• Before making a single edit, Tropedia EXPECTS our site policy and manual of style to be followed. Failure to do so may result in deletion of contributions and blocks of users who refuse to learn to do so. Our policies can be reviewed here.
  • All images MUST now have proper attribution, those who neglect to assign at least the "fair use" licensing to an image may have it deleted. All new pages should use the preloadable templates feature on the edit page to add the appropriate basic page markup. Pages that don't do this will be subject to deletion, with or without explanation.
  • All new trope pages will be made with the "Trope Workshop" found on the "Troper Tools" menu and worked on until they have at least three examples. The Trope workshop specific templates can then be removed and it will be regarded as a regular trope page after being moved to the Main namespace. THIS SHOULD BE WORKING NOW, REPORT ANY ISSUES TO Janna2000, SelfCloak or RRabbit42. DON'T MAKE PAGES MANUALLY UNLESS A TEMPLATE IS BROKEN, AND REPORT IT THAT IS THE CASE. PAGES WILL BE DELETED OTHERWISE IF THEY ARE MISSING BASIC MARKUP.


WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic

 Lord Sandwich: I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox.

John Wilkes: That will depend, my lord, upon whether I embrace your principles or your mistress.


A Deadpan Snarker can deliver clever one liners. A Gentleman Snarker is a type of Deadpan Snarker that can say ungentlemanly things as only a gentleman can. He is always polite, except when it is appropriate to be impolite. At that time he can slip an insult in as precisely as a rapier. This characteristic is well known among those with a Stiff Upper Lip and when done right can be quite awesome. Beware the Gentleman Snarker. If you want your pride punctured, he's the one to do it.

Often overlaps with Upper Class Wit. See also Servile Snarker - though due to Conservation of Competence, one is rarely in the employ of the other. A Gentleman Snarker may apply Sophisticated As Hell, very sparingly.

Examples of Gentleman Snarker include:

Films — Animation


 Captain Amelia: Doctor. To muse and blabber about a treasure map, in front of this particular crew, demonstrates a level of ineptitude that borders on the imbecilic. And I mean that in a very caring way.

    • And later during the same conversation with Doctor Doppler:

 Captain Amelia: Let me make this as...monosyllabic as possible. I don't much care for this crew you hired they're... how did I describe them Arrow? I said something rather good this morning before coffee.

Mr Arrow: A ludicrous parcel of drivelling galoots, ma'am.

Captain Amelia: There you go; poetry.


Films — Live-Action


  "You've lost another submarine?"

  • The French movie Ridicule (often referred to as "Wit" in English-speaking countries) suggests that before the Revolution, the entire French political system revolved around who could do this most effectively.
    • After the Revolution, most of the entire political systems in the whole world began to revolve around who can do this most effectively...
  • Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music. This characterization of the Captain is largely thanks to Christopher Plummer, who campaigned heavily for more plot development for his character. Apparently, he thought the original stage Captain was a milquetoast. He and costar Julie Andrews later said that they wanted to give the movie some strength and keep it from devolving into all sweetness and light. It worked — stage revivals largely follow the movie's script and not that of the original stage version.
  • Alfred Pennyworth is a master of this trope. Particularly evident in The Dark Knight.

 Alfred: Will you be taking the Batpod, sir?

Bruce: (Rushing off to protect Coleman Reese) In broad daylight, Alfred? Not very subtle.

Alfred: The Lamborghini, then? (to self) Much more subtle.

  • Hobson in the film Arthur. So many snarky lines it is hard to pick one.

 Hobson: Thrilling to meet you, Gloria.

Gloria: Hi.

Hobson: Yes... You obviously have a wonderful economy with words, Gloria. I look forward to your next syllable with great eagerness.


 Lestrade: In another life, you would have made an excellent criminal.

Holmes: Yes, and you, Lestrade, an excellent policeman.




 “I bring you news of no such disgusting spectacles.”

SUNDAY: “You mean Dr. Bull’s spectacles? …Really, to call them disgusting, before the man himself.”

“Look at my face!”

SUNDAY: “I dare say it’s the sort of face that grows on one. In fact, it grows on you.”

  • Discworld's Havelock Vetinari. The most magnificent Magnificent Bastard ever, he has a title, and if you actually read what he's saying carefully, he's unbelievably snarky.
    • This has become a major point of fear for those forced to frequently tell him things he's not going to like:

  Colon: [with genuine dread] Lord Vetinari won't stop at sarcasm. He might use — [swallowing]irony. He's probably going to be satirical, even ...

