They are no members of the common throng;
—Ruth, The Pirates of Penzance
Whether or not they have a sovereign whom they are subordinate to, these characters definitely have commoners who are subordinate to them. Their position is hereditary, often legally enforced, although occasionally simply socially accepted to the same effect; if a character is described as coming from an old and respected family, or even old money, he's a Blue Blood. They are often quite proud of the length of their lineage which makes them the natural Foil of the Self-Made Man. For the same reason young aristocrats are often quite powerless in the hands of The Patriarch who rules the family, making the threat of Passed Over Inheritance quite powerful.
While there are often gradations in rank between them, the common trait of aristocrats is that, unlike the monarch (because to royalty even nobles are commoners), they are surrounded by their equals and if there is no monarch some form of power-sharing will be in effect with plenty of intrigue. Prone to Moral Myopia, Blue Bloods often regard only their class as important, which often leads to Aristocrats Are Evil. Insults between aristocrats result in Throwing Down the Gauntlet, or the Glove Slap, and a Duel to the Death, but an insult from a commoner results in the aristocrat's servants thrashing him, and an insult to a commoner hardly counts, really.
Their effectuality is frequently inversely related to their civilization. Nobility of the Dark Ages often have an active hand in world (and story) affairs; nobility of a highly refined and civilized culture will be host to an inordinate number of Upper Class Twits.
Normal feature of the Standard Royal Court and Deadly Decadent Court. Endemic in Historical Fiction, High Fantasy, and Feudal Future. Oddly enough, often characters who have been Made a Slave have former nobility as their Backstory. The Officer and a Gentleman is also often a Blue Blood, particularly if the noble code emphasizes the duties and responsibilities that come with noble birth. As with Royalty, the Ermine Cape Effect can apply, so many should be expected to wear extremely fancy clothes if possible. Character related tropes are the Evil Chancellor, Regent for Life, Royal Brat, Upper Class Twit, Upper Class Wit, Proper Lady, and Grande Dame.
Not to be confused with royals, people who just hold knighthoods, Black Blood, Alien Blood, "Bluebeard", the freeform vulgar joke "The Aristocrats", nor the Disney film The Aristocats. Or Angels from Neon Genesis Evangelion and Mulians from RahXephon, both of which have "blue" as a blood type. Further not to be confused with the television series Blue Bloods, although the title is an amusing play on words.
Compare Idle Rich.
- The Zahard family and the 10 supporting families in Tower of God. They are indeed special, since only they are by birth able to wield Shinsoo immediately, as their families have special ties to the power-granting Guardians.
- The Nobles in Wolf's Rain. They may not have a monarch, but they do have ridiculously overpowered technology to compensate.
- We see a huge variety of these in Berserk, from King to Viscount. And more often than not, they don't do too well or last too long.
- Mostly because they attempted to prevent Griffith, from achieving noble status.
- Class struggles (of the Star-Crossed Lovers variety) are fairly important in The Familiar of Zero, in which the nobility is largely (but not entirely) defined by being able to use magic.
- The Armstrong Family from Fullmetal Alchemist have estates all over the nation, a legacy running back centuries and have entire families that have been in their service for generations. They're also a pack of Boisterous Bruisers and are, with one exception, all amazingly friendly.
- NOW WITNESS THE ARISTOCRATIC REFINEMENT THAT HAS BEEN PASSED DOWN THE ARMSTRONG LINE FOR GENERATIONS!!!
- Austria from Axis Powers Hetalia.
- Randoll from Future GPX Cyber Formula, as he is himself a Marquis. He's also a very skilled racer, but he can be foul-tempered when at his worst.
- Black Butler has this all over the place, both bad (Such as Alois Trancy in the anime and Baron Kelvin in the manga) and good (well, to a point) examples, such as Elizabeth Middleford and, of course, Ciel Phantomhive himself.
- All over the place in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing and are, with exceptions *coughRelenacough*, the antagonists.
- The the central protagonists and antagonists of Hyakujitsu no Bara are all aristocrats from varying countries. Taki is the shinka of the Emperor and from the first of the Eight Branch Families, Katsuragi is from the second of the Eight Branch Families, Theodora is a Eurotean princess, and Klaus' family is nobility before the Western Alliance conquers their country.
