Americans Are Cowboys

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
You really can't get more American than that.

"See? You can tell he's American from his blond hair and cowboy hat!"

JesuOtaku on a side character from Digimon Tamers who is from America

In foreign media, when you want your American, you've got your personality down pat—he could be the obnoxious tourist, the boisterous but well-meaning rogue, the patriotic man who can never do wrong, or any other spectrum in the Eaglelander rainbow.

But that still leaves your design. Personality is one thing, but looks? Hmmmmm...

Wait! Didn't North America have that Wild West thing sometime?

This is a case of Small Reference Pools, or when people want to absolutely hammer in that this character is AMERICAN. While several other countries had their own rural periods, the Wild West is distinctly American in the eyes of other countries. Thus, putting a cowboy hat and a poncho on someone will instantly identify them as an American.

See Eagle Land when talking about personality. See also Wearing a Flag on Your Head. When talking about hair/eye colors, see Phenotype Stereotype. See also Foreign Fanservice, because tits demand seeing.

Examples of Americans Are Cowboys include:

Anime and Manga

  • Done to a clearly parodic extreme in the Discipline anime, where the American girl is shown wearing a cowboy hat to clue us in she's American, though this borders on insulting given her art style is clearly different from all the Japanese characters (especially her really pale skin and very light blonde hair). Strangely, in the H-game of the same name, the same character lacks any of this (and amazingly, wardrobe aside, is much less of a slut).
  • Saitama's grandfather in Saitama Chainsaw Shoujo was a Texan bounty-hunter who wears a cowboy hat and frilled buckskin vest.
  • In Midori Days, when Lucy's friend Daniel shows up to try and bring her back to America, he's dressed in...well, typical cowboy attire.
  • Melody Honey in Arcade Gamer Fubuki is...well. Uh. Ahem.
  • Jack King and the Texas Mack from Getter Robo. Also his tribute in Gekiganger 3, Cowboy Johnny and the Texas Robo.
  • Cathy in RahXephon.
  • Reina Gorn in Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service.
  • Terryman and Terry the Kid from Kinnikuman and Kinnikuman Nisei. They're also from Texas, and specialize in appropriately-flavored moves, like the Calf Branding.
    • Terryman himself is based on legendary professional wrestler (and Texan) Terry Funk [dead link], who did actually dress in a cowboy hat and a poncho for years, making this a Justified Trope in his case.
    • Averted with Specialman (a gridiron football player) and Pentagon (a masked luchadore, but one with eagle wings).
  • A Gundam Wing fanart/animated gif featured the Gundam pilots holding hands and wearing "traditional" clothing. Duo is dressed as a cowboy. You can see it here [dead link]
    • Chibodee Crocket from G Gundam is not only a cowboy, but also a boxer/surfer/football player.
  • Jackie Gudelhian from Future GPX Cyber Formula. He wears a cowboy hat, likes rodeo riding and he's from Kentucky. He is even nicknamed the "High-tech cowboy.
  • A character from Digimon Tamers who shows up only briefly via video link is a computer programmer and friend of the 'Monster Makers' who originally coded the Digimon is blond and wears a stetson. The dub even adds a Texan drawl to him.

Comic Books

  • Tintin in America had many Americans dressed as either Chicago mobsters or cowboys. Somewhat justified, as the cowboy era was not long dead.
  • In Camelot 3000, the American president dresses like a cowboy and packs a pair of six-shooters. - an obvious reference to Ronald Reagan.
  • In one of Arthur Szyk's Anti-Fascist propaganda posters, America is depicted as a Gary Cooper-ish cowboy about to be stabbed in the back by a Yellow Peril Imperial Japan, distracting him with an olive branch as he does so.


(Ramius notes Mancuso's sidearm and comments in Russian to Borodin that Mancuso is a "buckaroo". Ryan laughs)
Capt. Bart Mancuso: What's so funny?
Jack Ryan: Ah, the Captain seems to think you're some kind of...cowboy.

  • In the Mexican film Santa Claus (the one riffed by Mystery Science Theater 3000), the children from the USA are wearing cowboy outfits.
    • Which is odd because Mexico has a strong (possibly even stronger) Vaquero tradition.
  • Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. When Dr. Evil calls up the United Nations Secret Meeting Room to give his ultimatum, many of the occupants are dressed in costumes indicating their native countries (two Japanese are dressed as a geisha and a sumo wrestler, a British representative is wearing a Beefeater costume, a Spaniard is dressed as a matador, etc.). One of the characters (presumably an American) is dressed as a cowboy.
  • One old Jackie Chan film featured him traveling to America and fighting a bunch of hairy, obese, slovenly cowboys who rolled around in the mud. Knowing how this trope usually connects with reality, it was probably supposed to be set in Chicago or uptown Manhattan.
  • The Big Bad of the first Die Hard film mocks John McClane as being a "cowboy" several times throughout the movie, prompting McClane's "Yippee Ki-Yay!" Catch Phrase.
  • In the movie adaption of The Golden Compass, Lee Scoresby wears a cowboy hat to compliment his Texan drawl. Could possibly be a subversion, though, depending how you look at it... in the universe he lives in, Texas is a separate sovereign nation.
  • The American characters in the 1999 version of The Mummy (save for main character Rick O'Connell) are all very cowboy-esque, wearing cowboy hats and being very fond of shooting guns.


  • Conversational Troping between Tommy and Tuppence in Agatha Christie's Partners In Crime, where Tuppence is describing her fantasy of meeting a dashing romantic American man who has lived in the wilds and can rope wild steer, and Tommy sarcastically asks if he's also wearing chaps and a ten-gallon hat.
  • In Dracula the one American character, Quincey Morris, is a cowboy. In one moment, Morris leaves a meeting with other heroes where they're trying to figure out how to cope with vampires; a few seconds later, bullets come flying through the window.

