Smoky Gentlemen's Club

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

A.K.A. "The Actually Genuinely Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club" (although don't expect them to be any more respectable for their legitimacy).

Expect to see a lot of besuited, bemonocled old white men at the Smoky Gentlemen's Club, reclining with snifters of brandy in red studded-leather armchairs, smoking cigars or pipes and secretly pulling the puppet-strings of the world.

Alternatively, just a place upper-class men can be out from under the feet of their wives and servants. Not to be confused with the other kinds of "gentlemen's" clubs.

Examples of Smoky Gentlemen's Club include:

Comic Books

  • The Hellfire Club of X-Men have a smoke filled room thing going on in some of the 19th century plotlines, when Dark Phoenix goes back in time with Sebastian Shaw.
    • The modern-day version affects the appearance of one of these as their cover.
  • Batman villain 'Boss' Rupert Thorne did most of his dirty dealings out of one of these called The Tobacconists Club.



  • In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, note how often Holmes and Watson end up in one of those clubs to meet a client or expose a villain.
    • Not to mention Holmes' brother Mycroft belongs to the Diogenes Club - a club for antisocial gentlemen.
  • In the Stephen King novella The Breathing Method, the narrator attends a gentlemen's club which features storytelling as well as the usual socializing, brandy-drinking and the like. There's something eerie about the club, but we never find out exactly what it is.
  • James Bond's boss, M, is a member of one of these; at the beginning of Moonraker he invites Bond along because he suspects one of the other club members is habitually cheating at cards, and he wants Bond to work how it's being done so the club officials can take appropriate action. (And yes, this does turn out to be relevant to the rest of the plot.)
  • Discworld:
    • Fidgett's in Thief of Time. Death is a member. He fulfills all the qualifications of a gentleman: he has an estate in the country (indeed, his own Domain), is unfailingly polite and very punctual, and of course is an excellent horseman. Susan gets in to find him because the men inside become convinced that women can't exist, except on special occasions, therefore she can't possibly be in there.
    • The unnamed get-togethers where brandy-swilling men plot the replacement of the Patrician in Feet of Clay and The Truth are more like the sinister version of the trope.
  • The Drones Club in P. G. Wodehouse is another heroic version; membership includes Bertie Wooster, Rupert Psmith, Freddie Threepwood, and most of their friends.
  • Reginald and Murgatroyd of Silicon Wolfpack are members as well. The author must think it's a Public Domain Location.
  • Lord Peter Wimsey is also a member of more than one Smoky Gentlemen's Club; the novel The Unpleasantness At The Bellona Club mostly takes place within one of them.

Live-Action TV

  • As per tradition, the haunt of Sir Humphrey and his usual company in Yes Minister.
  • "Rowley Birkin, QC" of The Fast Show seems to be speaking from a club like this.
    • Paul Whitehouse did it again in Harry and Paul, where he and Harry Enfield play a pair of homophobic old men.
  • In the episode "Zip Zip Zip" of How I Met Your Mother, Barney takes Robin to one of these and in a subversion of this trope they dork out, high five, then go play laser tag.
  • The "Humphrey and Godfrey" sketches in The Two Ronnies.
  • A subplot in the Lois and Clark episode "Chi of Steel" revolves around Perry White's membership in one of these; Lois manages to sneak in in disguise.
  • At least two episodes of The Twilight Zone: "Back There" and "The Silence", seem to be set in this sort of club.
  • The Season Four opening arc of Bones, "Yanks in the U.K.", included a visit to a Gentlemen's Club. The American implications of the term are discussed.
  • As in the books (see above), Mycroft Holmes frequents one in Sherlock. When Watson storms in loudly demanding to see him, he encounters a lot of angry, stuttering old duffers in chairs before being bagged and dragged into a back room. Apparently there's a strict code of silence in the main club to avoid members revealing any vital state secrets.

Tabletop Games


  • The National Campaign Committee (a mostly unseen group of people) in the musical Of Thee I Sing. Their headquarters is a shabby hotel room suffused with cigar smoke, and more than a few bottles of White Rock (this was during Prohibition). "It's not that they couldn't afford a better hotel, for the party is notoriously rich," the script explains, "but somehow this room seems thoroughly in keeping with the men who occupy it."

Western Animation

  • Lois' father in Family Guy frequents a club like this.

Real Life

  • John Timbs wrote a sociological manual called, Club Life of London. In the eighteenth and nineteenth century in London there were clubs for politics, religion, any occupation you could think of, any recreation you could think of and basically doing nothing but getting drunk in a leisurely manner. In fact you could really have a club for almost anything. Curiously there were very few clubs for women nor were women invited into men's clubs until recently. But with that exception, London Clubs were basically a way to chill out all the city's and to some degree the whole country's business and entertainment, at least for the upper classes. Lower classes of course went to pubs where they more or less did the same thing but the furnishings were less expensive.
  • Tim Newark wrote a biography of the British Naval and Military Club under the title, The In and Out
    • The original In and Out was essentially to keep officers on leave from acting riotously and annoying the population. Much in fact like the establishment of the USO in another era because using the old practice of allowing brothels and wild saloons to park near barracks would annoy the families of citizen-soldiers expecting standards better then that of an old school marching workhouse.