Americans Are Cowboys

You really can't get more American than that.

"See? You can tell he's American from his blond hair and cowboy hat!"
JesuOtaku on a side character from Digimon Tamers

In foreign media, Americans are often either cowboys or dressed so similarly to an archtypical cowboy that it makes no difference. Expect a ten-gallon hat, button-up shirt, jeans, boots and maybe a vest, poncho or duster for good measure. Apparently in Eagleland, the Wild West never quite ended.

This is a case of Small Reference Pools, where America has become so synonymous with cowboy culture that people overseas use it to characterize the entire country. This is, of course, partially Truth in Television: cowboy fashion and culture is still around and idealized in certain parts of America, particularly in rural areas and in Country Music. The idealized American cowboy also lives on in The Western.

See Eagleland when talking about personality. Wearing a Flag on Your Head is another stereotypical American fashion.. When talking about hair/eye colors, see Phenotype Stereotype. Sexy cowboy and cowgirl costumes may be a part of Foreign Fanservice.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Fumio's grandfather in Saitama Chainsaw Shoujo was a Texan bounty-hunter who wears a cowboy hat and frilled buckskin vest.
  • In Midori Days, when Lucy's friend Daniel shows up to try and bring her back to America, he's dressed in...well, typical cowboy attire.
  • Melody Honey in Arcade Gamer Fubuki and Keroro Gunso is...well. Uh. Ahem.
  • Jack King and the Texas Mack from Getter Robo. Also his tribute in Gekiganger 3, Cowboy Johnny and the Texas Robo.
  • Cathy in RahXephon.
  • Reina Gorn in The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service.
  • Terryman and Terry the Kid from Kinnikuman and Kinnikuman Nisei. They're also from Texas, and specialize in appropriately-flavored moves, like the Calf Branding.
    • Terryman himself is based on legendary professional wrestler (and Texan) Terry Funk, who did actually dress in a cowboy hat and a poncho for years, making this a Justified Trope in his case.
    • Averted with Specialman (a gridiron football player) and Pentagon (a masked luchadore, but one with eagle wings).
  • A Gundam Wing fanart/animated gif featured the Gundam pilots holding hands and wearing "traditional" clothing for their nationality. Duo is dressed as a cowboy.
    • Chibodee Crocket from G Gundam is not only a cowboy, but also a boxer/surfer/football player. In the new G-Gundam manga, he gets a new Gundam that has a cowboy hat on its head!
  • Jackie Gudelhian from Future GPX Cyber Formula. He wears a cowboy hat, likes rodeo riding and he's from Kentucky. He is even nicknamed the "High-tech Cowboy''.
  • A character from Digimon Tamers who shows up only briefly via video link is a computer programmer and friend of the 'Monster Makers' who originally coded the Digimon is blond and wears a stetson. The dub even adds a Texan drawl to him.
  • Averted with America in Axis Powers Hetalia. The one time he does dress up as a cowboy, it's justified as other characters dress up in national costumes as well.
  • The American Pretty Cure in Happiness Charge Pretty Cure are cowgirls (except the one who is a Native American).
  • In the Sega Hard Girls franchise, Sega Genesisnote  is a poster girl for this trope. A transfer student who studied in America, "Jenny" wears cowboy attire from head-to-toe along with a bandana halter top with the design of the American flag on it.

  • Tintin in America had many Americans dressed as either Chicago mobsters in the city or cowboys in the country. Somewhat justified, as the cowboy era was not long dead.
  • In Camelot 3000, the American president dresses like a cowboy and packs a pair of six-shooters - an obvious reference to Ronald Reagan.
  • In one of Arthur Szyk's Anti-Fascist propaganda posters, America is depicted as a Gary Cooper-ish cowboy about to be stabbed in the back by a Yellow Peril Imperial Japan, distracting him with an olive branch as he does so.

