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Literature / Winnetou

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"That was Winnetou, the Apache chief, the most glorious of Indians. His name lived in every log-cabin and at every camp-fire. Just, sagacious, true, brave to to point of audacity, guileless, a friend and protector of all who needed aid, be they red or white of hue, so he was known throughout the length and breadth of the United States and beyond their borders."
Der Sohn des Bärenjägers

Winnetou is one of the best known novels written by the German author Karl May. His heroes Old Shatterhand and Winnetou are very famous literary characters in Europe and quintessential examples of Ideal Hero and Heterosexual Life-Partners. Although May only travelled to America himself after his novels became successful, the novels are famed for their accuracy in geographic terms. All trips and journeys of the main character can be followed in an atlas. Accuracy of many other things is not to be taken for granted.

Several of the novels have film adaptations made in Germany in the sixties. The Treasure of Silver Lake was the first film of the series; it proved successful enough and span a film series. The movies were parodied in Der Schuh des Manitu.

The movies of this series:

  • Der Schatz im Silbersee (The Treasure of Silver Lake, 1962)
  • Winnetou I (Apache Gold, 1963)
  • Old Shatterhand (1963, produced by a different company, but with the same actors)
  • Winnetou II (Last of the Renegades, 1964)
  • Unter Geiern (Beneath Vultures, 1964) — in the latter, Winnetou was accompanied not by Old Shatterhand, but by Stewart Granger as Old Surehand.
  • Winnetou III (The Desperado Trail, 1965), in which Winnetou dies. Because of that, the following films were prequels again, the first two with Stewart Granger reprising the role of Old Surehand:
  • Der Ölprinz (The Oil Prince, 1965)
  • Old Surehand (1965). After that, Lex Barker returned for:
  • Winnetou und das Halbblut Apanatschi (Winnetou and the Half-Breed Apanatchi, 1966); then came Rod Cameron for:
  • Winnetou und sein Freund Old Firehand (Winnetou and His Friend Old Firehand, 1966); and the final one with Lex Barker:
  • Winnetou und Old Shatterhand im Tal der Toten (Winnetou and Old Shatterhand in the Valley of the Dead, 1968).

Many of the later films were co-produced in Italy and co-starred Italian actors. The success of the Kraut Western is often seen as a midwife to the birth of the Spaghetti Westerns. It also provided the spark that made the East German DEFA decide to produce a series of ideologically more correct Indianerfilme ("Indian movies") of its own. All of these starred Gojko Mitic in the lead, a Yugoslavian actor whose first part in a Western had been chief Wokadeh in Unter Geiern.

The novels the films were based on are in the public domain, and you can read the German originals here, here and here, respectively.

The Winnetou novels and film series provide examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Carpio's family, in general, forcing him to be someone he couldn't, and not giving a crap about his death somewhere in the wilderness.
  • The Ace: Both Winnetou and Old Shatterhand.
  • Action Duo: Winnetou and Old Shatterhand
    • In the Orient Cycle, Kara Ben Nemsi and Hadji Halef Omar. Though that temporally changes to Kara Ben Nemsi and Ben Nil.
  • Action Dad: Old Firehand. The Bear-hunter. Intschu-tschuna, Winnetou's father.
    • Hadji Halef Omar becomes a father pretty early on, but he continues to go on adventures with Kara Ben Nemsi. And when his son is old enough (roughly 9 years old), he brings the kid along as well — much to Kara Ben Nemsi initial misgivings.
  • Action Girl: Quite a few, especially considering the time the books were written. Tahua is probably the best example in the Wild West. Ntscho-tschi, Winnetou's sister, also qualifies. And Kah-o-oto and young Ashta are not far behind. Ellen, Ribanna's daughter in an earlier version of "Old Firehand", was trained by Winnetou himself since early childhood.
    • In the Orient cycle, Amscha, daughter of a Beduin chief, is described as an Amazon. She and Kara Ben Nemsi talk about other women who had led Arabic tribes as sheiks, officially or not. And Ingdscha and Shakeera are at least implied to be able to handle themselves in difficult circumstances, even if we don't get to see them in action much.
  • Action Mom: Tahua (Native American) and Amscha (Beduin).
  • Action Pet: Kara Ben Nemsi's dog, Doyan.
  • Adaptational Comic Relief/Adaptational Wimp: Old Wabble in the novels Old Surehand I and III a badass frontiersman and Indian fighter; starting out as a companion to Old Shatterhand and Winnetou, he becomes their rival and and then an outright villain who tries to kill them, making him one of May's most interesting characters. In the films Old Surehand and Der Ölprinz he is much younger and merely Old Surehand's clumsy comical sidekick.
  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Kara Ben Nemsi has his Indiana Jones moments, though his interests are based in genuine scientific curiosity and he never brings stuff home for museums.
  • A Father to His Men: Intschu-tschuna, chief of the Apaches. Klekih-Petra was one on the spiritual side. Also, pretty uch every honorable leader, both in the Oriental cycle, as well as the Wild West stories.
  • After-Action Healing Drama: Charlie goes through this once or twice.
  • After Action Patch Up: After several battles, a brief mention of patching up the wounded on both sides is made.
  • Against My Religion: Charlie's usual reason for not killing, not scalping and generally letting bad people get away with less punishment than they would probably deserve.
  • Aggressive Categorism: Done quite realistically, in that people from lots of different cultures (or even just different tribes) regard people from any other culture with hostility and scorn, or at least contemptuous indifference.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Though he is usually a very proud man, when it comes to convincing Winnetou not to go to his certain death, Charlie has no problem with getting on his knees and begging. And crying.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Old Wabble.
  • The Alcoholic: Rattler.
  • All Deserts Have Cacti: Averted. You can consider yourself lucky if there are cacti or other desert vegetation around, since that means water.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Charlie's colleagues from the rail-road building team. Mostly because he is young, hard-working, a non-drinker, and German.
  • Aloof Ally: Winnetou comes off as this whenever he joins a group without Old Shatterhand.
  • Always Someone Better: Old Shatterhand and/or Winnetou to... a lot of other people. Practically everybody else, in fact.
  • Ancient Africa: Charlie's other destination of choice, after the Wild West.
  • Ancient Tomb: Kara Ben Nemsi stumbles across a few of these.
  • And the Adventure Continues: There is almost no finality to any of the books, they either blend one into the other, or are left open-ended, with a few mentions regarding some of the characters. Often, Winnetou and Old Shatterhand aren't even mentioned in the last pages.
  • Apologises a Lot
  • The Apprentice: "Greenhorn" Charlie is one to Sam Hawkens, and later to Winnetou.
  • Apron Matron: Mother Thick in "Old Surehand".
  • Archangel Gabriel: Mentioned in a few teological discussions about the Kuoran in the Orient cycle. Including a hilarious one between Kara Ben Nemsi and Hadji Halef Omar about whether the Archangel might have made a mistake when he gave Mohammed instructions about the interdictions on eating ham and sausages.
  • Arc Symbol: The Silver Lion. The octagonal rings of the Shadows secret organization. The Passiflora. The cross. Interestingly, most symbols are never explained, either because the public knew them, or in order to keep the mystery even beyond the supposed ending of the novel.
  • Ascetic Aesthetic: Winnetou's place in "Winnetou's heirs": Bed, table, water jugs. Weapons and Charlie's photo on the wall.
  • Astral Projection: Kara Ben Nemsi. No, really. This is how he solves half of the plot in "The Reign of the Silver Lion". While he is convalescing in bed.
  • Audience Surrogate: Charlie, in the beginning. Whoever is the youngest and most inexperienced character around later on.
  • Author Avatar: The hero of a Karl May novel is often this (many are also written in first-person narration). In-story it is also made clear that the man going by the name Kara Ben Nemsi in the Orient cycle is the same as the Westmann Old Shatterhand alias Charlie. A common misconception in-story is that "Charlie" had acquired his nickname on the basis of great stature and physical strength (while May himself had been a small thin guy). In fact, whenever there is a description of Old Shatterhand in the text, he is described as being "average height, average built", with "hands as slender and as white as a woman's", making his strength come off as even more of a surprise. Those who know about May's conflict with the Law are also aware of how he escaped police custody. (Yes, he knocked his two guards out, while in chains.)In his later years a more self-conscious Karl May also interpreted Kara Ben Nemsi's sidekick Hadschi Halef Omar as a personification of his own anima.
  • Authority in Name Only: Mayors, sherrifs, policemen, military officers, the occasional sheik or even pasha.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Winnetou and Old Shatterhand, once. The rest of the time, they fight side by side. Or, most likely, on physically opposite sides of a trap where they lured their enemies-of-the-week.
