Leela: I know Fry's rich, but do we really have to wear these top hats?
—Futurama, "A Fishful of Dollars"
Want to give your character a prop that sets him as high as possible in the social strata?
Give him a tophat and a monocle.
Largely obsolete today, the monocle is a corrective lens applied to only one eye. In this sense it is no different from eyeglasses. But while eyeglasses have never been anything more than a medical appliance (with the possible exception of the pince-nez), the monocle has been a status symbol virtually since its invention.
They are never seen on the faces of the working class. Instead, they are the exclusive province of titled nobility, high ranking military officers, upper-echelon businessmen, academics, etc. They are also exclusively worn by men—though lesbians in the early 20th century sometimes used them for a subtly masculine edge. Monocles were available to the lower classes, but proper manufacture and fitting made them very expensive. Cheaper versions were of poor quality and very uncomfortable to wear.
In media, the monocle's wearer will constantly clean it and fidget with it. It will be whipped out and squinted through when the wearer views something below his social station. In comedies, a monocle will pop off its wearer's face and/or shatter in shocked response to the working class hero giving this pompous toady his well-deserved comeuppance. The monocle is also a popular graffito to draw on a sleeping person's face.
The female version is the lorgnette, which is a pair of spectacles on a small stick to be held up when you want to look at something. It is a common property of the Grande Dame.
Given its association with wealth and status, it's a very popular prop for the Mock Millionaire. Today, putting a monocle and top hat on anything is sure to get a laugh just out of the pure absurdity. Sub-trope of Stock Costume Traits.
- Mr. Peanut
- Dwight Shrute disagrees.
- The Man Your Man Could Smell Like Isaiah Mustafa has introduced the term Monocle Smile!, useful in everything from referencing Anonymous to helping Barack Obama's public image.
- In a Frank's red hot sauce commercial, where Ethel makes Cucumber sandwiches for the Queen of England, she says the secret is Frank's red hot, she puts that **** on everything. Someone drops his monocle.
Anime & Manga
- Walter Dornez, loyal retainer to the Hellsing family in Hellsing wears a monocle. It goes into Scary Shiny Glasses mode when he's ready to kick undead ass.
- Dr. Adashino from Mushishi wears a monocle, presumably to make him look more intellegent and make him visually distinguishable from the other villagers, since the series' art style mostly averts the Hair Colors commonly see in anime and gives most people black hair.
- Cho Hakkai from Saiyuki}} has one over his artificial right eye, presumably to protect it. He's also generally the most level-headed and polite of the group—unless he has to pull his I Am Not Left-Handed trick and remove his Restraining Bolt accessories when it's time to kick some ass.
- In Trinity Blood, Cardinal Sforza is a woman who wears a monocle. She's also a duchess and half-sister to the Pope.
- Detective Conan and the Kaitou Kid. The monocle (and top hat) practically define the character, harkening back to Arsène Lupin and the whole Gentleman Thief bit. Also, the monocle has a tendency to do the Scary Shiny Glasses thing when Kid's being disturbing.
- Though not a high-class woman at all, Forte of Galaxy Angel wears a monocle.
- Full Metal Panic the Second Raid: Sir Mallory, one of the top dogs in Mithril, is shown wearing a monocle.
- Aeolia Schenberg from Mobile Suit Gundam 00.
- In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Beatrice's demon butler (and Servile Snarker) Ronove wears a monocle.
- Alternate in Et Cetera wears a monocle. Although he really isn't anywhere close to being nobility or high-class.
- Fei Wang Reed, the Big Bad of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, wears one constantly, although it is frequently overshadowed by his giant asschin of evil.
- The Distaff Counterpart, glasses on a stick, appear on the face of Eclair Tonnerre in Ouran High School Host Club.
- Tokita, the Itoshiki family butler in Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei wears one.
- Vilefort in Gankutsuou wears one, which is often scary and shiny.
- Count Brocken in Mazinger Z.
- Prof. Moriarty in Sherlock Hound, who looks like a traditional melodrama villain with cape, tophat and mustache.
