The Comically Serious

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"Even funnier than the man who has been made ridiculous, however, is the man who, having had something funny happen to him, refuses to admit that anything out of the way has happened, and attempts to maintain his dignity."

Just because a character doesn't have a sense of humor themselves doesn't mean that they can't make the audience laugh. The Comically Serious is a character who ostensibly has a serious, composed personality, but is funny because he or she is put into funny situations. This works with character types who react calmly to unusual situations, especially those that more realistically induce hysteria or other strong emotions, such as the Deadpan Snarker, The Stoic, and The Quiet One.

Typically works as a Straight Man in the cast, although they may have some odd weakness. Often, they become the victim of Not So Above It All.

Comically Serious characters turn up in Britcom.

Bizarrely enough, has a very similar comedic style to the certain kinds of Cloudcuckoolander, in that the Cloudcuckoolander's comedy often comes from serious reactions to their own oddities, while The Comically Serious's comes from serious reactions to other people's/things'.

Subtrope of Bathos. Also related to Serious Business, as comically serious characters have a tendency to indulge in it. Might also be the Butt Monkey in settings where being serious is seen as an offense.

Compare No Sense of Humor, So Unfunny It's Funny.

Contrast Dude, Not Funny.

Examples of The Comically Serious include:

Anime and Manga

  • Karakuri Circus - Narumi's nonexistent sense of humor is a problem - because only causing someone to laugh will halt his Incurable Cough of Death. Crosses over into So Unfunny It's Funny, at times.
  • Raven from Gravion, albeit this is a result of literal Becoming the Mask. Ayaka, the current "Raven" is a woman and far more emotional than her unfunny alterego.
  • Bleach's Byakuya Kuchiki in the omakes. He makes a joke. Once. It makes Renji Freak-Out. He tries to do a comedy routine on stage. The audience was disturbed. Also note his obsession with Seaweed Ambassador. Finally, he sure loves his bunny drawings... which look exactly like Rukia's.
    • In addition to playing roles that are structurally very similar, Byakuya and Ulquiorra have similar personalities. Like Byakuya, Ulquiorra's comically serious tendencies show up in a couple of Omake and episodes previews.
  • Jin in Samurai Champloo. At first glance, he comes off as a stoic, cool, smooth, handsome Badass, but then the series proceeds to place him in some of the most comedic of situations alongside his companions. This includes a torture montage, working at an eel stand, getting a sore back after a night with unattractive courtesans, having to pretend to be a tour guide to win back his pawned swords, and dressing up as a female prostitute.
    • It's the fact that he's always so damn serious that gives him the Crowning Moment of Funny for the entire flippin' show. He's kneeling on a rock in the middle of a river while Mugen and Fuu are over on the shore. With no warning he suddenly dives in, swims and flails around like an utter madman, RUNS up to them in double-time animation (freaking them out in the process) and collapses in a prone-kneeling position before them, panting heavily... And holding a pouch full of (unknowingly, forged) gold coins. MUST be seen to be believed.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: During the very rare occasions of humor, Commander Gendoh Ikari and Professor Kouzou Fuyutsuki fit this perfectly. "It's hot." "Yes."
    • Gendoh can also stare depressingly at Eva-01... while in an orange raincoat.
    • There's also something funny about Fuyutsuki facepalming and muttering "Those kids are embarrassing us again..." when Shinji and Asuka are bickering at the end of Episode 9.
      • In the dub he says "Those darn kids are embarrassing us again". There's something very comical about that, as the wizened old Vice-Commander can't even say "damn". It comes out sounding like a line from a sitcom.
  • Switzerland from Axis Powers Hetalia is generally a serious, stern character, and occasionally throws out gems like this in his typically serious, stern manner:

Christmas is about family and loving people. [Pause.] Now get bent.

    • Japan has his moments as well, especially during Germany's training sessions on how to deal with being asked to react if England attacks, or what to do if the enemy asks him to surrender. He gives his answers in complete seriousness:

You should imitate William the First's loud voice!
Yes sir! I respond Japanese way! Be unclear! Say one thing, but mean something else completery opposite! Lie to them!

