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Old-School Chivalry

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Oh so romantic but completely out of style.

An Always Male character devoted to enforcing the standards and principles regarding how "real men" act and behave, whether it's around women or otherwise. One of his top priorities is maintaining the comfort, safety, and reputation of ladies, thinking that the idea of a woman being One of the Boys is plain old wrong. One must always be respectful and considerate to a lady!

His ideals go beyond common courtesy. This can lead to serious problems considering how closely related this attitude is to Stay in the Kitchen (whether the writers or the audience realize it or not), or if someone is willing to take advantage of his beliefs.

Any attempts to resist or otherwise convince said character that his principles are archaic rarely come up or fall flat on their faces. A rare success will result in a wake-up call to the man that he might be trapped in the wrong era or the wrong culture.

If he practices what he preaches, especially if it's in terms of romance, then he will probably win over the other characters like a natural Prince Charming. If one of these characters is female, then you have Single Woman Seeks Good Man. If his ladylove is similarly old-fashioned, they become a Lady and Knight couple. Some hand-kissing may be in order and no puddle shall go un-coated.

If he's not just a gentleman but an Officer and a Gentleman, he probably belongs to an order of knighthood and follows the more classic code of chivalry. In that case, see Knight in Shining Armor. He might also be a Sharp-Dressed Man. If he has a more uncouth friend/rival/associate of some kind, then he is part of a Noble Male, Roguish Male duo.

Contrast Stay in the Kitchen, where the male character may act on such old-fashioned ideals in an even less supposedly noble manner, and Would Hit a Girl, where the male character abandoning all thought of preferential treatment is considered amoral. Compare Prince Charming Wannabe.

See also Code of Honor, for chivalry in general.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Rurouni Kenshin: A female ninja is escorting a Dutch visitor about and is disconcerted when he wants her to walk through a door ahead of him. When he explains chivalry dictates it as a way of showing respect for women, she just laughs it off.
  • Parallel Paradise: Youta is a firm believer in this: even after a rude wakeup call that he's far weaker than the warrior women of the parallel world, he still insists on putting their well-being above his own and protecting them to the best of his ability. In fact his entire quest, one that would end with him picking a fight with a Physical God should it pan out, was inspired by his disgust at the curse the God of Deep Jealousy put on the girls. This entirely average kid is willing to Kill the God for the sake of the gentle sex.
    Lumi: Why did you save me?
    Youta: Huh? Do you have to have a reason to save girls in this world? It's a man's job to keep girls safe.

    Fan Works 
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: Blazen Sun is a firm believer in this, and once gave all his Guards a royal chewing-out for not helping a couple of old mares when it was raining. It’s become a trait of the entire Celestia Guard since then.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Kate & Leopold: Hugh Jackman's character is a nobleman from 1876. He is accustomed to standing when a lady leaves the table and is often mocked for things like his idea of the culinary arts. He becomes more modern and learns that obligation will trump integrity. He also woos Kate with a moonlight dinner and dancing on the roof, breakfast the next morning, etc.
  • Princess of Thieves:
    Gwyn: Now you let me steal your horse?
    Prince Philip: I give it to you freely madam. A woman should not have to walk.
    Gwyn: Has not a woman legs? Do we not walk and run just as you do?
  • The Mask of Zorro
    Alejandro: All that shooting guns, racing around on horses—gives me a frightful headache. It's hardly the work of a gentleman.
    Elena: What is? Climbing in and out of carriages?
    Alejandro: No, but increasing one's holdings so as to provide comfort to ladies. Such as yourself.
  • In Aussie cinema, truckers are often romanticised as modern-day cowboys who stand up for the underdog and are always polite to women. Examples include Stacy Keach in Road Games and Mory in Savages Crossing.
  • "Crocodile" Dundee apologizes to two hookers outside a bar because they have been exposed to the bad language of a man he has just punched out.
  • James Bond:
    • In Thunderball, the lack of this tips him off to the fact that the widow of an assassin is actually the assassin himself — "she" opens her own car door, rather than letting any of the surrounding men do it.
    • Casino Royale: The two times Bond and Vesper share a meal, he stands whenever she leaves the table, a classic rule of etiquette.
    • In Spectre he stands when Madeline approaches the table, also a classic rule of etiquette.
  • Stagecoach: The Southern gentleman Hatfield behaves in a very old-fashioned, chivalrous way to Mrs. Mallory. This almost ends in disaster when he prepares to give her a Mercy Kill to prevent the Indians from capturing her.