- Whenever Arsène Lupin appears in Lupin III (usually via flashback), he's usually shown with one of these.
- The Penguin from Batman.
- The DC Comics supervillain The Monocle. It's a weaponized monocle, too.
- After Captain Haddock came into a sizable inheritance, at the beginning of The Seven Crystal Balls he starts wearing a monocle. Not being accustomed to them, he loses a lot of them.
- Colonel Sponsz is a villainous example.
- Sir Reginald Hargreeves a.k.a. The Monocle, founder of The Umbrella Academy.
- Berim from Lucifer wears a monocle, even when shapeshifted as a tiger. Or even weirder things.
- In Dark Reign: Fantastic Four, the FF traveled through several alternate universes, including one with the FF as the royal family in a mock-Elisabethan England. The Thing, dressed as a chamberlain and sporting a monocle, has become an internet meme.
"Milady, 'tis the clobbering hour."
- In Pretty Cure Perfume Preppy, classmate Arisa Erisawa wears a monocle over one of her eyes—because she's blind in that eye.
Films -- Animation
- The Grand Duke from Cinderella.
- For sure, Mr. Grasshopper in James and the Giant Peach is this. Especially when he puts on a top hat during the song number "That's the Life for Me".
- Slightly averted in Shane Acker's Nine with 2, who wears a top hat made from a piece of candelabra and topped off with a spoon, with a monocle made out of the discarded remains of a pair of eyeglasses attached to it. He even has a cane and a catchphrase of, "This is smashing!" However, he loses all his gear about twenty minutes into the movie and acts more like an eager explorer not afraid to get himself dirty than a high-class citizen. Admittedly, he IS a seven-inch-tall doll made from scraps of burlap and the remnants of a human soul, but still.
- Professor Z, The Dragon of the Pixar film Cars 2 actually wears a monocle over his windshield.
- The evil owl from Rock-a-Doodle is first seen with a monocle over his face, but then he takes it off when he finds out that Edmund had touched his face (or at least on a storybook illustration of his face). He then turns Edmund into a cat with his magic as revenge.
Films -- Live-Action
- Edgar Bergen's dummy Charlie McCarthy.
- In Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein, Transsylvanian police Inspector Kemp is evidently so attached to his monocle he continues to wear it even though the eye in question is also covered with a patch.
- The "Monopoly Guy" in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.
- One of the villains in The Assassination Bureau, Limited is a Prussian general. At one point, when he's about to shoot a woman, his Slasher Smile involves an abrupt widening of his eyes, causing his monocle to fall and dangle on its cord.
- In the Spanish comedy Hay que educar a papá (1971), the aristocratic character Count De Ronda wears a monocle, which pops off his face whenever the main character, a lower-class Self-Made Man, shows any of his traits. In the end, De Ronda is found to be a con man pretending to be an aristocrat.
- De Ronda is played by a real-life self-styled aristocrat (albeit he never really had a title) and eccentric Don Jaime De Mora y Aragón, who used monocle, walking stick and hair gel in his constant public appearances as a celebrity (one of these "famous for being famous" types).
- The psychiatrist in Bringing Up Baby has one.
- Invoked in Night Train to Munich. Randall wears one as part of his Nazi disguise.
- The Three Stooges in Three Sappy People go to a party pretending to be psychiatrists. There they meet a stuffy woman identified as "Countess" who wears a monocle.
- Wilkins Micawber from David Copperfield.
- Lord Peter Wimsey from Dorothy L. Sayers' detective novels. His monocle was actually a disguised magnifying glass, perfect for taking a really close look at something—and looking like a bloody ass while doing it.
- Harry Potter features two slight subversions of the trope. The persons wearing the monocles are a judge and a schoolteacher, but both are women—Madam Amelia Bones and Professor Wilhemina Grubbly-Plank, respectively.
- H. Beam Piper's Uller Uprising has General Carlos Von Schlicten, who wears a monocle; the only thing ever observed to knock it out of his eye is a nuclear blast while kissing a lady. "Don't you know, lieutenant, that no gentleman ever wears a monocle while kissing a lady?"