  • In the first Fullmetal Alchemist anime, Roy Mustang is like this up until he's confronted with Black Hayate and gives a speech about how he loves dogs! Later in the episode, he reveals that his first executive order as Fuhrer President would be to make all female army personnel wear... tiny minskirts!
    • His lieutenant Riza Hawkeye is a rare female example in the manga omake, doing such things as trying to measure Ed's height against his will, introducing her dog and responding to Mustang's musing that he might want to grow some facial hair by drawing on his face with a marker all with a completely straight face .
  • Azumanga Daioh's the unexpressive Sakaki and the stern Yomi.
  • Keroro Gunsou - Sergeant Frog lampshades and spoofs this relentlessly with no-nonsense Badass soldier Giroro.
  • Sailor Moon - Mamoru Chiba/Tuxedo Mas is a pretty serious guy, but can sometimes lapse into this. Particularly when his child-like girlfriend Usagi/Moon (or any of the Sailor Senshi) say or do something that is so over-the-top all he can do is stare at them with a look that says "Moving right along..." Haruka/Uranus also slips once or twice into this.
  • The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
    • Kyon, who is also the Deadpan Snarker; his creativity and sense of wonder is likely just repressed, though. His aloofness doesn't prevent him from getting stuck in alternate worlds with a Magical She Is Not My Girlfriend, or from finding himself smack-dab in the middle of mysterious murder cases.
    • Yuki Nagato is another example, reacting with robotic coldness to all the wacky hijinks created by Haruhi and Mikuru. Yuki herself is not above a friendly prank or two. Even if she doesn't show external signs of enjoying it...
    • Kyon's genderbent counterpart, Kyonko, is even better at this than the original.
  • Juubei Kakei in GetBackers (at least as an adult). Toss in blindness, unfamiliarity with the modern world, and copious amounts of Ho Yay. And for extra hilarity, they told him he wasn't funny. He was devastated.
  • Zelgadiss from The Slayers. Which of course makes him the butt of jokes once the series goes comedic.
  • Somehow, Unfunny Hatori Sohma from Fruits Basket manages to put up with Chivalrous Pervert Shigure Sohma and White-Haired Pretty Boy Ayame Sohma. Hatori is the only serious one of the three, without much of a sense of humour. Although this is justified, given his traumatic past. Maybe he's just plain tired of Shigure and Ayame's antics, after all this time?
    • Yuki can sometimes fall into this, especially after he starts trying to head the Student Council.
  • Code Geass - Part of the appeal of Lady of War Cornelia li Brittania is the potential for comic seriousness in just about any comedic situation she could be put into. Fanartists have caught onto this, and she's frequently shown looking flustered in comparison to the other characters. Canon toys a bit with this, considering the reaction she had to Clovis's raunchy swimsuits. And Cornelia was naked or at least topless when she commented on how Euphie shouldn't wear any of them. She was concerned about wearing one herself, and it was quite amusing to hear Euphie forcibly putting one on her.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha - Chrono's expression of cold professionalism remains the same even when he's wearing a bandage tied as a ribbon, combing down a coworker's Idiot Hair, or lightening up the atmosphere with a joke.
  • Re-L in Ergo Proxy gets this a couple of times, due to her being a Very Serious Intelligence Operative...who ended up Walking the Earth with Vincent, who is effectively The Fool with superpowers.
  • One Piece
    • Zoro. He plays both 'badass' and 'buffoon' very well, but what makes it funny is that he's so serious the whole time.
    • A filler episode set soon after Enies Lobby uses this as its entire premise (the title, "Zoro's Slapstick Housework Help", should tell you everything you need to know)
    • He borders on being a Comedic Sociopath. He's a cold-blooded killer, but when he angrily shouts at and threatens someone for giving him directions when he gets lost on a straight, narrow cliff, you know you're supposed to laugh at him.
    • Zoro and Usopp are cuffed together while facing two opponents. With a totally serious face throughout. Zoro still is completely serious even as he executes his (innovative but completely ridiculous) plan. See it to believe it.

Zoro: I have a plan. We play rock-paper-scissors. The loser cuts off his hand.
Usopp: How can you say such a scary thing with a straight face!
Zoro: I'm not finished. Then he goes and gets Chopper to sew it back on.
Usopp: We're not rag dolls!!
Zoro: I have another idea...
Usopp: I don't wanna hear it!!!

    • Nico Robin is another example, especially given she's the only crew member who never adopts crazy facial expressions when shocked or angry. She once calmly remarked how she knew Zoro hadn't been eaten by a shark because the water hadn't turned red, much to her crewmates' shock. She's also an occasional Straight Man for the crew's antics.
    • And a less prominent character who is a notably perfect example: During the Enies Lobby showdown, Cipher Pol 9 agent Kaku takes this trope to hilarious lengths (all ye who have not watched his fight with Zoro, spoil at your own risk): not only does he turn into a ridiculous block-nosed giraffe-man, he gets defensive about it, and says things like "Witness the power of a giraffe!" all while keeping a perfectly straight face. Using attacks like "Giraffe Canon" and "Nose Gun" is several times funnier just because of how absurdly seriously Kaku takes himself. No wonder he came in 9th in the following popularity poll.
      • Though he's right about being dangerous.
    • Jinbei is starting to evolve into one by virtue of hanging out with Luffy and Hancock on Amazon Lily.
    • Trafalgar Law does not appear to be sure how to react to the Straw Hats' usual antics when he offers to ally with them in Punk Hazard, resulting in this trope.
  • Tezuka and Sanada from The Prince of Tennis, especially in the "chibi" episodes. Preceded by Rukawa, Akagi, Maki and Uozumi from Slam Dunk.
  • Full Metal Panic! - Sousuke Sagara. At least it tends to actually be his fault, though. He eventually plays the straight man to his own mecha.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima
    • Occasionally Setsuna acts like this. Her mentor-figure Eishun played this to comical absurdity in his own group.
    • Fate, of all people, had a comically serious moment. His companions really didn't know how to react to it... What was his moment? Fate's Pet the Dog moment with his severed arm.
    • Chisame also qualifies on some occasions; most of her humor concerns her reactions to whatever absurd situation she ends up in.
    • And in Cosmo Entelechia, we have Dynamis, who can be a really really Large Ham, but is always dead serious.
  • Naruto
  • Giovanni from the Pokémon cartoon. Which of course, only makes Meowth's progressively delusional Imagine Spots that much weirder.
    • And recently, the Team Rocket trio themselves in the "Best Wishes" arc.
  • One of the highlights of the Darker than Black OVA episode (which spoofs the main series) is the resident Emotionless Girl reciting smutty yaoi fanfic in a dead-serious Creepy Monotone.
  • Vanilla from Galaxy Angel, less so in the video games. A stoic, Emotionless Girl couldn't possible be funny, right? You'd be wrong.
  • In the recent crossover movie between Lupin III and Detective Conan, Goemon jumps from a plane and cuts through several floors of a building on his way to land in the vault. Once there, he says "Once again I have cut a worthless object" as usual, completely serious... and his legs are wobbling from the impact, seemingly unnoticed. This is not the first time he has done something like this. He tries so very hard to be serious and dignified... but when he hangs out with Lupin...
  • A number of characters from Eyeshield 21 qualify:
    • Hayato Akaba of the Bando Spiders remains almost completely stone-faced while striking goofy rock-star poses for no apparent reason, and has a tendency to make convoluted music metaphors with the same completely serious expression.
    • Seijuro Shin of the Oujou White Knight has a tendency to break any piece of technology more advanced than a stopwatch, and is occasionally seen going to comically ridiculous efforts in his training.
    • Shun Kakei of the Kyoshin Poseidons always takes the antics of his wackier teammates in stride, whether it's the rivalry between Ohira and Onishi or whatever hijinks Mizumachi is up to.
  • Pani Poni Dash! - Rei Tachibana. Nothing makes her humorless nature more glaring than when her pissed-off face takes up two thirds of the screen while Himeko rises up on the remaining one-third and shoots off her motormouth while rocking side-to-side.
    • Tsurugi Inugami would count even more, with him being the serious, near-emotionless one in the same class as characters like Misao Nanjo and Behoimi (not to mention that said class is taught by Old Geezer).
  • Jojo's Bizarre Adventure - Joseph Joestar in his youth once tried to sneak into a Nazi base dressed as a woman. A 6-foot-plus, musclebound woman. When the soldiers freak out and raise their guns, he is genuinely shocked that his disguise failed. Jotaro Kujoh meanwhile has a perfect poker face, as he demonstrates to good effect when gambling against D'Arbsoule.
  • Stein from Soul Eater with his Running Gag of him not be able to slide in a office chair without falling.

