Southern Gentleman

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

A mythical creature of the male gender, the Southern Gentleman is the Spear Counterpart to the Southern Belle.

Common vices: Drinking and/or gambling.

Common virtues: Well-dressed, well-spoken, charmin', suave and invariably polite to the opposite gender.

Other attributes: White suit of light material (especially in summer), corncob pipe that nevertheless manages to look dignified, mint julep.

Habitat: Romance novels, westerns.

Notes: Subject to severe Values Dissonance for modern audiences, as, depending on time period, he is either a slaveholder or is nostalgic for the era of slavery (even if he doesn't harbor any actual racist views, the romanticism of the south's Golden Age is what matters).

Associated tropes: Dixie accent, Officer and a Gentleman.

Status: Nearly extinct. Some are still known to moonlight as simple country lawyers.

Examples of Southern Gentleman include:



  • In a lot of black southern folk tales, especially from closer to the time of slavery, the Devil often takes the form of one of these guys. For obvious reasons, considering they were usually also the cruel masters under whom slaves suffered.


Live Action TV

  • Dr Leonard McCoy from Star Trek: The Original Series.
  • Lucas Buck masquerades as one in American Gothic.
  • Bill Compton from True Blood is a variation, he's probably the most polite vampire ever.
  • The Sports Night episode 'Six Southern Gentlemen of Tennessee' includes two characters discussing that this trope as it relates to the Confederate flag and the history of the south. When Isaac points out to Danny that their CEO, Luther Sachs, is a southerner who likes to consider himself a Southern Gentleman. As Isaac puts it, "the difference, Danny, is all the difference"; the implication being that Sachs confuses his own wealth and elitism with the class and personal nobility that is associated with the trope.
  • Occasionally, on Good Eats, if the recipe has definite Southern roots (fried catfish, for example), Alton Brown will dress and speak like one of these, an Affectionate Parody of Col. Sanders.
  • Blanche's father, who was known as 'Big Daddy', on The Golden Girls.


  • Satirised in Tom Lehrer's "I Wanna Go Back To Dixie", where the phrase refers to the Ku Klux Klan:

I wanna talk with southern gentlemen
And put that white sheet on again
Haven't seen me a good lynching in years!



Video Games

  • Sinclair from BioShock (series) 2, one of the Voices With An Internet Connection who helps you throughout the game.
  • Clem from The Suffering.
  • Arcturus Mengsk of StarCraft is portrayed as one, with him going so far as to wear clothes resembling a CSA general's outfit.
  • John Marston of Red Dead Redemption, despite being a former outlaw, can actually fit into this trope, with the clothing being the only other concern (in which case, you could put him in the gambler outfit or the duster).

Real Life

  • Colonel Sanders cultivated a Southern Gentleman persona for the latter part of his life, and this image now adorns KFC materials all over the place.
  • General George C. Marshal was this as well as being an Officer and a Gentleman. He was a more pleasant variety of this, coming as he did quite a ways after the Unfortunate Unpleasantness that this trope is associated with to some degree.