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Certain items of clothing, in the real world, look ridiculous. Bowties are one of these items. Out of fashion for about 40 years now, they look fussy, old-fashioned and slightly dorky to most people.
But not by these guys. For these guys, bowties are awesome. And they will never be seen without one, usually to the exasperation of the people around them; though they think they look like hot stuff, they'll appear to everyone else as... well, fussy, old fashioned, and/or slightly dorky. A certain type of character might be able to pull it off, looking incredibly Badass in the process, or at least managing to look rather Adorkable. Or both!
If, as is usually the case, the wearer is a Gentleman of a Certain Age, it indicates that he's stuck in the past -- a more subtle form of Outdated Outfit. If the wearer is a younger man, it indicates that he really doesn't have a clue.
Since it's usually a male item of clothing, a woman wearing a bow-tie is often depicted as either unorthodox or wearing it as part of some skimpier ensemble designed to tease (such as the Playboy Bunny costume). This latter approach may also be called on by some men (such as the Chippendales). The alternative in porn in the appropriate setting is to have a beautiful woman wear a bowtie and nothing else (a variation on Diamonds in the Buff).
And one should never forget that no matter what, there's one particularly cool suit that always has a bowtie... a Tuxedo.
- Required for every fictional and real-life Malcolm Xerox.
- There are those who think bow ties got taken up in the first place by the wrong gender; they almost always look really cute on girls.
- Orville Redenbacher, the late gourmet-popcorn magnate and pitchman, was well known for donning one of these.
Anime & Manga
- The greatest bow-tie aficionado from the manga pages is clearly Detective Conan's Kudo Shinichi in his Edogawa Conan form, who almost always wears a seriously snappy bowtie -- he can't even solve most of his mysteries without a magic voice-changer inside it. (The efficacy and versatility of this device on short notice occasionally smacks of Applied Phlebotinum.)
- Ranma from Ranma One Half would occasionally wear a rather nice pastel orange shirt combined with a little red bow-tie.
- In the School Festival episode of Yu-Gi-Oh GX, Sho wears a huge pink bowtie as he emcees the duel between Judai and the Dark Magician Girl.
- Ladd Russo and all of his white-suited cohorts (sans his fiancée, who's wearing a tasty dress) in Baccano look positively menacing in their white tuxes and white bowties. Which all end covered in blood. Only Ladd's isn't covered in his own. This is more of a subversion, really. The series takes place in the 30s, when bowties really were in.
- Hanson and Sanson from Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water wear bowtie as part of their uniforms. Maybe justified for the time period.
- Shizuo Heiwajima from Durarara has one as part of the bartender uniform he constantly wears. Occasionally he wears it unclipped just to add to the badassery.
- Transformers Super God Masterforce: Minerva has one as part of her default outfit.
- Nanoha of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha has one as part of her Magical Girl outfit.
- Sailor Moon: Tuxedo Mask's snazzy tailcoat would not be complete without a nice white bowtie.
- C the Money And Soul of Possibility: Masakaki (as well as his crayon box brothers) sports a rather large one, which only enhances his eccentric suit.
- Bruce Wayne manages a very nice-looking one.
- As do most iterations of Alfred.
- His arch-enemies, The Joker and the Penguin tend to wear them as well as part of their old-fashion dress suits.
- In the DCAU-based The Batman Adventures, Canon Foreigner Mr. Nice wears a bowtie in keeping with his Ned Flanders-like Affably Evil look; he keeps it, somehow, in his prison uniform.
- Zatanna wears one, in keeping with her deliberately magician-like costume: a Ms. Fanservice variant of the classic tuxedo, complete with top hat.
- Jimmy Olsen frequently has one.
- Clark Kent would also wear bowties on occasion, and actually prefers them to regular neckties since they don't flap in his face while flying, but every time he wears one people constantly mock him about it.
- Mortadelo Y Filemon: Filemon, all the time.
- Averted by Cyclops of the X-Men, who used to wear truly hideous bow ties when he was in civvies. Happily, he seems to have given up on them.