Let me try that again.

Comic Books

  • Batman often plays the unfunny role. Anything can be made funnier by adding Batman as the straight guy. A rare exception is found in the The Killing Joke, when The Joker tells him a joke that makes them both laugh. More typically: In "Hush", when Nightwing and Batman are in the Batmobile discussing Catwoman (well, Nightwing is discussing her... Batman is glaring off into the distance ignoring him):

Nightwing: If you don't want to talk with someone, why do you even have a passenger seat in the Batmobile?
Batman: Balance.

Nightwing: ...was that a joke? [pause] Of course not.
  • To a lesser extent, Wolverine tends to be this. Whenever he teams up with young girls (which happens more often than you might think) it tends to be a mix between Crowning Moment of Heartwarming and Crowning Moment of Funny.
  • Plastic Man. Hard as it may be to believe these days, in his Golden Age Jack Cole comics he was the straight man surrounded by lunatics. Back then Plastic Man was a former criminal and was guilty of some rather serious crimes.
  • Out of the lot of the villainous Secret Six, the role of comically serious goes to Bane. It says something when you try to act fatherly to a grown woman by treating her like a ten year old.
  • Moon Knight - The title character is something of a Captain Ersatz of Batman, usually takes this role when played against Spider-Man. Moon Knight is also insane Depending on the Writer. For example, during super-hero rooftop meeting in Ultimate Spider-Man #107:

Spider-Man: Don't mind me, I'm just here for the chicken wings.
Moon Knight confused: There... There are no chicken wings.

  • Cable to Deadpool's antics.
  • Previously, Cyclops would fulfill this role. As pointed out before aby a few fans, personality wise, he's not unlike Batman, meaning that any situation from his perspective could become funnier, or more awesome. He once had a oneshot story a while back, that involved him fighting evil circus folk while stealing a man's bike and leaving an apologetic note afterwards. A lot of humour was derived from the situation he was in, his reaction, and the ending which turned a small number of bits into a Brick Joke. Sadly, The X-Men are being as serious as they can now, so no more comically serious adventures for Cyke.
  • Dream / Morpheus in The Sandman, either through being the straight man to the likes of Delirium or Immortal Immaturity. When his latest affair ends badly at the beginning of "Brief Lives", he starts brooding on the balcony like a teenager - and causes downpours throughout the Dreaming just to complete the pose.


  • Just about any character played by Christopher Walken.
  • Leslie Nielsen was a somewhat successful dramatic actor. When Zucker, Abrahams, and Zucker came along and had him act the exact same way in a crazy situation in their film Airplane!, it made him a comedy legend. The rest is history. Hence Leslie Nielsen Syndrome: it is difficult to impossible to watch older Leslie Nielsen films without stifling inappropriate giggles—including such classics as Forbidden Planet.
    • The entire movie is based on this trope. Only Johnny acts silly.

Stryker: Surely, you can't be serious.
Rumack: I am serious. And don't call me "Shirley".

  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Graham Chapman plays King Arthur completely straight through some of the most absurd moments in theatrical history, his stodginess in the face of carefree lunacy played for laughs.
  • Terminator series - The Terminators often have moments like this, due to having No Social Skills.
  • Men in Black - Agent K. So much so that when they were filming the first movie, Tommy Lee Jones was worried he wouldn't be funny, and they had to keep reassuring him that Agent K would be funny in context. He was.
  • Death in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey gets a creepy introduction when he arrives to take Bill and Ted to Hell. He promptly gets Melvined by them and spends the rest of the film desperately trying to regain his dignity, which is shattered over and over again the more time he spends with them. In the end he decides 'Screw It', and becomes their bass player.

"Don't overlook *my* butt, I work out all the time. And reaping burns a lot of calories."

  • Buster Keaton started his unfunny act young. Working with his father on the stage, he was continually told to "freeze the puss" because a puzzled or frowning face after a gag made the audience laugh harder. This later carried over to his film career - when he's on screen, his face is a worried blank, his body is ramrod straight but his legs do the talking.
    • A biography of him explained this trope in action. As a child performer he wore a suitcase handle on the back of his jacket, allowing the adults to literally pick him up and toss him around the stage. The act ended with him getting shoved through a bass drum. If he emerged from the drum smiling and waving at the audience (to assure them he was unharmed), people assumed he was being abused and that the smiling was just something he had been ordered to do. If he kept his face deadpan throughout, he brought the house down every time.
  • Harry Potter - Alan Rickman's subdued performance as Snape is sometimes this, especially in the later films (Cormack puking on his shoes comes to mind).
    • Rolling his eyes and pulling his sleeves back to push Ron and Harry's faces back into their work wouldn't have been nearly as funny if he'd had any change of attitude or expression.
    • Who could forget this little gem from Order of the Phoenix:

Dolores Umbridge:[during an inspection] You applied first for the Defense Against the Dark Arts post, is that correct?
Severus Snape: Yes.
Dolores Umbridge: But you were unsuccessful?
Severus Snape: [with annoyance in voice] Obviously.

