is a Franco-Belgian School Western
comic created in 1946 by graphic artist Morris, who at first did both art and writing. It began as a semi-serious comic with a rugged cowboy hero, lots of gunplay and occasional almost-onscreen deaths. Then, from 1955 to 1977, the writing was taken over by Astérix
creator René Goscinny
and the comic turned into an unabashed Affectionate Parody
of the whole western genre. Around the same time, the authors dropped all pretense of portraying the protagonist as a realistic cowboy and turned him into a Drifter
type whose fame and skill often made him the US Government's last resort when it came to particularly tricky situations (much to his annoyance).
To know about the people and tropes Lucky Luke meets in his adventures, go to the Western Characters
page and start from the top. Seriously, they're all there, gleefully parodied and occasionally played straight. But, while those make for the generic background crowds, one of the main points of the series is the number of historical characters Luke regulary meets and who most of the time take centre space in the story. Over the years they have included Judge Roy Bean (who owns a bar and acts as self-appointed "judge", complete with fake court proceedings, to extort money from locals... and turns out to be harmless, helping Luke against the actual Big Bad
), Billy The Kid
(portrayed as an actual, annoying Bratty Half-Pint
whose defeat consists of a good spanking), Jesse James
's gang (with Jesse parodied as a delusional Robin Hood
fan and Frank as a Shakespeare-quoting pseudo-intellectual), Calamity Jane
(with whom Lucky Luke developed a very sweet platonic relationship), Mark Twain
, and Wyatt Earp, among others.
The most iconic characters of the series, though, weren't historical characters but the fictional cousins
of historical characters. After Morris had Luke fight the real Dalton Brothers and showed their death on the page, Goscinny found this way to bring back a similar group of baddies, since the original Daltons' regularly descending sizes and identical ugly mugs made for lots of fun potential — and did it work. At first, the Dalton cousins were hopeless bandit wannabes impressed by the fame of their relatives, but they quickly became feared outlaws in their own right in-story, while in the real world (in France and Belgium anyway) they completely outshone their real-world counterparts
also gave us Rantanplan ("Rin Tin Can" in some English translations; "Bushwhack" in English dubbed 1980s animated series), a Rin Tin Tin parody and the stupidest dog in the world. With the hero's extra-smart horse
Jolly Jumper, that's about it for the recurring characters, since Lucky Luke's wanderings
took him to a different place each time. However, many character archetypes (the mayor, the sheriff, the undertaker, the saloon owner, the Chinese launderer...) are so similar
from a town to another that they practically function as
recurring characters and walking running gags
After Goscinny's death, lots of writers took over penning the stories, with very irregular results. Now Morris has passed away too, Achdé is in charge of the art, restricting himself to strict Morris imitation because his style was so particular. French comedian Laurent Gerra was for a while in charge of the storyline, with at-best-lukewarm results; however the early reactions seems to be more positive to the latest album, scripted by novelists Daniel Pennac and script-writer/novelist Tonino Benacquista (co-writer of The Beat That My Heart Skipped
, among others), so whether or not the series has become a bit of a Franchise Zombie
at this point is open to question. As it has been so successful for over fifty years, it has also known several Animated Adaptations
, both with stories directly adapted from the comics and with original stories. The best and most well known are Daisy Town (1971)
and La Ballade des Dalton ("The Ballad of the Daltons") (1978)
which were made by the same animation studio that directed The Twelve Tasks of Asterix (1976)
and thus share a similar comedic style. It also helped that René Goscinny
was again present to write a funny script.
There were also three Live-Action Adaptation
films: one starring Terence Hill (which spawned a series, too), another one centered on the Dalton brothers, and just recently a new one starring Jean Dujardin.English translations were fairly rare and obscure
, but thankfully British-based publishing firm Cinebook
has to date published about 40 albums, with even more translations on the way. An English version of the animated series from 1983 exists, but was never shown in the United States, despite being co-produced by Hanna-Barbera
(although a direct-to-video compilation of the first two episodes was released on VHS in the late 1990s).
The Lucky Luke comics provide examples of the following tropes:
- The Ace: Lucky Luke is good at what he does. Very much so. It is said that he can draw faster than his shadow. A lot of the later Goscinny/Morris albums (especially those following the Daltons), tend to focus more on the villains trying to top Lucky Luke than Luke himself saving the day. Many of the movies also do this.
- Adults Dressed as Children
- The Daltons, more than once.
- Happens to Luke as well in an early album after he becomes a victim of Gone Swimming, Clothes Stolen. It causes him to be made fun of by an entire town.
- Adventure Towns
- Affectionate Parody: The comic strip is a parody of the western genre, including all the clichés and tropes.
- Alliterative Name: Lucky Luke & Jolly Jumper.
- Alliterative Title: Lucky Luke.
- All Psychology Is Freudian: In one album, Luke comes across an alienist arrived from Austria to study the psychology of Western outlaws. His methods parody those of the Freudian school, even though Freud's own pioneering work is still some years in the future. Referenced in the last page: a panicked nurse comes running out of a baby's room yelling, "Mrs. Freud! Little Siggy just tried to—!
- Amnesiacs Are Innocent: The Daltons try to fake this after a real one is released from prison.
- Anachronism Stew: The comic cherry-picks historical characters from around 1850 to the early 1900s while Luke of course never seems to grow older. Like in Astérix, the comic often draws a lot of humor from using anachronisms on purpose and by making references to events that have not yet past during the time period the comic is set in.
- Strangely, the Civil War is almost totally absent from the stories.note
- The adult Lucky Luke meets (and helps out) the Earp brothers in the album O.K. Corral, while in Oklahoma Jim a much younger Lucky Luke cites Wyatt Earp as an example of a sheriff who has been shot...
