to the help, and is fairly anvilicious about never emulating that. Just to drive the point home, the author contrasts this with Ayla who is always kind to the help and gets huge bonuses because of it.
    • Ayla also has a good reason for it. If you aren't nice to the help, you'll end up without any help. And good work deserves good pay. It's just good business.

    Western Animation 
  • Both Mallory and Sterling Archer treat their hired help at ISIS like crap, though Mallory treats Sterling just as bad (if not worse) as the rest of her ISIS employees, not to mention is far more sympathetic towards Woodhouse (Sterling's manservant and male nanny) than her son is. Mallory summed it up quite well when she was Mistaken for Racist.
    Mallory: I treat every servant the same regardless of skin color! If anything that makes me an elitist, but not a racist.
    • Sterling, meanwhile, is marginally nicer to the staff, though he tends to behave like a bullying jock toward most of them. But his behavior toward Woodhouse blows right past bullying and into outright torture, including forcing Woodhouse to do odd things like eat bowls of spider-webs and have his brother sent to prison. On the other hand, flashbacks have shown that while Woodhouse was Sterling's nanny, he often left the kid alone in a run-down apartment while he locked himself in the bathroom and got high (even on Sterling's birthday), so perhaps this is Sterling's idea of payback.
    • Ironically, while Sterling has a pretty bad record for his servants and underlings, he tends to Pet the Dog when dealing with people who are socially beneath him but aren't working for him. This includes refusing to hunt ships while acting alongside Ruthless Modern Pirates because he recognized that most of their targets were poor fishermen who wouldn't survive losing their livelihoods, and showing genuine sympathy and anger for people being given fake cancer drugs.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: You can easily use this trope to see the difference between Zuko and Azula. Sure, Zuko comes off as a bit of a Jerkass at first, but he does save the life of one of his Red Shirts in "The Storm." Azula's Establishing Character Moment, meanwhile, includes threatening to throw her ship's captain overboard and let him drown because he's reluctant to bring the ship in to shore during a period of dangerous tides. (To be fair he later proved himself an idiot, so maybe she had some reason to treat him that way. At least that time.)
    • Further driven home in the third season, where we see Zuko and Azula interacting with their respective servants. Zuko is unfailingly polite to his servants and they seem happy to work for him. In contrast, Azula's servants are terrified of her (rightfully so) and the first sign of her Sanity Slippage is when she banishes one of them for leaving a pit in her cherries. This is also implied to be an act of mercy by Azula, so no telling what she has done to servants who have screwed up in the past.
    • The events surrounding the Agni Kai that left Zuko scarred and banished worked as both a straight use and a inversion of this trope. Zuko protested a plan that would have led to the pointless deaths of many loyal soldiers, but by doing so, he ticked off his father and was forced to duel. The inversion comes from the Fire Lord: if he was willing to brutally scar his own flesh and blood just to show everyone who's boss, he certainly wasn't going to be a good tipper. And considering Iroh's own habits (including befriending his own prison guard, and making sure she was not present during his escape), we know where Zuko learned a lot of it.
  • In Batman: The Animated Series episode "The Terrible Trio", Bruce Wayne gets berated by his Upper-Class Twit golfing buddies for thanking his caddy; one in particular, Warren Lawford, sarcastically asks if he also thanks the garbageman for picking up his trash. Bruce replies, in full Sincerity Mode, "If I happen to run into him." Needless to say, the three twits end up going on a crime spree because they're bored, and Lawford in particular tries to murder his girlfriend after she finds out.
  • Carmen Sandiego:
    • Nigel Braithwait of British Intelligence is very friendly with the personnel in his office, asking after a security guard's sick wife and encouraging them to address him by his first name. It's an act he drops the instant he's in private, as his position depends on being a Villain with Good Publicity.
    • Meanwhile, Carmen takes the time to minimize collateral damage and uses the money she steals from V.I.L.E. to give back to the communities they've been harming, even taking the time to bemoan that their Botswana diamond mine is taking away revenue that the government would have invested into schools, hospitals, and other public interests, but she doesn't typically get chummy with people outside Player, Zack, Ivy, and Shadow-san.
    • When Chase fakes sick at Interpol, his supervisor reacts with annoyance and distain (though, to be fair, we only see the supervisor's reaction after Chase has pulled the trick several times). When he does the same at A.C.M.E., the Chief assigns an agent to bring him soup and check up on him to make sure he's okay.