  • The Devil's Rejects - Oddly enough, Otis Driftwood is Comically Serious when he is in the company of Captain Spaulding and Baby Firefly.
  • Inception - Arthur, as he's the most serious in the Dream Team and smiles but twice in the whole film. He does have a sense of humour though.
  • Dragnet - Dan Aykroyd as Joe Friday
  • Bruce Lee has a few moments as the comically serious in some of his movies
  • Margaret Dumont in the films of The Marx Brothers and others.
  • Moe Howard from The Three Stooges is cast as the most "serious" Stooge and often berates the other two to stop screwing around, but he is no less likely to get a pie in the face or clonked with a shovel than anyone else in the cast. This is a natural extension of the much older role of the whiteface clown as a Straight Man to the more rambunctious auguste in professional clowning. Some people have trouble with smart clowns...
  • Home Alone: Harry to a certain extent.


  • Most of the characters in the Discworld universe, but Vetinari and Vimes particularly stick out. Also Granny Weatherwax. Just look at her experience with theater in Wyrd Sisters.
    • Captain Carrot. Who will track down Death on the ground he's the only witness to a murder.
      • The thing is, this is Discworld, where such things are not only plausible, but legitimate.
  • In the Sword of Truth series, Nicci, after her Heel Face Turn, very much so.
  • The narrator of The Remains of the Day is a butler who's trying very hard to develop a sense of humor late in life, because he thinks his new employer would appreciate it. His Spock Speak Wall of Text musings on the subject are very funny, until they reappear in the last scene.
  • Ax of Animorphs is an alien who doesn't quite understand human humor, but his weird mannerisms among other things make him into a very funny character.
    • Marco was convinced that the Yeerks did have a sense of humor because nobody as comically serious as them could do it intentionally. Such gems of humor from the Yeerks include making an entrance to their secret lair under a McDonald's and then having the password be "I'd like a Happy Meal with extra happy" and having the audio for the self-destruct system announce "Base will Self-Destruct in 15 minutes. Have a nice day."
  • The eternally unflappable Jeeves of Jeeves and Wooster. His expressions and intonations never change as he responds rationally and politely to the ridiculous things that go on around him and the ramblings of his Cloudcuckoolander boss.

Bertie: I suppose it bowled the poor blighter over absolutely?
Jeeves: Mr. Bickersteth appeared somewhat taken aback, sir.

Live-Action TV

  • Seth Green as Oz in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Also, Giles and Angel.
  • Indeed, much of the humor on Angel's own show was derived from his being deadpan in comical or bizarre situations, or how absolutely seriously he took his role as Brooding Hero of the Night With a Dark Past, to the point where it became a bit absurd. Cases in point: his dancing (it's dreadful but thankfully imaginary), leaping heroically into the wrong convertible and thereby averting a car chase scene, the discovery that he enjoys Barry Manilow but cannot sing to save his unlife, and dressing up in a ridiculous tourist outfit in order to apparently annoy information out of a local mafia boss. All of these he treats with complete seriousness or hides to keep his brooding cred.
    • The best was when he was turned into a muppet. For most of an episode he was a dour, brooding, serious fuzzy puppet while everyone else was intensely amused.
  • Sam the Eagle from the The Muppet Show frequently commented on his own program in a condescending tone, usually tripping up over his own hypocrisy (he once followed up a complaint about how uncultured the show was with a comment that the guest of the week, ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev, was his "favorite opera singer") or not being aware how silly things actually were (his favorite skit on the show was the "classy" duets by Wayne and Wanda, which always ended in some slapstick disaster).
  • Bert in Sesame Street.
  • Spoofed in Monty Python's Flying Circus, where a man talking and acting in a blandly everyday manner causes convulsive laughter in everyone he walks past. And that's even an obscure reference. Does no one remember the Colonel? "Now I do my best to keep things moving along, but I'm not having things getting silly." He started as the straight man in his own sketch, and they kept using him to end a sketch for which they had not written a punch line.

Colonel: Right! Stop that! Silly! And a bit suspect, I think...

  • Michael Bluth of Arrested Development.
    • Also, Wayne Jarvis, the self-described consummate professional.

Michael: Are you serious?
Wayne: Almost always. I was once voted the worst audience participant Cirque Du Soleil ever had.

Worf: Sir, I protest! I am not a merry man!

    • Same applies to Data's daughter Lal, who summed up the essence of this trope after noting that other children were laughing at her.

Lal: Then, without understanding humor, I have somehow mastered it.

