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The Proud Elite

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This man is of elite status, often due to aristocratic heritage, wealth, or both. Most people are willing to bend over backward to please him. He is tall, fit, and good looking. He carries himself with elegance and acts with sophistication. He is intelligent, well-educated and competent at his pursuits. And he knows all this.

He treats almost everyone around him, even other members of the upper class, with a thin veneer of polite disdain, coming off as cold, arrogant, and uncaring. He values rationality, logic, and abstract ideas and concepts, and cares little for people and emotions. Kindness and empathy is beneath him.

At least on the outside. While some Proud Elites are truly that cold, hard-hearted, and arrogant, with no redeeming features, most Proud Elites have a carefully hidden warmer, kinder side. Their gentler, nicer side will generally only come out around certain people (perhaps around a beautiful princess) or in situations where they can pretend a disinterested or self-serving rationale for their kind actions. Occasionally, a Proud Elite is not deliberately maintaining his cold, arrogant outer persona; he unintentionally comes off that way, generally due to shyness or some other form of social awkwardness.

This character type, when set up as a romantic interest, generally appeals to the All Girls Want Bad Boys idea, in that the Proud Elite appears "bad" in his aloof arrogance, but generally has a warm heart underneath which allows him to fall in love.

Frequently used in Japanese works, although by no means exclusive to them. Japanese examples will frequently be Bishōnen. If the character's peers are similarly elegant and cultured, they may well be The Beautiful Elite.

Often overlaps with Tall, Dark, and Handsome, Byronic Hero, Jerk with a Heart of Gold, Magnificent Bastard, Insufferable Genius, Princely Young Man, Gentleman Snarker, and Tall, Dark, and Snarky. Compare the Ice Queen and the Upper-Class Twit.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Sebastian Michaelis from Black Butler is a suave but aloof demon currently posing as the butler to the Earl Phantomhive. He is quite intelligent and there is very little he cannot do. Being a demon, he is one of the few examples who don't have a warmer side; he truly does care nothing for humans beyond their use as tools and food.
  • Bleach
    • Kuchiki Byakuya is a noble and a Captain, and he comes across as cold and arrogant. However, he has a deeply ingrained sense of honor and cares passionately for those few people who make their way into his heart.
    • Ishida Uryuu is the last Quincy, the number one student in his class, and very proud of both. That pride plus his unwillingness to appear soft can make him difficult to get along with, and although he often pretends he cares little for the rest of his group, he has always come through for them.
  • Death Note: Namikawa Reiji, the member of the Yotsuba Group who Light initially contacts, is cold, calculating, and very intelligent. He's at the top of the business world and keeps everyone around him at a reserved distance.
  • Food Wars!: Most of the students of Totsuki Academy come from wealthy/influential families who hold a degree of prestige in the culinary world, and many of them look down on protagonist Soma Yukihira for his humble roots as the heir of a speciality-of-the-day diner in a middle-class district.
  • A lot of the Big Bad characters from the Gundam franchise fall under this description, including Char Aznable from the original Mobile Suit Gundam, Paptimus Scirocco from Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, Haman Kahn from Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, Char (again) in Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack, and Meitzer Ronah in Mobile Suit Gundam F91. Non-UC Proud Elites include Treize Khushrenada from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing and Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny's Lord Djibril, who has the dubious honor of being both the least competent and least sympathetic person on this list. Most of the others have softer moments, either in their original appearances or in adaptations.
  • In Ouran High School Host Club, Ootori Kyoya is the brain behind the Host Club. He acts as though he cares only about the bottom line and what will benefit himself, as he feels befits the third son of the Ootori family, but he has been shown to have a well-hidden altruistic streak.
  • Kaoru from ...Virgin Love is known for two things at work: his unfriendly, brutally honest behaviour and for being extremely Bishōnen. He starts to defrost a little by the end of the first story.
  • Seto Kaiba of Yu-Gi-Oh! is one of the world's leading industrialists, young, intelligent, one of the leading players of Duel Monsters, and incredibly aloof.
  • Tatsuya Shiba, of The Irregular at Magic High School, is this trope despite being very low politically. Regardless of his incredible self-control, apathy and submissiveness in every situation, everyone who meets him gets the impression that he is not remotely intimidated by their bloodline and they should be somewhere else. This is one reason why Mayuri gets suspicious of his student persona.

