Gentleman and a Scholar

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Sometimes, the only smart people in a work are TV geniuses, absent-minded professors, insufferable geniuses, or representatives of some other variety of "brilliant-automatically-equals-socially-awkward". One of these may have Einstein Hair or otherwise seriously neglect his appearance. In those works, you can expect him to be more concerned with abstract equations or other intellectual problems than with the real human beings around him. Maybe his intellectualism is just a way of hiding his evil character.

Not so with anyone who is a Gentleman and a Scholar. He manages to be both a highly intelligent expert in his chosen field and a pleasant, well-adjusted, and socially engaging human being, sometimes being even more attuned to the nuances of social etiquette than many less-intelligent characters. Frequently, his emphasis is more on the humanities than on the natural sciences (he is possibly fluent in dead languages and always handy with an apropos quotation from Aristotle, Saint Augustine, or Dante), but this is not an absolute rule. Whatever his field, he is always striving to learn more, but never allows himself to fall victim to Crippling Overspecialization. He is always well-groomed and neatly dressed, unless extraordinary circumstances dictate otherwise.

Sometimes, the aforementioned socially awkward intellectuals can fit this. Simply because someone is socially inept does not mean he is rude. Professor Frink and Dr. Brown would never hurt a fly.

This character may not necessarily be an actual Blue Blood, but his adherence to the Good Old Ways, his graciousness as a host, and his intelligent and erudite conversations make him seem like one. Unlike the slightly-infantilised geniuses one may see in other works, a Gentleman and a Scholar is always mature and maintains his composure. He is typically older, but if not, expect him to be wise beyond his years. That maturity may or may not make him a Badass Bookworm, but he generally tends to eschew direct physical confrontation if it can be avoided. He frequently strays into Antiquated Linguistics, and possibly the better-done sort of Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness. His alma mater is probably a school with a long history and Gothic towers.

The Anti-Hero will sneer at him as old-fashioned.

He is more often unwed, but if he has a family, expect him to be a benevolent patriarch. If he goes off to war, expect him to receive a commission and become an Officer and a Gentleman.

This trope is commonly seen in conjunction with Genius Book Club (expect to see many leather-bound books and a bust of Pallas) and Smart People Play Chess. May or may not smoke a pipe. Glasses are common, but many such characters tend to be older, so perhaps it is justified. Shares a few characteristics with the Upper Class Wit, though there probably isn't much actual overlap between the two, and may be an example of the Gentleman Snarker. Will usually be at least a bit of a Renaissance Man, though what makes him a gentleman and a scholar is not his diversification into multiple fields per se, but rather his ability to maintain his dignity and be socially well-adjusted even while intensively studying an academic subject.

Note that this is not always a man, but neither is it strictly a unisex trope. It is possible for a woman to be "A Lady and a Scholar", but because women were not common in academia until fairly recently in history, the archetype has not really had proper time to develop an easily-recognizable Distaff Counterpart.

Also see Good Is Not Dumb. If he has magic, he's a Gentleman Wizard. If he's as skilled at combat as he is at etiquette, he's a Cultured Badass.

Examples of Gentleman and a Scholar include:

Anime and Manga

  • Negi Springfield from Mahou Sensei Negima may be just a 10 year old kid, but that doesn't stop him from being a prodigious scholar in spellcasting, martial arts and language among other things as well as a kind young boy. He seems to step in and out of this constantly in recent chapters though.
  • Taichi Hiraga Keaton of Master Keaton
  • Several characters of Tower of God, among them Koon and Lero-Ro, but Ship Leesoo takes the cake. Not only is he able to solve the riddle that brought Koon to his knees and at several points proves himself being well-read and a keeper of great general knowledge, is also the funniest, most social and responsible characters of his batch of Regulars. Good job for someone who runs around in a purple track suit.
  • Dr. Emil Lang of Robotech II The Sentinels. He was both the father of Earth based Robotechnology as well as a shrewd politician, elder statesman, and father figure. Unlike typical scientists, he gets along well with the military (especially since it consists of friends like Rick Hunter, Lisa Hayes, Gunther Reinhardt, Max and Mirya Sterling, Vince and Jean Grant). The Sentinels character design also did away with the weird all-black eyes and made him look more dignified.
  • Dr. Tenma from Monster is a highly-accomplished brain surgeon and an incredibly caring and selfless man.
    • Dr. Reichwein also has shades of this, and Johan comes off as this to hide his true colors.

