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File:Dogjacketphotorealismphotorealisticpiperealismrealisticredsmokesmokingsophisticatedsophisticationwallpaper-fcd1120b6c8627d87be756691eca48fe m1 5555.jpg

I say, it can even make a dog look distinguished!

When a writer wants to show that a character is just a little bit "above" everyone else in the group, in one way or another, he'll give them a pipe. Almost Always Male. The man with the pipe is usually depicted as being a little bit older, a little bit (or a lot) smarter (often a Professor), in control, composed, unruffled and dignified. Perhaps even pompous, snooty, aloof or a bit haughty. When being held, the stem points back at the smoker, drawing attention to them as being the most important; it can also be used by them to point with.

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

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

Examples of Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe include:

Comic Books

  • Bruce Banner smoked a pipe in his first appearance, in The Incredible Hulk #1. In The Nineties when Hulk had Bruce Banner's brain he also smoked a normal sized pipe, which for him was very tiny.
    • A one-shot character in the Hulk series was a brainy college student based very loosely on Richard Loeb; he smoked a pipe as part of his "smartest guy in the room" persona.
  • Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four used to smoke a pipe from time to time, before it became PC not to smoke.
  • The none-more-British space pilot of the 1950s, Dan Dare, was also sometimes seen smoking a pipe, perhaps as a Shout-Out to the pipe-smoking RAF officers of the Second World War on whom the character was based.
  • Francis Blake and Philip Mortimer.
  • Banshee would often smoke a pipe during his downtime while he was a member of the X-Men.
  • Doc Magnus, creator of the Metal Men, is rarely seen without his trademark pipe. Even in the present day he looks like a stereotypical intellectual from The Sixties.
  • Bruce (Batman) Wayne smoked a pipe when he first appeared. In fact the very first panel of his first appearance showed him smoking a pipe in Commissioner Gordon's study. The trait lasted for about a year before vanishing.


  • Sherlock Holmes would probably be the Trope Codifier.
    • Technically, Sherlock Holmes gained his trademark pipe when he made the transition to Theatre. He smoked in the stories as well, but not the large calabash-style (it was a rough corncob pipe). They added the large pipe to make it more clear from the stage what he was doing.
    • The stage actor needed a pipe he could hold easily in his mouth while working with his hands. The famed meerschaum had the balance needed.
    • And although only Granada's classic adaptation with Jeremy Brett as Holmes is the only adaptation that remembers this, Sherlock switched to cigarettes when pipes went out of fashion.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Gandalf and Bilbo. And Aragorn.
    • Merry and Pippin, after conquering Isengard.
    • Honorable Mention: Theoden. Smoke, then, and think of him.
  • Inglourious Basterds: SS Colonel Hans Landa. A rare Evil Smoker example.
    • The ludicrous size of the pipe also suggests a bit of Compensating for Something (and delivers a painful Mood Whiplash--one second you're chuckling at the pipe and the next he's murdering a family of Jews under the floorboards.
  • Mars Attacks (Film): Prof. Donald Kessler (Pierce Brosnan)
  • Michaleen Flynn in The Quiet Man
    • Also Father Lonergan and Rev. Playfair.
  • Professor Brainard in The Absent Minded Professor (played by Fred MacMurray)
  • Professor Kirke from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (both film and book).
  • Subverted in the 1982 film version of Agatha Christie's Evil Under the Sun. One of the murder suspects, Patrick Redfern, is seen with a pipe throughout the film, but it's only at the end that Poirot realises he's never actually been seen smoking it. The reason: he's hidden a stolen diamond in the bowl.
  • Sam Neill in The Dish.
  • Professor Plum in Clue.
  • Part of Jason's gentleman disguise in Mystery Team.
  • Very rare female example — Juno MacGuff is seen sporting a distinguished gentleman's pipe, though not actually smoking it, in Juno.


  • Santa Claus, though it's mostly Coca Cola's incarnation.
    • Well, Clement Clark Moore has him smoking one. We don't, of course, know what's in it.
  • In American Indian settings, it will usually be the chief that smokes a pipe (to be passed around as a "Peace Pipe" when making treaties).
    • Truth in Television: To some Indian people, smoking together means trust, and "the pipe of peace" is a religious sacrament. Pipes and smoking have many meanings depending on the culture and situation.