Quincey: I'm sorry, I thought I saw a bat out there.

Live Action Television

  • In an episode of Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, where young Indy is imprisoned in a maximum security German P.O.W. prison during World War I, he is approched by two Russian prisoners who ask him if he is a cowboy since "All Americans are cowboys", when Indy asks them to clarify, they ask him if he knows how to use the lasso which Indy replies he does, prompting an overjoyed "A COWBOY!" reaction in them. Because, it turned out that they had been crafting a rope from all the strings of the mail envelopes for the purpose of escaping.
  • The first Doctor Who with a US setting was "The Gunfighters", which saw the First Doctor, Steven and Dodo mixing it up with Wyatt Earp and Johnny Ringo.
    • During Matt Smith's run, when the Doctor tells Craig he's going to America, the first thing Craig does is give the Doctor a cowboy hat. The hat appears in "The Impossible Astronaut" and "The Day of the Moon", which take place in America.
  • Sky is under this impression in The Sarah Jane Adventures. Justified in that she is younger than she looks and has been watching Toy Story.


  • The late Mexican composer of songs for children, Francisco Gabilondo Soler Cri-Cri, in his song "El Ratón Vaquero" (The Cowboy Mouse), which also has Gratuitous English in its lyrics.
    • Not to mention the song was a giant Take That against Walt Disney, since Disney tried to destroy Soler's reputation because Soler refused to sell the rights of his songs to him.
  • My Name is Potato from Rita Pavone, watch at 0:22.

"Sure! I'm an AMERICAN potato!"


  • Prevalent enough in Germany back when The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny was first produced that a production note specifically insisted "Wildwest- und Cowboy-Romantik" was to be averted.
  • Michael Flatley's Feet of Flames has a few cowboys to represent America's involvement is WWII.

Video Games

  • The American Bomberman in Super Bomberman 3 is dressed like a cowboy.
  • The one American character in the Sengoku game series is a cowboy.
  • The primary love interest, and thus the most promoted character, in Sakura Wars 5: So Long, My Love is Gemini Sunrise - Texan samurai cowgirl. Though she is far from the only American character in the game as it is based on the New York branch.
  • Tina from Dead or Alive had a sexed-up cowgirl outfit in the first game, and her dad Bass has a full cowboy getup as his default costume in the second. They're both 'Merican, in case you couldn't tell.
  • Pokémon Black and White: As Unova is based off America, male Pokémon Rangers are this. Clay, however, is a subversion and a Fauxreigner.

Western Animation

  • Bounced around in Danger Mouse. In one episode set in America, the only American DM meets is a cowboy. In another set in New York, there's no Wild West theme or cowboys at all (though there is a King Kong Shout-Out).
  • Clay from Xiaolin Showdown. Probably justified in that he came from a cattle ranch in Texas.
  • Hank from Thomas the Tank Engine, due to him being built in the United States instead of England like all of the other locomotives, actually speaks in a Texas accent. The only other locomotive that is not British is Hiro, the Japanese locomotive.
  • Roswell from Generator Rex has a cowboy hat and talks like a cowboy

Real Life

  • After 9/11, Saddam mentioned that the "American Cowboys were getting what they deserved."
  • Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush promoted a cowboy image. Neither one ever really worked with cattle, though the former had acted in Westerns and latter had been governor of Texas. Even so, you can find plenty of photo ops where they wear cowboy hats and act like they are ranch guys (Bush does own an actual ranch, but it's mainly a vacation home).
    • Reagan actually did own a ranch and was quite fond of horseback riding. His horse, El Alamein, was likely named after the WWII battle.
      • The fact that Reagan had grown up as a huge fan of Westerns before finally achieving his dream of buying a ranch during his adulthood, and actually worked the ranch, taking care of the horses, clearing brush, and chopping firewood, means that President Reagan could probably be considered an Ascended Fanboy of the Western genre. One aide actually noted that Reagan was at his happiest when he was doing things like clearing brush or tending to the horses at his ranch.
  • Don't forget LBJ the first Texan in the White House.
  • Theodore Roosevelt was a cowboy, among other things, in his Expansion Pack Past.
  • There's also a second layer to this trope: In America, Everybody West of the Mississippi is a Cowboy.
  • The term cowboy diplomacy, sometimes used by critics of certain aspects of US foreign policy.
  • A frequent complaint from American intellectual types about their European (and particularly French) opposite numbers is this bizarre identification of the cowboy as one of the most important things in the American psyche. One episode of This American Life includes a bit where a visitor to Germany goes into the phenomenon (and why it's stupid) in detail.
  • The reason for this stereotype seems to be that, way back when, the majority of early American entertainment media that made to other countries had a Western theme. Westerns were hugely popular in the U.S. at the time, but they weren't exactly slice-of-life storytelling, something many non-Americans at the time could not have known.
    • This phenomenon predates motion pictures; Buffalo Bill's Wild West performances made many successful European tours and were perhaps many Europeans' first exposure to American media (and Americans in general).
  • The only American character seen in the It's a Small World ride at the Disney Theme Parks (not counting a lone Eskimo) for some reason actually dresses up in stereotypical cowboy garb that is found only in the last part of the ride.
  • Canada has a variant on this trope with the province of Alberta. Alberta is sometimes seen as the Canadian equivalent of Texas, given its thriving oil industry, political conservatism and cowboy culture. In some circles, Albertans are stereotyped as redneck cowboys, which can be a source of pride or derision, depending on who you talk to.