  • Badass Bookworm: Charlie is very much a badass, and very, very much a bookworm. To the point where he once refused David Lindsay's offer of an adventure because he wanted to go study the local dialects of the Balkanic region.
  • Badass Crew: In the strictest sense, Robert Surcouf's crew of corsaires is made of these, all the way down to the non-combatant priest. In a broader sense, all teams that form around one hero or another is this.
  • Badass Family: Winnetou's family, made up of himself, his wise and brave father, his beautiful and resourceful sister, his kind teacher, and eventually his blood-brother.
  • Badass in Distress: Winnetou and Intschu-tschuna in volume one. Old Shatterhand himself soon afterwards. They both fall under this several times more, either separately or together. Old Firehand, Old Surehand and Apanatschka, as well as their entire group of Westmen acquaintances end up like this at some point.
  • Badass Native: Winnetou, of course. Several other secondary characters as well, with Colma Pushi standing out the most.
  • Barbarian Tribe: The Native Americans are viewed as semi-civilised in most cases, but never as malicious on their own. Individual evilness is a different issue. Same goes for the Arabic tribes.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: Kara Ben Nemsi's confrontation with the spirit/energetic vampire/sorcerer in "The Realm of the Silver Lion".
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Played straight with young women, partly subverted with older ones. So it's usually a case of aging, occasionally with the narration pointing out she used to be a beauty in her youth. One particular case is that of Tocbela in "Old Surehand". In her case, her great beauty was ruined early on by shock and madness, and she barely recovers a little sanity when she's in her forties and irrevocably changed physically. Her older sister Tahua, also a famous beauty, was also changed by the trials of her Action Girl lifestyle.
    • Winnetou himself never suffers more than light wounds and bruises. Amusingly, the most damage he receives comes as a result of running around the forest at night, trying to spy on two enemy camps at the same time. The morning finds him rather dishevelled, scratched and full of resin. As is Old Shatterhand, for the same reasons.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: In-story, this is what Old Wabble thinks about Old Shatterhand. It's a major plot point during "Old Surehand".
  • Berserk Button: Played with. In certain specific circumstances, Charlie being treated in a certain way acts as a trigger for Winnetou.
  • Best Friend: Winnetou and Old Shatterhand both acknowledge each other as this, even stating at different moments that they are each other's only friend, in the "truest, most noble sense of the word".
  • Beware the Honest Ones: Old Shatterhand.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Old Shatterhand.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Sam Hawkens, Dick Hammerdull, "Aunt" Droll, and most of all, Hobble-Frank.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Winnetou.
  • {{Bifauxnen:}} Colma-Puschi. Kah-o-oto. Amscha, the Beduin.
    • Judging by Charlie's observation, when Ntscho-tschi is dressed exactly as Winnetou, it would be easy for the less observant ye to mistake her for Winnetou's younger brother. However, since Winnetou hiself is borderline androgynous...
  • Big Brother Mentor: Winnetou to Old Shatterhand, at least at first. They both learn from the other one various skills, but Winnetou is in fact a couple of years older than Charlie.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Old Shatterhand and Winnetou, both to each other and to others.
  • Big Fancy Castle: Some are actual castles. Others are more like fortresses built straight into the mountain rock. Old Shatterhand is particularly impressed by Tattelah-Satah's "castle".
  • Big Fancy House: Conrad Werner and Martha Vogel's house. Judith Silberstein also has several.
  • Big Good: Tatellah-Satah in "Winnetou IV". Marah Durimeh in the Orient cycle.
  • Birds of a Feather: Old Shatterhand and Winnetou.
  • {{Bishōnen:}} Winnetou. Apanatschka, the young Comanche chief. Young Eagle, who is distantly related to Winnetou.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Judith Silberstein. Not that Charlie falls for it.
  • Black and White Morality: Karl May's books in general tend to look like this. But his unshakable idealism makes him to hope for the good in everyone, even when he can't see it. Read carefully, there is a lot more grey to the characters than it seems at first.
  • Blasphemous Boast: Some of the bad guys are prone to this. Charlie is usually horrified. In the case Old Cursing-Dry, so is Winnetou. God never fails to punish them, usually using their own words against them.
  • Blasphemous Praise
  • Blood Brothers: Old Shatterhand and Winnetou.
  • Blood from the Mouth: When Old Wabble is dying due to his torso being slowly crushed inside a tree, he vomits blood for a while.
    • When Winnetou is shot, the bullet hits his lung, causing an internal hemorragy and blood flows out from his mouth at the moment of his death.
  • Book Dumb: Most of the Westmen, regardless of their actual intelligence levels. Averted with Old Death, who mockingly tells Charlie that he did have a high-level education... and that he remembers amusedly what an arrogant idiot he used to be.
    • Averted with Winnetou himself, as well. While he did not go to any official schools, he and his sister were equally home-schooled by the highly-educated Klekih-Petra. As he grew older, he pretty much learned by himself, and later on Charlie served as a walking encyclopedia on whatever subject Winnetou might have wanted.
  • Born in the Saddle: The Arabs, especially the Beduins.
  • Born Lucky: Old Shatterhand. Lampshaded by most other characters.
  • Bowdlerized: After Karl May's death his widow Klara gave the firm that published the books (which renamed itself Karl-May-Verlag) the right to make text alterations as it saw fit, and the publisher made extensive use of this. This took many forms, such as rearranging chapters, replacing foreign loanwords by more German ones, making deletions and additions, changing the names of many supporting and even a few lead characters, and suppressing some of May's more pacifist paragraphs to please the Nazis. As literary scholars and Karl May fans noted, this made the most commonly produced editions of May's works unusable for scholarly analysis. In more recent years new editions based on the original ones have been produced, however.
  • Braids, Beads and Buckskins: Played absolutely straight in the movies, with a little more variation in the books (for example, Winnetou never wears any sort of beads, feathers (even though he's a chieftain) or war paint. And he wears his hair in a type of bun.
  • Brownface: Frenchman Pierre Briece as Winnetou. Granted, Brice didn't need make-up, as he has naturally bronzed skin, and Winnetou is always described as looking more like a Roman with lightly bronzed skin rather than a Native American.
  • Brutal Honesty: Old Shatterhand, when pushed. Trust us, you don't want to push. You really, really don't.
  • The Bully: Rattler. Toby Spencer.
  • Cain and Abel: Intschu-tschuna uses the Cain-Abel example to parallel the relationship between the Native Indians and the Whites. The pale-faces are cast as Cain, of course. And even the whites present at the conversation are forced to sort-of agree.
  • Canon Welding: Karl May started with serialized stories which he later reworked into books, which sometimes required altering characters, elements and the context of a scene. For instance, in the serialized stories there are two different accounts of the first meeting of Winnetou and Old Shatterhand: In his first appearance in Winnetou, der rote Gentleman he meets Old Shatterhand in a saloon, in the one that became canonic in Winnetou I, the two first met when Shatterhand was working as a surveyor for a railroad company and Winnetou and his father Intschu tschuna wanted to stop them from building a railroad through Apache territory. The scene in the saloon was then recycled in Winnetou II with Winnetou pretending he did not know Old Shatterhand because the latter was accompanied by Old Death.
  • Caper Rationalization: Done occasionally by Charlie. Mostly to himself, though. Halef's attempts are much more... vehement.
  • Cataclysm Climax: In "Winnetou's Heirs", a serious earthquake solves the problem of the giant statue and the attacking alliance of enemy tribes.
  • Catch Phrase: Sam Hawkens' constant "If I'm not mistaken, hihi."
    • Old Wabble's "it's clear".
  • Celebrity Impersonator: Some poor fool thought that pretending to be Old Shatterhand is a good idea. While Old Shatterhand was in the general vicinity. Matters are settled with a classic KO delivered by the real one.
  • Chair Reveal: Done in-story by the narrator (Charlie) to other secondary characters. Always treated as funny, or a happy surprise.
  • Charity Ball: Charlie is planning a charity concert in a Dresden hotel when Winnetou comes to find him in "Satan and Ischariot". Relax, he wasn't part of the singing choir.
  • Character Overlap: "Yes, I was Old Shatterhand. Yes, I was Kara Ben Nemsi. Now, I am 'me'."
  • Chaste Hero: Winnetou and Charlie. Probably.