  • Dracula: Van Helsing and the rest of the heroes decide it's best if Mina Harker stays safe at home while they go out each night vampire-hunting. They do it because they think it's for her own good, in her best interest, the right/gentlemanly thing to do and they'd be cruel and reckless if they included her. It backfires and they learn their lesson.
  • Journey to Chaos: Nolien's manners and value system are classic gentleman and because of this, he fits in better with traditional nobles than the modern mercenaries he works with. Tiza, the usual target of his courtesy, finds it stifling.
  • Harry Dresden of The Dresden Files is a proponent of this trope, which annoys Karrin Murphy-since she had to fight her way to the top in a man's world, she feels like she's being treated like a weak, effeminate lady. Harry, in turn, likes to annoy her by treating her like a lady. And Murphy knows it. It ends up turning into Belligerent Sexual Tension, and Dresden does largely drop it as the series goes on.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On an episode of M*A*S*H, Major Winchester does not want to talk to Radar's elderly mother, angrily protesting when asked to. However, when he does so, he quickly switches to his polite, gentlemanly, and proper tone as he speaks to her.
  • Firefly: Simon Tam is a well-dressed doctor who doesn't swear or have casual sex. Needless to say, he doesn't fit in with the thieves he lives with, but he says that he has to be proper because it's all he has.
  • An episode of Highlander discussed this with Duncan reluctant to kill Kristin, a female Immortal (who had helped him become a gentleman in the first place), and Methos mocking the entire chivalry attitude. Methos took it upon himself to deal with the dangerous woman.
    Kristin: Who are you?
    Methos: Someone who was born a long time before the age of chivalry.
  • An episode of Corner Gas has Brent start treating The Lad-ette Wanda more nicely and not making her work as hard when she shows up to work in a skirt one day. Lacey theorizes that seeing the skirt caused his male protector instincts to kick in, and Wanda tries to test this by looking and acting more and more feminine. It seems to work too, except when we switch over to Brent's perspective, we find out that the real reason he's treating Wanda so gently is that her out-of-character behaviour is making him think she's going nuts.
  • Law & Order. A murder suspect of all people stands when Anita Van Buren enters the interrogation room, insisting, "A gentleman always stands when a lady enters the room." He's elderly and likely harkens to old-fashioned rules of etiquette. It's that same charm that enabled him to cajole the address of his victim out of the man's secretary, information that should never be given out. (Helps that the guy was an Asshole Victim who ripped him off).
  • In an episode of Amen, Thelma entertains a doctor and the Reverend. She leaves and re-enters the room several times — but they stand up every time she does.
  • This rule was also followed by General Hospital's Stefan Cassadine. It's especially noteworthy when he visits his ex-wife Bobbie. Despite their brief marriage and acrimonious divorce, he stands whenever she enters the room.
  • In an episode of Promised Land, the Greene family visits a dude ranch. The wife is sitting in the living room reading when the owner comes storming in. Despite having been well established as a Jerkass from earlier in the episode, he instantly removes his hat and nods in greeting when he sees her, showing that he still retains basic manners.
  • 227. Two women try to break into their landlord's apartment because they think he's up to no good. Despite his pompous, arrogant attitude and his anger upon catching them, he doesn't hesitate to help them down from the window where they were trying to gain entry.
  • My World… and Welcome to It: Thoroughly inverted in "The Mating Game." When Lydia asks Leonard, the uncouth boy escorting her to a party, if he would open the door for her, he pointedly refuses and in fact seems proud of not doing so. Lydia oddly enough finds this amusing.
    Lydia: [standing in front of the unopened front door] Will you open the door for me?
    Leonard: What’sa matter, you break your arm?
    Lydia: [giggles] You’re terrible!
    Leonard: Yeah, I know.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Frankie Kazarian displayed this in TNA, during his run as a baby face anyway. Even when he was embroiled in a feud against Robert Roode and Traci Brooks he wouldn't tolerate the former mistreating the latter, and as it turns out, Miss Brooks was appreciative of being shown how a "real man" treats a lady, when before she acted as the vamp to any man feuding with Roode who was foolish enough to show her kindness. Kazarian's gimmick later was taken by Tomko.
  • At ROH: The Homecoming 2012, January 20, 2012, the ROH World Tag Team Champions the Briscoes (Mark and Jay) faced the thrown-together CHIKARA pairing of Hallowicked and Jigsaw in a match where, if the CHIKARA team won or outlasted the 20-minute time limit, they would get a title shot at a later date. As the match went on, CHIKARA founder 'Lightning' Mike Quackenbush made his way out to support Jig and Wicked. He was followed by Frightmare, Dasher Hatfield, the Colony (Fire Ant and Green Ant), Saturyne and UltraMantis Black. Jay confronted Saturyne, with Dasher coming to her defense and telling Jay to respect a lady. Jay threw Saturyne in the ring, with Fire Ant flying in to distract him. This led to Jigsaw superkicking Jay for the pin.