Comic Books

Fan Works


  • Doc Emmett L. Brown from Back to The Future seems to be nearly a lunatic; who just happens to be a brilliant engineer. But in Back to The Future Part III he is revealed to be quite the gentleman, and a ladies' man, as well.
    • Even more impressing if you consider that he decided to become a ladies' man only relatively late, in the second movie.
  • Benjamin Gates from National Treasure and its sequel. He fights villainy not with brute force and a gun, but rather using his wits and his knowledge of American history (albeit a wildly-inaccurate version of it that only applies within the confines of the film). In the second film (and to a lesser degree in the first), his goal is simply to restore the honor of his family name- a name which goes back far into American history, making him the closest American equivalent to a Blue Blood. He also manages, despite a little hint of social awkwardness, to comport himself around a gorgeous woman without acting like a jackass or a complete fool.
  • The movie Gettysburg and its prequel, Gods and Generals, depict the transformation of a Gentleman and a Scholar into an Officer and a Gentleman, through the character of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. This is Truth in Television; Chamberlain was a respected professor of rhetoric at Bowdoin College who volunteered to fight in the War Between the States, in which he repeatedly demonstrated gallant heroism.
  • Professor Maurice Phipps (Laurence Fishburne) in 1995's Higher Learning; he is genuinely interested in the well-being of his students, dispensing sage advice, but holds them to high standards, accepting none of their lazy excuses. He even smokes a pipe.
  • Red Pollard's father in 2003's Seabiscuit seems to echo this trope; a respected family man, he makes his children memorize poetry and encourages them to cherish reading and books.
  • Henry Jones, Sr., from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, is a fair example. He is a little socially awkward, but it is strongly implied that most of this is due to trauma over his wife's death. He fits the trope even better in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, where he is, for all his many faults, a good and decent father, and an expert on Medieval Chivalry.
    • Indiana Jones himself, on the other hand, is a major subversion of this. In his classroom, he looks the part, but in actuality, he is a rough-and-tumble cowboy who has just as many problems adapting to normal society as a typical bookworm... they're just the opposite problems.
  • Subverted by Professor Goldthwaite Higginson Dorr (Tom Hanks) in the 2004 remake of The Lady Killers. He is a charming, erudite, and gentlemanly Southern dandy who studied classics and wishes to use his hostess's basement as a place for his friends to practice playing classical music... except his friends can't play a single note, and he is actually the leader of a gang of desperate criminals. The original 1955 version with Alec Guinness has much the same subversion, except set in England, not Mississippi.
    • And better made.
  • Many depictions of the Beast from X-Men emphasize his Renaissance Man qualities and generally good nature. Appropriately, the film version cast Kelsey Grammer to play him.
  • Corporal Miller in the film version of The Guns of Navarone, as he's played by David Niven.
  • Professor Bernstein in the 1957 Hammer production The Curse of Frankenstein is described as one of the most brilliant minds in Europe, but reminds Dr. Frankenstein that men of science are human, too, and must take time out of their work to enjoy life and the company of others. He appears to be an engaging conversationalist and a pleasant houseguest.
  • Stephen Maturin in the 2003's Master and Commander: The Far Side of The World. He is a excellent ship's surgeon, a brilliant naturalist, and a damn fine cellist. Further, while most of the crew sees him as rather upper-crusty sort, his empathetic and kindly behavior towards all of them, not to mention saving a fair number of them from certain death, earns him their love and respect. (In the books he's more pinch-faced, miserable, and socially awkward, but still much-loved by the crew. And women.)
  • The Social Network has Cameron Winklevoss, one of the Winklevoss twins, the men who felt that Mark Zuckerberg stole their idea.

We are not starting a knife-fight in the Crimson. And we are not suing anyone. Because we are gentlemen of Harvard. This is Harvard, where you don't plant stories and you don't sue people!

    • His team-mates are not so inclined.

I don't want to sue him either. I want to hire the fucking Sopranos to beat his face in with a shovel!