  • The Chief's Daughter: Nscho-tschi, daughter of Intchu-chuna, chief of the Apaches and Winnetou's younger sister. She fulfills some of the cliches while avoiding others completely: she loves Old Shatterhand once she gets to know him, but even then she would butt heads with him over certain culturally-related things (and she's more right than he is); she avoids any Damsel in Distress situation, but she is brutally killed.
  • Chase Scene: A lot. Their length in both time and space varies from minutes to months and may span continents.
  • Childhood Friends: Charlie and Carpio.
  • The Chosen One: Old Shatterhand.
  • Christmas Episode: "Holy Night!"
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Both Winnetou and Charlie. But especially Charlie, who can't seem able to help it, no matter who's involved.
  • Coffin Contraband: In "The Realm of the Silver Lion". Some coffins in the "Death Caravane" do not contain rotting corpses...
  • Coincidence Magnet: Old Shatterhand. Mysteries that have lasted millenias, secrets that have been buried for decades, hidden identities, faked deaths, fugitives across two or three continents, he stumbles upon all of these and more, and he solves them without trying, because he happens to be at the right place at the right time, or do the right thing for the right person. Watching several coincidence trains-of-events converge upon him at the same time can be quite fascinating.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: What most people who fall prisoner to the Indians can expect, whether they are white or red. It's pointed out that the whites are guilty of similarly bloody and brutal treatment of their own prisoners.
    • Some Arabic tribes have their moments as well, especially cruel when it involves a mother and her blind baby, and it's done without a specfic reason. She just happens to belong to the wrong tribe.
      • And when it comes down to it, Old Shatterhand himself is capable of this — though he only practices psychological torture. Still cold-blooded enough not to cave at the victim's pleas, though.
  • Combat Medic: Winnetou, and occasionally Old Shatterhand.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Both Winnetou and Old Shatterhand are this, when the situation requires it.
  • Combat Referee: Winnetou, tacitly chosen whenever a duel happens, because of both his authority as high chief of the Apaches, and his unblemished reputation of honesty, even when he has to perform this task in duels where one of the participants is Charlie.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: Mostly for Old Shatterhand, but Winnetou has his own evolutional arc.
  • Commitment Issues: Old Shatterhand, according to himself, is profoundly disinterested in marriage. Eventually, somewhere between adventures, he does get married. Twice.
  • Condescending Compassion: Old Shatterhand, though mostly depending on how the reader decides to view things.
  • The Conscience: Old Shatterhand. Annoyingly so, in some cases. His friends tend to get Genre Savvy about it, in time.
  • Converting for Love: Winnetou, in a way.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Some of Old Shatterhand's choices concerning their enemies.
  • Cool Horse: Both Apache chief Winnetou and his friend Old Shatterhand have a black stallion of Apache breed that are all of extraordinary quality, and they have the finest specimen. Old Shatterhand's Hatatitla and Winnetou's Ilchi are famous far and wide and only their names bring about respect. The antagonists in the movie adaptations tend to covet them and try to steal them from our noble heroes. (With no success, because the horses are trained to emphatically not let anyone else ride them. Bad things happen to those who try. And the bad things are not always treated comically. Being trampled to death by a horse is an unpleasant way to go.)
  • Cool Old Guy: Klekih-Petra. Old Death. Old Shatterhand himself, during "Winnetou's Heirs".
  • Corporal Punishment: What Old Wabble's bandits and "the general" receive as punishment for their evil deeds... at first.
    • Done as an institutionalized form of punishment in the Ottoman Empire.
  • Corrupt Bureaucrat: Mostly in the Orient Cycle, usually in the regions controlled by the Ottoman Empire.
  • Corrupt Church: More than one, and the Christians are not exempt.
  • Creator Provincialism: Travelling abroad, especially in North and South America, Karl May's heroes have a tendency to meet and rub shoulders with German immigrants. Somewhat justified in that, well, there really were quite a lot of Germans seeking their fortunes abroad in that period.
  • Crisis of Faith: Klekih-Petra, in his youth. Old Surehand in the eponymous novel, as mentioned in his conversations with Old Shatterhand. And Old Shatterhand reveals that he himself had not always been exempt.
  • Crossing the Desert: So many times, in so many different directions... In the Sahara, there is less "crossing" and more "travelling all over" the desert, with occasional double-backs to earlier locations. They cross the Llano Estacado more often, mostly because, well, it's smaller.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Charlie, mostly exaggerated intentionally.
  • Cultural Posturing: Yes, but not only the white men towards people of other color. It's made clear that most cultures think themselves better in some ways than everybody else.
  • Cultured Badass: Karl May presents his Avatar Old Shatterhand/Kara Ben Nemsi that way: Fluent in too many languages to number and well-versed in the cultures of people all over the world, he takes it good-naturedly when comical relief characters mock him as a "bookworm".
  • Cunning Linguist: Charlie knows a lot of languages, and he's as clever as a fox.
  • Cycle of Revenge: The main reason Old Shatterhand and Winnetou have for actively avoiding revenge is because they know there is no end to it. Of corse, the practice is more difficult than the theory. And the difference between justice and revenge is sometimes blurry.
  • The Cynic: A staple of most bad guys. Charlie is particularly disgusted by this character trait. (Especially in women.)
  • Cynicism Catalyst: Tragic events are in the past of most people in the Wild West. Some point out to Old Shatterhand that if he had lived through similar pain, he wouldn't be quite so idealist. This opinion is proven wrong when Winnetou's death pushes Charlie not towards revenge, but towards deeper spiritual development.
  • Damsel in Distress: Martha Vogel, though she's clever enough not to be much of a hindrance once Charlie gets to her.
  • Dances and Balls: Something Charlie desperately tries to avoid... not always successfully.
  • Dance of Romance: Subverted. Martha Vogel makes one last-ditch attempt at gaining Charlie's attention by inviting him to the ladies'dance during a ball. He refuses, knowing full well what the consequences will be.
  • Dangerous Terrain: The salt flats. Any cave they have to enter, on either continent. The hidden icy ravines in the short story featuring Eskimos. Canyons, due to the lack of both hiding places and the possibility to see your enemies coming.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Believe it or not... Old Shatterhand. A milder case than most, but still. Don't expect him to talk about it on-page, though.
  • Darkest Africa: Charlie eventually makes his way south of the Sahara and ends up here.
  • Dawn of the Wild West: Mostly before Charlie's time, but some of its figures are still known.
  • Deadly Dust Storm: In "The Spirit of Llano Estacado" one of these hits the part of the desert where Old Shatterhand was supposed to be. Winnetou, in a different location, sees the storm from afar and worries darkly about his friend.
  • Dead Man Writing: Winnetou's final will.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Old Shatterhand's preffered way of mocking people who annoy him. Not all of them catch on to the fact that they are, in fact, being laughed at.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Jonathan Melton/Small Hunter.
  • Death by Adaptation: In the film Winnetou I, Santer (who here not only murders Intschu tschuna and Nscho-tschi, but also Klekih-petra), is dead by the end of the film. In the novels he survives, reappears in Winnetou II, survives Winnetou to steal his testament, and finally dies a Karmic Death towards at the end of Winnetou III.
  • Death by Irony: In the novel Winnetou III, Santer, the murderer of Winnetou's father and sister, is crushed by the very gold that he has been after since Winnetou I.
  • Death Is Dramatic: And usually either instantaneous, or a long, drawn-out affair.
  • Deep South: The location for most of the adventures featuring Old Death and his brother Horton.
  • Defiant Captive: Old Shatterhand, when he is not playing along. Old Wabble is a malevolent example.
  • Desert Bandits: On both sides of the Atlantic. They are called "desert vultures" in the Wild West. The slave caravans in the Sahara also feature prominently.
  • Desert Skull: The occasional unburied remains of both people and animals are likely to show up in either of the deserts.
  • Determinator: Old Shatterhand and Winnetou. Especially if their objective is the other one's freedom.
  • Deus ex Machina: Charlie actually has the nerve to complain about such occurences in literature. Yes, he really is a hypocrite.
  • Did I Mention It's Christmas??: Apparently, Ntscho-tschi and Intschu-tschuna's murder happens somewhere in December, as does the chase for Santer. Charlie and Winnetou's first separation happens either right around Christmas, or immediately after.
  • Dirty Coward: Quite a few of them, mostly pale-faces.
  • Dislikes The New Guy: The attitude Charlie faces from the rail-road engineering team.
  • Disney Villain Death: The Schut, eponymous villain of the final volume of the Orient Cycle, falls to his death with his horse while trying to escape by jumping across a canyon. Averted with "the General", who does fall off a cliff, and a huge boulder falls on top of him, but who survives long enough to endure a horrible agony while the heroes are pretty much standing around helplessly, because they can not lift the rocks.
