[[quoteright:235:[[Series/DrQuinnMedicineWoman http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dr_quinn.jpg]]]]

->''"I have great respect for those of the medical profession who have taken up their position in the remote districts of Scotland and devote themselves to the healing art under most disadvantageous circumstances... I have in mind an insular doctor who has a great deal to do of midnight boating in glacial weather, and whose bills are often paid not in coin but in ''fleece off a sheep's back.''"''
-->-- '''Daniel Turner Holmes''', ''Literary Tours in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland''

A physician who works in a frontier community.

While the inhabitants of TheWildWest were tougher than case-hardened nails, they still could get hurt and sick. So there was a need for doctors, and the FrontierDoctor came west to fill that need. The frontier doctor needed to be tough and resourceful, since supplies were scarce, and the latest equipment was seldom at hand. He'd often be called upon to travel long distances at any hour of the day or night, and might even treat sick animals if no veterinarian was handy (the opposite - [[OpenHeartDentistry veterinarian instead of a doctor]] - is usually PlayedForLaughs).

With all that said, anyone who'd leave the soft, prosperous life of a doctor in the East had to have a pretty good reason. In fiction, the Frontier Doctor is often flawed. Perhaps he is an alcoholic, or killed a man, or is a WideEyedIdealist who volunteered to come west without thinking it through. Which isn't to say that the characters in a {{Western}} aren't grateful that he's there to patch up their bullet holes and cure their pox.

The stress may turn him into a DrJerk, given time.

As the territory becomes more civilized, this character becomes "the town doctor", with better access to equipment and supplies, but not much more rest as he or she's still basically the only physician for miles.


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Dr. Tex Farzenberg of ''Anime/AfterWarGundamX'': quotes Verlaine, heals the sick, [[GetAHoldOfYourselfMan administers corrective pugilism when necessary]], uses coffee to settle disputes and secretly practices billiards in the Freeden's game room at night. Truly a RenaissanceMan.
* Partially, ActionGirl and TeamMom Sally Po in ''[[Anime/MobileSuitGundamWing Gundam Wing]]''.

* Dr. Leonard [=McCoy=] in the aptly titled ''Leonard [=McCoy=]: Frontier Doctor''. Set between the original ''Series/{{Star Trek|The Original Series}}'' series and ''Film/StarTrekTheMotionPicture'', the series follows a bearded Dr. [=McCoy=] as he works with the Starfleet frontier doctors program.
* Levi Mosley is the only doctor in town in ''ComicBook/{{Copperhead}}''. Considering how many alien species are in the population he must be quite knowledgeable - even more so for successfully treating patients while staggeringly drunk.

* Dr. Lazarus in ''Film/{{Outland}}''.
* Don Knotts plays a dental version of one of these in ''Film/TheShakiestGunInTheWest''.
* A Film/TheThreeStooges short has the boys becoming these, at the urgings of the professor of their medical school.
* Doc Velie in ''Film/BadDayAtBlackRock''.
* ''Film/TheForgottenFrontier'', a 1931 documentary about the nurses of the Frontier Health Service tending to the desperately poor mountain people of Appalachia. They're nurses, not doctors, but they fill this trope in every other way, riding horseback for fifty miles at a shot over difficult muddy mountain roads to deliver babies and take care of the sick. One actual doctor is shown in the last segment, going on a 25-mile ride that includes fording a river in order to tend to the gunshot victim.
* ''Film/TheQuickAndTheDead'': Redemption has one whose main function is to examine the fallen competitors and declare "This man is dead!". This becomes a CrowningMomentOfFunny when Spotted Horse turns out to be NotQuiteDead. Later, he plays a vital role when he keeps the scavengers away from the Lady's body [[spoiler:as she is FakingTheDead]].

