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Characters: The Wild Wild West
While the costumes, sets and scenery of The Wild Wild West are as vibrant as a late 1960's viewer with a new, state-of-the-art television set could wish for, the most colorful thing about the show is, undoubtedly, its characters.

Protagonists

James West

Actor: Robert Conrad

If you could seduce any woman, defeat any man in a fair fight and keep your cool no matter what elaborate death trap you found yourself in... you still wouldn't be a patch on James T. West. He not only does all of that, he does it effortlessly, shirtlessly and in pants a few sizes too small. He's equally at home whether he's taking on seven goons at once or snarking the Big Bad as he (or she) reveals the villainous plan of the week. Nigh-on indestructible, imperturbable and with a mind as quick as his flashing fists, it's no wonder that James West is regarded as the United States' best Secret Service agent.

Tropes:

Artemus Gordon

Actor: Ross Martin

Guile. Cunning. Trickery. Add a brilliant scientific mind and you have the primary tools of Artemus Gordon's trade. Though he can hold his own in a fight when necessary, he much prefers to use his wits to achieve his ends. As an actor turned Secret Service agent, he makes full use of his genius for languages, disguise, spell-binding oratory and scientific innovation. He's also fond of the finer things in life - art, wine, gourmet cuisine and, last but certainly not least, beautiful women. He's liable to turn up anywhere and as anyone... but always in the nick of time.

Tropes:

