Old West Character Archetypes

A large majority of literary, television, and movie characters are based in standard archetypes as is their character journeys. The archetypes vary from genre to genre.

In order to help you decide on a character type, please see the list below and use the link to go to TV Tropes – Western Characters to read the description of each archetype. More than likely, one or more will fit the concept you have for your Sagas of the Wild West character(s).


Carl Jung first applied the term archetype to literature. He recognized that there were universal patterns in all stories and mythologies regardless of culture or historical period and hypothesized that part of the human mind contained a collective unconscious shared by all members of the human species, a sort of universal, primal memory. Joseph Campbell took Jung’s ideas and applied them to world mythologies. In A Hero with a Thousand Faces, among other works, he refined the concept of hero and the hero’s journey. George Lucas used Campbell’s writings to formulate the Star Wars saga. Recognizing archetypal patterns in literature brings patterns we all unconsciously respond to in similar ways to a conscious level.

See the complete article HERE.

Cowboy Western Archetypes

Please use the list below to help you decide on your character type. You can view descriptions of each trope at  TV Tropes / Western Characters.

Riders of the Purple Sage

  • Cowboy
    • Gay Cowboy
  • The Drifter
    • Knight Errant
  • The Gunslinger
    • Fastest Gun in the West
    • The Trope Kid
    • Retired Gunfighter
    • The Gunfighter Wannabe
    • Young Gun
  • Outlaw
    • Bandito
    • The Highwayman
    • The Rustler
    • Retired Outlaw
  • Bounty Hunter
  • Samurai Cowboy


  • Circuit Judge
    • Hanging Judge
  • Pinkerton Detective
  • The Sheriff
    • Clueless Deputy
  • U.S. Marshal


  • Camp Cook
  • Hunter Trapper
  • Mountain Man
  • The Pioneer

Rich Folk

  • Cattle Baron
  • Railroad Baron
  • Rancher


  • Determined Homesteader
  • Determined Homesteader’s Children
  • Determined Homesteader’s Wife
  • Determined Widow

Townsfolk and others

  • The Barber
  • The Blacksmith
  • Chinese Laborer
  • Chinese Launderer
  • City Slicker
  • Clerk
  • Corrupt Businessman
  • Dry Crusader
  • Forty Niner
  • Frontier Doctor
  • Medicine Show
    • Snake Oil Salesman
  • Meek Townsman
  • Morally Bankrupt Banker
    • Bank Teller
  • Pony Express Rider
  • Posse
  • Prospector
  • Railroad Employee Roundhouse
  • Remittance Man
  • Schoolmarm
  • Shopkeeper
  • Southern Gentleman
  • Undertaker
  • Wasteland Elder
  • Western Union Man

The Church

  • Preacher Man
    • The Missionary
  • Undertaker

The Saloon

  • The Bartender
  • Miss Kitty
  • Soiled Dove
  • The Piano Player
  • Professional Gambler
  • Saloon Owner

Native Americans

  • Going Native
    • Mighty Whitey
  • Indian Maiden
  • Magical Native American
  • The “Half-Breed”
  • The Noble Indian
  • The Savage Indian

The Army

  • Army Scout
    • The Delaware
  • Cavalry Officer
  • The Seventh Cavalry