- The Flash: Barry Allen. Not so much since he's come Back From the Dead, but he now has a bow-tie icon when IM'ing Iris.
- Tony from the Johnny Turbo magazine ads.
- In What's New with Phil and Dixie, Dixie often wore an oversized bow tie in the early strips.
- Jon Arbuckle from Garfield constantly wears giant polka-dotted bowties on his dates.
- One FoxTrot strip has Jason wearing a bowtie to school due to believing people with bowties look smarter. (He also wore a Albert Einstein mask until the nose was dented).
Films -- Animation
- The Baron from The Cat Returns has a rather natty bowtie, and he is awesome.
- Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas has a bowtie that looks like a bat.
Films -- Live-Action
- Though it is a period piece, Dr. Henry Jones Jr., a.k.a. Indiana Jones, wears one while lecturing at his university.
- Watch Colin Firth tying his bow-tie in Where the Truth Lies. It's mesmerizing.
- The Dark Knight Saga: Lucius Fox has been seen wearing one or two.
- Another Batman example: Christopher Walken sports one while playing Manipulative Bastard Max Shreck in 1992's Batman Returns. Together with his pinstriped suit, black gloves, spats and Ominous Opera Cape, Max looks like some Badass amalgam of 1920s gangster and medieval lord.
- In the 1988 film Sunset, Cheryl wears a bowtie as part of a ploy. She wants people to assume she's a lesbian; it works.
- Dewey Finn (Jack Black) wears one in School of Rock.
- Max winds up sporting one in the latter acts of Rushmore.
- Mr. Blue in The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, combined unusually with a Badass Longcoat. He makes it work.
- In Sabrina, Harrison Ford, playing the romantic lead, wears a black-and-white spotted bow tie, although this may be because the film can't decide what decade it's set in (or it may be to hint that he's really old and shouldn't be chasing nice young girls).
- Harvey the rabbit wears a bowtie in his portrait with his good friend, Elwood P. Dowd.
- James Bond has been rocking this trope for almost fifty years now.
- Buckaroo Banzai from The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension frequently sports a bowtie. And is also awesome.
- Gaff from Blade Runner. Cool is an understatement.
- In The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, the Devil (played by Tom Waits) makes a red bow tie look cool.
- Doctor Who
- The Eleventh Doctor: The Trope Namer! Played with, slightly, in that he's the only one around who actually thinks this. This is a Running Gag. According to Doctor Who Confidential, it was Matt Smith himself who chose to wear the bowtie as part of his offical Doctor outfit. Because he knew they were cool.
- The Second Doctor (from whom Eleven took a few dress cues) also frequently wears a bowtie. The Third Doctor is also known to rock a bowtie every so often, although his are usually a bit more elegant and flashy than the other two mentioned Doctors. Though the series is enough of a Long Runner that bow ties hadn't gone out of fashion at the time these were produced, so they may not count.
- There is also Bill Nighy's character, Dr. Black, in "Vincent and the Doctor", who wears an even larger bowtie than the Doctor. The difference being that Dr. Black is an art historian and it's to be expected that he would look a bit old-fashioned. The Doctor makes this another excuse to use the Trope Namer in an attempt to convince Amy. She's unimpressed.
- It even runs in the family: Amy's newborn daughter, Melody (actually the Flesh duplicate of her, but let's not get into that), apparently questions the Doctor about his fashion sense while they're conversing in Baby.
- Apparently in the UK at least, there has actually been an increase in sales of bowties since Matt Smith took the role.
- On Leverage this was mentioned directly by Hardison during The Radio Job, presumably as a Shout-Out to Dr. Who as he is a confirmed fan.
- Donald "Ducky" Mallard from NCIS. During a short fling a woman convinced him to wear a more modern tie, but he soon switched back.
- A disturbing number of TV weathermen.
- Bill Nye the Science Guy. Quite a few scientists in Real Life also wear bowties because they can't fall into beakers or chemical spills like regular neckties can. No doubt Bill was just going for the Adorkable look, though.
