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File:Contemplative boss.jpg

He's the Big Boss, the Evil Overlord, or some other higher-up either good or bad. When he receives people in his office, instead of looking at them directly, he talks with his back to them while looking out the window, probably with his arms folded behind him.

Usually intended to convey that the character is so badass he can't be bothered to look at his audience, this is sometimes used to indicate an internal conflict of some sort (depending on his facial expression). Also has the bonus of keeping his identity a secret, up until the Chair Reveal.

If the other character is a trusted lieutenant or confidant, the senior figure may ask them to look out the window and "Tell me what you see" in order to segue into making a point.

This may be part of The Faceless.

Examples of Contemplative Boss include:

Anime & Manga

Comics -- Books

  • The Kingpin (Marvel Comics and related media) is prone to doing this in his various forms when in his Penthouse of Evil.
  • Lex Luthor has done this in the Superman comics. Many times.
    • A lot of the time he's implied to be trying to catch a glimpse of Superman. He's a little obsessed that way.
    • In the page picture, from 52, he's watching dozens of people plummet to their deaths form the skies of Metropolis. He caused it to happen.
  • Ozymandias in Watchmen proves he's Charles Atlas Superpower incarnate by basically doing this while fighting two superheroes. When his Right-Hand-Cat joins the scene and the fight ends, he continues while walking his corridors.

Films -- Live-Action

  • In Star Wars, Darth Vader onboard the Executor.
  • The Sound of Music: Captain Von Trapp.
  • Similar to a Greatroom scene, where the higher-up gazes into the fire instead of looking at the protagonist, à la The Big Lebowski.
  • Fearless: Huo Yuanjia's long-estranged friend strikes the pose when turning down a request to lend him money. On a later encounter, their reconciliation is illustrated by his turning from the window to face him as Huo enters the room.
  • Watchmen: Ozymandias, while receiving corporate tycoons in his office.
  • Space Cowboys: Bob Gerson, after Hawk crashes a third expensive, experimental rocket plane.
  • Subverted all to hell in Elizabeth, where Walsingham (the queen's spymaster) instructs his disciple to look out the window as to start a discussion as per the trope, and in mid-conversation slits his throat.
  • Tron: Legacy: Clu when he has Sam Flynn brought to him.
  • The Lord of the Rings. Aragorn is in this pose in Arwen's flashforward vision on the road to the Grey Havens.
  • Major Payne: The eponymous character once enters his office while Stone is sitting at his desk. Payne putters around for a few seconds without apparently seeing him, then stands with his back to Stone and shouts, "WHAT the hell are you doing in my office?!"


  • Discworld: Vetinari does this a lot as part of his "Evil" Overlord trappings. He particularly likes the "tell me what you see" line while looking over the city, which generally leads to his companion saying something like "fog?" or "a very large bird?" or "a small dog watching a man take a piss in an alley. Sorry, but you chose the wrong moment".

 Vetinari: Had I been taken less literally, you would have said...

Live-Action TV

  • Michael Scott attempted something along these lines in The Office, but it was more confusing than intimidating.
  • Farscape
    • Scorpius would occasionally do this with the bay windows overlooking the hangar on his command carrier. A variation occurs during Scorpius' exile aboard Moya: in this case, whenever Crichton bothered to speak to him face-to-face, Scorpius would almost always be lying on his bunk, staring at the ceiling.
    • Grayza did this as well at the climax of "La Bomba".
    • Natira also did this while torturing Crichton, inviting him to take in as much of the view as possible before... well...
  • Catherine Weaver displays all the classic signs of this trope in The Sarah Connor Chronicles, launching into long, philosophical monologues while in her office. Most of the time she doesn't even seem to notice the other person is there, and appears to just be rambling to herself. Odd behavior for a T-1001 terminator.

Video Games

  • LeChuck is introduced doing this in The Secret of Monkey Island.
    • He's still doing it when Guybrush sneaks into his cabin later in the game. Must be a nice view.
  • The trailer/opening for The Matrix MMORPG has Morpheus with his back to the camera at all times during the opening narration, looking out windows and rooftops, and jumping away when the camera gets close, at least three times.
  • Lord Galcian from Skies of Arcadia does this a lot.
  • In Raidou Kuzunoha vs. the Soulless Army, when you encounter Munakata for the last time, he spends quite a length of time turned away from you as he speaks, only turning to you to pull off The Reveal.
  • Colonel Halcyon and Commodore Tolwyn in Wing Commander 1 & 2, respectively.
  • Mass Effect 2
    • When he isn't looking at you with his creepy, creepy eyes, The Illusive Man does this a lot. Can't blame him though, his view is awesome.
    • Anderson is also fond of staring out over the presidium, although in his case he's wearily leaning on his balcony railing rather than standing tall.
    • Aria spends part of her initial conversation with Shepard like this, staring out over the Afterlife nightclub while s/he is getting scanned. Once Aria confirms Shepard's identity, though, she warms up (relatively speaking) and turns to face him/her.
  • Lacroix once in Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines, before revealing he posted a bloodhunt on Nines.
  • Entering Crime Boss Maximo's office in the High Roller Lounge in Grim Fandango, the player will him him standing at the window looking at the cat races. However, he will turn to face Manny if you start a conversation with him.
  • Luke Skywalker in Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • This is done to somebody talking about something regretfully or nostalgically too in lots of Anime and Western Animation. Usually there's a pause as the character walks to the window.
  • The Simpsons does it all the time:
    • Mr Burns lives on this. He once tempted fate by saying he'd donate a million dollars to the local orphanage "when PIGS FLY!". Commence porcine air torpedo, and a snarky comment by Smithers. Burns just kept staring. And kept the money, too.
    • Whenever Principal Skinner gets started on his time in the Vietnam War, he turns to the window and does this, while his voice drops in sombre remembrance. About how a Vietcong elephant ate the rest of his platoon while they were trying to escape. Or that time he swore revenge on Principal Kahotek.
  • Wakfu: Nox at the end of season 1 episode 24, contemplating the Sadida kingdom he's about to attack from the window of his giant clockwork mecha.
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