- Count Olaf of A Series of Unfortunate Events, when disguised as a wealthy, fashionable Funny Foreigner auctioneer, adopts a monocle as part of his getup. It seems to be a standard part of the V.F.D. disguise kit.
- This continues into the distant future. In Isaac Asimov's Foundation stories, the warlord of Kalgan wore a monocle along with his "fur-lined scarlet robe and high-crowned hat". In his humbler role as the loyal viceroy of the Mule, he wears none of these.
- In King Solomons Mines by H. Rider Haggard, Sir Henry's monocle is a plot-point that endears him to the denizens of the secret African kingdom.
- In Patricia A. McKillip's The Bell at Sealey Head, Mr. Moren eyes Emma with a monocle while quizzing her about where the heiress, Miranda Beryl, went. (And expresses disdain for the local squire's son while he's about it.)
- In PG Wodehouse's fiction:
- Welkin Weasels: Lord Hannover Haukin (Word of God says he's a pastiche of Bertie Wooster) wears one. At one point he drops it, and puts it back in the other eye, revealing that he only wears it for the "upper class" chic.
- In A Little Princess, in one of the scenes illustrating Sara's luxurious lifestyle, it's mentioned that her new doll has its own little opera glasses.
- The Oberstleutenant Boerner bot from Daemon wears a monocle.
- In Monstrous Regiment Prince Heinreich wears one. There's no particular comedy to it, although a groan may result from his Obligatory Joke, "If I had two I'd make a spectacle of myself."
- A trademark of Arsène Lupin, along with a top hat and cape.
- Colonel Wilhelm Klink of Hogan's Heroes sports a monocle, being an aristocrat of Junker descent and all-around pretentious.
- The sitcom Just Shoot Me had an episode guest-starring French Stewart as the puppeteer of the sock puppet show, and the puppet "Mr. Mayor" is noted to wear tiny spectacles and a monocle, redundantly enough.
- A staple of anything in a Genteel Interbellum Setting.
- A favorite of The Daily Show.
- In You Rang, Milord, there is an example of a lesbian in the early 20th century wearing a monocle, Lady Cissy.
- Ted Mosby, of How I Met Your Mother, wants to be a high class guy. At a society function, he encounters a man in a monocle. Just before he's pulled away ...
Ted: No, I like it; I think they're coming back. I just wanna ask, do they cost half as much as glasses?
- Later he asks the guy if he's trying to kill James Bond.
- In one episode of The Persuaders, Danny Wilde has to impersonnate his friend Lord Brett Sinclair and portrays him as an Upper Class Twit, naturally wearing a monocle that keeps popping off.
- In Dads Army, it's revealed that upper-class Sgt. Wilson requires a monocle because his sight is weaker in one eye than the other. Captain Mainwaring—who is lower-class, wears glasses and is ridiculously class-conscious—immediately feels threatened because of this.
- An incident on QI where Stephen Fry had to have the expression "beer goggles" explained to him resulted in the panel accusing him of using "Madeira pince-nez" or a "sherry monocle" instead.
- Queen Machina from Power Rangers Zeo wears a monocle over her left eye.
- The New Yorker has as an official (?) mascot Eustace Tilley, a top-hatted, monocled dandy who appeared on the cover of the first issue, and has been parodied lots and lots over the decades.
- A number of Dungeons & Dragons magic items are monocles. They are often described as a "lens". The "Lens of True Seeing", which allows someone to see through illusions and invisibility (well, to not see through invisible creatures), is probably the most famous.
- Warhammer 40,000
- Some Imperial Guard officers wear monocles. In one of the Siege of Vraks books there is a mention of the officer's monocle acting as an HUD, displaying battlefied data.
- Many artists for that franchise achieve the same visual aestetic by having a character with a monocle-like cybernetic eye.
- Rogue Trader has Targeting Monocle - disguised wireless version of an advanced camera sight that also can show weapon status. Of course, disguise implies that normal monocles are fairly common in these circles.
- Three Gilbert and Sullivan characters, all of them George Grossmith comic baritone roles, wear monocles as part of their costume. Sullivan himself wore a monocle.