  • Casino Royale (1967) depicts the American army as composed of cowboys and Indians.
  • Flushed Away features an obnoxious American tourist with a cowboy hat and Texas drawl.
  • Lampshaded in The Hunt for Red October.
    (Ramius notes Mancuso's sidearm and comments in Russian to Borodin that Mancuso is a "buckaroo". Ryan laughs)
    Capt. Bart Mancuso: What's so funny?
    Jack Ryan: Ah, the Captain seems to think you're some kind of...cowboy.
  • In the Mexican film Santa Claus (1959) (the one riffed by Mystery Science Theater 3000), the children from the USA are wearing cowboy outfits.
  • Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. When Dr. Evil calls up the United Nations Secret Meeting Room to give his ultimatum, many of the occupants are dressed in costumes indicating their native countries (two Japanese are dressed as a geisha and a sumo wrestler, a British representative is wearing a Beefeater costume, a Spaniard is dressed as a matador, etc.). One of the characters (presumably an American) is dressed as a cowboy.
  • One old Jackie Chan film featured him traveling to America and fighting a bunch of hairy, obese, slovenly cowboys who rolled around in the mud. Knowing how this trope usually connects with reality, it was probably supposed to be set in Chicago or uptown Manhattan.
  • The German Big Bad of the first Die Hard film mocks John McClane as being a "cowboy" several times thoughout the movie, hence McClane's "Yippie ki yay, motherfucker" Catch Phrase.
  • In the movie adaption of The Golden Compass, Lee Scoresby wears a cowboy hat to compliment his Texan drawl. The only difference being that he's not actually American - Texas is a separate sovereign nation in this universe.
  • The American characters in The Mummy (1999) (save for main character Rick O'Connell) are all very cowboy-esque, wearing cowboy hats and being very fond of shooting guns.
    • They also rode horses instead of camels.
  • In the early Russian Film The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks, the titular American capitalist is (naturally) accompanied on his trip to Russia by his faithful manservant, Cowboy Jeddy. Jeddy's duties seem to consist mostly of trick shooting.
  • Major Kong of Dr. Strangelove, who wears a cowboy hat on duty, speaks with a Texan accent, and, of course, rides the bomb. Also, his actor, Slim Pickens.
  • In An American Werewolf in London, the ominous British townsfolk in the Slaughtered Lamb pub make lots of cowboy jokes when they find themselves joined by a pair of American tourists.
  • When the American astronauts destroy the Russian MIR station in Armageddon, the Russian cosmonaut complains that he told them not to touch anything, "but you're bunch of cowboys!"

  • Conversational Troping between Tommy and Tuppence in Agatha Christie's Partners In Crime, where Tuppence is describing her fantasy of meeting a dashing romantic American man who has lived in the wilds and can rope wild steer, and Tommy sarcastically asks if he's also wearing chaps and a ten-gallon hat.
  • In Dracula the one American character, Quincey Morris, is a cowboy. In one moment, Morris leaves a meeting with other heroes where they're trying to figure out how to cope with vampires; a few seconds later, bullets come flying through the window.
    Quincey: I'm sorry, I thought I saw a bat out there.
  • Played with and ultimately subverted in the case of Robert Tendyke in the German horror-fantasy-occasionally-SF series Professor Zamorra. The man owns a US-based megacorp (one that's usually depicted as at least reasonably ethical at that), is fond of dressing like a cowboy to the point of cliche, still has more than enough time to spare to play quasi-professional 'adventurer' even when he's not already involved in the latest case of the title character...and eventually turns out to have been born some four centuries ago as the long-estranged son of the demon Asmodis and an unfortunate Roma woman of very European extraction. The "cowboy" act is just a deliberate part of his modern-day identity.