    • Tuvok was often paired with goofy Alien Scrappy Neelix. Interestingly, in a flashback, Sulu commented that Tuvok was stuck up even for a Vulcan. (Sulu implicitly compares him to Spock.) Which leads to the hilarious image of him being Comically Serious in a group of Vulcans.
    • And Worf, above, is often shown as being more serious than most Klingons. (This may be a case of him trying too hard to follow an outsider's ideas of Klingon culture, as compared to those actually brought up in it; then again, he might just have a grim and serious temperament.) Michael Dorn has a charming smile, but the best you're likely to get out of Worf is a look of satisfaction.
    • Data discovers the concept of humor and attempts to learn to tell jokes and stand-up. The image of Comically Serious Data, on par with Worf, trying to tell jokes and failing miserably is—on paper - more hilarious than the jokes themselves could ever hope to be. Unfortunately, to say they misfired would be a dramatic understatement—the resulting episode, "The Outrageous Okona", is regarded as one of the worst in the entire Trek canon. He can hardly be blamed for getting it wrong considering the jokes being endorsed by Guinan and the greatest comedian of the 20th century. "Because you're a 'droid and I'm a 'noid."
    • At least once Data and Worf both pulled this off in the same scene. Data is about to leave the Enterprise and asks Worf to take care of his cat Spot:

Data: You must feed him and pet him. And you must tell him he is a good cat. And a pretty cat.
Worf: (holding the cat at arm's length with his usual scowl) I will feed it.
Data: Perhaps that will be sufficient.

  • Teal'c on Stargate SG-1 was the team's Unfunny. He might have laughed only once in the show's 10-year run - at a Jaffa joke no one else on the team got. Once in a while he was a bit of a Deadpan Snarker, and he was frequently the victim of Metaphorgotten, but he was always a serious person. Made even more hilarious on a meta level by how downright jolly his actor Christopher Judge is in real life. At first his understanding of human humor is more limited, but he learns more as the series goes on, giving us such moments as early on when O'Neill is lying sick in bed:

Teal'c (deadpan): Undomesticated equines could not stop me.
O'Neill (realizing): You made a joke.

    • The Jaffa race as a whole counts.
  • Dr. Wen from Scrubs. Carla as well: you can get plenty of laughs out of her and her storylines, but it's actually made a point of a few times in the show that she can't tell or do good jokes.
  • M* A* S* H - Col. Potter, Major Freeman, and Major Winchester. They have their breakdowns, but compared to Hawkeye, Trapper, B.J., Radar, Frank Burns, Margaret, Klinger, and good God Col. Flagg....
  • Lilith on Cheers and Frasier... she thinks Zeppo Marx is the funniest of the Marx Brothers. Interestingly, Zeppo was often said to be the funniest one in real life.
  • Cameron of The Sarah Connor Chronicles is a solid example of this, when she is put in absurd or socially delicate situations, and tends to react in an extremely straightforward and practical manner. Jonh Henry and Catherine Weaver tend to be this, too. The odd thing here is how much quiet comedy the writers generate between two comically serious characters.
  • Chuck - NSA Agent John Casey is the most serious out of the 'Operation Bartowski' team, but he's often the bringer of the most laughs, usually because he's put into amusing circumstances.
  • News Radio: The whole reason Dave Foley was cast as Dave Nelson (a character created with him in mind) was the fact that Foley has a talent for getting laughs by subtly and seriously reacting to funny or crazy things, more so than the actors who are actually doing them, as creator Paul Simms discovered by watching him steal scenes opposite the Chicken Lady.
  • Castiel on Supernatural. He doesn't even react when he sits on a whoopie cushion, inadvertently interrupting his own Serious Business speech about the Anti Christ.

Cas: [completely serious] That wasn't me.

This isn't funny, Dean! The voice says I'm almost out of minutes.

  • From Conan O'Brien's more recent recurring sketches: Real Life associate producer Jordan Schlansky.
  • Jamie from MythBusters is one of the quintessential examples, in contrast to the Adam, who delights in clowning.
    • In the episode where they tested the concept of Latex Perfection, Adam got a lot of mileage out of acting zany while disguised as Jamie (though he was able to pull off serious too). On the other hand, Jamie had a hard time acting appropriately goofy while disguised as Adam.
  • True Blood: Eric Northman. A good example—though funnier in context, so spoilered punchline—is when he's speaking in Russian, and his whole speech is subtitled, but he spontaneously switches back to English to call someone a gold-digging whore!
  • Dr. K from Power Rangers RPM. For a character who is a complete Deadpan Snarker with No Social Skills, she provides almost as much humor as the designated Butt Monkey of the series. It mainly comes from the fact that she is often placed in socially awkward situations. (See "Ranger Yellow, Part 2", "Doctor K", and especially "In Or Out" for proof.)
  • The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon. Cooper. In fact, it's pretty much his entire shtick.
  • Ben Wyatt in Parks and Recreation.
  • Glee's Dalton Academy Warblers, individually or en masse, are this to a T.

Thad: You mock us, sir!

  • Hotch in Criminal Minds can be this very much sometimes, especially when put with Reid, though occasionally also with Morgan.
  • Jon Stewart on The Daily Show is not generally this, but when paired with his correspondents for a bit, will often time take on this role as the serious straight newsman/interviewer.
  • The humor of Loriot, probably Germany's most famous comedian, is always this, revolving around people in awkward situations who always keep appearances and manners, which only makes the situations more absurd and hilarious, and frankly, embarrassing. A great deal of his early humor is attributed to the fact that people in Germany in the 60s actually did behave a lot like that and he was merely pointing out the absurdity of trying to keep one's dignity by ignoring the embarrassment.
  • PR consultant and professional snoop Nick Hewer has shades of this in The Apprentice, which the editors occasionally play up - the man's so deadpan that the second he comes within five metres of a stuffed toy he becomes instantly funny. The real life equivalent of the Batman comedy mannequin. Following an appearance on a popular BBC panel show, however, it turned out that the Apprentice team had, if anything, been downplaying Nick's deadpan genius. And all he had to do was wear a jumper and make some faces...
  • Red Foreman embodies this trope in That '70s Show. While he does have a lighter side that pops up from time to time, 99% of the humor derived from his character comes from his stern personality clashing with the absolutely absurd plots going on around him.
  • In the classic TV Batman, Batman and Robin are the straight men to the lunacy of the villains.
  • Life's Too Short gives us Liam Neeson's attempt at improv comedy.