  • Professor Digory Kirke in C. S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia novels fits like a glove. He slightly resembles an Absent-Minded Professor at first glance, but this is probably just a thin layer of Obfuscating Stupidity. In any case, he is gracious enough to allow the Pevensie children to stay in his home, and dispenses sensible, mature advice based on keen and sound observations about human nature.
  • Elwin Ransom in Lewis' Space Trilogy. The character was very loosely based on his friend JRR Tolkien, who was a real-life example of this trope.
  • Abraham Van Helsing in Bram Stoker's novel Dracula, where, despite being "one of the most advanced scientists of his day", he has nerves of steel, an open mind, a kind heart, and a wry sense of humour.
  • Albert Campion. Although he usually pretends to be stupid when people meet him so they'll underestimate him.
  • Scheherazade in the Arabian Nights is a Lady and A Scholar as well as being The Storyteller.
    • As are many of the women in the stories she tells.
  • David Malter in The Chosen. Reuven and Danny as well. Rebbe Saunders is "gentlemanly" enough but is hard to get to know. Especially for his son which is the point of the plot.
  • Sostratos in Over the Wine Dark Sea is likable and gentlemanly. He would fit this trope except he has trouble getting along with sailors. He is probably a cross between this and Intelligence Equals Isolation.
  • Lord Peter Wimsey. Expert on rare books, font of obscure facts, World War I veteran who won the undying devotion of Sgt. Bunter (who becomes his valet), skillful in unarmed combat, an aristocrat with a self-deprecating sense of humor, an oenophile with an encyclopedic palate, legendary cricket player, keenly intelligent amateur detective, and (until he falls in love with Harriet Vane) definitely a ladies' man.
  • In the Left Behind books, prominent politician Nicolae Jetty Carpathia is supposed to be the epitome of this, being a master of politics, linguistics, business, social sciences, and other fields, as well as being a total charmer, supernaturally eloquent speaker, and very well-cultured all-around. At least until he reveals his true nature as The Antichrist.
  • Sherlock Holmes. Full stop. His scholarly attributes are of Memetic Mutation proportions, but it's made extremely clear in most of his stories that he is every inch a gentleman when the situation calls for it, particularly when aiding ladies in distress. Played with in that Intelligence Equals Isolation is very definitely not averted.
  • In Darkness Visible Lord Henry Lewis and William Marsh both qualify, due to having impeccable manners and an enormous breadth of knowledge. Part of the reason the book is so full of shout outs is that Lewis is the narrator, and naturally refers to everything from Mythology to Charles Dickens.
  • Faramir in The Lord of the Rings. Unfortunately for him, his father has no respect for scholarship.
    • Not quite true. Denathor is a loremaster, if he wasn't he would not know the rings existed. However he tends to think from a politician's point of view to often. In any event he liked Boromir best who seemed at first glance odds on for the best protector of Gondor's interests.
  • Remus Lupin in Harry Potter is a good example of the trope: a mild-mannered, pleasant, scholarly figure who genuinely cares about the children under his care and is generally well-liked.
    • And is also a frickin' werewolf.
  • DCI Nightingale in Rivers of London, a fine gentlemanly old wizard of the London police service. A stark contrast to the Gene Hunt-types that are otherwise represented.
  • David Malther in The Chosen. His son Reuven is a budding Gentleman and a Scholar. Rebbe Saunders would be if he weren't just a wee bit cranky but he is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. Danny Saunders is brilliant but kind of has daddy issues.

Live-Action TV

  • Ducky on NCIS.
  • Of course, the Pink Panther is a gentleman, a scholar and an acrobat.
  • In Doctor Who, the Doctor is nice enough to most people, and will frequently give his enemies a silly amount of chances to redeem themselves. He often behaves as though he had No Social Skills, but is nonetheless charming, and, at least in most incarnations, generally polite. He's also cultured and seemingly tries to be well-dressed, but his wardrobe is at best anachronistic.
    • River Song is a female example of the scholar and a gentleman: she is an academic doctor and later professor, is charming and witty, empathetic towards others like Amy Pond and can move in a variety of social situations. She is also dangerous, but unflappably so.
  • Daniel Jackson from Stargate SG-1, at least after he got over some of the awkwardness of the early seasons.
  • Rupert Giles on Buffy the Vampire Slayer is surely the epitome of this trope. As a well-spoken Englishman, he is deliberately calculated to stand out in the show's California setting. A librarian and former curator of a/possibly THE British Museum, Giles is a little awkward but mostly charming, and serves as a repository of information without which Buffy would be unable to complete her mission.
  • Frasier: Frasier and Niles Crane are pompous and snooty enough to push the limits of this trope, but are still polite, scrupulous, charming, cultured, devastatingly witty, and are two of the foremost psychiatrists in Seattle with respective IQs of 129 and 156. Their mother, Hester, also qualified for this trope and was less snobbish than her sons.
  • Detective Murdoch in "Murdoch Mysteries" is every bit a gentleman and a scholar. He is intelligent, observant, scientific and clear-headed, using methods that are advanced and unusual for his time (the 1890s). He is also a gentleman and polite to a fault. He loses his love-interest, dr. Ogden, because he is too polite to unambiguously state his feelings to her. (He was also, for a time, smitten with, and manipulated by, Sally Pendrick but what kept him from falling completely for her was his impeccable manners.)
  • Bernadette in The Big Bang Theory is a doctor in microbiology and generally very nice and sympathetic.
  • Noah's Arc: Though a bit awkward compared to the rest of the cast, Chance still manages to be quite charming and educated in social etiquette (and in specific situations, very social and suave).
  • In Person of Interest, Harold Finch may avoid social situations, but he is a very well-read computer genius who is incredibly polite and courteous, prefers to be well dressed whenever possible, and basically fits this trope to a 't'.
  • Professor Bergman from the first season of Space: 1999 was not simply an astronomer and mathematician; he was also an expert in the humanities and the most socially-aware member of Moonbase Alpha's command staff.