- In the infamous Hentai La Blue Girl, we have an example that is both literal and figurative. The protagonist, Miko, is the daughter of King Seikima and Queen Maria, and next in line for the throne. Because she is half-demon, when she uses her powers, her blood is literally blue. (However, she blushes red, like anyone with normal-colored blood would.)
- Both played straight and referenced in Kaze to Ki no Uta. At one point Serge, in his Inner Monologue, remarks that he imagined Gilbert's blood would be blue. Interestingly, although many of the characters in KazeKi are blue bloods, Gilbert is not really one of them, so it's not entirely clear what exactly Serge (who is himself a Viscount) was alluding to here.
- The Celestial Dragon World Nobles of One Piece are the Aristocrats Are Evil version of this quite heavily, having been given absolute freedom to do whatever they please to everyone beneath them (who is EVERYONE, even in this world where Asskicking Equals Authority is the norm), they abuse this freedom to the hilt. One decides on a whim to take a random guy's fiancee to be his own concubine, then shoots the guy when he protests.
- Code Geass possesses a good number of nobles. Most of them are Britannian, but we get to see a few former Japanese families and the Chinese elites at times.
- In the Wild Series, Mikhail is both rich and very well connected.
- Most of the Strahls in Meine Liebe is this.
- The Nobles from Vampire Hunter D are a truly different breed from commoners, and have followed entirely different cultural conventions for thousands of years. Despite of their decline they command technology and magic far beyond what is available for ordinary people, and some have managed to cling to their lands and status despite of being universally reviled and feared thanks to this. Oh, and they are all vampires, ofcourse.
- Used literally in Seiketsu no Hagurama. The Gadgeteer Genius prince is one of a group of people with blue blood at war with the red-blooded people. Part of the manga involves him discovering his machines being used to eradicate the remaining red-blooded refugees by his father.
- Bleach: Soul Society is split into commoners and nobility. Commoners are humans who have died in the living world and entered Soul Society whereupon they're assigned to a district of the Rukongai in which to dwell. Nobles, on the other hand are actually born into Soul Society, tend to live in Seireitei and be raised there. There's also a disconnect in power levels. It's common for nobility to display shinigami power and for the most powerful noble families to produce very powerful shinigami. However, it's comparatively rare for commoners to produce shinigami, especially powerful ones. In the past, it used to be unheard of for the shinigami ranks to be made up of anything but nobility. Since Yamamoto reorganised the shinigami academy, however, commoners have been increasing in number in the shinigami ranks and do sometimes produce very powerful shinigami including captains. They're still outnumbered by the nobles, however. For at least one shinigami (Renji) the noble-versus-commoner issue was something he took personally.
- In Belle-Belle, the heroine is a nobleman's daughter. When the king orders every family of noble blood to fight for him or pay a high tax, she opts for Sweet Polly Oliver to deliver them. (So did her sisters. They couldn't pull it off.)
- In Tattercoats, she is the granddaughter of a great nobleman.
- In Catskin, the heroine is the daughter of a gentleman, and marries a young lord.
- A major plot point of the movie Penelope is that the titular character's curse can only be broken when a blue-blood declares he loves her. She ends up breaking the curse by stating that she loves herself the way she is, curse and all. Both heartwarming and amusing, as you find out that the man she loves and who presented himself as a blue-blood was actually lying, and when she begs him to just say he loves her and that he doesn't have to talk to her after that, he sadly responds that he can't, but not for the reasons she thinks (i.e. he finds her ugly due to the curse giving her a pig's nose, which actually isn't that bad)).
- Corpse Bride
- Rather daringly, Letters from Iwo Jima portrayed the aristocratic Japanese commanders Tadamichi Kuribayashi and Baron Takeichi Nishi as deeply sympathetic characters.
- Appears to be literally true in Stardust, when Lamia slits Primus's throat, his blood is clearly dark blue.
- Which makes you wonder if Tristan also has blue blood, and if so why he never noticed it. Maybe it only applies as long as you're in Stormhold?