- Sir Edward Ramsay in The King and I, whose monocle causes a panic among the King's wives.
- Gwendolyn in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest uses a lorgnette.
- Wally B. Feed of Monkey Island 2 Le Chucks Revenge wore one. It was a kind of Running Gag that he was constantly losing it, and unable to do anything without it.
- Sparda from Devil May Cry used to have a monocle as part of his attire. It's one-way and tinted purple.
- The twin bosses Lechku and Nechku in Okami isn't satisfied with just wearing monocles, but they also wear top hats and wield canes. They are also GIANT DEMONIC CLOCKWORK OWLS (who may or may not be shoutouts to Clockwerk, the recurring antagonist of the Sly Cooper series)!
- One quest has you helping the TzHaars (Some kind of a sentient lava-and-rock race) make a theatrical play. One of these TzHaars has to play the role of a rich mystic caste member, and how does he dress up? With nothing more than a monocle.
- Zimberfizz gets both a tophat and a monocle as he takes over the Soul Wars area as a successor of Nomad who you kill.
- Monocle Man from Silent Hill: Downpour. He/it is a disembodied Nightmare Face wearing a monocle in his right eye but has only a gaping hole where the left should be.
- Fire Emblem
- Arpeggio, the Big Bad from the second Sly Cooper. It even makes for dramatic effect just after his death scene.
- In Overlord II, Marius, the official Spokesperson for Emperor Solarius wears a monocle.
- Mr. King from Mega Man Star Force 3 may or may not wear a monocle, as it is difficult to tell from his overworld sprite. However, his face portrait does not show a monocle, but rather blue markings under his eyes.
- Kingdom of Loathing
- Many wealthy or prestigious enemies wear monocles, such as the Wealthy Pirates and the 101st Infantrygentlemen. A few, like Baron von Ratsworth, also wear tophats.
- The stuffed monocle is now available to players:
This essential rich-person accoutrement is rendered fairly useless when made out of fabric and stuffing. But if there's one thing rich folks like more than ostentatious displays of wealth, it's ostentatious displays of wealth that don't serve any function.
- Baron Von Ratsworth's monocle allows you to find more items, because "Rich people have cool stuff and wear monocles".
- Count Bleck, the Big Bad of Super Paper Mario, wears a top hat and a monocle.
- Father Balder of Bayonetta has a monocle-earring-mask, fitting his interesting fashion sense.
- Henry Hatsworth of Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure.
- There are a few monocles in World of Warcraft. They're all head items and most are cloth armour.
- The Beholder Eyes can come in different armour types but are more steampunk-engineer monocles than aristocrat monocles.
- Of particular note is the Noble's Monocle which, being wearable by Level 1 characters, is highly sought after by bank alts. Because of this, it has an average auction house value of 400 gold, despite providing no combat benefits.
- Slayer from Guilty Gear wears one of these.
- Baron from Shining Force Neo. Despite being a wolfling ninja, he's still quite classy.
- The ZX Spectrum game Killed Until Dead is populated by parodies of various detectives, including a "Lord Peter Flimsey". If you manage to rattle him when you interrogate him, his monocle flies off -- but it still blinks when his eyes do.
- In Scribblenauts, this is the main difference between a normal velociraptor and the Philosoraptor. In Super Scribblenauts, applying the "gentlemanly" adjective will give objects a top hat and monocle along with making them friendly, even if the object in question normally spawns hostile (the Tyrannosarus Rex, for example).
- Team Fortress 2. One of the Pyro's new unlockable hats is a monocle and fake mustache taped over his mask.
- EVE Online added a cash shop with player clothing in the Incarna update. Although all of the items are rather expensive for in-game microtransactions, the most expensive by far is a $70 "ocular implant" which looks conspicuously like a monocle, meaning that players who have enough money to spend that much on a cosmetic item in an MMO can now fly around looking like a 19th-century industrialist. The rest of the playerbase is less than thrilled about this, what with the in-game riots and the player-led advisory board being sent all the way to the developers in Iceland in an attempt to save face.
