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A rancher is the owner of a ranch, a spread of land where animals are raised. In TheWestern, usually this is cattle, but sheep, chicken and (in the modern day) ostriches are all potential ranches.

The {{Rancher}} employs the {{Cowboy}}, CampCook and other ranch workers. He (or sometimes she) is the equivalent of a business owner in a more urban setting. They generally will dress a little better than their employees, but not too much--most ranchers are hands-on to some degree, and need to be able to do anything an ordinary cowboy could. Indeed, many a cowboy has the ambition of gaining a ranch of his very own.

In fiction, the larger the ranch is, the more likely the rancher is to be the bad guy of the story. This is not a hard and fast rule (the Cartwrights of {{Series/Bonanza}} have an immense spread, but are salt of the earth types), but that's the way to bet. If the rancher owns several ranches, or one big enough to count as its own feudal country, they become a CattleBaron.

"Saving the ranch" is a common plotline for Westerns, especially in B-movies, as a couple of bad years could put a small rancher on the verge of bankruptcy.
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'''Examples:'''

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[[folder: Film ]]

* The ranch owner who needs the CattleDrive done in ''CitySlickers''
* ''NightOfTheWolf'': A DeterminedWidow heroine rancher.
* ''TheJourneyOfNattyGann'' (minor characters)
* Joe Bannock in ''ATownLikeAlice''. Though he didn't own it til the end, if memory serves.
* ''Film/TheCowboys'': Wil Andersen has to hire young boys when his cattle drivers head for the gold fields.
* ''BigJake'': The [=McCandles=] ranch is run over by a gang of cutthroats.
* ''{{Chisum}}'': Very loosly based on the Lincoln Country War.
* ''{{McLintock}}'': George Washington [=McLintock=]
* ''Film/TheManWhoShotLibertyValance'': Tom Doniphon had a small ranch.
* Dan Evans in ''Film/ThreeTenToYuma'', who takes a job escorting a criminal so he can help support his ranch.
* Beans in ''{{Rango}}'' owns a ranch that the mayor of town wants to purchase from.
* Bick Benedict in ''{{Giant}}''.

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[[folder: Literature ]]

* 'Ole Devil' Hardin in the Western novels of JTEdson.
** Also John Slaughter.
* The SciFi novel ''{{Literature/Malevil}}'' has an interesting example. Before WorldWarIII, the main character is a rural French rancher who expands his property to include an old castle. He keeps the usual livestock and grazing land but also stables some his animals in a cave under the keep. He also runs a vineyard, produces wine, and had plans to reopen the castle to tourists.
* Luke Fletcher in ''{{Shane}}'' is an example of the BigBad Rancher.

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[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* The Cartwright family of ''{{Series/Bonanza}}'', as mentioned above, provided that Ben doesn't slip into outright CattleBaron territory.
* In one ''MagnumPI'' episode there is a teenage rancher who needs our heroes' help.
* The Kents' farm in ''Series/{{Smallville}}'' is an important element.
* In order, Judge Garth, the Grainger brothers, and Col. MacKenzie, owners of the Shiloh Ranch in ''TheVirginian'' (later ''TheMenFromShiloh'').
* On ''{{Firefly}}'' Malcolm Reynold's mom ran a ranch.

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[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]

* ''{{Traveller}}'' : The ideal Aslan noble family owns a ranch. As Aslan are a ProudWarriorRace the male is supposed to hold it by virtue of his status as a [[ARealManIsAKiller Real Man.]]

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[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* Peggy's dad in ''KingOfTheHill'' is a cattle rancher who lives in Montana.

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