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

Live Action TV

  • Remington Steele (also played by Pierce Brosnan)
  • The Professor on Gilligan's Island, in the beginning.
  • Dan Rowan of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In
  • Jim Anderson on Father Knows Best
  • Charles Nelson Reilly on Match Game
  • Steve Douglas on My Three Sons (also played by Fred MacMurray)
  • In one episode of Cheers Sam Malone started acting very sophisticated and debonair, including lighting up a pipe. Then Diane woke up (it was All Just a Dream). When she looked through Sam's desk she found an actual pipe, causing her to wonder Or Was It a Dream?...then she looked at the pipe more carefully, blew into it and bubbles came out.
  • Alan Harper from Two and A Half Men, while staying at Lindsey's home, finds her ex-husband's pipe and starts using it to look more distinguished. Unfortunately, he leaves it too close to the drapes and burns the house down.
  • My Name Is Earl: In "Bad Earl" Earl's friend Ralph is taking advantange of an old woman with bad eyesight and even worse memory loss by pretending to be her long dead husband, sitting around in his old clothes smoking a pipe. Earl then takes over the gig.
  • The 1986 BBC production of Dorothy L. Sayers' Strong Poison. Lord Peter Wimsey smokes cigarettes (he offers one to the father of the murder victim while interviewing him), yet when he's trying to defend his last working hypothesis to Inspector Parker, he says, "Give me the statutory dressing gown and an ounce of shag and I'll dispose of that in a brace of shakes." The next scene depicts Wimsey smoking a pipe during an all-nighter of study, with open volumes of toxicology and forensic medicine strewn about. He reverts to a cigarette in the early hours of the morning as he discusses the case with Bunter one last time. This has the superiority bit, since Wimsey is proving the police have arrested and tried the wrong person (a trial that thanks to Miss Murchson ended in a hung jury) by building a case against someone else. It's also clearly a reference to Holmes, and it doesn't hurt that Wimsey is an aristocrat (younger son of the Duke of Denver).
  • Kramer on Seinfeld switches to a pipe every time he tries to pass himself off as a doctor.
  • Played with in a sweet way on The Pacific--Sledge doesn't take up smoking cigarettes, like nearly all the other Marines, but he does take to smoking a pipe. When his friend back home teases him about it, he explains that he finds the process calming. (In real life, Sledge's widow was so taken with Joe Mazzello's performance that she sent him her late husband's real pipe as a gift.)
  • Played straight during a Season 10 news segment on Top Gear with James May...and then completely averted by Jeremy Clarkson ten seconds later when he burns his tongue after putting the wrong end of the pipe in his mouth.
  • In Doctor Who, the First Doctor, Badass Grandpa that he was, smoked a pipe in his first serial.
  • Discussed by Bill Bailey on QI, who observes that a tradesman who's puffing on a pipe looks much more knowledgeable and trustworthy than one who's taking drags on an Instant Dogend.



Video Games

  • Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure — the pipe is also enchanted and lets Henry breathe underwater.
  • Team Fortress 2: Currently three classes can sport a pipe with specific items, namely the Soldier's 'Lord Cockswain's Novelty Mutton Chops and Pipe', the Sniper's 'Outback Intellectual', and the Pyro's 'Bubble Pipe'. All three even come with the 'Genteel Pipe Smoke' effect.

Web Original

Web Comics

Western Animation

Real Life

  • Albert Einstein
  • CS Lewis
  • JRR Tolkien
  • Mark Twain — a notable exception to the corn cob pipe rule.
  • Hugh Hefner
  • Gen. Douglas MacArthur — another notable exception to the corn cob pipe rule.
  • Another evil example: Joseph Stalin
  • Bing Crosby
  • Cary Grant
  • Clark Gable
  • Vincent Price
  • Günter Grass
  • Graham Chapman
  • Fred Willard
  • German post-war politician Herbert Wehner.
  • Harold Wilson, British Prime Minister of the 1960s and 70s, actually invoked this trope on himself. He preferred to smoke cigars in private, but was usually seen with a pipe in public precisely because of the qualities of wisdom/experience and so on mentioned in the description as associated with pipe smokers. Also, cigars are for the upper-class — Wilson was a socialist.