- Antagonist in Mourning: When Luke briefly beliefs the Daltons to be dead, he has a moment of this. He even admits how strange this is, given that there is little love lost between him and the Daltons.
- Art Evolution: And how; over the years Lucky Luke went from looking like this◊ to his current apperance (the image on top of this page)
- Automaton Horses: Jolly Jumper. Zigzagged — Jolly gallops faster than his own shadow, for days if need be, but also enjoys baths and such, and complains about exhaustion or discomfort at times.
- Badass Longcoat: Worn by the title character in The Bounty Hunter.
- Badass Mustache: The Dalton Brothers.
- Bail Equals Freedom: In Belle Starr the titular character goes around posting bail for various criminals in exchange for working for her. Since she's bought off the local judge, his brother (who runs the only long-distance communication service) and the priest, she can continue unhindered.
- Ballistic Discount: The usual way for the Daltons to get weapons after a prison break.
- Bandit Clan: The Daltons
- Bar Brawl: There's always one going on.
- One of the more amusing examples is a saloon pianist complaining to Luke that he wanted to play classical music in a concert hall. He gets his chance to do so, and is seized by Stage Fright due to the unfamiliar environment and high-class audience. Luke, seeing this, rides through the concert hall on horseback while Firing in the Air a Lot, which immediately starts a fight ("Hooray, a brawl!" "George! Have you gone mad?"). The pianist then starts playing, being in the right atmosphere again.
- Bawdy Song: Presumably, many of the songs in the saloon girls' repertoire; the good-riddance-to-publisher-Dupuis comic (see the "Darker and Edgier" entry) featured an especially bawdy one, going "see what the boys in the backroom will have". This sang by saloon girls dancing can-can. For the non-English speakers in the French audience, this counts as a Bilingual Bonus (see below) while Getting Crap Past the Radar.
- Beardness Protection Program: Works well on Dr. Doxey.
- Beyond the Impossible: Luke shooting his (still drawing) shadow on the back cover of every book? Okay, maybe technically possible. Ran Tan Plan's shadow jumping over the shadow of the trashcan Ran Tan Plan just ran into?◊ This trope.
- Berserk Button: Joe Dalton and any mention of Lucky Luke. Interestingly, Averell Dalton has one as well: having his cooking criticized. When Luke samples his food in Dalton City and declares it inedible, Averell asks for Joe's gun.
- Big Eater: Averell Dalton and Rantanplan. Both are also Extreme Omnivores, see below. The resemblance between them is more or less a Running Gag.
- Bilingual Bonus: To the readers of the original French. Goscinny was fluent in English and peppered the stories with funny English names, actual songs, and so on.
- Boom Town: Some spring from the ground in a few hours, and as often as not turn into deserted ghost towns just as fast.
- Boring Invincible Hero: This is very much how Luke evolved in the series... An example of Tropes Are Not Bad: Morris and René Goscinny used this to their advantages, by making the villains (especially the Dalton Cousins) the driving force of many stories. The fun is not watching how Luke will win, but how the villains will lose (and, in the Dalton's case, how will Averell and Joe's interaction doom Joe's plans).
- Bottomless Magazines: Lampshaded.
Horace Greeley: Do you ever reload?
Lucky Luke: Yes, at the end of every episode.
- Bounty Hunter: The book The Bounty Hunter (in French Chasseur de primes) is a hilarious parody of the trope. Following a short introductional treaty on the general status of bounty hunters in the Old West, we get introduced to the title character, Elliot Belt, a notorious and unscrupulous representative of his trade. His appearance is an obvious nod on Western actor Lee Van Cleef, particularly his acting roles as merciless bounty hunter.
- Breakout Character
- But Now I Must Go: At the end of lot of Luke's adventures, the people who wants to thank and honor him for service he has done for them, often finds that he has suddenly disappeared without a trace and asks where he has gone. Cue Luke Riding into the Sunset while singing (in English) "I'm a poor lonesome cowboy, far awaynote from home...".
- Butt Monkey: Joe and Averell Dalton, in rather different ways.
- The Cameo: Morris was a cinephile and therefore he frequently gave characters the looks of famous movie stars, including Jack Palance, Louis de Funès, Gary Cooper, David Niven, Mae West, Alfred Hitchcock, Lee Van Cleef, W.C. Fields, Jean Gabin, Michel Simon, Wallace Beery, Emil Jannings, Andy Devine, Randolph Scott, James Coburn, Sean Connery, John Carradine, John Barrymore, Sydney Greenstreet, Brian Donlevy,...
- Canada, Eh?: Mounties, blizzards and lumberjacks. And all of them love tea, with a drop of milk. And did we mention Céline Dion?
- Canadian Western: "Les Daltons dans le blizzard", where they flee to Canada. Contains this immortal line by Joe on seeing a Mountie: "Hooray, a policeman!".
- Cardboard Prison: The Dalton's once-an-episode evasion. "Finding Lucky Luke and politely asking him if he doesn't mind bringing them back, please" is a standard prison protocol.
- Card Sharp: There seems to be one in every town. One is even pivotal to the plot in "The Stagecoach", slipping Luke a derringer hidden in his sleeve.
- Catch Phrase:
When do we eat? Joe/Jack/William:
Shut up, Averell. Joe: I'll kill him! Jack/William:
Calm down, Joe! Joe:
I hate Lucky Luke!
- The Cavalry: Acts as Only the Author Can Save Them Now: the cavalry will come just in time, if and only if there is no other way to save the day anymore. Also notice that the cavalry was kind of Men of Sherwood in earlier albums. Later, they were flanderized into stupid militaries who still use You No Take Candle with indians who talk perfectly.