- The Penguin in Batman: Arkham City looks like he has one of these at first glance... then you get a closer look and realize it's a broken bottle embedded around his eye
- Fugue, one of Count Waltz's lackeys in Eternal Sonata. In the Play Station 3 Updated Rerelease of the game, it earns him the mean nickname "three-eyed freak" from Salsa. Even March uses it, which is unusual, given her Blue Oni status to Salsa's Red Oni. Naturally, it really tees Fugue off. "Little girl, I hope you aren't referring to me."
- Similiar to the Warhammer 40,000 example above, Garrus Vakarian in Mass Effect games wears the sci-fi version of it, with the HUD showing tactical data, helping him to aim etc.. In second and third game, Commander Shepard can acquire one like that, too.
- Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney
- Gentleman assassin Shelly DeKiller in Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Justice for All, and Detective Luke Atmey in the sequel Trials and Tribulations, who has a monocle that doubles as magnifying glass. Curiously enough, when de Killer testifies in court via transciever, the gadget's button mimics his monocle.
- And the trailer to Ace Attorney Investigations 2 shows him holding an ice cream cone with a cherry to mimic the monocle. Guy really loves that monocle.
Rob: Mike, it's a well-known fact that all wizards wear monocles.
- This version of the Dramatic Chipmunk.
- Dr. Donkey, the villain from Space Goose, always wears a monocle, as well as a top hat.
- Used frequently in Zero Punctuation, most often when Yahtzee wants to depict a particular person (such as the creators of Penny Arcade) as being wealthy.
Viewer: Monocles and Top Hats, eh?
- VG Cats
- Better Days sent this up by having Fisk and Tommy dress up in the stereotypical upper-class style (complete with monocles and fake mustaches) while shopping for clothes for a trip to New York.
- Twisp of Penny Arcade is an upper-class, monocle-wearing cat, who tends to speak in single-word sentences.
- Berserker Axinhed of Eight Bit Theater has a monocle that not only grants him status, but a completely new (non-berserk) personality.
- Sean has a fantasy about becoming monocle-rich in Sean and Mimi's Awkward Adventures.
- Antihero for Hire's Doctor Nefarious.
- In Real Life Comics, one arc had Greg gain super-intelligence from a gamer-marketed energy drink. He also claimed it gave him myopia in one eye, requiring a monocle.
- Subverted/deconstructed in a strip of Jump Leads, where it was revealed that in the world Meany jumped in, monocles, and high-class wear in general, were used by peasants to compensate for lack of good treatment/clothing for their body, like monocle instead of eye surgery. It turns out that top hat was actually able to kill body-possessing slugs because it's made of silk. The people who join the army to receive better clothes actually abandon a good mean of defense against these slugs.
- Von Pinn from Girl Genius wears a tinted-red monocle. She gets an uncharacteristic monocle pop at one time.
- Poked fun at in Bob and George where Nate and Chadling, two shapeshifting Devils from the Mega Man verse, get mixed up in their bodies. Seeing as Nate wears gigantic glasses they end up with one glass and one normal eye. So they get a top hat because they already had the monocle.
- In Questionable Content, monocles (and Gorgeous Period Dress in general) have become a common occurrence at a certain bar the characters frequent.
- In Megatokyo, Largo wears a monocle with his clubbing outfit.
- One arc of Sluggy Freelance involving parodic supervillains included "Monicruel", who is easily impersonated by Sasha due to the fact that all the other supervillains only remember her appearance as "boobs and a monocle".
- Capu from Death Brigade also sports one, although character art shows that he wore glasses when he was much younger.
- The (currently orphaned) Pixel Comic has a rather impressive monocle contest.
- Scandinavia and The World gives one of these to England.
- The Order of the Stick provides us with ambassador Gourntonk, a monocle-wearing Lizard Folk.
- Harkon of Turn Signals on a Land Raider briefly wears a monocle while serving as prime minister to a Warhammer Emperor.
- Chase from Nerf This dons a tophat, a fancy mustache, and Two monocles. Along with his girlfriend.
