A group of men deputized by TheSheriff or USMarshal to assist in the pursuit of justice, such as capturing fugitives.

The word comes from the Latin phrase "''posse comitatus''", roughly "to have the right to an armed retinue." In the old days, it would sometimes be necessary for a sheriff to get a lot of manpower very quickly to deal with a crisis. To this end, he could essentially draft any man handy (with certain restrictions) into a posse to handle the situation. The process will often include the line "I hereby deputise you".

After 1878, it was illegal to use military personnel in a posse. In more modern times, many jurisdictions have banned the formation of posses, but sheriffs seldom have need of them due to improved communications and manpower.

Note that if it is not legally convened by a sheriff or marshal, the group of men is ''not'' a "posse", even if they call themselves that. They're just a mob or gang.

In modern slang, a "posse" is just a group of people who hang out with each other all the time; see GirlPosse and ProductionPosse for examples of this sort of "posse."

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!!Examples:

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[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* The Italian western comic ''[[TexWiller Tex]]'' features one of the most epic uses of the trope, as the posse gathered at the end of the story arc ''Navajo Blood'' is composed by Tex, his pards and ''over one hundred pissed Navajos'', who showed up to make sure the {{Corrupt Hick}}s who murdered four Navajo boys ForTheEvulz are arrested and unable to bribe their way out of trouble ''again''. The posse is so formidable that the {{Mook}}s of the villains run away after being told of it, and the villains end up killing each other as they fight over the only available horse to run away.

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[[folder: Film ]]

* ''Film/{{Posse}}'' was a 1993 movie by Mario Van Peebles that has a gang formed up of black Civil War veterans retuning home to right wrongs. Unfortunately, they can't be a legal posse as TheSheriff is one of the [[CorruptHick bad guys]].
* Subverted in the Gary Cooper film, ''Film/HighNoon'' - Marshal Kane tries to gather a posse to take down {{revenge}}-seeking {{outlaw}} Frank Miller, but he's forced to fight alone when none of the eligible townsfolk will help him.
* ''ButchCassidyAndTheSundanceKid''.
** The town marshal tries to get a posse together to pursue the Hole in the Wall gang after a train robbery, but his lack of charisma, the gang's lethal reputation and the intervention of a [[strike:SnakeOilSalesman]] bicycle salesman foil him.
** During the second train robbery, the gang is attacked by a expert posse specially formed by "Mr. E. H. Harriman of the Union Pacific Railroad" to hunt down Butch and the Sundance Kid. This pursuit eventually drives Our Heroes to Bolivia, and [[BolivianArmyEnding their doom]].
* In ''YoungGuns'', loosely based on the RealLife adventures of Billy the Kid, Billy and the other "Regulators" are deputized as a posse through political influence, but quickly lose that status when they abuse their power. The sequel, ''Young Guns 2'', has a legitimate posse formed by Sheriff Pat Garrett to pursue Billy's gang.

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[[folder: Literature ]]

* ''{{The Ox-Bow Incident}}'' by Walter Van Tilburg Clark, a book later turned into a movie, has a posse illegally drafted by a deputy sheriff. By the end, the sheriff forms a genuine posse.
* In Edgar Pangborn's short story "Tiger Boy", which is set in the same post-holocaust world as his novel ''Davy'', some villagers form a posse (legal status unclear) to apprehend the title character whom they consider to be a demon with an animal familiar. Actually he's just some kid who wanders around with a half-tame tiger looking for a friend, and he finds one in the form of an intelligent but mute village boy. The two of them plan to run away together, but with the posse on their trail it can't end well.

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[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* ''{{Series/Bonanza}}'' had a posse formed at least three times a season. With 15 seasons, that's a lot of posse forming.
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' has a Wild West themed episode that involves the formation of a posse. Dean is very happy about that. He loves the posse. He's a [[IncrediblyLamePun posse magnet.]]
* ''{{Twin Peaks}}'' has the Bookhouse Boys, townsfolk recruited by the Sheriff to help in some....slightly less than legal law enforcement operations.

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[[folder: Music ]]

* The song "[[http://m.kovideo.net/l/b/Burl-Ives/One-Hour-Ahead-Of-The-Posse.html One Hour Ahead of the Posse]]" by Burl Ives, which told the story of a murderer trying to reach the Rio Grande river and sanctuary in Mexico.

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[[folder: Newspaper Comics ]]

* One ''FarSide'' cartoon shows why the sheriff should be the one doing this. 'A posse is something you have to ''organize''.'

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[[folder: Video Games ]]

* [[StateSec Inquisitors]] in ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' have the power to FlashedBadgeHijack anything up to and including entire planetary populations, but most just run around with a small retinue that serves the same purpose as a Posse.
* You can form or join posses in ''VideoGame/RedDeadRedemption'''s multiplayer. You can also incur the wrath of some NPC posses if you're sufficiently villainous or have a big enough bounty on your head. You'll also join Marshal Leigh Johnson's posse in the course of the story campaign. [[spoiler: One comprised of the US Army comes for you at the end of the game when your Bureau handler turns on you. There's no running from them, and no surviving their overwhelming ambush. Just take out as many as you can.]]

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[[folder: Real Life ]]


* The custom evolved from laws regarding similar practices in Britain. For instance, on the Anglo-Scottish border, it was perfectly legal to pursue a raider band within a week after an attack, for that was regarded as an extension of self-defense rather then a crime. If the pursuers actually found them with the spoils of the raid ("red-handed," which is the origin of the word) it was even legal to execute them summarily. This [[VigilanteMan rather abrupt]] idea of justice was to some degree limited by the fact that the robbers might have relations who would be [[FeudingFamilies very]] [[CycleOfRevenge annoyed]].

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