- Similarly, the head vampire from Blade II has literal blue blood, even though he is not a pureblood vampire, the true aristocracy of the vampire race.
- Lois McMaster Bujold's Barrayar
- In Vorkosigan Saga the aristocracy varies. At the time of the story it isn't really all that much different from eighteenth century or even in some ways, modern Britain. The Vor class are snobbish but at least treat commoners like people(if inferior people) rather then beasts, are not particularly vicious, and often provide enough service to justify their privilege. Past generations of Vor were colorfully bloodthirsty though they were also brave and skilled at war and the Barrayaran public was willing to follow them in war against the Cetagandan invaders which indicates that they had redeeming traits.
- In Honor Harrington Manticore has an aristocracy which is an imitation of eighteenth and nineteenth century Britain, getting into Parliamentary intrigue at home and going on naval daring-do in the stars. Grayson has a benevolent theocracy of Space Mormons ruled by a clique of nobles and a monarch above them. The Andermani are an imitation of Prussia. In general most of those states are pretty decently run though their rulers are not perfect. The real baddies seldom have noble sounding titles though they may have inheirited rulership. The Legislaturists have a multi generational vote-buying scam, the Revolutionary Havenites are ideologists that act like a combination of commies and French revolutionaries. The Solarians are just a corrupt bureaucracy on a humungous scale. And the Mesans are an ancient eugenics conspiracy.
- Frank Herbert's Dune
- The novel appears to indicate that nobles are somehow better than regular folk. The Bene Gesserit are only shown caring about noble bloodlines in their quest to create a perfect being.
- Most likely the noble bloodlines are "noble" because they've been subjected to the generations of manipulation by the Bene Gesserit, while the commoners don't have as well kept records of their genetic history, making them less useful for their plans.
- The prequel novels also reveal that the Atreides were not originally nobility (Vorian Atreides being a created in a lab by his cymek father and marrying a barmaid) and do not show when they were first granted the title.
- The novel appears to indicate that nobles are somehow better than regular folk. The Bene Gesserit are only shown caring about noble bloodlines in their quest to create a perfect being.
- Randall Garrett's Lord Darcy stories
- Warhammer 40,000 often features them.
- Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel use it repeatedly.
- In First & Only and Ghostmaker, the Jantine Patricians and Volpone Bluebloods are quite scornful of the Ghosts.
- In Necropolis, the hive's constitution is carefully written to divvy up power between the nobles so that there is no sovereign. And where, when the Ghosts are investigating their assigned and wretched quarters, they consider that the Volpone Bluebloods probably have nicer rooms.
- In Sabbat Martyr they confront officials who don't let them use their flamer, because they are not of high enough birth.
- There is a semi-sensible reason behind that last one though. On the planet in question, water is expecially scarce. Setting everything on fire may get out of hand. Of course, this being a full blown war...
- Sandy Mitchell's Scourge the Heretic Dark Heresy novel features such a stratified noble society that even an Inquisitor's agent does not realize how rude he has to be; a local explains that politeness will be interpreted as low status.
- In Dan Abnett's Horus Rising, the Luna Wolves are scorned by various other Space Marines as base-born.
- In William King's Space Wolf novel Grey Hunters, Trainor explains that he is an officer because he was born in one of the high clans. (He found fighting Chaos forces rather a shock after such conflicts as his planets had had before.)
- In Mike Lee's Horus Heresy novel Fallen Angels, the representives of the rebels are almost all nobles who have lost power and wealth because of the Imperium's control of their planet.
- In Matt Farrer's "After Desh'ea" (in Tales of the Heresy), the "high-riders" which Angron holds in (justified) contempt, the targets of his Gladiator Revolt
- In Ben Counter's Soul Drinkers novel Chapter War, Lord Sovelin Falken. At one point, he throws his weight around, pointing out that the governor is his great-aunt—but that's because he has vital information, and he has to use anything he can to get it through.
- Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel use it repeatedly.
- Susan Dexter's The Wind-Witch revolves about a widowed noblewoman's efforts to work her husband's estate for a year and a day—which will give her a claim to the land.