- Celibate Hero: Lucky Luke (although women tend to be sweet on him). Enforced, as comic book heroes had to be at the time; The Comics Codenote was ridiculously afraid of anything resembling love, in case it led to something inappropriate. In many cases that "anything" included women. Of course, to today's people it tends to suggest something else about those guys' sexuality... By Fridge Logic it might also be justified in-universe: being a cowboy means spending most of the year on the move after all, even if you herd the Daltons more than cattle. The irony is that while Luke is indeed celibate, the series didn't shy away from depicting saloon girls. In the end of the story Bride of Lucky Luke, the full version of his "lonesome cowboy" song is about him not getting steady with women.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Happens in L'Élixir du Dr Doxey, which consists of two stories. In the first story the villain, a quack named Doxey, has an assistant named Scraggy. At the end of the story the two are imprisoned together. In the next story however, Doxy is suddenly alone in prison and Scraggy is never seen or mentioned again. The animated adaption solved this problem by showing how, after escaping, Doxey betrays Scraggy and uses him as a distraction against the sheriff.
- Comedic Spanking: Since Billy The Kid in this setting is still 14 years old, unlike his real life counterpart who comitted most his crimes as an adult, but kept his nickname due to how early he started, Lucky Luke's go-to punishment for him is a spanking.
- Conveniently Cellmates: The four Dalton Brothers will always get a cell together. Add to that the fact that it is a Cardboard Prison and they are all Tunnel Kings, and they will also very easily escape together. Typically by digging four tunnels. Yes, they're that smart.
- Cool Horse: Exaggerated/parodied with Jolly Jumper; he can even play chess! Better yet, he can fish... and bait his own fishhook with a worm. Luke asks him how does he do it, and he replies "Like everybody: with disgust." When Luke's hired by to find a stolen horse, he wonders if it didn't simply escape. The owner then shows him the empty stall and asks him if he knows any horses that can pick locks. "Yes, my own. But he's one of a kind..."
- Counting Bullets: Luke has occasionally tricked opponents into using up all their bullets by taunting them to perform tricks.
- In Lucky Luke versus Phil Defer, the professional assassin Phil Defer tried to use this against Luke, only for Luke to reveal that his pistol is a special model that holds seven bullets instead of the usual six.
- Cowboy: Our hero does find time to herd some occasional cattle.
- Creator Cameo: In Lucky Luke contre Joss Jamon, the first album for which René Goscinny was credited, one of the members of Joss Jamon's gang, Pete, was drawn as a caricature of Goscinny.
- Creepy Mortician: Undertakers, morticians and gravediggers are recurring characters in this comic strip, usually using formol as perfume, having vultures as pets and already coming to take measurements for the coffins before the cowboys are actually shot dead. The most recurring undertaker has a pale skin color.
- Cut and Paste Comic: Morris had a tendency to do this in his last stories, when old age was slowing him.
- Darker and Edgier: Played for Laughs in a one-page comic that was made around the time the comic switched to a less strict publisher. In the comic, Luke enjoys the freedom the change has given him by acting completely Out of Character. Namely by drinking alcohol instead of the usual lemonade, shooting a sheriff in the stomach and having implied, off-screen sex with a saloon girl, all while the other characters are pointing out that the publisher is too respectable to ever letting him get away with these acts, and Luke in turn pointing out that he got a new publisher now.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Jolly Jumper is this a lot.
- Luke also does it a few times.
- Joe, mostly towards Averell.
- Deus ex Machina: The final showdown between Lucky Luke and Phil Defer is this. The latter's strategy is to have Lucky Luke waste all his ammo from his revolver and kill him quickly before he can reload. This work as intended, but Lucky Luke fires one last shot out of nowhere, killing Phil. When townsfolk ask how Lucky Luke pulled it off, he revealed he carried a rare seven bullet revolver. Said gun was never referred until the showdown as over, nor does it ever appear again (except for one reference).
- Digging to China: Played hilariously in The 20th Cavalry.
- The Ditz: Two obvious examples: Averell and Rantanplan.
- Dogs Are Dumb: Rantanplan is literally Too Dumb to Live, having nearly drowned or otherwise killed himself numerous times.
- The Dreaded: A Running Joke. Any bandit worth his salt uses this to his advantage, as well as Luke himself. Billy the Kid is an extreme example; most of the time, he doesn't even have to point a gun at anyone to intimidate them. In one short story, he succesfully robs people just by putting up a sign saying he's nearby.
- One short story involves Luke training a group of inept townsfolk in law enforcement. The result? The group became known as The Nine, and each became scheriff of their own town, where no criminal dared go, knowing that it was protected by one of Luke's graduates.
- "The Escort": Luke needs to bring Billy the Kid to a Mexican court for crimes committed there, with Billy scaring townsfolk into giving up their valuables just by being there. As soon as he's crossed the border, he finds that no one's heard of him, and people treat him as the ill-mannered teen he looks like.
- "Daltons in the Blizzard" has the Daltons moving north, their notoriety increasing with every hold-up, with the bankers' reactions going "Who?" to "You're the Daltons! Take the safe, don't shoot!"
- Dub Name Change: As a slight Woolseyism, Cinebook decided to change Rantanplan's name to Rin-Tin-Can.
- In the Dutch translations, they dropped two letters to make it "Rataplan", which is a slightly archaic Dutch word for a chaotic mess. As the Dutch version of That Other Wiki states: "This indicates perfectly how this dog's brain functions."
- The Swedish dub changed his name to Ratata.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The first albums of Lucky Luke rely more on visual gags. The characters are drawn in a more roundish way with big eyes, suitable for cartoon animation, which was Morris' original intention. When René Goscinny became co-author the plots and gags improved enormously, even though the comic still was much darker compared to later albums. Lucky Luke tends to shoot his opponents dead.
- Among the Joker Jury in Lucky Luke's trial in Lucky Luke contre Joss Jamon we find Billy the Kid, Jesse James, and Calamity Jane (as a villainess!). Visually they don't resemble at all how they would look in subsequent albums in which they played starring parts.