  • Distant Finale: "Winnetou's Heirs".
  • Distressed Dude: Winnetou and Intschu-tschuna falling prisoners to the Kiowas. Old Shatterhand himself more times than it's worth remembering. And Winnetou himself a few times more.
  • Divine Intervention: Some things that happen to Charlie can only be explained this way. And he knows it, too.
  • Downer Ending: In a way, the end of the "Winnetou" trilogy is this. Yes, Santer is finally dead. But so is Winnetou, his will is destroyed, his gold is lost for good, and Charlie is pretty much an emotional mess (not that he notices it much). Of course, years later, "Winnetou's Heirs" is published and we find out that not everything is as it seems...
  • Dreadful Musician: The entire population of New Orleans around the mid-1800, apparently. Charlie is too stunned (and deafened) to properly vent his dismayed horror at the scene.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Opium-addicted Old Death.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Old Shatterhand, though most of the time he is too proud to point it out to the culprits. Sometimes, Winnetou will intervene and put them in their place. Occasionally, as in "Satan and Iscariot", it's taken to hilarious extremes, both with the lack of respect and Winnetou's out-of-character reaction. Charlie decides to be amused by the first, and giddily flattered by the latter.
    • When Charlie is in the Orient, his friend Halef is a lot more vocal on the subject.
  • Due to the Dead: Something Charlie and Winnetou always insist on doing, even to their enemies.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Old Shatterhand lampshades this in "Winnetou's Heirs", and he is referring to everyone. Including his old-time enemies.
  • The Engineer: Charlie, even after not actually professing anymore, still occasionally proves he has a head for numbers and architecture.
  • Enhanced Interrogation Techniques
  • Enemy Mine: More common among individuals than groups, but the Apaches and Comanches have their moments. Winnetou and Old Shatterhand definitely make friends among the Comanches (Tevua-shohe, his son Schiba-bigc, and especially Apanatschka) the Osages (Matto-Schakko), and even the Kiowas (Tangua's own son, Pida).
  • Enraged by Idiocy: Charlie usually has a lot of patience, but even he has his limits. Standing out are his rant to Old Surehand about Old Wabble's latest bout of stupidity, his rage at Halef during a bear hunt, and his threatening another guy with a gun for not wanting to let Judith Silberstein marry an Indian chief in order to ensure their peace — and her wealth.
  • Epilogue Letter: Halef's hilarious letter in the first Orient cycle.
  • Eskimo Land: Setting of one short mystery story.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Winnetou's first appearance involves him being fair-minded, brave, stoic, quiet, and beautiful. It doesn't change one iota during the following 20-odd volumes. (Well, he gets a bit more open about showing his affection, but that's about it.)
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Winnetou, at least as far as Old Shatterhand is concerned... And Charlie himself ends up being the subject of many men's devotion and excessive affection, if not outright want.
  • Everybody Smokes: More or less.
  • Evil Nephew: Jonathan Melton.
  • Evil Uncle: Thomas Melton.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Even when the evil ones are actually blood-related.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: Seen quite a lot; sneaking up and eavesdropping on both strangers and known enemies is usually a major source of plot-relevant information in the novels. Somewhat justified in that many characters especially in the West are in fact presented as wilderness-savvy scouts and hunters who know quite well how to do just that.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: Most folks who meet Old Shatterhand for the first time. They usually expect a Goliath type, and he's... really not.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Pretty much everyone who is not a Dirty Coward, though usually death itself is avoided. Old Shatterhand is more of a Defiant to the End type if he's irritated enough, but if his attackers treat him respectfully, he responds by not insulting them. But the award on this one must go to Winnetou, who not only predicts his own death with painful clarity and makes plans for both his own burial and the fulfillment of his will, but has to face Charlie's tearful denial and despair at the news to boot.
  • Fair for Its Day: Most of Karl May's works were not only Fair for Its Day, but actually so progressive for their era that they managed to offend a lot of very different types of people in his native Germany, from the trash papers to the clergy.
  • Famed In-Story: Winnetou and Old Shatterhand, most prominently, and people also know their horses and guns. They are respected wherever they go.
    • Occasionally subverted, at least temporarily. Not everybody appreciates having those two around, and we're not talking about the bad guys here. Winnetou and Old Shatterhand tend to steal the spotlight in whatever group they're in, and other westmen, either truly experienced or mere wanna-bes, sometimes have problems with listening to their advice, taking orders from them or accepting their merciful views in battle. It goes for both white people and native tribes, in fact some of the most interesting parts of the (unabridged) books are the ways they manage to deal with such situations. Just because they are pretty much always right does not mean they can always prevent others from doing stupid things and getting hurt while trying to make a point.
  • Family of Choice: Winnetou and Old Shatterhand, choosing each other over literally everyone else, including other relatives and love interests (Charlie), and even God, sort of (Winnetou).
  • Fastest Gun in the West: Usually averted, in that the gun duels make use of rifles, there is a counting procedure and a certain number of shots that can be fired. If any of the men involved try to shoot faster than allowed, they get a bullet to the head. The only situation presented where being fastest counts is during actual battle, or during a "hands-up" situation.
  • The Fatalist: A staple of most Arabs and Turks. Kara Ben Nemsi is not impressed by it.
  • Fat Comic Relief: Dick Hammerdull, though he does not appreciate the fat part. Hobble-Frank as well.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Slavery, for one. Profound humiliation is a close second.
  • A Father to His Men: Intschu-tschuna. Tattelah-Satah.
  • Feet of Clay: Several pseudo-bad characters come to this conclusion about Old Shatterhand. Needless to say, they are proven wrong — by circumstances, because he would never bother trying to convince them otherwise.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: Hobble Frank is initially left speechless by the fact that other characters are not interested to hear any part of his profound, hard-gained wisdom. Then he has quite a lot to say to them...
    • Dick Hammerdull does not like being called "fat". But what throws him into a blind rage is his horse being mildly insulted.
  • The Fettered: Old Shatterhand only lets himself loose once, when Winnetou is killed (though he is hardly rational at that point). It's enough to get an idea what would happen if he did it more often.
  • Fetish Fuel Station Attendant: Winnetou is drop-dead gorgeous, and that's only his most superficial quality.
  • Fictional Country: Ardistan and Dschinnistan from May's later works. Set in the Orient cycle, with some of the same characters, but entirely fictional.
  • Fighting for a Homeland: The Native Americans.
  • Fight Scene: Many, many, many.
  • First Name Basis: Old Shatterhand's closest friends can call him Charlie. Winnetou takes it one step further and adapts the name to "Scharlih", which Old Shatterhand seems to be positively enamored with. The fact that the change comes at a distinctly dark and painful moment for Winnetou (after his father and sister are murdered) as well as the contextual conversation where this happens only serve to deepen the meaningful development of their relationship.
  • Flanderization: In Karl May's early serialized stories Winnetou had a distinct darker, more savage side, but at the years passed the author idealized his hero more an more until he finally became a Christ-like figure and the ultimate Noble Savage. No, make that the ultimate Noble Man
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Old Wabble
  • Flaying Alive: Charlie gets threatened with this at least twice.
  • Forbidden Zone: If you want to be absolutely sure that Charlie will end up in a certain place, slap this name on it. He will be onto it at the speed of light. After taking all necessary (and sometimes unnecessary) precautions, and drafting several back-up plans, of course. (He is not The Trickster of the series for nothing.)
  • Forced to Watch: In "Treasure of the Silver Lake", Charlie and some companions fall prisoners to the Utahs. They are forced to watch as other prisoners, who were hardened criminals, were brutally tortured with knives and eventually killed with dogs. They avert their eyes, but can't also cover their ears...
    • In "Satan and Iscariot", Charlie tells Emery Bothwell about one of his and Winnetou's earlier adventures, which included them and a group of travellers suffer from thirst while crossing the Llano Estacado. While weakend, they are all captured by the Comanches. While there was no current conflict, the Comanches decide to burn them at the stake anyway. They start by killing the other travellers, while Winnetou and Charlie are forced to watch. Their fury at the sight gives them the needed impulse to not only escape in an extremely bold manner, but also that they come back to take revenge — one rare exception to their usually "forgiving-your-enemies" policy. For his part, Emery is more creeped out by Charlie's calm and casual retelling of the events, which in themselves were unusually gory.
      • Possibly the most brutal instance of this happens in the second Oriental cycle, where an imprisoned and heavily chained Kara Ben Nemsi is forced to watch as an entire African village (one he was acquainted with, no less) is captured and slaughtered, while he is helpless to either warn or help them fight. And then, the slave-traders select the children. The ones considered to weak have their throats slit, while Kara is again forced to watch, by being whipped across the face.