  • Ambiguously Jewish: Ross Martin was a Jew who was born in Poland. (He grew up in a non-English speaking household.) Though the only hints on the show are his knowledge of Eastern European languages, a scene where he explains the Hebrew meaning of a young woman's name and the episode "The Night of the Vicious Valentine" where he disguises himself as a Jewish tailor using a perfect Yiddish accent, Artie's Jewishness is Fanon.
  • Bash Brothers: With James West.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: His standard reaction to peril of any kind.
  • Catch Phrase: "As my great aunt Maude used to say... " and "Great jumping balls of St. Elmo's fire."
  • The Charmer: The ladies find it hard to resist his sly smile and silver tongue.
  • Con Man: A rare example of a law-abiding citizen who runs cons on criminals.
  • Con Men Hate Guns: Artie has shades of this in his stance that using violence is "cheating." However, he still carries a gun and is more than willing to use it when necessary (such as in "The Night of Fire and Brimstone").
  • Consummate Liar: Whether they're off the cuff or pre-rehearsed, Artie's lies are works of art.
  • Cultured Badass: Recites Shakespeare. Plays the violin. Is an expert on art, wine, gemstones and fine cuisine. Has impeccable manners. Kills people.
  • Demolitions Expert: Usually of the creatively blowing things up variety, but on at least one occasion ("The Night of the Bars of Hell") he's called upon instead to defuse a situation.
  • Deuteragonist: He gradually becomes this over the course of the second season.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: In "The Night of the Big Blast," Artie proposes marriage to his old flame, Lily Fortune. She turns him down because she "can't lead [his] kind of life."
  • Doing Research: This is one of Artie's responsibilities. He's the one who dives into the books - sometimes piles of them - in order to dig out and correlate any relevant bits of data. He's also usually the one who gets in touch with the "research department" and other sources of information back in Washington, D. C.
  • Dreadful Musician: Though Artie claims to be able to play any musical instrument and backs up his claim rather well, in the past he was apparently not quite so skilled. He tells Jim in "The Night of the Colonel's Ghost" that he once played the organ on a showboat and was so bad that he had to give it up after the patrons threatened to kill him.
    • And in the tag scene for "The Night of the Cut-throats," Jim tells Artie that anyone who'd hire him as a piano player (as the week's Big Bad did) would have to be nasty.
  • Encyclopaedic Knowledge: Jim very accurately calls Artie a "walking encyclopedia."
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Almost every gadget (and there are many) used by the heroes is stated or implied to be Artie's invention.
  • Gentleman and a Scholar: He is an expert in multiple fields of study, but also a cheerful, outgoing ladies' man.
  • Gentleman Snarker: Artie rarely loses an opportunity to make a quip, even when in the heat of battle.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: The man owns a collection of suits, jackets and such in almost every color of the rainbow, plus brown and black.
  • Guile Hero: His stated philosophy is: "When you cannot confound the enemy, then you have lost to him."
  • Hard Head: The author of A Writer's Guide to "The Wild Wild West" has calculated that in 95 episodes, Artemus was knocked unconscious by blows to the head 29 times.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With James West.
  • Holding the Floor: One of Artie's specialties.
  • In-Series Nickname: "Artie."
  • Justin Time: He has a real knack for showing up just as the evil plan of the week is entering its final stage and/or the villain is about to kill a helpless James West.
  • Leitmotif: A cheerful little tune with some martial undertones.
  • MacGyvering: Another of his skills.
  • Master of Disguise: In many episodes Gordon appears in at least one elaborate disguise, one of the more memorable being Robert E. Lee.
  • Meaningful Name: "Artie" is a rather appropriate nickname for Artemus, given his artful (in all senses of the word) nature.
  • Mona Lisa Smile: Artie is described as having one.
  • Mr. Exposition: Since Artie is the character who most often does any required research, Ross Martin most often gets the thankless task of trying to make an infodump interesting.
  • Nice Hat: He tends toward white or brown Stetsons.
  • Omniglot: Artie is shown to speak and/or comprehend, at least to some degree, Russian, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, Chinese, Japanese and Nahuatl (the language of the Aztecs). He is unfamiliar with Hawaiian but recognizes it as a Polynesian language when he hears it.
  • Psychic Powers: Implied in "The Night of the Man-Eating House" and the tag from "The Night of Miguelito's Revenge."
  • Purple Prose: Artie likes to break into this from time to time.
  • Renaissance Man: Actor, scientist, master of disguise, musician, art expert, pastry chef, etc., etc.
  • Romantic Runner-Up: Originally, despite saving the day or having an equal part in saving the day as Jim, he rarely got the girl; many episodes in the first season end with him looking on forlornly as Jim kisses the Damsel in Distress Girl of the Week (although even then there were exceptions - both Jim and Artie get lucky in "The Night of the Torture Chamber," "The Night of the Whirring Death" and "The Night of the Glowing Corpse," and "The Night of Sudden Death" is a rare example where Jim is the Romantic Runner-Up as Artie literally walks away with two ladies!). From season two onwards neither agent was lacking in female companionship.
  • Science Hero: His gadgets often save the day while his scientific analysis of available evidence frequently helps point to the solution of a mystery.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: With Jim; Artie is the former.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Unless necessary for a disguise, that is.
  • Shorter Means Smarter: Inverted. Artie is actually a few inches taller than Jim.
  • Shout Out To Shakespeare: Artie, a former actor, loves to throw out lines from the Bard.
  • Sidekick: To Jim in the first season or so.
  • The Smart Guy: Though Jim is no slouch intellectually, Artie is an out-and-out genius.
  • Smart People Play Chess: On at least two occasions, Artie is shown playing chess... against himself.
  • Street Smart: Very much so. He wouldn't last long as a professional undercover man if he wasn't.
  • Team Chef: Though he claims in one episode that he "can't cook," this is belied by his ability to prepare everything from simple but delicious camp food to much more elaborate multi-course meals (not to mention his disguise as a chef in "The Night of the Infernal Machine" and "The Night of the Big Blackmail"). He's also a professional-level pastry chef.
  • Technobabble: He is occasionally known to spout this.
  • The Trickster: Misdirection is his stock in trade.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: Artie's closet on the Wanderer must be bigger inside than outside, otherwise it would occupy an entire car. Every new disguise comes complete with a new outfit.
  • Ventriloquism: Something of a Chekhov's Hobby in "The Night of the Sedgewick Curse," except we do see him demonstrate his proficiency at the beginning and end of the episode.
  • Voice Changeling: He does an exact imitation of the villain's voice in "Night of the Casual Killer."
  • Waistcoat of Style: Lovely examples in blue, red and mixed brown and gold.
  • We Do the Impossible: With Jim's help. Lampshaded slightly in "The Night of the Legion of Death."
  • X Meets Y: Ross Martin once described Artemus Gordon as "a spellbinder, The Music Man and The Rainmaker, rolled into one."

Antagonists

Dr. Miguelito Quixote Loveless

Actor: Michael Dunn

Though possessed of a towering intellect, Dr. Loveless can't reconcile himself to the small body in which he finds himself confined and, at some point, turned to evil. After repeated defeats by West and Gordon he develops a personal grudge against the pair, particularly West, though, at the same time, he learns great respect for their talent and resourcefulness. West himself admits at one point when Loveless has apparently died: "I'll miss him, that little man with the giant rage against the whole universe."