- Jane Austen's works. Unlike the Regency Romance, while all of her characters are blue-bloods, only a handful have titles. Baronets, mostly, although Darcy is related to an earl who does not appear in the work.
- A notable example as Darcy's name is clearly ripped off from the D'Arcy family, a genuine family of earls who, in the real world, had run out of male heirs about a century earlier; and his first name, Fitzwilliam, suggests strongly that his uncle is the Earl Fitzwilliam, a hugely famous and powerful man at the time. So much for No Celebrities Were Harmed...
- Also interesting, particularly in Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, is the tension (Truth in Television at the time) between the blue-blooded gentry who had somehow had their traditional incomes diverted away from them by being unable to inherit, or by their becoming worthless, and the rising commoner merchants (like Mrs. Bennet's family) who were often richer than them, but traditionally unacceptable as members of the blue-blooded clique.
- In Jane Austen's time the rural aristocracy was receiving a new infusion from naval officers who bought estates with prize money. Making it in effect a repeat of the original source of aristocracy in some ways.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs's heroes and heroines are Blue Bloods when not actually of Royal Blood—though this does cover upper-class Americans as well as titled characters.
- In The Monster Men, von Horn cites it.
Nor do I understand, sir, what objections you may have to me—I am of a very old and noble family.
It took four men, all four ablaze with gorgeous decoration, and the Chief of them unable to exist with fewer thanA two gold watches in his pocket, emulative of the noble and chaste fashion set by Monseigneur, to conduct the happy chocolate to Monseigneur's lips. One lacquey carried the chocolate-pot into the sacred presence; a second, milled and frothed the chocolate with the little instrument he bore for that function; a third, presented the favoured napkin; a fourth (he of the two gold watches), poured the chocolate out. It was impossible for Monseigneur to dispense with one of these attendants on the chocolate and hold his high place under the admiring Heavens. Deep would have been the blot upon his escutcheon if his chocolate had been ignobly waited on by only three men; he must have died of two.
- Baroness Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel
It was to be seen every day, for those aristos were such fools! They were traitors to the people of course, all of them, men, women, and children, who happened to be descendants of the great men who since the Crusades had made the glory of France: her old NOBLESSE. Their ancestors had oppressed the people, had crushed them under the scarlet heels of their dainty buckled shoes, and now the people had become the rulers of France and crushed their former masters--not beneath their heel, for they went shoeless mostly in these days--but a more effectual weight, the knife of the guillotine.
- In G. K. Chesterton's The Return of Don Quixote, various noblemen are signficant characters; the hero Michael Herne falls in love with the Honourable Rosamund Severne. At the climax, he reveals that her family really are Smiths, with no claim to the title, though it breaks his heart. Later, he learns that she has changed her name to "Miss Smith" -- and promptly goes in search of her.
- His play Magic takes place at a Duke's house.
- In the Father Brown story "The Mistake of the Machine", the story turns on an assumption that Lord Falconroy must come from an old family; in fact, he holds a newly created title and has—a rather interesting past.
- Caroline Stevermer and Patricia C. Wrede's Sorcery and Cecelia, set in an alternate Regency England where there is a Royal Society of Wizards.
- Patricia C. Wrede's Mairelon the Magician and The Magician's Ward—also set in an alternate Regency England, although the main character comes from a much lower social stratum.
- Lord Peter Wimsey
- Terry Pratchett's Discworld. Particularly in Feet of Clay, where the Dragon King of Arms meticulously traces noble lines and deplores how he must produce coats-of-arms for the low-born, and in the Tiffany Aching books, where the baron's son Roland, after a stint as a Royal Brat, is the only boy that Tiffany can talk to because all the rest are afraid to talk to a witch.
- Ellen Kusher's Swordspoint and The Privilege of the Sword.
- Sharpe meets a few. Among the more notable, obviously, is the Duke of Wellington, Sharpe's commander.
- Others range from Peter D'Alembord—a classic Cultured Warrior and first-class infantry officer—to the Prince of Orange, whose incompetence as a commander is such that Sharpe personally shoots him half-way through a battle in order to reduce the slaughter.