  • Foreign Correspondent: What Charlie is sent to work as in the beginning of the "Satan and Iscariot" trilogy. It happens completely off-page, before the main story begins. In a wider sense, however, most of his "travel experiences" fall under the same trope.
  • Forgetful Jones: Taken to both hilarious and tragic extremes with Carpio, Charlie's childhood friend.
  • Forging Scene: Only with a rifle instead of a sword. In the beginning of volume one, gunsmith Henry is working on what will become the Henry rifle. Greenhorn Charlie pokes his curious nose around the prototype. Later on, he receives the first Henry rifle ever made, as a gift.
  • Forgiven, but Not Forgotten: Old Shatterhand is kind, not stupid. And Winnetou is even less so.
  • Freudian Trio: Halef - Id, Charlie - Ego, Winnetou - Superego.
  • A Friend in Need: This is generally enough to set Old Shatterhand going faster than lightning, whether that friend is Bloody Fox, Old Surehand, Apanatschka, Bob, Sam Hawkens, Hadji Halef Omar or Martha Vogel. He is hilariously less concerned about Winnetou, because well, it's Winnetou.
  • Friendless Background: Old Shatterhand, despite being quite friendly as a person, actually has practically no friends before coming to the West, and no one as close as Winnetou.
  • Friendly Enemy: Pida, Tangua's son.
  • Friendship Trinket: Winnetou's hair lock.
  • The Fundamentalist: Quite a few, notably being found on all sides.
  • The Gambling Addict: Old Death used to be one in his youth.
  • Genius Bruiser: Old Shatterhand.
  • Gentleman Adventurer: Sir David Lindsay. Lord Castlepool.
  • Gentleman and a Scholar: Old Shatterhand.
  • German Dialects: A number of the people Old Shatterhand meets Out West come from Karl May's native Saxony and speak with a sometimes quite marked Saxon dialect. May also wrote a number of novels and stories set in Bavaria with people speaking Bavarian, but not in a form that made him new friends in Bavaria.
  • German Peculiarities: Karl May was a patriotic German and so some peculiarities of the day show up. For instance in a story where Winnetou visits Charlie at home in Germany, he arrives just in time for choir practice of the local male voice choir, which does an impromptu recital for him. Winnetou himself has been called "the most German of all Indians" by some people, probably in part due to his preferred drinknote . Here's a scene where he goes into a saloon:
"I'd like a glass of beer, German beer!" said the Indian with a melodious, sonorous voice and in beautiful, fluent English. (...) He received his beer, raised the glass to the light of the window, examined it with the glance of an expert, and drank. "Well!" he told the host, smacking his tongue, "Your beer is good. The Great Manitou of the white men has taught them many arts, and brewing beer is not the least among them."
  • Get It Over With: Old Shatterhand, when threatened with death by his captors. Obviously, they never do.
  • Glory Days: In the distant past of both the Arabic cities, and, less popular at the time, the Native Americans.
  • Glory Hound: Old Wabble, but also quite a few leaders of various Indian and Arabic tribes.
  • Glory Seeker: See above.
  • God Before Dogma: Old Shatterhand, Winnetou, and every other spiritually advanced friend they make along the way.
  • Going Native: Played straight with Klekih-Petra, Winnetou's teacher. Born in Germany, disillusioned with the world and even God, he finally settles with the Apaches, who treat him very kindly and respectfully. Even though he doesn't think the Native Americans have much of a fighting chance against the white people in the long run, he chooses to stay with them and help them as much as he can.
    • Happens to a degree to his spiritual successor, Old Shatterhand. Also a German, but much more younger, still full of optimism and wanderlust, he repeatedly refuses to stay with the Apaches permanently, despite having took to the native life Like a Duck Takes to Water.
  • Good Fortune from God: Old Shatterhand.
  • Good Is Dumb: What a lot of villains tend to think about Winnetou and Old Shatterhand...
  • Good Is Not Dumb: ...what a lot of villains ultimately find out about Winnetou and Old Shatterhand. The hard way, of course.
  • Good Is Not Soft: You might as well guess at this point...
  • Good Is Old-Fashioned: Old Shatterhand.
  • Good Samaritan: Winnetou and Old Shatterhand, but also a lot of their many friends as well.
  • Good with Numbers: Old Shatterhand is a very skilled engineer.
  • Graceful in Their Element
  • Graceful Loser: Intschu-tschuna, once the situation is explained to him, holds no grudge towards Old Shatterhand for beating him in their duel.
    • Old Shatterhand himself, though he practically never loses a contest or battle (except on purpose). But as a comic example, during "In the Reign of the Silver Lion", a convalescent Kara Ben Nemsi goes out for a ride; his Cool Arabian Horse gets irritated by a bunch of local kids riding goats and donkeys, and by the time the encounter is over, Kara is on his ass in the dirt, completely stunned that something like this could happen to him. The kids, naturally, make fun of him, but then again, so does he — and he gets up laughing and throwing them money. And he has no qualms telling Halef and his family about it, either, showing that his amusement wins over his pride in this case.
  • Great Big Library of Everything: Tatellah-Satah has one, though it stays off-page.
  • Gut Punch: Charlie does this occasionally.
  • Handshake Refusal: Old Shatterhand, to people he doesn't like.
  • Haunted House: Some poor fools try to scare Kara Ben Nemsi with one of these. Unfortunately, not only does he not believe in ghosts who wear white sheets, he also believes in kicking the crap out of them.
  • The Heart: Old Shatterhand.
  • Heavenly Blue: Done quite subtly, but Karl May associates bright blue with Heaven, and all the virtues it inspires in other people. Interestingly, Charlie practically never wears it himself.
  • Heel–Faith Turn
  • Hereditary Hairstyle: Probably justified by their native culture, but Young Eagle, who is distantly related to Winnetou, wears his hair in the same fashion.
  • The Heretic: Old Wabble.
  • The Hermit: Tattelah-Satah. The Peder. Marah Durimeh.
  • Hermit Guru: Tatellah-satah
  • The Hero Dies: Winnetou.
  • Heroic BSOD: Old Shatterhand, after Winnetou dies.
  • Heroic Wannabe: Old Wabble.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: The friendship of Old Shatterhand and Winnetou is incredibly strong and they trust each other completely. Both have loved a woman very deeply, but both have lost them, so they only have one another as family which adds to the closeness. They call each other "my brother" and they always read each other's thoughts.
    • In the books, Winnetou was in love with Ribanna when he was still a teenager, and the circumstances in which he lost her were a lot more tragic. And while Old Shatterhand cared a lot for Nsho-Tchi, respected her and admired her, he wasn't in love with her. And wasn't interested in marriage with anyone at that point, anyway. So by the time they meet, and especially after Winnetou's family dies, they are each other's everything. In fact, Winnetou himself tells Old Shatterhand, shortly after the murder: "You know what I have lost. From now, you be my father and my sister. I beg of you, Scharlih."
  • Hidden Depths: Winnetou never gives you the feeling of being shallow. And yet, you would never guess how deep things can get until you read "Winnetou's Heirs"...
  • Hidden Elf Village: The Peder's hidden village. Well, they're not elves, but otherwise they probably qualify...
  • Hiding Behind Religion: Several representatives of different religions, much to Charlie's distaste.
  • High Priest: Tattelah-Satah, in a way.
  • His Own Worst Enemy: Lots of the bad guys: Rattler, Santer, Tangua, Old Wabble, "the General"...
  • Honorary Uncle: Kara Ben Nemsi is actually Halef's son godfather, and the boy is named after both of them: Kara Ben Halef. They get along very well.
    • Winnetou himself is this to Ribanna's son/daughter (depending on what version of the book you're reading) and acts as a personal trainer to the kid.
  • Honor Before Reason: Yes. A lot of time, a given word to stay put is the only thing that holds Old Shatterhand in place, when iron chains fail to do the trick.
    • In a way, this is responsible for Winnetou's death too, since he refuses to lose his self-respect by trying to avoid his foreseen death. And it's the reason why Old Shatterhand doesn't simply knock him out and stash him somewhere safe until the danger passes — he is well aware that Winnetou would crumble morally under the guilt.
  • Hope Bringer: Old Shatterhand.