Tabletop Games


  • Both Lucentio and his servant, Tranio, in The Taming of the Shrew. At the beginning of the play, they're headed off to study at the famous University of Padua, but they get derailed by a Zany Scheme to get Lucentio a girl. Nonetheless, the fact that Lucentio is effortlessly able to impersonate a tutor, and Tranio is effortlessly able to impersonate his high-class master, shows them both to be textbook examples. (In fact, Tranio is arguably more educated than his master, being able to speak Latin and casually name-drop Ovid.)

Video Games

  • Professor Layton is a professor of archaeology, a master logician, and a Quintessential British Gentleman.
  • Speaking with her former tutor in The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess pretty well confirms that Princess Zelda is a Lady and A Scholar. The game's resident nerd Shad may also qualify for this trope, though he doesn't get quite enough screen time to prove it.
  • Miles Edgeworth, most visible in Ace Attorney Investigations. Aside from the perfection fixation and being set up to be arrested for his father's murder, being raised by the von Karmas wasn't too bad for him.
  • Kraden in every installment of the Golden Sun series, with his outgoing nature and enthusiasm for every new (or old) thing the heroes encounter. In Dark Dawn his student Rief is one as well, in a more soft-spoken and Adorkable way.

Web Comics

  • Being university dwellers of relatively good upbringing, Luther and Lucien of Family Man both typically fit this, though Luther can edge towards awkwardness. Lucien, however, is particularly charming. Ariana is a Rare Female Example.
  • Alexander Hamilton and Nathan Hale in the The Dreamer.
  • Lackadaisy: Sedgewick.

Web Original

  • Phase, of the Whateley Universe. Once an heir to the largest fortune on the planet, he now copes with his mutation with aplomb, and a ruthless determination to fix himself. He speaks four modern languages, reads Latin and classical Greek and Old English, is currently working on several journal articles with a professor of world literature, and is single-handedly attacking the Reed Richards Is Useless trope across Whateley Academy.

Real Life

  • In Russia, this is often called intelligentsia. This is the original, pre-Revolutionary meaning of the word, still used sometimes today. After the Revolution, many intelligents were opposed to the Soviet rule (not necessarily to Communism itself—see Leon Trotsky as an example), and the word came to mean a politically rebellious intellectual.
    • "Intelligentsia" usually is applied to the economically insecure, well-educated formation that evolved in Russia during the late 19th century as university arose, partly due to the Russian problem of a very small middle class. Many members of the intelligentsia, especially if they could not snag a civil service position, did not have enough money to live the life of a gentleman and a scholar, and so the younger intelligentsia also became a breeding-ground for rebellious political movements pre-1917 as well, only then these movements were called nihilism, anarchism, Bolshevism, etc.
  • Stephen Fry. While not really an expert in any given field, he shows great interest and fascination in nearly any topic. He has been described as a Renaissance man and a national treasure of Britain. Russel Howard referred to spending time with him as "like hanging out with Google."
  • Christopher Lee also almost certainly counts.[context?]
  • This is, according to Confucius, the ideal state of a man, and has accordingly affected much of East Asia's cultural expectations of men. Ever wonder why there's a huge focus on study in China, Japan, Korea and other East Asian countries? Confucius. There's also elements of the Warrior Poet, as the Six Arts of the Gentlemen are Rites, Music, Archery, Charioteering, Calligraphy, and Mathematics. To a lesser extent Daoism also approves of gentlemanliness; the Chaotic to Confucianism's Lawful, if you will.
  • Emilie du Châtelet may have been a female version of this: a brilliant mathematician and physicist, she was also a woman of the world who was accepted by the heavily masculine milieu of European science, managed to seduce and keep two famous men as her lovers. Some people mocked her for her dedication to science, but she was never so crude as to take the bait.
  • Jack Kirby fit this trope somewhat despite his humble roots and lack of formal education past high school. He was well spoken and had a wide range of interests, especially regarding religion and mythology. Author Ronin Ro's biography "Tales To Astonish" gives much insight into what kind of man Kirby was. There is much damning evidence that suggests that Kirby was the more talented half of the famous duo that created the Marvel Universe.
  • There are famous ones in English speaking history, including "pure" scholars like Longfellow, Irving,[context?] and Walter Scott, who mostly stayed at home either writing literature and poetry or doing research (which sticklers might say more properly constitutes scholarship. And some like J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis who did in fact go off to war but really did not want to live adventurous lives. There are also fascinating adventurers like Aurel Stein, who explored large parts of the world. Not to mention war heros like Winston Churchill or Archibald Wavell (commander in North Africa) or Fitzroy Maclean, the Highland chief, spy, and historian.