    Live Action TV 
  • In an episode of Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, where young Indy is imprisoned in a maximum security German P.O.W. prison during World War I, he is approched by two Russian prisoners who ask him if he is a cowboy since "All Americans are cowboys", when Indy asks them to clarify, they ask him if he knows how to use the lasso which Indy replies he does, prompting an overjoyed "A COWBOY!" reaction in them. Because, it turned out that they had been crafting a rope from all the strings of the mail envelopes for the purpose of escaping.
  • The first Doctor Who with a US setting was "The Gunfighters", which saw the First Doctor, Steven and Dodo mixing it up with Wyatt Earp and Johnny Ringo.
  • Sky is under this impression in The Sarah Jane Adventures. Justified in that she is younger than she looks and has been watching Toy Story.
  • Dad's Army. Walmington-on-Sea is hosting the first US troops on British soil, so Captain Mainwaring asks Sgt Wilson how he should greet them. Wilson suggests, "Howdy partner, put it there" while offering to shake hands. Mainwaring scoffs at this, saying he's been watching too many cowboy movies. This becomes the inevitable Brick Joke when the American captain enters and holds out his hand to Mainwaring. "Howdy partner, put it there!"
  • Ninja Sentai Kakuranger featured Jiraiya, the Japanese-American Black Ranger. When not transformed, he wore a cowboy outfit, dual six-shooters and all.
  • Shuriken Sentai Ninninger ramps it up further with Kinji Takigawa aka StarNinger, who not only wears a cowboy outfit when unmorphed but his Ranger form has a built-in cowboy hat and poncho and his mecha is modeled on a bison.
  • In Penny Dreadful, the lone American main character is introduced as a professional sharpshooter at a Wild West show in Victorian England.
  • In The League, Taco landed a role on an Algerian soap opera called Sands of Passion as Buck, an American pastiche and self-described “rapper-slash-cowboy-slash-cautionary tale” dressed like a cowboy and whose catchphrase is “Bang bang, what’s the hang?”

  • The late Mexican composer of songs for children, Francisco Gabilondo Soler Cri-Cri, in his song "El Ratón Vaquero" (The Cowboy Mouse), which also has Gratuitous English in its lyrics.
    • Not to mention the song was a giant Take That against Walt Disney, since Disney tried to destroy Soler's reputation because Soler refused to sell the rights of his songs to him.
  • My Name is Potato from Rita Pavone.
    "Sure! I'm an AMERICAN potato!"
  • The name of the Finnish novelty band Leningrad Cowboys refers to the fact that they pretend to be Russian and play American rock and roll.

  • In Diner, the only American customer among the multinational group is Buck the Texan.

  • Prevalent enough in Germany back when The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny was first produced that a production note specifically insisted "Wildwest- und Cowboy-Romantik" was to be averted.
  • Michael Flatley's Feet of Flames has a few cowboys to represent America's involvement is WWII.

    Video Games 
  • The American Bomberman in Super Bomberman 3 is dressed like a cowboy.
  • The primary love interest, and thus the most promoted character, in Sakura Wars 5: So Long, My Love is Gemini Sunrise - Texan samurai cowgirl. Though she is far from the only American character in the game as it is based on the New York branch.
  • Implied in Shiren the Wanderer, with one NPC named "Foreign Vagabond" who wears a combination of cowboy gear and Braids, Beads and Buckskins.
  • Tina from Dead or Alive had a sexed-up cowgirl outfit in the first game, and her dad Bass has a full cowboy getup as his default costume in the second. They're both 'Merican, in case you couldn't tell.
  • In Street Fighter IV, Ken, an "America the Beautiful"-style Eaglelander, wears cowboy gear as one of his alternate costumes. Even though he's probably from California.
  • Pokémon Black and White: As Unova is based off America, male Pokémon Rangers are this. Clay, however, is a subversion and a Fauxreigner.
  • Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire play this straight; Aarune is dressed and speaks like a stereotypical cowboy despite hailing from the equivalent of the New York/New Jersey area.
  • A recurring theme in the Command & Conquer: Red Alert Series, especially as later games began undercutting America Saves the Day. Exceptionally Texan General Coville from RA2 kicked it off, but it became all too apparent in RA3 (listen especially to the Century Bomber...). Two of the Allied combat tracks are actually called "American Cowboys" and "How The West Was Won".
  • Johnny from Guilty Gear. American? Check. Massive cowboy hat? Check. Iaijutsu Practitioner? Hmm, that's new.