    Comic Books 
  • Reggie Mantle from Archie Comics. He comes from a well-to-do family, gets high grades, is captain of whatever sports team is the focus of the story, tends to have women swooning over him, and boy does he know it. Hilariously, he's a triple-layered jerk: Aloof and rude to people in general, beneath that a fun-loving prankster Jerkass to his circle of friends, and beneath that has a genuine heart and sincerely cares deeply about his friends.
  • Batman: Bruce Wayne is handsome, and, while charming, tries to be aloof enough that he makes people think he's a bit arrogant. However, when he catches criminals as Batman, he'll get them jobs at Wayne Enterprises. Even the Ventriloquist got a second chance once on an episode of New Batman Adventures.
  • X-Men:
    • As a member of the Hellfire Club, Emma Frost was literally one of the most influential people in the world, and is known to be incredibly wealthy. She herself says she has the best body money can buy, and is a very powerful telepath, and (since she got together with Cyclops) basically second-in-command of the X-Men. She's also a complete bitch who can't go a day without acting like one, but no matter her flaws, she genuinely cares for all her students, and genuinely loved Cyclops.
    • Another example, and an unintentional foil to Emma Frost, is Mr. Sinister. Both characters are amoral manipulators who affect the persona of the Evil Brit, both are from high-class families, and both have egos the size of cathedrals, but while Emma started evil and became a Defrosting Ice Queen, Sinister started (at least in his backstory) as a Tragic Villain before Jumping Off the Slippery Slope and becoming one of the most despised Manipulative Bastards in all of Marvel Comics.

    Fan Works 

  • King Thranduil, the ruler of Mirkwood in The Hobbit trilogy, fits this to a tee. Made even more prominent by the fact he's an elf and as everyone knows, you Can't Argue with Elves. He's very tall and handsome, dresses beautifully, is intelligent, a good fighter and well aware of all of it. He typically projects an aloof, cold and condescending demeanor, cares little for what happens outside his own kingdom, doesn't like to be challenged and is (usually) obeyed without question by his subjects. That said, he does have a softer side hidden deep down. He genuinely loves his son Legolas and is revealed to care for his captain Tauriel in a fatherly manner as well. He's quite chummy with Bard and offers the refugees of Lake-town aid after their home is destroyed, although he states that he's not doing it out of kindness, but because he wants his property returned and wants to keep them from being an obstacle. Finally however, he puts aside his feud with the dwarves to help defend them from orcs. It's also strongly suggested the cause of his coldness is rooted in the tragic death of his wife, Legolas' mother and King Thror wrongly denying him the gems of Lasgalen which the theatrical films imply and the extended edition confirms belonged to his wife.
  • Prom Wars: The main Lancaster students are arrogant, handsome, well-groomed athletes who come from very rich families, think nothing of offering enormous bribes to get ahead in school competitions, and bully the weaker and relatively poorer Selby students. Geoffrey even hires John Woo to film a paintball game he's in and make an introduction that makes him and his friends sound like the greatest military heroes their country has had in years.