  • Steve Bender, one of the two German members of the 80's multi-national band Dschinghis Khan. Lampshaded in several YouTube comments which mention how utterly serious he is, when compared with his more cheerful bandmates.
  • David Choi is so serious a video on YouTube is dedicated to making him laugh.
  • Just watch the unofficial video for "Whipped Cream" by Ludo and try to keep a straight face as long as the band does.

Professional Wrestling

  • WWE
    • Wrestler Steve Blackman often served as the Unfunny in a tag team with one of the federation's wackier wrestlers, including Cloudcuckoolander Al Snow and white-boy wannabe rapper Grandmaster Sexay.
    • "If I can be serious for a minute..." WCW/WWE/ECW alumnus Lance Storm also used a (fairly humorous) Unfunny gimmick ("Your days of unabashed hijinks are about to end."). The WWE Flanderised him into a robot-like Stoic who would later learn how to have "fun" and dance his way down to the ring. It's a far cry from his WCW and ECW days, where he was both Comically Serious and Badass.
    • Kane, who for years had been the most serious of performers, had a point for about two or three years where he could be relied on for some of the best comedy moments—because no matter how many times he did it, you didn't expect Kane to crack jokes, except deadpan.
  • Beth Phoenix comes off as unfunny since she plays straight woman to her boyfriend Santino, her intern Rosa Mendez, frequent tag team partner Jillian Hall and the crazy characters they tend to attract.
  • "Hey Tomko, gimme a beat." "No."


  • Bob and Ray had a number of interview sketches that used this—with one (usually Bob) as himself, trying to make sense out of the other as the increasingly loopy subject.
  • Wiretap - Jonathan Goldstein as portrayed in most of the "conversations" on his radio show.

Recorded and Stand-up Comedy


Video Games

  • Sasha Nein from Psychonauts. He's more or less The Spock, but gets the most amusing punishments—such as having his brain removed, leaving him to babble about TVs and hackeysacks, or being squashed on the underside of a giant rubber stamper.
  • Marcus Fenix of Gears of War never smiles. Not even on his birthday, when they give him the cake. He seems to have something of an ironic sense of humour, though.

Marcus: Hey, Colonel! I guess we are the support, huh?

  • BlazBlue - Hakumen is like this during his "Help Me Dr. Kokonoe!" segment. Also, he's so Unfunny that he has no joke endings.
  • Metal Gear - Solid Snake from these gritty, realistic games is a sight to behold fighting and commenting on cartoony Nintendo characters. He also plays that role in his own games too from time to time. Cardboard boxes, anyone?
  • Valygar from Baldur's Gate II, especially when bantering with Jan Jansen, Minsc, Imoen or Haer'Dhalis (as the latter discovers, Valygar is surprisingly adept at puns). For that matter, almost any character becomes The Comically Serious when paired with Jan, especially Valygar and Keldorn. Or Minsc, even the PC.
  • The spin-off City of Heroes comic revealed Statesman to be one of these. To the point where him making a remark about letting Manticore die gave the latter pause because he couldn't tell if Statesman was actually deadpanning a joke or not.
  • Cloud Strife in Final Fantasy VII. Despite being intended to be a stoic leader, nobody can take him seriously when cross dressing to save Tifa, giving mouth to mouth to a little girl, and 'jumping with Mr. Dolphin'.
  • Yuri Hyuga from the Shadow Hearts series. Somehow he manages to remain Badass even while surrounded by a Large Ham pro wrestler, a ditzy fortune teller, an intelligent wolf and the princess of Russia. (It's mainly because he's pretty goofy himself.)
  • Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis gives us The Stoic Jerk with a Heart of Gold Roxis, who is a frequent target of humiliation from fellow workshop member Flay and especially his own Mana. The Highlight was the 'Secret Crush' Incident. Never has anyone been so hilarious and sympathetic at once.
  • In WarioWare: Smooth Moves, the silly descriptions for the "forms" used with the Wiimote are made even funnier by the deadpan, Ben Stein-esque tone of the narrator reading them.
  • BioWare likes this character type almost as much as their regular snarkers.
  • Sten in Dragon Age: Origins, especially if he's present during the scene where your team attempts to help break you out of prison.

Oghren: My partner and I are, ah, performers...
Captain: You're performers, are you? What's your act?
Oghren: Our act? Oh... well, the big guy here sings and dances while I... er... juggle swords...
Sten: On fire.

Legion: Geth do not infiltrate.
Security: You'll have to leave your personal synthetic assistant behind. They're not allowed on public transport any more.
Legion: Geth do not intentionally infiltrate.

Rikku: Doctor P is in the house!
Paine: Stop that.

  • Radical Dreamers - "The simple fact that Magil tried to make a joke just there makes me stop and forget where I am for a second."
  • Shantae from Shantae with her Visible Silence.
  • Boone from Fallout: New Vegas. A man who takes his beret extremely seriously.
  • Frog from Chrono Trigger.
  • Cyan Garamonde from Final Fantasy VI. Much humor is drawn from his interactions with Gau the feral child, his reaction to the flirtatious remarks of a cabaret dancer, and his embarrassment when his companions discover his hobby of crafting beautiful silk flowers.
  • Prince Innes from Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones. He takes himself so damn seriously and yet he can barely have conversations with other people that don't end up with the other going "...huh?".
    • Unless it's L'Arachel, who unlocks Innes's inner Tsundere. It has to be seen to be believed.
  • Anyone in Dawn of War when referring to the Orks. It's probably the reason they've never been a primary villain in the series: it's hard to take a situation seriously when characters talk about Nobz and Boyz (among other orky things) with a straight face.
    • Space Marines in most depictions tend to fall into this category when they're not pissed off, brooding or completely Ax Crazy. Most Imperial Guard command units are either this trope or overly bombastic.
  • Sakuya in Okami is so serious it isn't funny. Come Okamiden, however, her *ahem* interactions with the protagonist Chibiterasu are hard to watch with a straight face.
  • Tombstone in Freedom Force vs. The Third Reich, as a result of being a Nineties Anti-Hero trapped in an homage to the Silver Age:

Alchemiss: [sarcastically] So how did you spend your sabbatical, Tombstone? Performing in musical theater? Raising puppies?
Tombstone: Animals wither in my presence

    • Quetzalcoatl also qualifies:

Quetzalcoatl [After being turned into a chicken by Green Genie] YOU DISHONOR ME AND MY ANCESTORS.
Green Genie: [Turning him back] Tell me: were you born this dull? Or did you have to go to school to learn it?