    Western Animation 
  • Bounced around in Danger Mouse. In one episode set in America, the only American DM meets is a cowboy. In another set in New York, there's no Wild West theme or cowboys at all (though there is a King Kong Shout-Out).
  • Clay from Xiaolin Showdown. Probably justified in that he came from a cattle ranch in Texas.
  • One episode of King of the Hill had Hank forced to act like a stereotypical cowboy, including wearing cowboy boots, hat and driving a Cadillac El Dorado convertible, in an effort to appeal to a potential customer who believed that this was the way all Texans behaved.
  • Hank from Thomas the Tank Engine, due to him being built in the United States instead of England like all of the other locomotives, actually speaks in a Texas accent. The only other locomotive that is not British is Hiro, the Japanese locomotive.
  • Roswell from Generator Rex has a cowboy hat and talks like a cowboy.
  • One TV Funhouse animated segment from SNL dealt with a Chinese cartoon about heroically doped-up figure skaters. The American competitor is portrayed a gawky hick in full cowboy garb who can only say the word "Golly!"

    Real Life 
  • After 9/11, Saddam mentioned that the "American Cowboys were getting what they deserved."
  • Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush both maintained a cowboy image, having plenty of photo-ops in cowboy hats and acting like ranch guys. While neither one ever really worked with cattle, Reagan had acted in Westerns, was quite fond of horseback riding, owned a horse named El-Alamein (likely after the World War II battle), and later became something of an Ascended Fanboy of the Western genre, buying and maintaining a working horse ranch where he cleared brush and chopped firewood himself. Bush, meanwhile, had been governor of Texas, the state most identified with cowboy imagery, and also owned a (non-working) ranch outside of Waco that, during his Presidency, almost acted as a second Camp David (it was nicknamed the "Western White House").
  • Lyndon Johnson, the first Texan in the White House, had a cowboy image.
  • Theodore Roosevelt was a cowboy, among other things. Mark Hanna, who'd argued against kicking Roosevelt into the Vice Presidency for exactly this reason, had this to say.
    Hanna: I don't believe it! The goddamn cowboy's President!
  • There's also a second layer to this trope: In America, everybody west of the Mississippi is a cowboy, unless they live on the West Coast. And we do literally mean "the Coast" — inland California and eastern Oregon and Washington are as steeped in this trope as Arizona and Montana. The "Bakersfield sound" in Country Music is a prime example, having been created in the '60s by the descendants of Dust Bowl migrants to California's Central Valley. And even in the eastern US, you'll find some appropriation of cowboy iconography in the Southern states.
  • The term cowboy diplomacy, sometimes used by critics of certain aspects of US foreign policy.
  • A frequent complaint from American intellectuals and academics about their European (particularly French) opposite numbers is this bizarre identification of the cowboy as one of the most important things in the American psyche. One episode of This American Life includes a bit where a visitor to Germany goes into the phenomenon (and why it's stupid) in detail.
  • The reason for this stereotype seems to be that, way back when, the majority of early American entertainment media that made it to other countries had a Western theme. Westerns were hugely popular in the U.S. at the time, but they weren't exactly Slice of Life storytelling, something many non-Americans at the time could not have known. This phenomenon predates motion pictures; Buffalo Bill's Wild West performances made many successful European tours and were perhaps many Europeans' first exposure to American culture and media (and Americans in general).
    • Karl May might have had something to do with this. [1]
  • The only American character seen in the "It's a Small World" ride at the Disney Theme Parks (not counting a lone Eskimo) for some reason actually dresses up in stereotypical cowboy garb that is found only in the last part of the ride.
    • Strangely enough, in a reversal of the trope, that is true in the American versions of the ride. "It's a Small World" in Disneyland Paris has an entire North America section with more than just cowboys (though it does have some).