  • Ian Kabra from The 39 Clues fits this trope perfectly. He's dark, described in the books as being very good-looking, and is extremely full of himself. He starts off pretty evil, but turns out to have hidden morals.
  • Dr. Nero, headmaster and founder of the eponymous school in the H.I.V.E. Series, fits this to a T. Always dressed in expensive suits and conducting himself as the successful man that he is and wants his students to emulate, it is only after six books that we find out he lost Elena, "the only woman he ever loved" to Anastasia Furan, her own sister. This Tragic Villain status is foreshadowed only by his numerous references to having watched many other G.L.O.V.E. members die through a variety of circumstances he obsessively tries to avoid. He spends an entire chapter in book two drowning his sorrows, but never lets his weakness be seen to his students.
  • Denethor from The Lord of the Rings is a man of high lineage and status, tall, intelligent and competent. He also comes off as arrogant, cold and disdainful.
  • The Mortal Instruments:
    • A female example: Isabelle Lightwood, who has Raven Hair, Ivory Skin, is extremely cold and proud, and actively partakes in Shadowhunters' Fantastic Racism. She defrosts rather quickly, though.
    • Raphael Santiago is in some cases an even better example than Isabelle, but it's played with as while he's certainly proud and he does see himself and vampires as elite, the magical world (re:the Clave) does not see them as so.
    • The Clave, they seem to be having some feudal fantasy wherein they perceive themselves to be a kind of warrior-nobility charged with protecting the mundane peasantry. Modernity has, if anything, had an inverse effect on social change here. While as recently as the 19th Century the Clave would employ the Mortal Cup to grant Ascension to select mundanes, by the time Jocelyn made off with the Cup it was no longer being used anyway. Likewise, while past generations of Shadowhunters could sometimes get away with marrying mundanes (their children would always be Nephilim regardless), the Clave started aggressively cracking down on these kinds of relationships. As a result their population was dangerously shrinking by the turn of the Millennium.
    • Aline Penhallow. Her behavior towards Simon is neither actively malicious nor self-consciously snobbish. But the way that she talks to, and about (in his presence), him bears a distinct resemblance to a member of an old-fashioned aristocracy meeting her very first peasant.
  • Poster Girl is unique amongst dystopian fiction in primarily focussing on the elite of such a setting, after the revolution overthrew them. The main character served as the titular Poster Girl for the tyrannical delegation and begins the story locked inside a ghetto alongside the other survivors of the former elite. Many of the prisoners still act like they are part of the high society and look down on the people outside of the ghetto, some even still holding weddings and fancy dinner parties... while wearing old third-hand clothing and feeding off canned rations. On a darker side, their pride also causes them to refuse the regime's crimes.
  • Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice is perceived as extremely arrogant and completely uncaring of those around him, to the point that even those who acknowledge his good looks and wealth dismiss him as someone not worth getting to know. However, this impression is unintentional, and he is, in actuality, a morally upright, deeply caring man who is very socially awkward, and a tiny bit of a snob.
  • Cort Myshtigo in This Immortal comes off as a cold and arrogant Entitled Bastard who flaunts his family's influence, as well as his own as a wealthy and influential galacto-journalist, but he shows surprising insight into the cultural differences between Vegans and humans as well as into the personalities of those around him. He also shows surprising depth by being able to play that role and see through Conrad's motivations while dying of an incurable disease. His humor in his last letter to Conrad helps to endear him to Conrad even more.
  • Adrian Ivashkov from Vampire Academy, has shades of this. He is arrogant, flaunts his wealth and royal connections. He speaks in a flippant tone and puts on an air of smug superiority. However, he barely hides a more friendly and emotional side.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Horatio Hornblower: Majorly Awesome Major Edrington, from the episode "The Wrong War" (also known as "The Frogs and the Lobsters") in series one, starts as a very stuck-up character, asking the freshly promoted young Lieutenant Horatio to address him "my lord" instead of "major" as Edrington is in fact Earl of Edrington, and insulting Horatio and his friend Archie with sneering comments about their crew. However, he's a very capable leader and soldier, and his words and actions show he has other redeeming qualities: he acknowledges Horatio's status as a higher officer of the Navy and the competence of the sailors, and he comes to care about sailors with common origin, such as Horatio, on a personal level.
  • M*A*S*H: Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester III comes from a distinguished American old-money Boston family, which is the American version of Blue Blood. He's an extremely competent surgeon, Insufferable Genius and Dr. Jerk, though frequently revealed to be of the Jerk with a Heart of Gold variety. He had several Pet the Dog moments and often showed his softer side (his love for his dearest sister, helping Korean orphans in one Christmas Episode, or secretly helping Hawkeye so that he could take a leave).
  • Sherlock: Benedict Cumberbatch's portrayal of Sherlock Holmes has a bit of this: he's a tall, aloof, stylishly dressed Insufferable Genius who can be pretty offputting in how he relates to others, but there are people he genuinely cares for.