  • Gala from Legend of Legaia is generally an extremely serious fighter monk, but when he is half-forced into acting as the Straight Man in a comedy show, he is amazingly successful at making people laugh. Gala himself is shocked by this!
  • Emotionless Girl Presea Combatir of Tales of Symphonia. By the sequel, her actions clearly indicate that she has regained her sense of humor, bu she still speaks in a monotone making even the most ridiculous lines sound completely serious.

Visual Novels

  • Miku in A Profile. Be careful what you tell very serious people to do, Masayuki. They might do as you ask... and then you'll have them saying 'I love you' with a deadpan face during every pause in the conversation.
  • Ace Attorney series
    • Miles Edgeworth. Particularly notable whenever an elderly female witness is on the stand. Edgeworth is irresistible. Calisto Yew from Investigations lamphades this by noting Edgeworth's serious demeanor makes her laugh uncontrollably.
      • Which means that any time his demeanor is shaken (and given the kind of stuff that goes on in these games, that's at least once a case), his reaction is absolutely hilarious.
    • And, to a lesser extent, Phoenix. His finger-pointing antics pale in comparison to the quirks of the Bunny Ears Lawyers he has to deal with on a daily basis.
    • Shelly de Killer, gentleman assassin and ice cream eater.
    • Also Edgeworth's mentor Manfred Von Karma. The man demands that his ATM PIN (0001) be entered as evidence proving his perfection. And he does it with a straight face.
  • Mai Kawasumi in Kanon, due to her uniqueness in not rising to all of Yuichi's jokes and kidding. Just watch her at lunch or when Yuichi considers groping her just to get some kind of a reaction... and nearly getting beheaded before even starting to move.
  • Ace from Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, especially around Santa.
    • Well until you get the safe ending. Then he's just plain terrifying.
  • Though it isn't often, Nero Chaos of Tsukihime, thousand year-old uber-vampire with a body comprised of 666 demon beasts composed of pure chaos, is sometimes called into this role during side stories. His crowning moment? Participating in an involved game of tag.

Web Comics

V: Fascinating. Durkon, I have just now formulated a theory that encompasses both Nale's most likely method of engagement and the most suitable response on our part.
V: Ah, I see you have already grasped the core principles of my theory.

  • Referenced in Girl Genius, when an actor in the travelling Heterodyne show explains his character: "Klaus keeps his dignity, or tries to. That's what makes him funny."
  • Susan from El Goonish Shive occasionally fills this role, due to her serious attitude towards pretty much everything. Due to this, she is, among other things, a favorite cuddling perch for Tedd's cat-hedgehog Jeremy. In addition, a early running gag established that, whenever she did anything overly cheerful, it was so alien to her usual personality that it couldn't be anything but hilarious (to us). After she dropped most of her burden, Nanase looked close to going "who are you and what you did to our Susan?".
  • Sakido from Slightly Damned spends most of her time brooding, a pass-time which is considerably hampered by living in the same dimension as her goofy, affectionate brother Buwaro.
  • Marth in Awkward Zombie. Considering that he has to share a house with the characters from the Smash-verse doesn't help.
  • Shortpacked has put forward the notion that Batman is comedy gold, based solely on the fact that combining him with anything mundane produces instant laughter.
  • Schlock Mercenary has Tag, a warship AI serving Tagon's mercenaries who was built from ready templates, reacting to any situation with absolute, deadpan seriousness, while still producing a punchline. The two weeks following this strip are a good demonstration. Of course, later he began learning sense of humour because it will allow him to understand - and thus predict - other sophonts better, which obviously has a strategical value... and because Evil Laughter, if used correctly, may make him more intimidating.
  • Raizel from Noblesse is an absolutely quite personification of The Stoic. Yet his unfamiliarity with modern technology is the primary source of humor early in the series.
  • Jones of Gunnerkrigg Court has never so much as smiled in the entire run of the comic. Giving her a party hat is comedy gold. Topped only by her non-reaction to a pigeon dancing across her head. What makes it even better is that sometimes she clearly pokes fun at people with the same lack of expression, and with her perfect poker face it's impossible to tell where this ends.
    • Sir Eglamore is too serious sometimes. Note that when "Jolly Elfsberry" made the knight play an Overprotective Dad just to pull his leg, Annie is less than amused by his prancing... until she sees what's going on (the next page) - and then immediately joins this game, barely holding laughter.
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja is this trope applied to an entire webcomic. The main character is an Irish Ninja Doctor, who's friends with a cloned Benjamin Franklin, has a gorilla for a secretary, and has a sidekick in the form of a kid bandito with a gloriously huge mustache and his velociraptor. And it only gets weirder from there. However, the comic never seems to realize how utterly insane it is.
  • Two Guys and Guy has Frank, who probably best epitomized the trope here.