    • His lines in the council of war in Jingo are quite possibly the best examples.
  • Horatio Hornblower on one or two occasions.
  • Lord John Grey in the Outlander series is one of these, though generally managing to keep his words to himself. Claire Fraser has her own moments of Gentlewoman Snarkerishness.
  • The Wizard Howl from Howl's Moving Castle.
  • Bilbo Baggins has a few Gentleman Snarks in The Hobbit.
  • Artemis from Artemis Fowl is a prominent example of this
    • Artemis: (to Blunt) If you were me, then I'd be you, and if I were you, then I'd hide somewhere far away.
    • And, Artemis "Shall I walk? Or will you beam me up?
  • Sir John Babcock in Robert Anton Wilson's Historical Illuminatus Chronicles explains at one point to his Italian wife that the British young gentlemen's schools beat out all overt aggression from the boys, so that when grown up they'll make passive-aggressive insults masked as compliments instead of duelling to death like the Italian noblemen do. The main protagonist, Sigismundo Celine manages to be an excellent snarker himself, despite of his Neapolitan upbringing.
  • Jem Carstairs from the Clockwork Angel
  • Compared to the thuggish characters that populate his world, Philip Marlowe has a lot of tact and wit to his snarks.

Live-Action TV

  • Simon Tam in Firefly, especially "Objects in Space": "I can't keep track of her when she's not incorporeally possessing a spaceship, don't look at me" along with "Well, my sister's a ship. We had a complicated childhood." And in "Safe": "I'm sorry dad, I would never have tried to save River's life if I had known there was a dinner party at risk."
    • Also, in the episode "Shindig" there's a distinguished old man at the eponymous shindig who comes to Kaylee's aid when she is being mocked by an Alpha Bitch for the store-bought dress that she wore:

 Distinguished Old Man: Why, Banning Miller! What a vision you are in your fine dress. It must have taken a dozen slaves a dozen days just to get you into that getup. 'Course, your daddy tells me it takes the space of a schoolboy's wink to get you out of it again.

    • His Lordship Sir Warrick Harrow in that same episode:

 Sir Warrick Harrow: Now, you're going to have to rely on your natural charm to get women. God help you.

  • Frasier and Niles Crane are the masters of this trope. In fact, the more viciously snarky they are, the politer and more refined their language becomes.
  • Higgins often did this to Magnum in Magnum, P.I.. He can't do it as well as some.
  • Clayton Webb in JAG is often like this.
  • Mr Feeny in Boy Meets World.
  • Bernard Thatch of the White House Visitor's Office in The West Wing:

 Bernard: [The painting] was on loan from the Musee d'Orsay to the National Gallery. The President, on a visit to the gallery, and possessing even less taste in fine art than you have in accessories, announced that he liked the painting. The French government offered it as a gift to the White House. I suppose in retribution for EuroDisney. So here it hangs, like a gym sock on a shower rod.

C.J.: You're a snob.

Bernard: Yes.

  • Mr. Morden on Babylon 5 is something of a villainous version of this.
    • Mr. Bester is an even better example.
  • Charles Emerson Winchester the third of MASH.
  • Robert Gilliaume in Soap and Benson.
  • Ianto Jones from Torchwood develops into something of this in later series.
  • In the Horatio Hornblower mini-series, Major Edrington is this, which contributes greatly to his fan popularity.

  Edrington (watching Horatio try in vain to get on a horse): I can see why you chose the Navy.



  • Anna and Claire of Boston Marriage are rare female examples, and written by David Mamet no less.
  • Cyrano De Bergerac's wit is as sharp as his rapier, which is saying something.

Web Original

  • Grandmaster of Theft's Cassidy Cain is another female example, particularly when she's in her phantom thief alter ego.

Western Animation

  • The Swan Princess has Lord Rogers, Prince Derek's good but sarcastic advisor. For example, after an epic foot-in-mouth scene from Prince Derek:

 Lord Rogers: You could write a book. How to Offend Women in Five Syllables or Less.


Real Life

  • Churchill, of course.
  • The Duke of Wellington
  • Several noted English intellectuals, including Chesterton, Orwell, and others.
  • Field Marshal Mannerheim. He could intimidate Hitler himself, possibly partly because of his Death Glare.
  • John Wilkes
  • This was once almost a necessary part of being a high class person and thus political insults of the past were just as common but at least more interesting.
  • Tim Gunn
  • Oscar Wilde is almost entirely known for this.
    • "A true gentleman is one who is never unintentionally rude"
    • His friend and later enemy James McNeill Whistler was also known for this
    • Ironically, Oscar Wilde is often claimed to have said "sarcasm is the lowest form of humor." If he had ever said that (he didn't), he would almost certainly have been saying it sarcastically.
  • George Bernard Shaw
  • Several American Presidents, especially Abraham Lincoln.
    • An excellent example: Lincoln thought that his General McClellan was reluctant to engage the enemy, and once sent him a note asking that, if McClellan wasn't using the army, perhaps Lincoln could borrow it for a couple of months?
  • Miss Manners.
  • W. S. Gilbert.
  • G. K. Chesterton
  • CS Lewis
  • Tomás Rivera Schatz, President of the Senate of Puerto Rico, once said of another senator: "She reminds me of Mary Magdalene."
  • William F. Buckley Jr.
  • Sir John A MacDonald,first Prime Minister of Canada was renowned for this trait.