    Video Games 
  • You can do this in Bully to get girls to kiss you (or you can forget about kissing them and pinch their bottoms instead). Keep in mind that this game is about a Boarding School of Horrors. As for Eunice, she doesn't expect even this from the player: she just wants a box of chocolates.
  • Souma of Ensemble Stars! comes from an absurdly old-fashioned family and as such acts like he was Born in the Wrong Century, including when it comes to old-school rules regarding chivalry. This is sometimes played as virtuous, such as in Tanabata when he admonishes Kaoru for suggesting that Orihime and Hikoboshi would be unfaithful to each other because marriage is a sacred union that must be taken very seriously. However, it's also sometimes just played for laughs - in Quarrel Fes he gets a bit flustered by Anzu's openness and insists that men and women must not be physically touchy after the age of seven, but Anzu just teases him over this.
  • Overwatch features a character named Reinhardt who sees himself as a literal knight in shining armor, despite living in the late 21st Century. He even refers to his assistant, a young woman named Brigitte, as his squire.
  • Professor Layton has of course the titular Professor Layton himself. No game that he is in is without mention of what a True Gentleman would do such as his catchphrase, 'A true gentleman leaves no puzzle unsolved.' A fair number of those consist of giving special attention and help to young ladies in need. He doesn't get in the way of ladies fighting for themselves if they are capable, but it does affect why he tries to not have Flora, a lady that is his ward, out in dangerous situations she has not proven capable of tackling alone.
    • Directly talked about in Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask where his teenage best friend, Randell, tells a young Layton that 'Chivalry is dead' after Layton escorts Randell's girlfriend, Angela, to Randell's house. Angela hadn't minded though and clearly it didn't stop Layton.
  • Stardew Valley: If courted, Elliott fixes up a rowboat and takes you out on the water to confess his feelings. Elliott can be usually found by himself, either reading in the library or standing outside watching the water. The man spouts some really flowery romantic lines without a trace of self-consciousness. Depending on what you tell him about your taste in books, he may in fact write a romance novel dedicated to you.

    Visual Novels 
  • Discussed in Daughter for Dessert. The protagonist insists to Amanda that he is still chivalrous. However, he explains that chivalry has gone through some slight adjustments, namely, more cursing.
  • From Katawa Shoujo, Hisao is a subtle example—when he and Lilly first tell Akira that they're going out, he bows to her and tells her that he will take care of her sister. Akira comments on this, mentioning that she always expected Lilly would get together with an old-fashioned sort of guy.
  • War: 13th Day: Arsenik is always attentive to the needs of his ladylove, apologizes if he feels he's been too forward and becomes indignant when she is disrespected. When Ambrosia is propositioned to and consequently blackmailed by a Handsome Lech, he even begins a fight to defend her honor.
    Arsenik: A gentleman doesn't foster a lady's embarrassment nor is he party to rumormongers.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Codename: Kids Next Door episode "Operation: C.A.K.E.D.-F.I.V.E.", a Victorian era Kids Next Door operative (aptly referred to as Numbuh 19th Century) is thawed out in the present day after being frozen in an ice cream explosion. Due to the time period he is from, he has a patronizing attitude toward girls and doesn't believe they should be in the Kids Next Door as they might hurt themselves "playing" with weapons. Though his views are outdated and sexist, his intent is to be gentlemanly and he states that in his day he was renowned for his chivalrous assistance to the ladies.
  • Looney Tunes: The witch doctor Dr. I.C. Spots from the short "Which is Witch" takes off his hat and steps aside, when three lady natives — and Bugs, disguised as one — walk by. (Unfortunately for Bugs, his disguise slips.)


Video Example(s):


Dude Magnet Peyton

Brooke demonstrates how the guys in school all want to be picked by Peyton in the 'Fantasy Boy Draft' by dropping Peyton's books, causing all the boys to rush to pick them up.

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Main / ChickMagnet

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