From the big screen to small screens everywhere, the antihero reigns supreme. But while Tony, Walt, and Don get all the critical acclaim, television’s honest-to-goodness gentlemen—often relegated to the background—go about their business with style, dignity, and respect. In honor of our this month’s theme—Gentleman’s Code—we doff our cap to ten current TV characters from whom we’ve learned values like honor, chivalry, and simple table manners. As you spend the rest of the winter streaming must-see-TV, we recommend you take a few cues from these upstanding fellows.
Sure, Adam Scott’s character is a little nerdy (he’s obsessed with Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Star Trek), but he sure can rock a checkered shirt and tie. And in relationships, he’s not afraid to go the distance: His proposal to Leslie (Amy Poehler) was an instant TV classic. He even surprised her with a spur-of-the-moment trip to Paris when she was voted out of office.
When it comes to marriage, Betty Draper’s second husband (played by Christopher Stanley) is the opposite of Don Draper: He’s considerate, supportive, and even complimentary of his wife when she needs it (most notably after packing on a few too many pounds).
Carson, played by Jim Carter, is an old school butler. When a telephone is installed at the Downton household for the first time, he initially wants no part of it. But his devotion to tradition is charming. And you won’t find a more loyal character than Carson; He’ll do anything for the Grantham family, especially Lady Mary.
Jason Biggs’ character is a “stand by your woman” type of guy. When his fiancée Piper gets sent to prison for 15 months, he promises to wait for her. His stance might change when the second season airs on Netflix this year (as prison has tested her loyalties), but we’re optimistic that Bloom will uphold his side of the commitment.
Martin Freeman has described his character on this British series as the “moral compass” for Sherlock Holmes, who can come across as a little arrogant and often unscrupulous. He is one half of TV’s best bromance. Everyone deserves to have (or should strive to be) a Watson.
If you didn’t have a grandfather like “Pops,” watching The Goldbergs will certainly make you wish you did. In the sitcom, George Segal’s character is full of advice on romance. He’s always up for adventure with the grandkids. The one thing about Pops we can’t get behind? His love of track suits.
This detective has an obsessive dedication to justice, often at the expense of his personal life. He’s a bit moody and sure, he knows how to intimidate suspects, but he’s also good at comforting the victims he helps rescue. No one can sell “cool, calm, and collected” quite like Idris Elba.
Spoiler alert if you haven’t watched the third season of Girls: Adam is actually a good guy. Sure, he has his moments (we’d get annoyed with having to hang out with Sosh, too), but overall the guy has really turned it around. Adam Driver’s character is proving to be a good boyfriend to Hannah, taking part—albeit, reluctantly—in dinner parties, picking up friends from rehab, and generally being supportive of his troubled girlfriend.
We’ll admit that Harrison (played by Columbus Short) is the one character on Scandal we know the least about. But we do know he’s super loyal, a hard worker and will do anything to protect Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington). His shirt-tie pairings can go a little over the top, but all in all, a true gentleman.
Peter Dinklage’s character has something of a penchant for protecting the innocent. He was forced into marrying a 15-year-old, but refused to consummate the marriage because she doesn't want him. Of course, he has his faults—no shortage of them, really—but by comparison to every other surviving character on GoT, the guy is a saint.
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Writer/Editor/Catchphrase aficionado. Studied Pop Culture in college. Equally obsessed with sit-coms and eye creams.