  • Ho Yay: Between Charlie and Winnetou, aided e. g. by Karl May's delight in describing long, wavy hair, like that of the Apache chief. German writer Arno Schmidt tried to demonstrate a homoerotic subtext in the post-Freudian study Sitara (1963) which caused a bit of storm in a teacup, mainly because he tried to demonstrate — often by Joycean word-association games that every canyon appearing in a Karl May story really is a reference to the crevice between the buttocks and every cave really stands for an anus. Pointless really, when Karl May spoke so openly in his books about his love for Winnetou (in the 'soul mate' sense, not the brotherly one), there are kisses and embraces and hand-holding whenever the mood occurs. None of which occur with Charlie's actual wife, Klara.
  • Humans Are Flawed: No one's perfect, not even Old Shatterhand and Winnetou. Well, maybe Winnetou.
  • Humans Are Bastards: And the white men are probably the worst of the lot. And they still are worth fighting for, all of them.
  • The Hunter: Old Shatterhand, but also every other Westman out there qualifies as a more or less skilled hunter.
  • Hurting Hero: Winnetou after losing his family. Charlie after losing Winnetou.
  • {{Hypocrite:}} A lot of the bad guys, and bad women.
    • More amusingly, especially since they disagree so rarely, whenever either Winnetou or Old Shatterhand thinks that the other one has gone a bit over-the-top with the bravery and endangered himself pointlessly, only for them to switch roles a bit later on.
  • I Can't Dance: Subverted. Charlie can dance, and very well. He just doesn't like to do it.
  • Ideal Hero: Old Shatterhand and Winnetou are honest, noble, capable, incorruptible and Bad Ass. All bandits and tramps, beware!
  • Identity Amnesia: William Ohlert.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: "Devil's Head", part of the Climbing Climax in "Old Surehand".
    • "Devil's Pulpit" in "Winnetou's Heirs". Charlie's wife Klara mentions the trope practically verbatim. Charlie thinks it sounds "romantic". He also points out that lots of places in Germany have similar names.
  • I Have Many Names: Charlie has a lot of these. It all starts with "Old Shatterhand", which is of course the nickname given to him by his white companions, and then this nickname got translated into pretty much every Indin dialect of every tribe he has ever encountered (or, after a while, who has ever heard of him). So we have Selki-Lata/Selkhi-Lata (Mescalero Apache), Nonpay-Klama (Shoshones), Pokai-Mu (Utah), Tave-Schala (Yuma), Nina Nonton, Ka-Ut-Skamasti, and so on. Then there are the variations of his given name, Carl, which he adapts into Charley/Charlie/Charles/Carlos, and is usually reserved for friends. (Special mention goes here to Winnetou's "Scharlih", which is the Apache's affectionate way of (mis)pronouncing Charlie.) He also uses aliases whenever he thinks the situation requires it, such as Mr. Jones, März, Mr. Beyer, Meier/Mayer, Mr. German, and in one amusing case of trying to mislead someone, Old Firefoot. Moving to South America, we have Arriquez, Tocaro, El Rastreador, El Sendador.
    • In the Orient cycle, he is called Kara Ben Nemsi (Karl, Son of Germans) and Baturu (the Brave), but he also uses several aliases, such as Scherif Hadschi Schebab Eddin Abd el kaderben Hadschi Gazali al Farabi ibn Tabit Mrewan Abul Achmed Abu Baschar Chatid Es Schonahar, Mauwatti El Pars-Effendi, Nusrani, Saduk el Baija, Mayor of Dimiat, Abu Machuf, Amm Selad, Mudir of Dscharabub, Iskander Patras, Ben Sobata, Abu es Sidda, Selim Mefarek, Hadschi Akil Schatir el Megarrib(nis) ben Hadschi alim Schadschi er Rani Ibn Hadschi Dajim Masschur el Azami ben Hadschi Taki Abu Fadl el Makurram, Abd el Mushala, Emir Hadschi Kara ben Nemsi ben Emir Hadschi Kara ben Dschermani ibn Emir Hadschi Kara ben Alemani. Further East, in China, he is called Kuang-Si-Ta-Sse. And there is more where this came from.
      • Adding to all that, in the US-version of Karl May's books from 1898/99, everything German was made American, and the main character is called Jack Hildreth (though he is so far removed from the original he is literally another person).
      • And in "Weihnacht!", Carl's old school friend Carpio calls him Sappho, both while they were kids and after Old Shatterhand had become a famous name in the West. And yes, it's Sappho as in the poet of Lesbos. And yes, he received the nickname because he also wrote nice poems.
    • Winnetou himself almost never uses aliases, choosing rather to not give any name rather than spin a lie, but when he follows Charlie to Africa (loooong story), he lets Charlie pick a name for him - they go with Ben Asra, Somalian/Indian prince. Other people they meet, both Arabs and white, call him Winnetou el Harbi w’Nasir, or simply "Mr. Beyer’s Indian" (Mr Beyer being Old Shatterhand).
  • Indian Maiden: Ntscho-tschi (Apache). Ribanna (Assiniboins). Kaho-o-oto (Kiowa). Tahua and Tocbela (Moqui). Ashta, both the original and her niece (Sioux).
  • Indian Summer: When Charlie and Winnetou first meet.
  • The Ingenue: Martha Vogel. Ingdscha. Subverted with Ntscho-tschi, who is shown to be very mature in her thinking, and knowing a lot about the world despite her relative young age and limited personal experience.
  • In Harm's Way: Charlie and Winnetou's choice of lifestyle. Lampshaded by Kaho-o-oto.
  • Injun Country: The setting for most of the Wild West adventures.
  • In Mysterious Ways: Occasionally, God's mysterious ways involve Old Shatterhand in some shape or form.
  • Insignia Ripoff Ritual: Tangua rips off the "medicine bag" from the throat of the unfortunate guard who happened to stand in the way of Old Shatterhand's stealthy rescue of Winnetou and Intschu-tschuna from the Kiowas. The narration is actually quite sympathetic to the poor guy's situation, despite the narrator being Old Shatterhand himself.
  • Insult of Endearment: The dreaded "greenhorn" is always the way Sam Hawkens views Old Shatterhand, no matter how experienced he becomes. He eventually becomes immune to it.
  • Interdisciplinary Sleuth: Old Shatterhand in the beginning of "Winnetou II", after one unfortunate encounter with a hurricane leaves him dirt poor in New York.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Old Shatterhand tends to make friends with people who are either younger or older than him. Mostly older, both men and women.
  • Invincible Hero: Winnetou and Old Shatterhand come off as this, despite getting captured and/or wounded several times.
  • Iron Woobie: Old Shatterhand and Winnetou, if one thinks about their actual experiences and ignores the stoic attitudes.
  • Irrational Hatred: Old Wabble hate towards Old Shatterhand is as unexplainable as Old Shatterhand's continued mercy towards Old Wabble. The reason for all this debacle doesn't click until the very end.
  • I Should Write a Book About This: The reason you're reading these series in the first place.
  • Jerkass: Old Wabble. Santer. The Meltons.
  • Judge, Jury, and Executioner: How the Law functions in the Wild West.
  • Jumped at the Call: Charlie usually doesn't think much about acting heroically, though his natural intelligence, pragmatism, encyclopedic knowledge, and eventually his accumulating experience make sure he doesn't act stupidly heroic.
  • Karma Houdini: In-universe, this is what enemy Indian tribes think about Old Shatterhand. It comes to a head in "Winnetou's Heirs".
  • Keep the Reward: One off-screen incident has Old Shatterhand save a rich boy from drowning. When his father tries to give him a few dollars as reward (not knowing who he is), an angry Winnetou intervenes and sets things straight. In fact, Old Shatterhand generally manages to avoid whatever rewards are thrown his way, including marriage arrangements; hilariously, he is a lot more demanding when it comes to his rights as an author.
  • Kick the Dog: Old Wabble.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Done figuratively, but also quite literally, whenever Winnetou and Old Shatterhand happen to fall prisoners to whatever enemy they have at the time. If they are tied up and laid on the ground, they will get kicked sooner or later. It's the icing on the cake of contemptuous speeches they get at the same time.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Hobble-Frank,at least when it comes to formal education. Carpio, when it comes to pretty much everything.
  • The Lancer: Either Winnetou or Old Shatterhand, depending on the situation and who is the acting leader at the time.
  • Last Second Showoff: Old Shatterhand enjoys doing this. A lot.
  • The Leader: Winnetou, even though Old Shatterhand's much more talkative nature might give you a different impression...
  • Legendary Weapon: Old Shatterhand's and Winnetou's weapons are reputed. Also, easier to steal than the bloody horses. Since they are not sentient (no matter what the Comanches or the Sioux would have you believe), our heroes have to get them back on their own.