- Ear Trumpet: Old timers are often seen with these, especially if weakened to wheelchair condition. Usually the ear trumpet user still cannot hear and has to rely on someone else to personally deliver "what he said".
- Easy Evangelism: René Goscinny sometimes used this trope to bring a quick resolution to a messy situation. An especially blatant example is the end of L'Héritage de Rantanplan, where Luke tells local tycoon Oggie Swenson, in a very condenscending tone, to improve the social conditions in Virginia City. Swenson instantly agrees with him, and in no time, the conflict between Chinatown and the rest of the city's population has been brought to and end.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: And the Daltons are quite right to. Ma Dalton was a fearsome bandit herself, and she still carries a loaded gun in her handbag.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The Dalton Brothers always stick together, proving that even among criminals blood is thicker than water. There's one time when they start singing the songs they used to sing back when they were kids and their parents brought them along to rob banks.
- Every Episode Ending: Lucky Luke drives off into the sunset, while singing "I'm a Poor Lonesome Cowboy".
- Evil-Detecting Dog: Subverted. Rantanplan thinks he can do this...
- Evil Gloating: The Big Bad in the album about oil in Oklahoma. If he hadn't done it, he could've succeeded.
- Evil Twin: Mad Jim
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Lucky Luke is nicknamed (both in and out of stories) "the man who shoots faster than his shadow". That's no bragging, he really does. Regularly. Not to mention that he rightly deserves to be called "Lucky".
- Extreme Omnivore: Averell Dalton
Averell: What's this delicious crust around the tamales?
Mexican: It's called a bowl, amigo.
- Rantanplan will eat just about anything, usually while thinking its actual food, such as mistaking coal nuggets for chocolate or bath water for soup.
- False Roulette
- Feuding Families: Exaggerated Up to Eleven with the O'Timminses and the O'Haras in The Rivals of Painful Gulch.
- Flanderization: Jolly Jumper was originally a normal horse, but over the years he more and more developed a personality of his own and gained the ability to speak (although in Animal Talk, so only the reader can understand him).
- Friendly Enemy: A reversed version. Lucky Luke starts acting rather friendly to the Dalton brothers after a while.
- Averell is rather friendly to Luke most of the time, and doesnt carry any of Joe's irrational hatred towards him.
- Friendly Local Chinatown: In The Inheritance of Rantanplan, much of the story takes place in the Chinatown of Virginia City, Nv, which is controlled by a secret society (though a comparatively benign one).
- Funny Animal: Rantanplan, of course, by way of his ditzy status. Jolly Jumper counts as this, too.
- Global Ignorance: From a telegraph operator:
- Ghost Town: Several show up, and one is the setting of an entire episode.
- Good Feels Good: After an extended session of honest work, Jack / William comments that he's feeling something unfamiliar. Joe angrily tells him that he's feeling tired, everyone knows work makes you tired.
- The Gunslinger: "Faster than his own shadow."
- Gratuitous English: Like many French-language works, people use "Damned!" as opposed to "Dammit!".
- Gratuitous Spanish: Averell's attempt to say "When do we eat around here?" while in Mexico ("Cuando se come aqui?") comes out as "Coacoacomékiki?". He keeps trying to get it right all through the album, but none of the Mexicans have any clue what he's saying. Finally, on the last page, he does manage to get it perfectly right... when talking to the prison cook, who is not Mexican and doesn't speak Spanish.
- Gratuitous Russian: Yes, that too. In "Le Grand Duc", where selfsame Duke from Russia visits the Wild West. Cyrillic ensues.
- Hanging Judge
- Roy Bean in The Judge.
- Isaac Parker in Belle Starr is a straighter example.
- Happy Rain
- In The Wagon Train, when the caravan of California-bound settlers was running out of water after crossing a desert.
- In Barbed Wire on the Prairie, when a showdown between ranchers and farmers had turned to the latter's advantage because of a drought (the rain came just after an agreement to share water was reached).
- Harmless Villain: Unlike his three signifigantly more vicious brothers, Averell has little interest in crime, and is more interested in food. He'd likely not even be a criminal if not for his family.
- Henpecked Husband: Mr. Flimsy in The Stagecoach. Played with as he gradually becomes more self-assertive once he realizes that he has incredible luck with games of chance.
- Hey, That's Mine!: All the time in the album Fingers.
- Historical-Domain Character: Billy The Kid, Jesse James, Frank James, Colin Younger, Calamity Jane, Buffalo Bill, Abraham Lincoln, Roy Bean, Mark Twain, Belle Starr, Big Nose Kate, Sarah Bernhardt, Horace Greeley, Emperor Joshua Norton,... have all met Luke at one point.
- Historical In-Joke: And how!
- Horsing Around: Jolly Jumper, the horse of Lucky Luke. Besides being able to run impossibly fast and long, even while sleeping, and always coming when Lucky Luke whistles, as the series develops he gets the ability to speak and play Chess with Lucky Luke, as well as unhorse anyone who tries to steal him. In one case, an annoying Mountie confiscated him as Luke goes into the saloon. By the time Luke gets out, Jolly is back, and the mountie is asking help from a penguin.
- Hypocrite: One Congressman yells "Kick these foreigners out!" during a session, and a like-minded colleague tells him "Well said, Kowalski!"
- I Have a Family: Parodied in one album, when the Daltons flooded the country with (faked, of course) Wanted Posters of Luke. Every person Luke meets after that does this, culminating in "I have fifteen children..."
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Most memorably when Luke shoots what seems to be random holes into a roll of waxed paper. Then he puts the roll and a coin into a player piano, and the piano starts playing Chopin's "Funeral March".
- Inevitable Waterfall: Lampshaded. As the Daltons are about to fall down one, Jack reassures Joe, saying that in adventure stories something always comes up at the last second to save the characters. Unfortunately, in this case nothing does and the four brothers take the plunge (though they are rescued afterwards by an Indian fisherman).