Tropes:

  • Breakout Villain: Dr. Miguelito Loveless debuted in the third episode, where he was caught (as he was in his second episode - from his third episode onward he was never captured again). But he was so popular (and Dunn was a good friend of Robert Conrad's in Real Life), that he returned several times a year for the rest of the series.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: His less fantastic/silly inventions are decades ahead of their time, although before his first appearance he apparently did make a fortune from some of them.
  • Depraved Dwarf: His small stature seems to be the main origin of his hatred for, well, everything.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: He's usually in the midst of running one dastardly operation or another with a group of minions at hand.
  • Dirty Coward: Dr. Loveless always either runs away or grabs a Human Shield when he doesn't have the upper hand.
  • Drink Order: Dr. Loveless rarely goes an episode without drinking cognac.
  • Faux Affably Evil: He could be singing and laughing while ordering a massacre or trying to lobotomize West.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Some of his scientific advances are really remarkable (not to mention downright impossible).
  • Giggling Villain: Loveless prefers to giggle his way through situations calling for evil laughter. It's still quite effective.
  • Joker Immunity: Loveless is either captured or (apparently) killed in many of his appearances, but he always manages to reappear.
  • Kingpin in His Gym: Loveless is sparring with his minions when West first meets him. As a dwarf he's not a physical match, but he seems to specialize in a martial art involving his walking stick and makes short work of them. This seems to be nothing but a bit of entertaining exercise, since he never even attempts direct combat any other time.
  • Leitmotif: He came back so often that he got his own theme music.
  • Mad Scientist: He's brilliant but, sadly, as mad as a march hare.
  • Motive Decay: In his first appearance his goal was to force recognition of his family claim to land amounting to half of California and make it a paradise with his other inventions, and to prevent mass production and military use of an explosive he helped invent. By his second appearance these were secondary goals to revenge on West, which was planned to at least forward them, and after that he'd totally lost it.
  • The Napoleon: While Loveless likes to think of himself as a logical, calm, rational being, he is pretty much the exact opposite, given to rages, tantrums and vindictiveness.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: In "The Night of the Surreal McCoy," Dr. Loveless claims that it would be uncivilized to kill West before sitting down to dinner with him.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Dr. Loveless feels this way about West. In "The Night of the Surreal McCoy," when a rebellious minion tries to just come right out and shoot West, Loveless attacks him with a blowgun.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: He can go from Giggling Villain to Tantrum Throwing in seconds.
  • Shadow Archetype: Why is a genius like Loveless so obsessed with a lowly Secret Service Agent like West, to the point of including him in all his schemes? It's a case of Not So Different: both of them are intelligent (though Loveless is at genius level), both of them are handsome, and both of them have a lot of success with the Girl of the Week. Furthermore, West is almost always the shortest guy in the TV show (not counting Loveless) and yet he is perfectly happy and wants to help others. Loveless will never accept that his Take Over the World schemes would result, for him, in a And Then What? situation... he would still be the same bitter man. Destroying West, the man who reminds Loveless that being shorter than anyone else is not an obstacle to happiness, is his true dream.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Loveless may be evil but he has a great tailor.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The motivation behind almost every evil, twisted scheme of Loveless' is to create a better world - though only better by his standards, of course.

Count Manzeppi

Actor: Victor Buono

A man of mystery. It's never made clear what powers Manzeppi has, if any, but he is capable of seemingly inexplicable feats of "magic." He is suave, sophisticated, intelligent, cold-blooded and completely self-serving.

Tropes:

  • Affably Evil: He may try to kill you, but he'll be very friendly and polite about it.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He has a razor-sharp wit and he's not afraid to use it.
  • Fat Bastard: He's about three times Loveless' size by volume and just as evil.
  • Friendly Enemy: Count Manzeppi treats West and Gordon this way, although the sentiment is not mutual.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Count Manzeppi appears to have magical powers, but it's never made clear how much is appearance and how much is reality.
  • Psychic Powers: A possible explanation for his apparent feats of magic.
  • Villain Exit Stage Left: Count Manzeppi always gets away.
  • Wicked Cultured: Although some of his high-falutin' quotes are clearly made up for comedic effect.

Whose Line Is It Anyway?Characters/Live-Action TVWill and Grace

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