  • Let's Get Dangerous: What happens if you piss off Old Shatterhand. It happens less with Winnetou, but he is actually the deadly one.
  • Like a Duck Takes to Water: Charlie to life in the Wild West. Lampshaded by Sam Hawkens using the duck-water comparison. He also compares himself to the mother hen abandoned on shore by the wayward duckling.
  • Like Brotherand Sister: Old Shatterhand and Ntscho-tschi, much to her chagrin. In fact, this seems to be Old Shatterhand's approach to most young, attractive women he meets. Their own feelings on the matter vary.
  • Living Legend: Old Shatterhand and Winnetou. People know the names of their horses and guns and they are respected for their sense of justice, honour, incredible fighting skills and general awesomeness.
  • The Load
  • Locked in the Dungeon: Lots of people, including Old Shatterhand once or twice. Though the definition of "dungeon" is a bit loose here.
  • Loin Cloth: Subverted in the books. Even though the most frequently encountered tribes (Apaches, Kiowas, Comanches) all live in the South, they all wear leather pants.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Winnetou.
  • Love Hurts: Especially if you decide to fall for Old Shatterhand.
  • Loves Only Gold: Santer.
  • Mark of Shame: Old Shatterhand does this twice in "The Black Mustang": first to the two Chinese workers who steal his and Winnetou's weapons (he cuts their long plaits, at Winnetou's suggestion), and then he reattaches those two plaits to the head of Comanche chief Tokvi-Kava. In both cases, the "victims" treat it as a great personal shame, though the Whites present are more confused by the choice of punishment.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Happens to Charlie ever so often. Sometimes he tries to ignore the implications, but mostly he knows, and most importantly, he believes.
  • Mercy Kill: Usually towards animals that are gravely wounded.
    • Tangua actually demands one from Old Shatterhand in "Winnetou's Heirs". Shatterhand refuses. Tangua considers him dishonorable for it, but you can probably guess who is right by the end...
  • Messianic Archetype: Winnetou.
  • Might Makes Right: White man's policy in any setting.
  • Mighty Whitey: More so in the novels, but also included in the films.
  • Moral Dilemma: Usually involving the rights of Native American tribes, though the situations are rarely black and white.
  • Mummy: Charlie stumbles across some interesting (and smelly) ones in "The Land of the Mahdi".
  • Mystery Cult: The Shadows.
  • Named Weapons: Old Shatterhand has two guns, one a rare, but at least theoretically not unique Henrystutzen (Henry short rifle), the other named the Bärentöter (bear-slayer). Winnetou uses the unerring Silberbüchse (silver rifle), so named because it was decorated with silver stud-nails all over. Sam Hawkens said he wanted to be buried with his rifle, the somewhat temperamental Liddy. In the movies the Silberbüchse is referenced most and the Bärentöter has very little screen time.
  • Near Death Clairvoyance: Klekih-Petra, lampshaded by Charlie.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Charlie, but only if they actually deserve it.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: The bad guys (pick any group you like) never have much loyalty towards each other, even when they are closely blood-related.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Old Wabble.
  • Numbered Sequels: Karl May wrote four books entitled Winnetou I (full title: Winnetou. 1. Band, i. e. "Winnetou. Volume 1") to Winnetou IV (full title: Winnetou. 4. Band, i. e. "Winnetou. Volume 4"), as well as three called Old Surehand I to Old Surehand III. As Winnetou is killed in Winnetou III and Winnetou IV is very different in tone and subject from the previous three volumes (it relates of how Old Shatterhand, now in his 60s, returns to the Wild West to help erect a monument to his old companion and to oversee what happens to his legacy), the publishers retitled the fourth volume Winnetous Erben ("Winnetou's heirs") in 1914.
  • The Oath-Breaker
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Old Shatterhand. Occasionally some of his friends as well.
  • Oblivious to Love: Old Shatterhand to Ntscho-tschi, Martha Vogel, Ingdscha... (Though he does catch up eventually.)
  • Old Friend: Carpio in "Holy Night!
  • One Thousand and One Nights: Referenced in the Orient cycle, usually with an eye on realistic contrast by Charlie, and with as much panache as possible by Halef, who often compares Kara Ben Nemsi with a glorified Harun Al-Rashid, even when under enemy interrogation. (They actually believe him for five minutes or so, while Kara is fuming in his hiding place and contemplates leaving Halef to his fate for telling them he was looking for a suitable princess to marry.)
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Often the case even between old friends.
  • The Only One I Trust: Winnetou and Old Shatterhand.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: When Winnetou goes ballistic, you know things are bad.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions
  • Our Angels Are Different: Charlie calls them "angels", Winnetou calls them "warriors"...
  • Overly Long Name: Some of Charlie's Arabic aliases eminently qualify (see above), but the most famous example is Hadschi Halef Omar Ben Hadschi Abul Abbas Ibn Hadschi Dawuhd al Gossarah. Normally he is just called Hadschi (Hajji) Halef Omar, but reciting his full name is a shibboleth among readers. If you can't pass the "Hadschi Halef test" you're not a true Karl May fan. There's a song Hadschi Halef Omar by Dschinghis Khan to help you learn to recite it.
  • Pacifism Backfire: Usually for Old Shatterhand.
  • The Pampas: When Charlie goes to South America.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Winnetou's initial choice, before Old Shatterhand talks him out of it and into full-blown idealism. He does it to several other characters from both the Wild West and the Orient cycle. In fact, Charlie is generally a "bad" influence to most of his long-term companions.
  • Personal Effects Reveal: Charlie going through Winnetou's rooms (from a secret location different from his native pueblo) in "Winnetou's Heirs".
  • Platonic Declaration of Love: Winnetou and Old Shatterhand, all the bloody time, and completely honest and open about it, too.
  • Platonic Life Partners: Winnetou and Old Shatterhand. Kara Ben Nemsi and Hadji Halef Omar.
  • Please Don't Leave Me: Pretty much literally Charlie's reaction when Winnetou foreshadows his own death.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Sam Hawkens and Uncle Gunstick in most movies. Additional characters as well.
  • Police Are Useless: Most of the times, sadly, though Charlie does try to give them the benefit of the doubt.
  • Power of Friendship: The bond between Winnetou and Old Shatterhand is strong enough to move mountains.
    • Their bond is so strong, it starts working even before they become friends, and even while, for all intents and purposes, they were actively enemies - except Old Shatterhand does everything in his not-inconsiderable power to save and protect Winnetou from whatever plans were made against him (even when said plans belonged to his good mentor Sam Hawkens, much to the westman's despair) and Winnetou, for all the wrestling and knife-induced wounds, has serious problems with letting the man simply bleed to death. It starts to get ridiculous when he literally puts himself between Old Shatterhand and a murderously angry Tangua - while Old Shatterhand was tied at the stake and couldn't defend himself properly. It's a wonder if any readers remember by that point that those two were still supposed to be enemies.
  • Pragmatic Hero: You'd be surprised by some of Charlie's choices...
  • Prequel: In the way the movies were produced, Winnetou I is this. Winnetou and Old Shatterhand were shown as very good pals in The Treasure of Silver Lake, now we finally get to see how they met the first time.
    • All the stories that feature Winnetou that were chronologically written and published after the end of the trilogy, and therefore tell of adventures that happened before Winnetou's death.
  • Prayer Pose: The buried statue in "The Realm of the Silver Lion".
  • Preacher Man
  • Pretty Boy: Winnetou is nearly this. The narratorial description manages to make it clear that he is visibly a badass, but other characters occasionally misjudge his lithe physique and beautiful features as "weak". Naturally, the Curb-Stomp Battle that soon follows such observations sets things straight pretty damn fast.
  • The Promised Land
  • The Prophet Muhammad: A lot of the religious and political discussions in the Orient cycle feature him heavily (and usually respectfully).
  • Proud Warrior Race: Most of the Native American tribes, the Arabic tribes, the Kurds, various African natives, and a couple of fictional ones.
  • The Quiet One: Winnetou. Pierre Brice at first complained that he had so few lines compared to Lex Barker as Old Shatterhand, but soon came to realize that by acting instead of speaking and by his dramatic presence he actually made a greater impression on the audience.
  • Quintessential British Gentleman: Karl May lived at a time when wealthy British globetrotters were a common trope, so some characters of this type appear in his works. The most well-known examples are Englishman Sir David Lindsay in the Orient Cycle and Scotsman Lord Castlepool in Der Schatz im Silbersee. Lord Castlepool is obsessed with making wagers and travels through the Wild West in search of adventure, paying his guides 50 Dollars per adventure.