- Ink-Suit Actor: The colonel in "The 20th Cavalry" is quite obviously played by Randolph Scott, and in many ways an Affectionate Parody of Scott's usual Western character.
- Interacting with Shadow: The iconic image of Luke "shooting faster than his shadow" is him doing just that. Parodied by the Rantanplan books where "the dog stupider than his own shadow" runs into a barrel, his shadow jumping over it.
- In the Past, Everyone Will Be Famous: Luke has met almost every celebrity from the Old West.
- Institutional Apparel: The striped prison outfits worn by the Daltons and other jail inmates.
- Invincible Hero: Though it's not a negative case, specially as the colorful villains are usually the focus.
- Jail Bake: Any cake cooked by My Dalton contains prison-breaking tools by default; it's part of the recipe. Inverted in one case: the loaf is so overbaked Averell breaks a tooth on it, so they just file the bars with the loaf.
- Jerkass: Joe Dalton. Once, when they steal an Indian's dogsled, Joe takes the sled for himself and lets his brothers run by foot. And later, when they lack time to harness the dogs, he lets them pull the sled.
- Joker Jury: Featuring Jesse James, Billy The Kid, the Daltons, and (due to Early Installment Weirdness) Calamity Jane.
- Jumping Out of a Cake:
- In Dalton City, a saloon dancer is concealed inside a giant cake, but the homemade pastry is so tough that, by the time she manages to get out of it, the party, the fight and pretty much the story are over. The cake is tough enough to withstand gunfire, actually. Averell Dalton is that bad of a cook.
- The book cover shows Luke himself burst out of a cake, surprising the Daltons. It's also in the opening of one Animated Adaptation.
- Just Like Robin Hood: Parodied with Jesse James, who gives his stolen spoils to his poor brother, who gives it back, since giving away the stolen goods makes him poor as well.
- Kangaroo Court: In the album Lucky Luke against Joss Jamon. Complete with Joker Jury.
- The Key Is Behind the Lock: In a cartoon episode, the Dalton Brothers are trying to be honest, and to have a honest work, they open their own bank. At one point Averell Dalton is commanded to open the safe, but he can't remember where the key is, so he opens the safe with dynamite. It turns out that the key is inside, and Averell closed it in there "for safety". Joe Dalton is not amused.
- Kick the Dog: Joe Dalton really doesn't like Rantanplan.
- Kung-Shui: The obligatory Bar Brawl. In one episode the saloon owner routinely removes the mirror behind the bar whenever a brawl is about to begin. At least one occasion has the mirror smashed just as he's putting it back.
- Land in the Saddle: Repeatedly.
- Subverted on at least one occasion, when he jumped through the wrong window and fell flat on the ground instead of ending up on his horse, much to the latter's amusement.
- On another occasion, as he didn't know from which window Luke would jump, Jolly Jumper posted a fellow horse under each window of the building.
- Lethal Chef: Despite his great fondness for food, Averell is a horrendous cook, the only dish he can prepare with any degree of edibility is eggs with curry.
- Lighter and Softer: The earlier comics were a bit darker and mostly based on Old West action and adventure (though not without some comedy). Luke even killed at least one man (lampshaded by Joe Dalton in Belle Starr). One of the most famous effects of this trope is Luke quitting smoking and having a straw of grass in his mouth instead. Later lampshaded when a guy offers him a cigarette. Luke refuses, saying he quit. The guy apologizes, and offers a straw of grass. Luke then says, "No thanks, I'm trying to quit." Also lampshaded in the Go West movie, where he is offered a cigarette again and says he quit. He's asked if quitting was hard, and Lucky Luke admits to chewing on a straw for quite a long time.
- Limited Wardrobe: Luke is seldom seen without his blue jeans, yellow shirt (originally, it was plaid), black vest, red scarf, and white hat. The Daltons are usually seen in prison garb, but tend to pick up (matching) civilian clothes when they can.
- Longer-Than-Life Sentence: The Daltons are serving a 4200-years hard labor sentence in the beginning of La Ballade des Daltons before escaping. In another comic, an escaped convict lampshades this when his hostage tells him that if he turns back now, he'll get a lighter sentence. The convict responds with "I can't see much of a difference between being sentenced to 236 or 295 years in prison".
- Made of Iron: Ironhead in Going Up the Mississippi, whose name become obvious when he headbutts an alligator.
- Militaries Are Useless: The comic is an Affectionate Parody of the Western genre, so of course the cavalry is always either critically late to the action, or completely useless despite anything they might attempt.
- Minion with an F in Evil: Averell Dalton. He even has his own "Not Wanted" poster! In Daisy Town he does have a "Wanted" poster like the other brothers. The posters are shown throughout their childhood and teens until adulthood with older faces and larger bounties. Averell's bounty stays at $4... Until it's lowered to $3.
- Misplaced a Decimal Point: In the episode Outlaw, the Daltons (the original ones, not the cousins from the later stories) try to divide their loot among themselves. Having had no actual schooling, they fail horribly, turning a simple long division into a mathematical nightmare. Bob Dalton uses his gun to place a decimal point "to simplify things".
- The Mob Boss Is Scarier: When Billy the Kid is captured, everyone is too afraid of him to testify against him.
- Naïve Newcomer: The titular "tenderfoot" from the album of the same name. In a bit of a twist, he easily outdoes all the wild west tough guys at nearly everything (among other things, he was school boxing champion at Oxbridge), but is very much stuck in his upper-class British mannerisms.
- The Napoleon: Joe Dalton, the youngest Dalton brother, has a temper and a sense of arrogance as great as his stature is small.