- Dr Bashir and Garak in the Star Trek Deep Space Nine Bond spoof episode "Our Man Bashir".
- Brother Mouzone from The Wire is disappointed but unsurprised by this display of philistinism.
- On The Andy Griffith Show, a bowtie was part of Barney Fife's standard out-of-uniform look. Howard Sprague was partial to them, too.
- Tim Wonnacott of Bargain Hunt.
- Pee Wees Playhouse: Pee-Wee Herman.
- Gossip Girl's Chuck Bass, especially during the third and fourth seasons, loves bow ties. One reviewer suggested this was so Blair could straighten them, allowing the two to have close and intimate moments.
- Glees Kurt Hummel and Artie Abrams both wear bowties fairly frequently -- though Kurt more frequently than Artie. Artie's bowties are typically dorky. However, given Kurt's overall fashion sense and the fact that his bowties have been known to feature such items as tiny plastic steampunky clockfaces, he's proof of the fact that bowties genuinely can be cool, if they're the right bowties. In Season 3, Blaine Anderson wears those constantly, along with polo shirts that are too small for even him, bright-colored pants, and a dorky haircut. He might be trying to look childish.
- Quiz show Fifteen to One had contestant Michael Penrice, who appeared in several series and usually reached the Grand Final, in which he always wore a bowtie.
- Alton Brown cited this trope by name as a reason he selected a contestant for his team on Next Food Network Star.
- Belgian musician Stromae.
- Dr. John rocks a bowtie (pink, no less) at The Band's Last Waltz concert.
- Avenged Sevenfold's rhythm guitarist, Zacky Vengeance, frequently rocks a bowtie.
- One of boyband JLS wore a pink and white bow tie when they appeared on the Graham Norton Show on 25th Nov 2011. Bowties Are Cool and Real Men Wear Pink.
- David Otunga tends to wear a bow tie when not in the ring. (He's John Laurinaitis's legal advisor, and in Real Life is actually a Harvard graduate.)
- "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase always looked snappy in one. His son, Ted DiBiase, Jr., opts for midcentury casual instead.
- Outrageous bowties were a must for wrestling tax man Irwin R. Schyster.
- Late 1980s/early '90s ring announcer Mike McGuirk was often seen in a suit with a bowtie. Maybe this was to emphasize that she (yes, despite the name, McGuirk was a woman) was a female performing a traditionally male job.
- Enforced in professional snooker: the dress code explicitly mandates vest, shirt and bow tie for all players, even women. (Only medical reasons, such as a thyroid condition, can exempt you.) Players don't particularly like the bow tie; taking it off when the opponent has nominally won the deciding frame signals "I'm not coming back to the table anymore."
- Chicago Blackhawks center Dave Bolland, which has led to rampant specualtion of him having Gallifreyan origins. See his listing on the NHL page for more on that.
- Blaz Blue: Carl Clover wears a giant Zipper Pull as one.
- British boxer Dudley wears one in all his Street Fighter appearances.
- Emizel in Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten wears a red one.
- Jeff from Earthbound.
- Hurdy from Final Fantasy Tactics a 2 wears a blue bow, which also matches with the tiny blue bows on his shoes.
- Nono in Fire Emblem Awakening provides a rare (and modest) female example, wearing a pink one.
- Dr. Gilbert Buford from Legend of the Crystal Skull wears a red bowtie. Justified, as he's both a medical doctor and rather elderly, from a city where old-fashioned styles tend to be respected rather than sneered at.
- The Spy and The Medic in Team Fortress 2 have the "Doctor Whoa", a randomly droppable, user-submitted, team-colored bowtie that's a direct Shout-Out to Doctor Who's Eleventh Doctor. It was even released on one of the yearly anniversaries of the creation of Doctor Who.
- The female protagonist of Fate Extra wears a blue one as part of her school uniform.
- Walkyverse: Jason Chesterfield, as part of being identified as the personification of the British Stuffiness trope. He somehow manages to see it as "dignified".