  • One Cartoon Network bumper had Droopy working as a barista at a café only to be stiffed on the tip by the Wolf. Of course, being Droopy, he simply stalked the Wolf and continued to hound him for a tip, no matter how hard the Wolf tried to escape from him. The Wolf finally caved and left him a ton of money before jumping off a plane. Droopy just sat there and pointed out that the Wolf forgot his latte.
  • It is usually played straight with popular kids and Timmy in The Fairly OddParents. Timmy is sometimes nice to Tootie and is friends with Chester, a poor kid. Trixie has been nice to Timmy sometimes too. The other popular kids and villains are not.
  • Family Guy uses this trope frequently with regard to Lois's parents. Lois's father once sits next to his gardener on a bus and fails to place him.
    Carter: I didn't recognize you without my lawn underneath you.
    Gardener: I don't take the lawn with me when I go.
    Carter: I was right to trust you with it, then.
  • Gargoyles: Inverted with the Pack. They may be a bunch of bloodthirsty mercenaries, but their time on TV was a job, and they treated it as such. When training after hours, Fox bids a friendly good bye to Harvey, one of the stuntmen who worked as the ninjas the team would beat up while on air, telling him to work on his backflips.
  • In the Kim Possible episode "Dimension Twist", Dr. Drakken yells at the cable installer to hurry up and finish (he's expecting Kim and Ron to show up soon). This comes back to bite him when the rush job cross-circuits the TV with a dimension-jumping device.
  • In King of the Hill, Buck Strickland does nothing to run his own business and treats the entire thing like a personal piggy bank (he frequently takes money out of the safe to buy strippers). Capping that off, he's dismissive of his employees and doesn't care what they have to say. The only man under him he seems to care about his Hank (who's the only reason Strickland Propane isn't bankrupt), but even then he blows off many of his warnings and has him do his dirty work. In one episode, we see Buck's idea of tipping his pool boy is throwing large bills into the pool and laughing as he swims for them.
  • The Legend of Korra: This is a critical point of difference between the various rulers of the Earth Kingdom.
    • Earth Queen Hou-Ting is a remorseless, power-mad monster who lived in decadence while her people were forced into ruined squalor. As you can imagine, she treated her staff with the same barely-disguised contempt she showed for everyone else.
    • The Queen's successor and nephew, Royal Brat Prince Wu was vain and foolish to the extreme, but wound up being far more courteous than his aunt. His personality was largely defined by being spoiled and self-centered, but he readily accepted criticisms and advice from those below his station. Once, upon seeing that Mako (who'd been forced to serve as his bodyguard) was depressed, Wu dropped everything to try and cheer him up.
    • Kuvira straddles the line in this regard. She does care about her soldiers and refuses to put them through anything she wouldn't do herself. On the other hand, she's an extreme Control Freak who hates criticism or even the slightest hint of disloyalty. If you're not fully behind her, or if she doesn't think you're fully behind her, you don't want to know what she'll do to you.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • Twilight Sparkle, upon her arrival in Ponyville, politely and sincerely thanks the Royal Guardsponies that had been pulling her chariot, even calling them "sirs" (to which they react very positively). This is despite the fact that Twilight is currently in a very sour mood over being sent to Ponyville in the first place. Until this moment, viewers could be forgiven for assuming that Twilight is an asocial, self-centered Jerkass (especially in light of her earlier treatment of Spike), but her being nice to ponies who are nothing more than temporarily-assigned servants proves that she is a good pony at heart - if a bit obsessive and thoughtless at times.
    • Likewise with Twilight Sparkle's treatment of Spike, where she frequently does callous acts like slamming doors in his face, dropping heavy books on him, hurling him around via magic, or throwing things at him. It firmly establishes her as being scatterbrained rather than malicious, as she tends to not realize it's happening, and when she's not otherwise distracted she treats him very well.
    • Princess Cadance is shown to be this as well, showing concern about her hairdresser calling in sick.
    • In the season 4 episode "Rarity Takes Manehattan", Rarity establishes herself as this; she tips generously and helps strangers in need without a single thought to getting anything in return. Conversely, the antagonist of the day, Suri Polomare, routinely mistreats her assistant and takes advantage of others for her own gain. Needless to say, at the end both Rarity and Suri get what they deserve.
  • Zigzagged with Emperor Palpatine in the Robot Chicken Star Wars specials: while he's verbally abusive toward Darth Vader and has told stormtroopers to 'go fuck themselves', Vader made some boneheaded decisions, and he only yelled at the stormtroopers after getting irritated by every stormtrooper greeting him. He's pretty cordial with his secretary Sheila, and regards his barber Alfonso as a confidant, even taking his advice to hire bounty hunters to find the Millennium Falcon.