- Napoleon Delusion: The character of Smith, convinced he is the Emperor of the United States, references the historical "Emperor" Joshua Norton, with the important difference that he is a millionaire ranch owner who can afford full Napoleonic costumes, paraphernalia and army. He names Napoleon as his "model" and insists on full-on First Empire protocol in all circumstances, to the hilarious dismay of his employees-turned-soldiers.
- Never Mess with Granny: Ma Dalton. Luke even says he'd never been so scared as during his quick-draw with her, as there's no way he could shoot an old lady even if she was in fact very much about to kill him. Good thing Sweetie chose that moment to jump into her arms, allowing Luke to disarm her.
- Nitro Express: One comic is devoted to this. It's just too bad that the Daltons decide to hijack the train, thinking it's a heavily-guarded crate full of gold headed to a place called Nitro, and run close to blowing themselves to kingdom come.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Minor characters are often "played" by famous Western actors or other celebrities, e.g. Lee Van Cleef, Randolph Scott, Alfred Hitchcock or Louis de Funès.
- No Fourth Wall: Jolly Jumper makes up for his speech impairment by addressing the reader all the time.
- Nothing Up My Sleeve: A derringer up the sleeve is the typical armament of gamblers in Lucky Luke.
- Not So Stoic: The Indian member of Joss Jamon's gang gives a long, elaborated speech using Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness towards the end. After a whole album in which he said nothing but "howgh".
- Once per Episode: Luke rides into the sunset, singing "I'm a poor lonesome cowboy, far away from home..." Often lampshaded and parodied, such as the time he does so around page three and Jolly Jumper expresses his pleased surprise at this early ending. Sure as rain, the bridge they were riding on blows up. In Where The Sunset Is, Averell has a rare moment of Genre Savviness. After the Dalton brothers escape from jail again, Joe decides that rather than head for the nearest town (where they are bound to be found and arrested by Lucky Luke sooner or later), they will hide out in the wilderness. Soon they have found a nice peaceful place where they want to settle for the night — all except for Averell, who feels uneasy about the place and wants to leave. Just as the sun sets, Luke comes riding along, spots the brothers and arrests them. Back in jail, Joe wonders how Averell knew that Luke would be there, and Averell replies, "Didn't you notice? That's the place where..." Cut to the closing scene with Luke riding into the sunset at that exact location. That is "where the sunset is".
- One-Note Cook: All the station cooks they encounter on a travel with the stagecoach can cook nothing but potatoes with bacon (well, and coffee, or something similar). Except for one, who makes beef with beans. Even in a party organized by that stagecoach company, all the dishes contain potatoes and bacon, with an extra random ingredient thrown in for each one.
- One Steve Limit: In his first appearance, William Dalton was called Bill, but since the (deceased) real Daltons were Bob, Emmett, Bill and Grat, this was considered potentially confusing. So he was subsequently always referred to as William.
- Oral Fixation: After chain smoking for much of the series, Luke eventually switched his cigarette for a straw of grass. Referenced when a government secretary offers him a cigarette, but Luke tells him he quit. So he offers him a straw of grass... only for Luke to tell him he's trying to quit.
- Out-of-Character Moment: At one point, Luke is tied to a post with handcuffs and talking to Jolly Jumper. Rantanplan overhears this, runs to the drawer where he remembers the keys are kept, runs back to Luke with the keys in his mouth (astounding both of them) and promptly faints. Luke mentions he must have had a fit of intelligence.
- Outlaw Town: Dalton City from the similar titled album.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: In Barbed Wire on the Prairie, Luke infiltrates a cabal of cattle ranchers by donning a suit, putting on a fake moustache, and dragging a single scrawny cow in tow. The disguise fails him, however, when someone realizes he's too thin to be a real cattle rancher (all of whom are badly overweight).
- Parental Favoritism: Ma Dalton heavily favors Averell, her youngest son, over the other three, which is a possible reason why he is a much nicer person.
- Peace Pipe: A Running Gag in the series is that the peace pipe by Native American tribes makes everybody feel so sick that they would rather continue fighting than smoke it.
- Pinball Projectile: Used many times to show off Luke's skill.
- Pink Elephants: Luke escorts a circus for a while, prompting the town drunk to claim their elephant is the wrong color. Inverted when Luke tries to calm the elephant down after it's been shot at by telling it it saw little pink men.
- Pocket Protector: In Lucky Luke et Pilule, Pilule ("Pill") is shot but not hurt, to his confusion. Then he realizes that the bullet hit the box of pills that was in his pocket.
- Produce Pelting: in the 1-page story "The Concert", Lucky Luke meets a travelling singer who has this happening to him because of his bad singing. He doesn't mind however because it means het gets free fruit and vegetables after each concert.
- Professional Gambler: Characters like that often crop up in Lucky Luke stories. In fact this is kind of a stock character for Lucky Luke, like many other western trope characters.
- Rain Dance
- In one episode, an area inhabited by Native Americans is suffering from serious draught. As it turns out, their shaman has fallen from a horse and hit his head. He is otherwise ok but can't get the dance right and his various attempts only produce minor weather anomalies (like a small blizzard conjured by doing the macarena).
- In another, a group of irate native dignitaries enters the local saloon to deliver an angry message to the townspeople. These include their shaman... and his unruly apprentice, who is far more interested in the saloon girls than their mission, and decides to start dancing on the stage. Afterwards, it starts raining in the girls' dressing-room.
- Riding into the Sunset: Every album ends with Lucky Luke riding off into the sunset singing "I'm a poor lonesome cowboy...". Strangely, this includes the album that ends on a beach in California.
- A Round of Drinks for the House: When the Dalton Brothers come to a city in Canada, a gold digger arrives and uses his gold to buy a round. The saloon owner says that the gold diggers all do that and then go back to digging gold for another six months. Cue to Joe Dalton planning to take over the saloon...
