[[quoteright:300:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ponyexad_1466.jpg]]

->''I, ________, do hereby swear, before the great and living God, that during my engagement, and while I am an employee of Russell, Majors and Waddell, I will, under no circumstances, use profane language, that I will drink no intoxicating liquors, that I will not quarrel or fight with any other employee of the firm, and that in every respect I will conduct myself honestly, be faithful to my duties, and so direct all my acts, as to win the confidence of my employers. So help me God.''
-->-- Oath sworn by Pony Express Riders.

A rider for the Pony Express, a fast mail-delivery service between St. Joseph, Missouri and Sacramento, California. The service only operated from April 1860 to October 1861, when the first transcontinental telegraph line made it obsolete, but it became legendary [[BrieferThanTheyThink out of all proportion to its duration]], as an example of American individuality, ruggedness and "can-do" spirit. The idea of fast mounted couriers riding in relays between staging posts is OlderThanFeudalism, going back at least to the Persian Empire (ca. 550330 BC). But the previous versions had been exclusively for government communications, rather than anyone who could pay the fees, and of the courage and toughness of the couriers and station-men there is no doubt.

In order to reduce mail delivery time to ten days, from the twenty-five days achieved by the fastest stagecoach, the founders of the Pony Express built stations every ten miles stocked with fresh horses. The riders recruited were little more than boys, usually weighing less than 125 pounds, and the hazards of the job were such that their employers declared "Orphans Preferred". They rode at a gallop from one station to the next, switching to fresh horses, and galloping on to the next station. Everything was designed to reduce weight and increase speed, and when carrying the text of Abraham Lincoln's first inaugural speech in March 1861, the service achieved a best time of seven days and seventeen hours.

Naturally, there have been books and films about the Pony Express, and sometimes a Pony Express rider will appear in a story that isn't set in the correct time period, [[RuleOfCool just because they're cool]]. Note the bit on the poster about "skinny, wiry, not over eighteen" - the Pony Express rider should look like a dustier version of a high school hipster, ''not'' [[DawsonCasting John Wayne in his prime]].

----
!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Focus of the ''ComicBook/LuckyLuke'' book "[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Pony Express]]", the twist being that Luke ends up having to ride all the way himself, as a competitor tries to sabotage the mail delivery. At the end of the book, we get a glimpse of the future, how the telegram replaces the pony express. In "The Singing Wire", the telegraph connection construction is approved and one of the responsible engineers hires Luke to help them build it.
** Even more odd: In the Pony Express album, Wild Bill Hickock is a 15-year-old boy. When he cameos in another story, he's a grown-up man. While Lucky looks the same all the time.
*** The comic occasionally makes [[LampshadedTrope Lampshades]] like "heroes are immortal."
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* ''Cody of the Pony Express'', a 1950 serial from Columbia Pictures. It's loosely based on claims by William "Buffalo Bill" Cody to have been a PonyExpressRider.
* Referred to in ''HowTheWestWasWon''.
* Mentioned anachronistically in ''SheWoreAYellowRibbon''.
* ''TheGunslingers'' featured a Pony Express rider as a bearer of important news.
** When this film was featured on ''MysteryScienceTheater3000'', the 'bots were inspired to set up their own knockoff, with Crow as the rider and Gypsy as the horse. Tom Servo then uses the Gypsy Express to send completely unimportant messages to Joel, who's only standing a few feet away from him anyway.
* ''Film/ThePostman'' is basically a really glorified, [[AfterTheEnd post-apocalyptic]] retelling of the "legend" of the Pony Express.
* The protagonist of ''Film/TwentyEightDaysLater'' was a motorcycle courier who got struck down during a delivery, hence why he was [[SleptThroughTheApocalypse in a coma during the outbreak]] of the [[HatePlague Rage Virus]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* Shows up in Literature/{{Discworld}}'s ''Discworld/GoingPostal'', where the protagonist wagers he can get a letter to a city on the other side of the continent faster than a telegram equivalent. Of course, he's an ex-con artist, so the whole thing is full of psychological warfare, underhanded tactics and unfair demands, all the while making his opposition look like a whining child.
* One of George [=MacDonald=] Fraser's notes to ''{{Flashman}} and the Redskins'' talks about the true story of "old Bronco Charlie Miller driving past filling-stations and movie theatres where once he had ridden for the Pony Express" to emphasize just how ephemeral the frontier was.
* A Pony Express rider makes a very brief appearance in MarkTwain's ''Roughing It,'' flashing past the author's stagecoach.
* ''Literature/DaveBarrySleptHere'' claims that Pony Express riders traveled on telegraph wires, and their horses "would often get as far as thirty feet before they would fall off the wires and splat courageously onto the ground."
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* The series ''Series/TheYoungRiders'' revolved around a group of pony express riders that included a girl pretending to be a boy, along with a young Wild Bill Hickock, Bill Cody, and Jesse James. (The series actually lasted longer than the real thing)
* in the ''Kit Carson'' episode "Baron of Black Springs", criminals ambush a Pony Express rider to steal evidence he's carrying enroute to the War Department.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The science fiction RolePlayingGame ''{{Traveller}}'' tried to use the Pony Express as the logo of the Imperial Intersteller Scout Service, which operates the similar Express Boat network. But the (in-universe) designers of the logo didn't realize a pony was a small horse, instead thinking it was a similarly-named creature from another world. Thus, the logo features a horseback rider on an eight-legged dinosaur.
* The Pony Express survives much longer in the world of ''{{Deadlands}}'' than it did in the real world as the weirdness unleashed by the Reckoning makes the telgraph far less reliable.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In the WideOpenSandbox Western ''VideoGame/{{Gun}}'' the player can take side missions with The Pony Express. Bizarrely, many of the missions are more about running errands for shop keepers than delivering mail.
* In ''VideoGame/DayOfTheTentacle'' Hoagie has to send a letter via Pony Express so that Bernard can finish his part of the quest. This ignores the fact that Hoagie was in the late 18th century and the Pony Express only existed in the mid 19th century. Not so much ignorance as artistic license, as the game has several other deliberate historical inaccuracies.
* In ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas'', the Mojave Express helps bring packages and other stuff to and from New Vegas, including Platinum Chips.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In the "Kamp Krusty" episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'', Lisa bribes a Pony Express Rider with a bottle of liquor to deliver her letter to Marge and Homer.
* ''WesternAnimation/RockyAndBullwinkle'': In the ''Peabody's Improbable History'' episode "The Pony Express", Mr. Peabody and Sherman have to help the Pony Express deliver a message which has been written on a large boulder.
* ''WesternAnimation/TimeSquad'' The guys have to help Buffalo Bill create the Pony Express. Problem is that Bill is completely crazy and wants to spend his time writing conspiracy theories. Otto then tricks him into thinking that the whole nation should know the truth he speaks and that he should get on his horse and send his newspapers and along with a satchel of Kansas City mail to the recipients.
[[/folder]]
----