  • One of the ultimate examples of this trope is Mr. Burns on The Simpsons. He frequently mistreats and abuses his employees to almost comical degrees, such as laughing maniacally when a window washer's platform collapses right outside his window. He abuses no one more than Smithers, who turns a blind eye to it.
    Smithers: Oh my God, Mr Burns is dead! Why must the good always die so young?
  • Sofia the First:
    • In the episode "The Emerald Key," this is what clues Sofia in on the real Princess Lelani's identity. The better-dressed, more formal "Lelani" is cold to the servants and takes them for granted, whereas the wet, casual "Lani" treats them respectfully and takes the time to help clean up a spilled tray.
    • Played with by the Enchancian royal family themselves. While they claim to be nice to their staff, and certain episodes have them treating the entire castle staff to a picnic or show Miranda helping clean up the playroom, in general, they tend to take their servants for granted. Amber, in particular, tends to throw lavish parties that rely on her bossing the staff around without acknowledging anyone's work but her own, which she never gets called out on. "The Tri-Kingdom Picnic" has a whole musical number about how over-the-top they go for the titular event, during which the staff sings "They're going to party until we drop," but their contributions are never recognized. This is best demonstrated in their treatment of Cedric, the Royal Sorcerer. Roland treats him with open disdain, while the rest of the family takes advantage of his magic while simultaneously deriding it, and even Sofia, the only person to treat him with respect and admiration, spends the first season mispronouncing his name despite being repeatedly corrected and has no problem requiring him to give her rare magical ingredients so that she can have a suitably impressive project for class and ignoring his despair when she takes it.
  • Steven Universe:
    • Greg Universe. As a humble musician who's lived in a literal van for the majority of his life, he's sympathetic to people who similarly don't have a lot of money. When he unexpectedly strikes it rich, and treats Steven and Pearl to an impromptu stay at an expensive hotel, he's very nice to all the staff and gives them handsome tips.
    • Pink Diamond is likewise very kind to the Gems beneath her, treating her servants as close personal friends, wants to pal around with Amethysts, and even took the time to thank the Pebbles who tend to act in secret serving their masters. Recognizing this behavior is why the Pebbles conclude Steven is Pink Diamond. However, we eventually see a darker side to this behavior, as Pink Diamond could act harmfully even toward the servants she considered friends, usually because she didn't appreciate the (both physical and social) power she had over them.
  • Catra of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power has never been considerate to her subordinates, and it only gets worse as she accumulates more power and the Sanity Slippage continues. Come Season 4, she's forcing her underlings to work three shifts back-to-back without a break, refusing to come rescue them when they're trapped in an acid storm, telling them to "figure it out" and get back to work, not telling them anything about what's going on or why she's having them do certain things, and lashing out at anyone who even attempts to question anything she does. She even berates and mistreats Scorpia, who has been nothing but kind and supportive since day one. This comes back to bite her, hard. Scorpia realizes she can't defend Catra's behavior anymore, and defects to the Rebellion after finally growing a spine and telling her, "You're a bad friend." Soon after, three of of her Elite Mooks, Lonnie, Kyle, and Rogelio, all get sick of her crap and abandon the Horde because of her — and they look the other way when Scorpia and Glimmer are sneaking into the Horde's lair.
  • Wander over Yonder takes this to extremes with All-Loving Hero Wander, who seemingly is familiar with every single member of Lord Hater's 5000-strong army of visually indistinguishable Adorable Evil Minions, down to names, life details and birthdays, and manages to give each one his ideal present on You Mean "Xmas". By contrast, Lord Hater is a Bad Boss, which is implied to be the very reason he finds himself Surrounded by Idiots—when they're lead by Wander to believe that the presents were from Hater, they begin to display the very competence he had unsuccessfully tried to browbeat into them, motivated by the concern he's apparently shown for them to be the best soldiers they can be.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Nice To The Waitress, Nasty To The Waiter, Nasty To The Waitress


Jesse and Ahti

Since she's been a janitor herself she's immediately inclined to think of Ahti as friendly and likes Arish more upon hearing about his respect for the maintenance staff. While she's uncertain about some of the higher ranking people she works with over the course of the game, she's concerned about the various grunts she finds in peril.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / NiceToTheWaiter

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