- Supernormal Step
- Hark a Vagrant: Soon-to-be Canadian PM Lester Pearson accepts the nickname "Mike" on the terms that he be allowed to continue wearing his bowtie. He can rock it though.
- Bobwhite. This guy. "Look, pal, just because you look handsome and dapper doesn't mean it isn't douchey to wear a bowtie."
- Fuzzy from Sam and Fuzzy has rocked one since the very beginning of the comic.
- Questionable Content: Hannelore's dad appears to be a classic white-coat-and-bowtie Absent-Minded Professor.
- The Nostalgia Chick.
- While he doesn't wear one, Linkara uses he line while simultaneously making fun of a Youngblood character's outfit.
- Bill from Sitting Ducks has a bowtie as his sole article of clothing.
- Dr. Scientist from Jimmy Two Shoes gained a bowtie as part of his Limited Wardrobe in season 2. Additionally, some early concept sketches showed Jimmy in one.
- Different type of neckware, but Fred Jones' stubborn attachment to his apricot-colored ascot in some incarnations of Scooby Doo has evolved into a similar dorky-and-doesn't-know-it schtick.
- Yogi Bear: You might say Boo-Boo is dressed sharper than the average bear.
- Max Schneider from Gravedale High sports a red bowtie with white polka dots.
- Professor Frink from The Simpsons wears a blue bowtie.
- My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic
- Bowtie from the original My Little Pony was fond of these, and in the cartoon she wore them in her mane.
- Many men in the printing industry wear bowties, as you do not want to get your tie caught in a printing press.
- They're becoming more popular for doctors, as regular ties are getting a reputation as unhygienic. (You wear them right down your front, and they never get washed...) You never have to untangle your stethescope from a bow tie, either.
- Dwyane Wade.
- Howard Phillips was famous for his bowtie during his tenure as president of the Nintendo Fun Club. It even figured into some of the Howard & Nester comics in Nintendo Power.
- Pascal Ory, a French political scholar, frequently appears in public wearing a bow tie made of transparent plastic.
- Conservative pundit George Will frequently wears a bowtie.
- Fellow conservative pundit Tucker Carlson used to wear them too, but in 2006 he announced on MSNBC that he would no longer be wearing them, saying, "I wanted to give my neck a break."
- Although he's supposed to look dorky in his, Matt Smith might actually be able to bring bowties back. Doctor Who is popular enough, and fashion is cyclical. If nowhere else, among guys trying to impress Matt Smith fangirls. Apparently, it has.
- The Hong Kong politician Donald Tseng is known locally as "bowtie" as he always wears it in cases others would settle with a necktie.
- Mathematician and Fields medalist Cédric Villani. Although in his case it's actually a lavallière, which brings the concept of bowtie Up to Eleven. As unusual fashion items go, he also wears a spider brooch as seen here.
- Fox Sports baseball field reporter Ken Rosenthal has taken to donning these on the air for charity awareness.
- NFL star Dhani Jones loves to wear bowties, and even has his own company that sells ties.
- President of the Belgian (French-speaking) Socialist Party, Elio Di Rupo, is never seen without a red Bow Tie.
- Lloyd Kaufman, chairman and face of Troma studios, and director of The Toxic Avenger.
- Gordon Gee, president of The Ohio State University, is famous for never being seen without one. He reportedly owns more than a thousand of them, and tries to wear each one no more often than once a year.
- Paul Simon (the politician, not the musician).
- Applies even to cats, as the new official government cat Larry shows us.
- C. Everett Koop, Surgeon General of the U.S. during the 1980s, is remembered as much for his ties as he is for being the first major medical leader to speak about the A.I.D.S. epidemic.
- Longtime tennis commentator Bud Collins often favored these on the air.
- Legendary TV chef Keith Floyd.
- One University of California professor was a student radical in The Sixties but 30 years later was coming into class every day in a fairly old-fashioned suit -- and yet, in a nod to his radical roots, continued to wear his hair long.
- Alton Brown has recently been seen sporting bow ties of late, though he may well have been influenced by the Trope Namer, as he's a confirmed Whovian.