* On the Literature/{{Discworld}} witches perform this role in out of the way communities such as Lancre, which is part of Pratchett's tendency to reference real world history and myth into his books. Many places in the British Isles used to rely on people who often styled themselves as witches, wizards or mystics for medicines as well as more practical matters like midwifery.
* In ''Literature/TimeEnoughForLove'', Lazarus Long is living on a frontier planet and has mildly unpleasant dealings with the alcoholic (and only) doctor on the planet.
* In the novel ''{{Literature/Christy}}'', Neil [=MacNeill=] is the doctor of a remote, impoverished Appalachian community in the early 1900s.
* Eccentric assistant Callum from later series of ''Series/AllCreaturesGreatAndSmall'' left to become a Frontier Vet, motivated not by any lack of skill but by his vast sense of adventure. For a while he practiced in Nova Scotia, then when it became too soft and civilised for him there he took himself off to Papua New Guinea instead.
* 'Doc' Leroy in the novels of Creator/JTEdson. 'Doc' was studying medicine when his father's murder caused him to drop out and take work as a cowhand. He spent a lot of time using his medical expertise as a doctor in a ClosestThingWeGot manner. He eventually completed his qualifications in ''Doc Leroy, M.D.''.
* ''Literature/StarWarsKenobi'': Minor character Doc Mell, the physician of the Pika Oasis, is a Mon Calamari. Like a traditional Frontier Doctor, he and his son have left an easy life for a much harder one, in this case because they're members of an aquatic species on a desert planet. They wear special cowls that keep their skin moist.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* Parodied in a series of ''Series/TheArmstrongAndMillerShow'' sketches. "I work in Botswana, saving lives. Do YOU?"
* Doc Cochran of ''{{Series/Deadwood}}''. Man's got an extremely curmudgeonly disposition, and a glare that'd spook the eyebrows off a Mentat, but he's a compassionate soul tryin' to hold onto some fuckin' humanity in that godforsaken camp. If people'd listen to him more often, he might actually be able to do his job. He's also got a boatload of psychological trauma from his time in the Civil War, so the man's altogether a whole barrel o' laughs.
* Dr. Bill Baxter of the obviously-named ''Frontier Doctor'' series.
* Dr. Michaela Quinn of ''Series/DrQuinnMedicineWoman''.
* Simon Tam of ''Series/{{Firefly}}'' is a Frontier Doctor InSpace, down to having once worked in a HospitalParadiso on a Core World and being driven to the Frontier by a conflict with the law.
** A couple of episodes show more traditional versions ([[{{Dissimile}} traditional, that is, apart from being on alien planets 500 years in the future]]).
* In the first episode of ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'', Bashir comments about his new post saying this, and offending Major Kira in the process. (This is her home, and it doesn't seem like a distant frontier to THIS restless native.) On the other hand, he does go about occasionally making house-calls to neighboring planets, (including Bajor a time or two).
** Bashir later meets a classmate who took a prestige assignment with a starship, and she complains how boring her own assignment was as opposed to his own (the writers also uses this as a jab against ''The Next Generation'' and ''Voyagers'' problem of the week episodes compared to the arcs in ''Deep Space Nine''). Keep in mind that Bashir said that he was thrilled to be assigned to [=DS9=] for the excitement of working on the frontier, and that even if he hypothetically had a choice of any posting it's still the one he would have picked.
* Dr. [=McCoy=] in ''[[Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries The Original Series]]'' is perhaps Trek's outstanding example of a FrontierDoctor--resourceful in the face of alien ailments, preferring simple homespun methods when possible, but cantankerous, eccentric, and not entirely happy with his lot (he fled to space on the heels of a divorce). ''Franchise/StarTrek'' was pretty much [[WagonTrainToTheStars the original]] SpaceWestern, after all, and actor [=DeForest=] Kelley had an extensive background in westerns.
* Most of the Diagnosans in ''Series/{{Farscape}}'' tend to occupy this kind of role.
* Archie Campbell played one on ''Series/HeeHaw''.
* Hiram Baker from ''Series/LittleHouseOnThePrairie''.
* More of a post-apocalyptic ScavengerWorld than the frontier, but ''Series/{{Defiance}}'' has Doc Yewll, who responds to having a patient threaten her with her own [[LaserCutter force-scalpel]] by threatening to throw them out in the street.
* Frontier doctors feature in two successive episodes of ''Series/FrontierCircus''. In "Dr. Sam", a female doctor from back east temporarily joins the circus as circus doctor, hoping that the circus will grant her more freedom than the straitlaced world back east. In "The Hunter and the Hunted", Tony has to fetch a doctor after Casey is badly injured in an accident, only to find that the doctor is being hunted by a gang of outlaws.

* Music/TheBeatles: "Rocky Raccoon":
-->Now the doctor came in stinking of gin
-->And proceeded to lie on the table
* Music/SinceILeftYou by Music/TheAvalanches has a song called 'Frontier Psychiatrist,' based on a Wayne & Shuster skit.

* "Doc" Adams of ''Radio/{{Gunsmoke}}''. The radio version was actually Dr. Calvin Moore, who'd killed a man in a duel and changed his name to avoid the man's vengeful friends; the [[Series/{{Gunsmoke}} television version]] was Dr. Galen Adams, and did not have such a dark backstory.
* Tex Rorschach, the Frontier Psychiatrist, from Series/WayneAndShuster, [[SampledUp made famous by]] Music/TheAvalanches.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* "Doc" Holliday, of RealLife and many, many fictional accounts, was a frontier dentist, but is far better known for his [[TheGambler gambling]] and [[TheGunslinger gunfighting]]. (His consumptive cough apparently tended to scare off clients.)
* Creator/JamesHerriot [[KindlyVet sort of counts]], working in a fairly remote and rural part of Yorkshire with sometimes limited resources.
* The Government of Canada gives incentives to medical students who choose to work in rural communities when they get their degrees.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* Most any "healer" PC - such as a cleric in D&D - in the vast majority of [=RPGs=] will fit the bill, although they often have access to magic in addition to gumption and bandages.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/FreddyPharkasFrontierPharmacist''
* Dr. Lyle White in ''[[VideoGame/AssassinsCreedIII Assassin's Creed III]]'' starts a new life in the frontier Homestead, in order to help a couple deliver a baby (and also because the Redcoats were dragging his name through the mud back in Boston).
* Feodor Kuchin of ''VideoGame/InfiniteSpace'' has dedicated his life to bringing medical aid to frontier planets, low-profile work that doesn't generate donations for his employer, the Medic Organization. And then events conspire to make him join up as ship's doctor to an underage adventurer.