Web Original

  • The ಠ_ಠ emoticon.
    • Failing that, sometimes the classic :/ qualifies too.
  • Image Boards such as /tg/ have humourous mockery of Warhammer 40,000 dark and serious tone. For example, the homebrew Space Marine chapters Lazy Marines (they have Rocket-Couches) and the Silly/Clown Marines (who can fit up to three times the normal number of units inside a single vehicle ).
  • The Whateley Universe has several such characters. Sometimes, it's Stormwolf, the leader of the Wild Pack, and the most serious, unamused, straight arrow since the invention of arrows. This plays off well against Deadpan Snarker Phase, comedian Chaka, and the rest of the protagonists in Team Kimba.
    • Within Team Kimba, there's Ayla, who while not lacking a sense of humor, is not exactly the type of person who takes jokes well when he is the punchline. Ayla's status as The Comically Serious was eventually Lampshaded. See the quotes page
  • Agent Washington from Red vs. Blue: Reconstruction behaves like an actual agent from a secret military in the future. Contrasts well with the whacky mishaps the main cast. The red and blue armies also do this, by tying Caboose up in the brig and putting Grif and Simmons in front of a firing squad.
    • Earlier in the series, Tex also qualifies. Though to a lesser degree. Her toughness was played for action and being a badass, rather than humor.
  • This is the entire point of Average Cats - it's hilarious precisely because the captions are matter-of-fact and serious. The captions also sometimes venture into Suspiciously Specific Denial. They never stop being mock-serious.
  • The Protectors of the Plot Continuum universe is ruled by the Laws of Comedy, which require that any character who thinks they have dignity immediately loses it.
  • Batman (of course) in I'm a Marvel And I'm a DC. And he's occasionally the Only Sane Man, to boot.
  • Darth Vader and two Stormtroopers celebrate the rennovation of Disney Theme Parks' Star Tours with a trip to Disneyland.
  • Lampshaded when Team Four Star did an abridged version of Dragon Ball Abridged, which covered the entire first season in 2 minutes. Tien's only line in this is "I'm the only serious character in this show. That's the joke".
  • Chiaroscuro Themyst from Sinai MUCK.

Western Animation

  • Squidward in SpongeBob SquarePants.
  • Batman. Batman, Batman, Batman.[1]
    • Batman often plays the Comically Serious role on Justice League.
    • In the episode "Flash and Substance", Batman passes the Unfunny torch to fellow JLU member Orion.
  • This strip from Shortpacked! illustrates the basic concept of the Unfunny, theorizing that Batman's grim demeanor makes him the ultimate straight-man. Case in point: Batman with babies.
  • Bill the Caveman, from the Terrible Thunder-Lizards sections of Eek! The Cat. (The fact that he was also The Chew Toy made it even funnier -- "When will the hurting stop?")
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
    • In the same vein as Batman, Zuko's perpetually frowning, serious demeanor leaves him wide open to many a humorous moment, partially to being paired with his foil of a jolly uncle.
    • Subtly acknowledged later in the series when Sokka asks Zuko if he's happy now that he's foiled Sokka's plan, and Zuko replies, deadpan, "I'm never happy." Sokka and Zuko work together in this role almost as well as Zuko and Iroh.
    • Another female example is the Emotionless Girl Mai, similarly foiled with being accompanied by a cheerful, bubbly Cloudcuckoolander.
    • Sokka started out as a stern, down-to-earth, warrior-in-training, but his Comically Serious moments, as well as improvisations from his comedian voice actor, soon turned him into a goofy Plucky Comic Relief. Also see him trying to work with a bunch of out-there "nomads" in "The Cave of Two Lovers".
    • Not even Azula, the Dangerously Genre Savvy Chessmaster and Magnificent Bastard, can work her way out of this one. One episode displays that Azula + social ineptitude = win.
    • In The Legend of Korra, Korra's airbending teacher Tenzin takes on this role. He doesn't think that the shenanigans going on around him are at all funny, which of course means he becomes the target of endless inconveniences and humiliations.
  • Raven, the Deadpan Snarker of Teen Titans, who the writers torture with such plots as: a Freaky Friday Flip with her Cloudcuckoolander team-mate Starfire, being turned into a bunny rabbit, and baby-sitting.
  • Lemongrab of Adventure Time. He means serious business. He likes order a little TOO much. He can't comprehend humor. He sends everybody to the dungeon for one million years. His only (mostly visible) emotions are "angry" and "screaming." And he's HILARIOUS to watch.
  • Benson from Regular Show. He HAS a sense of humor, and he's lightened up over the course of the show, but he can be very uptight, angry, and many of the things listed in the above example. Even when everything going on around him is hilarious, he'll still be red-faced and screaming. "GET BACK TO WORK OR YOU'RE FIRED!!!"
  • Hank Hill, of King of the Hill.
  • Samurai Jack - Jack himself.
  • Al Gore on Futurama.

"I have ridden the mighty moon worm!"

Bender: You're in a movie? What do you play? A burnt out cop? A streetwise pimp trying to save his little brother from the dark life?
Al Gore: Yes, I play a streetwise pimp. With a hybrid pimpmobile.

  • Cosgrove from Freakazoid!, taking everything seriously to the point of ridiculous.
  • The Simpsons - Marge and Lisa Simpson. The episode "Brother From Another Series" revealed that this trope is why Sideshow Bob became Krusty the Clown's sidekick instead of his brother Cecil. As Krusty explains after a poor pie-in-the-face gag from Cecil's straightforward goofy clown audition:

Krusty: "Free comedy tip, slick: the pie gag's only funny when the sap's got dignity. (sees Bob) Like that guy. Hey, Hal, pie-job for Lord Autumnbottom there!"

""Listen sir, I am not going to ruin your plans. I'll just walk away...see? there's sparks shooting out of my eyes."

Fluttershy: Too loud?

Other Media

  1. na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-Batman!