- Various families in Patricia A. McKillip's The Bell At Sealey Head. Because Raven Sproule is courting Gwyneth Blair, a merchant's daughter, Gwyneth rather suspects the Sproules are Impoverished Patrician.
- In Kerry Greenwood's The Castlemaine Murders, the Honourable Miss Phryne Fisher's sister Eliza plays the disdainful Upper Class Twit trope straight in the early part of the book - only to subvert the trope after Eliza finally tells Phryne why she was sent to Australia (she was acting out because of how unhappy she was).
- Most of the main characters in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire are members of the nobility.
- M.K. Wren's The Phoenix Legacy, set in a Feudal Future.
- In Lewis Carroll's Sylvie and Bruno, Lady Muriel Orme
- In The Edge, the hereditary aristocracy are actually called bluebloods to distinguish them from the nobility, the bluebloods who have already earned their titles.
- Purebloods fulfill this role in the Harry Potter series. Although the wizarding world lacks royalty or titles, most pureblood families enjoy a disproportionate amount of wealth, power, and influence. Most also have an aristocratic disdain for not-so-pure-blooded wizards and especially for Muggles.
- Virtually all of the major and minor characters in the Deryni works are in this class. The better ones treat members of the lowers orders (such as Revan in the Legends of Camber and Heirs off Camber and Morgan's pagan swordsmith Ferris from the story "Trial") quite well. The rest, well, see Aristocrats Are Evil.
- In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The Devil in Iron", Octavia's Backstory.
Octavia sprang up, her white fists clenched, her eyes blazing and her figure quivering with outraged anger.
- Livia in "The Vale of Lost Women"
- In Darkness Visible the narrator is Lord Henry Lewis, the 6th Earl of Gloucester.
- In Lord Dunsany's The King of Elfland's Daughter, the lord and his son.
- In Stephen Hunt's The Court Of The Air and The Rise of the Iron Moon, Quartershift nobility were massacred by the authorities in the Backstory.
- In Scaramouche, there are several nobles, most notably Marquis de La Tour d'Azyr and the Comtesse de Plougastel.
- Pops up a lot in Jeeves and Wooster, since Bertie and most of his friends are Upper Class Twits. Notably, Aunt Agatha's dread of any blight on the family name forces Bertie to go to New York to prevent his cousin's marrying into vaudeville, besides putting him through any number of attempts to settle him down with a nice girl from a noble family and turn him into a useful member of society. Both of which things he avoids like the plague.
- In Gene Stratton Porter's Freckles, Angel is a blue-blooded American with "ancestors reaching back to Plymouth Rock, and across the sea for generations before that." Freckles himself turns out to be the grandson of a nobleman. Though it gets less play, McLean was the son of a prosperous Scottish shipbuilder, though he made himself in the lumber trade.
- In Gene Stratton Porter's Michael O'Halloran, Minturn, having gotten control of his sons after his wife made them into Roayl Brats, knows it will be a long slog, but has hopes because "handsome little chaps with fine bodies and good ancestry".
- Hugh, Viscount Trimingham, in The Go-Between. He is intelligent and likeable, though disfigured by a war wound, and takes his responsibilities to his tenants seriously. Much good it does him.
- Lex Luthor is meant to inherit Luthor Corp in Smallville.
- Logan Huntzberger is heir to the Huntzberger Publishing Company, a national newspaper conglomerate in Gilmore Girls.
- In the Doctor Who serial The Masque Of Mandragora, the Duke and his uncle the Count. There are also a fair number in the Feudal Future serials.
- The Tenth Doctor special "Planet of the Dead" has the thrill-seeking cat burglar Lady Christina de Souza as guest companion.
- Worf and Martok from Star Trek both come from ancient, extremely high-profile families that automatically place them at the centre of rather a lot of Klingon intrigue (and enable no end of episode plots). Most of the other named Klingons in the series are also aristocrats.
- Alfred Lord Tennyson's "Lady Clara Vere de Vere"
Trust me, Clara Vere de Vere,
- In Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance, the pirates, having surrendered, are treated leniently because they are of Blue Blood.
