"Get your motor runnin'
Head out on the highway
Lookin' for adventure
And whatever comes our way"A 1969 film directed and co-written by Dennis Hopper, Easy Rider starred Hopper, co-writer Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson in his first Oscar-nominated role. Since its release, it's been identified as the Sixties counterculture film.It follows the tale of two dope-dealing bikers, Wyatt aka "Captain America" (Fonda) and Billy (Hopper), who decide to take their bikes across the country. They have no aim other than going to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and pure freedom, which is not appreciated by the locals they encounter. Only one man, liberal lawyer George Hanson (Nicholson), shares their sense of freedom. As they ride along, they wonder what ever happened to America.
—Steppenwolf,"Born to Be Wild"
This work features examples of:
- Badass Biker: Averted. The bikers are harmless hippies who just want to find the American dream. It's the Good Ol Boys who are the ruffians.
- The Cameo: Captain America and Billy sell their cocaine to none other than Phil Spector.
- Cool Bike: Captain America's bike especially.
- Conspiracy Theorist: George Hanson, is fairly certain that aliens already live amongst us, and that they are not revealed by our government because of the general panic that would ensue.
- Corrupt Hick: The sheriff in the cafe.
- Cult Soundtrack: One of the first rock-based soundtracks, including songs by Steppenwolf ("Born to Be Wild", "The Pusher), The Band ("The Weight"), The Byrds ("Wasn't Born to Follow"), Jimi Hendrix ("If 6 Was 9"), and Roger McGuinn ("Ballad of Easy Rider").
- Deep South: Portrayed as xenophobic and violent.
- Diabolus ex Machina: A most triumphant example as our heroes are about to embark to Florida to start their life of luxury, and then, some hillbillies shoot them.
- Downer Ending/Shoot the Shaggy Dog: See above.
- Foreshadowing: Around a campfire at night, George explains that people are scared by the heroes' sense of freedom, and that it makes them dangerous. He will die from it, that same night.George: [...] they see a free individual, it's gonna scare them.Billy: Well, it don't make them running scared.George: No, it makes them dangerous.
- Genre Deconstruction: Being a biker sucks.
- Good Ol' Boy: The southern locals don't take kindly to long-haired city boys riding through their communities.
- Hard-Drinking Party Girl: George is a male example.
- The Hero Dies: Both Wyatt and Billy at the end.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Wyatt and Billy.
- Hot Springs Episode: in the Southwest, Wyatt and Billy play around in one with some of the local female commune members.
- Jerkass: Billy. Then again, he was played by Dennis Hopper.
- Kill 'em All: By the end of the film, George, Billy, and Wyatt are dead.
- Mushroom Samba: After taking acid in the New Orleans graveyard.
- New-Age Retro Hippie: The commune in the southwest is full of them.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Billy is a hothead; Wyatt is contemplative and spiritual.
- Road Trip Plot: A quintessential example. The characters are on their way from Los Angeles to New Orleans for Mardi Gras.
- Scenery Porn: they're riding through the American Southwest, what do you expect?
- Shout-Out: The very name of Captain America.
- Standard Movie Song: The iconic opening credit sequence is the very reason that "Born to Be Wild" has become one of these.
- Theme Naming: Given Peter Fonda thought the bikers were modern cowboys, their names are Wyatt (Earp) and Billy (the Kid).
- Wearing a Flag on Your Head: Captain America carries multiple versions of the Star Spangled Banner around with him at all times (on his helmet, on his shirt and on his bike), and is one of the most iconic examples of this trope in recent popular culture.