- Rule of Funny: A huge percentage of the series runs on either this or Rule of Cool.
- Russian Roulette: Yes, it is possible to cheat.
- Sapient Steed: Jolly Jumper often talks, but usually does this with other horses or with himself, in the same vein as Snowy with Tintin. Mainly, but he also does talk to Lucky Luke sometimes. He's also exchanged the occasional word with Rantanplan, though not often — probably because he detests the dog.
- Scooby Stack: The Daltons often do this. It helps that their height doesn't exactly change.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: The typically quiet Indians will sometimes indulge in this for throwaway gags. A memorable example happens at the end of Lucky Luke versus Joss Jamon when a villainous Injun (who had up to that point not uttered a single word beyond the characteristic "Ugh!") delivers an elaborate, long-winded "The Reason You Suck" Speech to his ringleader. The criminals are stunned.
- Shorter Means Smarter: Joe Dalton. Smartest of the Daltons, which isn't saying much. Luke calls him the moronic brain of the gang.
- Shout-Out: Various cameos of movie actors have appeared in the comic strip over the years.
- The Shrink: Otto von Himbeergeist, who tries to cure the Daltons. While his diagnosis is usually right on-spot, he doesn't manage to turn them. And then, he gets the idea that he should've started a career in crime rather than in academics...
- Sinister Schnoz: The Daltons all have large bulbous noses.
- Sir Swearsalot: Hank the stagecoach driver and Calamity Jane. The latter is contagious, as by the end of the story the three prim-and-proper ladies are also swearing like sailors.
- Snake Oil Salesman: Dr. Doxey and several others, including one poor sap who sold a cure-all to a bunch of people who'd broken out in hives due to eating whalemeat. He then tells them his elixir is made from... whale oil.
- Soap Punishment: Done by Ma Dalton to one of her foul-mouthed sons when he insults Averell.
- Speech-Impaired Animal: Jolly Jumper and Rantanplan can only chat with members of their own species. Though most of the time, Jumper seems to be able to have conversations with Luke. Well, he understands Luke, anyway. And occasionally they'll talk to each other as well, but these conversations are extremely spare. Probably because Jolly Jumper really doesn't like Rantanplan and either ignores him or makes sarcastic comments about him.
- Spin-Off Babies: Kid Lucky, portraying Lucky Luke in his childhood. It had only two albums.
- Stars Are Souls: In Kid Lucky, Kid and the Dalton believe that the stars are the souls of sheriffs dead with their boots on.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: Luke slinks away every time people are starting to talk about rewarding him.
- Sticky Fingers: Fingers, from the album Fingers.
- Straw Character: Infamous case in the last story The Man of Washington. The main villain is a hitman called Sam Palin (YES, Palin, and it was released around the 2008 American Elections?) who is a violent supporter of gun-owning rights. In a panel, his eye pupils become red, foam comes out of his mouth as he says "Just because we have guns doesn't mean we are dangerous! Grrrr!" Not to mention that the comic was also about a fictional oil millionaire from Texas who wants to become president and doesn't coincidentally look like George W. Bush. Laurent Gerra is just that subtle.
- Strong Family Resemblance: The Dalton brothers, who not only look identical to each other aside from their height differences, but are also identical to their cousins, the real Dalton brothers who got killed off in their first appearance, as well as their mother, Ma Dalton.
- Super Window Jump: Repeatedly. Usually leads to Land in the Saddle.
- Surprisingly Good English: Non-Japanese example. At the end of each story, Luke sings, in English, "I'm a poor lonesone cowboy". In the original animated series, this is turned into a full song for the closing credits (also in surprisingly good Englishnote ).
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: In their first appearance The Daltons were actually shot dead by Lucky Luke! Since the characters proved to be very popular Morris brought them back, or rather their cousins, who looked and acted exactly the same and were also four brothers of differing height! So the Daltons we know today are actually copies of the original.
- Tar and Feathers: A common form of mob justice for professional gamblers who get caught. Also, in one story the Daltons got tarred and feathered repeatedly, to the point where Averell decided to stay that way.
- Telegraph Gag STOP: Whenever the telegraph is used (and of course, particularly prevealent in "The Singing Wire", where Luke escorts the telegraph builders.
- Those Two Guys: Jack and William, the two middle Dalton brothers; Goscinny actually had trouble remembering which was which, so they tend to switch names between books. They work as an ensemble anyway.
- Thou Shall Not Kill: Lucky Luke has the reputation of never killing his enemies, and several media refer to him as never having killed anyone, a theory supported by Goscinny's daughter, Anne. This is close to Critical Research Failure: Luke has canonically killed Evil Twin Mad Jim, and this story was in the first album of the series. This fact is ackknowledged by Joe Dalton in the album Belle Star. In the original run of Lucky Luke vs. Phil Defer story, Luke kills Defer at the end in a duel. This was later retconned in the album releases by Defer only being injured but rendered crippled for life. Also, the original Daltons gang was hanged after Luke caught them. In first publication, Luke actually kills Bob Dalton by headshot... and it's onscreen◊. In the album version, it is censored and replaced by a simple caught with a barrel — before their hanging.
- Training from Hell: On their debut adventure, The (replacement) Daltons start out as pathetic joke characters uncapable of anything bad, so they grind themselves through a brutal training regime to become more like the original Daltons. It works.
- Tunnel King: The Dalton Brothers are experts in escaping through tunnels. With spoons no less. Often digging one tunnel per Dalton.
- Two Decades Behind: The comic strip is more or less a satire of western movies, especially the classics by John Ford and Sergio Leone. Morris never liked the westerns that were made after the 1960s, when political correctness stepped in and many of the ancient stereotypes were removed for a more realistic and historically accurate approach of the Wild West. Thus many of the later Lucky Luke albums are still referring to western movie iconography that died out since the sixties and western films most of his younger audiences have never seen.