- Pooh-Bah in The Mikado:
I am, in point of fact, a particularly haughty and exclusive person, of pre-Adamite ancestral descent. You will understand this when I tell you that I can trace my ancestry back to a protoplasmal atomic globule. Consequently, my family Pride is something inconceivable. I can't help it. I was born sneering. But I struggle hard to overcome this defect. I mortify my pride continually. When all the great officers of state resigned in a body, because they were too proud to serve under an ex-tailor, did I not unhesitantly accept all their posts at once?
- This is also a plot point in HMS Pinafore.
- This trope is invoked and parodied throughout Iolanthe, where the self-confessedly mostly-brainless yet immensely wealthy, powerful, and refined members of the House of Lords find their marriage proposals to the beautiful commoner Phyllis scorned, and their legislative powers subverted by supernatural fairies.
- The generally useless quality of the nobility is celebrated in Iolanthe, specifically in Lord Mountararat's solo "When Britain Really Ruled the Waves":
Mountararat: When Wellington thrashed Bonaparte,
- Spoofed in Finian's Rainbow:
Finian: Don't you realize, lad, Sharon is from quality stock? Why, her whole family tree for generations back consists of nothin' but ancestors.
- In Of Thee I Sing, President Wintergreen gets the United States into international difficulties with France when its ambassador discovers that Diana Devereaux (who was to have been the President's wife if he hadn't met Mary Turner) is the illegitimate daughter of the illegitimate son of the illegitimate nephew of Napoleon.
- In Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, Lady Augusta Bracknell has a very acute sense of who is a blue blood and who isn't. She refuses to let her daughter Gwendolyn marry Jack Worthing when she discovers that he was adopted by his upper-crust guardian, who found him as a baby in a handbag at the train station.
- Mystics in SaGa Frontier both in the aristocratic sense and the literal sense.
- If the lord in Fire Emblem doesn't have Royal Blood, they'll be nobility. Examples include Sigurd, Roy, Eliwood, Hector, Lyn, and eventually even Ike.
- Archadia of Final Fantasy XII is very based around hierarchy. Besides the noble houses, which can mix this with Royal Blood, there's also the Gentry, who tend to look down on commoners. There's also an intermediate class, which tend to behave fairly close to trope too.
- Dragon Age has got a hierarchical system of nobility loosely based on that of England, with Teyrns (Dukes), Arls (Earls), and Banns (Barons) in that order of status. Dwarves have also their own caste system, where the members of upmost caste are either ridiculously rich or belong to a noble family. (And then there's Paragons, but let's not go there...)
- The icon for the Human Noble origin is a drop of blue blood with a crown over it, since they are the younger child of a Teyrn.
- Girl Genius
- Order of the Stick: Particularly those of Azure City, where giving a title to two war heroes garners objections.
- Later, Vaarsuvius elects to simply murder a villain with this background, instead of bothering to denounce him publicly. It's a pretty effective solution.
- No Rest for The Wicked
- In Homestuck, the Trolls have a caste system based around the color of their blood. While the trolls with blue blood aren't quite at the top, they seem to be the only ones who care very much about where anyone ranks, and as such they lord over those in lower castes and demand those in higher castes lord over them.
- However, it's unclear if all members of the blue-blooded castes do this, or if it's just Equius and his, er, strange tastes.
- Additionally, Snowman has blue blood, and is formerly known as the Black Queen.
- Impure Blood O-on the honor of my family line, then, as far back as it can be traced!
- The Critic's sister was once set up to attend a debutante ball with a young gentleman who, due to generations of inbreeding, was mildly retarded and possessed of literal blue blood. This has actually happened, as in the case of the "Blue Fugates".
- My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic has a Prince called Prince Blueblood. Rarity is smitten with him, but in the season finale for season 1 she actually meets him and finds he is a Royal Brat.
- In ThunderCats (2011), Tygra, Happily Adopted member of the Thunderian royal family, is given all aristocratic privileges, and is even the beneficiary of King Claudus' Parental Favoritism, but is not in line for the throne due to a lack of Royal Blood.