  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • Finn Flannagan, an arrogant and callous upper-class boy who openly shows disdain towards his peers. He kept his nasty disposition even after his father was arrested, though it did grant him a deep sense of loyalty to those who'd stand with him.
    • Benedict Tudor comes from one of the richest families in Oldport, and has the haughty demeanor to prove it. Though, while he does immediately put down those he speaks with, his extended interaction with Hyeon's group has shown that he can lighten up a little.
    • Irene is a smart, pretty, and sophisticated young woman who also comes from the upper-class. Unlike the above two examples, she has a warmer side to her that becomes obvious when she's around friends.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000: Imperial Stormtroopers have been trained differently from the regular Red Shirt guardsmen, and most of them are from a high class of society, looking down on the lowly Cannon Fodder. They also have better weapons and flashier uniforms.
    • Roboute Guilliman, Primarch of the Ultramarines, fits this trope to a T. Raised a noble from birth, he often came off as cold and overly analytical to his brothers. Thanks to his insistence he could improve upon their own tactics if he put his mind to it, many of them considered him an Insufferable Genius. Despite this, he really did care and wasn't as arrogant as he appeared, though only a few people got to see that side of him.

  • In the 2013 stage adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka becomes an example of this trope. He's fabulously successful and fiercely proud of his achievements as a chocolatier Renaissance Man, and is far more interested in showing off the wonders of his factory and keeping the Golden Ticket tour group on schedule than getting to know them. And when the brats in the group get themselves into trouble despite his warnings, he has No Sympathy even when the consequences look to be lethal! However, there is a sugary heart under the ice: His strange, beautiful factory, indeed all that he creates, is borne of a drive to make the world a lovelier place; he doesn't care if a given "work" will make him money or not. He sees his imagination and artistic drive as what make him truly elite, and when the adults on the tour pester him as to what the Chocolate Room is specifically for (as opposed to a personal work of art), he's rather hurt. And as it turns out, he engineered poor Charlie Bucket's Golden Ticket find after meeting him while disguised as a tramp and realizing the boy might be a kindred creative spirit — his frosty treatment of the boy is a facade.

    Video Games 
  • Miles Edgeworth of the Ace Attorney franchise wears the trope description like his fitted magenta suit. He was adopted into class and wealth, but by young adulthood he is right at home with stiff collars and stiffer manners... and he's more than a bit of a jerk, especially at first. Over time, his more abrasive tendencies wear down to Good Is Not Nice, with a heavy dose of The Determinator, and his heart of gold starts to show whenever an innocent or someone he cares about is being wronged.
  • Cecilia from Daughter for Dessert is confidant, haughty, and used to getting her way.
  • Ensemble Stars!:
    • Tori views himself as superior to 'peasants' as a result of him being heir to a very wealthy toy company. (However, he does undergo Character Development as he becomes friends with others in his grade, particularly Hajime).
    • Tsukasa is the image of a Princely Young Man - except when he's around Tori, who his family treats as inferior due to him being Nouveau Riche compared with the long-established Suou family. However, Tsukasa also undergoes Character Development and realises eventually that the pressure he puts on Tori is no different than the pressure his family puts on him, and they come to get along better.
  • In Final Fantasy VIII, Squall Leonhart is a tall, dark, handsome, proud, stoic, quietly dismissive Jerkass (although he has a compelling Freudian Excuse). When it comes to Rinoa, however, he gets all squishy and emotional. And when he finds out his True Companions are Not Quite Dead, he's visibly pleased.

  • Khun from Tower of God is as cocky as they get. Hatz loves to call him out for this. Problem is, Khun has something to back up his attitude.
  • Unsounded: Councilor Bodie hates the untitled and members of the soud caste, seeing himself as superior to them. Gefendur people on the other hand he outright despises and has no reservations about killing.

Alternative Title(s): Proud Elite