  • Ragtag Bunchof Misfits: All groups that tend to form around Old Shatterhand and Winnetou.
  • Real Men Love Jesus: Old Shatterhand, and eventually Winnetou.
  • Recovery Sequence: Usually involves Charlie recovering from some life-threatening wound/illness.
  • The Reveal: In-story, Charlie discovering Colma-Puschi's real identity. And the identity's of the two missing boys, though by that point it was obvious.
  • The Rival: Conrad Werner versus Old Shatterhand. Old Shatterhand decides that I Want My Beloved to Be Happy, and bows out of the competition without even acknowledging his feelings to the girl.
  • Romantic Rain: Subverted hard for Old Shatterhand and Martha Vogel. After realizing that Martha had indeed kissed him in his sleep (a year before, but he's kind of slow when it comes to romance), and after Martha flees in panic, a deeply confused and conflicted Old Shatterhand runs after her, despite the huge summer storm that breaks over the city. He doesn't catch up with her, instead he is eventually forced to seek refuge under some huge linden trees when the storm turns out to be more like a second Flood. The continuous lightning making him anxious, he moves from his initial tree under another, while berating himself for being irrational, as there's no way to correctly predict a lightning strike — only for a big lightning bolt to strike and burn down the very tree he had been hiding under. Had he stayed put, he would have died. It serves as an eye-opener (what does his aching heart count against the will of God?). Suddenly feeling calm, he returns home, and gives up on Martha.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Winnetou.
  • Save the Villain: What Old Shatterhand constantly tries to do, though he is surprisingly astute in recognizing faked remorse and shows no mercy when the situation requires it.
  • Saving the World with Art: What some folks try to do with Winnetou's statue in "Winnetou's Heirs". What Charlie manages to do using Winnetou's much more accurate picture, and his even more appropriate notebooks.
  • Scenery Porn: Charlie gets rather descriptive when he is impressed by something. The short list includes pretty landscapes, nice horses, and Winnetou.
  • Scenic Route
  • Science Is Bad: Lots of people point out to Charlie how science and learning will screw up an honest man's head. Naturally, he disagrees.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!!: Old Shatterhand is the one most often put in this situation, but all his close friends fall under the same moral code.
  • Sea Stories: "Surcouf" and "Captain Kaiman".
  • Secret Identity: Old Shatterhand is sometimes in situations that require this.
  • Sentient Cosmic Force
  • Sequels
  • Setting as a Character
  • Settling the Frontier
  • Shaming the Mob: Winnetou is the go-to character for this.
  • The Shangri-La
  • Shirtless Scene: Many, though Winnetou is the only one getting the flattering descriptions. Even Old Shatterhand tends to get
  • Signature Scene
  • Silk Hiding Steel
  • Snowed-In
  • The Soul Saver
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Charlie and Ntscho-tschi, Charlie and Martha, Charlie and Kaho-oto... though these were mostly one-sided on the girls' side, even with Martha.
  • Stay with Me Until I Die: Charlie gets to hold a lot of friends as they die, and at least one enemy.
  • Stealing the Credit: Let's see: first, Charlie's lazy colleagues let him do almost all the work without giving him any credit for it and denigrating him in the process; then Rattler claims he killed the grizzly bear instead of the "greenhorn", and tries to pin the blame of one of the men getting killed by the bear on Charlie; in the later novel "Holy Night!" the Preacher steals (through a very complicated chain of events) one of Charlie's childhood poems from Germany and publishes it for his own profit; and there is at least one instance where someone else claims to be Old Shatterhand, but that incident happens off-page, and is quickly solved by the real Old Shatterhand, via unbeatable arguments. In his own words, "my fist to his head."
  • Storming the Castle: In "Satan and Iscariot", once or twice.
  • A Storm Is Coming: Before the confrontation with the Apaches in "Winnetou I", a rare, heavy storm falls. At that point, it's a good thing, as it wipes out the heroes' tracks. But Old Shatterhand can't help a bad feeling creeping up on him...
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Something Charlie can't seem to stop doing...
  • Sympathy for the Hero: Something that happens to Charlie in "The Realm of the Silver Lion".
  • Taking Advantageof Generosity
  • A Taste of the Lash
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork
  • Telepathy
  • Thirsty Desert
  • Tragic Bromance: If read in the context of May's entire body of work, Winnetou's death marks a deep change in Charlie, who gradually turns inwards and becomes involved in more "spiritual" adventures. This happens in the Orient cycle, though Winnetou is mentioned in the beginning.
  • Tranquil Fury
  • Trickster Archetype: If you step back and take a really good look at Old Shatterhand, you realise he's this, especially after he grows up a bit. He's always much more clever than the people around him, he's a consummate liar with a frightfully innocent face, is a truly honest man who nevertheless is willing to occasionally use (somewhat) dishonest means to reach his goals (though usually only when lives are on the line), always favors cunningness and yes, trickery instead of brute strength, if it does come down to using brute strength he is always able to somehow defeat much more powerful adversaries, is using Obfuscating Stupidity as often as he can, mostly to obtain information, not admit to his true identity for various reasons, and sometimes just For the Lulz. He is often accused of having made a deal with the Devil/Evil Spirit because of how things always go his way. Both friends and enemies have called him "as cunning as a fox". (On a meta level, author Karl May must have been well-acquainted to the tales of Reineke the Fox, and was something of a real-life Trickster figure himself.)
  • True Companions: Winnetou and Old Shatterhand, plus whatever friends they gathered around at any given time.
  • Try and Follow
  • Twilight of the Old West: In "Winnetou's Heirs".
  • Verbal Tic: Most Plucky Comic Relief characters have one. Sam Hawkens' constant "If I'm not mistaken, hihi!" became a catchphrase. Old Wabble's "It's clear" comes close.
  • Undercover Cop Reveal: Sort of. In "Winnetou III", Thick Fred Walker is an undercover detective as well as a legitimate Westman, but Charlie sees through his cover very quickly and warns him to be more careful. Then again, Charlie himself was quickly figured out by Old Death in "Winnetou II" as a more-or-less-undercover detective in search of a couple of fugitives — but he was still rather young and unexperienced back then.
  • Underestimating Badassery
  • Undying Loyalty: Winnetou and Old Shatterhand. Even when one of them does physically die, the loyalty does not.
  • Unsportsmanlike Gloating: Something most badguys are prone to, while Charlie and Winnetou strongly oppose. At one point in "Treasure of the Silver Lake", Winnetou is on the receiving end of one of these, from a particularly old and nasty enemy Indian chief.
  • Violence Isthe Only Option: Old Wabble tends to act this way, and without a minimal amount of planning too.
  • Virtue Is Weakness
  • Vision Quest: In a very abstract and metaphysical way, this is the reason why Charlie Walks The Earth. But it's never quite explicitly stated in any of the printed 30-odd volumes.
  • Was Once a Man: The "energetic vampire".
  • The Western: Filmed German style!
  • Walking Armory: Many characters carry a wide collection of rifles, handguns and knifes. And whips, lassos, bolas, poisoned arrows, tomahawks and other exotic weapons. And then there's the most dangerous weapon of all, mostly because usually you don't see it coming: Old Shatterhand's fist.
  • Wham Line: "Well, then. If my brother Colma-Puschi has to leave, I'm asking my sister Colma-Puschi to stay a while longer."
  • Whip It Good: Don't give Halef any excuse to reach for his whip.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Tante Droll (Aunt Droll) is famous as a "Westmann" who looks like a woman (fans are still divided between those who see him as just looking a bit feminine and those who see him as an outright transvestite). Old Surehand's mother is an example of a tough lady disguising herself as a man.
  • Worthy Opponent: What everyone thinks of Old Shatterhand and Winnetou, no matter how much they might want to personally strangle them.
  • You Are Not Alone: Winnetou manages to do this for Charlie... some 30 years after his death. Lampshaded by other characters.
  • You Look Familiar: Karin Dor played the role of Ellen Patterson in Tas,he Treasure of Silver Lake. In Last of the Renegades, she played Winnetou's Love Interest, an Indian girl Ribanna. And in "Winnetou and Shatterhand in the Valley of Death" she plays Mabel, the daughter of major Kingsley.
  • You Said You Would Let Them Go: Tangua tries to avoid keeping his word of releasing the Apache prisoners by doing a very literal interpretation of his agreement with Old Shatterhand. He isn't actively trying to kill them anymore; instead, he would let them die of hunger and thirst. Fortunately, it's not a problem for more than a quarter of a page before the rest of the Apaches come back and attack.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/Winnetou