- Underside Ride: When a train is derailed, it's revealed a tramp was travelling on the axles.
- Values Dissonance: In-Universe. One episode centered around oilfields has one guy going "I've been had! This field is stuffed full of oil!" back when its value hadn't been discovered.
- Villainous Breakdown: Joe Dalton, whenever someone mentions Lucky Luke in his presence. Inverted, in that it usually happens at the beginning of an episode, and once he regains his calm he devises a plan to take his revenge.
- Wanted Poster: As another staple of Western, about Once per Episode. Some gags are milked out of the Daltons wanted posters, as mentioned above.
- Wearing a Flag on Your Head: Rather subtle, but Lucky Luke's invariable combo of black vest, yellow shirt and red neckerchief mirrors the tricolor of Morris's native Belgium.
- We Sell Everything: Any general store Lucky Luke patronizes. "For the impossible," as one store manager puts it, "we request a two-week delay."
- White Sheep: Marcel Dalton, introduced in the album named after him, is despised by his family for being a straight-up good guy.
- Possibly a shout-out to the historic Dalton brothers' elder sibling Frank Dalton, a deputy U.S. Marshal in Arkansas who was killed in the line of duty.
- Windbag Politician:
- At the end of "Fingers", the mayor wishes to say a few words. Cut to several hours later, where he's still talking.
- One story has Luke help build a bridge across the Mississippi which isn't completed by the time the opening ceremony comes around. Luke tells the governor to stall for time, which he does by announcing that on this day praise must be given to the Lord, and starts reading from the Bible, page 1. The bridge is finished by the time he gets to Job.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Sarah Bernhardt's manager tries to get out of an Indian attack by throwing around glass beads and fake jewelry. The chief's response: "The paleface with beaver teeth is thinking of the wrong continent. Seize them!"
The animated series provides examples of the following tropes:
- Ascended Extra: In the 1980s' animated series, Rantanplan was frequently added as an extra character to episodes based on comics in which he did not appear.
- Lighter and Softer: Some of the darker plots of the earlier Lucky Luke comics are toned down severely in the animated adaption. For example; in the animated adaption of L'Élixir du Dr Doxey the titular elixer merely gives people a green skin but no other ill effects, while in the original comic it was a lethal poison.
- Race Lift: in the animated adaption of the comic Le Pied-tendre, the native American servant of Waldo Badmington is replaced by a caucasian man.
The Lucky Luke movies provide examples of the following tropes:
- Badass Longcoat: Worn by Jesse James in the 2009 live-action film. Exaggerated Trope: his coat is really long.
- But Now I Must Go: In Go West: A Lucky Luke Adventure, Lucky Luke brings his group to California but decides not to stay.
- Composite Character: Jesse James's character in the 2009 movie has taken on several character traits of his brother Frank from the comic, most notably the obsession with Shakespeare.
- Disney Acid Sequence: The animated film Lucky Luke: The Ballad of the Daltons has one of these. Although it is caused by Mushroom Samba.
- Live-Action Adaptation: Three of them:
- Lucky Luke, 1991: stars Terrence Hill as the title character and is infamous for being an In Name Only adaptation.
- Les Dalton, 2004: is centered on the Dalton brothers and star French comedian duo Éric and Ramzy as Joe and Averell. Lucky Luke is played by German actor Til Schweiger.
- Lucky Luke, 2009: stars Jean Dujardin as the title character. Got much better reception than the two previous adaptations.
- The Mole: Belle in the 2009 live-action film.
- On One Condition: In Lucky Luke: The Ballad of the Daltons, the Dalton brothers learn that their Uncle Henry Dalton died by hanging (which Joe considered a "natural" death) and left them their fortune on the condition that they kill the judge and the jurors who sentenced him to death and that Lucky Luke provides testimony confirming the fulfillment of the condition. The judge and the jury convicted the Daltons for attempting to murder them and Lucky Luke provided testimony. The money went to charity.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Cooper in the 2009 live-action film, when he makes a racist remark on Luke's Native American mother.
- Polka Dot Paint: An Indian camouflaging his horse in Daisy Town swipes his brush back and forth on the horse, and behold! the horse is coated in an elaborate landscape.
- Refuge in Audacity: Referencing drug use in a children's movie? Horrible! Devoting more than five minutes in a eighty minute children's movie to a musical number that is very clearly an extended drug trip by characters (after explicitly having their drink spiked with "mushrooms" by a snake doctor), including a desecration of Jingle Bells ("Shooting guns, shooting guns, shooting all the way")? Awesome! (The entire segment, even in the French original, is in English, so this may actually count as Getting Crap Past the Radar after all... but probably not.)
- Taking the Bullet: In the 2009 live-action film, happens with Luke's mother and Belle.
- Thou Shall Not Kill: In the 2009 live-action-film, one of the main plot elements is about Lucky Luke's oath to never kill anyone.
- Trailers Always Spoil: The trailers of the 2009 live-action film give away the facts that Jolly Jumper talks to Luke (which is meant to be a surprise in the film) and that Jesse James and Billy the Kid go Enemy Mine with Luke.
The Licensed Game series provides examples of the following tropes:
- Minecart Madness: Explosive Mine from the GBC title "Lucky Luke Desperado Train", complete with this trope's basic premise despite it can get a lot better with practice (as pointed out in the page for the trope itself). It's the third-to-last level and if you want to see it, the password is Gun-Gun-Star-Horseshoe.
- Unexpected Gameplay Change: all over the place for the sake of plot (if any), in the GBC title "Desperado Train". For a noteworthy example, you get to play as Rantanplan as soon as you get stuck in a cage, only to guide the dog through an underground dungeon in order to get the key and backtrack the whole stage to free Luke. And the level ends as soon as you free him.
I'm a poor lonesome cowboy
And a long way from home...