- Subverted in a fantastic little strip from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
- In Impure Blood, Caspian's father. Plus one of the Watchers
- In Minion Comics, Von Gernsbach—a member of a wealthy German family who lets him loose to fund an evil organization—wears a monacle over his eye-scar.
- Mr. Herriman of Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends wears a monocle and a hat.
- So does the Mayor of Townsville on The Powerpuff Girls.
- Fearless Leader in Rocky and Bullwinkle.
- Often used in The Simpsons and Futurama in flagrant parodies of rich white people. At one point, when the rich white couple gasps dramatically at some display of boorish lower-class behavior and the man's monocle falls off and breaks, he laments "That's the third monocle this week. I simply MUST stop being so horrified."
- Leela wears one of these from time to time, mostly to play up the fact that she's a cyclops. She wore one as an awkward adolescent, and occasionally as an adult to read. These are more like glasses than traditional monocles, though.
- After she got reconstructive surgery to have two eyes, she threw out a whole box of monocles.
- Billionaire Bot. In the Movie The Beast with a Billion Backs he has a monocle made with a HUMAN EYE! Which he actually needs to see, despite only missing one eye.
- The episode "The Mutants are Revolting" features a banner at a high society event reading: "NO TOP HAT, NO MONOCLE, NO SERVICE"
- Evil Uncle Darius Dun from Ninja Turtles Fast Forward wears one of these unironically, despite the series' 2105 setting.
- Transformers Animated: the most logical of Blitzwing's Split Personalities has a big eye that looks more like a monocle than a Mad Eye. Icy Blitzwing is modeled on Colonel Klink noted above, just like Hothead Blitzwing is modeled on Arnold Schwarzenegger. We're not sure about Random.
- Ron disguises himself with one of these in Kim Possible.
- Invoked by Space Ghost in the Space Ghost Coast to Coast episode "Snatch" when he hears about unidentified (space) creatures violating their airspace.
Space Ghost: (beat) Bring me my monocle. I want to look rich!
- Anti-Cosmo wears one on The Fairly OddParents.
- In an episode of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Grounder begins wearing one after he temporarly becomes smart.
- Archibald Asparagus of Veggie Tales fame wears a monocle seemingly to emphasize the fact he's a culture-obsessed Brit. Fun fact: before the introduction of the Maya software at Big Idea, Archie's monocle had no glass in it.
- Beezy on Jimmy Two Shoes wears a monocle during a brief gag involving him and Jimmy looking smart.
- My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic
- In the episode "The Best Night Ever", a number of high-class ponies at the Grand Galloping Gala are seen wearing monocles.
- During Rarity's part of "At the Gala", she imagines one such pony's monocle popping off when she enters the room.
- And you can't forget Fancypants, the only member of the Canterlot Elite who's not an Upper Class Twit.
- On TUGS, the railway tugboat was called Top Hat. Despite hating dirty jobs, he and the garbage barge, Lord Stinker, get a CMOA in "High Tide" when the railway bridge over the canal collapses.
Top Hat: It's worked, Stinker! You're a smelly old genius! Nothing less!
- Buford wears one briefly on Phineas and Ferb.
"What's with the monocle?"
- Sir Patrick Moore. Only having sight problems in one eye, he decided it would look cool.
- Apropos of nothing, here's American newscaster Bob Schieffer's reaction to the monocle.
- Chris Eubank
- Joseph Chamberlain, the father of Neville Chamberlain and an important British politician in his own right, famously wore a monocle.
- Fritz Lang. He briefly switched to glasses when he went to Hollywood, but got sick of them. Later on he combined it with an eyepatch.
- Several men in the Steampunk community have one, although usually with regular glass instead of a lens.
- As mentioned under "Films-Live Action", Spanish celebrity Don Jaime De Mora y Aragón commonly had public appearances with a monocle, walking stick, hair gel and chauffeur ("Pepe"), especially in the night scene of Marbella in the 1980s. He made a number of movies playing characters similar to himself. Many people believed that De Mora was a rich aristocrat; he was simply the brother of the consort Queen of Belgium, and apparently liked his lifestyle.
- Petri Purho, Finnish video game designer sometimes wears one in public.